Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last day of November = more snow!

Sometime around midnight yesterday (Nov. 29), snow started falling... and falling.. and falling... It fell all morning, all day, and into the evenings hours, finally letting up around 7 p.m. The total accumulation for the day was over a foot. A bit more fell last night, and a little bit more this afternoon. The forecast says we could see another significant snowfall over the weekend, but it all depends on where the very warm air moving up ends up when the storm front comes through. After that, the forecast says we will be seeing above average temperatures (i.e., highs in the 40's and lows in the 30's) for around a week or so.

This is what the roads and houses looked like this morning. The lower right shows the plowed road surface. The next step up is where the sidewalk is, covered by around six to ten inches of snow. Above that is the yard where no shoveling has been done since all this snow started some three weeks ago. Even though the old snow had settled, there's now what looks like two feet or so. And there's about that much on top of the roofs that haven't been cleared prior to this latest snow.

We're also done with the single digit temps and are now in the 20's and 30's. It no longer feels like walking out into a freezer. In fact, it feels almost tropical. Our bananas and pineapples are doing quite well :).

Here are a few more sights from this morning. As was implied earlier with the snow coming again today, the clouds rolled in a little while after I captured these images.



Sasby Island

Narrows towards Frederick Sound

Nordic Drive

Bald Eagles

Another little thing that I've noticed that is different from the lower 48 is that people leave their vehicles running, unattended. I suppose someone can take those out for a joyride, but there's not too many places for them to run and hide. There's one way to get a vehicle off the island, and that's by ferry. The ferry officials do check to make sure vehicles going on are allowed to go.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A bit out of the ordinary

When I arrived at the church this morning and turned on the water, behold, it dripped a bit and there wasn't anymore. For whatever reason, the pipes must have frozen between yesterday afternoon and this morning. If they were going to freeze, why didn't they freeze earlier? It's been this cold for a week now. Maybe it just took this long for the crawlspace underneath to reach the freezing point. So yet another new experience. I had no idea what to do and didn't have a flashlight to go underneath and look, so I made a phone call to one of the church members.

We visited a couple of church members this afternoon and had a nice little visit. The husband is a commercial fisherman (and also used to be a logger), so we talked at length about fishing. Their catch this year wasn't too great, but the per-pound price was good so it was an okay season for them. Right now, the king salmon prices are about $7.00/lb. to the fishers (about $14/lb. here once they're processed and frozen, and $20/lb. or so once they're flow down south), but most can't or won't go out because it's just too cold. I learned a little bit about troller fishing, the lures and hooks used, and about learning to tell the difference between the types of salmon.

He also grew up in Oregon, so he is familiar with many of the areas that we are and currently has relatives in the state also. We came home with some homemade scones and a couple pounds of frozen king salmon.

At the post office, I signed for a package. I drove away when I noticed that it was a US Navy package addressed to the commanding officer of the USCGC Anacapa. The PO Box number was certainly ours, but as far as I know, none of us serve on the vessel. So after picking Elise up at the grocery store, we went back to the Post Office. It did give me motivation to find out about the Coast Guard cutter that frequently passes by our front window.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A few tidbits (again)

I was going to start out by saying that there hasn't been a whole lot new or different to write about, but now that I started, there are a few items to mention --
  • Our pickup is now officially Alaskan after the DMV office computer here came back on-line after a few weeks out with the flu (i.e., computer virus). The joys of being in a very small town with no outside connections.
  • It continues to be bitterly cold, so I haven't ventured out for walks or anything like that during the last few days.
  • The low temperature recorded yesterday was indeed 0-degrees F. Today was a few degrees warmer.
  • Some of you may have received my quick e-mail earlier today, but for the benefit of everyone reading this -- our house in Tigard had a showing today! In this housing market, any showing is a good thing. If you can, we ask for your prayers that God's will be done in this matter. We really do want the actual transaction to go smoothly as possible, so if this isn't the right buyer, we can wait for another.
  • If you take a look at the left sidebar on this blog page, you might notice a new section of links to Petersburg-relevant information. Feel free to click on through and explore some of the aspects of our city.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


When I got to the computer to check on the PSG airport weather observations, I saw that it was exactly zero-degrees. It may have been colder earlier -- I'll know for sure when I check the min/max temps for today when they are posted tomorrow. It warmed up into the warm teens this afternoon before dropping back down into the single digits.

There is a storm off in the Gulf of Alaska that looks like it will make its way down over here, and if everything combines in the right way, we could be seeing more snowfall by mid-week. This is definitely an abnormal year for both cold and snow here.

The interesting thing about it being so cold is that in the mornings and evenings, mist rises off of the near-freezing water in the Narrows. This evening I was able to catch a couple of vessels making their way towards Petersburg traveling through the rising mist. One of them is the ferry, M/V Taku that travels the route between Prince Rupert and Haines.

There were eleven of us during church yesterday -- a little above average. We are continuing to pursue the idea of starting a children's chorus here. None of the other churches that are large enough to have one do so presently, so this could be a good way for us to contribute to the community.

Shelley went to a Wyldlife Mystery Dinner event last night. This isn't a Murder Mystery Dinner -- rather it's where each diner is presented with a menu whose items bear no resemblance to a food item. The diner has to order off each menu to see what actually arrives. The dinner last night included menu items such as eyeballs, foot, and hand. It's all about having fun and getting together with other kids. Shelley came home after having fun.

Being a remote and small city, another difference from larger, connected cities was made more apparent last night. Elise took Shelley to the dinner event, and on the way back, she was flagged down by someone whose vehicle got stuck in the ice. There are no 24-hour numbers to call to ask for service -- no AAA vehicles, no local garages that do that sort of service. In fact, a couple of months back, one of the police report items in the paper included an item about a AAA dispatcher calling the police here to try to find someone to assist the caller who was in trouble here. I'm wondering whatever happened in that case.

Pastor Brown was scheduled to arrive here this week, but his heater in the fifth wheel in which he currently lives is having fits, and so to prevent his whole trailer from freezing, he is going to stay to babysit the heater while waiting for some parts to arrive. Of course because of the location (Wrangell is just like Petersburg), there is no way to UPS or FedEx items directly there, so the Postal Service is the only way. He's hoping that the parts were sent by something faster than Parcel Post... He really doesn't want to wait three weeks.

Sermon audio for Nov. 25

Yesterday's sermon was Where Are the Others?, a story of the ten lepers based on Luke 17:11-19.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving activities

It just simply continues to be cold. Both yesterday and today, temperatures made it up to about 15 degrees (from about a low of 5 or 6). This is the first time we've ever lived in an area that remains this cold, and we're at the southern tip of Alaska. I could be mistaken, but I don't ever recall even traveling through a single digit temps.

Wednesday evening we went to the Lutheran church for some pie (of which I had three slices), sharing, singing, and prayer. It was a nice, informal event where about forty or fifty members from the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Adventist churches (others were also invited, but they may have had other things scheduled already) were present to share in some Thanksgiving spirit.

Yesterday (Thanksgiving Day) started out bright, clear, and cold. Mid-morning we went over to Herbrandsons to help out with some Thanksgiving preparations. While there, Shelley and I got to borrow some cross country skis and try out skiing on frozen muskeg. This was our first time ever on cross country skis -- definitely different from downhill alpine skiing. I bit the ice twice, both on hard, smooth ice when the skis just slipped out from under me. Shelley did her own share of falling on the frozen muskeg to scatter about some ice crystals.

Upon returning home, I realized that the next day (today) would be somewhat busy, so I spent most of the rest of the day finishing up the sermon (a story this week) for Sabbath. Church is a bit like a hospital -- it doesn't matter that this is a holiday week -- certain things must go on.

Later yesterday evening, we saw our first Aurora -- very faint though, green, and low on the horizon. It stayed there for about ten minutes before fading away completely.

This morning I walked over to the church again. I'm making great use of my winter cycling gear. They are lightweight and designed to be layered, waterproof yet breathable. I did actually stumble and nearly flip over headfirst during my walk. It wasn't because of a slip though. The laces on my boots are quite long, and I had landed on the left ones while I was trying to lift up my left foot. Layering and gloves means lots of cushion, so I was fine, with only my dignity bruised.

After arriving at the church, I decided to go out a bit further into the muskeg near there to see what sort of interesting ice formations I might find. Here are a few examples --

Ice Field

Hoar Frost

Ice Crystals

This evening we are having our day-late Thanksgiving Dinner with the Herbrandsons. Due to various things going on, this evening was the best time. Afterwards we will be going to the city tree-lighting event.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cold, cold, cold

Now that the snow has gone away and the sun is coming back, we are getting very cold days and nights. For much of this week starting tomorrow, we will be in the 20's and colder with some days barely getting out of the teens.

Here are a couple of images from today. The hill across the Narrows from the apartments almost seemed ablaze in fire this morning. When I saw it, I quickly grabbed the camera and dashed out across the street. The sidewalk and the sides of the road were pretty much solid ice. I am very thankful for my YakTrax. It makes my walking commute to the church much safer.

These next ones are from Sunday when I went for a mile long walk in knee-deep snow. It was one strenuous workout. I was rewarded, though, with untracked snow except for the deer.

Deer Tracks


More Muskeg

Bird-made Snow Angels


Sunday evening we attended a Community Hymn Sing at the Lighthouse Church. We got to sing a number of praise and worship songs that we hadn't sung since we left Oregon. And then during the time when songs were being chosen from the hymnal, we found ourselves singing a number of old campmeeting style songs. We got to meet some more of the community during this time.

I also bumped into an individual I earlier met at Helse's during the Wednesday morning minister's gathering a couple of weeks ago. He came to town fairly recently and decided to stay. (It seems like there are quite a number of people who do. They're just wandering about the country and happen to end up here, and decide to stay.) He is interested in attending all the different church services in town. I let him know we meet on Saturday mornings, and also Wednesday evenings. I hope to see him at one of our services.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Snow storm, power, and phones

This morning we woke up to a snow storm -- strong winds and lots of snow. It was the wet kind of snow. It looks like another 4 inches or so (perhaps more) fell since last night. The air is warming up again, and the snow has now stopped. We'll be seeing daytime temps above freezing for a couple more days before it goes down again later this week.

This mushy snow is actually worse to drive in than solidly frozen ice with snow on top, we've discovered. With the mush ice, ruts develop and the cars drift towards the ruts. At least with ice and cold snow, once you get moving and don't go too fast, the vehicle goes where its pointed.

We had a total of ten in church yesterday. One of the member's daughter whom we hadn't yet seen came with him yesterday. But other than her, it was the usual crowd. A few of us briefly discussed the possibility of starting a community children's choir. We'll inquire around to see what sort of interest there is around here. It's another idea to try to be of service to this community.

Yesterday evening we went over to the Herbrandsons and played a couple of games: Apples to Apples and Fictionary. Deloris is an American Girl fan, as are our children. So they brought over their dolls and some of the accessories and had fun looking through them. Gerry was particularly impressed by the engineering of the little bicycle.

We had a power outage this morning -- the second one that we know of after our arrival. When the power goes out, the whole town goes out. All the stores shut down. It took around 1.5 hours for the power to come back. Both cell phone systems were also taken out. So in this town, there is a very good reason for having landlines. Cell services cannot be relied upon during emergencies. One of the other pastors remarked that the cell phone isn't good for emergencies but it a good personal protection device in this town -- for using it to hit an assaulter on the head.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Another week comes to a close

Yet another week has come to a close. Like most Fridays, I spent the majority of it in sermon preparation. I have learned that each type-written page (10-point font) is about 5 to 6 minutes in duration, so I target 5 to 6 pages total for each week.

There are many pastors who can speak from just brief notes. I am not one of them. I've tried, and what I have found is that I can't think and speak at the same time. When I've used brief notes instead of fully composed sermons, I found that I forget and omit a considerable amount of what I wanted to or should have said. So I've decided not to fight nature and just write out all my sermons, pretty much word for word so that everything said is what I mean to say and in good logic.

Monday, when I was putting together the first outline for the sermon, I was afraid that this would be the week things would come up short. But when I started writing this afternoon, there was no problem filling up the target number of pages. This will be the conclusion to the series on the epistle to the Philippians. Next Sabbath will be a Thanksgiving related sermon.

On Wednesday, we went to the DMV office (one-woman part-time operation, open four days a week) to get our vehicle registration moved to Alaska, because we're reaching the deadline for doing that. Well, it turns out she doesn't have the necessary computer because the previous one had been hit by a virus from the main office in Anchorage, the clean-up didn't take, and so it was sent back to Anchorage with a replacement coming soon. So I guess we'll have to wait a little while longer. (We probably shouldn't have waited so long in the first place, but what's past is past.)

The snow has tapered off mostly, though there were a few squalls through the morning. The temps warmed up to about 36F this afternoon. We might get a bit more snow over the next few days, but the days appear to be warming up above freezing.

The city library was giving away books to children today. So both Shelley and Amy got two books to add to their collections.

Shelley has been learning quilting and is now working on her first project.

We've all been making a concerted effort to get to bed at a reasonable time. For some reason, our bedtimes, particularly the children's, have been creeping later and later ever since we arrived here. So when the kids were forced to wake up in the morning (even if it was 9 or 10 a.m.) they would end up cranky and it seemed to affect the rest of the day. The last couple of days have seemed better -- particularly with Amy, the not-morning person, being much happier in the mornings. And the rest of the day also seems to go much better when the morning starts out well.

Our dehumidifier continues to work hard. I think the humidity levels have stabilized so that it only runs about a third of the day and is able to keep the RH at about 40%. I dump out between 1 to 2 gallons of water each day. I think we got a rather good deal on the unit -- perhaps even close to cost -- because the same hardware store now stocks a lesser model for about $40 more.

Our house in Tigard continues to languish. Almost every day, I read headlines about the housing market slowdown which is now apparently bad enough to be termed "collapse" by the media. With the added incentive, the property is apparently getting showings and good comments. We just need/want one of them to turn into a buyer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This week's images

Here are some snow images from this week. Today was particularly spectacular as it was both cold and dry with partly sunny skies.
More images can be seen by going to

Every Adventist church in North America can get a free web site. I requested access to the Petersburg site a while back, but apparently the last e-mail that gave me the login information never got to me, or I mistakenly deleted it. In any case, I got the information today and set up the site. It is at

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Getting acquainted

Snow continues to fall off and on. I strapped a pair of YakTrax onto my winter hiking boots and set off for the church this morning.

While there I saw one of the neighbors, Louis, shoveling snow and shaking the snow off his carport. I went out to meet him and get acquainted. I fuond out that he is of Hispanic origin and has now been semi-retired for a few years since his government job was outsourced. He has four children, one of which I met while talking with Louis. He appears to have gone through some similar life transitions as I have -- questioning meaning and purpose, trying to figure out how to move on to the future, etc. He grew up as a Catholic, worked his way around a number of the churches in the area, and now attends the Assembly of God church. From what I could tell, he seemed to be a very spiritual person, taking his walk with God very seriously. Our experiences seem to have quite a bit in common, despite our 15 or so years difference in age.

This evening, the Ministerial Association had sponsored a Domestic Violence (DV) seminar. Petersburg appears to have a well organized group of DV advocates who are on-call 24 hours a day to assist with DV incidents. There were just a handful of us there -- perhaps the snow kept some people away. But I've noticed that there are a handful of ministers that seem to be the most engaged in this town. Whatever the occasion, it's a subset of the same half dozen or so that show up. One of my goals for moving here and being here is to elevate the visibility of the Adventist church to one that is seen as being engaged with the community. So I am making a special effort to find out what these events are and make sure I am there. From all I've been told, Norwegians take a long time to consider someone coming from outside as part of the community. But I figure that if I don't make any effort on my side, the period will be even longer, and perhaps never.

As for the seminar itself, it was helpful -- particularly the list of do's and don'ts when dealing with an incident. Alaska being where it is, and Petersburg being where it is, instances rise during the long winter months. The volunteers and churches are all here to help, but unless we get the word out that we are here and that we care, victims won't know where to turn.

More snow fell while I was in the seminar. The roads had turned white again as the temperature dropped below freezing again. Approaching the apartment's driveway, I thought I was going slow enough and had left enough room to slow down -- I found out just barely. I nearly overshot as I discovered once again that the flaky stuff on top of ice makes for a great skating rink for rubber tires.

Sermon list and podcast

My sermon list is now available online in an index and it is also available through a podcast.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More snow

Before last week's snow got a chance to melt away, we are getting hit by another wave of snow. So much for the "we don't really see much snow in November" that we were told when we got here. Even the locals are rather surprised as how much we are getting and how early.

The day started out bright and clear, but by mid-morning, the clouds were quickly moving in and obscured any blue that was earlier seen. By noon the first flakes were coming down and just a couple of hours later the snow was coming down in droves.

I took my bike over to the post office. I had just started out and turned up the first block when a vehicle came up next to me, and as I tried to get closer to the side of the road, the bike ended up in a rut and I had one of the rare, slow-motion falls. No ill-effects though. The rest of the trip out and back was uneventful. I was careful to avoid going into any more ruts, particularly since any ruts were now covered and hidden with fresh snow.

If the current forecast holds, we could be seeing another foot or more of total snow accumulation over the next several days.

Elise was surprised to learn that there is no Unit 14 in the RN refersher course. It is present in the online course, but apparently it isn't actually part of it. So she is now finished with the textbook portion of the course. As soon as various paperwork bits complete their various journeys, she will be able to undergo the clinical portion.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Studded tires

On my bicycle -- that is. It was probably the winter of 1999 that I purchased a pair of Nokian studded tires for my bicycle. Well, Portland winters aren't that severe, and even when roads are snowed and iced over, it's usually easier to just stay home and wait for the thaw.

Last week while the snow was still coming down and noting that the roads can get quite icy here, I spent an evening swapping the tires and wheels on my mountain bike to the Nokian studded tires for the inevitable times I would want to go out on icy roads.

I got my chance today. It was a bright, sunny day but still quite cool, the air temp just at freezing point all day. Of course, the roads are clear where the sun is able to hit, but shadowed areas are still icy from the thaw and re-freeze that goes on. And the side roads that don't get plowed are still covered with packed snow/ice combination.

I needed to go over to the church to put the trash bin out for pickup tomorrow, and this being a dry day, was perfect for a little bike ride. It was a relatively pleasant ride out and back. When riding, as long as I'm well covered, I don't notice the cold. However, the studded tires add a lot of weight and it takes a lot more work to keep the bicycle moving. The studded tires worked really well -- no slipping or sliding at all. And it makes travel over packed snow relatively easy.

After walking around in the snow and ice at the church, I discovered that the cleats on my shoes had competely iced over. It took some pounding using a pick from a pocket toolset to dislodge all the ice so that I could get clipped back in to the pedals.

So I'm now finding that a bike component I had thought I'd never really make good use of is finding its place here.

Sermon audio for November 11

Yesterday's sermon was "What's Your Focus?"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thawing and such

The temps have warmed up into the 40s today with mostly cloudy skies. All the snow is quickly thawing and the streets are quite mucky and messy. The snowman has fallen and is now lying on the ground. A deer stopped by to eat away the nose (carrot). Those who have lived here say that it is unusual in recent years to see so much snow so soon in the fall. It was nice while it lasted.

I spent all day inside working on the sermon for tomorrow and preparing for Sabbath School. The sermon will be taken from Philippians 3:1 - 4:1 where Paul seems to be talking about where our focus should be.

If everything goes well, Elise could be working much earlier than we originally anticipated. She spent most of the day at the hospital yesterday, undergoing exams and orientation for the hospital to fulfill the clinical portion of the refresher class.

Shelley went to her second piano lesson today. The teacher has a new challenge: She's never had any student as advanced as Shelley. Shelley has discovered ragtime, blues, and jazz and enjoys these musical styles.

Tomorrow evening, the Herbrandsons have invited us and another family over for a harvest party. Around here, there is a lot more of getting together with other families since there just isn't a whole lot in the way of other forms of entertainment or recreation.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More snow tales

Yes, we're having our fourth straight day of snow falling. It's mostly light today, but there was an hour or so when it got a little heavier. Things are starting to warm up a bit as the snow on the primary streets are turning into slush. But elsewhere there is dusting of snow on top of hard-pack snow and ice. This makes for more challenging driving and walking, as you might imagine.

I walked over to the minister's coffee this morning. It's about a mile or so, and it was mostly okay. The only challenging part was that right before getting to downtown from where we live, there is a small hill. Walking up wasn't a problem. Walking down, however, required some careful, cautious steps so as not to take a huge slip and go down hard on my rear end. The sidewalk had been plowed, but what was left had turned into ice and there was a thin layer of snow. This afternoon I found one pair of YakTrax that I have, so if this cold continues into tomorrow I'll be using that to get a bit more traction.

Last night, Shelley went to a WyldLife sledding event. There is a gentle sledding here behind the airport, and when it snows that is where the kids -- and kids at heart -- gather to slide down. We're used to the Cascades kind of hills and slopes -- steep and fast. But around here there are none to be found that would be safe for sledding. Any steep slopes are still quite covered with trees.

Shelley got to know a few of the kids in town, and had fun there last night. We've gotten acquainted with another homeschooling family who attends the Baptist church. From what we heard, they were discouraged by their pastor from having their kids participate in the YoungLife and WyldLife events because the kids might pick up incorrect theology. Although I can understand his concern, where there is a threat I also see opportunity. First of all, kids want to have fun, and in a small, isolated town like this, we need to take advantage of every opportunity to do something different and enjoyable. Secondly, the mission of the groups isn't to convert kids from one denomination to another. It's to bring in kids that would otherwise not be exposed to Jesus. It's a way for our kids to be missionaries, too.

Elise has now completed 10 of 14 units in the RN Refresher course. She is currently running around trying to arrange everything necessary to start her clinical portion of the course. In Alaska, no training license is necessary -- each hospital can use its own criteria to determine who gets admitted into clinicals. So there is slightly less paperwork and waiting than she had originally expected. The hospital operates on 12-hour shifts, so the clinical portion will take about 7 days.

A couple of the churches are planning Thanksgiving events and services, so we will be joining them for that. Unlike larger cities with large churches, there is a lot more of churches working together and spreading out big events so no one church ends up having to do everything.

This evening, we are getting together with one of the member couples, the wife who is celebrating her 80th birthday, for some pizza.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The snow continues

The snow continued to fall last night and through the morning. By this afternoon, the total depth was probably around 8 inches, and only a few isolated flakes were coming down. The clouds even started to thin a bit.

I went for a walk on the Hungry Point Trail this afternoon to see what snow blanketed muskeg looks like. Here are a couple of sights.

Earlier today, Pastor Brown and I went to the monthly Ministerial Association meeting. There I met the Episcopalian clergy, a lady of 90 years. We talked about what each of our respective churches have been doing and will be doing. It looks like the Thanksgiving week already has events planned by the Assembly of God and Lutheran churches. So we will likely be joining them for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Snow Day

The snow keeps falling! It snowed pretty much all day yesterday, last night, and all day today. It's still snowing as I write this. There's around five or six inches on the ground now, and the forecast says there could be another three or four inches by morning before things start to warm up again.

Here are a few images from today --

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A couple of hours later

We are seeing larger flakes now and some accumulation. The fog has lifted enought so that the trees on the island across the Narrows can now be seen with a dusting of snow on them. The forecast still says "no significant accumulation." I suppose "significant" depends on where it is meant. In Portland, this would be enough cause for a shutdown of the entire city, school and church closures, non-essential employees staying home, etc.

Our cats seemed to be curious about the white stuff. Both of them made little meowing sounds that they make that we've often heard in association with birds. Perhaps they think the little white flakes are tiny little birds... They don't seem to want to go out into the cold though.


We are getting our first real snow (rather than just a few isolated flakes here and there) this morning. It's the very fine, powdery kind that is falling. The forecast says we may see this pattern for the good part of this week.

For those of you in Portland, Ore. that complain about inaccurate weather forecasts, at least the 24-hour forecast is usually in the ballpark. Last night, the forecast called for a cold and dry day today through Wednesday. There wasn't even a hint of rain or snow. That all changed overnight.

The State DOT truck went by a few minutes ago dumping some sort of liquid stuff onto the road. The road is white now.

We went to the Young Life, Wyld Life banquet last night and learned a bit more about what they do. They have a big social event (called Clubs) once a month or so where the focus is simply on having fun, and there is a small part where Jesus is introduced. Anyone interested is then welcome to come to the smaller, weekly or so gatherings in a leader's home that goes into more of the spiritual growth aspects.

Our table was a collection of pastors and their wives. The conversation included things such as, have you ever lost a sermon right before you had to give it? How do you go about preparing a sermon? Do you have tomorrow's sermon prepared? This being Saturday night, all the others still had work to do for Sunday's sermon - there was one that hadn't really started yet.

Our church had thirteen attenders yesterday. That's the largest number that we've had so far. We will hold a church business meeting later this afternoon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cold winds

It was quite brisk this morning again after another clear night. I don't think it got much above freezing today, if it ever did.

Pastor Brown and his wife arrived here this morning. I went over to see them about noon. I decided to go for a little bike ride prior to that. The roads were frosty for much of the way. The tires make interesting, crunchy sounds when going over the frost. And some of the frost sticks to the tires until they melt away once they hit drier/warmer roads.

I went out just long enough to put in about 30 minutes on the bike before arriving at the church. By then I was starting to feel a little on the frozen side in the face and thumbs. I do have a full-face balaklava, but 30-degrees isn't quite cold enough for that.

I spent about 3 hours chatting with Pastor Brown and getting mutually acquianted. He is an older person, been in the ministry for many years, retired, took up trucking, and then returned to the ministry in Wrangell.

He understands that I have my own way of approaching things, my way of seeing things, my own strengths and interests, and he will give suggestions, but let me work here in ways that suit me best.

Today, Shelley had her first piano lesson since our arrival. From what I hear, she did quite well. What perhaps didn't go quite as well was that Amy had been left in the church with me, and being her usual, boisterous, non-conforming, overly curious, and rambunctious self, she may have perturbed Eunice a bit, Pastor Brown's wife, who had a rather long night and was probably rather tired. We had originally wanted them to have dinner with us tonight, but Elise thinks Amy's actions might have turned Eunice off from the idea. And that didn't sit too well with Elise. And then when that got related to me, it irked me and now I'm trying to not let it mushroom into something that will drag me down.

It's usually a combination of small things that end up getting me down. For the past few days, since it's the start of the month, I've been staring at mortgages (for houses we don't live in) and bills (for a house we don't live in, plus bills for last month and this month prepay for some of the utilities here). And then I stare at our bank balances and trying to decide which investments to sell to generate the necessary cash, how long to postpone writing the check until funds get transferred to the right places, etc. And all this has been a rather depressing exercise. And then when I return home this afternoon and sense that Elise is also feeling a bit down, it does not help matters any. It's a bit like psychological Jenga (link to Wikipedia for those that aren't familiar with the game) where a little bit at a time is taken out, and then it really doesn't matter what the last piece is, the whole structure comes tumbling down.

Anyway, back to the cold weather. Yup, we're starting to see it. The forecast says teens and 20's tonight and that may continue for the next several nights. The skies are supposed to remain fairly clear - which is why we are getting the freezing temps. And since our apartment is right on the shore with nothing between us and the water, any north wind blows directly onto the building, chilling it considerably. We'll see how the boiler heat holds up, and if it doesn't we will need to find things to cover up the (still) bare windows on the front side.

Sunset is now just at 4:00 p.m. With the hills around the island, dusk begins about 3:15 p.m. It's an odd feeling to want supper around 4:00 or 4:30 and want to be in bed by 7:00 p.m. or so. As I write this, it is only a bit past 6:00 p.m. but it feels much, much later than that -- perhaps 8 or even 9. Elise noted that today around noon, the sun was still coming in at a very shallow angle. Noon does not mean overhead sun during the winter months in this part of the world.

I haven't yet pinpointed a good reason, but I've been waking up about 3-4 hours after I fall asleep. So I've been tossing and turning for a good part of each morning from around 1 or 2 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. It may be subconscious stress or anxiety, because I'm not necessarily feeling anxious every night -- just some nights -- but maybe it just comes through when I'm asleep and that wakes me up. In any case, I'm finding it very annoying.

Tomorrow, for the first time in seven Sabbaths (can you believe that?!), I won't be doing the speaking. I'll only be leading the Sabbath School class, play the piano, and a few other items during worship.

And then tomorrow evening, we will be attending a Young Life banquet. After my Wed. morning get-together with some of the pastors, I received an invitation to the banquest after Phil found a couple of spaces at his table. Young Life and WyldLife are non-denominational Christian youth groups for high-schoolers and middle-schoolers (respectively) that have a chapter here in Petersburg. Tomorrow evening is (I think) a fundraiser and an occasion to highlight what they did last year and discuss what they are doing this coming year. Shelley is old enough to take part in WyldLife this year and Young Life next year. Amy will be old enough for WyldLife next year. We think this will be a good way to show our faces to the community, to become acquainted with some of the things that are happening, connect with some of the other Christians in town, and it might be a good way for Shelley (and Amy next year) to come to know some of the other kids in town.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Always sniff the "cilantro"

Our refridgerator currently contains two bunches of what one of the groceries had marked "cilantro." There was one bunch inside when I took it out to use it in a lentil recipe. I looked at it -- the leaves were too big -- my, what large fronds you have... The leaves weren't shaped right -- my, what pointed lobes you have... And finally I pinched off a bit to smell it -- my, you smell like... a parsley!

I called Elise, who was out at the time arranging new piano lessons for Shelley, to get a new bunch of cilantro. About 30 minutes, Elise comes walking in with a bag. I open it... and it looks suspiciously identical to the parsley we already have. Elise takes the bunch out of the bag, looks at the tag, and it reads, "Italian Parsley." So Elise went out to the other grocery and picked up yet another bunch of cilantro. This time, it looked, looked, and smelled like cilantro.

The moral of the story: A parsley disguised is still parsley. Or, being told you're someone or something else doesn't change who you are.

By the way, does anyone have a good parsley recipe?

Last night was halloween. In this town, there is an official trick-or-treating (TOT) time that is set aside by the city with proper protocols to follow. TOT runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and houses that have something to offer to the TOTers are to leave their porch light on. However, if you leave the porch light on accidentally while you are away, you risk the wrath of the TOTers, including eggs on the door and windows. (I know because our landlady, who had to rush out of town about a week ago left the porch light on and the door and windows were egged this morning.) We had perhaps a dozen or so TOTers come by during the two hours.

A gallon jug of olive oil costs $37 + tax here. So anyone heading over this way, maybe you could pick up a gallon or two on the way over...

I finally got together with a number of the other pastors in town: Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Bible Church, and Assembly of God. It looks like I might just have to take up hunting. Of the five of us that were there, I was the only one had never gone out hunting.

The Bible Church pastor, Phil, had gone out a few days ago and had apparently lost his way a bit. The Presbyterian minister, Bob, is one of the Search & Rescue members in town, and he and the Assembly of God pastor, Lee, took Phil to task for not taking proper survival gear with him. So this coming Tuesday, during the monthly Ministerial Association meeting, we are apparently going to be treated to a demonstration of proper equipment that everyone going out on a trail or on water needs to carry. All the bare necessities of survival apparently only weight around 1-1/2 pounds, so there is no excuse for anyone to not have it with them.

I spoke with Pastor Brown from Wrangell, and it looks like we will finally get to meet him and his wife in person. They will arrive early (3:15 a.m.) Friday morning and leave on the southbound Ferry on Wednesday.