Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Anniversary Trip to Kalaloch Lodge

For years Tom and I had talked about Kalaloch, a beach we'd both visited as kids but had never been to together. It is on the only stretch of Highway 101 that runs directly along the coastline in Washington State. So for our anniversary on Monday we scheduled a 3-day trip to Kalaloch Lodge.

As one of the last frontiers to be explored in the contiguous United States, the Olympic peninsula was found to be breathtakingly beautiful and terribly rugged. In 1925 Charles W Becker purchased the 40-acres coastal plot that is now Kalaloch Lodge, and used milled lumber that washed up on the beach to build the original lodge and cabins. But it was difficult to access until the Olympic Loop, part of Highway 101, was completed in 1931. It has been a part of the National Park Service since 1978.

The main lodge is right on the highway with several cabins -- one-room, two-room, duplexes, cabins with kitchens, cabins with fireplaces, some with both -- sitting in two rows on a bluff overlooking the ocean. We overheard a man in the dining room say to his wife, "A real tsunami could wipe this place out." Yes, that's probably true, but it wasn't quite what we wanted to hear!

We arrived in the rain late Sunday afternoon. We had reserved a cabin with a kitchenette on the bluff above the beach. When we checked in we were told of a strong wind advisory. In case the power were to go out, we were told, we'd have no heat. Would we rather be moved to a cabin with a fireplace but no kitchenette? No, we would be cooking our own food so we'd stick to our plans.

Boy, was it chilly and windy as we unloaded the car. But inside our cabin we were toasty warm. It was a well-built structure with knotty pine paneling, tile floors, and a metal roof. The kitchenette was tiny but with some creative maneuvering you could prepare a meal in it.

You'd think it would be quite at the beach -- no TV, no internet, no telephone service. But it's not quiet at the beach. All night long it sounded a bit like we were home, listening to the train rumble by as we're falling to sleep. It was lovely.

We were awakened in the night by a torrential downpour, hitting our metal roof like the water in a drive-through car wash. It lasted only minutes, and then all we heard was the the wind and the waves.

On Monday, after breakfast in the Lodge, we explored Ruby Beach and the Rain Forest, but we returned to explore our own beach in the late afternoon. The pictures below are all of Kalaloch, with photos of our other adventures on this trip to come in a later post. I hope these capture at least some of the wild beauty and the joy we experienced on this, our best ever, anniversary trip.

Kalaloch Lodge from Highway 101

The back of the lodge, taken from the yard of our cabin

View of the cabins from the dining room window of the lodge

Cabin 7, where we stayed

Enjoying dinner on Sunday evening

Chef at work in our tiny kitchen

The beach outside our cabin

We walked way out onto the beach while the tide was on its way back in, out toward the seagulls on the rocks.

Reflection on the wet sand as we walked back
towards the beach

Cold and happy

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yes You Can -- Don Richardson's Peace Child

from film, Peace Child
Don and Carol Richardson and their seven-month-old son Steven left their home in Canada and moved to the jungles on Papua New Guinea to live among the Sawi tribe in 1962. The Sawi, cannibals, considered killing and treachery to be virtues.  It was the Richardsons' earnest desire to share the love of God with these people, but it seemed an impossible task. They asked the Lord to make a way for them to help the people grasp it.

When another tribe attacked the Sawi, the killing went on for weeks. Finally Don told the people that they would leave if the fighting didn't stop, but the Sawi wanted them to stay.

They stopped fighting, and then performed a ritual that was a part of their culture, the offering of a peace child. A child from one tribe was given to the other tribe, sealing the cease-fire. When Don witnessed this, he realized that God had given him a way to teach the Sawi  love. He told them about the ultimate Peace Child, Jesus, given by God to purchase our salvation. From that day on, the Sawi and their tribal neighbors began to turn to the Lord.

The story of the Richardson's years among the Sawi is told in the book, Peace Child. It is a powerful story of love, grace, and redemption, as is the movie by the same title.

I'd like you to hear the story in Don Richardson's own words. The two-part interview below was filmed in 2009. It is a total of 12 minutes. I really hope you will take the time to watch the interview and hear how God brought salvation and peace to the Sawi. The final video, Never the Same, records the 50th Anniversary trip that Don, now 77, and his three sons took to Papua New Guinea last summer. The video is beautifully done and nothing short of thrilling to see the reunion of the Richardsons and their Sawi friends.

Usually my "Yes You Can" features are about people I know who have followed through on an idea that they think could make a difference. I share their stories to encourage us to act on the dreams that we have that could impact others.

I do not know Don Richardson or anyone in his family, but I share his story to spur us on to do what the Lord puts on our hearts. When Don and Carol left for Papua New Guinea they had no idea that the people there were waiting for a Tuan (a white person) to come to their tribe; they didn't know if the people would welcome them or kill them; they didn't know how to find a way to help the people understand God's love. But they didn't have to know those things. God simply asked them to be obedient.

And that's all He asks of us. Is the Lord putting something on your heart that He wants you to do? Does it seem too big, too unknown, too costly? Is it beyond you? If He is calling you, He will also equip you.  By His strength you can do it. Yes you can!

Never the Same from Pioneers-USA on Vimeo.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Selah Service

Tom and I sat quietly in St Aiden's Episcopal Church last night, waiting for the Selah Service to begin. We've attended this service several times before, this time of scripture, songs, and silence led by Jeff Johnson of Camano Island. Last night's crowd was small -- often the church is filled -- but the main guest, the Lord Himself, was with us.

Jeff led us from the keyboard as we followed along in the printed program. Apart from Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy! the songs were mostly new to us. Meditative, drawing you to the heart of God, easy to learn and powerful to sing, these songs were written by Jeff and others in the contemplative movement.

The thing about the Selah service is that you are led into quietness so that you can worship from your heart. Readers from the congregation read scripture throughout the evening; last night it was Psalm 62: For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken. Then a moment of silence. Again the reader: For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. More silence. The reader concluded: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

More singing, more scripture, then a song written by Jeff Johnson and Erik Ronning, our high school's choir teacher. We sang, When my eyes cannot see, And my heart cannot feel, When my soul longs for mercy, I call to You. Take my eyes, take my heart, Take my soul - make them whole. I am lost if you won't hear my prayer. (copyright Erik Ronning&Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs)

I don't know what happened, but these words and everything that had gone on before in the service penetrated a part of me I didn't even know was there. The sense of my great need for God and his gracious availability stirred me in my deepest self. And the words we had sung earlier, "God alone suffices," were confirmed in my heart. Indeed, God alone suffices -- nothing else, no one else, no provision I can make for myself, God alone.

Rest, my soul, today in the knowledge that God is enough, and he is mine! Sing praise, sing praise!

* * * * * * * * * 

A special "Way of the Cross"Selah Service will be held Monday, March 25, at 7:00p.m. in Beachwood Lounge, Warm Beach Senior Community in Stanwood, if you would like to attend. You can learn more about the Selah Service here. And here is a link to a video of Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning, and Wendy Goodwin performing Christ Has Walked This Path.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The House at Riverton

Lately I've been entertaining the thought of writing a novel. Not a grand adventure or a whodunit -- nothing that is action driven -- and not a historical novel that require great attention to detail in areas where I have little expertise, but a story about daily life, friendship, aging and self-discovery. So far I've got some characters in mind and a bit of a plot, not much, but I thought I might be up to the challenge one of these days. But that notion was completely dashed by the time I had finished the first chapter of Kate Morton's House at Riverton.

She begins: "Last November I had a nightmare." Ninety-eight-year-old Grace Reeves tells the dream and talks about the letters that have come, dredging up old memories that she has spent a lifetime trying to forget. In the process she mentions people as if the reader already knew them -- Hannah, Ursula, Sylvia, Marcus, Ruth, Robbie, Emmeline -- people who have no faces, no personalities to the reader but surely do to Grace. And by the end of page five, I was a goner. Morton had succeeded in drawing me into one of the most intriguing stories I have ever read, just as she has captured the attention of thousands of other readers.

And that's when I knew that I'll need to do a lot more work than just have some characters and a bit of a plot if I'm ever going to write a novel. For not only is The House at Riverton a complex tale of intrigue, relationships and secrets, a sad and tragic story, it is also masterfully told.

When we first meet Grace she is living in a nursing home. She is talking to the reader, but much of the story is told to her grandson, Marcus, through cassette tape. The story takes place in the home of Lord Ashbury and Lady Violet, where Grace went into service at the age of 14. Flawlessly, Morton moves the reader back and forth from the early 1900s to 1998, unfolds the characters with great care, dropping a hint now and then of what their fate will one day be, but never giving away anyone's secrets.

As a matter of fact, the book revolves around secrets. Were I to go back through the book to count the secrets I would see how cleverly the author thought through her story in advance, working out the details and figuring just the right moment to weave them into the tale.

I may have mentioned before the father and daughter who have both written novels. He talked of the difference in their styles. The daughter worked furiously to create her characters and plot her story in advance, so when it was time to write the novel, she had no surprises. The hard work was already done and she simply told the story. The father, on the other hand, started out with his characters and a basic plot line then started to write, and in the writing got to know his characters and learn what they were up to. Well, The House at Riverton was a meticulously developed story in the author's mind long before she typed a word, I'm sure.

We say that the opening line of a story is the most important, and surely it is, because it is designed to capture the reader's attention. But the ending of a story is also important. I am thinking about two other  authors I have read. They both tell a delightful story, full of fun and adventure, but the endings of one author are weak and leave unanswered questions in my mind. The other author seems not to notice when her story is finished. In other words, a clear ending is as important as a strong beginning.

Kate Morton held my attention for 468 pages, and as I read the final page many aspects of the story finally came together. I held my breath, my eyes wide, as the significance of the details on that last page settled over me.

This is not a book you can just walk away from when you are finished. As a matter of fact, my last hour of reading was done in the parking lot of the library and I fully intended to return it once I was done. But I couldn't bring myself to take the book into the library after all. I started my car and drove home, where I could have The House at Riverton with me for just a few more days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Photo by Owen Humphreys

Psalm 84: 5-7

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, 
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, 
they make it a place of springs; 
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion. 

And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn -- Zion! God in full view! 
(The Message)

The life of faith is a pilgrimage. We have set our hearts on it -- it is a commitment we have made. As Eugene Peterson says, it is "a long obedience in the same direction." In other words, if we are following Jesus, we are in it for the long haul. No sprinters on this trip; we are going the distance.

We follow the One who has been this way before us. The road is uncertain, but the end -- God in full view -- is sure. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Lord is My Shepherd

The Shepherd's Psalm (Psalm 23) has been put to music and poetry by many people over the years. Here is John Rutter's version. Fear no evil today, for God is with you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Seattle's Museum of History and Industry

Just outside MOHAI

Remote Control sailboats on the grounds of the museum
If you have the slightest interest in Seattle and its surroundings, its natural resources, its history, its neighborhoods, its struggles and triumphs, if any interest at all, you'll want to visit the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). It just moved into its new home six weeks ago -- on the south end of Lake Union in what used to be the Naval Reserve Armory. Built in 1941-42 but the Works Progress Administration, the building is perfect for the museum with its easy access (unless you are trying to park), its location on the lake, and its natural light. With displays on three floors overlooking the atrium, you can experience the "diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound Region and the nation," as MOHAI's YouTube channel says.

Like any city, Seattle has its icons. Remember the "toe" truck that met you as you exited I-5 at Mercer?  Well, here it is, along with replicas of food from the Dog House Restaurant, the huge red "R" that used to identify the Rainier Brewing Company, and a volcano you can make erupt yourself.

At MOHAI you'll discover that UPS got its start in Seattle and will see one of its trucks from 1923; you'll learn about Seattle's lumber industry, its unions and its shipbuilding; you'll see how hobos of the Depression era marked homes in the community with code so that folks would know what kind of help they might receive there. 

While I really liked the entire museum, it was the things of my own era that I most enjoyed. That could have been me under those desks, preparing for an air raid (which, I might add, had me scared whenever an airplane flew overhead). And it certainly was me with that smelly old roller perm in the 60s!

Tom remembers using the drafting tools that we saw on display for the technical illustrations he created for Boeing. And we both remember the excitement of the Seafair hydroplane races on Lake Washington. Slo-mo-shun, the famous hydroplane, was suspended above the atrium, along with Boeing's first airplane. 

No history of Seattle would be complete without Century 21, the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962. From his classroom on Queen Anne Hill Tom watched the Space Needle being built. (This photo is from a display went from right to left.)

On our way home we talked about what we enjoyed most about MOHAI. Mom thought the museum was well designed so that people weren't crowding each other, and felt there were enough staff and volunteers around to answer any questions you might have. Her father was a lumberjack, so she especially enjoyed the video about the lumber industry.

"They sure salvaged a lot of stuff!" Dad said. I asked him it it stirred any memories for him and he told about the day his dad dashed to the bank with the offering taken for the evangelist who had preached at his church. Grandad wanted to get it deposited so that they could get a check written for the preacher before he moved on. Alas, not long after the deposit was made, the stock market crashed and the money for the preacher was gone.

There was a large machine on display for canning salmon that Tom thought his dad would have liked, as well as the drafting tools that he had also used at Boeing. And seeing the old wood veneer radio reminded him of the Philco his family gathered around on Saturday evenings, listening to the Lone Ranger, while his grandma made oatmeal candy for them.

"In fact," Tom told me, "going through the museum reminded me that people don't really change. Technology is different, but we still deal with the same issues. Seattle shipyard workers went on strike in 1919 for better wages. We're still concerned about the same things. People don't really change."

* * * * * * * * *

MOHAI is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and open until 8 p.m. every Thursday.  General admission (15 and up) is $14, with seniors, students, and military admission is $12. The first Thursday of each month is free (and crowded, but still lots of fun!). It's located at 860 Terry Ave N. For more information, go to You might also enjoy these links: The New MOHAI from Seattle Magazine, today's Herald article, "MOHAI's New Digs Give Seattle History Some Breathing Room," and this or other videos from MOHAI's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Lost Boy Goes Home

Abe Bol, 2008
He was young, just three, when Abraham Bol's life was thrown into chaos. His village in Sudan was attacked. His parents were killed and he fled with others across the desert, facing constant hunger and hardships. Much of the way he was carried on the back of a stranger. Reaching a refugee camp in Ethiopia three months later, he was unexpectedly reunited with his older brother.

But four years later violence broke out in Ethiopia, and young Abe found himself making another trek, one that lasted 18 months and ended in Kenya. He was not alone. Abe was one of the 25,000 Lost Boys of the Sudan, ages 7 to 18, in search of a place of safety in the midst of the violence that was rife in East Africa. Thousands of boys died from starvation, exposure, disease and attack. Abe survived. When he finally arrived at the camp in Kenya, he had another surprise -- he found his older sister and younger brother, whom he hadn't seen for eight years!

In 2001, about 4000 of these Lost Boys were resettled to the United States. Some three hundred of them, including Abe, came to Washington State. He was 16.

Within two years Abe had passed his High School Proficiency Exam and become a certified nursing assistant. By 2008 he had graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in Political Science, International Relations and a minor in Geopolitics.

Among his many activities during his first several years in Seattle, the SPU website includes these: "working as an interpreter for the King County Municipal Court, serving as an intern in the Executive Office of the Mayor on African Affairs in Washington, D.C., interning at the World Affairs Council in Seattle, and working as a certified nursing assistant at Providence Hospital in Issaquah."  He also "served as a refugee assistant volunteer for the United States Catholic Conference in Seattle and as a service volunteer at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Medina. He started the African Connect Student Union on campus at SPU and coordinated World Relief's Refugee Project, an immersion into the experiences and challenges faced by refugees as they enter America." And he participated in Urban Plunge in 2002, where students spend five days on the streets of Seattle to experience homelessness for themselves.

Abe, right, with two of his Sudanese friends
Abe is a gentle man with a giving heart. He was loved by his fellow students as well as the faculty and staff who worked with him. They recognized his initiative, his perseverance, and his generous spirit. "He's the most unselfish person I have ever known," said Karen Altus, his career counselor at SPU.

I've gotten to know Abe a bit over the years. In 2008 he and his friend Michael came to lunch, along with some other interesting guests -- Sam from New Jersey, Min from Taiwan, Brian the violinist, and Townie, the former director of International Students at SPU. It was a delightful afternoon. The photo above is of Abe watching as his friend Michael took a turn at playing the violin!

In 2009 he went to graduate school at DePaul University in Chicago, where he earned a Master of Science in International Pubic Service and Development.

Abe has been back to Africa twice since coming to the US, but not since South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. That's where he will be going in March. There's a job waiting for him at SUDD, a public policy institute in the city of Juba. He is also looking forward to being near his sister and her children, his younger brother and his aunt.

Since his early days in Seattle it has been his dream to offer literacy training to women in Sudan. That dream is looking like it just might come true!

When we met for coffee the other day I commented that his life has been difficult. "In spite of the difficulty," he told me, "I still consider myself lucky. I can give back. Lots of people need help, and I can help!"

Click here to read more about Abe, and here to learn more about the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Here is a lengthy but very interesting article in the NY Times written in 2001 about some young men recently come to the US.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What's That You Say?

I spent ten weeks in language school when I first arrived in Japan.  Each weekday morning I would join expatriates from around the world who wanted to learn the Japanese language. It was the same program my supervisors had been enrolled in many years before, run by an ancient couple and a handful of teachers they had hired. The program was six ten-week terms long, and a graduate from the school would be well equipped to communicate in Japanese.

But I only attended the first session. I was on a short-term assignment (two years that stretched to three) so my time for language study was limited. During the first term we learned the basics of Japanese pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. The Japanese words were written in Romaji, spelled out in roman alphabet instead of Japanese alphabet (hiragana), and the second term was a repeat of the lessons from the first term, but using hiragana instead of Romaji.

My class was made up of a man from Switzerland whose company had sent him to work in Japan, a Japanese man from Brazil who spoke Portuguese and wanted to learn Japanese, a young woman from Hong Kong, newly married to a Japanese man, and me. I did not excel in the class, but I seemed to have an ear for the sound of the language. I nailed my pronunciation skills!

A line from one lesson stands out in my mind. It was, "Kono dencha wa Hibiya ni ikimasuka?" ("Does this train go to Hibiya?") I liked that sentence and could say it with perfect intonation, just like a native speaker.

I thought I'd try out my new sentence the next day at the train station. I inserted the name of my town and approached a station employee. "Kono denha wa Osaka ni ikimasuka?" I asked boldly. "Ie," (No) came the response. And then a long explanation followed, punctuated with hand gestures showing me which platform I needed and when to expect the train (at least that what I think he was trying to tell me). Hmmm...

Being tall, I was hard to miss on the streets. Sometimes men would approach me in an attempt to practice their English. Sometimes they just wanted to harass me. Since I traveled alone quite a bit, I thought it would be good to have a standard phrase to use with people who made me feel uncomfortable. So one day I asked my teacher for just the right words. "Okina meiwakudesu." I repeated it back to her. "Yes, that will be good," she assured me.

I practiced the words in my mind until I knew that I could ward off any obnoxious person who tried to give me trouble. I knew how I would stare down the perpetrator, ball up my fists, and snarl at him: "OKINA MEIWAKUDESU!"That would get him! (Empowerment is such a wonderful thing.)

I'd been back in the States for several years when I found myself telling a Japanese friend about my teacher giving me the words I needed to exert my authority if I were ever in a difficult situation. "By the way, how would you translate 'Okina meiwakudesu'?" I asked.

My friend smiled. "You sure are a bully!" Good thing I never had to use my sentence on anybody!