Posts tagged Washington

September 11th

On September 11th, 2001, I was at home with my then four children. My oldest, Josiah, had just turned 7. I also had a 5-year-old, a newly turned 3-year-old and a 4 1/2 month old baby. Joe had already left that morning for some test he had to take at the hospital. I was behind schedule and trying to make breakfast for the kids when I told Josiah to go turn on the TV to PBS. He came back a few minutes later saying, “Every channel has a plane flying on it.” I thought he must have not done the right channels and told him to try again. He came back and said, “Mom, every channel has a plane and a building on fire. I can’t get any kid’s shows.” I was quite curious now what on earth he was talking about. I walked into the TV room and immediately my heart sank to the bottom of my chest. I was shocked to see one of the Twin Towers burning as a result of a plane crashing into it.

Later my husband got home after watching all this in a waiting room of the hospital. We clutched our children. All we wanted to do was keep them with us. We knew at that moment that our family was the most important thing other than our love for Jesus.

We have tried to make decisions in our life that help our family to be closer. We have turned down jobs that would require Joe to be gone 70-80 hours a week. I have chosen not to work outside the home. We have homeschooled when it was extremely difficult.

And it isn’t just about our immediate family. We also want our kids to be close to their grandparents and extended family. So we came back to Central Oregon in order for our kids to know their other grandparents.

We also wanted our kids to be able to conquer fears, live dreams, see new things.

So this September 11th, we followed our daughter’s passion, by driving 7 hours to Forks, WA in order to celebrate Bella’s birthday, a fictional character from the Twilight series.

We left at 6:30 in the morning. Joe in our truck with Michaela, Elijah, Azariah, and Petra. I drove our car with Josiah, Kira, Hanna, and Nehemiah. We had the truck loaded with all sorts of unhealthy food intended to keep us awake…not to nourish us. Joe and I in our separate cars told stories of our travels along this stretch of road to Portland…the time we ran out of gas…the time we had a flat tire. It would have been nice to share the stories together, but at least we got to share them.

From Portland, we headed into Washington and up towards Centralia and then west to Aberdeen. After traveling at a snail’s pace in Aberdeen, we headed north to Forks.

Since we moved from Oregon to Ohio when our oldest was only 5, our kids have no memory of ever seeing the ocean. We were never able to make it to the Atlantic. Michaela has watched too many shark week commercials and Jaws and such, so she had developed a phobia of the ocean. She believed that the water was just teeming with fish out to get her. Any time she even saw a picture of the ocean, she shuddered in horror. We kept telling her it would be different when she actually saw it.

As we drove up Hwy 101, I was amazed that we hadn’t had even a peek of the ocean. But as we got within 30 miles of Forks, I noticed the smell of salt in the air. I rolled down my window. I squealed, ‘It has to be just on the other side of those trees!” Within minutes, we were able to see the tiniest snippet of ocean. I was screaming with delight, “Looky, looky!” Joe, too, was screaming at his crew to look at the ocean. We couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. Joe pulled over at Beach 4.

We couldn’t see it yet though. The trees were thick, but there was a trail. Joe took all the kids except Nehemiah on the trail. Nehemiah was in desparate need of a diaper change. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to see their expressions as they saw the ocean for the first time, but delighted that they were going.

Petra had decided to wait to go down with me. So after changing Nehemiah we headed down the steep path through the rain forest down to the ocean. I passed some people along the way and asked if some super excited kids had come through there. They said enthusiastically, “Yes.” I told them how they had never seen the ocean. They thought that was pretty cool.

Finally, I got down to the beach. Everyone had their shoes off and one of them was already wet to his waist (Elijah). Michaela stood tentatively but admiringly on the edge of the water. I walked up and put my arm around her. She said, “Mom, it is amazing!….But I am not going any further than this.”

A few moments later we saw some sea lions just off the shore about 20 feet, playing in the waves. We were in awe of how close they were to us.

Michaela soon realized that she could stand sideways and plant her feet in the sand and have the waves run over her feet. Josiah and Elijah joined her at her side. Kira had taken the little girls up to the restroom. Azariah stayed further back on the edge of the water.

Soon Joe, Josiah, Michaela and Elijah were inching further and further out. A big wave came crashing in. Joe and Josiah made a run for the beach. Michaela stayed put laughing. She and Elijah got drenched from head to foot. So much for not going in any further.

All fears of the ocean absolved that day. We had some fun getting sandy and wet…some more than others. We all were amazed at the vastness and greatness of the ocean. We all were amazed that God had brought us here together.

We went on to Forks and saw the sights…the Swans’ house, the high school, the hospital. We also drove to La Push…”it’s La Push”, which was very beautiful. In some ways Forks was disturbing, in other ways, disappointing, and in others, delightful. By 5:30, we decided we needed to head on home. By the grace of God (and with the help of sugar and caffeine), we made it home at 1:30 am.

While I would have rather we had been able to drive all together, I am so thankful that we all got to see the ocean together…building memories, building relationships. And we all got to support Michaela overcome her fear and in her interests. This was another September 11th, that I will never forget.

Additional Note: We are searching for a vehicle that can transport at least 10 people and tow our trailer. We would also like it to get more than 15 mpg. Our thought was a Suburban that we could add a fourth row rear facing seat. If it was a 9 passenger Suburban, and we added the rear facing seat, it would seat 11-12. Nine passenger Suburbans  are hard to find though. If you know of one in Oregon, or possibly Southern Washington, that is priced REALLY cheaply, could you please let us know? You can send me a message at mamak@jokars.com. Thanks.

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Final Day, But the Beginning

We woke bright and early Sunday morning to another beautiful day with the smell of pine in the air. It was very brisk out and Joe and Azariah, who were asleep in the truck without blankets, were very cold. Josiah and Elijah were in the car, but I had made them get blankets the night before. We were on the road by 6 cruising along the beautiful eastern mountains of Oregon.

I have to admit I was very scared as we descended those hills toward Central Oregon. I kept repeating to myself. “I trust You. I trust You.” We had used up everything we had. We had used the kid’s money for some of the gas, antifreeze, and food. We had used our debit card hoping it wouldn’t be rejected. We had no idea where we were going or what we were going to do. We figured we would boondock at Walmart that night.

As we came down the last hill toward Prineville, Joe called me on the cell. He said how about we stop at the parent’s on the way to Redmond. (What was in Redmond? Walmart and also some friends we thought of stopping and seeing.) So we headed to the first parent on the way…Joe’s dad.

At Joe’s dad’s house, his uncle (who lives with him) and dad were getting ready to go have breakfast and invited us along. Azariah enthusiastically said yes and exclaimed, “We haven’t eaten for four days!”

Because we had very limited funds and were unable to stop, our food for the trip consisted of bagels, chips, popcorn, dry cereal, and jerky. By the time we rolled into Prineville at 10, we had a very hungry crew.

During breakfast Joe’s uncle shared about how he had a house that we was trying to sell but because of the economy it was just sitting empty right now. He and Joe’s dad also needed some work done. His dad is trying to clean up his house to get it ready to sell. Also, the house we are in needs a little TLC. They wondered if we could make a trade. We help them and in turn we get a house.

After talking it over, we decided we would take them up on the offer. We don’t know how long we will be here. We set out on this journey saying we would be the hands and feet of Jesus. Well, we are very much needed here, and we will stay as long as we are needed.

I am still amazed how everything worked out. By the end of the day, Joe’s mom gave us food, we were given some cash, and we had a partially furnished house to sleep in.

This house is amazing! The water works so well! And no rust!!! I have an enormous kitchen with the largest oven and fridge! I am flabbergasted!

The kids are also loving it for the most part. Michaela misses her friends, but she does really like the area. Joe, Josiah, Michaela, Elijah, and Azariah are all working over at Joe’s dad’s on the house and yard. That was one thing we really wanted…the ability to work together as a family.

Some have asked whether the adventure is over. No, I don’t think so. We still have plans to go to the coast in the trailer and to Washington. But for now, we are here where we are needed.

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