Coming Soon…A Packing Frenzy!

(The clinic where Fred worked is attached to the hospital. I worked on the third floor)

We just finished our last week of work! Just this morning actually, since I worked Saturday night. We are now officially unemployed, for the first time in 7 years. Today I flip my schedule for the last time, at least for the near future. I’ve decided that time zone changes don’t count.

It is a strange feeling, saying goodbye to the routine of years, to being part of special teams at the hospital and clinic. Though I am very excited to not be working for awhile, I already miss being part of the hospital community, and what that meant for my place in the wider Kodiak community. There will be tears. Thank God for giving us jobs that are hard to leave.

Being done with work means jumping into, we’ll, work. Because now the final packing, cleaning, saying goodbye frenzy begins! We’ve tried to prepare for this, but I’m still expecting to be overwhelmed, emotional, and surprised by the tasks that we forgot about. This week we start checking things off the physical and mental list that could only be done in our last week. And next week we load up and leave. That’ll be it’s own post, or possibly posts. In the meantime, we’ll be soaking up a last week of Kodiak beauty!

The view from the third floor (where I worked)at the hospital.


Almost there…

We got our Vietnam visas last week! And filed taxes, so we don’t have to worry about them while we’re gone. Checking things off as we get closer. And we are closer, down to our last work week! Then a week of last minute visits and preparation, then we’re off!

There is a lot left to do, and much of it will be done in that last week. But we’re getting bits and pieces done in between work shifts. Today I’m attempting deer jerky in the oven, with a cut of meat from our neighbor. We’re moving our stuff from our office (Fred’s) and locker (mine) at work. Shredding old papers that don’t need to go with us. There are so many odds and ends to do that sneak up on us and surprise us.

It’s hard to believe that at this time next week I’ll be switching my sleep schedule to Fred’s and keeping it for a prolonged period of time. That two weeks from today the movers will be picking up most of our remaining belongings.

Stress and sadness about leaving lurk in the corners of our hearts, but we are trying to treasure the moments and let the stress go. Even in the moments of chaos, we’re in good hands and even in the sadness of leaving there is excitement. Because we get to see family soon! And so many dear ones elsewhere. And visit bookstores. The important things of life!

Getting Closer

Three work weeks left for me, two and a half for Fred! It’s coming up fast! We’re making decisions about furniture (leaving more than we thought), about what to mail, what to bring in the car, using up food and trying to get our paperwork lives in order. Taxes will happen as soon as we have all our tax forms, visa applications are coming in the next couple of weeks, as is mail forwarding and address changes in our various online accounts. We’ve been talking health insurance and resumes. Scheduling the last veterinarian appointments, dental visits and physicals.

Stepping into an unknown is scary, but I’m feeling more peace this week. We are grateful for the family that has grown here, that we got to be part of for a time. We look forward to keeping those relationships and seeing dear “Kodiak folk” in other places at other times. Hopefully we’ll see some of them on visits back here too!

Moving is Hard

Moving is a lot of work. Possibly you know this already. I did too, really, but somehow it still surprises me each time. It’s not like we haven’t moved before, we’ve moved a lot. This time is just a lot more work. Our last three moves have been across town, which means weight hasn’t been an issue and we pretty much just transferred our stuff from one place to another. If we hadn’t full sorted and purged our belongings, it was okay because we could sort it out at the new place.

Moving off island is a whole other level of move. We are getting rid of boxes and car loads of stuff, which is great. We are having to analyze everything we own, deciding if it’s worth keeping, if it’s better to replace it when we settle down somewhere, if we should take it in the car or let the movers pack it and send it.

It is freeing to get rid of so much extraneous stuff. It’s hard to look at gifts, mementos, pieces of our past, and weigh their sentimental value versus the joy of decreased clutter. Looking at things we seldom or never use and allowing ourselves to say goodbye (myself, Fred usually does better at getting rid of things).

I have done a lot of heart wrestling, convincing myself that it’s okay to get rid of this sweater from my mom. I have other things from her that I use all the time, getting rid of this one is not devaluing her memory. Or that gift from our wedding/my birthday/graduation, whatever event, that we don’t use and probably won’t use later. It’s okay to let it go, that doesn’t change our love and valuing of the giver.

Many things purged, many still to be sorted. And then comes the “fun” of figuring out what is important enough or needed enough to come down in car with us. How much will fit, what will we need right away, what do we not trust to the barge, . . . So many large and small decisions that I mull over and over.

The closer we get to our leaving date, the more we dread uprooting from Kodiak. We have loved this home; we have loved being Alaskan. The nearer we get to being with family, the more eager we are to be gone. To be closer, to be an active part of those dear ones lives. We dread job hunting and already miss our coworkers, we are excited for our prolonged vacation and for so many days together. We are nervous about being unemployed (3 months with no paychecks, are we crazy?), we are excited to see how God leads. I fight to rest in His leading and timing, to be anxious for nothing.

Moving is hard. Transitions are hard. This is a big move and a bigger transition. But hard does not mean bad. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know how easy or hard these changes may be. “But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.”

(Storm was helping me plot out how much would fit in the back of our car)

Until That Day

Once in a world of darkness
Hope came and light broke through.
Again it seems lights hiding,
I lift my cry to You,
“May Hope break forth anew.”

Babe lying in night shadows,
In days of tyrant kings.
As man joining the outcasts
Whose cry to heaven rings,
“Hide us beneath Your wings!”

Babe, man, death, resurrection–
And living hope, now mine.
“A light shone in the darkness,”
Which light will ever shine
On those who are called “Thine.”

Sometimes my eyes are tear dimmed,
And light seems far away.
Heart bowed down, spirits failing–
Still You, my hope and stay,
Who’ll right all wrong one day.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell, 2018

Lots of tickets

So I thought I’d share some background on how this crazy trip got started and how it has developed over time. It’s been a process, let me tell you!

Both of us enjoy travel and we’ve hoped to take a couple of trips when we moved out of Kodiak. The first was a long overdue visit to our friend Devin, in Japan. The second was a visit to the East Coast, to some family and friends that we haven’t seen in awhile. Fred started thinking about combining those trips and we started looking at tickets. Given that they are opposite directions from the west coast, where we’d be starting, we quickly realized that we’d either need adjust the trip contents or the trip timing and make them two trips.

Then I started doing some dreaming, and a friend from Kodiak moved to Egypt, and suddenly we were thinking of a much longer, more involved possibility. I looked at round the world (RTW) tickets and got a preliminary price quote, which opened new doors as we realized that RTW tickets with multiple stops could cost barely more than just the San Diego to Tokyo tickets. All of a sudden it made sense to take our normal length trip and turn it into a more prolonged vacation. After all, we’d be between jobs and already moving around, why not make the trip epic? So I did more looking and found equivalent flights from budget airlines through sites like Kayak and Hopper and we thought that was going to be our plan.

We made a target itinerary and I went to the individual airlines’ sites to get the actual tickets. And promptly realized that I had miscalculated, because many budget airlines don’t include carryon luggage in the cheapest tickets. So once I adjusted cost to include carryon luggage it was no longer a huge savings. In fact, round the world tickets (through Air Treks) cost the same or a little less and would let us check a bag if we needed.

We wanted flexibility in our West Coast time, so started and ended our RTW tickets from San Diego. We left holes in the itinerary, to be filled by rental cars, trains and budget flights (where needed). Air Treks has great customer service and helped us figure out where to leave holes and where to lock down flights. They have managed flight status changes, of which there have already been several, and presented travel insurance options.

We have since filled the itinerary holes with rental car reservations for the East Coast, train plans for Central Europe, and a flight from Prague to Athens, where our itinerary picks up with the flight to Egypt. It sounds so easy, reading it here, but those three legs took hours of research! I compared trains, flights and cars for cost and time for each of those legs. I found several ways to buy train tickets and crunched numbers again and again with different combinations of individual and group tickets, of passes and station-to-station tickets. And I spent hours just on the Prague to Athens leg, looking for bus and train options to get down, getting excited about exploring in layovers like Belgrade, Dubrovnik, or Thessaloniki. Hours of research and brainstorming culminating in a quick, cheap flight with Aegean Air. And giving us more time to explore southern Greece, which makes it a win/win/win!

So far we have ferry and plane tickets and car reservations, with train tickets still to be ordered. City pass reservations for some places, Airbnb reservations, so many tickets, so much paperwork! There’s a lot left to do and the trip approaches quickly, but a lot is done already. And soon we’ll be on the road!

Alien Ways

Aliens and strangers wending courses o’er the earth,
looking for their homeland since the day of their new birth.
They walk with eyes fixed heavenward, feet planted in this sod,
peacemakers, warriors, children, loving fellow men and God.

In this cruel world they mercy show,
to poor oppressed let justice flow,
humble in the path they go,
enduring to the end.

copyright Jonelle Liddell, 2018.


Thank you God for smiles,
Bits of sunshine in my soul.
Thank you for green mountains
And rain making flowers grow.
Thank you for my family
Each holding part of me,
For friends to play and work with
As through life I still journey.
And God, thank you for heartache,
For waves driving me to you.
Thank you for the valleys
When your light barely breaks through.
For your love and for salvation,
For the hope still sure and true,
For all these things I’m grateful,
Please receive this thanks, your due.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell, 2018

Staring Down 12 Work Weeks

This starts week 12 (12 work weeks left) in our workweek countdown to moving. And emotional swings surprise me. For instance, last week we had a staff meeting for the third floor at the hospital. It started with a ceremony led by the chaplain. He was introducing the new Providence mission statement and leading a discussion around it. And I kept tearing up, feeling so thankful for the opportunity to work with people dedicated to this mission.

Then came the recognition of anniversaries, for an RN finishing 5 years here and a CNA finishing 10 years. And I got teary, because we are leaving at year 7, I won’t get reach 10 years. Such mixed feelings, excitement for more free time and hopefully not working full time. Sadness at leaving this unit with these people and these patients, a really special job with a really special team. Someone once said that here in Kodiak we are friends and family caring for friends and family. It’s true. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I do love it.

So here’s to being one week closer to moving, closer to vacation, closer to precious family time. And here’s to one more week that we get to spend in Kodiak. Thank you Lord for both!