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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Samson . 10pm

This is Samson around 10pm on any given night:
Course it depends on the activities of the day to which degree he is sprawled, but you get the picture. (sorry about the picture by the way, which is a bit of an assult on the eyes- it was dark in there and hard to focus).

A closer look:
This is also the face we get every morning until about 11am (if it's a Saturday or a day off). He likes his sleep. And won't budge from that spot till he's good and ready. In fact, I think he's pretending to be dead. Having been caught with one eye open he's now decided to embrace it and go for the "dead dog" look. Go ahead, try and rouse him.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Kiddos

I call them kiddos not to be demeaning, but because it's hard to come up with something to call them as a collective group. I've tried "students," "the youth group," "the high schoolers," etc. But to be honest, "kiddos" just rolls of the tongue so much easier! So guys, if you're reading this, know it's a gesture of love! And convenience. Sorry.

Scott -
I'll start out with this guy since he's somewhere in between the staff and the kids. For lack of a better term he was my "junior intern" and came along to help keep the peace and be an extra set of responsible eyes, ears and hands. Scott is very intelligent and very thoughtful, especially about faith. He always has a new perspective on the topic at hand that most of us had never even considered. Though not a full-blown leader, I was grateful to have that extra guy to do things like leading impromptu hikes in the rain.

Zach -
Zach and I see eye to eye on a lot of things. If I needed a second opinion on something or even a deciding vote, Zach was often it (he even helped me decide which PJ pants to buy in Anchorage since I was stuck between the two moose patterns!). Zach is the one who seemed to get what I was thinking and would give me a knowing look or smile when I wasn't sure anyone was getting my point. Though not overly outgoing, once you get to know Zach you've found a fierce friend. Watching his friendships grow with the other kids on the trip and seeing those relationships create incredible results when it came to emotional support or getting work done on the house was wonderful.

Chris -
Chris is a quiet but strong kid. As with so many people with more sense than me to keep their mouths shut, when he decides to say something, it is always thought out and relevant. On this trip I came to love hearing him laugh. It was spontaneous and uplifting, I was never sure what would trigger it but it always made me smile. He's also a very hard worker and went about every job he was given with a determination to do it, and do it well.

Tony -
Tony is a friend of Chris' that has come along on two summer trips with TCC. Like Chris, Tony is a bit more reserved but an extremely hard worker and always thoughtful in what he contributes to a conversation. I admired him for being able to travel all the way to Alaska with a group he barely knew and then seamlessly becoming one of the gang.
Issie -
As one of only two female students on this trip Issie did extremely well at jumping in and putting her whole heart into it. I know it had to have been hard for her at first as she hadn't spent a lot of time with most of these guys but I was so impressed with how she found ways to connect and include everyone in whatever was going on. She was my little encouragement team and constantly asked how I was doing and if there was anything I needed. I don't know what I would have done without her!

Mike -
Just thinking about Mike makes me smile. I would be hard-pressed to find a more mature 19 year old. There were times on the trip I thought he might be better suited to lead than me as he's infinitely more patient and often more level-headed than I could ever hope to be. One of the great things about Mike is his dry humor, which is only accentuated by his monotone voice. He mentioned once that the lack of inflection in his tone has been a struggle for him, but everyone in our group agreed: its part of what makes him Mike! And only makes us love him more.

Trevor -
Trevor is one of the most confident kids I know. He'll try anything and give it his all. He always has something to add to the conversation and usually has an interesting tidbit of information to share. I love that he's positive and up-beat; whether it's raining, we're all tired, or we hit a road block in our work, Trevor looks at most things as challenges to overcome. He's also extremely helpful and respectful when it comes to sticky situations which I totally appreciated on the trip.
Kaleigh -
There is no truer thing to say about Kaleigh than that she loves people. This love poured from her throughout the whole trip- on our team members, on the Camp Eaglecrest Staff, and on the people we met on the work site. I loved listening to her shyly tell about her "God Sightings" each evening as they usually revolved around, not a beautiful scene in nature, but a person who made her smile. Kaleigh, in turn, has the same effect on others- she makes all of us smile, all the time.
John -
Poor John takes a lot of crap. As the youngest in the group the older guys made it their job to toughen him up for high school. Eternally enthusiastic, full of energy, and with a permanent kool-aid mustache, John brought laughter wherever he went. He could have gotten the award for "dirtiest kid" on the trip as I had to force him to shower and he seems to have an obsession with burying his feet in the dirt around the campfire. Nevertheless, you can't help loving to spend time with John, who, when asked what he was most looking forward to in high school answered truthfully: "Geometry."

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Aubrey's

continuing from the other day...

These are the Aubreys. I don't have an individual picture of Mike so I'll talk about him now before moving on to the rest of the family.

Mike -
Though he was around all week while we were working on his house, Mike was someone I didn't get to know until the very last evening of the trip. Mike hurt his back and is on disability right now but he gets around fairly well and was able to help here and there throughout the week. While he can be a bit gruff sometimes the love he has for God, his wife and his kids is amazing. Issie, Alison, Hannah and I had an awesome talk with him and Sharon on Friday night at the community dinner and I learned a ton about his life and Alaska's history. He's a hobbyist miner and a true mountain man. His wife said it best- "In Alaska there are city people, country people and mountain people. He's a mountain man." He's also 24 years her senior and they literally met on the side of a mountain when she first arrived in Alaska.

Sharon -
When Sharon first met Abigail she said: "Welcome to Alaska, where the men act like men and the women do too." Let me tell you- she meant it. Sharon is one tough cookie and admittedly knows more about construction than most men I know. She is a hard worker and is extremely passionate about God and family. She's had a tough life and is very interesting to talk to about faith- she has a huge heart for Sutton and prays daily for the many souls in the area. While we may not agree on a lot of theology, it was refreshing to talk to her and be reminded of just how hard we must work to protect ourselves from evil and temptation.

Gracie -
Gracie is the oldest of Mike and Sharon's children, though Mike has 2 others from a previous marriage. This girl is as outgoing as they come and craves attention from everyone she meets. She can swing a hammer like nobody's business but usually just wants to give hugs or style everyone's hair. She is also quite a singer and loved the serenade us every chance she got. She loves Hannah Montana and told me very matter-of-factly that "We have to pray for Miley's brother, because he is not saved." Her mother says she's always been hyper-aware of her calling to lead people to Jesus, intently watching those she'd meet and deciding they needed prayer.

Jared -
This little guy is all boy. He's currently doing his best to wear out his Carhartt overalls as the local fair has a contest for the most-used pair each year. While we were there he tried to dig a hole to China (starting, naturally, at the top of a hill) and repeately gave me guilt trips when I didn't help him dig by saying: "But my mom has always wanted to go to China!" Unfortnuately I think she'll have to save her pennies for a plane ticket as the effort was abandoned when he and Jason "hit bedrock" on day 2. At age 5 he has an IQ of 139 and is extremely attentive to detail. On the last day he finally asked me: "Why do you wear the same shirt every day?" To which I wanted to reply: "look who's talking" but instead tried to explain that we hadn't been allowed to pack a lot of clothes on the plane, but I'd already lost his attention. Bummer. I guess he'll just remember me as the dirty girl with the Dairy Queen shirt.

Oh yeah, and this is Daisy.
And Rosie.And Sam.Can't forget them!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


It's been a bit daunting to me, thinking about sitting down to blog about our recent trip to Alaska. So much happened; between fun activities, hard manual labor, sicknesses, relationships, 3 hour long campfires....the list goes on. So I've decided I'll write about the trip in pieces. It seems more natural that way, like I might have had internet access all along and was able to blog as things happened... Though I'm not promising to stay in chronological order. Today I think it appropriate to start out with a cast of characters of sorts, to get you acquainted with each person involved in the story.

First, there's me.
You know me. ...Or else you've stumbled on my blog quite by accident and I apologize! But basically my role in this whole adventure was to shepherd my little flock from Grand Rapids to Chicago to Anchorage to Sutton to Anchorage to Seward to Anchorage and home again without losing anyone. In the meantime I got to worry about their health, safety, emotional well-being, whether they've been feed, watered, washed (more about this later), and where the nearest restroom and/or Subway is (not necessarily in that order). There's also the little detail of feeling completely inadequate to impact their faith lives, though with a little prayer, laughter, and some strong coffee the kids know I can handle just about anything.
Now that we've gotten my role out of the way, here is a little blurb about each of the other team members:
Josh & Alison -
Josh is my "intern." Though to be honest he does a lot more than your average YM (youth ministry) intern. He and his wife Alison worked in AK with Eaglecrest, the organization we worked through, for about 5 weeks this summer and where already waiting for us when we landed in Anchorage. Alison is a beautiful person and as addicted to coffee as I am. We really bonded on this trip and I'm so thankful for that!

Roger -
Roger was "the big guy on campus" at Camp Eaglecrest. His son Duane started the organization and Roger has been running the AK section for him for quite some time during the summers. Roger can be hard to read but he is one of the hardest working men I've ever met and he taught me a lot about framing, using a nail gun, a sawzall, and faith. Roger makes bad coffee- I'm sorry Roger, it's true.
Judy -
Judy is Roger's wife. She is an amazing, wonderful, beautiful woman. She obviously had 3 boys (and a girl!) as she'll take all the crap you dish out and hand it right back. She's also a great cook and spends most of her time in AK in the kitchen.
Abigail -
Abigail happens to be the younger sister of a friend of mine from High School and also worked most of the summer at Camp Eaglecrest. I knew from the moment I met her (and before I realized the connection) that I was going to love her. She's hilarious and you can't help but smile all the time when you're with her. We stole a little time one morning to go get Starbucks together and it was one of my favorite relational times of the trip.
Jason -
(I can't find a close-up picture of Jason, I'll add it later if I do)
Jason, like Abigail, worked at Camp Eaglecrest. Jason thinks I'm crazy and took pleasure in looking at me like I'd just said the dumbest thing in the world every time I opened my mouth(which let me tell you was a bit intimidating until I realized he was just doing it to get a rise out of me). I can look past that though and admit that he's a great guy to spend time with and I feel blessed to have gotten to know him. He recently got engaged and we had several discussions about his upcoming wedding where he asked me repeatedly for advice on romantic ways he could surprise his fiance. My favorite convo with Jason came at the end of the trip where I said something, he looked at me like I was nuts, I said: "I'm gonna miss you Jason." And he cracked up and said: "I'm gonna miss you too Krista." It made all the crap he gave me ok.

Hannah -
I don't have a picture of Hannah because we only met her 24 hours before we left for Seward. She came up to Camp Eaglecrest to work the last two weeks with the rest of the staff. Hannah has a great heart. The TCC youth group "introduced" ourselves by sitting around the picnic tables listening to 1990's Christian pop music by Take 5 and dancing like 5 year olds when she first walked up. I will forever have an image of Mike VanLaan grinning like a cheeseball and pumping his arms in the air like it was the best song he'd ever heard...oh my. Hannah took it all in stride and we spent a fantastic last day together working on the Aubrey's house. She immediately felt like one of the group and I'm indebted to her as she volunteered to launder all of the clothing we left behind to be donated! (that's really something considering we had been working all week in the same clothing)...
Whew! Since I want to give each person their due I think I'll end there for today and move on to the Aubrey's and the students tomorrow.