Sunday, December 24, 2006


Some of you have probably heard of or even been to Urbana in years past. Urbana is a huge triannual missions conference put on my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. It used to be held in Urbana, IL but is moving this year to St. Louis, MO to allow for more space. I got a flyer in the mail this past spring and was really impressed to go, personally not by any particular group or person. I registered in May and have been eagerly awaiting getting to go since then. It goes from Dec 27th-Jan 1st. There are hundreds of mission agencies, missionaries, and seminaries there. It is geared for college and career age people interested in missions.

I'm excited to go and am praying for some good connections/info while I'm there b/c I know it will be overwhelming with SO much there. I'll be rooming in a nearby hotel with 3 other girls from across the country. One is a psychiatrist from NY! Crazy the people you meet! I'll fill you in more when I get back. Please pray for safe travel/connections and health over the next week. I woke up yesterday feeling sick so I'm trying to soak in as much sleep as possible before I fly out Tuesday night!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!


Christmas is usually filled with traditions for most of us. One of our long standing family traditions is to make and decorate sugar cookies and watch It's a Wonderful Life together on Christmas Eve. There is the blending of traditions this year with Dave and Aimy getting married...sharing family time. Soooo, we did our Christmas Eve Friday night. Mom, dad and I went over to Dave and Aimy's to eat dinner, Papa Murphey's pizza, make our cookies and watch the classic story of It's a Wonderful Life. Aimy, I've found out, is equally as stoked about Christmas as my family, loves decorating, etc. and we had a GREAT time making cookies! It was surprisingly a lot more mellow than in years past. Usually flower ends up all over me and not to be outdone, flower ends up all over Dave. Maybe having a wife will change things up? Dave did comment that he LOVES not having to Christmas shop anymore! He only has to shop for Aimy and she does the rest and ENJOYS it! All you guys out there reading this probably agree. :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Progressive Dinner

Tonight was our last youth group of the year...2006 that is. Instead of having a regular worship and lesson time we had a "bondfire" night...our choice to do something fun together. Our group of seniors had a progressive dinner and it was a blast! We started at the Greenstreets for appetizers, salsa/cheese dip with chips then moved to my parent's house for the main course, mexican chili mountains the out to Bacons to wrap it all up with desert, root beer floats and other baked yummies. It's been a loooooong time since I've done a dinner like that, I forgot how much fun it is! This week is finals and the end of 2nd quarter, half the year is over, unbelievable!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

keepin' it light

This year I thought it'd be fun to do a little somethin' different for school pictures so I talked to our specialist group (librarian, music and PE teachers) about dressing up for the occassion. They were a little hesitant at first but went with it each dressing up to represent their profession. As you can see the music teacher is Cher (sp?), the PE teacher is a hockey player, the librarian is Dr. Seuss and I am a communication specialist of course! The head phones are for good listening, lips accentuate good speaking, however they pose a challenge to speak with, the picture strip for you speech paths out there is my augmentative communication "time for speech," and the ASL sign for "I love you!"

The afro has no correlation it's merely to spice it all up. It DOES however do wonders for spontaneous communication with low language kids. I wore it last year for a crazy hair day. One of my students with autism came to speech that day and stopped in the doorway carefully assessing the situation. His comment as he stood bewildered was, "Miss're're just...freakin' me out!" Very socially appropriate, spontaneous AND he made eye contact (three in one, a home run)!! Something to try in the therapy room for those of with nonverbal kiddos! Maybe afros should be part of the Super Duper therapy materials under social language. :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

pj bunko night

Thursday was our monthly bunko night again. The theme you ask?? Pajama night! I am all about being comfy! We met up at Bacons for the extravaganza...fellowship, dice rolling (mindless game), eating (of course), and gabbing. December we do a sock exchange. Can you guess which socks I happened to get?? But of course, John Deere! I won most bunkos too and got a purple knit hat and gloves to match! If you've been following the bunko posts last month two players were 9 mos. pregnant so we had two additions playing this time, Noah Kroon and Olivia Peppard. Total cutie pies!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

army garb...

My cousin Beth is currently in Houston, TX for military training. She is a II Lt. RN among several other abbreviations now...I can't keep up! Anywhoo, part of her PT attire is the fancy reflective "ARMY" T and construction worker reflective belt. She posted a picture, similar to this one on her blog a few months ago and I had a little fun commenting on the great attire. Not wanting to leave me out, as a fellow runner in training (definitely not for the military though!)she thoughtfully sent me my OWN PT uniform. For how riduculous this may look to some I am excited to have it! There's also a giant reflective triangle on the back of the shirt. The U.S. Army doesn't want any PT casualties. This AK runner will now be less likely to become a road casualty as the summer when it warms up 40-60 degrees! Thanks for the gear Beth, you're the best!

Maxwell wedding

Over Thanksgiving weekend Rachel Parker and Ben Maxwell tied the knot! They were married in our new building, a gymnasium currently. It was a beautiful ceremony...I can't imagine a Parker wedding not being beautiful, they do it right! Rachel was very ill leading up to the ceremony, but the Lord gave her strength and stamina to get through it and we all had a great time celebrating. God is good! They are VERY happy. :)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Tosha with her neice Winter, Tammy's little girl. She is a cutie pie!

Tosha with Morgan Bacon. She turned 2 this past September and is starting to chatter away! A GREAT way to spend a Monday!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

youth leader reunion

This past Monday I took off work to recoup from the youth retreat...I don't bounce back like I used to in HS. The blessing about that day was I was able to reconnect with Tosha, a former youth leader of the senior girls.

Tosha was back in AK visiting family for a week. Her sister Tammy had a baby girl a couple months ago and her dad recently had a bad fall at work (broken back, ribs, shoulder, etc.) so she came to spend time with them and help out.

We ended up going out to Amanda's house to surprise her and see the Bacon bits (Drew, Gavin and Morgan). We had a great time catching up a little on life before she headed to Anchorage to fly back to CO. The fun news is she may be moving back to AK this summer!

I'll add the pic later...the DSL at my new "house" is as slow as molasses! :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

wacky youth leaders

Part of our "routine" included a little competition between 2 Puddleton High dance groups. Ya like the name? Rolls off the tongue nice when you're playing a cowgirl. Anywhoo, one team was the "prep" team the other was the "hick" team...hence the hats and buck teeth. Amanda and I split ourselves between the two. For those parents out there that read this, aren't you glad we're mentoring your teens???

fall retreat...

This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday was our annual fall youth retreat down in Soldotna at Solid Rock Bible Camp. A grand finale retreat for my senior girls! A bitter sweet time to say the least. Every Saturday night at these retreats we have a big "American Idol Rock Star" talent/no talent show. It is one of the highlights of the weekend and this year we were hard pressed to not be outdone. There are prizes for best serious talent and best silly talent.

Amanda, former WHS and UAA cheerleader, coached our team on to victory! She choreographed a fun routine to "Cotton Eye Joe." We ended up being able to borrow the "fantastic in pink" dance costumes from a local high school (a free-bee off Ebay) somehow. Anywhoo, the costumes got us on the path to a cowgirl dance team with those gross fake hill billy teeth. It was FABULOUS!! We spent the better part of Friday night fine tuning our moves and routines...THANKS AMANDA!! Who knew cheerleading would still be paying off?? At the end of the dance we had a large part of the crowd up front square dancing with us. It was a riot!

Monday, November 06, 2006


GAP is a college/career age ministry at my church that was started...11 years ago (my freshman year of college) by Ella Embree. Ella had just come back to AK after college and the Lord impressed on her heart to start such a group at WBC. She talked to Larry and got the ball rolling and it's been rolling ever since.

Last night I had the opportunity to go and share with them about my trip to Africa. I shared a little background history on South Africa and then went into the ministry that the Embrees are involved in, ways we can support them and future ministry opportunities for a short-term group trip. I am so thankful for that time. It was a blessing to be able to share my trip with others, but also get a prime group excited about ministry...WHEREVER!! Young single people are often in my mind left by the wayside as far as looking for ways to plug in at church, in missions, etc. It's not to point any fingers, I've seen it ALL over the country. I'm just excited to be able to encourage a group that is so AVAILABLE and open to GO!!!

We had some great conversation and even a little Zulu quiz, much to Keeton Kroon's dismay. :) John Doak, our new adult ministry pastor is leading this group right now as they dig into the book of Job. I was excited and encouraged to see how they have grown. Someone mentioned they average 15-20 people a night...I think we started with about 5-7 back in the day Ella. God is blessing and growing this ministry!

For unknown reasons the site, connection, something is glitching right now and not letting me download pics. I'll post them when I can. :)

serving at sunrise...

Sunday morning a small group of our senior girls got up at the crack of early dark thirty (6:30 to be exact) to meet at Wallmart and go on a mini shopping spree. Why you ask did we decide to shop at such a magnificent hour? We were shopping for a service project, the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts.

Samaritan's Purse does an annual gift giving to children around the world at Christmas time and this is the month they are collected. It's a lot of fun and we decided to do it as a group this year. We (someone else on our team) thought an early morning run would be fun and different. Not being a morning person at all I wasn't completely sold on the idea but it turned out to be a blast!

We shopped, drove to my house sitting place to wrap stuff up and eat breakfast and then headed on to church. We were all talking about how amazing it is the amount of stuff you can accomplish in the wee morning hours before the rest of the world wakes up! If you're in ministry or work with kids and want to change it up a little...try an early morning adventure!

The picture is at a coffee shop warming our hands by the fake fire. Asthetically pleasing to look but lacking in warmth. :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

dance team!

Our 3 man dance team striking a pose!

back at bunko...

Last night was our November bunko bash at Laurie's house. There were some GREAT gets ups there! Sarah Coke dressed up as Pippy Longstocking...braids straight out, freckles, the whole bit. Shantel Peppard (9 mos pregnant) had a deflated, inflatable soccer ball taped around her stomach. Rachel Kroon (also 9 mos. pregnant) was a farmer. Laurie dressed in 80s attire. Another sub dressed as a gypsie. Amanda, Jenny and I dressed up as a 3 man dance team. The costumes are ones we borrowed from CHS for a routine our Sr. girls will be doing at our fall retreat next weekend.

Again, the evening was filled with much socializing, snacking, and little playing dice. After 3 rounds we called it a night. By our next bunko there will be two new babies added to the group! Blessings on you Rach and Shantel! Hang in there these final couple weeks!

I'll add a picture later. For some reason it's not letting me right now.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." ~ Ephesians 4:29

This month the pastor at my church challenged us as a church body to make this a personal goal and desire. What would it look like if more people strove to do this? How would my witness change if I spoke to build others up and encourage them and not judge them or tear them down? It's easy, too easy, to compare, bicker, resent, argue over the triffle things in life that really in the bigger picture, don't matter a whole hill of beans. Imagine for a minute what it would be like to set the little things aside and see things from God's perspective. We are not here on earth to destroy each other...that's satan's job. As Christians we are here to be Christ's AMBASSADORS to be his representatives. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to him. May my walk match my talk.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Africa Night!

Friday night I invited my senior girls over for an "Africa Night!" I wanted to have an entire night to share about my trip this summer, eat, learn and hang out so this was it! Nine girls came and shared first in a home made curry dinner. Yes, Joani, wonders never cease. I cooked a foreign meal from scratch and it turned out pretty darn good if I say so myself. So the girls were seated at the table with bowls and glasses. No silverware, no napkins. I wanted to give them the full Indian experience that I had eating at the home I spent the night at while I was in Durban. This time I got to sit back and enjoy watching them fumble and figure out how in the world to get the curry and rice mixed and in their mouth. They also had to figure out how to pass food and pour drinks with only one clean hand. A very rich experience indeed!

After dinner we sat around and talked over a cup of hot 5 Roses Tea with milk and sugar...very European but popular with ALL the people in Durban. They also got to sample some curry flavored "chip snacks" for lack of a better term. Caiti, one of the girls brought amazing cupcakes to wrap it all up. Thanks Caiti!

We moved into the family room for a slideshow/power point where I shared some history and general info on South Africa as well as update them on the current and future ministry plans of the Embrees and ministry opportunities in S.A.

The night wrapped up with a little lesson in Zulu. I pulled together some basic words from a beginning Zulu book I bought and had them guess different terms. They did surprisingly well! For those language buffs that are ACHING to know some for yourself..."Halala" means "welcome," "Sawubona" means "hello," and "Hamba Kahle" means "Good bye."

Hamba Kahle for now!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Thursday night was our kick off bunko game for this year! For those who don't know bunko is a mindless dice game that really is more of an excuse to get together and catch up than it is a game taken seriously. There are 12 in our group, three newbies this year since Carrie, Jane and Deanna moved out of state. We met at Kroon's for school color/jersey night. Wasilla, Houston and Palmer high were all represented. No Colony, it barely opened before our group graduated high school. Crazy to think it's not that old, or I guess that we ARE that old! Good times were had! We might have to come up with a bunko cheer...any takers, Amanda??

Monday, October 02, 2006

October in Alaska

Another picture of the fall color on our trip back home from Kenai this past weekend. Pictures don't do it justice but it gives you an idea!

taste of fall

Our trip down south this weekend proved to be one of the most spectacular trips down I have ever had. Fall was in full "bloom" and the sun was out w/out a cloud in the sky! The drive from south Anchorage to Kenai is about 3 hours and covers an incredible landscape starting along the ocean surrounded by mountains moving down through the mountains that wind around turquois blue glacial lakes and rivers...the mountains that are currently bright yellow, green and red along the tundra line. Absolutely beautiful! Alaska is a place like no other.

The drive reminded me of the verse in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Believing in God the Creator of the universe I just sat in the car in awe of all that surrounded me. I don't understand how people can look at the creation that surrounds us in Alaska and not believe there is a Creator God who put it all in place. Why?? That boggles my mind even more...for our ENJOYMENT!! The best part? This is only a tiny eye drop drip of what heaven will be like! Man I ACHE to be there some day! I can only imagine! What we see now PALES in comparison to what we will experience. THAT is AWESOME!!

For other incredible pictures click on the "My Adventure Buddy" link to Carrie's blog. She is currently taking a one month road trip around the states and is passing through the Teatons in WY and Yellowstone...she is a fabulous photographer! Thank you Jesus for blessing us with incredible scenery!!


Friday night 6 of my senior girls spent the night for a Bible study sleepover. This summer after our trip to Mexico 8 girls committed to read through the Bible in a year. We met once for a shorter time about six weeks ago but had a full fledge overnighter devoted to it this time.

We are following a similar format to two other groups of teens from WBC. There are 8 "check points" throughout the study where we get together to get our next reading sheet, talk about what we've read, things we've learned and questions we have about different passages. We are also paired into "Barnabas Buddies." Barnabas is a man in the Bible that was known to be an "encourager." Our Barnabas Buddy is a girl that we are accountable to throughout the year to touch base with once a week and encourage to keep on track.

Our study time and sharing was awesome. I wish we would have done this type of study in years past. I love hearing what other people are learning and to be challenged personally to keep up and be reading my own Bible daily. We had a fantastic night of fellowship! Blessings on you girls! I am proud of you!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kenai River Marathon

This weekend was a two for one bonus trip down south. Not only did I get to see my senior girls and some other WBC youth run at the state cross-country meet, I got to run in a race myself! About a month ago Rebecca Buchanan asked me if I'd like to join a marathon relay team for a race in Kenai. I eagerly said yes, not having or making the opportunity to do a fall race very often.

I didn't realize at the time but this was a first annual marathon in Kenai and all in all it went really well and was a great course. There were four on our team, Rebecca, myself, Kristy Smith (a friend from high school that teaches) and Trisha Kenny (another teacher friend). We each took a leg of the marathon and had a blast! Our overall unofficial watch time was 3:18. There were about 6 other relay teams, two high school teams...runners that had just competed in the state meet!! They ran significantly faster than we did. :-)

After doing a couple relays with my youth girls and now this one, I really like racing on a team. It breaks up the length and you have your own personal cheering section at check points and you work together. I highly recommend trying a relay race it's diffent but a blast!

This is a pre-race picture of our team. The weather was drizzly with a nice chill, how's that for a meteorology report? Hence the winter coats and pants! The baby is Toby Rebecca's son...he was not in the race but was a trooper car rider! Rhett, Rebecca's husband was our check point transporter. Thanks Rhett!

Grand Finale!

Another post race photo op. Johanna, one of my senior youth girls, comes from a family that RUNS. I think they have run since they knew how to walk. :-) Her dad, Mark, is the head coach at Colony and has had the privilege of coaching his son (former CHS graduate), daughter Jo (senior) and daughter Heidi (freshman). Merry, their most awesome mom, got to go down with the team as the team cook. For those who don't know Merry she is a FABULOUS cook! Everything (even the flour) :-) is from scratch. Merry has also been a mentor to me and holds a special place in my heart. The whole family does.

This was Jo's final race at the state meet this weekend. She was the first Colony runner to finish and had a great race! I am glad I got to be there to celebrate the event. I am proud of you Johanna!


This weekend was the high school state cross-country meet down in Soldotna. Two of my youth girls from Colony High made it to state and competed, Erin and Johanna. They both ran hard and did an awesome job! Erin pushed herself so hard that she colapsed at the end. After getting her feet back under her, a little and some water she was up for a picture op. Great season Erin! I'm proud of you!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


My set is now complete. As of today I have pictures of my favorite bridge in all four seasons. We're experiencing our Alaskan 2 week fall right now and today turned out to be gorgeous and sunny! I would not be deterred from capturing the moment getting the Knik River Bridge during one of our shortest seasons of the year. I actually went out right after church this morning but the sun was behind the mountain and the colors didn't show so I went back this evening to get another set.

Homecoming was this past week for CHS and WHS. I went to the Wasilla High Powder Puff game to watch Mayerly play some of the junior girls from our Merge trip. As is tradition the seniors cleaned ended up being 40 something to zero. Kind of crazy to think I did that 11 years ago!! Can I really be that old?!?

For those who know Elizabeth, she is doing MUCH better! Her operation went well. She's on crutches and sore but getting around. She was at church today and looked GREAT! She is hoping to do half days at school this week depending on how her energy level holds up. A long patient road lays ahead of her. One day at a time Elizabeth! We're praying for you!

Tonight was Morgan Bacon's 2nd birthday party. A totally girlie party. Abby Novak showed up in a full on princess, shoes, jewelry costume and brought a spare for Morgan to wear. No J.D. tractor rides from g-pa this party! I love the simplicity and excitement of life at that age. She has no idea that this is all in honor of her, but loves opening gift after gift each time her "oooohhhh, ahhhh, YAY" getting louder and longer. She is a cutie pie!

Another eventful thing happened today. My cousin Eliza"Beth" was commissioned into the Army. She is now officially a Leutinent Nurse in the U.S. Army! I am totally proud Beth! She'll be heading to TX the end of this week for a 3 month training after which she'll move up to the cold land of DC (January) for her first assignment. A little change of pace for a life long Californian. Blessings on ya cuz! We're still on for our weekly calls! Love ya!

I'm also housesitting again now. I'm watching my old HS band teacher's house on the Palmer side of town so my commute to work is a little longer, but it's nice to have my own space for awhile. They have two dogs to keep me company and make me feel safe at night being located more in the back woods. They have an AMAZING view of Pioneer Peak out the back side of their house!! The back side is covered in windows so I eat breakfast every morning in the dining room and watch the sun come up. I get paid to live in gorgeous places! Thank you Lord!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

hospital visit

Yesterday one of my youth girls, Elizabeth Golter, was running in a cross country race at Kincaid Park. All was going well, she was about 20 yards from the finish line when she dropped to the ground in excruciating pain. Her leg has been bothering her for the past couple months and it gave out today. After about 30 minutes laying on the grass an ambulance came and took her to Providence hospital where they found out her femur was fractured just above her knee. VERY painful and strange that her femur of all bones would break at a race. They don't know right now what caused it, but it is likely some kind of weakness that has been building up that "gave in" at this particular race.

Amanda, Emily and I went into Anchorage today after church to see her before surgery. She was on a morphine drip and a partial cast to keep her leg from moving too much. About 8:00 p.m. this evening they took her in for surgery which will consist of placing hardware in her leg. They said she will not have a cast, just a lot of pins and will be on crutches for 10 weeks or so. She'll be in the hospital until Tuesday or Wednesday this week. A tough way to start off your senior year!

We had a good time reading horse magazines, catching up on school and youth group stuff and braiding her gorgeous LONG hair for pre-op.

You are a trooper Elizabeth! We love you and are praying for you!!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

State Fair

Sammy and I went to the great Alaska State Fair last night. I've been several times in the past and it doesn't really change much but this particular night was fun and memorable. One, the weather was AMAZING!! Clear skies, warm-ish temps, not TOO crowded, and it ended with a great fireworks show.

I have to admit I don't usually check out the produce even though it's one of the biggest draws known even to outsiders. Alaskan's grow HUGE vegetables and this year was no exception. One of Sammy's friends is in 4-H so we checked out all the produce and animals. There were cabbages weighing in at 65 lbs., a kalorabi (sp?) that is pending a world record at 87 lbs.! It was gigantic! A corn stock that measured at 22 feet! Not being a green thumb myself I'm not sure how they grow that big, some super duper miracle grow or plant steriods comes to mind, but they are impressive produce. If you're ever in AK during the state fair ya oughta check it out!

The night ended for us with a 17 minute fire works display. Sammy's friend (having worked years at the fair) got us front row seats to the show with about 5 others in a top secret spot that the public doesn't have access too. I say "top secret" b/c we were told by her friend, Irene, to not disclose this info to anyone. My lips are sealed. :-)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

a tribute...

I haven't updated my blog in awhile b/c there hasn't been much new going on. However, as I was talking to my dear friend Sarah Brown on the phone last night I was given a request to add a picture of us to the site. Following your criteria Sarah, no nose picking, no double chin shots, etc. took out about half my collection but I finally came up with one that will be a nice addition I think. It's not of us, but this shot speaks so much more. I like to call it...The Farmer and His Wife shot. I know, it's stunning. The angle, the lighting, the facial expression. People ask me often if I've ever considered going pro, I'm still considering. That would require me to quit my day job.

This particular shot, for those inquiring minds that want to know, was taken in Sarah's cozy cotton mill home (that I love) in March when I was down in NC for part of my spring break. Tosha, the "wife," used to lead the now Sr. youth girls with Sarah and me. She's since moved to the great land of Colorado. Just so you know I miss you BOTH!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

back to work

So the festivities are officially over and I headed back to work today. Dave and Aimy flew out to Maui early Sunday morning, all the family left Sunday and my vacation is over. I took some personal leave days last week Wed-Friday for the wedding, well worth it! I wouldn't have missed a moment of any of it.

It was nice actually to go back to work today and be on a somewhat "regular" schedule again for a little while. I am feeling the lack of sleep from the past couple months so I'm heading to bed, but I wanted to update the wedding before things got rolling with work and youth group. I'm tired, but it's a good tired. A lot of incredible experiences for one summer. I am blessed beyond measure.

wedding party

A shot of the wedding party. Dave's groomsmen were Marc Spear (best man and long time friend from HS), Luke and Casey (Aimy's brothers and good friends of Dave), Carl Larimer (good friend they used to fire fight together), Nate Bair (youth ministry bud). The guys wore olive green dress shirts with ties and black pants. It was a nice combo with our dresses.

getting ready...

Aimy with Micah (her sister) and Beth doing last minute primping before the ceremony. I like this shot b/c it shows her hair, beautiful!

the girls

A fun shot of Aimy and her bridesmaids. From left to right: Michelle Sande (friend from church), Micah (Aimy's sister and maid of honor), Aimy, Laura Beth (friend), Beth (friend), me (sister-in-law). We were barefoot for the ceremony on request of the bride. It was great actually to not have to stand up in heals that long! Originally it was going to be an outdoor wedding, walking barefoot in the grass.

bride and groom

A snapshot of the bride and groom on their wedding day. Aren't they good lookin'? My dad officiated the ceremony. Good call, 3 Ellers in the wedding?? There is NO CHANCE we were going to make it through without tears. Three Ellers and four Denbleykers (Aimy's sibilings) were in the wedding ceremony. I lied 5 Denbleykers, Lacea, Aimy's 2 year old neice was a flower girl.

A fun memory and tid bit for those who like "details" as Ella would say, Aimy had a handkerchief made with "Dave & Aimy Aug. 19, 2006" on it in red embroidery. So when my dad got a little choked up, she pulled it out from behind her boquette and gave it to him. He was pretty tickled. For those who know the Denbleyker boys, there was bound to be a prank somewhere in the mix. They were our comic relief. Casey started it by walking down the aisle with red glittle shakey wire heart head band on his head. He looked like a love bug. Then when dad asked if there was a token brought (rings) the groomsmen huddled and Luke and Marc proceeded to get a ball and chain out from behind the back stage and wrap it around Dave's ankle. Then they brought out the rings. All in all it was a great day. A smallish, quaint ceremony and a larger reception later that afternoon for all family, friends, co-workers and church family to stop by and visit.


As of this past Saturday I know officially have a sister! Pretty crazy really. I've never had a sister before. I've known Aimy for quite awhile, I went to youth group with her older sister and brother and have been friends with Aimy for the past 3 years or so. We are both kind of "no nonsense" girls. Not big into drama etc, and have a similar flare for humor. She's a great match for Dave. I'm looking forward to building a deeper relationship with you Aim! Love ya!

Did I mention that she was a stunning bride?? Her dress had red beaded accents and the bridesmaid dresses (as you can sort of see) were red with white embroidery and white sashes. Very Aimy. She looked like a super model with her long gorgeous curly hair.

rehearsal dinner

Friday night was Dave and Aim's rehearsal dinner. We had it at the reception hall at the Agate Inn where our family was staying. It was a Hawaiian theme b/c they are now in Maui for 2 weeks honeymooning! Rough huh?? The wedding was moved that night inside due to the incredible amount of rain fall we've been having. It turned out to be a good move, Saturday was equally as chilly, windy and rainy outside...not ideal for an outdoor wedding. The picture is of me and Aimy at the dinner that night.

dancin' fools

A continuation of our post rehearsal Burdine dance party. Beth and Kat doing an interpretive umbrella dance. Anything goes!

we R family!

So this past week since returning home has been filled with lots of incredibly fun family time. I think I mentioned in my last post that all my mom's family came up for Dave and Aimy's wedding. This is the family that we have tri-annual reunions with all over the country. In 2004 we met up in Maine. The wedding was a great time to have a reunion before our next reunion (next summer)...and oh did we live it up! I can't really explain my family, you just have to experience them for yourselves. I think Aimy was a bit overwhelmed/inundated with craziness and love, but is warming up. You've got a year before the next big shabang Aim, so all is well!

Thanks again Burdines for making the trek up here from all over! God has blessed us with a one of a kind family! Erik, blessings on ya as you seek work now. Who knows maybe you'll be up here in a year working on the slope? Beth, thanks for the late night talks on the oh so lumpy hyda-bed! You're the bomb! Allison, Miss hostess, planner're in charge of checkin' out our options in DC so we can have a girl trip before reunion next summer. I'm in! Jennifer, blessings on ya girl as you make the cross country road trip trek from the great land of CA to the tropical land of NC. May all go well with Mr. Romeo! Katherine, par le vouz france? You are a one man/girl show. Take care of Bertha for me! Britt, thanks again for the great up-do for the wedding! Blessings on your senior year! Alex, slow down your milk intake, you're towering over the whole gang! I'm definitely out of the running! Frederick, I saw a whole new side of you this trip...table dancing?? Maybe stick to circus stunts! Love and miss you all!

A little explanation of the pictures...Katherine bustin' a move solo and Katherine and Beth doing an interpretive umbrella dance.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

back in Alaska...

I'm home! After 17 hours of flying and some additional plane time waiting for all the official "okays" on the ground I'm sitting at my computer in my very own bedroom. Thanks for the prayers to get me here! I was welcomed back at the airport by my parents and 7 of my cousins. You guys are the BEST! They are all here for Dave and Aimy's wedding on Saturday. Good times are to be had! One a wedding celebration and two my family is crazy! There is never a dull moment at a Burdine reunion or get together. A blessing to wrap up the summer like this.

It's good to be back, but bitter sweet at the same time. I was reading through my journal on my flight back going over the past couple months from Mexico to now and realized just how MUCH I've experienced in this short amount of time. I am thankful for the time alone in London to process some of this experience and know that I'll still be processing as I adjust back to the "normal" eb and flow routine of life. Blessings on all those who are also starting up work again this week! Amelia, thanks so much for your card! May God place the right roommate in your path! Keep me posted.

Stay tuned for wedding news and pictures!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

on my way...

Woohoo! So far so good. I am at Heathrow and my bags are checked. My flight leaves at noon London and goes direct to LA, about an 11 hour flight. Then I hop a flight direct from LA to Anchorage...after a chunk of a layover. I don't mind the layover as long as I'm back in the states. I get in early Wednesday morning. To the Burdine clan, see ya SOON!!! It's a reunion before our reunion!

Kari...after much searching I found the much coveted "Drifter Bars" yesterday downtown. I cleaned out the store and ate one myself! Definitely down with the drifter bar, a nice mix of chocolate and caramel with other yummy somethings mixed in it! Good call!

It's hard to believe the summer is over! I'll be sending out a follow up letter sometime after I get back and settled to summarize my trips and share more specifically what God has been doing in my life.

I was reading this morning while waiting at the airport a little from John Piper's book, "Let the Nations Be Glad." The part I am in right now hits hard on PRAYER and the importance and impact of being in prayer on behalf of those who don't know Christ as well as interceding for each other as we labor TOGETHER to reach the lost. I cannot THANK you ALL enough for backing me this summer in prayer. Several times I am thanked Him for the peace, provision and effect of your prayers on my behalf. I could not have made this journey without you. Many blessings on you all!

Monday, August 14, 2006

little bit a London...

So in the midst of plane craze, I am getting around London famously well! That is quite a feet for those who know how directionally challenged I am. I got the trail, underground and bus thing down all by myself this time Carrie!

Saturday I did a double decker bus tour of London, well worth it for the novice in town. Then I took a tour of Westminster Abby. Didn't know it but Newton and Darwin are buried in Westminster.

Sunday I went to church in Peckam Rhye, very cool suburb! It's a friend of Joel and Naomi Stamoolis. Awesome family! Had lunch at their house then went home to crash, travel caught up with me.

Today, Monday I went on a tour of Buckingham Palace. The Queen Mother is on vacation the months of Aug. and Sept. so they open up part of the palace for tourists. HIGH security right now though. It took an extra half hour to get in. Then I took a train up to the British Museum. For all who have been there, WOW!! you're right it's HUGE and amazing. I could spend a good 3 days there b/c I can only take in so much info at one time. Amazing artifacts and information from ALL over the world. A must do in London!

That's I'll I've got time for right now, they're closing down on me! Love to you all!

Goin' Home??

This is a quicky update b/c I have all of 15 minutes that I begged for at the library to write one more time before I "head home" tomorrow. The current plan is that I will fly out Tuesday afternoon via British Air to LA. Last I heard 1/3 of all BA flights are being cancelled. People (at Manna House) are not typically finding out about their cancellations until the morning of. Sooooo, I'm going to call the airlines tonight and again in the EARLY a.m. my ride to the train station is at 5:00 a.m.!! I'll take what I can get. Likely I will just stay at the airport even if it's over night b/c going back and forth with luggage is exausting! It's about 2 hours from Heathrow, where I am staying. Soooooo, if I have computer access again I'll keep you posted, if not, see ya'll in Alaska SOON!! All my extended family is there now for my brother's wedding on Saturday. Lord may I just make it home in time for the wedding!!

Friday, August 11, 2006


I was reading Psalm 20 today and one verse (4) really struck me...

"May he (God) give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."

I am thankful for this trip in many ways and for many reasons. One being that I am alone and can share openly with the Lover of my soul what my heart's desires are. My desire to be in full time ministry, my desire to leave my job, my desire to pour into my youth girls this last year before they graduate, my desire to read my bible and know him more, my desire to be married, my desire to serve him wherever and in whatever capacity...thie list goes on. What a blessing and deep life giving peace to know that the Creator of my being loves me more intensely than I'll ever know and He above anything or anyone else WANTS to give me the desires of my heart...even when I don't deserve anything.

Manna House

I'm in England now and surprisingly had no significant hold ups on the way. Security lines were long and we were delayed leaving but customs in London was probably the fastest, smoothest customs I've gone through.

I'm staying the next few nights at a place called the "Manna House." James and Ella recommended it so I set it up before I left AK. It's located about 2 hours outside downtown London, but it's in a quaint neighborhood and town. Missionaries run the house for other missionaries in transit (to and from furlough) to stay at. There are a couple families there right now. One I met this afternoon. They are heading back to Quaite (sp) in a week. The couple that run it are great, very hospitable.

I'm looking forward to some down time and solitude here before I head home on the 15th. There are a couple of places I'm hoping to check out while I'm here for a debrief time with our group next year. Joel Stamoolis' dad gave me some recommendations and things to check into. Thanks Joel for having him contact me! I'm planning on hitting some of the sites of course too...British Museum, Windsor and Buckingham Palace etc. I'm at a library right now where I get 30 minutes of free internet. Woohoo for free internet!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

bomb threats...

I'm sure you've been hearing it on the news. The breaking thing this morning is terrorist threats on flights from UK to US. Security is at it's highest level right now in London. I saw it online (CNN) at Embrees this morning and they attendent told me when I checked in just now that I will only be allowed to take one small clear plastic see through bag on my flight from Johannesburg to London tonight. I can take eye glasses, money, passport and a couple other personal items and that's it. I fly out to Jo'burg in a few minutes and will fly all night to London. I guess they are threatening now with "chemical bombs" so all liquids (water, babies milk etc.) is being tested (tasted) by officials before you get on board.

They handed out free newspapers to all of us as we checked in so we could be up to date. It's all over the news too. I'm not really worried about it. If anything, it should be that much safer in London BECAUSE of the hightened security. They arrested several men in London this afternoon, but of course don't know how many are involved. I can't use my email at the airport so blogging is my mode of communication. Sooooo, an added little spice bit to the trip and prayer request that all goes smooth traveling. Talk to you all when I get settled in the bustling land of London.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Holiday

So today was "Women's Day." A national holiday to celebrate women. Everything shut down today, no classes, no work, no school. They had a free day for women at a local mall so James, Ella and I went and took full advantage. James didn't get in free, but he went to get out and have adult time...they got a babysitter. This particular mall, Gateway, has a huge indoor rock climbing wall (largest indoor wall in the world supposedly), a surfing water park with ocean size man made waves, an IMAX theater, put-put and more. All of these activities were free for me and Ella. We climbed the wall and went to an IMAX movie about...South African wildlife. The movie was informative, but a little anticlimatic after having just been to a couple of the featured parks in person. I didn't mention this in my last animal post, but one of the reserves we went to we saw nature in the raw taking it's course, rhinos mating in front of us. Not exactly what we were expecting to see, but when nature calls...

Back to women's day though. After the IMAX we did some last minute shopping for souveniers and headed home exausted. Next week Friday is Ella's birthday so we celebrated early tonight and gave her gifts and enjoyed chocolate fondu for desert. It was a GREAT day! Tomorrow night I start my slow trek back home. I'll be in London 4 days and then head back to Alaska for my brother's wedding!!! I'm looking forward to the celebration and time with family.

Women's Day Run

Today Ella and I ran a 5K at the Sandbank Wildlife Reserve. This is the place we scouted out last week where we saw zebra. We woke up to rain this morning and unusually cool weather. It reminded me very much of a fall run in Alaska. So I am totally intrigued by running in Africa. One interesting thing...the race was a 5K the same "distance" as our last race a couple weeks ago. Well, today's race took 10 minutes longer to run than the last one. I'm not on the official Track and Field Association but I know that we didn't run that much different of a pace. James was telling me afterward that most fun runs and "unofficial" races are not really measured they guestimate the distance and call it good. So we ran between a 5-6K race today.

The highlight you ask? There's always a highlight. A lot of the runners today were from running clubs. I mentioned this in my last race post, but people pay into a club, some more elite than others. They are assigned a number and race EVERY race with THEIR specific given number. No numbers are duplicated. In a more official race foreigners or non club members have to buy a liscense to run in a race and get a temporary number. The more hard core runners go barefoot. There were several today...on a muddy, rocky cross-country trail. Whatever works. These guys came 3 minutes after Ella and I crossed the finish line. Impressive you say...only they ran a 10K (or whatever distance the course really was) and we ran a 5K. We were thankful they didn't lap us!

Okay so I got on a tangent and didn't share my highlight. Five of the top ten runners were from the "Harmony Athletics Club." We saw them afterward and asked them if we could take their picture which they agreed to. So this picture is of me with the stellar runners that I never saw during the race. James said that this particular club is one of the largest in the country and they are known to send runners frequently to the olympics. I may be standing next to future track and field atheletes of the next summer olympics! Unlikely but you never know. Note the guy standing in the middle of the group is barefoot.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Ella took me to an orphanage today that houses babies birth to 18 months. These babies are mostly African or Colored (mix white/black) and have been abandoned or have HIV/AIDS. There are several orphanges like this all over S. Africa, but this one happens to be 10 minutes from the Embree's house. This particular orphanage just moved into a new facility that can house up to 60 babies! Over the past 3 months they had 9 adoptions leaving them currently with 10 babies. They are all beautiful little babies.

One little girl was an abortion survivor. At 6 months her mother aborted her through a method that proved unsuccessful. They had her "remains" on the table and she started crying! She has a little scaring on her face, but is one of the healthiest and brightest babies in the facility now! God is a God of miracles, even among the tiniest of people! Another miracle story is a little boy someone found in a tied off garbage bag in the trash can with the umbilical cord and placenta still attached but barely alive. He is also thriving now and doing well with the tender care of the nurses and nannies at the orphanage.

I spoke with the founder of the facility about bringing a group of youth to such a place to help out and she said that is a definite possibility. They've had groups come before and it's worked out well. I'd like to do a few mornings or afternoons there as a side ministry and experience for any youth that might come down. It's very eye opening!


Continuing in the mix of Indian culture, Ella and I went to a "bollywood" movie tonight. Bollywood is the Indian equivalent of our Hollywood. The movies are produced and spoken in Indian with English subtitles. You can rent them or go to the cinema and watch them. Ella encourged me to go to the cinema to have the "full" cultural experience and I can say now after going that it was by far one of the most...enjoyable experiences I have had in a long time! I laughed so much and so hard I was crying!!

In a nut shell the plot of the movie (and most bollywood movies) is not real deep, but it is relevant to the Indian culture, which to some degree is becoming more westernized. The experience is hard to explain but I'll try to paint a quick picture...

Imagine yourself in a theater with 150-200 other people, most if not all the other attnedees Indian. The movie starts and the plot begins to take a little shape, tyipcal guy likes girl, date, get married, hit some bumps, get on the brink of divorce, but all is resolved in the end. Okay, kind of boring you say...oh no my friends. Humor is in the eye of the cultural receiver.

All the parts Ella and I thought were HILLARIOUS, NO ONE else in the ENTIRE theater laughed at at all! They were completely engaged, intent and straight faced. The funny parts to us being the sudden "dream" where the girl in love breaks out in a dream type dance with her back up dance crew, the guy joins in with his back up crew like something off Westside Story only the dancing is a mix between salsa, Trinity Irish Dance Co., and Footloose. Then during a "dryer" husband/wife/family conflict (Indian families live together) everyone busts out laughing and Ella and I look at each other clueless. We of course break into somewhat controlled body shaking laughter (trying not to offend those around us) b/c we're NOT laughing.

At the end of the movie, which there was a 10 min. intermission for, the man sitting to my right asked if I come to bollywoods often. I told him I was just vising but Ella came more often. He proceeded to share how great the movie was and how serious divorce would have been if it had ended that way. He also said that he cried too during the movie b/c it was so touching. I think he was refering to MY crying only he didn't know I was crying b/c I was laughing. This of course tickled me to the core of my being and I had to quickly and graciously wrap up the conversation before I lost control. I don't say all this to be offensive to their entertainment or culture, but to share how different cultures CAN be and how we don't "get" things in the same way when we don't understand the little inuendos. If you ever get a chance to see a bollywood moving I highly recommend going to the theater. It will be an experience you won't forget!

Indian Culture

So I mentioned in the cultural tid bit post that Durban has the highest Indian population after the country of India itself. I'm not sure all of the reasons for this, but most of the people I've interacted with this week are Indian. James and Ella's church is predominately attended by Indian people, DBC is primarily Indian students etc.

Last night I had the priveledge to spend the night with an Indian family. Pricilla (mother) and her two daughters Anneline (27) and Cordelia (18). Pricilla's husband of late (as they would say), passed away 7 years ago from a major heart attack. Very hard for the family and his work community. I was told ahead of time that Indian people love to cook and cook a lot. It's true. They made an incredible tuna curry with rice and sausage. Like a true American I dove into my meal eating with my was effecient and got the food where it needed to go, my mouth! Ha! I watched them all begin to eat the same thing with their fingers. They mix it all up, clump it in a ball shape and literally (for lack of a better term) shovel the food into their mouths. I say shovel because as I set my fork down determined to eat like the Indians eat they promptly began laughing in unison at me for "dropping" my food into my mouth from above. I had it all wrong. Long story short, about 3 helpings later I had "mastered" the clump and shovel technique. They made the recipe milder for me so I could enjoy the meal and not be fried out. They LOVE HOT food!!

After a great meal the girls and I and a couple of guys from their church worship team sat at the table and sang worship songs together for about 1.5 hours. This was probably the greatest blessing of my time with them. Both daughters play guitar and piano and sing beautifully. We all harmonized parts. It was a low key but intimate time of praising God in their home together.

Before the evening came to a close we played "dress up." For those who know me you know dress up is one of my favorite things. Whether it be a WBC wiffle ball tournament (ref/cheerleader), youth disco night, ballerina pink marshmellow or cowgirl you name it, I'll be it! I asked the girls and Patricia if they would try on a sari for me. They decided instead to dress me up in fancy Indian clothing. It turned out to be a 3 piece modeling show. First they dressed me up in a traditional Indian "sari" which would be worn to a wedding or engagement celebration. Next they dressed me up in Patricia's wedding dress which fit like a glove. The final "piece" was a deep plum and gold "gharara"...more of a dress suit for formal business engagements. Of course they had to add "bangels" (bracelets) and other fancy jewelry. Along with that came DARK make up. Indian people pride themselves on wealth and looking beautiful. They wear a lot of jewelry and have the most gorgeous long black hair. So we had a blast pulling out clothes and taking pictures.

African Safari!

Saturday we all drove out to Hluhluwe, sounds just like it's spelled (hl-oo, hl-oo, wee), to go to a big(ger) wildlife refuge. The town is 3 hours from Durban so we left Friday and spent the night with another missionary couple Embree's know out there. It was the full on African safari! We drove with a guide in a giant safari jeep and got to see several animals...elephant, giraffe, gnu (a.k.a. wildebeast), a variety of bok, wild buffalo, hedge hog, and zebra. Lions and cheetas were no where to be found. There was a sighting from another group of wild dogs. They are rare to find and almost extinct, but in this refuge. I didn't know it but they are one of the most violent of the animals there. I also learned that hyenas (which we also did not see) have one of the strongest bites, they exert over 3 tons of pressure when they bite breaking bones like hot butter! Cheetas, as most know are one of the fastest animals in the world, BUT there is a type of deer/bok that runs even faster than a cheetah. A little animal history lesson for all you history buffs!

Sooooo, the safari. The biggest highlight for us was an elephant sighting. There are two packs in this park. One is about 100 elephants and the other is about 200. Yes, the park covers oh, a couple of acres! We spotted a few off in the distance and as we were looking at them with our binocs 3 came right up in front of us and walked out on the road! They were SO close we had to back up to get out of their way! It was AWESOME!! National Geographic in front of my face! Males are loners and hang out by themselves which later as we were leaving we saw a male up close also walk out in the street next to us. Males are huge and have giant tusks.

For those who wondered, hedge hogs are one of the ugliest animals around. There really isn't anything cute about them. They have a face and wild scrappy hair that only a mother could love.

On the safari note, Ella and the kids and I went to a nearby park yesterday (Monday) and also saw rhinos and hippos. Incredible animals!

Friday, August 04, 2006

cultural tid bits...

There are a lot of differences between South Africa and Alaska so I thought I'd add a little blip about some things I find interesting here. One biggie is they drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits on the right side of the car like in England. The majority of vehicles are manual. They have men that "watch/guard" cars in parking lots to keep down vehicle theft and you tip them 2R (rand) before you leave. Equivalent to about 40 cents.

They have wild monkeys that wonder around in their yard and roof tops...a change from moose wandering in my yard back home. Their reserve parks have animals like elephant, hippos, zebra, giraffe while Denali National Park has moose, bear, caribou, fox, wolf.

Being in the southern hemisphere their winter is during our summer and their winter temps are like our summer temps. I'm glad I'm here for the "cooler" season.

A diaper is called a "nappy", a napkin is called a "serveet" and a stroller is called a "pram," a traffic light is called a "robot," a pacifier is called a "dummy" and a zebra is spoken with a short "e" sound. Other interestings terminology: running shoes are called "takies," a car trunk is called a "boot," a windshield is called a "wind screen," a flat tire is called a "puncture" makes sense to me. My favorite that my dad will be appreciative of the blinker in your car is called an "indicator switch." My dad always refers to as that and I always roled my eyes or laughed at him, but know I know of an entire culture that calls it that!

Their currency is the African Rand and the exchange is 7-1, for every American dollar you spend 7 Rand. A little on time...Durban is 10-11 hours different from Anchorage. A funny thing, ALL of South Africa stays on ONE time zone and they do not recognize day light savings. So it could be light at 4:00 a.m. and dark at 6:00 p.m. in Durban and not get dark in Cape Town (far west side) until 2-2.5 hours later.

I learned today that Durban has the 2nd highest Indian population in the world after India itself. I was talking with Ella about it today b/c by far the most people I've met and see have been Indian. There are African and Colored people here too, but not as many in the urban area.

Another interesting thing about Durban for all my pyro family and friends...there are numerous wild fires here b/c it is so dry and warm. They let them burn out of control for the most part right next to neighborhoods and 8 lane major highways. We did see a couple fire trucks out the other day working on a fire that was burning close to a lot of eletrical wires. Ella said that is the first time in their 4 years here that she's ever seen a fire truck respond to a fire!

A couple new things I learned today (9th), babysitters are not paid here. They do it out of the goodness of their heart. They think it is crazy to be paid for watching someone's children. Another tid cannot pay for gas anywhere in S. Africa with a credit card. The government sets the price for gas for the country (fixed amount) and the gas companies lose $ by going through credit so all gas MUST be paid for in CASH! I can't remember the last time I paid cash for my gas in the U.S.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

James and Ella...

This entry has turned into a little "bio" of the Embree family. For those who don't know, James and Ella are my good friends from Alaska that are now full time missionaries in South Africa.

Ella's "job" consists of being a full time mom, wife, home school teacher, kids club leader and Sunday school teacher. She also helps plan and lead missionary workshops for kids during mission conferences. In fact she'll be leading a big one a few days after I leave. I've mentioned before in previous entries that Ella is FULL of ENTHUSIASM!! Children's ministry is a perfect fit for her. She is also a GREAT hostess!

James is a full time husband, dad and teacher at Durban Bible College (DBC). This term he is teaching Greek I & II and John. He also speaks/preaches at his church and other events occassionally. Watching him with his kids this past week I can say that James is an AWESOME dad! He loves his kids and has incredible grace and patience with them. He also helps out with school science experiments...not Ella's forte' (not mine either!).

If you can't tell from the picture they are one crazy fun couple! They are serious and grounded in their faith and work, but let loose and bring a lot of spice to the mission field.


Hannah is 6 and the oldest of the Embree kiddos. She is busy getting into her 1st grade year of home school. Working in a public school myself I have to say she is ahead of the game academically. She's one bright little girl. Hannah is the family princess and loves to dress up. She went to a ballet last night on a father/daughter date and wore a pink and purple ballet/ball gown. She was oh so beautiful! This picture was taken at a petting zoo this week.

Super Max...

Max is their 4 year old son who is totally sold on super heros and Star Wars. He has a Super Man t-shirt and we call him Super Max! Hannah loves feeding and petting the animals while Max LOVES chasing them away! He also loves playing in the kind of kid! This picture was taken at a petting zoo this past week.


Bronwyn is their 2 year old daughter and is as cute as can be. She's picked up the South African accent, a little similar to a British accent actually, and she LOVES to talk and sing! Here she's enjoying an icecream cone at the "Palace," a huge mall in Durban.

kids club

One of Ella's major ministries in Durban is kids club. She holds one at her house on Wednesday and one at a park in a neighboring suburb on Thursdays for the kids near the area of the new church plant they are helping with. I got to help this week with both days and loved it. They are taught the same story/message, but in different ways.

Wednesday there were about 11 kids that came to their house for club. Pat, another TEAM missionary, helps out too. She and Ella divide responsibilities of singing, lesson, memory verse, review etc. The kids come to her house shortly after they get home from school. They love the songs. Two of the girls that came sang "God is so Good" in Afrikans. It's a form of Dutch that evolved over time as the Dutch settled in S. Africa. These children all live in Ella's neighborhood and vary in ethnicity from white, Afrikans (Dutch descent), and African.

Today, Thursday, we did kids club in Shallcross a nearby town. This group meets at the church plant sight...a tin roof, tarp walled carport where the new church plant meets once a week. The setting is a little more challenging to keep kids engaged b/c it is outside, but they do a pretty good job. Most of the kids that come on Thursday are Indian. The church Embrees attend and the new church plant is primarly people from India.

I loved leading along side Ella and watching her enthusiasm as she told stories and led activities. She is a high energy woman! Kids can't HELP but get excited when she leads!

Durban Botanic Gardens

Yesterday Ella, the kids and I went to a nearby botanic garden. We saw a plethora of birds, cactus, trees, ferns and flowers. I had no idea how many types of palm trees there are. There were at least 8 or so there, all completely different. It was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The picture is of the "Sunken Garden." They had different garden areas, one was called a sensory garden (very cool) and this particular one was the sunken garden b/c it was planted and landscaped below the rest of the park. The girl you see is Hannah, she's wearing her pink fairy costume. She LOVES playing dress up!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

running with zebras!

Ella and I went for a walk/run at a local wildlife refuge this evening to scope out the race course for a run we'll be doing on the 9th. This refuge has all safe animals, lots of birds, boc (antelope), zebra, snakes. We met up a few times with wild zebra and got awesome pictures right next to them! I got a little close to one once and he showed his teeth (like Mr. Ed) and kind of hissed at me so I backed off pretty quickly. I LOVE the wildlife here!!