Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Cookies

This past Sunday & Monday were Cookie Days at our house. That means that Laura uses a lot of butter (11 pounds) and powdered sugar (11 pounds) and makes a variety (20 different recipes) of Christmas Cookies. Our friend Brenda came over and helped on Monday. With all of the time and energy that we've been putting into Beauty and the Beast, it wasn't surprising to see what Laura's inspiration for Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies was!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Now it has fur!

Rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast are going well. Laura and I are now doing some dialog for parts that we're actually in. I visited with our hair dresser earlier this week and now we've got some fur on my head!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Beast's head starts to take shape.

Here are some pictures of the process that we're using to create my character's head for the Valley Performing Arts production of Beauty and the Beast. Laura is Belle and I am The Beast, although I prefer to be known as The Prince! ;)

From Beauty and th...

It was an odd experience to sit there with a plastic bag on my head while the taxidermist poured expanding foam onto me. It gets quite hot as it sets up. In the end, we'll have a Beast-ly head that will sit quite nicely on my own without slipping and sliding around too much!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

ELCA Youth Gathering - Dome

Just a quick update before we leave San Antonio and head for Houston. Everyone is having a great time and looking forward to our next adventures. Here is a picture of the Alamo Dome where we have been having our mass gatherings. - Pastor Andy

Friday, June 16, 2006

JAM Trip Details - July 11-21, 2006

Next Meeting: We will gather again after service (11:00 a.m.) on Sunday, June 25th at the church.

Cost: As we talked about on Sunday, the cost per family will be $500 for the trip. Each of you has already paid a $100 deposit, so the balance is $400. Here is a breakdown of how that figure was arrived at.

Per Person Item                                    Total Cost
$690 Airplane Tickets $10,350
$130 Gathering Hotel ($95 per room per night) $1,900
$235 Gathering Registration $3,525
$85 Van Rental $1,220
$40 Van Gasoline $600
$160 Food $2,400
$160 Admissions/Miscellaneous/Reserve Fund $2,560
$1,500 Totals $22,555
Here is an idea of our current financial situation:

Beginning Checkbook Balance                          $15,300
Parental Contributions ($400 x 13) +$5,200 $20,500
Balance of Gathering Registration -$2,025 $18,475
Airline Tickets -$10,350 $8,125
Hotel, Van, Gasoline, Food -$6,120 $2,005
Admissions/Miscellaneous/Reserve Fund -$2,560 -$555
Rummage Sale Profits already in hand $2,055 $1,500

All of our work fundraising has paid off and we will be able to afford this trip!

Contact Information:
  • Pastor Andy – 232-8386 (I am using a different cell phone for the summer)
  • Kay Peterson – 232-4034
  • Elizabeth Hanson – 232-6402 (She will be carrying my cell phone during the trip)
  • (We will try and post photos and updates here during the trip)
  • Gathering Infoline – 1-888-411-ELCA (3522)
  • Radisson Hotel San Antonio Market Square – 210-224-7155

Flight Info: The bulk of the group (including myself on the return trip) will be flying together.

  • Tuesday, July 11, 2006 Northwest Airlines Flight #844
    depart 9:40pm - Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
    arrive 5:57am - Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
    Plane Change (1hr 13min - ground time)
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006 Northwest Airlines Flight #3362
    depart 7:10am Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
    arrive - 10:00am Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Return:Friday, July 21, 2006 - Northwest Airlines Flight #1156
    depart 12:45pm - Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
    arrive 3:30pm - Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
    Plane Change (1hr 45min - ground time)
  • Northwest Airlines Flight #845
    depart 5:15pm - Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
    Friday, July 21, 2006 arrive 8:01pm - Anchorage International Airport (ANC)

Kay Peterson will be organizing transportation to the airport. If you would like me to add a frequent flyer number to your reservation, please e-mail me the number ( and I will take care of that. Remember, all passengers must have government issued identification of some sort.

Itinerary: After arriving in Houston, the group will collect baggage and then I will fly in at 10:45 a.m., followed by Elizabeth Hanson, her girls, and Kara Larson. Then we will all drive to San Antonio to participate in the ELCA Youth Gathering. I will not be staying at the same hotel as our group, since I will be working with the Learning and Communications Technology teams at the event. Wednesday through Saturday nights we will be at the Radisson Market Square.

Sunday we will drive to Houston and work with a Camp Noah program for children displaced by the hurricanes last fall. We will either be staying at a church or with host families. As soon as we know, I will let you know so that we know if we need to bring sleeping bags and mattresses or not. We do know that wherever we stay will be air conditioned. We are planning side trips to NASA’s space center ( and to Schlitterbahn Waterpark ( and probably some other places as well.

Health Forms: Your health form needs to be filled out and and returned to the church by our June 25th meeting. E-mail or IM me if you lost yours and need another.

Please contact me if you have any other questions or concerns.

Monday, June 05, 2006

ELCA Youth Gathering 2006 - Musicians and Speakers

The list of musicians and speakers for the ELCA Youth Gathering this summer in San Antonio has been released and all I can say is WOW! This is quite a line-up of powerful thinkers and speakers. Bishop Hanson, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, and lots of others. WOW!

Click here for the full list.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pictures and Stories to Share - May 15 @ 7:00 p.m.

Andy, Mr. Li, and Laura in the Hill's apartment on our last night.

These were the sorts of traffic conditions that Mr. Li had to deal with!

One of the many advantages to visiting China while my relatives lived there was the fact that they have a driver. This meant that instead of having to learn the subway system, chase down taxis, and learn our own way around town, we could just tell Mr. Li where we needed to go and he would figure out how to get us there. Mr. Li would tell us how many minutes it would take, warn us about traffic jams, take us to places with safe food for our delicate Western stomachs, and deal with the craziness that is driving in Shanghai!

The rule about driving in Shanghai is that you don’t follow the rules. The drivers, most of whom are full-time drivers, are not aggressive, but they are very opportunistic and very defensive. I watched Mr. Li move his hand to prepare to honk the horn or flash his lights as he made a left on red in an intersection, drove our van down the bike lane, and avoided collisions with the millions of pedestrians, bikers, and scooter riders on the roads. He had go be prepared for road construction with no warning signs whatsoever, traffic using the road in the opposite direction, and all sorts of distractions that would have confused me or caused a wreck. Mr. Li was not only a good driver, he became a very memorable part of our trip. He was our guide through Shanghai with all of its cultural differences, wonder, a beauty. When he dropped us off at the airport, he told us, in his limited English, that he and all of China were happy that we had been able to visit. While I’m sure that is a bit of an exaggeration, it was wonderful to have a Chinese friend and guide.

Laura and I would like to invite all those who are interested to join us so that we may share more memories of Mr. Li and our time in China. Please join us at Good Shepherd on Monday, May 15th at 7:00 p.m. We will share some pictures, videos, and a bite or two of Chinese food. If you can’t make it, or you’d like a preview of the pictures, click on the China Trip Photos link in the Links section to see some of our almost 700 pictures! If you are thinking of coming, don’t worry, we won’t show all 700. We’ll plan on being done around 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Local Chinese Neighborhood Tour

Monday we were able to go on the most wonderful tour. We met up with some other tourists and expats and our three guides at a subway station. After that we headed to a wet market (it's wet because of the water that they run over the live fish that are for sale there) and after quite a bit of walking we ended up at Aunt Chen's house. We made some wonton or dumplings, learning how to fold them so they would stay together, and then cooked them. After that we had a variety of traditional Chinese foods. On the table you can see Stir-Fried Peanuts (with my chopsticks in them), Deep-Fried marinated Tofu to the left of that, some Marinated Beef, and some Tea-Soaked Hard Boiled Eggs. The eggs look rather bad because they've been soaking in dark tea, but they are actually quite tasty. They're one of the things that you see for sale from the street vendors. I had been interested in trying them for awhile and was glad to have an opportunity to try them in a "safe" place. We had a wonderful time with the Chens and enjoyed their hospitality. We continued on down a few other alleys and eventually made it back to our starting point. It was a wonderful tour and will surely be a highlight of our trip!

Monday, March 20, 2006

We can never pass an opportunity to eat Dairy Queen. Here we are enjoying a Green Tea Chocolate Chunk Blizzard at the Yu Yuan Market in Shanghai.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Flower Doggies!

We made it safely to Shanghai, spending many hours in the air on the way. Thankfully, we were able to fly in World Business Class much of the way which made for a much more pleasant experience. About 36 hours after we got on our first plane we arrived in Shanghai, where we met my Aunt Louise, Uncle Garry, and their driver, Mr. Li. They presented Laura with a beautiful flower arrangement, probably the only kind of dog that she'll ever like. (They don't bark, they don't need much attention, the won't bite...)

We spent our first day (Thursday, Tuesday just didn't exist for us) seeing some of the sights of Shanghai including the Fabric Market, the "Fake Market" (lots of stuff with logos on it that may not have been manufactured by the owner of the logo), an overwhelmingly large Chinese grocery store, and Century Park in the middle of Shanghai. It was all lots of fun and we're enjoying the weather. It's in the low 60s. Yesterday was fairly clear, with a bit of smog. Today (Friday) looks a bit more overcast, but perphaps that will change. We are heading out soon for tea. Lots more to come! -AA

Monday, March 13, 2006

Chinese Visa Saga

We are really excited about our trip to China which starts in just a few hours. We've been cleaning, planning, packing, and getting ready for the last few days as we prepare to head out. We will be visiting relatives of mine who are living in Shanghai for a couple of years while my uncle finishes his career. Laura has been busy reading guides to travel in China and we’ve been e-mailing back and forth to figure out what we need to do as we prepare. We never thought we’d visit China and are quite excited to have the opportunity to do so and to have relatives to be our guides! Of course, we may be exhausted by the time we get done because my Aunt Louise has about a million things planned for us to do!

In order to travel to China, it is necessary to have a Chinese Visa. Many countries either don’t require visas or they sell them at the point of entry. China requires you to get one in advance. We figured that we could just fill out a form online, maybe send a copy of our passport, and we’d get our visas back. It’s just not that simple. You have to either go in person, or send someone on your behalf, to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. or to the Chinese Consulate General’s office to which your region of the country is assigned. Ours needed to go to the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco. You can pay someone a fee to go and represent you, you can go yourself, or you can get lucky and have friends who live in the Bay Area. As we do have friends who live there, we picked the third option!

Now we just have to hope that the spots of mold that are growing on our passports because the USPS dropped them in some water don't keep us from going anywhere that we want to go!

It sure seems wierd that we'll get on a plane in Portland at noon on Tuesday, get off ten hours later in Tokyo during the late afternoon on Wednesday! Coming back we get in about six hours before we leave! This will be my first trip across the International Date Line!