Friday, December 28, 2007

Send Me

Send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
lemme go lemme go!

Hey! After 1,000 years in the west and the churches
get'n bigger daily without understand'n worship. (say what!)
Some regenerate but a lot ain't saved.
You walk outside and be surprised cuz the block ain't changed
And the numbers they be get'n me.
Something ain't Christian they practice'n the ritual.
That's why we should be mission though.
Hey, what you think I'm spit'n for?
The United States is die'n
and in the east is looking pitiful.

Some places if they catch you
they'll arrest you.
They'll serve you,
but they still need the Word too.
The gospel should be heard too.
We claim we ain't ashamed,
but we ain't hit the block up.
Were in our Christian bubble,
while our brotha's get'n locked up.
Lord, I wanna stock up,
pack a bag and walk up
in a country where my faith may get me shot up
anywhere I go, whether my city or far abroad,
I just wanna show' Christ the Risen Holy God.

Send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
lemme go lemme go!

I know they're die'n in the streets over in the middle east
Some kids sink in piece
others hold'n up a piece.
If the violence doesn't cease,
then at least the deceased
might know Jesus as their Savior as their bodies hit the street.
And I know this is a graphic view.
And I pray that it's attack'n you.
Track'n you to act and do
what you see in the back illusion.
Matthew twenty-four and fourteen.
We should read it twice
before we think that life is just a battle
see we free in Christ!
Look dawg! Life is more than church work and football!
What if you were dead and seen that Christians overlooked y'all!
This is why we leave the couch
and leave the comforts of our house
to show a die'n world a God they'll probably never read about.

The Great Commission says make disciples of all nations.
Have we even made them in our own nation?
Come on Christians!
Missions exist because worship doesn't.
People don't worship the God who made them.
We're ambassadors.
Let's go!

Send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
send me I'll go,
lemme go lemme go!
~by Lacrae

These are the words to the song in the music video!







Tuesday, December 25, 2007

video

Merry Christmas

Our days have been filled with lots of memories with family and friends as we remember our Saviors birth.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Winter Wonderland!


Snow finally arrived for us here on the Kenai Peninsula! The kids are so excited to have the snow and cold they have been waiting for! Winter would just not be right without it, especially since we are going to be gone for almost 3 months and they are going to miss so much of the winter.

We have been having fun sledding, snowboarding, and ice skating. The cold and snow have made the right conditions for fun outside. The kids have a well worn path down to the iced over pond that they go skating on! In the summer the pond was used for homemade rafts and now they are ice skating on the same pond. The pond is not on our property, but on state property right next to us. Steve cut branches and made a rough path through the trees to the pond this summer and now the boys are going to pack down the path with their snowmachine. Yesterday Ethan, Tyler, Kailee, and Adams were making trails on the ice through the snow and chasing each other through the mazes.

It always amazes me how the changing of seasons can bring so much fun...we wait and anticipate each season and look forward to the changes the seasons bring!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The latest happenings...

...at the Veldstra home! Wow, the weeks sure do seem to fly by! We have been busy keeping up with school...trying to stay focused on our studies until the end of next week. Not only do the kids have a hard time staying focused, but so does their teacher. One more week of school...we can do it! Amidst our days of school work we have had fun cutting out snowflakes, glueing green and red paper chains, and making ornaments. Our house is now beautifully decorated with all of our creations as well as lots of lights! We always have so much fun decorating for the holidays!

During the busy holiday season we have also been counting down the days until we get on the plane to fly to the Philippines. Kind of makes us doubly busy, but just means we h
ave to decide what are going to be our priorities for this year. Our list on the refrigerator helps keep us all focused on what needs to be done without Mom feeling like she is going crazy with too many things to do. We are all having so much fun preparing for our big adventure. The boxes of stuff going with us to the Philippines is beginning to pile up in the basement and we haven't even begun to pack!

Probably the only thing that is disappointing for the kids right
now is that we don't really have any snow! We got the one good snow that I posted pictures of, but that all melted and we really haven't had much to speak of since then. Will we have a winter without snow? I remember one year as a child only having a dusting of snow for Christmas...just doesn't seem like Christmas in Alaska without snow!

Yesterday we had a new big first for our family...Ann Marie took her written test to get her permit and passed the test on the first try! AHHH, we now have a young driver in our home!! I am beginning to feel old! It was only a few years ago that I was learning to drive...right?!? Ethan ca
n hardly wait until he can get his permit and drive. I'm sure he will be there taking the test ON his 14th birthday!

Today Steve will be taking Adams and Alyssum to Anchorage, for Adams appointment tomorrow at the cleft clinic . We took him to the cleft clinic last year and it was a great opportunity to visit a whole team of specialists that take care of all the different aspects of cleft related issues. Adams and Alyssum are so excited to be going with Dad all by themselves and they get to stay the night in a hotel...fun stuff!

Steve has completed the Christmas Decor lighting season, and is now just cleaning up his shop and spending many hours in his office doing paperwork. He has a bit of work to do before we leave for 3 months! We will have one employee that will work on taking down lights and doing rep
airs while we are gone.

Last week we celebrated Eric, Theresa, and Katelyn's birthdays as they all have birthdays in December. Charlie and Kristen came down from Palmer to help us celebrate, and Grandpa was still here too so we had a fun family party!



Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful...


...so much to be thankful for! We asked the kids the other night, "what one thing they are thankful for?" They had a really hard time naming one thing...they all said they had so much to be thankful for! Our perspective has changed on being thankful...we are realizing more and more that we do not need what this world is telling us we need. The world tells us we need the latest toys and clothes, newer car, bigger house, and on and on; but do we need all those things to truly be thankful. No, we don't, although it can be hard not to think that way! I am thankful for all the material things that God has provided, but I am also very thankful for my family and friends...the relationships we have with people and the amazing things that God has taught us through each friendship! Those friendships mean so much to us than anything this world has to offer!

We had a fun day with family yesterday as we spent Thanksgiving Day at my mom and dad's house. A nasty storm started in the night and continued through the day yesterday. Our power fluctuated all day, but it stayed out all day at my mom and dad's house. They have a generator to run most of the power to the house so we were still able to get the turkey cooked for dinner. It was only a couple hours late, but not too bad considering we had to get creative on how to cook everything. The stove took too much power to run so they could only use one burner at a time. The turkey was cooked in the camp trailer oven, the ham on the grill, and the potatoes boiled on the stove in the camper! It was a yummy dinner!

My grandpa, Harold Engebretsen, is here for a couple weeks and it was a joy to have him with us for Thanksgiving! We all enjoyed listening to his stories of past adventures!

Kailee, Alyssum, and Adams made Pilgrim hats and wore them most of the day. Don't they make such cute little Pilgrims?!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let It Snow, let it snow...


Let it snow!! Winter has finally arrived in Homer, Alaska! We have had little bits of snow here and there, but nothing that stuck around until last week. And then yesterday it got serious about snowing and snowed all day and into the night!! It sure is pretty outside as the everything is covered with a blanket of white!

The kids have so much fun in the deep piles of snow! They love to use the shovels and make tr
ails in the deep snow. This morning before church Ethan and Tyler went out the door at 7:30 to shovel a path to the car, but they were having so much fun that they stayed out to shovel paths to everything! We ended up with a maze in our yard! Steve commented this morning how thankful he is to have big enough boys now that can do the shoveling so that he doesn't have to! (And they enjoy it too!!)

With the snow comes more work as Steve has spent the afternoon plowing out our driveway and parking area for our house and business. Steve is always quite glad that the snow doesn't come any sooner in the winter because it also makes it much more difficult to put up winter lights.

We are grateful for the snow though...it adds the right touch to the holiday season! And it looks so beautiful! Seeing the different seasons of the year and the kinds of weather it brings always makes me think of how much joy our Heavenly Father and Creator must have had creating it all...and to think it is for our enjoyment. Not only the seasons for us here in Alaska, but also the creativity around the world. Each part of the world has its own beauty and uniqueness! We are enjoying the snow for this season, but soon we will be flying across the ocean to enjoy the beauty in the Philippines! Warm sunshine, beaches, palm trees, and thunderstorms sound like fun too! What a Wonderful Creator we have that created it all!

Hair Extensions!

Ann Marie wanted to do something different with her hair, so I did some research and found a place to order extensions! I love doing the girls' hair, but this was something new and I really had no idea what I was doing or what exactly I needed to order. I had a few ideas from other people and the rest was up to me to figure out! So here's the outcome...
Ann Marie loves the new look and so do we! It is fun for something different! I didn't do too bad for not really knowing what I was doing!? The extensions should last for a couple weeks at least and we are hoping maybe longer!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bull Moose

We had a guest stay in our yard for several days last week! This bull moose showed up one morning and stayed for the day and then came back again another day. He wandered away when the kids went out to play, but as soon as the yard quieted down he reappeared. We had some leftover plants in the garden that he was enjoying immensely and he didn't want to leave until it was all gone. The bull moose spent several hours eating slowly then he laid down on the lawn to enjoy his meal over and over again!

Amazingly we get to watch moose in our yard all the time but never get tired of the view...especially a large bull moose with a beautiful rack! Although we have lots of cows and calves in our yard we rarely have bull moose, so it was a rare sight. We all had so much fun watching the bull moose and was a good excuse to be distracted from our school work!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Philippines

On January 11 we will be getting on a plane to fly across the ocean to the Philippine islands for a 3 month short term mission trip as a family.

...Almost seven years ago we were in Hanoi, Vietnam for three weeks adopting our sweet baby girl. We loved our time in Vietnam and while we were there a dream started of doing short term missions during Steve's off season. Now seven years, many trips around the world to Vietnam, Korea, and Sierra Leone, and four adoptions later we are finally realizing this dream.

Back then we thought "someday when the kids are grown and gone" we will go on a short term mission trip...but God had other plans. This past year we began to feel differently about taking our family on a mission trip and decided to take a step of faith in that direction.

Our goals for our trip:
--Educate our family about what God is doing in another part of the world
--Learn that life is not just about us and the latest toys and fashions
--Learn about and see examples of Christians serving others
--Practice serving others together as a family
--Bring back what we learned

Are we ready for this task? We are willing to have God use us any way He chooses.

We will start our adventure (as we like to call it) with a long airplane ride across the Pacific Ocean with only one stopover before we land in Manila, but then we will get aboard another plane that will take us to Davao. Manila is the largest city in the Philippines located on the island of Luzon; Davao is the next largest city located on the southern end of the island of Mindanao.

Davao is where our friends Joe and Jennifer Germain now call home as Jennifer attends New Life International School of Midwifery. We will be spending about 7 weeks with them. During our time there we plan to get involved in various mission opportunities both in Davao and outside the city in Malaybalay. Our goal though is to see what God is doing in the lives of our friends and other missionaries as they serve in Davao, and to hopefully be an encouragement to them.

From Davao we will go back to Manila around the first of March to catch up with Randy and Marla Weisser (Stacey's aunt and uncle) and Paula Haunschild, to see what they are involved in and get a small taste of what it is like living in the Philippines.

We have made a contact for our time in both Davao and Manila to be involved in a Children's Home which is one of our big areas of interest. At the Children's Home in Manila we will be organizing and leading a 5 day VBS for about 70 kids! We are planning and preparing now for what we will need to pull that off!! If you would like to see where we will be helping out you can go to www.kidsinternationalministries.org

We are all very excited about our upcoming adventure together as a family! We would love for you to come along side us with your prayers as we embark on this journey.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Adams!

Adams is a big 5 year old now!! He is so excited to finally be 5! He is always hoping he will catch up with Alyssum, but she always seems to have her next birthday first! (Alyssum is already 5, but her birthday is not until April so they stay the same age for about 6 months! The competition is fierce!) Adams wants to be a cowboy and is always dressing up and pretending to be a cowboy...his older brothers and sisters saw the cowboy set at the store and decided that must be what he needed for his birthday...mom was not so sure, but obviously gave in! :) I made him a horse cake for his birthday since cowboys and horses go together. We had fun celebrating with family for his birthday.

Can't believe Adams is 5...seems like it wasn't too long ago he was a small baby in Sierra Leone and we only knew about from pictures and the reports we got. So much has changed and how he has grown! Adams did get a special phone call on his birthday from his extended family in Sierra Leone. They were so excited to be able to wish him a Happy Birthday! He enjoyed talking on the phone although I
wonder how much was really understood by everyone! We are so thankful for family and friends that have cared for and continue to love our special little boy!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fall Time...


Okay, now that a new post is loooong overdue thought I better update everyone on what our busy family has been up to recently! During the 3rd week in September Ann Marie got to go with Grandma to Ten Sleep, Wyoming to visit great-Grandma and Bob. They live in a very small town in Wyoming that at one time was "ten sleeps" from the next town...or at least that's the way the Indians said it. So now it was Ann Marie's turn to go with Grandma on the trip to visit, so that means that all our kids except for Adams have gone to Wyoming. Although Kailee and Alyssum aren't so sure that is a fair statement since they were 2 and 1 years old when they went and they don't really remember! (Grandma didn't take them alone...mom went too!) Ethan and Tyler got to go a couple years ago with both Grandma and Grandpa. So some of the highlights of the trip to Ten Sleep are going to the Hot Springs to swim in the really warm pool, going to the dinosaur museum, and wandering around Dirty Sally's to see what treasures you might find and then of course getting a Huckleberry shake!! Dirty Sally's is a gift shop with a little bit of everything for everyone and the kids just love to look around in the store...especially with a name like Dirty Sally!! Ann Marie really enjoyed her time with Grandma and getting to meet great-Grandma and Bob too. Now she too can share in the funny stories and memories of going to Ten Sleep, Wyoming!

So let's see what else have we been up to lately...well, I guess probably school, school, and more school! It feels like our heads are buried in school all week and we finally get to come up for air on Friday night!! Everyone is doing well and really enjoying school so far this year! Steve has been really busy himself with switching gears from mowing and landscaping to winter lighting...he doesn't get a break in between. The crews have already started putting up the white lights as the days get shorter and darker.

We have had a rather long warm fall and this last week we saw our first really cold nights with a killing frost. The trees have beautiful red and yellow leaves and we are certainly enjoying the fall colors. With the cold brings snow on the mountain tops across the bay and we watch them closely as the snow gets further and further down the mountains...soon it will be leaving a white dusting on our side of the bay. With our thoughts turning to snow we then have to get busy to get the yard cleaned up for winter...wouldn't want all that stuff buried under the snow because then it really isn't much fun trying to find it in the middle
of the winter! So today we spent the day cleaning up the yard, organizing the shed, winterizing the motor home, digging potatoes, and making jam...sounds like a good fall day!!

This week we also celebrated Ethan's 12th birthday!! (He is counting the days of the 2 years he has left before he can get his driver's permit!!) No, not really, but he really can't wait until he is 14, and 12 is certainly alot closer!! Can't believe my baby is 12 where did the years go? Now don't tell him I said that! He is getting tall and growing into quite the young man. It is so neat to see his relationship with Jesus grow into his own personal relationship with Him, and growing in love and understanding. Ethan is such a great big brother to all his younger brothers and sisters and gets along great with all of them. He also has a great relationship with his older sister and it is so fun to see them laugh and have fun together!

So I think that's it for now!! I will try to do a better job on at least posting weekly, but no promises!! Thanks for checking in to see what we are up to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Birthday Campout


An annual tradition has begun for Ethan, Tyler, and Steve...each fall around the middle of September the boys get to invite several friends to go camping for Ethan and Tyler's birthday! (Ethan's birthday is October 2 and Tyler's birthday is September 4...so it is right in the middle) This was the 3rd year for their fall camping adventure. They chose to go to the Anchor River campground which is just up the road.

Now when we go camping as a family we camp in either our trailer, or like this year in our borrowed motorhome, but when the boys go for their birthday campout they go for "real camping"!! What can be more fun for boys than setting up the tent and cooking over the fire! Tyler had some new camping gear that he had gotten for his birthday that really needed to be tried out plus various other camping gear that just doesn't get used when we go in a motorhome!

So on Friday afternoon Ethan and Tyler started gathering supplies and loading it into the suburban for the drive up the road. 4 o'clock couldn't come fast enough which is when the friends were scheduled to arrive. By 4:30 the suburban was packed to the ceiling and every available space was full of sleeping bags, tent, cookstove, backpacks, boots, raingear, camp chairs, and two coolers of food to feed those growing boys...will there be room for the driver...barely!!

Friday night and Saturday was filled with plenty of fun and laughter as the boys enjoyed themselves along the Anchor River...co
oking around the campfire, eating plenty of food, climbing trees, walking along the river, playing soccer, and so much more.

They had so much fun with their friends spending the time camping in the great outdoors!




Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rainy days...


...are always so much fun for kids! It has been raining all night and is still raining this morning...not just a little drizzly rain, but really raining. Despite the rain the kids were already talking about playing in the rain when we are done with school...fun for them, lots to clean up for mom!! They have so much fun collecting rain from the gutters and pouring it into as many buckets and containers that they kind find! Here is my rainy day boy...the cutest little boy in his yellow raincoat, shorts, and boots!!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

School has started...

...at the Veldstra academy! We are off and running for our 4th year of home school...hard to believe it has been that many years already, time just seems to fly by so fast around here. I have 5 students in 5 different grades this year, although I guess you could say I am teaching 6 kids. Adams is preschool, Alyssum is in Kindergarten, Kailee is in 1st grade, Tyler is in 3rd grade, Ethan is in 6th grade, and Ann Marie is in 7th grade. They are all doing so well in school and most of them enjoy their studies! Ann Marie is doing so well in school and applies her self to her school work. We have decided to enroll her in a lower grade so that she won't be working toward high school credits until she is ready academically. She seems to be in no hurry to get done with school and move on, so we are content to have her at home with us and actually enjoy the extra time we will get with her since we missed so much of her early years. Not only is she great at her school work, but she applies herself to learning all she can about cooking, baking, and lots of handcrafts...she does such a great job of helping out any way she can!

We are still figuring out our school schedule and how to teach all those different grades and curriculum! I think it is alot more challenging for the teacher than for all her students!! I sure do love teaching the kids and seeing their excitement at what they are learning, and I enjoy learning with them! Amazing how much a teacher learns too!

Steve is teaching some again this year. He is teaching Bible in the morning which includes Bible memory passage, studying the Bible, missionary stories, and praying for people groups all over the world and then current events from God's World magazine. He also is teaching Botany several evenings a week...we are continuing our study from this summer (we found it was better to teach Botany in the summer rather than in the winter in Alaska...not a whole lot is growing)! We all enjoy having him around teaching some of the classes and I certainly enjoy having the help!

We love teaching our kids together and watching them grow, not only in knowledge, but in their understanding of the Bible and their relationships with Jesus Christ and with each other as a family.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

End of Summer

Last weekend we embarked on our annual drive up the highway at the end of summer to do some shopping in the big city, Anchorage, and to spend a few days with my sister Kristen and her husband Charlie who live in Palmer. While we are in Palmer we usually spend a day or two at the Alaska State Fair, but this year we decided to take a break from the Fair and see a few other things of interest in the area as well as spend some quality time at Uncle Charlie and Aunt Kristen's house!!

One of the highlights of the weekend was hiking in Hatchers Pass up to Gold Core Lake...I think the pictures will say it all.... It was a beautiful hike on a trail and then up the canyon climbing on huge rocks. The kids were in climbing heaven...our kids just love to climb and can never seem to get enough! Just over the ridge at the top of the rocks was Gold Core Lake...you wouldn't even know it was there until you step up over the top. Beautiful crystal clear cool water with mountains all around. We took a rest by the lake before we descended back down the hillside. Our legs felt like jelly by the time we got to the bottom (at least for those of that are not seasoned hikers)!! It was alot of fun and such beautiful scenery! There were quite a few of us on the hike...Steve and I and our 6 kids, my mom and dad, Charlie and Kristen, my brother Eric and wife Theresa and two girls, cousin Aaron and wife Jenny and 3 kids, and cousin Jakob! We made for quite the group of hikers!


The rest of our weekend was filled with hanging out at Kristen and Charlie's house and playing outside with the kids, doing a little shopping, and celebrating Tyler's birthday with family. Tyler is 9 years old now!!

We had a great relaxing weekend...a great way to end our summer and begin our school year!!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fishing with Uncle Jim



Uncle Jim and Aunt Joan came to Homer for a few weeks of fishing fun, not sure if that is what they had in mind for their whole time here, but my kids sure enjoyed it! Halibut fishing was just the beginning although it was the most profitable! Ethan and Tyler got up almost every morning for about a week and a half at 4am to be ready for their ride to the Anchor River! They were hoping for a few silver salmon...they caught a few, but not as many as they would have liked. They had lots of fun though! One day the rest of the kids got to join the mighty fisherman at the Fishin' Hole to see what they could catch...they had fun practicing their casting!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brave Halibut Fishermen...


Uncle Jim and Aunt Joan took Steve, Ethan, Tyler, and Kailee on a halibut charter on Saturday. Everyone got up early to be on the boat by 5:45...gotta catch the tide just right to catch the big ones! And boy did they catch the BIG ONE...a 245 lb. halibut!! Not to mention the fact that everyone caught their limit of 2 halibut per person. The next biggest was 62 lb halibut that Steve caught and then Kailee caught a 45 lb halibut plus a sand shark, the rest were about 35 lbs each. The story goes that Aunt Joan hooked the big one, but then everyone else helped bring it in! As the halibut charters come and go from the harbor they go thru beautiful Kachemak Bay where all the sailboats were seen!
Kailee and Tyler working hard to bring in those halibut! They had so much fun being out on the water and no one got sick!
Aunt Joan and Ethan working their lines in the water...hoping to catch the big one!

Tyler hugging his halibut with the captain of the boat...what fun fishing!
Kailee with her big catch of the day...a 45 lb halibut!
Steve with the big catch of the day for the boat...the 245 lb halibut that was a group effort to bring in!! It really wore everyone out to finally get this big fish up in the boat!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hidden Lake


...is such a beautiful place to take a family for our annual camping trip with extended family and friends! This year was no exception and so we loaded up our motorhome (or should I say borrowed motorhome) and headed for the mountains just on the other side of Sterling before you start heading into the mountains on the way to Anchorage. It is absolutely beautiful at Hidden Lake and the perfect place to spend four days with our kids enjoying God's beautiful creation!

We went loaded with bikes, helmets, boats, oars, life jackets, swim suits, and plenty of extra clothes because in Alaska we are never sure what the weather will be like...could be warm and we would need shorts or could be cold and we would need sweatshirts!! Thankfully this time shorts and t-shirts were in need and we got to enjoy the warmth of summer.

The kids had so much fun swimming in the lake for several hours each day...and then rowing around a small part of the lake...jumping off the boats and swimming to shore...having a water fight...or just sitting at the edge of the lake with the adults and soaking in the sun!! During our hours at the lakes edge it sure felt as though we were somewhere other than Alaska as it was busy with lots of people coming and going from the lake with boats and lots of kids were playing in the water.

When we were not at the lake we were hiking on the many trails around the campground, or biking on all the paved roads that make up Hidden Lake campground. I know, a paved campground doesn't seem much like roughin' it, but our kids sure enjoy the pavement to ride and ride their bikes since they don't get to do it that much at home!
Playing games and fun around the campfire in the evening with family and friends always makes for a great camping experience!! I
t was such a fun relaxing time for Steve and I as we played with our kids and watched them enjoy playing with each other...pictures will tell of the fun we had at Hidden Lake....

...now what boy doesn't enjoy playing in the campfire? And ours seem to be no exception!!




Tired out kids at the lake who are now just enjoying relaxing and watching the other kids in the water!