After spending 54 years from birth to 2008 living in Iowa I was presented with an opportunity to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. My blog is a diary of the adventure to get to Alaska, day to day life in Alaska, as well as facts for loved ones left behind in the Lower 48. Enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Phone dilemma

Went to Verizon to check out getting phone service in Alaska. Found out I can get their reception in Alaska, however need to get a Sioux City phone number. (There aren't any Verizon available phone lines in AK.) We won't have a home phone in Alaska so decided to stick with what we have now Sp (company that has been nothing but problems), as our plans don't expire until the end of August. The good Lord willing by then we'll be settled into Alaska and will more than likely go with their phone cell phone service so local incoming calls won't be long distance. So...our phone numbers will stay the same until at least September 1.

Learned today about a co-worker, about my age, who sustained a fractured skull and serious brain injury when she fell against the fireplace mantle at her sister's condo in the Iowa Great Lakes Area. She was airlifted to the hospital here in Sioux City immediately following the accident. Talked to her husband who reported they did surgery to relieve some of the swelling on her brain after the injury. They will be doing surgery again next week to replace the part of her skull that was removed. From what he says the overall prognosis looks good, however she will be in the hospital for several weeks. Poor gal has the summer off (due to her position) and ends up in the hospital for the majority of her time off.

As another co-worker reminded me today as I was sighing over all the work I need to get done before moving, 'there are worse things than having your workload'. How true.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Going Postal

Well, we finally did it - made it to the post office to rent a PO box in Fairbanks. It was quite an ordeal, as there are numerous hoops to jump through including both people present at the local PO together, take driver's license AND passport, complete ALL parts of the PO form, and be there when the PO is open and the appropriate person is on duty. All in all we made 6 trips to the PO, so this is quite an accomplishment. Hopefully in the next week or so we'll know our new PO box address in Fairbanks. I may have said this before, but due to time constraints won't be checking to see if I did...if you want our new mailing address e-mail us and I'll give it to you.

Got some financial matters for Anna taken care of - I've been handling her finances the past few that turned over to the Center and informed her utility companies, etc. of the change for their bills. Now to close the bank account and that will be all done. (another check mark on my to do list)

Waited an hour past when the property manager was to arrive to look at our home, and surprisingly enough he developed a personality today. Thank God! He informed me he called the man who stopped by the other night who wants to rent it, however he didn't reach the correct person. So...the for rent sign went out front again. He said that his maintenance man will be coming by to place his for rent sign soon.

This morning when they picked up our trash they broke one of the wheels on the trash container, so had to call and inform them of that this morning as well. Now I've lived in Sioux City for 28 years and never had a broken wheel on my trash container, why on earth would it have to happen NOW? Just another bump in the process I guess.

Stayed last night at work to get some things caught up. Found myself getting tearful as I went through 19 years of work and memories of the job here in Sioux City. As the time gets closer the emotions are rising. Even this morning when I went to City Hall and the bank I found myself thinking 'I may never again see these buildings and helpful people'. It will be a huge learning curve in Alaska finding our way around and hopefully feeling comfortable in our new surroundings.

Well I'm off to work tackling the kitchen today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Paintin n Purgin

In an attempt to get ahead on this packing I took two vacation days this week...Tuesday & Thursday. I spent the morning working on the 3-season room and got it all cleaned out. I bagged up 3 bags of paper to be recycled, a couple for Goodwill, one of garbage, one bag to shred, and a small box to keep. I knew I'd better get out there early in the day before it got too steamy.

This afternoon I worked more on painting the second door. I brought Anna and Brittany over so Anna could paint the railing on the front deck. She also worked on the sliding shed door and trim over the shed window. She did a very, very nice job. Brittany just wanted to drag toys out and then run back into the house to watch TV. She commented how moving is very frustrating. She isn't doing anything to help us move, which obviously makes her a good observer.

Stopped by to see the property manager about leasing our apartment. I had an appointment, but he acted like I was imposing on him. He didn't seem very eager to help us and set up another appointment to come over and look at the house Thursday morning. Hopefully the gentleman that stopped by the other night is still interested once the property manager contacts him. If he isn't, I have serious concerns about the property manager doing any leasing. I'll have to add that to my prayers and would appreciate it if you would too.

Goodwill called me again today, stating they found nativity figurines, but no manger. I asked them to keep looking, which they promised to do.

Well I need to shower and attempt to get this paint off of me before work tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Silly Sunburn

Today was my turn to work on the shed doors - that's correct, plural. I thought Nathan was repairing only the one that showed from the street level, however he is repairing both shed doors. I painted the primer and light tan base coat on the doors and the trim pieces a chocolate brown. I started at 6 a.m. and finished about 8 p.m.

Somehow I got the strangest sunburn on my left leg, above the knee, a strip about 4" wide. As hot as it feels I'm glad it's only that size. Slapped some aloe vera on it after my shower tonight, hoping to cool it down some.

Nate grabbed ahold of the chocolate brown and proceeded to finish painting the trim on the house and rest of the shed. He went through nearly a quart of paint, and everything he did looks wonderful. Two years ago I came home from work to find the trim on the front and west side of the house trimmed in chocolate brown, when it had formerly been a dark green. Well, he ran out of paint and enthusiasm for painting at that point. Today's transformation is quite remarkable.

Nate was strategic where he painted, and managed to dodge the sun, so he has no sunburn to report. (grin)

Last night as I was putting out the HUGE for rent sign a husband, wife, and their toddler stopped to see if they could look at our house. They liked what they saw and said they want to rent it. I will be contacting the leasing agent Monday with their contact information to start things going. Makes me feel reassured knowing that things will be done correctly since they're being done by a professional.

I informed the gal in Phoenix of the local interest in our home, and she stated she didn't think her budget could handle what we're asking, so that worked out okay.

Tonight we experienced the most difficult part of our move thus far. We have a cat, Peaches, who was born underneath an evergreen tree in front of our house by a neighborhood feral cat. We rescued him several times and worked very, very diligently to tame him enough to pet him. Well, he tamed and at 3 months of age he became our housepet. He is the best cat, shy, quiet, docile, command obeying, 100% accurate with the litter box, and watches over us at bedtime.

We tossed around the thought of taking him to Alaska with us, but didn't think he would fare well on the 50+ hour ride, so decided to leave him here. We advertised for someone to take him, but didn't have any success with that. Anna discussed our plight with her future mother-in-law, and she agreed to take him. We have been cat sitting Brittany's cat, Yvonne, a rompy-wild cat that can jump 4' in the air at a bug on the other side of the glass door while they are living in a no pets apartment. Both cats went in the carrier tonight and out the door. It was bittersweet. Yvonne has a habit of walking about 1/2 step ahead of us, so we are constantly watching out for her or tripping over her. Peaches and Yvonne love to wrestle around in the evening, so it was nice to see them go together.

We are appreciative of her offer to take both cats, however it was tearful to see our "baby" leave us for what just might be forever. I've taken several photos of Peaches that will be going with us to Alaska which is much better than him hissing and yowling and shedding hair in nervousness on the long trip to Alaska. We are glad that we didn't need to take him to the local animal control shelter and risk him being put down. I'm sure we'll get updates on his progress.

Actually I just the first report is in...Yvonne is checking out everything in her new surroundings and Peaches has settled in, hiding behind the hot water heater. A smile through my tears.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Like I have time for jury duty!

Received notification in the mail last week that I have been selected for jury duty mid July. I completed the online profile and indicated my reason for asking to be excused - moving to Alaska. I'm guessing that was a new "excuse" even for them to hear. Well, it worked. Received an e-mail today that I have been excused.

Camilla and Brian won't be able to rent the duplex they located, as the landlord wants them to sign a lease and they don't feel comfortable doing an extended lease without seeing the property first. So the hunt is still on for a place for them to live.

Thursday evening I went to Western Iowa Tech and returned my keys. It seemed rather sad to walk away from the building no longer having any connection to it. Another chapter of my life ended.

Nate got hired as a full-time care provider at BGH and starts his training Monday. His spirits soared having found a new job. He seemed to be okay kicking back for the past 5 weeks, however was sad to have lost his dream job at Frontier. He will receive his training here in SC and transfer to Alaska. It will be different having my husband and daughter working for the same Agency as me.

Today Nate built a new door for our shed. It faces the street and the bottom portion has rotted out and is in serious need of repair. He's off to Home Depot now to see if he can get paint matched so I can paint on it tomorrow.

Anna got all the bags to go to the trash and Goodwill out of the basement Wednesday evening. It's starting to empty out down there, which is a good thing.

I posted our home for lease on and had a second inquiry this week; a gal from Phoenix who will be moving to Sioux City. Her brother lives in Sioux City and will be contacting us to take a look at the house and talk about her leasing it.

We had a leftover RUMMAGE SALE TODAY sign which I covered over with a 4 Rent 1 BR sign and posted near the curb. There's a house for sale two doors down from us that has an open house Sunday. Nate is going to see if he can find a bigger for rent sign to post in hopes that if people aren't impressed with the house for sale they might consider renting ours. (fingers crossed)

We're still trying to find a home for Peaches, our cat. It's almost as though he can read our minds and understand our words, as he has been extremely loving the last few days. He's such a nice cat - sure hope we can find him a home and not have to take him to the local shelter.

Best get after the basement and see how much more progress I can make.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Someplace to hang our hat & not much more

Well, we've secured us a place to live once in Fairbanks. It is small, around 350 sq ft., but supposedly has all the necessities. The landlord tells me that there are two six-foot closets - one in the bedroom and one in the living area, so that is one more closet than we currently have in our place here. We figure that during the first few months we probably won't be spending a lot of time in our apartment, so it doesn't really make a whole lot of difference what size it is. It is a month to month lease, so if/when we find a larger place to move, we can do without too much hassle.

Tomorrow Nate is going to the local USPO to sign up for a box rental in Fairbanks. We then have to send the application and check for the first six months' rent to Fairbanks and they will let us know our PO box. I am getting the box at the same PO where BGH mail will be received. Figured since I have to go to the PO for their mail, might as well put ours there, too. We figure for the time being a PO box will be the best way to go. If you want our new address or PO box, drop me an e-mail.

Camilla and Brian also found a place to live. Without her knowing where we will be living they found a place about a half a mile from us. I'm told Fairbanks' terrain is flat, so we should be able to walk between our places easily.

Spent the evening going through more stuff in the basement. It seems like I'm not making any progress, yet have to be with all the garbage bags I'm filling for donation, trash, and recycling. I think that I'm of the mindset that it won't really "look" better until everything is out of the basement.

Saturday a bin of goods that wasn't supposed to go to Goodwill ended up being donated to Goodwill. I am saving only two boxes containing Christmas decorations. The box that was donated contained a manger made of wood from my parents' farm and nativity set given to me by my parents. As soon as I discovered that box had been donated I went to Goodwill. They took my name and phone number and said they'd be in contact with me if they found it. Well, today I got a call. I went to Goodwill (5 miles) and took a look. They had two they'd found, but neither was the correct one. The lady said that they'd keep looking for it and that she'd pray that it turns up. While there I donated what was left in the back of my van.

I was pleased with Goodwill's customer service in keeping an eye out for the nativity set and contacting me, as I was concerned they might take down my name and number only to pacify me at that particular moment. When I told Camilla about the loss of the nativity set she reminded me that while it may be gone, I still hold the memory of having it. hmmm...something to think about.

For those of you who are new to this blog, there is an additional page. If my memory serves me correctly, there's an area to click in the lower right hand corner of this page which takes you to the next.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Warning: Rummages may be hazardous to your health

Well, the rummage is done and over. We started moving and setting things up at the sale location Friday about 2 p.m. and came home at 8 p.m. Saturday. Correct, no sleep Friday night. We had so many boxes to unpack and set up, price, etc., that I couldn't take the time to sleep. Nate stayed with me attempting to take a nap on the floor about 4 (gee that even rhymes), but tossed and turned for about a half an hour claiming it was too hard (go figure) then gave up.

The rummage itself went well. While we didn't get rid of everything we had there, we did it! It was nice to see our friends from church and co-workers there to support our "cause". Several people told us what they plan on doing with some of the items they purchased. One lady has just begun quilting and will use the fabric she purchased to make quilts. Another woman needed a car seat for her grandchild, as her daughter hasn't purchased one for the child and grandma is concerned about her granddaughter's safety. Another was looking for items to use at an upcoming fundraiser auction - Nate had about 10 new small collectible vehicles that were on the sale that a woman purchased to add to car wash certificates for her fundraiser.

For any of you planning on holding a rummage in the future: We found that cassette and VCR tapes don't go. Novels sorted by author were appreciated. Fabric sells so-so as long as it is cheap. Patterns didn't sell at all. Craft items sold poorly, too. CD's and DVD's sold well. Two hours prior to the end of the rummage we gave the special of everything they could put in a grocery bag for $2.00, and one hour prior to end of rummage $1.00 per bag. I priced some of the items, but ran out of time, so posted a sign that if it wasn't priced to make an offer. Most people were reluctant to name their price, so I was left to do that. Can't really say if not pricing items is a good idea or not. A 6 year old boy had a lemonade stand, and his mom thinks they probably broke even.

Towards the end of the sale two young lads came in. One was probably 14-16 and the other one probably early 20's. They looked quite disheveled, and seriously looked over everything. The older gentleman did not speak, but could hear. The younger guy spoke for him. The older fella had just gotten an apartment and needed furnishings. In particular he wanted the coffee table and desk which a friend put on the rummage and were in very SAD condition. They didn't have any $ so were going to mow some lawns and come back. We set aside the items they indicated they wanted and started packing up boxes for the local woman's shelter, Goodwill, and other places.

They came back in about an hour. The oldest man indicated the lawnmower was broken by holding clenched fists facing downward in front of him and quickly angling them outward, as if snapping a stick. His facial expressions were most interesting to watch, his face spoke volumes. Due to the fact that what we had left over was going to "go" anyway, I let him have what he wanted. A friend donated a box of new dishes to the rummage, and he wanted those. He also chose our bed pillows, steak knives, casserole dishes, a HUGE box of Christmas lights, VCR tapes, bedroom lamp, etc. Not sure why they chose the VCR tapes, because they do not have a player, but we really didn't care - they were most appreciative of everything we offered them.

The next obstacle for us was that these guys didn't have any way to get things home from the rummage, so Nathan packed up their things and gave them a ride to their nearby apartment.

Not long after Nate returned back to the rummage sale these guys returned and began dumpster diving things we'd deposited. Bless his heart, Nate gave them yet another ride home. And bless their hearts, they returned a third time, with the younger guy's mother who apparently also enjoys dumpster diving and informed us she has lice.

Looking back at the rummage experience, it wasn't about the money, or the possessions, what really sticks in my mind is the life lesson we experienced. How friends can help friends when they can't speak, how resourceful and thankful people can be, and how grateful I am that I can speak, purchase what I need, have a vehicle to use, my lawnmower works, and, perhaps most grateful of all, do NOT have head lice!

Seeing these people makes me think what an awesome movie they would make. Others really need to be exposed to their life story. In my "spare" time prior to moving I might plant some seeds to people who might be able to make that a reality. If you know of anyone, please do let me know.

Nate and I discussed the $ value of our belongings prior to the rummage. It is rather sad to know how hard one has worked to purchase their lifelong possessions and then to sell them for such a small fraction of their original price. Makes me think that having spent money on basically useless/wasteful things in the past, I have decided to change my ways. Only necessities will be purchased.

Walking as much as we did really, really took a toll on our feet and legs. I have a nasty blister on the instep of one of my left feet, and pulled muscle in my right leg extending from my ankle up past my right knee. I awoke this morning with a HORRIBLE headache, so took some ibuprofen and went back to bed. My arm & shoulder muscles are sore, too, from all the lifting.

This afternoon did some more apartment searching. There was an ad on the News Miner website for an apartment that I checked out. Long story short, we rented it. It isn't the biggest (350 sq. feet), but all utilities are paid and it is half the cost of the other place we were looking at. A few other plusses are: The manager lives in the building and sez there aren't any problems with noise, etc., it's 6-7 blocks from my work, and it's a month to month lease.

With the apartment's low rent and what we had budgeted for housing in AK if need be we can pay the mortgage on our home in SC AND apartment rent. I'm no math expert, but think that sounds pretty good!

I listed our home being for rent on a national website and got an e-mail from a recent college graduate who has accepted a position in SC. I spoke with her today and she is very interested in leasing our home for at least one year. She asked that I send her some pix, so got out the digital camera and snapped away - boxes awaiting to be repacked and all! Please keep this transaction in your prayers, as leasing our home is weighing heavily on us.

Thanks again to those of you who have informed me of reading the blog. It's nice to know that the time I'm spending is making a difference in others as they go on this journey with us. Each of you is precious to our hearts. One gal from our church at the rummage told me that she had printed off part of my blog (I'm assuming the one with last week's church sermon) and taken it to another member who's recovering from knee surgery and homebound. How thoughtful of her to share and brighten her friend's day.

Til next time~

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Landlord Woes

Monday Nate went to City Hall to see what all we need to do to become landlords. He had to pay for a permit which is good until December 31. Good thing we aren't moving later in the year, as you pay the full rate regardless of the month you purchase the permit. Good 'ol government.

He picked up a booklet pertaining to regulations and we learned quite a bit. In particular, we need to have either a window or exhaust fan in the bathroom, need to have another egress in the basement, must have windows that open in all bedrooms, and for this family of 6 that we are renting to we need to have 3 bedrooms. The upstairs bedroom qualifies, and the two rooms downstairs will qualify provided we make modifications to them (see above).

I called Scott, a friend of Sam's who does construction and remodels. He's to come over tomorrow night to take a look and give us an estimate.

I spoke to a fella today that can do all the credit and reference checks, creation of the lease, etc., for us. He said that he'll "only" charge us 50% of the first month's rent. Good thing we're made of money - NOT.

Worked more on the basement tonight in getting things ready for the rummage.

Hmmmm wonder what I'll do with my spare time in Alaska when I don't have boxes to move around all the time!

Today the plumber came over and fixed the small leaks underneath the bathroom sink and below the bath tub. He gave Nate some suggestions on caulking the bathtub, too.

Finally got ahold of the home warranty company and they approved the repair of the washing machine. The part came in today, so it will get repaired Thursday. This Friday marks two weeks we've been without the washing machine.

Late Saturday night I posted several larger items on to sell - items we want to sell but don't want to haul to the rummage sale. An older man came over tonight and purchased our portable dishwasher for the same price we purchased it for 5 1/2 years ago. Nate will be delivering it to him close to the time we move. It made me smile to see the HUGE smile on this man's face at the thought of having a dishwasher again.

This week at work has been non-stop. I have the Iowa food program auditor here Tues-Thurs. The gal that I'm turning over the food program to and I went to the Nebraska food program training in South Sioux City today for 2 hours. I also got onto the Alaska food program website and downloaded some of their forms, etc. I'll be responsible for that and need to figure out how to start an application for the same. I also need to do the same for the two different NE programs and Iowa program before I leave for AK.

The work on my desk keeps piling up and up and up. And the messes in the basement keep moving from here to there to up and sometimes even over! It would be nice if I could go one place and find solace, however home and work are the two places I spend the most time and both of them are chock full of to do's with a 29 day time limit. Yikes!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Church and packing

Today I filled the pulpit due to our pastor being out of town for our church's annual conference. She announced in church last week that she would be absent, and I would be preaching, so I figured that we would have a low turnout. Surprisingly enough we had a good crowd. I will really miss our Trimble congregation when we move to Alaska.

After church we met up with Camilla, Sam, and Tom and had lunch together. (Brian went to Aberdeen to visit his mother this weekend.) As seems to be the case whenever we're together we talked more about how things are going for the upcoming move. Camilla states she is making progress on getting the rest of her things ready for next Saturday's rummage (as are we), and has secured a trailer to pull behind her Jimmy. We also discussed the storage rental unit she had talked about renting some of their belongings. Now that we have leased our home we know that we will need to empty everything out that isn't needed by the tenants and to keep safe anything we feel is valued and definitely want back when we move back to Iowa.

Nate and I took a much needed nap this afternoon, then got back to packing. We spent about 5 hours on it again today. The crunch is on to get everything boxed up and ready for the rummage, as after that it's either donate or sell individually or pitch. As long as we have to get it out of the house anyway, we might as well try to make some kind of profit on it.

I had a nice phone conversation with my mom Saturday. She was telling me that there's a lady in my hometown that when she has rummage sales never prices anything. Rather she posts a sign for customers to make an offer, and finds that this is as good a method as any. I took well to that idea, and will be taking advantage of the tip. No more looking at an item and arguing in my head with myself about the sentimental value of it (I bought that when we lived so and so, or were on vacation at that place, etc.) and pricing it so that someone else who is looking at is as an item would be inticed to purchase it. The other benefit of this method is that I don't have to constantly be looking around for where I laid my price stickers and pen!

Well, will be heading to bed now, as have a big work week coming up and need to be well rested. For those of you who missed it, I'll share my sermon with you below. I was proud of myself, as I only teared up once, when standing at the front of the church during the doxology, after having placed the offering plates on the altar and looking up, for the last time, at the beautiful stained glass window of Jesus and the lambs. It will be quite some time, if ever, that I shall stand there in that capacity and feel blessed to have had such a loving, loyal church family, and a God that walks with me every step of the way.

As Pastor Martha indicated last week, this will be the last sermon I will be sharing with you for at least a year and a half, as I have accepted a challenge put forth before me, to transfer to the new Boys and Girls Home facility in Fairbanks, Alaska. I will share with you what this challenge has meant to me and what part my Christianity has in my decision and the journey ahead.

After being asked to consider moving to Alaska I was given 48 hours to make a life-changing decision. For just a moment, I’d like for you to put yourself in this situation. Here’s the deal: You have been asked by a human being to leave behind the comforts you know of your everyday life, to share your knowledge and work talents in a new location. You will obviously be leaving your home here in Iowa. You need to decide whether to spend thousands of dollars to transport your household goods or to pack up your clothes, kitchen and bathroom necessities in your vehicles. You will be leaving behind your family…and your friends…your co-workers…your church family…even the familiarity of knowing where the post office is, where to go to get the best prices for gas and groceries, a loaf of bread, and so on.

Fairbanks is a 50 some hour drive from Sioux City. Not only will you not know where the best prices are, you won’t even know how to get there. You will be living in a climate even more drastic than Iowa, where the average snowfall is around 90” and the average low winter temperature is -40 degrees. During the summer there will be no darkness for your slumber, and in the winter there will be only 3 hours of light.

Real estate prices of the average home there will tack on an additional $100,000 from Sioux City prices. There are no dollar menus…they are $1.50. Take a deep breath and consider how all of these will impact you. (pause) What will you do if you don’t like it there? If the culture and climate shock are too overwhelming?

Have I given you enough drastic reasons to NOT go? If I were to ask you to decide, based upon these things, if you are ready to pack up and go, I might guess you would give me a polite ‘no, thank you’!

What else is there to consider in making this decision? Well, where I work we treat adolescents with severe behavior problems, giving them the tools they need to make wiser choices, choose more positive friends, to stay in school, to live with others in a peaceful manner, to learn to care for others, and to take responsibility for their choices. The goal for these youth is to help them become functioning members of society so that they may live a productive, positive, fulfilling adulthood.

Currently there are hundreds of Alaskan adolescents who have been placed in treatment facilities in the “lower 48 states” because their behavior warrants it and because there isn’t any facility in Alaska that offers the services their serious behaviors need to reform them. The 120 bed unit Boys and Girls Home built will bring these children back to their home state, permitting them to live in the climate they are used to, be nearer their families for family sessions, visits and for reunification of the family. They also will be able to return to the laid back culture they have grown up in and are accustomed to. The children of Alaska will be given the same opportunity for rehabilitation as the youth in Iowa and Nebraska currently have.

As a step parent I gained familiarity with the stresses placed on families when raising a stepchild who required treatment and placement outside the home, from the age of 5, so have firsthand knowledge of the difficulties families face having a child placed out of the home, the need for employers to allow working parents time off work and on siblings to attend family session after family session.

When considering the opportunities that are being given to these youth to make life-long changes to their lives, how could I be selfish and stay in my own comfort zone, sleep in my own bed, wake up to enjoy the flowers I’ve planted to enjoy in the summertime, the wildlife strolling through our back yard, and worship in the same pew Sunday after Sunday with all the loving people here at Trimble?

So where does God and faith come into all this? In today’s scripture we read “4For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 5He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. God’s word and God’s works are upright.” As God’s people we are all called to do our work in faithfulness. Faithfulness to the company we work for, our families, and our church. The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (repeat) The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. The same God that watches over each of us in Sioux City watches over the Alaskans and everyone else in the whole world.

When considering whether or not to go on this journey a human being asked of me, I prayed about it, asking God to guide me in my decision, and thought about it a WHOLE lot. After contemplation and prayer I had a peace about me that reminded me that God will be going with me every step of the way. He will guide us every mile of the drive across Canada, in downsizing to living in an apartment, in becoming acquainted to a new town with a drastic climate, and the challenges of working in a new location with additional job responsibilities. As life’s challenges face us we need to be mindful that we are not walking alone on the journey, whether here in Sioux City or miles away. God is always alongside us, wherever we are, ready to support us when we have disappointments, uncertainties, and challenges that seem too big to handle.

28 years ago God had a plan for Tom, Sam, Camilla, and I when we moved to Sioux City. We knew what OUR plan was (for Tom to finish nursing school and then move out of this BIG city), however obviously God had other plans. His plans brought us to Trimble, where we became acquainted with all of you. His plans kept us in Sioux City and found us jobs that kept us here. When you think of it, if we were to map out everything in our lives, wouldn’t that be overwhelming, and take a whole lot of effort? I’m sure, too, that it wouldn’t turn out to be as complete as God’s plans.

As human beings the familiarity of our comfort zone is something we hold onto, feeling that it is safe there. When Phil Dicks was pastor here he told of a story of how hunters captured monkeys so they would have something to eat. They would hollow out dried round gourds or coconuts just large enough to permit the monkeys to insert their “hands”. Inside the gourds the hunters placed seeds the monkeys like to eat. Monkeys would place their hands inside the gourds to get the seeds and hold onto them, not releasing. (make fist) They had a grip on what they wanted and there was NO WAY they were going to let go. This prevented them from being able to get their hands or the seeds out of the gourd. They would hold on, literally, for dear life, to the end of their life – their fate left in the hunter’s hands. We, too, as humans, sometimes hold onto what we want to the point of harming ourselves, not willing to let go regardless of the price we may pay.

As Christians we frequently fail God when we fail to remember that his steadfast love and guidance walks the same path, by our side. If we can let down our humanness and pride, let go of the tight grip we have on what we think is best for us, God will lead us on the paths he has prepared for us. As Christians we need to let God be God and do his work through us.

Being a part of the Trimble congregation has been such a blessing to us. Having grown up in a small town I am more comfortable in a small-town church atmosphere. The love and caring shown here at Trimble is incomprehensible. Our congregation is welcoming and nurturing to all, regardless of our life circumstances, past or present. The friendships we have formed with all of you at Trimble will go with us I our hearts, minds, and prayers, to Alaska.

Several of you have shared with me how greatly I will be missed here at Trimble. It gives me pleasure to realize that God has been working through me to glorify him as I taught Sunday School, gave children’s messages, assisted with music, served on various committees, decorated the church with flowers or for the holidays, or preached sermons. With me no longer here to do God’s work he has challenged not only me out of my comfort zone, but you as well. God is now calling others to fill the gaps. He is calling you to do your part. Preparing a children’s message, sermon, or Sunday School lesson puts God in the forefront of your every though as you prepare for them. It forces us to take time from the busy-ness of our day to day duties, and focus on the impact God has in our daily lives, from the mundane to the special times. The more we focus on God in our daily lives the more prevalent he is in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We grow in our faith and Christianity.

God challenges each of us in different ways. How we choose to respond to his call is up to us. We can stand back and say (crossed arms) “sorry, God, I’m really quite comfortable right here where I am” or we can look to the cross, remembering Jesus’ life, reaching out to others to share the Lord’s work, and the sacrifices he made for our benefit.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

God is so good!

Today was a successful day and we are really tired, yet exhilirated. We emptied out the two sheds and filled our two garbage bins plus took about 8 garbage bags to a friend's garbage bin. Anna came over and helped with the above as well as hauling boxes and totes out of the basement. We got the totes with flowers to the church and filled my van with things for the rummage which is next weekend. Yes, I know gas prices are high and hauling around extra weight probably isn't very smart, but ya know when you have the help, you git as much done as possible.

I got a whim to put out a sign in the front yard advertising our place for rent. It was pretty cheesy - tag board stating "4 rent Nice House - much nicer than this sign!" It was up about 3 hours and we got two phone calls. They both came at the same time to look at it, boxes and all cluttering the house. The second gal took it! She works and her husband stays home with their 4 children. She lives a block over from us in a smaller house which costs them as much as $500 a month to heat during the winter. They plan on putting up a swingset and a pool. It's comforting to know that a family will be able to enjoy our home.

The other great part is that they are willing to take care of Peaches, our beloved cat. Peaches attempts to avoid children at any cost, so it could be interesting for all of them.

Thus ends a productive, blessed day. We are SO relieved that we have found a renter AND to have the shed cleaned out.

Well...time for me to take a shower and do some fine tuning on my sermon. It should be easy to continue working on the sermon, having God bless us in such an awesome way, taking a big weight off of our shoulders.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good News/Bad News

First the bad news. Found out today that the person that had expressed interest in leasing our home won't be leasing it - she's staying where she's at. Not to be defeated, I contacted another person who expressed interest, and they have already found a place. Therefore I put out an e-mail at work to see if anyone there might be interested. Leasing our home is a real concern, as since we're still paying the mortgage (and not wealthy), we MUST lease it.

I called Sophie Plaza (Apartments) in Fairbanks for more details. Learned that their units do NOT have a microwave or dishwasher, no air conditioning (she sez the most we'll need is a fan), and DOES have plug-ins for our vehicles, stating "that's mandatory!" She then asked where we'd be moving from, like I was clueless. I felt like saying Timbuktu, but sorry fellow Iowans, I told her the truth.

We have the rental application all completed and I'll be faxing it tomorrow. Haven't filled out a rental application in over...well, actually never. Last time I rented was back in 1979, and if I recall correctly, everything was done over a handshake back then! Anyway, the application asked questions that were quite personal, everything from job, to prior residences, credit references, character references, need copy of DL's, etc.

The really, really good news is that the rental prices they quoted me the first time I called were separated by furniture rental per month + rent for the apartment and were for a six month period. I wanted to get 12-month lease rates, and the gal I spoke with tonight stated that the rates that were quoted to me the first time were inaccurate. The price was that was quoted for the apartment (only) included the furniture rental. Cool...that saves us $150 a month!

Nate suggests we go with the year lease, as that will save us $50 per month over the six-month lease. 50 x 12 = $600...sounds good to me - as long as we like the place. Guess I'm willing to take it on.

This week I got my engine heater installed. The Charlie Zook Dodge facility here in SC gives such friendly service. As we dropped off my van for the installation I remarked to Nate how much I'll miss Charlie Zook. Alright - I realize it sounds rather corny to miss one's car dealership. It brought to light that's just another to add to our list of first experiences we'll have in AK.

Before I left, the mechanic pointed out that I really should be getting new tires before going to AK, as he's heard the Alaska Highway isn't 100% paved or smooth, and my tires might not make it. Great! Another expense!

I did a Google for Walgreen's and, believe it or not, there aren't any Walgreens in Fairbanks. Not that I shop a lot at Walgreen's, there are some products of theirs that I do purchase. Does it come as a surprise to you that there's a large city without a Walgreens in the US? Who'd have thought?

Nate submitted his application for BGH yesterday. Camilla stopped by my office over lunch today and told me that Brian will also be applying. If they both get hired, our family will comprise 1/4 of the Iowa BGH staff that will be working in AK.

Gotta get going on filling more boxes for the June 14 rummage and think about how packing boxes and going through one's life's stuff applies to God and Christianity.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Boxes, boxes, and MORE boxes

The Maytag repairman is due at 3:00 today, so we'll hopefully be back in the laundry business soon. Nate and I have been paring down our clothes in our closet and I'd really like to launder everything we'll be taking since we more than likely will be using laundromat facilities in AK.

Over the weekend managed to fill another van load full of "stuff" to take to Goodwill. Also got all the artificial flowers I've been using for our church altar decorations into big plastic tubs to take to the church.

Brittany and Anna stopped by last night - Brittany got some money from her grandpa and it was burning a hole in her pocket. She bought our 10' swimming pool. I told them it needs a pump in order for it to fully function, but I'm guessing she will forge ahead and put some water in it and begin enjoying. She runs a bit short in the patience department.

I've begun to sort through the tubs of fabric I'll be selling at the June 14 rummage and marking them, too. For those of you in the SC area - HUGE rummage Saturday, June 14 @ BGH Center, 525 14th Street, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. All of the families who will be moving to AK will participate, so it should be a big one. There's a gymnasium we can use, so the weather can do what it wants, we'll be open for business.

Received a Happy Anniversary e-mail today....opened it up to see what it was all about. It was a generic e-mail from local movie theater. However, it really got me to thinking. Nate's and my 4th wedding anniversary is this Thursday! How in the world could I have overlooked that - it's not like I have anything else going on in my life.

The living room is now a major maze, with boxes of things for the rummage, unused boxes, and boxes of clothes to move to AK. There are many boxes in the basement too, both empty and full. I ordered more paper to be delivered to work this week, so more boxes will be coming! By the time we get done using some of these boxes we'll have bonded quite well, considering unpacking them @ work, bringing home, packing up for the rummage, unpacking at the rummage and bringing empties home to reload for the move and finally moving to Alaska.

Camilla called last night discussing her dilemma of trying to find an apartment via internet search. It certainly isn't very easy, as few facilities have websites. To complicate matters further, they will be taking Bubba, their lab mix dog, so they need to find accommodations that will accept pets - LARGE pets. I did some searching, too, and came up with a couple, however they are in the top of our affordable range. While I'd like to secure a place before we get out there, I need to restrain myself so we can see the place prior to making a commitment.