Monday, December 29, 2008

If Jesus were born today

Grace and greetings.

This is a picture of inside our santuary, looking back from the front of the church. In the back is a mural painted by one of the "greats" of this congregation and of the North Slope, the Rev. Samuel Simmonds. The hopspital in Barrow is named after him.

But that is not what I wanted to write about today. One of the online organizations I belong to is Ecunet, a gathering of church people around the globe. The following is one of the comments I read this afternoon that I wanted to share. I am not sure if the person who posted the story is the author, but here is the story that I titled "If Jesus were born today", since there was not real title attached to the story. Enjoy...
If Jesus Had Been Born Today

Message #10332 Subject: [NO SUBJECT] To: ECULAUGH
From: RAY KERLEY Date: 12/27/2008 02:05 EST
Child Protective Services Launch Probe

Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn.

Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth.

During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph, also of Nazareth, attempted to stop the social workers. Joseph, aided by several local shepherds and some unidentified foreigners, tried to forestall efforts to take the child, but was restrained by the police. Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be wise men from an eastern country.

The INS and Homeland Security officials are seeking information about these who may be in the country illegally. A source with the INS states that they had no passports, but were in possession of gold and other possibly illegal substances.

They resisted arrest saying that they had been warned by God to avoid officials in Jerusalem and to return quickly to their own country. The chemical substances in their possession will be tested. The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning.

The manager of the Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district. The location of the minor child will not be released, and the prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful.

Asked about when Jesus would be returned to his mother, a Child Protective Service spokesperson said, "The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in Nazareth to determine what their legal relationship is. Joseph has admitted taking Mary from her home in Nazareth because of a census requirement. However, because she was obviously pregnant when they left, investigators are looking into other reasons for their departure.

Joseph is being held without bond on charges of molestation, kidnapping, child endangerment, and statutory rape. Mary was taken to the Bethlehem General Hospital where she is being examined by doctors. Charges may also be filed against her for endangerment. She will also undergo psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.

The director of the psychiatric wing said, "I don't profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others -- in this case her child -- we must consider her a danger to others.

"The unidentified drugs at the scene didn't help her case, but I'm confidant that with the proper therapy regimen we can get her back on her feet."

A spokesperson for the governor's office said, "Who knows what was going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening.

"There is much we don't know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end."

Ray Kerley
Murray, Utah 84123
(Written on 12/27/08 at 4:07 am MST)
This email is printed on 100% Recycled Electrons.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Adoption of the Spirit

Grace and greetings.

This evening's service was about our adoption into God's gracious gift of life. Here are some of my thoughts and comments.

Galatians 4.4-7

The Sunday after Christmas is always the lowest in church attendance, in any church throughout the “Western Church”. With the four weeks of Advent, expectations are set high for Christmas morning, both in the church and at home. Many times, if not all times, the expectations are ever met. We go through the waiting of the Christ child to be born, and then we can go back to our regular lives. We hope that Christmas will turn our lives around, fulfill hopes and dreams of a better life, better situations, for our families and ourselves. We pray for World peace to break out upon God’s Creation; we pray that all those who are sick will be healed, and all the wrongs will be made right. But the question we need to ask ourselves, during all this time of preparation, did we give birth to the Christ child in our own lives?

Paul is calling the church to understand the gift that God gave the world that first Christmas, that day “when the fullness of time had come.” We know the story, that Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem, and Jesus was born. We know that he grew up, lived, taught, loved, ached, and died in our flesh, as a human being. Yet this same Jesus calls us, and continues to call us to be in a relationship with God. Not just a relationship where we are strangers passing on the street; or as best friends who send each other a Christmas card each year; but in a relationship with God that fulfills the promise that we are God’s Children. We too are the heirs of what God has promised to all, throughout the generations of prophets, writings and teachings. We have been adopted into God. We are the daughters and sons of the Living God, the God of All Creation.

Does a child know when she is born? Does an infant know he is being adopted? We learn as we grow up who we are, and more importantly, whose we are. We learn that as we grow in the spirit of God, we learn that God is our Parent, one that Jesus called Abba, one that we too can call Father, Creator of All. It is out of the womb of God creation came about. It is through the womb of God, by water and spirit that we are reborn into the Spirit of God. But again, I will ask the question of the day; did we give birth to the Christ child into our own lives?

We have been through all the pageants, plays, music and wonderment of the season. Now we move into the New Year, preparing for the New Hope that God gives us, but do we really take on the complete understanding that we are God’s Children. We are adopted into God. We are no longer strangers, we are no longer slaves but we are the Children of God. We are the sisters and brothers of the Christ who has redeemed and adopted us so we might enjoy the same rights and privileges and obligations of being in God’s family.

Only you can answer the question, only you are able to live out the answer, one way or another; Is Christ born again in you?
Peace and blessings.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Overcast in Barrow

Grace and Greetings.

The last few days have been very similar to this picture taken while we were in Denali Park earlier this summer, overcast inside a fantastic view.

While trying to keep things going, through four funerals, a wedding, four services as well as Christmas season, all I tend to see right now is the overcast, grey weary day. In the midst of the chaos in my life right now, I do not see the wonder of this time of year.

We, my wife and I, agreed to head up the "Christmas Eve Pageant." The requirements told to me was that they did not want a lot of dialogue to memorize, and try to keep things simple. So I did just that with a "Readers Theater" type of play, with characters in and out of time and space. Basically people from different time in history coming to tell of "their story", and then tie each story that would be read "in character" to a Christmas Carol. No memorization, simple to stage, no problem. I guess I did not receive the memo that the "Christmas Pageant" was first and foremost a presentation of the "youth" of the church playing Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, just as they have done for the last twenty-five years. One would have thought I was telling all the little children that there was no Santa Claus as reported in "The Night Before Christmas." Well, now that we only have three days left, either the people will come screaming, or they will not come on Christmas Eve...

I know, I am probably making a mountain out of a hill, and there are only a few that are giving me the dirty looks and demanding that we put more of the "pageant" back in. So we will see. I think if the people give it a chance, it will work out well. Maybe I am just another white man in a native world too.

The weather had jumped 40 degrees this week, going from 20 below to 20 above, and even Thursday and Friday up to 28 degrees. Today, the cold wind is back, and the air tempature is starting to drop again, currently it is 10 above, with the wind chill at minus 2.

Well, it is time to try and rest tonight so that I can be ready for tomorrow's services and play practice.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Grace and greetings.

Two things, I am become more frustrated with my inability to regulate the look of the blog. I am not able to distinguish paragraphs like I would like, very frustrating. I just put seven returns between this paragraph and the next, yet when it is previewed or published, it will not show any lines between the two.
The second is a warning. While I was typing the previous blog, I received a telephone call, it sounded legit. They claimed to be from Card Services, stating that I am being offered a reduction in interest for any Visa or Master Card I had. As I started to ask for more information, basically I asked if they already had the names of my cards to confirm that they were with the card company, they hung up.
Just like the picture of the bear, he looks innocent at the moment, (because it turned out that he had already been shot), but polar bears are not known for their kindness once they get a scent. Be wary of the telephone calls, be sure you know with whom you are talking and they already have the appropriate information before giving any of your own information out. A legitimate call will already have your information in front of them.
Peace and blessings.

Flying in and out of Barrow

Grace and greetings.
At left is a picture of the Alaska Airlines building. If you are coming to Barrow from anywhere other than one of the villages in the North Slope, you will come through this building. The building itself is not that large, the waiting room sits maybe 35 people comfortably, more with standing room. I do not know why the spots on the picture, for it was not snowing and it came out with both pictures I took, and the lens was clean. Oh well.
Kim is flying home tonight from Anchorage after meeting with the doctors there. They have decided to hold off on the surgery, until the lungs become more affected. The doctors said they could do a proactive surgery, but in the long run doing more damage to the lung than necessary. So we will wait, and the doctors will keep there eye on Kim, having her check in every so often, or when ever we are in Anchorage.
Peace and blessings.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday night white out

Grace and greetings.

Here it is Monday night, a night where things do not look like the picture. Though this is a picture of our "satellite city", where all the satellite dishes are outside of town. As you might notice, they are all pointed to the horizon, and not the sky. One of the reasons is that most of the satellites in space, all orbit below the Arctic Circle, so all of our dishes are pointing down rather than up.

The last two days have been very warm, up 40 degrees from the 20 below of the last several weeks. But today, it has been the 30 mile an hour winds that have caused the problems of the day, white outs everywhere, all day long. White outs are where the snow is so thick, either falling or being blown around, that you can not see through it. It makes driving real fun....NOT.

The picture to the right, is the road from the satellite city back into Barrow, coming up onto the airport, on the far right if the picture were to go out that far.

Anyway, I wanted to try and post a picture as often as I can. Though these pictures were taken last month, it still shows some of the landscape of the Barrow area.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Grace and greetings.
To the right here is a picture of the Arctic Ocean, made up of several seas, in this case, the Chukchi Sea. As we look out our windows from the house, it is the Chukchi Sea that we see. When I drive to the "end of the road" as I mention in other blogs, then I end up between the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. This picture was taken the same day as the family pictures were taken, Halloween day, October 31, 2008.
You can notice the sun setting here about 3:30 PM. The sun has now set for the winter, though from about 11:30 AM to about 1:30 PM we still have twilight to see with, so it is not completely dark the whole time.
Peace and blessings.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Here is the picture I tried to publish originally...I am not going to put anything to chance....
Peace and blessings.


It is very frustrating when the computer or software do not respond as they were programed to respond. In my previous blog, I lost a picture of Kim and Sam, now the software will not respond when I try to upload the picture. Then the spacing was all off, not as it was written, and when I tried to "fix" it, the software lost items and whole paragraphs. VERY FRUSTRATING!!!

I will try publishing the picture again later.

Our Christmas Card picture

Grace and greetings.

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote. I started to write last week, but after I was almost done, the entire blog disappeared into cyberspace, so I took the hint and turned off the computer. Tonight I am going to try again.

At left is a picture of Sam and Kim taken Halloween afternoon out by the Arctic Ocean at the edge of town. Below right, is a picture of Sam and I taken a few minutes later.

Kim wanted to send pictures out to friends and family, so here you are, we do exist. These were going to be our Christmas card pictures, but this is as far as they are going to get, at the moment.

I am hoping to go back to my original idea of a picture a day, are at least several a week now that I have downloaded the pictures into the computer and labeled them. I will be posting pictures from this past summer along with other pictures more recently taken.

For those who are still praying for Kim, she returns to Anchorage this coming Monday to meet with the surgeon and other doctors. We hope that a surgery date will be set while she is in Anchorage. Right now, everything is more or less on hold until we know more about the surgery date. Depending on what the surgeons find once they are inside of Kim's lungs, will determine how much of her lung they will remove, right now the possibility is up to half of her right lung. Then following the surgery will require about a week in the hospital to recuperate, longer depending on how things work out. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Radiant Curves

Grace and greetings.

After writing the last couple of entries about the wind, I thought I would write of my experience this morning. I came out to warm up the car, and it felt warm. Though the temperature was at minus nine degrees, it was a comfortable cold. Then I realized that there was not wind, ahh, nice and warm.

After I dropped my son off at school, I took a drive out to the end of the road. Without the wind blowing the snow around, the sky and area was very clear. Upon arriving at the end of the road, I could make out the clouds in the still dark morning sky; looking around I was even able to see some of the stars coming through.

On the way out, the sparkles of the weekend drive returned, thought not as spectacular as the other night, it was still a wonderful sight. I caught a couple of Arctic foxes in my headlights; their eyes reflected a brilliant blue. It made the drive just that much more enjoyable.

I was listening to Native American Call-in while I drove, and today was their "Book of the Month" show. The book was from a Navajo woman, Lucy (I can not remember her last name), but she is a teacher at Arizona State University. The book, Radiant Curves, were stories of her past and other poems of life. The title comes from the Navajo word for Rainbow. As I was driving and watching the still dark Arctic early morning (9 AM), I thought of all the wonders of the world, and the wonders in my life at the moment, the interconnectedness of all of life, and it is indeed radiant curves all around.

May you have a fantastic Thanksgiving Weekend.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A cold end

Grace and greetings.

As I wrote yesterday, it is not just about the cold air temperature, but the wind that continues to blow here are well. This afternoon we gathered at the "new grave site" for yet another committal. Though the air temperature was only 8 below, the 17 mile an hour wind brought the wind chill down to minus 30. Of course, here in Barrow, it is the family and volunteers to dig the grave and then fill the grave afterwards. Even before the casket was in the grave, frost was forming on beards of those who had facial hair. To say the least, it was very cold.

It is amazing to see the youth, particularly the teens who will run around in this weather without coats, hats and gloves. They just run to the car/bus/truck and then into the building. During the freezing winter, it is amazing that the school district has to send out a statement that students without appropriate winter gear will not be allowed to ride the bus. It seems that is the only way that some of the older "kids" will dress appropriately. Each morning, my son and I have this same discussion concerning how to dress for the cold. He seems to not listen. Yet, there are times when I am not able to pick him up, and he has to walk home. It is not quite a half mile, but by the time he gets home he is cold. He will wear the winter parka for a couple of days, then will go back to his hoody and leather jacket. As he continues to tell me, fashion before bulkiness.

Oh well, just as life, and trying to tell the young how to live their lives. Some children will just not listen. Isn't that what my parents told me last week?

Peace and blessings.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow and wind

Grace and greetings.

As I drove out to Spenard Builder Supply earlier today, I noticed that the wind was blowing the snow across the road. One of the things I miss about other places it the wind blowing through the trees, throwing the branches back and forth. One could see the strength of the wind by how the trees bend over. Here, we have the flags and the snow to show us how the wind is strong or just blowing. Also, I noticed that all the sparkles from yesterday were no longer there.

Many people assume that because we are inside the Arctic Circle, that it is cold, very cold all the time. Well, yes it is cold here, but it is usually colder in other places in the State or even the Upper Midwest States. The real kicker is the wind, what can be a pleasant 20 above can turn dangerous with a 25 mile an hour wind to below zero degree weather. During the winter months, what is usually a 20 below can drop quickly with the wind sometimes reaching 40 miles an hour.

For those of you who are following Kim's struggles, she is being released from the hospital this afternoon, and will fly home on tomorrow afternoon's flight. They are giving her four weeks to try and get the blood clots, and pneumonia in her lungs to clear up. So they are looking at surgery either sometime near Christmas or soon after, depending on how things are looking at the time. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sparkling Snow

Grace and greetings.

Samuel and I went for a car ride this evening, and it was wonderful to watch the snow sparkle as we drove. It was like little lights the flashed off and on as we went by. It was really amazing, and Sam even liked it too. Of course by the time we got out to the end of the road, we realized that the cloud cover was too much to see if there were any other heavenly bodies that would twinkle for us.

Of course the big news for us in Alaska is that Senator Ted Stevens conceded to Mark Begich who is now our new Senator-Elect. Whether one agreed with his policies or politics, we must admit that Senator Stevens was good at bringing money into the state, making it one of the largest, if not the largest state to receive federal funds. Yes, it will be hard to replace Stevens in that respect, but I believe in the long run, the State is better off with Begich. (Not to mention that Stevens turn 84 this past week).

As far as Kim is concerned, we are still waiting on the doctors to see if they will operate. I believe the issue now is that the main cause of her infections in her lungs, Histoplasmosis, is a Midwest fungus, so the doctors are thinking that maybe it would be wise to have her go to a place with they deal with it more often. She is meeting with the surgeon in an hour or so, and will hear what the doctor and patient have to say to each other.

Other than that, life continues here on the North Slope, parent arguing with teenage to do homework, laundry to do, housecleaning to be about, dinner is in the oven, etc., etc., etc. Everybody else has the same daily issues as well.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Going into the Dark

Grace and greetings.

Here it is Tuesday, 18 November, and as far as I understand, the sun has risen and set for the last time in 2008 in the Arctic Circle. Yet this afternoon, the sun seemed to be up long enough that it should come again tomorrow, but we will wait and see. Last year, I was surprised that even on the days of December, it seemed like the noon time was twilight; I had been expecting a complete darkness.

Alaskan Politics may have come to a place where we can turn the page; our Governor is back in the State; and it looks like that even though we may have a new Senator; though we still have the same Congressman. It is frightening that we almost re-elected a Senator who was convicted of seven counts of corruption. But even after the verdict was handed down, our Senator Ted Stevens, proclaimed his innocence, and then campaigned during the last several weeks stating that he had not been convicted of anything. He was going by his legal understanding that conviction is only AFTER the sentencing, so therefore he had not been convicted yet...The scary part is that it took two weeks of counting ballots before a winner was announced. Now, comes the time to wait and see if Senator Stevens will ask for a recount.

In the meantime, our Congressman, Don Young, is under investigation, but Alaskans seemed to turn a blind eye and re-elected him, after all, he has not been officially charged of anything...yet.

Then there is our Governor, Sarah Palin, who just several short months ago was unknown to the rest of the nation, but is now on the center stage, setting herself up for a run for the White House come 2012. I was very surprised to find out how far right her beliefs were, and very scared that she is a serious candidate for the next election. She has even thought of running for the Senate if there was to be a special election if Ted Stevens won and expelled by the Senate. She may even run again fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski when her term is up.

Through all this fun and excitement, Kim is still at Providence Hospital. It has been confirmed that the pneumonia is now in both lungs. Now they, the doctors, are debating when she will have surgery to remove cysts in her lungs. The calcium buildups are from old infections and the scaring of her lungs are permanent. The cysts are large enough, that they are rubbing on the lining of her lungs, and eventually, if left alone will puncture her lungs. When they go in, they will have to go through the chest or back, and she has a good chance of losing up to half of her right lung. Right now we are just waiting to hear from the surgeon as to a date, then Sam and I will join her in Anchorage.

Until then, we are a little more than a week away from Thanksgiving, to remember why we are thankful for the wonderful gifts from God, our Creator. Concerning Kim, the fact that she is still around is something of a miracle. Your thoughts and prayers are asked for and welcomed.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Same old, Same old

Grace and greetings.

Sunday, the temperature in Barrow finally dropped below zero, but the winds have continued to be strong, up to 25 mile an hour winds. Today is more of the same: cold and windy.

Kim is back in the hospital in Anchorage with more lung issues. Saturday afternoon, ten minutes before I was heading out to officiate a wedding, Kim thought she should go the hospital because she was hearing noises during her breathing. I asked if she could hold on until after the wedding, so between the wedding service and the reception that followed, I dropped Kim off at the hospital and returned to have the wedding license signed, then returned to the hospital to wait for the doctors to finish up with their test.

After seeing the doctor, we were on our way out the door, when the doctor asked us to stay a few minutes longer. After consulting with another doctor on staff, they decided to admit Kim for observation overnight. With her heart rate up and oxygen levels slowly dropping, she was medevaced to Anchorage yesterday. It does not look like she will be there long, maybe a day or two more. Of course the doctor in Anchorage looked at her and told her that if she lived in Anchorage, she would not be in the hospital. But that was one of the points, we DO NOT live in Anchorage, we live in rural Alaska. As the saying goes, "If the rest of the United States gets a cold, Alaskans get the flu." To continue the statement, (and I guess this could be true in the majority of rural areas), "If Anchorage gets the flu, the Bush (rural Alaska) gets pneumonia." We are still waiting to see what will happen, as of this afternoon, they, the doctors, are still looking at her lungs. Though they are filling up again, it is not reacting like "normal pneumonia" rather filling in other areas of the lung. They still may go in with a needle to drain the lungs this time, rather than with a larger tube like last time; but that was also to help re-inflate the lung as well.

It is getting near the time when the sun will set for the last time here in Barrow for 2008. Though we officially have about six more days of "daylight", with the overcast skies, you would not know it.

Thank you for reading my blog, and your patience during my times of absence.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally a vote for a winning President in a while

Grace and greetings.

Yes, I voted for Obama, which brings my voting record for President, 3 wins and 9 loses. I guess with hindsight, I would have voted for Carter instead of Ford if I had been paying attention at the time. Of course, the next time Carter ran, he had already conceded to Reagan in 1980 before I got off work and could vote. (I think I ended up voting for the Green Party in that election.) Of course at that time, what were to be close races, for US Senate and Congress in the State of Alaska, very quickly went to the Republican party. I wonder if McCain's concession before the closing of the polls in Alaska, (alright, not that 30 minutes would make that much difference) but that gave Hawaii an hour and half to affect the votes.

With prayers that we may now come back together; As Obama said in his acceptance speech, "that we are not red states and blue states, but we are the United States of America." Hopefully, healing will happen.

I read a editorial a couple of weeks ago from the Rev. Dr. John Buchanan, Pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. In his observation, or comment about the conservatives verses liberal/progressives: "The conservatives wake up thinking of ways to destroy the liberals. Whereas the liberals would wake up in the morning and thinking of ways for inclusion." (the quote is a paraphrase, but the meaning is there). Following that observation, here are more prayers for inclusion.

Peace and blessings.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Kim is home

Grace and greetings.

I am sorry that I have not kept up with the communications lately, but here is what is going on:

Kim came home a little more than a week ago, she still has a long way to go, but is not on the IV's, so the hospital released her. Anyway, here is a list of what the list of what the hospital wrote up:

1. Acute respiratory failure (the survival rate for two years out of the hospital is at 45 %)
2. Streptococcal Midas empyema causing number one. (Lungs are permanently scared)
3. Acute renal failure secondary to streptococcal Midas empyema. (expected to heal with time).
4. Severe sepsis with systemic inflammatory response syndrome.
5. Hyperkalemia
6. Altered mental status secondary to sepsis
7. History of underlying bipolar disorder.
8. Hypothyroidism.
9. Coagulopathy secondary to sepsis.
10. Anemia
11. Right lower quadrant abdominal pain secondary to constipation
12 Constipation
13 Hematuria with possible underlying urinary tract infection. CT kidney stone did not show any abnormalities.

And here we thought it was just pneumonia with a collapsed lung...anyway, the doctors here that are working with her are saying that it will take one to two years for her to completely recover.

So, the long and the short of it, is that it will be day to day. She has been up and about, and the doctor has suggested that she start singing again to exercise her lungs and getting her breath back. Again, one day at a time.

Tomorrow is the election, I hope you have been able to vote or at least will be able to tomorrow. We took Sam to the polls Friday, (Halloween), his favorite holiday, for his first official voting experience.

Peace and blessings.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Another week in Anchor town

Grace and greetings.

It has been one week since Kim and I were flown down last Tuesday.  Kim is getting better slowly, out of CCU,  she is recognizing people and remembering where she is and what the day of the week is, and the month. Of course it is written on the board in front of her when she answers the questions. Now we wait for the doctors to tell us about her lung and how long she will be in the hospital. 

In the meantime, I have seen a lot of wildlife here, on a daily basis. The moose are out and about; have seen moose while going and coming from the hospital,  as well as a buck with a HUGE rack on his head slowly walking through the hospital parking lot, with cars having to slowly follow behind; saw a black bear the one night, jumped out in front of the car and dove into the bushes along the side of the road near my parent's house; and our son was with his aunt when they saw a mother black bear and three cubs walk in front of the car Friday night a little further down the road than where I saw my bear. 

In the paper on Sunday, saw a quick little comment by a woman that runs a daily column in the Anchorage Daily News called the Ear. I guess she is not a fan of Sarah Palin; her suggestion was to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Palin's name. Of course, Palin is anti-choice, and political donations are not tax deductible, but they are deductible to Planned Parenthood, (and any other non-profit organizations). When a donation is made in Palin's name, she receives a notice of the donation. Of course, this can be used for any politician and what ever their cause (or anti-cause) of choice may be. 

Well, it is time to regain strength and energy before meeting with the doctors tomorrow, hopefully. 

Peace and blessing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wet Friday in Anchorage

Grace and greetings.

For those who are reading my blog, I am requesting prayers. After going to the hospital in Barrow seven times in the last four weeks, the medical staff finally admitted that my wife's illness was not just the normal respiratory cough. Tuesday, we went in and they took another x-ray. It turns out that yes she has pneumonia, but also her right lung had collapsed. We were flown to Anchorage Tuesday night and have been here ever since.  There is a mass in her right lung the doctors are not sure what it is, hopefully a second CAT scan will be able to tell more. She is still disoriented and not sure where or even who she is at the moment. Hopefully things will start to clear up for her soon.

Our son was able to fly out yesterday, even though the flights were full through to the weekend, as there was teacher in-service yesterday and today. Even though he wants to be here with his mother, he dislikes hospitals, so I need to find something for him to do while he is here in Anchorage. 

On our way to the hospital. Thank you for your prayers in advance.

Peace and blessings.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another week has passed

Grace and greetings.

Thursday I wrote about the bear that just laid in the sand while everybody stood around and took pictures. At times, it looked like the bear was trying to stand up, but was not able. I thought that it was just too tired. Later, I heard why. It turns out that if you look at the back right hip, you will notice a red spot that looks like blood. If the story is right, it turns out that somebody had shot the bear, and he made it to the beach before collapsing. The police let the bear rest for a couple of hours then tried to chase the bear back into the water. The bear was not able to get up, so I guess that "they" (not sure just who they were) ended up killing the bear. This was the second bear in a week that was shot and killed when there was really a question as to the need to kill.
But this leads me into tonight's meditation: Living with Others. It is based on Romans 14.1-13.
During the past several weeks, we have been following the Lectionary through the Letter to the Romans. Tonight’s reading is the last that we will be going through in this part of the Lectionary cycle. Basically, in the last passage, Paul tells the Romans, and all others, that hear the letter, to “play nice with each other.”

We are encouraged to welcome each other, or as Paul writes, those who are strong (in the faith) and those who are weak. We do not welcome others so that we can change their beliefs and habits; but rather we welcome each other so that we can be supportive of each other, help each other grow and remain faithful in our walk with the Lord our God.

Paul uses an example of eating meat verses those who do not, but only eat vegetables. Those who ate meat did so with the understanding that God gave the meat to be eaten. Other worried that the meat may have been sacrificed and offered to some other god, or maybe they already knew that too much of a meat diet can cause the body harm. Of course each group felt superior over the other. In some respects it is like alcohol, there are those who can have a glass of wine with their dinner every so often. The other group says that all alcohol is not good, so they abstain altogether. Paul is calling us to be able to stand together and support one another in their faith, encourage them to remain true to their walk of faith whether we drink or abstain, eat meat or abstain. The issue is not whether we eat or drink, but how we help each other in their Faith Journey. We each have a time, when we come before God with an accounting to our own lives, not in how we did in comparison, but how true we lived, how true we walked our own talk.

Paul writes that we are not to judge each other in who walks a more Holy Walk, but to help each other remain faithful to God, not to cause another to stumble or fall because of what we may say or do.

Support each other to walk the path that they have chosen; encourage each other through prayer and love. While we do that, we will realize that we have our own wrongs to worry about, rather than somebody else’s wrongs.

Paul continues his letter with encouragement and personal greetings, but I want to finish with the verse Romans 15.13. “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Alleluia and Amen
Peace and blessings.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Patriot's Day

Grace and greetings.

This morning brought a lot of excitement in the village, as a bear was found wandering around and then later took a nap on the beach. It was lying around for a while, so I went down to get some pictures along with about twenty other cars and vehicles. The bear was about 10 to 15 yards away from all the people, and about 5 yards on shore. It must have been too tired to do anything, but lie there. Without the ice, the bears are having to swim sometimes hundreds of miles before getting any rest. Here are a couple of my pictures. I can now say that I have seen my first Polar Bear in the village of Barrow.

I was looking at a calendar yesterday while waiting in the hospital, and noticed that today, (September 11) was named Patriot's Day in the United States. I did not realize that it had become an official stated day. I am sure most of us can remember where we were seven years ago. (I cannot believe that it has been seven years already). We were in the process of moving from Iowa to New Mexico. Kim and Sam were already in Roswell, and I had closed out things in Iowa. I left Davenport, IA about noon on Monday September 10th and took a detour to Birmingham, Alabama to see my daughter and my grand-daughter, already 5 months old. I had driven until three in the morning pulling into a hotel just outside Birmingham. I woke up about 9 AM or so, just in time to turn on the TV with pictures of the one Tower on fire. Just then, the second Tower was struck. I have always associated this day to my first day "in the South". Since
I was driving, it did not really effect my travel plans, but I know it effected many others.
I also received a message this morning that one of the more mainline Imams in the United States has died this week. Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, who was the former leader of the Nation of Islam and later broke with the racially tinged teachings of his father, Elijah Muhammad, and inspired thousands of African-American Muslims to follow mainstream Islam. (Minister Louis Farrakhan later broke away from Mohammed and claimed the leadership of the Nation of Islam as his own.) According to a press release, "Imam Mohammed was the first Muslim to offer the invocation in the U.S. Senate, in 1990. He was well known as a strong proponent of civil rights and community development, and of better interfaith relations...including with the Presbyterian Church (USA)." The article does not mention any involvement trying to heal the impact of the 9/11 event, but I am sure he was one of the National leaders trying to address the fear that gripped the world for those first several weeks. Unfortunately, there are still people who lump all Muslims together, which is very unfortunate. There is no one group who can speak or act for the entire body of believers. Just as the Religious Right or the Moral Majority in its day, did not speak for all Christians, nor did those who participated in the acts of violence speak for all Muslims.
I hope you are able to take a moment to remember all loss of life that day, and the days that followed.
Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Angels are In, the Yankees are probably out.

Grace and greetings.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has clinched their division with a win over the evil empire of the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners win over the Texas Rangers. Now hopefully the Angels can heal up their hurt players before the playoffs come around the beginning of October. As for my thoughts on this situation, I think the title says it all.

Another thought that has been rattling around in my mind for the last 24 hours is from a story I heard on NPR last night. It seems that the GOP was able to get two anchors from MNBC forced out of their positions for the remainder of the Presidential Election. I guess Keith Obermann and another anchor made comments that were seen as "too liberal". My questions, does that mean that only "too conservative" anchors are okay? Talk about having control over the media.

I guess I can find no way to end this blog tonight, other than what has been said.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Time is Now

Grace and greetings.

The following is my Sunday evening meditation based on Romans 13.8-14.

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another”. Paul, the Hebrew scholar, quotes from the Ten Commandments and includes the quote from Leviticus 19.18, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we can learn to love our neighbor, we will be fulfilling the Law. It seems so easy, just love one another, but it gets hard to follow it through.

If we love our neighbor, we will not want to hurt, steal, oppress, speak ill of them along with everything else we tend to do to each other. This means to love those who do not love us; to love those who do not think, act, or worship like us. It means to love those who dress differently, eat different foods and have different rituals and habits than ours. As we know, loving our neighbor is to show compassion on those to whom we maybe at war with; at war mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or even physically. We are taught to pray for our enemies; can we pray for our enemies and then go out to hurt them? Not if our prayers follow the understanding that we are to love our neighbors.

Paul goes on to express the need and urgency of the lack of time to follow through with this. As Paul writes the night is nearly over, and the day of the Lord is to dawn upon us. We do many things in the dark, hurt full things, mostly so that we will not be seen by others and most of all, by God. Now is the time to realize that we live in God’s light forever. We are to continue to show God’s love to one another, particularly to those we have our differences.

I have struggled to live this out in my own life. Though I teach, I preach, I study, and I love, I too hold grudges. I would like to think that God thinks like I do on the political, social and theological issues of our day. I want God to show the “other group” how wrong they are. Does it really matter who the “other group” is: the liberals; the conservatives; the moderates; the Republicans; the Democrats; gays; the anti gays; those who support the right to legally and medically safe abortions or those who feel abortion is wrong at anytime; the warmongers; or the peace advocates.

As our own time grows short, we are being called to put our lives in order, to reconcile with those who have differences, to make peace with those that we are at war with. We are called to love one another, and let God do the judging, let God hand out the punishment, let God be the one whom chooses who is right and who is wrong, at the time of God's choosing. It is not as if we really know the whole score and scope of life everlasting. We are not called to judge others, we are called to love, here and now, because the Dark of Selfish Night is coming to an end, and the Day of the Loving Lord is dawning upon us.
Peace and blessings.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Re-looking at our Governor Sarah Palin

Grace and greetings.

After my first blog statement concerning our Governor Sarah Palin, I have been doing some more research and stories are coming out of the woodwork.

My thinking that she was a moderate GOP was entirely off track, except that it still maybe true in some parts of Alaska. As I ask around it seems that many Alaskans are finding out just who Sarah Palin is along with the rest of the United States. My problem, like many others, I did not look beyond the pretty face and big smile.

Yes, Sarah is smart and hard working. Yet, it is like the bear in the picture, as long as you do not get too close you will not get hurt. As Sarah's past is slowly, (or quickly) catching up with her, we are finding things out. Many people know and call her by her first name, Sarah, rather than more formal greetings. But it seems that once someone gets on her bad side, or not good list, they remain for a very long time.

When Sarah was mayor, she tried to pressure a librarian to resign because the librarian would not ban book that Mayor Palin deemed bannable. There was a story in Thursday's Anchorage Daily News about the event, and how the people involved are still targets for Governor Palin's revenge.

There is the story that I was not following concerning the firing of the top Police officer in the State. As Governor, she had the right to fire the person, but the story that continues to go with the firing is that she want the person to fire her sister's ex-husband, an Alaska State Trooper. Of course the person refused, so he was fired.

Claiming to be a fiscal conservative, she raised and spent more money as Mayor of Wasilla, mostly in remodeling her office. While Mayor, she got into enough trouble with firing people there, that there was a recall campaign.

Governor Sarah Palin has only been Governor of Alaska for less than two years. Outside of the politics of running a "small town" (5,000), she has no real experience in the wide political arena. Sarah Palin seems to be everything our current Vice President is, except being a woman; a vindictive, pro-life, gun toting NRA, grudge holding person, that is asking for our votes to become a heart beat from being President.

As one Alaskan has commented on her acceptance speech written by President Bush's speech writer, she took several shots at Obama as just as a community organizer; Jesus Christ was seen as just a community organizer and rabble raiser by another Governor, Pontius Pilot.

I realize that many people do not hold to my beliefs, but I think Sarah Palin deserves the hard second look beyond the pretty face and smile.

Peace and blessings.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wet Friday Morning

Grace and greetings.

It is overcast and drizzling outside, which makes for a good morning to just hang out inside on my day off before I have to head into the office anyway.

I thought I would share with you a picture of the bear that walked right in front of our bus through the Denali National Park. Of course, he (I think it is a he), walked about four feet in front of the bus. Unfortunately, I was sitting in the wrong place to get a better picture.

Other than than, life is continuing here in Barrow. There is still the fall out of Governor Palin being nominated for the Vice President position on McCain's ticket. Just like the rest of the United States, there are new tales being told, but like anything else, can not confirm the correctness of the stories. Be sure to keep an open mind of what you read.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day again

Grace and greetings.

We have made it to our second Labor Day here on the North Slope. It is overcast and cold here in Barrow. While my wife is still dealing with her respiratory fun, I came down with my own stuffed up head and sinuses. I thought I would start to share a few of my pictures from our trip south.

While we were in the Denali Park, we came upon this caribou during the bus ride. Of course the buck was facing the wrong way the majority of the time, then quickly looked up, then returning to his feeding. How I was able to get this shot, I am not sure, but here it is.

In other news that broke today, Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. Of course the Republicans are saying that the Democrats forced their hand in announcing it. Regardless of how and why it was announced, I think Obama summed it up correctly, "Family, especially children are out of bounds". Which of course the National News service is raising it every few minutes. Drop it all ready.

We will see how things fall out in the near future. Hope your Labor Day was restful.

Peace and blessings.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My take on Governor Sarah Palin

Grace and greetings.

This blog is in response for a couple in Iowa asking for my take on our Governor and now McCain's running mate. I tried to respond to their letter, but for some reason, it kept being denied, so I thought I might as well post it, in case Jim or Pat are still reading my blog.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim or Pat
To: Ian and Kim MacInnes-Green
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 1:56 PM
Subject: Choice
Hey, you three ---as the only Alaska residents I know, I'd love it if you would share with me your opinion of Sen. McCain's choice of your governor as his running mate. All comments, serious or lighthearted will be appreciated! - Pat

(my reply)

I hope things in Iowa have been drying out, and all is well.

As for Sarah Palin, there is not much I can really tell you. Like Obama, she has been in local government for a while before getting on the "big stage"; a soccer mom who was on city council then mayor of Wasilla, one of the fastest growing cities in Alaska and ran for Governor in 2006. She seems to be a moderate GOP, but with the last election, (last Tuesday), she supported a very contested amendment in favor of the big business of oil and mining. She came in following the corruption of the past Governor, Frank Murkowski. The fall out is happening here in Alaska as top elected GOP State officials are still being investigated and charged. As everybody knows, Senator Ted Stevens will be having his trial in Washington D.C. His son, Ben, is still under investigation for his dealing while head of the state senate. This past month, the first Democrat has been under investigation as well.

Anyway, Sarah promised to come in and clean house, which she seems to be doing. Last month she fired one of her cabinet members without any notice, so there has been a commission to look into the firing. But right now, she seems to be the darling of the GOP without too much history behind her to muddy the waters. The Republicans still feel she is the savior of Alaska politics, at least for the party. She even gave birth to her fifth (or sixth?) child earlier this spring; all her children have names after places in Alaska.

As a moderate, she seems to be able to work both sides of the aisle without too much strong arming through the press. Not sure how she will handle to national spotlight. Just like the Democrats with Obama, the GOP is striking while Palin's ore is hot. Time will tell how far she will go. (But it is nice to know that we will have our Governor back in Juneau come January :-) ).

Hope all is well with you and everybody there. I am still trying to keep my blog going, hopefully I will be adding pictures more often now that we have a digital camera.

Here the cold/flu/respiratory bug is kicking Kim's butt, last night she coughed for close to three hours before she agreed to go back to the "hospital". It was the third time this week she has gone. (The hospital is not known for their advanced medical abilities, anything that requires any real medical attention needs to be sent to Anchorage or Seattle.)

Give my love to all in Columbus Junction. Talk with you later.

Peace and blessings.


First Day Off after coming back to the office

Grace and greetings.

Today is my first day off since returning to the church office. We had a good time off the slope, but still did not get everything done we needed to while in Anchorage; of course we did not realize that until we returned home and started saying, "Oh, we forgot..." Oh well, such is life.

Monday in the office seemed like I was not away at all, received three calls for food, (the Deacons of the church have the only food bank in town), and a request for another funeral. This funeral was expected for a while, as the person had incurable Leukemia, and was not expected to live very long. It was a hard funeral, the person was a few years older than my own daughter, and children about the same age as my grandchildren. Tuesday another death happened in the community, so I will have my 50th funeral tomorrow since arriving on the North Slope, May 2007.

Of course, the big news of the morning is the release from CNN that McCain will pick Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Of course this is news, as the Republicans choosing a woman as VP is pretty historic. The only other Alaska Governor to leave Juneau for Washington D.C. was Wally Hickel to be Nixon's Secretary of Interior; if I remember correctly, he only last two years or so. If the news is true, this will be a historic election regardless of who wins: an African-American President, or a woman Vice President. Personally I would love to see Obama win, but recent Presidential elections have a habit of being questioned on more than one state level, which impacted the national election. We will see...

In other news of our family, our son turned 18 last week and now is registered to vote. (I guess I better get him to sign up with the Select Service as well, but I guess he would only be in harms way if he signed up with the National Guard. Not to make light of our war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, but what is the National Guard doing over there in the first place?) On the right is our living room, you can see the decorations and balloons. (This picture is particularly for certain family members who wanted to see pictures in side the house). Yes, our Christmas tree is STILL up; Christmas is a season of the heart, and we have been needing that reminder throughout the past year.
The picture on the left is the table that was set up by our son, with the plastic "blood" filled glasses and the cake with the words of his theme for the past year or so, "Monkeys Rule".
I have a few pictures to share of our trip, but will try and spread those out over other posts.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Coming home to find the real wildlife

Grace and greetings.

We went north to the Denali National Park for a couple of days. The drive was a little longer than I had remembered it, about five hours. But for once, I had planned ahead and we had a hotel reservation waiting for the three of us. The hotel was north of the Park in Healy. I had spent a summer there some odd many years ago working for the Alaska Railroad. Of course, I could not recognize one thing from the time I was there. After driving around a little bit, we returned back to the Park where all the travel agencies had build up the place and many a tourist traps lay about. We found a place to eat dinner then returned to the hotel for the night. 

The next morning, we got up and took a tour of the National Park. There are only certain times and circumstances you can drive your own personal car into the Park. You can drive into the Park if you are staying in one of the several camping spots within the first ten miles; the other way to drive you own car in is to win the annual lottery. For two weeks in September, the Park will pick 40 parties to drive their own car into the Park. So we did not qualify for the car lottery, so we took one of the tours. They have several tour buses leaving throughout the day. There are a couple of tours that only have one or two buses, because they go completely into the farthest part of the Park, a 12 or 15 hour round trip. We took the 8 hour that did not go as far into the Park as I wanted, but I knew that my wife and son would not want to go any longer. 

The buses have a couple of planned rest stops, and will stop for any wild life that is seen along the way. Also, the buses will stop to let people out any where that is open to hike or camp, except in closed off areas due to known wolf dens and other places where the young could be endangered by human contact. The hikers/campers just need to flag down another bus at another time to continue further into the Park or to return. 

For our trip, we saw some caribou, bears and Dahl Sheep for the large animals; saw a few golden eagles and other wild life as well. We ended up on one of the 12 or so days that had actual sunlight for the majority of the day this summer. Headed back to our hotel after dinner and checked out for the drive back to Anchorage. 

Once arriving in Anchorage, we found out that we missed out on the wild life here in Anchorage. A black bear found its way into my parent's garage and the dog treats they keep around for the neighborhood dogs. While reaching for the dog treats on top of the refrigerator, the bear knocked over a jar of beets and splattered beet juice all over, probably scaring the bear out of the garage, with the beet juice bear prints for evidence. Needless to say, the garage door has not been left open for the last few days. 

We have some family gathering for a meal, so I am going to join the fun down stairs...

Peace and blessings.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Out and About

Grace and greetings.

As we are enjoying time on vacation, life continues to happen in the world: the melting ice, Olympics, rain, and even death. There was a man who fell overboard at another village in the North Slope, his 13 year old son dived in to help; it took the Coast Guard three days to find both bodies. I received another phone call yesterday telling me of somebody being sent to the Anchorage hospital, but when I got there, they could not find the person, so I was not able to visit with her or her family. 

Other than that, my wife and I enjoyed two out of three days of sun in Homer and Soldotna. Homer is known for its fishing port, king crab and the Homer Spit. The summer all over Alaska as been a very overcast and wet one, not just in Barrow. Even as I sit here and type this, looking out my mother and step father's window overlooking Anchorage, it is overcast with dark clouds. 

Now that our son has joined us, we will be getting caught up with shopping, (eye glasses for all three; clothes; food, etc), watching movies in theaters, and maybe heading up to Denali Park sometime this week. With the high gas prices and the wet weather, the tourism industry has been down this summer, so we maybe able to get some good deals heading north for a couple of days.

In the meantime, we are enjoying life as it comes, not following any particular script right now, just going with the flow. 

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Politics in Full Bloom

Grace and blessings.

We, (my wife and I), have finally made it to Anchorage to start off another part of my vacation. We went to see "Momma Mia" last night, and it was much better than I expected it to be. The music is all written by the writers of ABBA of the '70s and '80s fame. It became a Broadway classic and now is on film. The cast does all their own singing, which surprised me.  If you get a chance to see it, it is a fun movie, and the music will carry you away. 

The blog comment that has been running through my mind the last several days is the emails that I have been receiving at the office. Some are wonderful emails of how God works through our lives, then there are others that make the rounds. Realizing that the presidential elections are this year, politics continue to try and separate one another.  Some of the emails are wonderful statements of how some of the soldiers are being received on their trips home, and on their way back. Whether the soldiers are really being received with applause throughout the airport, I do not know. But their are political statements that are added at the end of the notes, making statements like, "if you support your country, support the soldiers, pass this on. If you do not love your country, just delete this message." The message that is not so subtle, "To be a true American is to believe this way, all others are not true Americans." 

During the 9/11 days and the war that followed, there appeared to be a hijacking of what it means to be a "true patriot", and I believe it is still true today. Of course this is true concerning any war, of any country. One email that I received at the office, the underlining message that I received was: "To be a True Patriot and American, you must be a member of the Conservative Christian movement as well as Republican. We are the TRUE PATRIOTS." I know that the majority of the people do not believe that way, but there are times...

One of the things we all need to remember is that any one political party, any one church, any one country does not have all the answers. When we try to declare that we alone have the truth, the one and only truth, we are farther away from the truth than we want to believe. 

We all like to think that we believe the "right way", vote the "right way", live the "right way".  But when we set ourselves up as the "only way", we are heading to trouble.

Just a quick thought that has been hanging around for a while....

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Snow in July

Grace and greetings.

After the forecasters kept promising rain and snow for the last several weeks, it finally happened. Yesterday was a rainy day, but up in the low 60's. Got to play some softball last night, misty at first, but stayed dry until the game was over. (We got our first win after 4 losses of the 4 week season. I will miss the last couple of games as we leave Barrow for a couple of weeks for vacation.) The snow this morning started out very fine, then grew into large flakes being driven by a fairly strong wind. My wife and I took a drive around after dinner, through the driving snow, into the tundra. The snow was not sticking very much in town, nor on the few miles of dirt roads that we have, but by the evening, it was starting to stick to the grasses in the tundra. In town was just a muddy mess, but such is life in Barrow.

Of course the big news here in Barrow, as well as Alaska, is the indictment of Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the US Senate. Of course he has been under investigation for several years now, as has been his son, Ben Stevens, one of the leaders in the Alaska State Senate. Of course this is a re-election year for Ted Stevens, and he is, and has been stating his innocence ever since the investigations started. But one of the things that gives the indictments more weight, is that they were filed in Washington D.C. and not here in Alaska. I think that it is just another blow to the Republican Party here in Alaska as they have been indictments, convictions and jail time for Republican State Senators and Representatives. The past Governor, Frank Murkowski, has been tied to many insinuations of wrong doing, but has not been officially indicted or charged. So we will see how this plays out.

In other news, there is the shooting of Church members in Tennessee, because of their social activities on behalf of women and gay/lesbian rights. As of tonight, it sounds like the shooter is being charged with murder in a hate crime. As a pastor of a church, I must admit that there has always a thought in the back of my mind that some radical will take exception to what I have to say, or what the Presbyterian Church (USA) may have to say on any particular social subject. Though the denomination is not as progressive as the Unitarians/Universalist, I too speak out for the rights of women, gays/lesbians and others that the Religious Right as declared deviants; granted, I try not to force my beliefs upon the congregations I serve or upon anybody else for that matter. Yet, as I have said to others in the past concerning the persecution within judging other's worship beliefs: Since the time of Cain and Able we have been killing each other over worship.

In lighter news, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, obtained first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Casey Kotchman, who has been the MVP of the Angels this season. We will see where that takes the Angels. Of course, I am always pulling for the Angels.

I will check in and let you know how my vacation is going. Right now, besides all the above, it has been nice and quiet. Well the sun is trying to come out through the clouds as I come to this end.

Peace and blessings.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time for a vacation

Grace and greetings.

I have been more sporadic in my writing than I would have liked, but such is life. As of last Sunday, 20 July, was the 30th week of the calendar year, and on Saturday, 19 July, I officiated my 27th funeral of the year. I am tired and ready for my vacation.

The past week in Barrow, the rain has been early and often. It seems as though we received as much rain in the last two weeks as we did all last summer. We were hoping to paint the outside of the church, but the rain saw to it's postponement. Here on the North Slope, we live in a desert, less rain than the Sahara. So, after the wood dries out, and it rains, the wood soaks up all the rain deep into the wood. If we paint over the rain, the paint would just peel off, as it is doing at the moment. We had a group ready to come up from Anchorage to help us, but now it looks like it will be sometime next summer that we will try again.

The last two days have been wonderful, sunny and in the mid 40's. But today the clouds are back, not sure if it is just fog clouds or if the rain is returning. It is suppose to rain all weekend and into next week, (hence the canceling of the painting), which is just as well, since I did not really want to spend my first week of vacation painting the church. I am looking forward just to sit back and do nothing for a little while, but we will see how far that goes. There are still projects that I have not been able to do since we moved in 15 months ago, so I will be doing some of that as well.

We are planning to get off the slope for a couple of weeks, where hopefully I will be able to purchase a digital camera for my blog space.

Hope all is well were ever you happen to be.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Grace and greetings.

Last month a person suggested that I read the book "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. It is about a mountain climber who had just failed to climb K2 and got lost on the way back down. He ended up in a village who took him in and nursed him back to health. During his time there, in the midst of a very Muslim country, he noticed that there were no schools for the girls to attend and learn. He promised to return with supplies to build them a school.

The book is the journey Greg Mortenson took from Pakistan to the United States and back again. How he was able to build schools in the most remote villages for the children, first starting in Pakistan, then moving on into Afghanistan. It is almost as if he knew of "Charlie Wilson's War" before anybody else. (After Charlie Wilson was able to supply military aid for Afghanistan, his cries for rebuilding the villages with schools fell on deaf ears). For Mortenson, his pleas and cries fell on many deaf ears as well, but was able to get funding through the extended climbing community.

The book follows Mortenson from 1993 through to post 9/11 era and how he tried to get the attention of our elected officials and present Administration. I admit, by the time I was nearing the end of the book, I was becoming even more angry with our government, and the lack of foresight and humanitarian outreach for the people. Greg Mortenson still travels from his Montana home to Afghanistan and Pakistan every year. He is still building schools for girls in villages where no other United States citizen has been.

I encourage you to read the book or at least Google Greg Mortenson and see the true miracles he has performed this past 15 years and continue to do so. There is a strong movement in trying to get Mortenson nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The library here in Barrow will be discussing the book Friday night for their monthly "Book of the Month". After reading this book, I may have to stick around and find out what is on for next month.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meeting far away from home

Grace and greetings.

This is one of the several welcome signs throughout the Barrow area. It seems strange at the number of people we come half way around to world to meet.

Last week, a visitor came to visit Barrow and walked in for our Sunday morning service. While talking with the person, he said that he was from the Columbus, Ohio area. Upon asking for a further clarification, he was from the area that my wife and I served churches. In fact, the church that he in a member of, the minister serving the church is the husband of the minister who followed me at Condit Presbyterian Church, in Sunbury, Ohio. My wife was called to one of the larger churches in Columbus, while I was called to a small town church. She later ended up leaving the larger church shortly before becoming pregnant with our son who was born at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The same week as the visitor, I received an email from a member of another congregation I served in Columbus Junction, Iowa. Like most of Iowa during June, flood waters were rising to take back the flood plains. In the email, I was told that the person who runs the cleaners here in Barrow, is from Columbus Junction. Columbus Junction is a community of less than two thousand as of the last census. When I went over to check it out, it turned out that it was the father of the person who I usually communicate with at the cleaners. As I talked with the daughter, she said that her grandmother still owns property on Main Street.

Of course, one of the best story of people meeting in far away places, I heard during the first wedding I help officiate in Weyauwega, WI. In meeting with the bride and groom we were talking about how they met, and some of the stories there. Me being from Alaska, was interested in hearing that they had met in Alaska the summer before. But what was the story behind the story: the father of the groom came up to visit his son in Alaska and to meet the "new" girlfriend. He was talking to another person who was visiting the State. As they continued to talk, they asked were each other was from. As it turned out, they own adjacent farms to each other in Wisconsin.

Another story is how my wife and I met. Neither of us were suppose to be in Fairbanks, Alaska for a Presbytery meeting, but we were, and we met, and later married. But that is for another post at a later time. Well, it is time for yet another funeral, I think this is number 48 or so since I arrived a year ago last May.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July weekend

Grace and greetings.

Happy fourth of July, the anniversary where the colonies declared their independence from the British empire. It is usually accompanied with parades and fireworks. Things here are a little different.

This is part of the summer celebration, it is a four day event. They start with games on the third: foot races and egg balance race according to age groups.

Then they finish each of the nights with Anauragauraq (Eskimo Baseball). I think it is more like cricket than baseball as we know it in the United States. They divide up into two teams, and have two bases, or lines. Each person gets the opportunity to hit the ball, then the team that is at bat, can choose to run to the other base or not, everybody, nobody, anybody. The idea of course is to go from one base to the other and back home to score a run. There is a twist here though, as you run from base to base, you can be tagged out or thrown out with the other team throwing the ball at any running team member; but if an out is made, everybody has to switch sides quickly, because the ball is still live, and the team that was just thrown out, can pick the ball up and throw out somebody on the other team before they get to one of the bases safely. It is a game of all ages and abilities. Of course no score is kept, it is just for the it is all for the fun of the game.

On the Fourth, they start the day with a parade at noon, then move on to the Claire Okpeaha Memorial Marathon, three laps around Barrow, which comes out to be about a eight to ten mile race. Then it is on to the "Beauty contests" starting with the Top of the World baby, then Miss Teen, and Miss Top of the World. (I believe each winner goes on to the State competitions to represent the Barrow area). Then it is on to more races, this time gunny sacks for all ages according to age group, the Eskimo Dance and then more Anauragauraq.

On the Fifth, includes, one foot hop, egg toss, rock juggling, Umiaq (tradition skin boat) races, tug of wars and more baseball. On the sixth, ends up with more games during the afternoon: two foot hop, and nail pounding contest.

This is all for fun, smiles and laughter.

Wednesday night, our son wanted to go for a walk and my wife and I joined him as we wandered over to the games. The foot races were only about 75 to 100 yard dashes, so I thought I would wait and see about my age group. As they got up into the "older" ages, the distance became shorter. By the time they got to my age group, 51-55, I thought I would give it a try. Both my wife and son told me not to run because of my bad knees. I won my race, and then won the egg balance as well. In the egg balance, the leader dropped his egg about ten feet from the finish line, allowing me to come across for the win. They paid the first $15, Second $10 and third $5. This was the first time in my twenty year career of running that I got paid to run. I donated the winnings to a boy who needs surgery at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Of course outside of the races, everything remains the same, I had three funerals this week, and another person died on Friday, the Fourth.

I pray all have (had) an wonder-filled, and safe Fourth of July celebrations.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What can one say?

Grace and greetings.

This morning I was woken up with a call that pastors hate to receive and is one of parents worst nightmare. While the community was getting ready for a celebration in response to a successful whaling season, three boys rode on one four wheeler having fun on the beach. Four wheelers are one of the main ways of getting around in town, year a round. Four wheelers are used by children, teenagers and adults alike. Since they are an off road vehicle, one does not need a drivers license to operate one. Very few people wear helmets, and kids who look as young as 8 or 9 are driving around town. The police will usually pull over those who have too many people on the four wheeler, or if they are driving in an unsafe manner.

But I guess this morning, two boys were heading to the beach, and picked up the third boy. Though I do not know all the details, my guess that the one boy was bounced from the vehicle and died from his injures. This is where I became involved. The Pastor is the one who has to give the news to parents/siblings/family of somebody passing away; regardless of where the person died.

I received the call from a family member, who came with me to look for the mother; she was preparing for the Nalukataq, (the Blanket Toss). It is a community wide celebration, as each crew that caught a whale shares with the community. It is an all day affair, and with 11 crews catching whales, the celebrations are spread over five days in a two week period. We could not find the mother, until after we searched several different places. Her sister found her and flagged us down. She was screaming at the sight of myself and the family member. We took her to the hospital, where she shook the boy to wake up, as the rest of the extended family made their way to the hospital. Soon we had twenty or more people in the room, wailing and screaming, hoping against hope that the news of the 12 year old boy was wrong. I stayed a while, praying with the family and trying to console people I had never met before this morning; as well as other people I knew. Death is always hard, but a 12 year old boy who was to turn 13 next Tuesday? What does one say? His death was the third in four days. There are two others who are near death, but until then, the families can only wait.

Later during the day, I took a walk over to the celebration, then walked up the beach towards home. As I continued to walk on, finally into the silence of the water and shore, I walked for another hour or so. It is a beautiful day, the sun is out, though cool, 38-40 degrees, it was a nice walk. At one point, I came upon a seal about five yards out in the water. It's head was just above the water line, it looked at me for a moment or so, then dived back underneath. That was my first seal I got to see up here in the wild.

The walk helped my mood some what, but the boy is still dead, and we get to continue on living.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Point Barrow

Grace and greetings.
Against my better judgment, I am posting a picture of the three of us on the web. We are out on "the Point"; Point Barrow, the farthest northern piece of land in the United States. It is about a six mile drive out to the Point, three miles of road, (I always thought it was farther out), then another three miles off road. The vehicles require four wheel drive, plus larger tires. The gravel/sand is very loose and very deep, and it is easy to get stuck out there. But for all of the family members who have been wanting a picture of us, here you go.

One of the joys of the trip out there is what we got to see. Usually when people go out to the Point, they are looking for Polar Bears, and usually they are very disappointed. In fact, most residents will tell you that you can go out there, but you will not get to see a bear. Fortunately, our tour guide for the five of us, (a couple from New York and ourselves), spotted something moving out on the ice. The people we were with was able to get a picture of the bear on the ice and sent us a copy of the picture; and I get to share with you the picture on the right. There are other pictures, but it probably not come out nearly as clearly as this picture did. Of course it was good that he has a zoom lens on his camera to be able to get the picture, otherwise it would just look like a part of the ice from where we were. While we watched the bear, he turned and watched/smelled us, even though he was a good way out on the ice. To tell you how rare it is to see a bear, our guide called another guide who was on his way out about the sighting.
Well it is time to head home. I hope you enjoy the pictures that are posted, giving you an idea of what Barrow is like.
Peace and blessings to all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice

Grace and greetings.

This morning we welcomed a couple from New York who came to experience his birthday in the land where the sun does not set. He is also an Episcopal priest and offered to do an Episcopal service while he was here. I had been advertising the service for the last several weeks; it ended up being four of us, the priest, his wife, the organist and myself. So instead of a service, we sat around and shared stories for a little while.

I had arranged for a tour out to Point Barrow with one of the several tour groups here, going with a tour guide that was a member of the congregation. It is the farthest northern point in the United States. I had never been out there since one could not just drive out there in a normal truck. So I arranged for the couple from New York, my wife, son and myself to go. The morning started out overcast, so things were not starting out as I had hoped.

During the night, I remembered my camera, that I had not used at all since we have moved up here, mostly because it was a 35 mm camera and everything is going digital. Well, I ran over to the store to pick up some film and was told that the store does not care 35 mm film anymore. Bummer. Again, everything has gone digital. Well, I knew that my cell phone camera would not be that useful but I brought it along anyway; along with my 35 mm camera because I had telephoto lens that I could use.

After we were picked up and the tour was underway, the blue skies from over the Arctic Ocean came our way, and it was a wonderful sunny day after all. I picked up more history that I did not know.

We drove out the three miles to end of the road, then he drove off into the soft sand for the final three miles to the actual Point Barrow. It was a beautiful sight, then the miracle of miracles happened. We spotted a Polar Bear. It is very unusual to spot a bear out there, but our guide was able to see the bear out on the ice. We had a couple of binoculars to share between the six of us. We all had out time checking out the bear; as the bear checked us out, though at a very safe distance. Fortunately, the camera that our guest possessed had to ability to zoom, and got some wonderful shots of the bear. He promised to send us a copy of the pictures, as well as other pictures of the day to us after he got back home. One would think that bear sightings happened all the time, but they didn't. In fact, the guide quickly called his cousin who was guiding another tour following ours, and told him where to look if the bear was still around by the time the other tour van got out there.

Well our tour guide had to head back into town to pick up his next group, so we headed back with him, as he had the vehicle, and we were given certificates stating that we had been out to the Point, but also had the certificates embossed with a seal that we had seen a bear while we were out there. Cool.

After watching the Angels/Philly's game for a while, (the Angels won after I turned off the game), we went out to see some of this season's first Nalunaq, also known as the celebration after a successful whale hunt and blanket toss. Since the blanket toss was not going to be until later, we went out to eat at Pepe's for dinner, then returned to the Nalunaq. The kids were doing the blanket toss, we watched for a little bit, but decided not to wait for the adults to do the "real" blanket toss. So I dropped our guest off at their hotel, came home, wrote my blog, and will head for bed soon. Man, I am not as young as I used to be...

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Checking in and speaking out

Grace and greetings.

For the last couple of days, I have been wanting to post some more pictures of around the area, and in Barrow. But the software stopped working between my cell phone and the computer. I kept waiting for the program to kick in, so I would put off making a statement, and continue to wait.

As I sit here listening to Dixie Chicks: Taking the Long Way, in particularly the track, "Not ready to make nice", "...I am mad as hell, and don't have the time to go around and around..." So I am posting this without any pictures...

I have been keeping aware of what is happening outside of the North Slope, the flooding of Iowa, including the community that I served, Columbus Junction, and as the waters rise and eventually will fall, what is the damage left behind. I guess President Bush was in the State and telling them help is on the way, I pray so. (Isn't that what he said to New Orleans?)

One of the things I seem to be so far away from during my time in Barrow is the presidential election. First I guess it started with the candidates themselves, thinking that the three electoral votes do not matter that much to the rest of the world as far as the election is concerned. Then in the next breath, Washington D.C., deems that they are the only people to tell how Alaskans are to take care of the land that is put into the trust of the US Government and the State of Alaska. I fear the search for oil in the Arctic Ocean that I can see out my office window; that I can walk to from here in a matter of minutes. The government gives us the assurance that all is safe now, and oil is now needed more than ever before. Has everybody forgotten about the Exxon Valdez and the devastation it brought upon Prince William Sound. The Supreme Court is suppose to return a decision sometime soon. The people who lost their lively hood have been waiting for fourteen years now, I guess what is another couple of months? The longer the wait, my greatest fear is that the administration will be once again telling the court how to decide in favor of the oil companies, so they can come and rape Alaska again and again for the sake of the rich.

What happened to the idea of alternative modes of transportation, energy and other possibilities? Here in the North Slope, is fairly level throughout the size of Minnesota or larger. I am told that a wind farm, much like in throughout California and other places in the world, would be too expensive to set up here. But we can afford to explore and drill for oil? Is it that we can not tax the wind or make a profit off the sun? Is this the only source of energy that the people in Washington can consider? When will there be enough raping of the Planet Earth before the people stand up and speak out?

I was originally not planning to go anywhere near the comments I just made, but I guess they came out, and I am going to stand by them. I may be in the minority here. What I hear is that some people do want to open up the waters for the oil companies to come in. But almost everybody is concerned on how it will effect the source of life here, the whales, walrus, seals, polar bears? How many more Exxon Valdez have to happen before the rest of the world wakes up to realize that they screwed up that may effect the North Slope for decades to come?

It is time to go home and think of something else.

With prayers that God continues to give us the strength to do what is right with what God has given us to be stewards of, planet Earth and each other.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bouncing Barney

Grace and greetings.

This evening we were suppose to have a Bible Study, but nobody else showed up, so I am taking the time to give a quick comment.

The picture on the right is a playground down the street from our house. I am disappointed as to how the picture came out, I was hoping for a little better idea of the playground. There are several playgrounds throughout the greater Barrow area for kids to gather and play. They all have similar swings and slides; and I believe that they all have gravel instead of sand or grass to play on. A couple of times there will be a child running home because they scraped their knee or elbow.

What I wanted to write about is the spring creature in the middle of this picture. You can almost make it out, a Barney the Bouncing Purple Dinosaur between the two slides. During the fall and winter, the dinosaur would bounce back and forth, even when there was nobody around; it was as if the dinosaur had a life of its own.

Well, since I started writing, somebody did show up for the Bible Study, and was sitting out of sight when I went out to check up on the room. So I had a one on one time with the woman who showed up.

Though this next comment has NOTHING to do with Barrow; the Lakers just blew a twenty plus lead to lose the fourth game of the championships. Of course growing up in LA, if one followed basketball, the Lakers were the team to cheer on and the Celtics were the team to always beat. Anyway, I stopped watching or caring about National basketball soon after I graduated from College, but still look on to the Lakers every now and then. Now back to real life, Angels baseball as the Atlanta Braves come to town, (Anaheim) tomorrow night. :-)

Peace and blessings to all.