Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

from our wintery Alaska home to yours!
Steven and Stacey
Tyler 11, Ann Marie 17, Ethan 14
Alyssum 7, Adams 7, Kailee 8
and the family dog, Ginger

Thursday, December 10, 2009

School time...

...for our elementary class! Tyler is in 5th grade, Kailee is in 3rd, Alyssum is in 2nd, and Adams is in Kindergarten. There is never a dull moment around here, especially when it comes to hands on learning.

For Thanksgiving these four decided they wanted to put on a play for everyone...to entertain the guests! Steve and I challenged them to have a specific theme and write a script. Tyler really took the leadership role and organized everyone, although Kailee was in charge of writing the script. I heard comments later from the younger ones that they really like doing something with Tyler in charge because he does such a good job of getting it all organized and they have fun too!

So they performed a short play about the first Thanksgiving with Tyler and Kailee being Pilgrims and Adams and Alyssum were the Indians. They helped each other figure out the costumes with a few suggestions from mom when they were stumped. They even had tickets with tear-off stubs for those that were going to be watching! Such fun!

Science...Zoology II: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day (by Apologia). We were learning about sea turtles, so we made an outline of a leatherback turtle to give us an idea of how big they really are! This one might be slightly bigger that it should be, but not too far off from what a leatherback turtle can grow to be...quite an amazing gentle creature.

Lego Education: Simple and Powered Machines. "Enables children to work as young scientists, engineers, and designers providing them with settings, tools and tasks that promote design technology, science and mathematics."

These Lego science activity boxes have been a great hands-on tool for learning how machines and tools work. Here Tyler and Kailee worked together to make a fishing rod that uses mechanisms-pulleys and levers, and investigated a pawl and ratchet.

Adams and Alyssum have their own Lego Education box that teaches Early Simple Machines. Here they had to design a bridge that was 8 inches long or longer, at least 4 inches above the water, safe, and could withstand a fair amount of weight. They both had fun with the bridge project and learned a lot in the process! We all look forward to Fridays when we can dig into our Lego Education boxes!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

God's Majesty displayed...

We have had the most amazing sunrises(top three photos) and sunsets(last two photos) recently, that I just had to share some of Gods amazing glory in creation with all of you! Steve took these amazing photos from our yard, and we never seem to get tired of exclaiming or viewing God's handiwork on display for all to see!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Last month Stacey had passed on my e-mail about my trip to the village in the Philippines. Trying to catch up after being gone, along with life being busy, I have not written like I should. We wanted to write and catch you up with what is happening with us.

We arrived in the dark so we were not able to see anything. I slept well that night, but woke up with the pouring rain at 5 am. The rain diminished about 5:30 and as the dawn was breaking I took a look out the window. In the early morning light I could see several cooking fires burning near the thatched roof homes of the neighbors of Dennis and Jeanie. On the right, through the coconut palm trees, I could see the airstrip and at the end of the airstrip, the ocean.

After breakfast we went out across the air strip where a couple of families were waiting to meet us. Introductions were made and we were shown around the staging area for the rubber seedlings. Hundreds of seedlings were being rooted in small plastic sack-pots, with hundreds more filled with soil awaiting more seedlings. We then hiked above the house to view goat pens and the goats. Along the slope there was terracing made with legume shrubs holding and improving the soil. The shrub's leaves and small stems are also good nutritious food for the goats.

We then went to view the medical clinic run by a local man that has been trained as a health care worker.
He was collecting blood smears from a couple of people to test for malaria. A couple of meters away at the end of the airstrip is the hanger for Dennis' plane. We went back to the house and started a fire in the clay oven in order to make bread, cinnamon rolls and pie. Dennis and I hiked farther up the hill to the water tank to work on the plumbing.

After lunch we went to be introduced to the people that lived around Dennis and Jeanie's old house. Dennis, Jeanie and their kids lived in this larger house when they first lived in the village. We were on the way to look at the house and see what kind of work needed to be done to make it livable again. The house w
as pretty sound, the roof has kept it dry so there was only minimal termite damage.

I should back up and explain the reason we were looking at this house. Dennis is our pastor's father in law and visited Alaska this spring. He asked us to consider the opportunity to work with him developing agriculture. His desire is to use agriculture to establish a strong economic foundation for the island as well as meeting current needs the people are facing in terms of health and sustenance. His purpose in considering our family to join him is to free him up to pursue curriculum development and teaching.

The current cash crop of coconut is only pennies per kilo and is not near enough. The hardwood trees of the forest are all cut down and smuggled out of the country. The fish are no longer available because the coral reefs were damaged by the dynamiting that made fishing easy but tempor
ary. Long term sustainable agriculture needs to be practiced and taught. The rubber trees will be a source of long term income for people. Proper slope terracing and mulching will save and feed the soil, giving a long term ability to feed their families.

Please pray for us as we are pursuing this opportunity. We are praying the Lord will show us His will in this, and what our part will be in making this happen. It was so good to be able to go to Balabac and see the work that needs to be done, to see the house
and area.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Birthday Campout

Ethan and Tyler's birthday tradition is a campout with friends. With all the boys' birthdays being in September and October they have found it fun to share their birthday celebrations. Adams birthday is also in October so this year he got to join the boys in their campout with his friend.

Ethan, Tyler, and Adams are great friends with brothers Brandon, Jordan, and Clayton...what a fun group of friends!Even though it is October in Alaska it has not been too terribly cold, yet. We have had a good frost, but then it warmed up. Actually the evening that the boys were camping it was unseasonably warm...it was 56 degrees even long after dark. It was rather windy, but the boys still slept out in their tent. The tent was aglow with light sticks!In the morning the boys cooked their own breakfast over the campfire and propane stove. Pancakes and bacon always taste so much better when eaten outside! And when they've been cooked by boys!!The boys spent the morning playing flag football and then cleaning up their camping gear. They also got to do some target practicing. BB guns and 22's are such fun!

Monday, October 12, 2009

In the Philippines...

...is where Steve is at the moment. Steve took off last week Sunday with a team of guys from our church to help with some clean-up after the mess made by the typhoon in the Philippines. They went over to help RBI(Resources for the Blind) staff and families with blind children. So much that needs to be mucked out, cleaned up, and rebuilt.

Here is a short story from Randy Weisser about one family they helped...
"Lina is a widow living with a blind son, (Jorin), her teenage daughter, and her widowed mother, near a river that flooded in all the rains. One project was to shovel out the mud left behind, but also to replace part of the roof that was lost in the flood. The team was able to accomplish both in one day, which was more that what I expected and I am sure more than what Lina expected." Here is the team from Alaska with Lina and her family...
After their week of relief work in Manila, Steve and my dad stayed an extra week to head down to Palawan to visit missionary friends, Dennis and Jeanie. They live on a remote island in southern Philippines.

Here is part of a letter that Steve sent after their arrival last night...

"Just a quick hello letting you know we made it! It was quite a trip! Not as daunting as I imagined, but it was as long as we've been told. The van ride was fast on the paved spots, but much of it was being worked on and was broken up. So those areas slowed us down. We started driving at 4:30am and got to Rio Tuba at 10:30am.

We ate a delicious lunch and then headed to the boat. The boat was similar to the outriggers we took to Paradise Island in Davao. The boat stopped at a couple islands to let people off.

We arrived in township just as the sun was setting. Dennis dropped us on a little canoe type boat that was about 20 foot long and 2 and 1/2 feet wide! Your dad called it a tippy canoe. We scrunched on the floor and hoped it would not dump us out. Thankfully it was an absolutely beautiful and calm evening.

We spent about an hour in the boat. We went through a school of jumping fish, hoping that one would jump in. We watched the stars come out, and watched the fires start along the beaches. Occasionally we saw motorcycles running parallel with the beach, Dennis was probably one of those lights we saw.

It was totally dark when we arrived, and we could see two lights on the beach that was Dennis and Jeanie. We stepped out before we reached the beach because of the shallow coral. Ahh warm seawater! We beached the boat, and made our way up the airstrip between the carabao. There are so many insects outside as well and inside- no screens on the windows, because of mold that grows on the screens.

We had a dinner of yummy sandwiches, and pinyaram (Molbog donut) for dessert. I am about to take a shower and hit the sack. Hard to believe we are here!"

Please pray for their remaining time in the Philippines and as they travel back to Alaska on Sunday. I'm sure there will be many more stories to come!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Out in the Hills...

Going "out in the hills" has been a place of mystery and intrigue for four of our six children. They have heard so many stories about Grandpa's cabin, a place called Table Top, jeep swamp, long swamp, and the spring, great moose hunting stories, bear stories, and then there is the story of me rolling a four-wheeler. The stories kept building and with it the greater desire to..."go out in the hills"!

So last weekend the long awaited and much anticipated four-wheeler ride out in the hills to Grandpa's
cabin finally took place! Ethan and Tyler had been out to the cabin several times for moose hunting, but the rest of our kids had never gotten the privilege. So we borrowed a couple four-wheelers from my dad, loaded 'em down with gear and kids, and headed out. Eric and Theresa with their three kids came along too.
The trail was great for the most part, long swamp was really wet and muddy, but I suppose the guys would all say it was great too! Everyone got stuck at least once, some more!

We arrived at the cabin at dusk, unloaded our gear, and explored around a little bit. We soon had
a blazing fire going in the stove so the cabin was warm and cozy as the night air was getting nippy. We all wondered if snow might fall in the night, but it didn't.

Even though Grandpa wasn't there to serve his traditional dinner of monster chili burgers, we thought we better keep it up. Ours weren't quite as monsterous, but delicious anyway!

Grandpa's cabin has 6 bunks and two bench seats that can be bunks as well. Hmmm, 13 people...where are we going to put everyone...thankfully the floor works great for kids! Before we went to bed we talked about how it can get cold in the cabin in the middle of the night as the fire in the stove burns out...but we certainly didn't have that problem. I think 13 people just create alot of their own heat...we certainly didn't need those extra warm mummy bags!!

The kids were so excited to be staying at the cabin and were still excited the next morning to see what adventure awaited them. After breakfast we went to check out the fresh water spring that comes right out of the hillside...what amazingly cool mountain water. We then hiked out to the point where they often look for moose during hunting season. What an amazingly beautiful spot on this earth!

More hiking and playing, eating lunch, and watching an owl watch us as we packed up to leave. On our way out we drove up to Table Top to admire the view and got to watch a bull moose make tracks across the hillside. The fall colors were breathtaking!

Was the trek "out in the hills" everything they imagined? I think it was probably more than they could think up and now they can all share the memories and stories of going "out in the hills" to Grandpa's cabin.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Summer's end...

Summer is over, the leaves are changing color and falling, and school has started! We have two weeks of school behind us and are getting into a good groove. I love teaching my kids and the time that I get to spend with them is priceless.

The past month has been very full with lots of summer's end activities. Steve's Aunt Joan and Uncle Jim from Arizona came up for a two week visit. My kids spent many hours fishing while they were here...and loved every minute of it! Several days of getting up at 4:30 in the morning to catch that elusive silver salmon in the Anchor River. I wish for all of them they could have caught more, but they sure had a lot of fun trying! I spent several days making lots of smoked salmon for all of us to enjoy this winter.

For our last hurrah before school started, we traveled up the road for our annual trek to Palmer and the Alaska State Fair. We love spending time in the Valley with Charlie and Kristen, and getting a chance to go to the Fair. My mom and dad, and Eric and Theresa with kids also went up for the weekend of fun! The Fair is always lots of fun for everyone and we spend the entire day there, from noon when the gate opens until after 10pm when they fireworks go off. The kids are great troopers and love it all...the rides, the food, the animals, and all the little shops. This year Ethan took Grandpa up on his challenge of being flung high on the giant sling shot. What a ride! As the giant rubber band shot him up in the air, we could see the terror on his face and a look of, "What did I get myself into??" He was all smiles though when he got off and loved the thrill of the ride!

Sunday evening we arrived home late and started school the next morning...and away we go for our school year! Thankfully I had our schedule together and was ready to begin despite the lateness of the night before. Our first week was great and everyone seemed to enjoy getting back to a school routine.
First day of school
Nothing like cutting short our first week of school though as Steve and I took off Thursday evening for a church staff retreat across the bay. We were both reeling from our busy week of school and work, and not quite sure we felt up to "getting away"...but we decided that we probably really needed it. The retreat was a refreshing time with family and friends who are all part of our church leadership...and we were ever so glad we went!

This past week hasn't been quite so busy, but still full with school and work. Our growing season is slowing down, but the garden is still producing and needing our attention. The freezer is packed so full that we can't get another thing in it...I think we might turn green this winter with all the veggies in the freezer. It's probably just as well that Steve didn't get a moose this week when he went hunting for a couple days...what would we have done with it?? Moose meat in the freezer would have been great though, I certainly wouldn't have complained! Steve had fun hiking and staying out at the cabin despite the fact that the moose were scarce.

Birthday and Anniversary celebrations are happening every two weeks this fall! Tyler got to celebrate his 11th birthday up in Palmer with family on September 4. Steve and I are celebrating our 16th Anniversary today! He surprised me with roses when he came home from work today! Ethan and Adams are looking forward to their birthdays coming up in just a few short weeks.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Engebretsen Family Reunion

Earlier this month we had the joy of getting together with extended family for the Engebretsen family reunion to celebrate 50 years on the original homestead. My grandpa, who homesteaded in Homer, Alaska in 1959, has given us quite a heritage. Over 70 family members came for the five day reunion and lots of memories were made!

Lots of visiting and catching up around the campfire each evening, and plenty of fishing and playing in the river! We enjoyed being able to reconnect with aunts, uncles, and cousins that we had not seen in a long time. Our kids had so much fun with cousins they had never met before that none of them were ready for the week to be over!

My grandparents homesteaded on the Anchor River in 1959 with five children. They built a 16x24 cabin to live in and survive the winter! There wasn't a road into their place so they built buggies to get back and forth to the main road for supplies. The kids caught lots of fish in the river to supplement their garden and they also lived on moose meat. Oh, the stories we have heard over the years of the homestead days!

The pictures to follow are of Grandpa with his five kids... Then Grandpa with his grandkids... Then Grandpa with his great-grandkids!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Village VBS by Ethan

Hi, it's Ethan here, just wanted to tell you about my trips to the villages. We, Weston, Mrs. Buckwalter, and I went to two villages called Perryville and Port Heiden. The two villages were a lot different from each other. In Perryville the kids, as a rule, are quiet and are not very rowdy. Oh and there are a lot of bears. In Port Heiden it is a lot more flat and the winds get up to 40-50 miles per hour. And the kids? Well, they are the exact opposite of the kids in Perryville. They are a little loud and kind of rowdy. Some of their favorite pastimes is riding bikes, playing video games, listening to music and building stuff with their hands.

We had a lot of fun doing "In the Race with Jesus" vacation Bible school with the kids. One of my jobs during VBS was teaching the kids the song
motions, they did great! The kids also had an enjoyable time watching me talk to our race car puppet, Otto, during his regular pit stops. Even though it was often hard to keep our kids in order, we had a good time.

I want to thank you for praying for us and sending us money as we
went to the villages and taught the kids about Jesus. THANK YOU! Here's some pictures of the VBS.Bible story time...Weston as Goliath and Ethan as a Jewish soldier.
Ethan organized games with the kids...untying the human knot..kids had fun playing games!
The kids were divided into two groups. Ethan is here with his team of kids...
Weston with his team of kids...
On our one day off in between VBS in the two villages we made a kite out of a piece of old cloth. It was a two man kite, but flew well in the strong winds of Port Heiden. We flew the kite for hours and hours!I got to fly the plane on our 2 hour return trip to Homer...it was great fun!! I am concentrating on all the dials and gauges.