Long Days…

Summer is here! The island is green, the sun sets but sits below the horizon for awhile so that it stays light forever, the days alternate between sunny and cloudy, flip flop weather and rain boot weather. This is the time of year we’ll miss most! Beautiful wildflowers, vibrant undergrowth, surprise animal sightings and bird songs everywhere, special times.

Having the daylight for most of 24 hours makes for some definite time confusion. You have to pay extra attention to the clock, because the sun will deceive you by several hours. It makes evening bonfires and hikes easier and more fun.

Summer is also transfer season, when Coast Guard friends move on. So each year we lose some friends from our circles and add new friends. This year much of our circle is dispersing, coasties and townies, over just about a calendar year.

I hate goodbyes. Passionately. But I thank God for friends special enough to make the goodbyes hard. For people we love enough to miss. They make me long for Home, an eternity of days spent in the Sonshine. But in the meantime we are enjoying the long days and time with friends while we have them!

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Making the most of the time

Moving sounds like a waste of precious time, especially since we are hopefully moving back to the lower 48 early next year. But it has already proved to be worth it. We moved out of the trailer we rented when Janessa moved in with us and into an apartment in a 4-plex. It is bright, the neighbors are nice (our last neighbors were too), we have a dishwasher, and my allergies are already better. Worth it!

We are in a precious time, looking at friends leaving (again), looking at leaving ourselves. Looking at last experiences before we move. Last Crab Fest. Last Kodiak summer. Last chance to do things on the mainland before we move. Time feels short and we are trying to make the most of it.

It is bittersweet. We are excited, restless, anxious to be close to family and friends in our other homes again. Eager for game nights with siblings, walks with parents, visits with dear elders, zoos with nieces. And we are sad to be leaving great coworkers, special workplaces, a wonderful community and favorite, beautiful mountains and beaches. We’ll miss the wildlife, the abundant eagles, the intimate community, our small groups, long summer days, Alaska fashion.

This is home, as much as anywhere on earth can be, and this is precious. So we try to number our days and we keep living, holding the tensions of conflicting longings and thanking God for the blessing of this time. For over six years here in Kodiak.

(If you wanted to visit us before we leave, get your plane tickets soon!)

Crab Fest!

It’s Crab Fest! That’s the major Kodiak event, bigger than the fair. Jennifer was here for the beginning of it, which was fun! We enjoyed her visit greatly and already miss her a lot. We did some shopping, ate some great food from the booths, got soaked. Twice. See, this is spring/early summer and that means lots of rain. Which is good, it’s the reason we are called the Emerald Isle. Swollen rivers and ditches now, mud everywhere, means green is coming soon.

It looks like it will be a good summer for salmonberries, there are lots of bushes and they have lots of blossoms already. The last two years there have been hardly any berries, so this should be a great last summer. At least in that way. Assuming we do actually move next winter/spring. Which is still the plan.

Crab Fest isn’t very big or impressive by most standards. There is a small carnival, two aisles or booths with food, information and items for sale. But most of the community goes through at some point, often several times. It’s kind of like a family reunion, only for the whole city. And while Kodiak isn’t perfect, it is very much like a family. We will miss it.

Also, here’s a picture of Jen and Crystal. Jen was here when we got Crystal and Pepper. She walked up to a cat perch, Crystal climbed off of it onto her shoulder, and we adopted her. This visit she claimed Jennifer again in the first five minutes of Jen being here. This is not normal for here, usually this cat hides in the bedroom when we have company of any kind for the first while. She likes quiet and consistency. But old or not, she remembered Jen!

Back to Anchorage

Monday we drove back to Anchorage, ate lunch at Moose’s Tooth (yummy!) and then flew back to Kodiak. Thank God, our flight made it on time with minimal turbulence! We enjoyed our time driving, and had a few surprise extra animal sightings! In addition to more snowshoe hares, our in abundance this trip, we had a moose encounter:

One on each side of the road! A little further we saw four caribou!

And interspersed through the day were more great mountain views!

Sleeping Lady, across the bay from Anchorage:

Sometimes overwhelmed…

We are looking at a lot of coming transitions. In our friend circles, as mentioned in an earlier post, at work, in housing and in hopefully soon in states. As we look ahead to leaving Kodiak early next year, Lord willing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thinking about packing again, moving again, starting new jobs with new coworkers, settling into a new neighborhood, relearning how to function in a city (or anywhere larger than our little community), it makes my head swim sometimes.

I like our small town. I like barely driving. It is great to have a rush hour that consists of a 6 car delay at stop signs. One stoplight suits me fine and the scenery here is hard to beat. Being so close to so many good trails is wonderful. I like recognizing people everywhere I go and having so many of our circles overlap with each other. I like the cooperation between churches here. The relationships between staff at the hospital (where I work) and the clinic (where Fred works). We have it pretty cush in a lot of ways and I enjoy that.

So we are savoring the moments while we are here and storing up memories. Is this our last Crab Fest? Our last Alaska summer? Maybe. Maybe God has a surprise coming, after all we’ve thought we were moving from Kodiak several times before and we’re still here.

Regardless, we will soak up the sun when it breaks through on these long summer days. We’ll cherish the times of laughter, games and discussion with friends. We’ll relish the camaraderie with our coworkers. We anticipate the island turning green again, salmonberries and fiddlehead ferns and beach walks and mountain hikes. The future can be scary, but we are in good hands and this place God has put us is good.

Chiniak Weekend

There is a missionary family that owns a dry cabin in Chiniak, one of the two villages on the road system. They make the cabin available to people from the church to use; the usage fee is doing a maintenance project while you are there. This past weekend a group of young adults went out to cabin. And it was wonderful.

First, the rainy, cloudy weather of the last long time, broke Friday afternoon. So we arrived in the evening to the above scene, across the road from the cabin. And it got better!

We hung out on the beach, by the bonfire, for the evening. Slept in the cabin, some in beds, some on sleeping pads, one on the couch. Saturday morning Fred left early to go to work for the day and I didn’t fall back asleep. So Alanna and I went for a sunrise walk on the beach, while we waited for everyone else to wake up.

That walk alone was worth the whole trip (there were many of those moments, it was a great weekend).

We watched the colors around us shift with the rising sun, listened to the waves wash the shore, caught up on life. I felt refreshed and energized and so appreciative of the family that God has given us in Kodiak.

Both Fred and I have dear family by blood and dear family in the communities we grew up in. Our time at George Fox added more family, and in over six years here we have added more. So many dear ones, scattered around the globe, who hold our hearts, who have given us foretastes of heaven.

The day got better as more people woke up, as the fellowship extended. Work was good, conversation around work was good, lunch on the beach after work was good.

The sun was glorious, reading and visiting on the beach surrounded by people we love was wonderful. Most of the group left in the afternoon, leaving five of us (until Fred got back from work) who stayed until midday Sunday.

We went for drive, looking for a perfect spot to hang out in hammocks, then realized that the back of the cabin lot was probably the ideal place. So we got a fun ride in the sun and then had a restful session of reading/napping on the edge of the forest in the sunlight.

Fred brought pizza for dinner, followed by a rousing game of Bang, then a solid night of sleep. Sunday morning we had church together after breakfast and a last cabin cleanup. We sang, read Ephesians, prayed. Then drove back for needed showers and our regular Sunday afternoon potluck.

By Sunday evening we were exhausted, but what a good exhaustion! Soaking up sunshine, working hard, worshipping hard, loving each other, my heart is full. These times are my favorite, wherever they happen, with whichever part of my family, my spirit swells and sings, as we sang together, “Then sings my soul, My Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”