Sunday, February 14, 2010

Surviving Winter...

First of all, I must apologize for taking so long to give an update... life has been a little busier than I expected! Second, I want to give praise to God for getting our house rented since I last updated the blog! A wonderful family moved in last November, and signed a one year lease! Wow, I can't believe its been 4 months since I wrote last! Well, let me dive right in...

Ok, I realize that we haven't officially survived our first winter in Alaska, yet, and yes, its only February, and we could still see some more extremely cold temps and more snow, but we've survived the hardest part (in my opinion), the dark! I must admit that the darkness is my least favorite part about Alaska! When the sun doesn't rise till about 11:30 am and starts setting at about 2:30 pm, that just makes for a LONG night! I would say that what I found is not that it made me depressed or anything like that, it made me sluggish! It's so hard to get up and going when its dark outside, but praise God, the sun is back! It is now rising about 8:30 am and setting around 6:00 pm, so we're having a pretty good day!

So, what do we do in Alaska in the winter and in the dark? Well, we have gone to a bunch of hockey games! Avery is even enjoying them! Basically, you have to stay busy! Fellowship is a huge part of making it through the winter in my opinion! Hockey games, going to friends' houses, wandering around Barnes and Noble, church events, etc... When its really cold, its kind of hard to do anything outdoors, but Rob has managed to go snow machining a couple of times. A couple here at our church were kind enough to basically give us their snow machines! They don't use them anymore, and just told us to enjoy them! How wonderful that God even looks out for our wants as well!

Legistically, winter in Alaska has been interesting. We have to plug in our cars every night so the engine block stays warm... Snow pants, snow boots, and down parkas, are all new additions to our wardrobes! Having your feet completely come out from under you as you walk across an icy parking lot is a new experience too! Fortunately, I was able to recover pretty fast! Driving on snow and ice has been a little precarious at times! I've actually witnessed two pretty serious wrecks, and driven by countless others! I can't tell you how many times I've gone to put on the brakes and my car just keeps going! That's pretty scary, especially when you're coming up on an intersection!

Though winter in Alaska is a world apart from winter in South Carolina, I must say that it is BEAUTIFUL! My absolute favorite thing is the snow on the trees! It is soo beautiful! Especially when its sunny and the sky is bright blue! Gorgeous! Oh, and the sunsets are are amazing! The colors are just breathtaking! We got a chance to go to Anchorage again New Year's weekend, and the drive was just as beautiful as when we did it in the fall! The Alaska wilderness truly is awesome!

I'm told that the summers here are just wonderful, so I'm looking forward to that! I have to say again that the people here are just amazing! We've been so blessed in so many ways! God has been so good and gracious to us! Rob is still finding it a bit hard to believe that he's playing music for a living, but just loving it! The boys are doing well, and really like it here! They've made some great friends, and don't seem to mind the cold and the snow at all! Avery is awesome! She'll be turning 2 on the 22nd of this month! I can't believe it! Me? I'm trying to soak everything in! I still find it a bit mind-blowing that I'm here, but I see the hand of God in what we're doing. We've come across some situations that have shown us we're here for more than just Rob playing music. We're excited about what God is going to continue to do in us and through us while we're in the Far North!

I will try to update more frequently from now on! We are going home to South Carolina for a vist this coming Monday! We are so excited to get to see friends and family! Thanks so much for your continued prayers!

The Ruccis

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rob's Moose Encounter

So there was a moose in our church parking lot the night before last. Our pastor called me, as I'd asked him earlier to let me know if he ever saw one out there. She spent about 45 minutes eating the choke cherry tree branches around the parking lot. Although he assures me she wasn't THAT big, (she was roughly the size of a mini-van), her head was dead level with the roof overhang on Pastor Paul's house. After inching my way closer over a LONG period of time, I ended up about 20 feet away, snapping pictures like the paparazzi at Britney Spears' re-hab release party. At that point she (the moose) decided she'd had enough of the photo op and turned toward me. She pinned back her ears and blew steam (or smoke) out her nose, then started moving toward me. I actually never realized how well I could move through snow wearing entirely too much clothing, carrying cameras and lenses. It was kind of like Carl Lewis in a parka, screaming like a little girl, across the church parking lot toward the door. As I dove through the door Mary Beth was holding open, I noticed my wife laughing hysterically at my near death experience, only to turn around and realize that the moose had actually only taken about two steps toward me. It was still an impressive run.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Months In!

Wow! I can't believe we've been in Alaska two months already! In the past two months the weather has gone from temps in the 90's and almost continuous daylight, to a GORGEOUS Fall with perfect temps in the 60-70 range, to snow falling this past week and temps dipping down into the 20's! My Southern mind is having trouble comprehending all of this!

Well, where to start?... There really is soooo much to share, and I apologize for taking so long to getting around to it! I guess I'll start at the beginning... When we first got here, we experienced something truly brand new! SMOKE! Wildfires were burning hundreds of miles away, but when the wind blew just right, we got tons of smoke! Some days it was so bad you could barely see across the street! Fortunately that only lasted about two weeks and then the rainy season started! After a few weeks of rain, we were treated to an ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS fall! Unfortunately, fall only lasted about 3 weeks, and now we are waiting for the snow to come upon us! It has actually started snowing already, but it hasn't been cold enough for it to stick for more than half a day, yet...

Enough about the weather, on to more important things, like the wonderful people we've met here, and how God is continuing to amaze us with His provision! Seriously, I'm almost speechless at how WONDERFUL the people at this church are! They have welcomed us with open arms, and gone completely out of their way to make us feel at home! I think this is especially making an impact on me, because Rob naturally draws people to him, and I'm more of a "behind the scenes" person. The ladies of Fairbanks First Assembly have just drawn me in and made me feel at home! I've been invited out for coffee, gone to the movies for a "ladies night", flown to Seattle for a "girls weekend" with some ladies I barely knew, and on and on...God has truly blessed me! Rob has had a few adventures of his own... He went fishing for Silver Salmon down in Valdez and brought home about 50-60 lbs. of fish for us to put in the freezer! He's been four-wheeling out in the middle of nowhere, gone moose hunting (didn't see anything), and toured a goldmine. Coleman went on a Youth trip right after we got here to Denali National Park and went camping and whitewater rafting, then a few weeks later he went paintballing with the Youth group too! One of my prayers before we came was that the boys (especially Coleman) would make friends easily! Believe it or night the very first night of Youth that Coleman attended, he made a new friend! I guess I shouldn't be in shock by now, but I was blown away at the goodness of God! Riley has made quite a few new buddies both at church and school, and so far they are both enjoying Alaska, and are eagerly awaiting the snow! We've also been on a few adventures as a family since we got here... we went four-wheeling with a family at the church, went to Anchorage with our Executive Pastors, which took us right past Denali, went hiking at Creamer's Field with the Revells, and have been to several different families' houses to eat!

God has continued to amaze me at His provision for us! Most of you know that we either sold, or left most of our furniture in storage... we only brought the boys' beds, Avery's crib and highchair, a desk, and mine and Rob's king size mattresses, not our bedroom suite. Well, we bought a metal frame to put our mattresses on, and were getting "creative" with storing our clothes between one dresser and rubbermaid tubs under the bed. After we had been here only a few weeks, we were offered a brand-new bedroom suite from a local furniture store where someone in the church works! I couldn't believe it! We accepted it of course, and are now enjoying a VERY NICE, new, complete bedroom suite! It came with a king-size bed frame, a dresser and mirror, a chest of drawers, and a bedside table! I still can't believe it! God is so good to us!

Now, as far as Rob and worship goes... let's just say he's doing what he was created to do! Sure, a new job comes with a few stresses, but NOTHING like running a construction company! He's so much more relaxed now, and enjoys what he is doing! I'm truly amazed at how "giving in" to God has already produced so many benefits in our lives! The staff at Fairbanks First Assembly is fantastic! I really had no idea what to expect, because we really didn't know them when we agreed to come to Alaska. We have been so blessed by the staff already! We've already made friendships that will last a lifetime! Since coming to Alaska, Rob has written a song, which means more are on the way! He's also been asked to lead the Saturday morning worship service at the Youth Conference in Anchorage coming up in October. In addition to that, he's going to be the host for the Katinas, the main guests for the Youth Conference! Very cool! He gets to take them out to eat, show them around Anchorage, etc...

Well, I think we've established that we ARE in God's will for our lives, and that is right here, in Fairbanks, Alaska! I'm sure we've only been shown a glimpse of what God is going to contiue to do in us and through us here in Fairbanks!

I'm sure I've left a lot of things out, but now that we've gotten pretty much settled in, I should be able to update the blog more often. I have tons of pictures I need to post, so I'll keep working on those. The slide show of Seattle is from the one night we stayed on our way to pick up Rob's parents to start our vacation with them before we came to Alaska. If you double click on the picture it will take you to another page, which you then click "full screen" and it will enlarge the slide show... I hope you enjoy the pics! Everyone back home, we love you and miss you! Please keep in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you!

One more thing... we still need to either rent or sell our house back in Greenville! We would appreciate your prayers for that matter! I KNOW God will take care of that in His timing too!

The Ruccis

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am one with the land

Today I ate Muktuk. Our church secretary is a Yupik Eskimo. She brought it for me to eat. After saying something over me in Yupik, she explained that I had to eat it since I was a white man in the Eskimo land. She explained that Muktuk is Bow Head Whale blubber. Then she pulled out a jar of seal oil, which I was supposed to dip the Muktuk in. After eating a generous portion out of respect, I felt it prudent to inform my friends and family that if you ever find yourself hopelessly lost, starved from hunger and in the clutches of certain death and all that you find to eat is Muktuk dipped in Seal Oil, do yourself a HUGE favor and die. Death is a temporary passage into another life, which I believe is a better place to be anyway, if one has lived according to the Holy scriptures. Muktuk on the other hand, seeps like poison into the lining of your mouth and won’t leave. Ever. I’ve swallowed a can of Altoids, eaten raw limes, spoons full of sour cream, drank milk, coke, water and tea. I still taste Muktuk. It will not go away. I will gnaw off my own leg before I eat Muktuk again.
Still, I feel one with the land now, and I smell like a whale dipped in seal excretion.

Your friend,
Rob “muktuk suck” Rucci

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Made It!

Well, we finally made it to Alaska! We have just finished 10 wonderful days of vacation with Rob's family in Washington state! We had a wonderful time, and saw some absolutely beautiful places!! Rob's Uncle Steve lives 3 miles south of the Canadian border in a tiny little town called Curlew. What a beautiful place! We had a much needed time of relaxing and visiting with family before we headed to the far north! When things settle down a bit I will post some pictures of our vacation...

We arrived in Fairbanks around 3:30 pm this past Sunday afternoon. Pastor Paul, and Chris and Jeannie and crew were there to meet us at the airport! The boys were so excited to see their buds again! Then, that evening our new church home, First Assembly (Fairbanks), held a welcome barbeque in our honor! Rob spoke and basically shared with our new church family about the amazing ride we have been on the past few months! God has truly shown us how big and amazing He is, and how all we need to do is trust Him to provide for us, and He will. I'm not sure if all of you reading this know that we sold 6 vehicles in about two weeks right before we left Greenville! The amazing thing about that is that these vechicles were all pretty pricey, and Rob and I basically sat around with our jaws wide open as one vehicle after another was driven out of our driveway! Anyway, back to the barbeque... We had a wonderful time of meeting our new church family, and of course eating wonderful food. Then, to top things off, the church had a pantry shower for us! Let's just say there is so much stuff, I'm not sure where it is all going to fit! We have truly been blessed by our new church family!

Now that we are in Alaska, hopefully things will settle down a bit, and I will be able to post updates more frequently! To everyone in Greenville, we love you and miss you, but we KNOW we are doing what God wants us to do!

One final note... I just want to say again, for anyone reading this that may doubt God's will and blessing for your life... all you need to do is be WILLING to say , "YES". If you do that you will truly be amazed at the miracles that will unfold as you walk along that path of faith!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Leaving one good thing for another - Thoughts from Rob

Looking back at 39 years of living, it seems that life, at least my life, can be categorized into chapters, much like a book. I can look back, as most of us probably can, and identify defining moments or events that have transported me from one chapter to the next. This move to Alaska seems to be one of those page turning moments that leave you with some lament over the ending of one great chapter, yet looking forward with anticipation to what you might experience in the next. And so it is with our family that we run with eyes wide open, not away from something, but rather toward something else. Having gleaned so much from this last chapter in life, the characters in this story, the events we've shared with them, the great moments that you linger in for as long as they will allow and the deep bonds that transcend any written expression. So much to be thankful for and so many to thank for it. A great portion of who we are today is because of so many of you pouring yourselves into us. I am so humbled by it, that it's hard to talk about. Still we want to express our most sincere thanks to all of our friends and family that have supported us for many years and even in this move. Our relationships certainly don't end here, it just seems like the appropriate time to pause and take stock of our lives up to this point, before the next chapter begins. We're excited and a little scared, but most of all grateful, to God and all of you, as we leave one good thing for another.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Fond Farewell

Wow! Life has been a whirlwind of activity for us! We hit the panic button last Monday! We have accomplished alot, but not enough! Miracle of all miracles, the largest item we had to sell, (not our house), the ONE thing we just KNEW would NOT sell, our Airstream, is the first item that has sold! A couple from N.C. is coming to pick it up in the next few days! I mean, who would buy such a thing the way the economy is right now? God is in the miracle making business!

Now down to business... Last night our church, Greenville First Assembly, held a farewell reception for us. What a wonderful thing! Pastor Owen surprised me by handing me the mic, so I could say a few words! Any of you that know me, I am NOT a public speaker, that is Rob's job! In retrospect, I really had soooo much more I could have said, but I wasn't prepared. Greenville First Assembly has been such a wonderful place for us to call home for the past five years! We have all grown under Pastor Owen's leadership. The people of First Assembly are so wonderful! Our family has made lifelong friendships that we will hold onto dearly, no matter where we are! Our boys have been ministered to in such a powerful way under Pastor Kenny, and the Ranger Program! In those programs, multitudes of people have ministered to them. I will NEVER forget ALL the people that have had an influence on the lives of my children, even Avery, who has just started this life journey with us. I could go on and on, but it would take up way too much space, so, to EVERYONE at Greenville First Assembly, we say THANK YOU!

Rob also got to lead worship one final time last night. I know I'm biased, but HE ROCKS!

Well, our moving date is quickly approaching, and we have much to do! We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers!

The Ruccis