Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The end is just the beginning

Well, it's official. We have made it through our first school year at Alaska Christian College. In some ways it feels like we were just packing up the trailer, (then unpacking it and shipping half of our stuff when we found out how over-weight we were!) In other ways, it feels like we have lived here forever. 
The community has adopted us and we are surrounded by friends and "family."

I asked Grace what has been her favorite year of school so far and she jumped up and down yelling "this one! this one!" What an answer to hours and hours of prayer! I had no question that we would fall in love with this place, and with our students and new jobs. I was concerned, however, about how our kids would adapt. Well, it was needless worry. They are completely "Alaskanized." On a recent trip to Anchorage we were exploring the brand new Cabellas. (Can you believe Anchorage is just now getting a Cabellas???) Noah happened upon the camo aisle and insisted I take this picture. The serious face was purposely done- he wouldn't smile because he wanted a tough picture.

Camo is officially his favorite color, and he spends hours each day outside (always managing to fall into the mud or the ocean or river.) 

Anytime I start to feel overwhelmed or stressed I take a walk outside and instantly feel refreshed by the beauty that surrounds us.  These late-night walks have become a favorite time to reflect, pray, or talk with friends as they walk with me. The beach at the bottom of our bluff has a great view of Mt. Redoubt and the sunsets (if you are up late enough.)

At the end of the school year there was a lot going on! Between end of the year retreats, graduation, baptisms and family visiting we have been going non-stop. In the pictures below our family was able to go to the ACC baptism where two of our students shared what God is doing in their life and shared their commitment to let Him lead their lives.

Although I am looking forward to time off this summer I will miss my students who made me laugh daily! (They stole my phone and took these pictures while I was helping another student the last week of school.)  I am excited that both Marlene and Mary Rae (both featured in these pics) will be working on campus this summer. Those of you who are visiting us will have the pleasure of meeting these great gals!

 We have had lots of company in April and May. My mom was able to come for Easter which was really fun! I love it when people visit during the school year so that they can meet our students. Mom was able to come to class with me and meet my students- who hammed it up for her, teasing me the whole class. There goes my street cred.

Steve's entire family was able to come up from Arizona to visit during graduation. This year was a really special graduation as it was the first year that we had students graduate with Accredited Associates degrees. After graduation there were many tearful goodbyes as we sent our students on their way. Most of our students will head back to their home villages for the summer to work with their families hunting and fishing so that they will have food for the coming winter. A few will be staying in Anchorage with extended family or friends. Most students look forward to summers and their visits home, but it can be a challenging time as well. They have become close to their friends at ACC and have gotten used to life here in Soldotna/Kenai.

While Steve's family was here we took some time for family pictures. I can't believe how much the kiddos have all grown since the last family pictures we took two years ago. We didn't get a large family pic with all the adults because we were all very sick! We got one a few days later during our trip to Seward though, so at least we have one from the trip.

The kids loved the time with Nana and Grandpa as well as their cousins.  

In the middle of their trip, Marsha, Chandra, and I were able to escape for a quick "girls day" (plus Zak) to Homer. We shopped in my favorite used bookstore, had lunch at the Mermaid Cafe, and took in the beautiful view of Katchemak Bay.

On the day before everyone had to leave (which happened to be Mother's Day) we drove to Seward and took a 6 hour cruise of the Kenai Fjords National Park. The views were breathtaking and the time spent with the family was priceless.

After dropping all of the family off in Anchorage we stopped on the way back to Kenai at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Grace says she wants to be a Park Ranger when she grows up and she loves this kind of thing! I cannot believe she is finishing second grade this year. She is turning into such a funny, great kid. (They both are!) As fast as she grows, pictures like this one from the Conservation Center remind me that she is still little. I treasure every day we have with our kiddos because I know that before we know it they will be off on their own adventures.

It's hard to believe how much we have grown and experienced this past school year. I can't wait to see what next year will hold!