Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Village VBS

Ethan, Helen and Dan Buckwalter, and Weston flying out to the villages of Alaska.

Last week Ethan flew to Perryville, Alaska to help with Vacation Bible School. The two previous weeks he had spent several days a week preparing for the VBS by memorizing skits, coloring posters, learning songs and motions, and getting familiar with the program.

Ethan was asked by Helen Buckwalter of Northern Harvest to help out with the village VBS this year. A friend of Ethan's and Helen's grandson Weston is also helping out. Buckwalters have been village missionaries for 30 years, circuit-flying preacher all year and VBS in the summer to many villages on the Alaska Peninsula.

They are making two stops this summer for a 5-day VBS program in t
he village of Perryville and then Port Heiden. They flew out several days late from Homer because of bad weather, but hit the ground running with VBS the day after they arrived. I talked to Ethan today as they were packing up their supplies and getting ready to fly to Port Heiden for their second 5-day program. He said the first week was great...they had a lot of fun...and the weather was nice to be able to be able to play games and have a picnic outside with the kids. When Ethan returns this weekend(weather permitting) I will get him to write and post some pictures of his adventures!

Ethan was also very excited about flying in a small plane out to the villages! He has been talking for the past year of someday being a pilot for missionaries, so this adventure was perfect timing. He was thrilled to see first hand what it means to be an Alaskan bush pilot...hurry up to get ready, then wait on good weather...fly around tall cloud pillars...fly under rain clouds...observe beautiful landscape below...and bring the gospel to the village kids! On their return to Homer Ethan gets to fly "co-pilot", I'm sure he will have many stories to tell!

The plane Ethan is in taking off from the Homer runway (you can see the plane against the hillside).

Creative kids!

Ethan and Tyler tore down their old "cabin" and built a new and improved "cabin" in a new location. Their old cabin had started out as a fort of logs, then was changed to a fort with plywood walls, then a metal roof, and then another floor, and so on...but it was too short for Ethan and he was having a hard time getting around in it...so they decided it was time to start over. Only this time they were going to have a plan... So these are pictures of their new "cabin"!

...complete with bird house, basket of flowers, and a cooler...
Ethan and Tyler have a new four-wheeler, well at least new to them. Grandpa is trading them the four-wheeler for work, so they are having to work it off this summer. They are putting it to good use by making lots of rough trails around the property...
Kailee, Alyssum, and Adams have caught on to the creativity and are putting scrap lumber to good use. They built this "airplane" out of straightened nails and pieces of leftover wood. They were really hoping to get it off the ground!

They also built this little fort... Amazing what fun some scrap lumber, bent nails, pieces of rope, and a small set of tools can be!

Clam digging

We have had quite the busy couple of weeks as we enjoy our short summer in Alaska! Sometime ago our friends, the Millers, asked us if we had ever been clam digging, and they were shocked when we replied, "No!" Actually I had been clam digging as a child, but never since then, so our kids nor Steve had ever had the privilege.

Wednesday was clamming day as the tide was very low. We drove to Ninilchik and drove out to the beach along with half the population of the Kenai Peninsula. Well, that might be overdueing it a little bit, but not by much. I have never seen a beach in Alaska so dotted w
ith people!

We were outfitted in boots with rain pants that were duck taped around the bottom or hip waders and plastic gloves duck taped around the wrist...all to keep out the cold water and sand. We looked like quite the sight, along with everyone else on the beach, decked out in our clamming gear!

Buckets and clam shovels in hand we sauntered down to the beach ready to do business. Alaska's gray sandy beaches appear smooth and untouched most of the time until there is a good clamming tide. We searched for small indents in the sand to let us know that a
razor clam was waiting just below the surface. The shovels and sand started flying to catch that speedy fast razor clam before he could dig his way deeper. The Millers have done this a time or two, but for the Veldstra family it was a whole new experience. It took a few tries of coming up empty handed to get the hang of it, but then we figured it out and soon had clams in our buckets.

It was a fun and successful day of clam digging. By far the fun part was digging...the difficult and time consuming part was cleaning! We left the house at 9:30 to go clamming and were finished cleaning clams by 4:30 in the afternoon...wow, what a day! We will certainly enjoy every bite of clam chowder this winter!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Our sweet toy poodle Ginger! Several years ago when Ginger came to our home she attached herself to Ethan...Ethan is still her favorite, but we all enjoy our sweet dog! I just loved this picture of her in the window enjoying the heat of the summer sun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Long hike!

I was going through pictures on my camera and realized I had some catching up to do! In May "we came, we saw, we conquered" a long grueling 8 mile hike on the beach to Homer! We decided to take on the challenge of walking along the beach from Diamond Creek to Bishops Beach.

Steve and I and our 6 kids, my mom and dad, and Kristen and Charlie enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the beach and the bluffs. The first half of the hike was fun as we all explored and discovered many wonderful treasures. The kids found plenty of shells to fill their pockets, small dried up crabs that hopefully would make it all the way, interesting pieces of driftwood, fossils, rock formations, and even some old parts of cars. Tyler found a long bamboo pole that is used for halibut fishing, and he carried it all the way to Bishops Beach. What a treasure and lots of hard work to keep it! Kristen collected interesting pieces of driftwood and shells for her flower ga
rden back home. Kristen, Tyler, and Alyssum are collectors as their pockets and back packs were bulging!

Halfway we stopped for our sack dinner...the wind was cold when we stopped, so we hurriedly ate our sandwiches and set off again. Probably would have been better to eat and walk as the wind really made everyone cold and it was difficult to get warm again.

The second half wasn't nearly so much fun as the first half. We all were asking how much longer and when will we get there. The tide was going out, so as we got closer to Bishop
s Beach there were many tidepools that would have been fun to explore, but we were ready to go home by then. We did see some wildlife along the way...eagles flew over, seagulls washing themselves in a fresh water stream on the beach, an otter sitting on a rock, and cormorants resting on another rock. Old fish traps along the beach are wonderful pieces of history from the turn of the century. There are also old coal mines nestled in the bluffs closer to Homer. Metal rails protruding from the bluffs are about all that is left.

Even though the hike was diff
icult and we all were very exhausted it is great to say that we did it...just as the "old-timers" used to hike along the beach to get to Homer to buy groceries, we hiked there as well, but we are all very glad we don't have to hike to Homer to buy groceries. Hard to imagine such a difficult life and yet Homer wouldn't be here if it wasn't for brave and adventurous homesteaders of Alaska!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Summer arrived as did extra busy days of work and play. We are mostly finished with school...we got a little bit of this and that to complete, but should be able to get it in here and there...and ready for summer fun!

The kids have all taken turns working at Oma's when she needs them for spring clean up, in and outside her house. They enjoy having the extra money to save and she gets more work done! Grandma also wants them to come do some work around her place soon. I think we must not pay enough since they would rather go work for grandparents!

This week is planting week and the four older kids get their chance to work with Steve on the job. They love planting week and working for Dutch Boy! They are getting so fast at planting that the week of planting is getting shorter and shorter. Homer sure does look beautiful when they are finished!

Last week Steve and the kids put in our large garden. We have always had a good size garden, but this year it seems to have grown! Last year Steve did an experiment with remay (garden fabric) by covering some of the plants for part of the summer. The plants that he covered grew well and produced great, but the plants that he left uncovered didn't produce much and were so late. We did have a very cold growing season last summer so that may have contributed to the problem. But he decided we needed to cover the entire garden in remay, so hopefully we will grow a bumper crop of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, lettuce, zucchini, onions, beets, swiss chard, kale, and cabbage. We also have yellow squash in the green house, tomatoes, and several herbs. There are several more tomato plants in the house as they seem to grow better indoors and also more herbs and a jalapeno plant. We may have more vegetables than we know what to do with this year!

Once planting season is over then we can hopefully get in a few camping trips and other summer fun! We have started our Sunday evening BBQ which is the highlight of our week! We all look forward to spending time with family and friends!