Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Unveiling

Since last Friday, we have awakened each morning to the patter of rain on the roof and clouds and fog hid everything back of the tree line from view. It has been muddy and gloomy. Since lunch, a brilliant blue sky with warm, drying sunshine has broken through on the bay outside the dining hall window. The distant mountains are beginning to peak through puffy clouds, as though they are being unveiled by our Maker, again revealing the majesty of His creations.

But there is another unveiling that occurs here. Each week, a new family of volunteers arrives. We weep at the parting of old friends we have made in the few days we spent together. But soon, the unveiling of the lives of new friends begins, and we begin to bond in the friendship that will reach far beyond this earth. Someday, there will be a great reunion in a more perfect place than this...a place where perfect love will mean no parting, no tears, no illness. When we part, we can say with certainty, "We will meet again!" What a wonderful hope Jesus planted within each believer. What a gift! My heart fills with wonder and praise at that great gift of hope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Incredible Week

This week has been an incredible week at Port Alsworth. We had about three days of weather that was so gorgeous, it took my breath away. How anyone could visit this place and not acknowledge the glory of God would be beyond me. The temperature topped out in the lower 70's, but is back down to the more typical 50's today. The mosquitoes have awakened from their slumber and have been voraciously attacking every warm body.

The singing group of young people who perform under the name "Flyleaf" spent two days and helped out by working on various projects, as well as some time fishing and relaxing. I did not hear them perform, and my grandchildren said I probably would not care for their music, but I did enjoy having them here and getting to feed them good food. They shared in our morning devotions on Tuesday a.m., and I was impressed with their desire to honor God with their lives and their music. They are now headed for Canada for Rock the City Crusade with Franklin Graham and other groups.

Loons have arrived on the bay and I have watched them from the dining room window last evening and again this morning. It appears to be a family of four. They are beautiful cruising and diving in the water, but most beautiful when in site. We heard them call last evening, but it was not the mournful cry, but more of a quack.

The construction is moving along...speeding up to try to get as much done before freezing weather arrives. Those coming in as volunteers included two young men from Colorado. One was an expert in staining and helped finish that job. The other is by trade a designer of outdoor living spaces. He is working hard to layout and start the plans for new decks on each of the cabins. God seems to provide what is needed exactly when it is needed. The other three who came in on Monday are from California. These five will be leaving on Monday and we have eight new ones arriving.

I love all the cooking and baking - baking lots of bread and desserts. I certainly feel blessed to be a part of this opportunity.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week Two in Alaska

We are starting our second week in Alaska. Four of the ones who arrived with us last Monday returned to their homes yesterday. They were missed last night. It is amazing how quickly friendships develop among those who have the same Savior. However, we are now getting acquainted with a Mennonite couple from Pennsylvania, and a gentlemen from Georgia.

After a good drying wind over the weekend, the rains and resulting mud returned today. The temperatures are very comfortable so far. Cooking is one of those never-ending jobs, but we are getting a handle on it so that we can take a break in the afternoon. Last week, we were putting in a 12 to 14 hour days, plus trying to adjust to the time difference.

Bill and I are both doing better this week. He did not tell me that he had a little mishap on one of the four-wheelers last week. That was probably much of the problem with his knees and back. The weekend of rest seems to have revived both of us. We are hoping to do some hiking this next weekend. There is a beautiful falls about 2 miles away (much of it uphill). We would like to go when we have lots of time. We were told by a hunting guide that there is a black bear on the mountain just across the cove from the dining hall. We are wishing for some binoculars so we can observe him.

Thought I would share what a day of cooking is like here at Port Alsworth. For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, and mixed fresh fruit bowl. For lunch we had bratwurst with sauerkraut, creamed spinach soup, some leftover potato salad, leftover sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, potato chips, fresh cherries, and leftover four-layer dessert from last night's meal. For the evening meal, we will have grilled steaks, baked potatoes, steamed cauliflower, tossed green salad, garlic toasted bread, and blueberry buckle for dessert. As you can see we stay pretty busy. We have a local girl who comes in about 11:00 and does dishes for both lunch and dinner. She will only be here until the end of August, then she leaves for school.

It is time to get back to the kitchen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life in Alaska

Hello again from "up north to Alaska". Maybe we are beginning to become accustomed to being four hours later than home in Kansas. I was able to stay up past 9:00 last night and still get up at 5:00 this morning...however, it did take Bill calling me six times to get me awake. We are going to try out a new alarm next week to see if that helps.

It has been interesting working here. We are both pretty exhausted at the end of the work day and do our "senior toddle" back to the cabin. After a hot shower, we feel a little bit better, then a good night's sleep helps, too. For the most part, we are on our feet a good part of the day. A young college girl comes in and helps with dishes, cleaning floors, laundry, etc. around 11:00. We have to do the breakfast dishes, then begin to prepare for lunch. Usually, we try to do some kind of sandwich and soup for lunch. We had tacos and ham & bean soup yesterday; grilled hamburgers and zucchini soup today. As soon as lunch is over, we begin the evening meal which is the main meal of the day. We will take turns working Saturday and Sunday to have a little break.

Yesterday, Susan took me on the four-wheeler for a tour of the area. I was mistaken in my initial understanding of where we would be. The Tanalian Bible Camp is to our north (I think). Samaritan's Purse purchased a hunting/fishing lodge next to the Bible Camp. They are remodeling it and will make it handicap accessible to be used by wounded veterans and their families. The photos I have posted cannot capture the beauty of the area.

It is hard to grasp how people live in this area when you consider that everything arrives by plane. They have to call in or send by e-mail their shopping list and then the plane brings it in. All building supplies, fuel, etc. must come in on a plane. They just brought in some insulated windows today and in order to preserve the seal on the windows, they had to come through the pass - could not go over a certain altitude.

Yesterday, the fuel tanker plane came in and landed about 50 foot from our kitchen. It was a huge plane for the gravel airstrip that SP has built here. Susan and I were about to take cover under the work table because it was so loud and came down so hard when it landed. There is lots of traffic on the inlet cove out the large windows at the end of the dining hall. Both sea planes and boats can be seen throughout the day.

Well, I need to get back to work on another side dish for our evening meal. Pray that our bodies will hold up through the weeks ahead. We have met some neat people, and I am sure there will be others in the next crew that comes in on Monday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day Two at Port Alsworth

Today has been gray and rainy. Fog enveloped the mountains across the lake off and on all day. It has been a busy day in the kitchen and this "old gal" is pretty tired tonight.

We were without water for a couple of hours this afternoon while they were working on construction. We are both pretty laid back, so no one gets excited if things have to be adjusted. Susan has pretty well turned desserts over to me, which is great. I did make guacamole for our Mexican meal this evening.

We have enjoyed getting acquainted with the crew that is here. Several will be leaving on Tuesday, and probably some new ones will be arriving. We are never sure how many we will have for a meal but so far we have had leftovers (which we will probably warm them up for the weekend).

Monday, August 9, 2010

First date at Port Alsworth

We arrived at the Samaritan's Purse base camp at Soldotna, Ak., Sunday evening. The flight from Chicago to Anchorage was an endurance test. We were nearly and hour late leaving Chicago, waiting in line to the runway. We were in the air for over six hours on a fully loaded Boeing 737.

A bear had been sighted at the base camp Sunday a.m., so we were warned to make lots of noise if we went up to the shower/restroom building. I made Bill get up at 3:00 a.m. to go up to the restroom with me.

We flew out to Port Alsworth this morning. Another plane loaded with groceries followed us over, so we spent the a.m. trying to get the groceries sorted and stored. We have three refrigerators and two freezers, and pantry full of food, so we should be able to provide adequate meals. Seven of us flew in this morning. About five or six full-time employees are working with volunteers to run water lines and sewer lines to the cabins.

Bill and I are sharing a cabin. I will send more photos via Facebook tomorrow. The weather is very pleasant. We are watching salmon running in the lake (from inside the dining area). Huge fish are jumping all over the surface.