October through December 2010

September 27 thru October 3
In trying to prepare for some of the things ahead of us we have been getting things in order. First another motherboard for our trusty IBM T40 laptop. Then more wood hauling to keep our house warm.

We hope to take trip to refurbish some of our translators soon. A quick roadtrip down to Soldotna was in order to get some spare parts built. The fall colors were quite impressive on the drive.

On Saturday we got to be part of the missions banquet at Faith Bible Fellowship. On Sunday while we were catching up on laundry Kayleb found that the laundry basket makes for a great ride.

October 4 thru October 10
Not many pictures this week. Here Karl and Kristofer try to get a better signal with the big c-band dish. Rich is into a routine now recording weathers and voicetracks for KAGV and KYKD as well as going to AWANA's to get recordings for our new "Mission: 119 eleven" program.

We expect to go to Nenana for some furlow coverage for the Blairs in the near future. We hope to be able to reduce the mission's costs by heating with wood while we are there. Tom and Dee brought down this wood stove and we hope to restore it a bit so it can be used to heat our accomodations while we are there.

October 11 thru October 17
This week started out with Karl teaching Rich some basics about the village radio translator equipment in preparation for a trip that is planned for next week. While the older men were hard at work, the younger males were hard at play (although Kristofer did do his fare share of the work to clean out the trailer). Here Kayleb and Kristofer enjoy an indoor bouncy gym on an especially brisk fall morning.

With the snow holding off, it allows us more time to gather wood. The first picture on your left was taken by Kristofer (almost 3 years) and as you can see he is a much better photographer than his mother who took the picture on the right. After we finished our wood work for the day, the boys really enjoyed meeting "Prince Charming" the alpaca.

Karl was able to do some pounding, scraping, grinding, welding, and greasing on the woodstove that is planned for the pepto house in Nenana. With a little fire brick and rope gasket, it holds a fire well. Watch for the finished product in the coming weeks!

October 18 thru October 24
We spent a lot of time together preparing for a trip to visit translators in western and southwestern Alaska. Eventually we had things sorted, "things that couldn't come", "things that could come with us" and "things that had to be shipped ahead of us". Karl and Rich drove down to Soldotna on Wednesday and went to the MARC hanger early Thurday morning to load up and get going on our busy itinerary.

After a fuel stop in Bethel we flew on to Quinahagak where we needed to relocate the translator from the parsonage to the church.

We had a lot of help from the folks on the ground there and got everything up and operating just before dusk.

A flight in the dark to familiar territory where we spent the night in our old apartment at KYKD. Rich got to see the town and the facilities there that he has been so faithfully sending weather reports to.

After some shopping we were off to the airport where the great folks from Yute Air loaded up some extra supplies for us.

Then our pilot, Bob Widman, took us to Hooper Bay where we needed to rebuild the translator to better handle winds and see around a large snow drift that builds up here each winter.

We worked late into the night using parts that we took down in Quinahagak to mount to the building to better withstand shifting soil and fierce winds.

After sleeping overnight in Hooper we headed out on a long journey.

A quick stop in Bethel to show our KYKD volunteer Bruce Claypool how to re-tune the KYKD transmitter, then we fueled up the plane and grabbed some food before we got back in the air and on our way. Our first stop was Dillingham where Bob re-fueled the plane again.

Finally, Saturday evening, we came to our weekend destination, Sand Point, Alaska. After fellowship Sunday Morning we got to work removing the equipment from the bed and breakfast and installing it at the church parsonage. We worked late into the night with help from Pastor Ward and other church volunteers.

While all this was happening the rest of the family was holding down both radio stations and getting outside to enjoy the playgrounds before they get covered with snow for the winter.

Also the road system Thiemes worked on splitting more wood to get our woodshed full.

October 25 thru October 31
Well this week starts in Sand Point for Karl where Bob, Rich and Karl put the final touches on the Sand Point translator.

Then up into the air to head to Perryville. This remote uninhabited area is an amazing mix of land and sea.

In Perryville we finally used that concrete we purchased in Bethel, God meant for it to be used here where we needed to keep the dish mount from wiggling.

We got to see Destiny again, she has grown so much since the pictures we have of her in our April 2007 visit (scroll to the April 24-29 update). Karl needed to clean up some connections on the antenna and God provided a way for that to happen.

Up at the top and then back down on the ground for a moment before getting back in the air to try to get to Port Alsworth.

On the way we fueled back up in King Salmon. As we kept on our journey to Port Alsworth the weather and the sun said "NO!" and we had to put down in Iliamna.

We are working to get a translator permit for this village and God provided for us to have comfortable beds and get a impromptu chance for a survey trip and a great time getting to know the Clark family who serve through the Baptist church there.

The next day we made a couple of runs before getting through the weather to Port Alsworth. James Walsh helped us greatly in getting things setup on the church building at Tanalian Bible Camp.

Karl and James got the dish setup and Bob and James got the antenna up while Rich kept all the supplies coming from terra firma.

We are not sure how God will provide through the FCC but the church has a permit to broadcast using a full service FM station at great cost and responsibility while VFCM has been applying for a simple translator permit for quite a while. Either way we expect to be able to turn this equipment on soon. With weather coming we headed up and out as soon as we had things attached and connected outside.

Back safely to the MARC hanger in Soldotna. Wow what a trip. MARC is a mission organization that allows affiliates like VFCM to travel affordably in Alaska as they pick up roughly half of the cost through their own support. Bob went above and beyond that call of duty with all his help digging and climbing ladders.

Back at home Kayleb is up and off the ground but not moving too far yet.

On Friday, two father-son teams went to work on our wood supply. Brad with his son Michael as well as Karl and Kristofer enjoyed the comradery and a chance to work outside in the first real snow of the year.

Since our whole family could no longer fit in it, a couple of weeks ago we sold our pickup. We've been checking craigslist and the local dealers like crazy. This weekend we needed to take a trip into town and we spent some of our time test driving. Nothing worked it self out this time but we think we really like the Toyota Sequoias. In the evening we finally used a gift certificate that someone gave us back in 2003 or 2004. Fortunately they didn't put expiration dates on them back then. Thanks Patrick and Sharon, we trust our workmanship in helping you move to Oregon has been holding up and that you don't wish to take back your gift, it's too late now anyway.

Sunday morning we presented in Sunday School and the main service at Scenic Park Bible Church. We got to share about VFCM as a whole, about KAGV as a local station they can listen to and about the Thieme's as supported missionaries.

Sunday afternoon we headed back to the hotel and we got to swim as a family. Swimming pools aren't that common here and it was great to have the whole pool to ourselves. We all enjoyed our time in the pool but Kayleb did seem to tucker out first.

Then down all those empty hallways to find our way back to our room and get ready for the evening church time. The evening time at Scenic Park Bible Church was a semi-informal question and answer time with a number of their missionaries. We all got to know each other better.

November 1 thru November 7
Before we left Anchorage we got some shoe shopping in. Kristofer got some new snow boots and Karl got another pair of shoes to take the daily beating. On Tuesday the boys both went to the doctor. Kristofer gets measured against the wall now.

Right after the doctor's visit we celebrated Kristofer's birthday with friends at the "bounce house" of his choice.

Kayleb even got a little taste of the cake and ice cream.

Everyone got in on the bouncing action.

The woodstove restoration project keeps making progress. With Karl working on the woodstove, Mr Rich worked on changing over the mission truck and our car to winter tires.

On Friday we celebrated Kristofer's birthday as a family. Here Kristofer is opening his new Caterpillar dump truck.

Saturday we took the oportunity to make a run into Anchorage to stock up for our move to Nenana. On Sunday the Blair family arrived to attend the VFCM board meetings.

November 8 thru November 14
With VFCM board meetings going on, our family got to enjoy having the Blair Family spend time with us.

It is good to see our house used for ministry. Michaela and Kristofer were nearly inseperable during our time together.

A couple of weeks ago we shared that we were car hunting. Well on Wednesday evening on an airport run to facilitate the board meeting our hunt came to a close when we bought this Toyota Sequoia. Life moves on though. Later on that same evening we had to say good bye to the Blairs as they headed to the airport to begin their furlough. Kayleb and Gabrielle were a little difficult to seperate.

The next morning we packed for our move to Nenana.

Here we are on Friday unpacking all the packing from Thursday morning. Grandma Dee came over to give us a hand.

Perrenial volunteer Jerry Wilmes is helping Rick and Kathy Migra hold down the fort at KIAM during board meetings and our transition. We've enjoyed many meals together with our VFCMers at the KIAM station. We even convinced Jerry to give us a hand unloading the larger items from our trailer. That wood stove was the biggest difficulty but it's in place now.

One by one the chest freezer, the woodstove, the washer and the dryer came up this steep ramp. On Sunday Adam White brought up a dishwasher with some other supplies we had left behind. Thanks for the warm welcome to our new home.

November 15 thru November 21
At our new house the unpacking continues. Kristofer is able to help us sort now. At the station Grandma Dee is learning the ropes to help out announcing when she comes back from vacation in January.

Uncle Rick and Aunt Kathy have joined Jerry's child care club and our kids are loving it.

Once we got some milder temperatures it was time for Karl to get up on the roof. First to replace the five gallon bucket on the chimney with a cap so we could use the woodstove and then to set up an antenna to try to get Internet access.

On Friday Karl and Kristofer went into town to do some shopping and Kristofer got to sit on the 120cc snow machines while dad got oil for our full sized machines. On Sunday we put the Internet antenna to the test and Kristofer got to show Meemaw and Papa his new bedroom and how he likes the dump truck they sent him for his birthday.

November 22 thru November 28
Thanksgiving was a work day for us but we still got to enjoy the traditional meal and all the preparations that go with it. This year cranberry sauce from our own cranberries was a first.

Between trips to the radio station we got to enjoy playing around the house together, Kristofer is still learning the finer points of hide and seek. We got to introduce Kayleb to the traditional meal while we took time to acknowledge how much God has blessed us with eachother.

And for cleaning up, the dishwasher is working great and the washing machine has been repaired and the double action agitation is providing excellent cleaning power.

On Sunday we took our weekly trip to Fairbanks for church and for supplies. The roads were interestly rough and slick after the frozen rain storms on Monday and Tuesday.

Kayleb enjoyed watching the rest of the family and the crowds as we ate at the grocery store deli while we were in town. Sitting up on his own also gave Kayleb the oportunity to ride around in the "race cart" too!

November 29 thru December 05
When it gets this cold, cabin fever starts to set in!

What's the solution? Bundle up and get out.

Sometimes getting that cabin fever out of your system means heading to town for supplies that get packed all around the kiddos in the back of the truck to keep all the veggies from spoiling on the way home. Sometimes opening some packages from family can help.

Something new is always nice. Puzzles are new for Kristofer, lots of fun finding the pieces for the different animals on Noah's ark.

Whatever you do on cold days like this it is important to dress for the occasion.

December 06 thru December 12
Kristofer picked up some new lined carhartts and now the boys can match looking Alaskan at the same time. Kristofer and Rick worked together to change out the water in one of Simeon's fish tanks, nice to see the fish again.

Palmer and Bonnie are working up here this week and Palmer got trained on the KIAM on-air basics. On Friday Karl went into town to pick up short-termer James Fisher and buy a load of firewood.

December 13 thru December 19
Monday was Kristan's birthday. We got to go to "The Mondo" for some of "Alaska's Best Hamburgers" and Kristofer played his first arcade game with his dad.

On Tuesday, Karl drove south to get our new vehicle and some more firewood. We hear a lot of complaining about high fuel prices coming from "Outside", this is a price on the road system here where we live.

Down in the valley the extreme weather was winds with the KAGV weather advisory including warnings about semi-trucks being blown over. Back in Nenana it was -40 degree temps that caused the trouble preventing the fuel injectors in our car from atomizing the fuel so that our car flooded and wouldn't start.

While wiring in the trailer brake controls in our new vehicle it was a good opportunity to replace the seatbelt in the third row seat where the previous owner's puppy had chewed through the belt. Then on Friday morning the guys from Faith Bible Fellowship loaded our trailer full of good birch for us to use as firewood.

Then out on the road headed north. The mountain was out and the daytime driving was trouble free.

It was great to be back together. Kayleb learned to crawl last week and here he is using Skype to show his Auntie Anita how he can stand up holding on to the little table.

Some photo credits go to Kristofer this week as he captured pictures of mom and dad without his parents realizing it. Here is a self portrait as well as some abstract art from his collection.

Speaking of colors we are working to put up Christmas lights. Once things warmed up to -15 deg it was time to start hanging up the lights.

As we approach the shortest day of the year, there isn't much light in our lives but the light we do get is quite colorful.

We did a little cold weather clothing shopping on Sunday after church. Keeping warm is an important preoccupation here.

December 20 thru December 26
It's time to find our Christmas tree. Lots of trees, not so many Christmas tree candidates.

This was the best one, we checked them all. Into the trailer to take home and defrost.

Once the tree was thawed, it was time to put the lights and decorations on.

Tuesday and Wednesday, we helped a neighbor who was having trouble heating their place. With some help from a supporter we were able to stack up 1.5 cords with Rick and Kathy to keep our neighbors warm. It was nice to work outside together.

On Thursday we went to the Nenana Community Center with friends where a man dressed up like Santa gave each of our boys a present.

On Friday Karl framed up this saw buck and Kristofer and his mother framed up this gingerbread house.

Christmas morning Kristofer showed little interest in the stuff in the socks or under the tree, he wanted to finish the decorations on the gingerbread house.

Once Kayleb was up we kicked off the morning in full swing with our "Follow the Star" tradition.

Then the present unwrapping finally got going with gusto. All the while "cookie boy" watches from the gingerbread house. "Cookie Boy" would be inside the gingerbread house but "he can't find his keys".

The boys both enjoyed their presents. Even though Alaska should be 3 times as big as that small state called Texas.

Kayleb was really into the packaging.

In the evening we had Rick, Kathy and James over for dinner and the enjoyment of packaging continued for the kids while the time of hanging out with friends was enjoyed by the adults.

Here Kristofer and his sweet tooth contemplate the ultimate demise of "cookie boy" and his domicile. Speaking of "tooth", Kayleb has his first. Here he can be seen brushing his tooth.