Saturday, September 30, 2006

Our second Sabbath

I imagine things around here will begin to slow down soon as we settle in some more and the daily and weekly routines take hold. And as a result, I think these updates will also become less frequent. After all, there's only so much that can be written about daily routines without become rather repetitive.

Today, we spent our second Sabbath here. There were about eleven of us altogether during the worship time. I spoke about the mist and clouds, and how God spoke to me through them this week. i forgot to turn on the voice recorder, so there won't be an audio this week. I have the sermon notes for anyone who is interested.

Briefly, I talked about how I saw some of how God works with us and the rest of creation in the mist and clouds. The fundamentals remain the same -- H2O for water, and God's character never changes. But how the clouds and mist constantly move, change and wrap around things is similar to how God's approach varies depending on individuals and circumstances. And as clouds and mist never force things they encounter to change, God, too, never forces his will.

And then I talked about how God is often depicted as being in a cloud, or accompanied by a cloud. The pillar of cloud during the Exodus; the cloud that filled the Temple during Solomon's dedication; how Jesus will return in the clouds; etc. And I spoke about the rainbow and the promise of salvation that it ultimately points to - the rainbow that surrounds God's throne.

Ultimately, what I discovered this week is that clouds can be a reminder of God's constant presence in this world and in our lives. A very good one in a place like Petersburg where clouds seem more abundant than sun.

Ironically, today we had quite a bit of sun, particularly in the morning hours while I was talking about the clouds. In the afternoon we had quite a few episodes of squalls coming down followed by sun breaks. The weather turned a bit chillier last night, with temps coming down into the 40's and rising just barely above 50 today.

We had lunch with the Herbrandsons and Laurean, who is a blind lady and attends faithfully and always has a smile. I think many of us who have things much better would do well to learn a bit about keeping our spirits up from people like Laurean.

Starting tonight and for the next week, we are opening up the church each evening for a week of prayer. I am hoping there will be members coming by -- if not for all evenings, at least some of them. Tualatin church, in recent years, has been a pretty good training ground for low expectations. I won't be terribly disappointed if no one shows up.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Animal Antics

An interesting little sight this morning: A couple of deer were out wandering about in front the apartment, grazing, like they often do. A dog came strolling through on the sidewalk. The deer look at the dog, the dog looks at the deer. The dog (I think) tries to threaten the deer by scraping the ground with its fore and hind legs (sort of like what a bull does before it charges).

The dog looks like it could be thinking, "I'm a dog, you're deer. You're supposed to run away now, but you're not. If you don't run, I can't chase. What do I do now?"

And the deer are looking at the dog, a little warily, but perhaps thinking, "You're a dog, we're deer. We're supposed to be afraid of you, but you don't seem so sure of yourself. So we'll just continue our little grazing here until you make up your mind."

The dog approaches, slowly, the deer move away cautiously. And this continues for a few minutes. The dog gives up and goes on its way and the deer are left alone to continue their interrupted morning routine.

I suppose to get the full effect you had to see it. It really was a most interesting episode.

We get weekly reports from our real estate broker every Friday. This was another slow week -- just one showing. A new ad went out this Thursday in the local Sherwood paper and a listing will also be in the Oregonian on Sunday. So we are hoping for a bit more activity. We are still within the average days on market, so I guess we still need to hold on and be patient. I myself keep up on the active listings in the area and agree with our broker that there isn't a whole lot of competition to our house, and that our price is still competitive. But now, having to pay rent in addition to a mortgage, finances are starting to get tight. We would really like to see it sold soon. This is our number one concern at this time. Our second concern is for one of us, preferably Elise, to find work and one that includes some benefits -- this would help out tremendously with our cash flow, particularly if our house continues to remain unsold.

Today, we got our second "dry" day of the week. It only showered for a couple of hours. I went out bicycling for about an hour, and then Elise and I walked to the bank to open a new account. Neither time did we get rained upon. It used to be that if the weather looked even remotely damp, I'd choose to not go out cycling. Now, I'm having to change that mindset and instead, if I spot a bit of a break in the clouds, it's time to get out.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One Week

It has been a week now since our arrival. We are still pretty much in camping mode. The transfer agent in town called today and told us that the container has arrived. But this being a small town and all, the company doesn't have people just standing around waiting for jobs to come around. So the employees go out crab fishing, moose hunting, etc. He thinks the earliest he can get enough people together is this coming Monday. When told where we were staying, he suggested we might need two apartments to hold all the stuff... I hope not.

It's been a number of years since we had a Sharp microwave oven. Things have certainly evolved on these things. There is a "sensor" setting that measures the water content in the cooking chamber and determines when the cooking is done. We've cooked rice, vegetables, and reheated foods and they've all come out quite well. I think the rice came out better than in a rice cooker, and certainly better than by stove top. And the best part is that there is no burning or sticking that has to be cleaned up. We think we can dismiss a couple of appliances -- a rice cooker and a vegetable steamer -- from atop our counter with very limited space.

The girls are now signed up for one of the homeschool organizations in the state. Basically, in Alaska, the state education system sponsors homeschooling organizations because many of the students are in remote locations. So the homeschoolers are by all accounts in the public school system, just not attending a physical public school. These organization reimburse qualified educational expenses up to a certain amount per year.

The property next to us is currently undergoing development. For the past few days the construction crew has been preparing the lot to lay a foundation. Due to the rather wet and boggy nature of much of the sea-level ground, they have to first dig down and then bring in truckload after truckload of crushed rock, and then compress it down into the ground. There's been a truck loaded with rocks coming in once every 15 to 30 minutes for several hours each day. Our landlady tells us that it's costing the owner/developer (her parents, I believe) $10,000 a day to get this work done. This is another reason why new construction is so expensive in these parts. Just as I'm writing this, it looks like they are done with the part that requires the compactor. It just got loaded onto a trailer to be taken away.

Other than the big roller equipment shaking the entire earth (I'm sure the shaking would register on the Richter scale around possibly a 3) around here when it's compacting the rocks, the apartment is rather quiet this time of year. Jody, our landlady, says that during the summer months things get a bit wilder with all the temporary workers staying here. But due to the particularly bad weather this summer and poor fishing conditions, many tenants have left. I think less than half the units are currently occupied.

I mentioned to Elise this morning that the cable guy is supposed to come out today to install the cable modem. There was no time given -- just sometime today. Elise replied that at least this is something that is the same the world over -- waiting for the cable guy. He came this afternoon and so I'm be on a semi-fast connection today (512K/128K), paying double the Verizon Fios rate for one-tenth the speed. Here, there are even slower packages that are still considered broadband. The local cable installer guy is out of town, so the company brought in someone from Ketchikan to fill in during the absence.

The cable system here is operated by GCI. They provide not just cable services, but long distance telephone and cell phone services. Back in Portland, to get a discount on cable services, one has to subscribe to multiple ones. Here, to get a discount on cable Internet service, I had to sign up for a long distance service. That's just as well because I realized that in order to send faxes outside this city, I need a landline long distance service. And it turns out that for the cost of a second local cell phone number, we could get an equivalent 250 minutes of out-of-state long distance on our land line. Once we get one of our utility bills we will likely be cancelling two of our Portland cell phone numbers and replacing them with one local number.

It's taken a week, but we have most of our utilities and services operational now. It's starting to almost feel like home! It's amazing how just these small things can turn into major inconveniences to annoy and frustrate.

Picture links fixed

Thanks to the individual informing me that the photo links weren't quite right. They are fixed now and should go to the larger versions.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sunrise and Orcas

(Click on photos for larger images.) I awoke this morning and peeked out our front window and saw the best sunrise yet since our arrival nearly a week ago. I rushed back to get my camera and in the process awoke Elise. There was a glow in the skies from a few breaks in the clouds, and the clouds were just high enough for a peek of the distant snow-capped mountains in the distance.

I went down over the highway guardrail down to the water's edge to capture a few images. I probably spent five to ten minutes before the clouds closed back in and the light and colors quickly disappeared. On the walk back I encountered a beached pink/purplish jellyfish about 12 inches in diameter. Elise and the girls came out to view this most recent finding.

Towards midday I went out for a bicycle ride. It was off and on pouring rain. I went through the city and towards the south side of the island for the first time since we've arrived this time. I'm sure some of the drivers who passed me wondered what I was doing along a stretch of road that really isn't populated, in the rain. I went about eight miles out total before making a U-turn to head back. Riding a bike in the rain isn't really all that bad -- I used to commute in the rain -- provided one has the right gear to keep dry inside. It's actually quite refreshing to feel the rain drops and feel the water cascade down my face.

Mid-afternoon our landlady ran up to our door and banged on it frantically. She had binoculars in hand and pointing towards the Narrows was exclaiming "Killer whales!" We rushed out and saw what she was talking about, so I rushed back in to get my camera, switch to a long telephoto lens, and ran back out just in time to catch them going through.

The pod of Orcas moved on into Frederick Sound where they stayed for quite a few minutes, probably feeding on some salmon out there.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More photos now posted

A sample of photos and comments about them from Sep-19 through today are posted at Here are just a few samples of what the rest of the gallery holds:

Dial-up and a picture

Our dial-up account was activated yesterday, so I can now upload small photos. Here is one of us standing in front of the apartments looking out towards the Narrows.

Sermon audio Sep. 23

Here is the sermon from this last Sabbath:

Monday, September 25, 2006

A dry day

We had a respite from the rain today. We awoke to brighter skies, though still mostly overcast. For a good part of the morning we were able to see some of the more distant islands and even some of the mainland, although the mountains remained obscured by the thick clouds. There were even a few sunbreaks that illuminated parts of the landscape such that they glowed against the rest of the landscape. Toward noon though, more clouds rolled in although the rain has stayed away.

Both our cats have gone out for a walk the last couple of days. Stripey is not to keen on it however. He does not like all the wet on the ground. Vivvy, on the other hand, appears to have adjusted to the fact that the ground is simply going to be different from what she has experienced in the past. She spent quite a few minutes on her leash today exploring the varieties of ground around the apartments.

The clouds, fog, and mist that make their way through past our front window is absolutely fascinating. I could spend hours watching the different forms and shapes pass by. They mold and wrap around the hills and trees. Some of the mist appears to rise out of the hill itself. All this reminds me again of the account of creation, particularly the first few verses and where the Spirit of God hovering over the waters is mentioned.

I bicycled over to the church to sort through mail that had been accumulating for 2 or 3 years. Most of it was dated material or junk and were tossed. A few items I uncovered that need to be handled soon. After that I returned to the apartment via the airport and scenic route. Even that was only four miles long.

Our phone got connected today. It turns out that the phone co had tried on Fri but they found an active line already and we had neglected to leave our cell number, so they couldn't connect the new number until I called them back today.

I also signed up for a dial-up account. It is supposed to be activated today - we'll see. As for a faster connection, I'll probably go with the cable system. The dial-up will remain useful for connecting from the church. On this island all broadband access is metered by the amount of monthly data transfer, except for the much more expensive satellite service. There are no big pipes (apparently) connecting the island to the rest of the data world. So we are also on a virtual island where the routes in and out are limited.

Elise and the kids walked into town this afternoon, their first excursion on foot since our arrival. Elise discovered that another person in town needed a dehumidifier and that individual was going to have one of the hardware stores order one. So it looks like we will do likewise. Keeping both the kitchen and bathroom vents running, plus keeping the windows cracked open also seems to help a tiny bit. We have to watch the windows, however, because the cats can push them open and make an escape attempt.

All in all, it's been an interesting few days.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


The clouds and rain I don't mind that much. It's the general dampness indoors that is getting to me. The relative humidity indoors is sitting at or above 60%. So clothing that comes in wet, like coats, take a rather long time to dry. And I doubt the dampness is going to be good long-term for some of my sensitive electronics and optics.

Amy loves to go out in the rain and play in the mud. And when she comes in, her clothes are usually pretty saturated. This does NOT help with the humidity problem.

So there's a solution: a dehumidifier, right? The only problem is that I don't think anyone on this island sells one, and I'm beginning to think that no one has heard of one, either. So it looks like we're going to have to ship one in once we get a PO Box.

If anyone has suggestions, I'd be happy to listen to them.

I walked the 0.8 miles or so into town today. At my pace it takes around 10 to 15 minutes. The church is another 8 to 10 beyond. With some good water-tight outerwear it really isn't that bad walking in the rain.

I put my bike back together today. Tomorrow is supposed to dry up a bit, so I'm hoping to be able to get out on my bike.

We are continuing to sort through the stuff we brought with us and settle in. The next big event will be the arrival of the container. The things may get ugly.

I also need to get at least a dial-up internet service because going through the BlackBerry service is getting a little tedious.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A few happenings

Our apartment is just a highway width away from the north end of Wrangell Narrows ("The Narrows"). We get to see various boats sail by, the gulls and other sea birds fly by, and at least in this weather the comings and goings of the fog over the waters and the tree covered islands across the channel.

There are also a doe and a pair of her offspring that live here and make daily grazing rounds about the apartment grounds. This morning I caught on camera one of them staring into our window with our cats staring back.

Our cats appear to have adjusted well to their new surroundings. The windows don't have any sills, so the first few times the cats tried to get on to the edges, it was rather entertaining seeing them scrambling for non-existent footholds and then clumsily dropping to the floor.

From our apartment, the church is about 1.3 miles away. If it was just me, I'd probably walk, but the kids would likely complain if I made them walk in the rain.

We arrived at the church this morning right around 9:30 and just a minute or so before a member arrived to open it up. There were a total of 9 individuals, including our family, in attendance today. One of those, Chris, is also new to Petersburg. He arrived just a day before us. He plans to stay here through the remainder of the year. He will be a welcome addition to the church, even if only temporarily. He comes from Hayward, CA and came here to get away from some of the busy-ness to find time to connect more deeply with God. I pray that he can find what he needs and that we can be of assistance in his search.

Normally after I give a sermon, I feel completely drained and my back sore from the strain of it all, but for whatever reason, I felt fine today. I also tend to get very sleepy Sabbath afternoons, but again I am feeling quite awake and alert today. Maybe it's nothing, but perhaps this is a small way in which God is letting me know that I am where he wants me.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Trying to get things set up

We were greeted to a nice day of clouds and rain. Our first stop was the Post Office where we tried to rent a box. But they were all out of readily available ones and were told to return next week when the combinations on available ones would be changed. What happens here is that all box rentals are free because there is no other delivery option. Each rental goes for six months. Many temporary residents don't inform the PO when they leave so the box can't be reassigned until the term expires. We are at the end of the summer season so many of the boxes are just expiring.

We next purchased a microwave so that we could at least cook a few things without pots and pans. We plan to borrow some from the church tomorrow.

We also stopped at the Salvation Army Store and obtained some boots and a heavy sheet to cover one of the bedroom windows.

We ordered phone service. It was sippard to have been connected today, but as of now the number is still inactive. (If you want the number, please email me.)

Earlier in the day as I was contemplating all that had to be done and the current condition of our living, and also all the things that would be arriving for which we have no room, I felt more than a little discouraged. I've been reading the book of Hebrews and I think I can identify a little with the recipients of that epistle. Like them I had questions about what I had gotten into, thoughts of wanting to go back to the knowns of the past.

But as we ticked off a few accomplishments, however minor they mat be, the obstacles facing us seem a little smaller and a little more manageable. I think that is how the walk of faith works. As God leads us, he gives us just enough strength to take a step at a time, and each step that we do take builds into the strength and courage to take the next one. We are all tempted to stop taking these steps because some seem so difficult and uncertain. If we give in, we stop growing and it becomes easier to given up altogether. As I read Hebrews, the message for me is to keep going, no matter how difficult or uncertain the visible future may be, because in the end all that I go through will be worth it and will have had meaning and purpose in God's grand plan.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Farewell, Malaspina

One final post tonight. We saw a ship moving outside our window. It looked awfully familiar. Checking the time, it was just 15 minutes after the scheduled departure of the Malaspina. It was cool seeing the ferry that had been our home for 2 days one last time sailing by our new home on land.

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And so the adventure continues

We drove out from the ferry terminal to where we believed the apartment to be. Once we found it we looked around to see if anyone was around. There wasn't anyone.

Elise found the unit with the number we had been told open, empty, and lights on. Amy found keys in a kitchen drawer. So we moved in, left a message with the manager, and hope that we have the right apt.

On the way we paused at the downtown grocery store but it was already closing time. So after we unloaded a few items, Elise made her way to the larger one near the airport. We will be having some oven baked boxed pizza tonight. We noticed that we have to purchase a microwave oven. And curtains - or at least some butcher paper. Now I know everyone here knows what everyone else is doing, but we probably don't need to make it easier than is necessary.

The apartment is 2 bedrooms, and with nothing in it yet, it seems large enough, but I'm sure that once it is filled with all the stuff we had shipped, it will be packed wall to wall. The interior has a 70's or an 80's look to it.

There was a family from Idaho on the ferry with us through to Ketchikan. They had sold or given away everything except what fit into a cargo trailer that came along. Some friend they knew has a house on Prince of Wales Island that needs house sitting, so off they went. Compared to that what we're doing seems tame.

The apartment manager just got back in and stopped by, so yes! We are in the right place.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Petersburg Arrival

This is just a short entry to note our safe arrival to Petersburg.

Much remain before us. To start with we need to establish basic services and a PO box for mail delivery.

Last word from the moving specialist is that our cargo will arrive the first week of October. Until then we will remain in a camping state.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.


We are docked in Wrangell at this moment. It is a small town of around 2,000 located just south of Petersburg and is the closest town. It is a 3 hour ferry trip between the two towns, or a 30 minute flight.

From the town I can see numerous smaller islands all around, one after another, each one nesting behind another, forming ever dissolving silhouettes towards the horizon.

Although a smaller town, the Adventist church in Wrangell is larger and more active than Petersburg. That can likely be attributed to the more consistent presence of a pastor at the church who also lives on the island. One reason we made the decision to move to Petersburg is to remedy one of the reasons that we believe is an obstacle to improvements in the work of the church there. We hope that a consistent, personal presence will help establish our church as a solid presence in the community.

Petersburg and Wrangell are a church district. Dave Brown, also most recently from Oregon, is a retired pastor who is overseeing the district. He lives in Wrangell and we expect to see him in Petersburg about once a month.

The SE Alaska Adventist summer camp is located on Vank Island which is between Wrangell and Mitkof Islands.

I imagine we will have occasion to make our way onto Wrangell from time to time.

I've had chance to converse with a couple of the galley crew each time we go through for a meal. One particularly has been interested in the reasons behind our move and what we will be doing. To let God lead and then simply tell our story - I think that is the heart of what we are called to do. Leave all the rest up to God.

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We arrived this morning in Ketchikan. It is a good sized city - the last one we will see in probably many months. We encountered more rough seas during the night. Fortunately, being in bed helped with surviving the rolls.

Unlike the earlier weather forecast, we were greeted by mostly cloudy skies with some sun and no rain. As we leave Ketchikan behind, shafts of sun rays beam down through the clouds onto the hills rising up out of the water.

All around us islands rise up- some probably 3 or 4,000 feet high. This is as close to unspoiled wilderness as one will likely find anywhere. At least on this side of heaven, this is probably the best example of what it must have been like when God separated the waters from the land - I can see the waters in the air and below, and the dry land between.

Our cats appear to be fine and have adjusted to life in a crate. They only have half a day more of this before they have new lands to explore.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

En Route

(This will be posted a day after it is written after I get inside data range.)

The sailing out of Bellingham was simply magnificent. The setting sun lit up the city we were leaving behind.

During the evening pet call we discovered that Stripey had made the litter box his bed. The following morning, both cats had climbed into the litter box as their resting place.

The cafeteria aboard the Malaspina has a decent selection of foods - even for vegetarian types. Cost per meal range from $5 to 15 depending on what one gets.

We awoke to rain this morning (Wed). The going got quite rough a few hours later as we entered Queen Charlotte Sound and were no longer protected from the ocean swells. The bathrooms became a rather popular destination for many of the passengers. Amy lost it, but Shelley was absolutely unaffected. Who knows, she could make a good sailor one day.

I don't know if the crew expected this degree of roughness as I heard quite a few crashes from the galley. I heard from a passenger that was in the area that kitchen items were flying about during the roughest parts.

Once the swells began to settle down, the clouds also broke to show some sun and reveal the beauty of the Canadian islands.

The clouds and rain have returned this afternoon, together with gale force winds. Even so, as we pass by what seems like stone's throw away from the islands, the mist and clouds add a unique beauty to the scenery.

I had T-Mobile service for a few hours after we started out, and then I was able to get Rogers signal. Mt Verizon service was getting analog roaming from Canada this morning.

We've seen other ferries, boats, sailboats, and barges pass by traveling in the other direction.

At this time of year there aren't that many passengers going northbound. The ferry is relatively empty.

The skies cleared up a bit this afternoon as we passed through Waglisla in the Bella Bella Indian Reserve. This was the first sighting of any significant civilization since Vancouver BC last night. The combination of clouds and sun make for some good photo ops.

For a few minutes a rainbow appeared over the water and framed an island. Superlatives fail to express the magnificence and wonder of this part of the world. The theme of ocean, sky, and landforms may be the same, but the variety of ways in which they are manifest make every moment unique and not to be repeated again. It's like music - 12 notes per octave, but the way they are combined and placed in sequence, the way they are interpreted results in infinite possible performances.

We saw the first bald eagle of this voyage near the village of Klemtu. This is a native Canadian village along this ferry route. The rain was coming down fairly hard during this time.

I learned tonight that this sailing encountered the first rough seas of the season. All summer long the seas were calm going through the rough areas that we experienced today. So the best time to use the ferry is during the summer months - better weather and calmer seas.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Now on Board

Well, with all the security and such we didn't actually start boarding until 4 PM. We are in our stateroom that looks out currently to the Fairhaven part of Bellingham.

She's a good sized boat. Two miniature horses are on board a pickup just behind ours. Lots of dogs yipping away below.

One more hour until launch.

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At Bellingham

After one final hectic night of packing, sorting, and cleanup, we started out this morning. We stopped at Elise's family for one final visit and goodbyes and then headed off out of Oregon.

Our cats seemed to do fairly well in the car. For a few hours they were able to roam inside the vehicle and find appropriate perches.

We are now at the port, waiting in front of the M/V Malaspina and should be driving onto her in a few more minutes.

It's a partly cloudy day here. Very beautiful outgoing weather. The forecast for the Inside Passage isn't so good, however. We'll see how it goes.

The next entry will likely be from somewhere in Alaska.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Ready to Go?

By this time tomorrow, we will be well out of Oregon. The reality that we are leaving Oregon for good is finally hitting home.

I spent much of the morning breaking apart boxes, filling the trashcan past full, taking apart wooden shelves, and disassembling my bicycle to put into a bike box. That last bit was not fun. While attempting to take one of the pedals off, I skewered my right pinky knuckle on a chainring tooth and it bled for quite a while. And I think in that same instance I sliced a bit of one of my other fingers, not quite to the flesh, but close enough to have some pain. And then trying to take off the other pedal, I crushed my thumb between the crankarm and the pedal wrench. This is why I am not a mechanic and not a handyman.

With all that done, I started to walk through the empty house, looking into each room and through the windows for one of the last times. That's when it really hit me that we are going to be leaving all this behind for good. It's not the house that we will miss, but the memories that the things and places trigger.

When we started looking for a new house four years ago, I didn't really want to move (not that I want to move right now either). I was happy where I was. But we looked around, found this house, fell in love with it, and watched it go from frame to completion, adding some of our touches to it. The view of the Sherwood area valleys and hills today is just amazing, as the morning rain dries up, the sun comes out, the clouds and the light combine to make the landscape glow.

Our previous cat had died here. We used to hold a number of church group meetings here. We've had hospitality dinners, friends and families here, children growing up, birthday parties, holidays... When we moved in here, I swore up and down that we would never move again, that this was going to be the place where I would live until the end of my time. Well, I guess never say never...

A few things that I will miss -- the people that we've gotten to know and grow close to, the memories, and the variety of restaurants. That last one is bugging me. We went to an Indian restaurant last night. Petersburg has one Chinese, one Mexican, and a general American type (meat, burgers, pasta) restaurant. Where am I going to get some Thai or Indian food? Or Japanese? I guess I'll just have to cook them myself.

We've managed to find homes for everything. Late last week, I thought we would never find homes for some of our furniture, but enough people wanted what we were giving away so that yesterday, just about everything got taken. I'll be taking the last few items out today, and the house will be completely empty.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Last weekend before we leave Portland

We have just entered our final weekend in Portland. It's still hard to imagine that next weekend, we will be in Petersburg.

We had dinner this evening with a few friends at Romano's Macaroni Grill in Bridgeport Village. The waiter we had during the dinner has been to the area we are going. He has family in various locations in Alaska, including many of the communities in the Inside Passage. He spent this last winter working in Skagway. Was this a coincidence...? Or was it yet another one of the small mileposts along the path of our journey that reminds us that we are still on the path laid out to us by our Lord?

We had an unpleasant surprise today that could have turned out much worse than it did. After the movers took all of our stuff and weighed it, it came in at 11,500 lbs.! This was 3,000 lbs. more than the estimate. The moving specialist, Marcy, with whom we've been working was reluctant to share this unpleasant bit of news this morning. We both fully expected the total moving cost to go up another several thousand $$$s.

When she called back a few hours later, it turns out that the initial quote overestimated the insurance, and the ocean freight didn't increase all that much. So the actual increase over the initial quote was just $500 -- a much more manageable increase. We were both very surprised at this turn of events and could only conclude that God is still working things out for us.

A number of people have mentioned to us how brave and courageous we are. It may look that way externally, but inside we are anything but. Even while the movers were working the past two days, the thought was always there that we should still abort the mission. I would like so much to stay with people and surroundings we've grown comfortable with.

After I had sent out a brief e-mail update this morning, I received a reply asking if we were certain we were making the right decision. Were we doing this for the right reasons. Were we being pressured into this? Even though we were close to the point of no return, we could still hit the abort button.

As I contemplated why we were going to make this move, I reflected upon all the things during the past two years that had led to this point. And in the midst of doing so the two stories of the Israelites approaching the land of Caanan, the Promised Land, came to my mind. In the first, they could see no human way of conquering the land, gave in to their fears, and ended up wandering about for forty years. In the second, forty years later, they couldn't see how the land would be theirs, but trusting in the God that had led them this far for forty years, they faithfully stepped into the rushing waters of the Jordan to see God work.

What I've been realizing is that I may make plans based on the best information that I have, but my ability to predict the future is worse than bad. But making those plans gives me the courage to take the next step. That is all God wants from us -- to take one step at a time. God provides just enough survey of the landscape around us for us to go in the direction that He wants. When we take that step, He opens up just a little bit more of what true reality looks like. And it often looks very different from what we thought it did.

The Israelites didn't know how they were going to cross the flooded Jordan. All they had were instructions to step into the river. And when they did, the waters were parted.

As we go off to Petersburg, we don't know how God has already planned to provide for us. All we know is that He has been faithful so far, and so there is no reason to doubt that His faithfulness will stop after we arrive.