Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

31 July 2010

to the Kenai Peninsula

On July 31, we left Anchorage and drove around Turnagain Arm to the Kenai Peninsula. We were again amazed by the beauty of God's creation all around us!

The snow line is basically at sea level here!

We passed right by the Portage Glacier on the way to Sterling.

The glacier is behind Elizabeth in the middle picture, so I was very pleased with how much of the glacier's detail the zoom feature on our little camera was able to capture!

(Click on the collages to see larger versions of the pictures.)

30 July 2010

Happy Half Birthday!

As we travel, we repeatedly answer the question: How old is she? Someone with a very vivid little memory took note of the answer: She's four and a half. And she repeatedly wondered (out loud to us) when we were going to celebrate her Half Birthday.

So we agreed to celebrate.

Because life is just too short not to...

We also had fun taking pictures with her (new-to-her) matching doll. Her name is Elizabeth Marie. I wonder if Grandpa and Grandma W realize how happy they've made a little girl – and her (sometimes-still-a-little-girl-at-heart) Mommy!

We enjoyed a walk down Memory Lane today. I'm so thankful for digital pictures!

Newborn... Brand New!

One Year Old!

Two Years Old!

Two and a Half Years Old!

Three Years Old!

Three and a Half Years Old!

Four Years Old!

We thank our gracious Lord over and over again for blessing us with our precious little girl!

29 July 2010

“Be Still, my Soul!”

We recently sang a favorite hymn of mine – one that the Lord has used to minister repeatedly to me.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone;
Sorrow forgot; love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Words: Katharina von Schlegel, 1752
Music: Jean Sibelius, 1899

This hymn was re­port­ed­ly the fav­or­ite of Er­ic Lid­dell, the ath­lete who be­came fa­mous in the 1924 Olym­pics for re­fus­ing to run on Sunday (as seen in Char­i­ots of Fire). Lid­dell lat­er became a mis­sion­ary in Chi­na and was im­pris­oned dur­ing World War II. He is said to have taught this hymn to others in the pri­son camp, where he event­u­al­ly died of a brain tu­mor.

You can see two more not-so-familiar stanzas at

28 July 2010

Hatcher Pass (in AK)

We were encouraged to visit Hatcher Pass during the afternoon break at the conference we attended near Wasilla, AK. It was certainly worth the short drive there!

We are constantly amazed by the beauty of God's creation! One can only capture so much in a picture...

From the church parking lot, we could catch glimpses of the 27-mile-long, four-mile-wide Matanuska Glacier! We did not have time to get any closer than the camera zoom allowed...

26 July 2010

The Alaska Zoo

We've been enjoying wonderful fellowship with the folks here in Anchorage. We had a full Lord's Day yesterday, presenting our future ministry in Uruguay, enjoying a delicious potluck lunch with the church leadership as well as a restaurant outing after the evening service with some of the church folks – and, most of all, asking for prayer. (Do pray for us!)

God's people here have been very good to us! As I type, John Mark is in the church kitchen, trying his hand at baking a Fresh Red Salmon Fillet. By "fresh" I mean that the fish was swimming up the river two days ago!

On Saturday, we enjoyed an outing to The Alaska Zoo here in Anchorage. (The pastor's family has a year pass and invited us to come along.) The cool (wear-a-jacket!) weather was a definite highlight!

This zoo specializes in Alaskan animals, but they do have some others as well. Elizabeth's favorite was the Bald Eagle. (There's a framed photograph of a Bald Eagle hanging in the church's apartment where we're staying; it was great fun to see one up close – in real life!)

And the favorites for the whole family were unanimously Alaska's Three Bears: Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Polar Bears.

As we travel, we have been abundantly blessed as a family with these types of icing-on-the-cake experiences – and we are humbly thankful.

24 July 2010


We're enjoying our time in Alaska. (Yes, I know! I need to post pictures. Stay tuned...)

There truly are long days and short "nights" here (more like twilight in some places).

I snapped this photo in Fairbanks on July 12.

We're certainly enjoying the cool weather! If Google Weather is correct, Greenville is experiencing 90s with almost 60% humidity today; Anchorage, in contrast, is in the mid-50s! And I'm very happy (and I imagine Baby Boy is, too!) with the light (refreshing!) drizzle we're getting off and on...

23 July 2010

July 23: Update on Jonatán

Thank-you, more than words can say, for your continued prayers for Jona.

We Steels are on the road again, presenting our future ministry in Uruguay; we very much appreciate your interest and continued prayer for Jona (and requests for updates!) – especially now as he finally finishes the chemo treatments.
Jona has been looking forward to this milestone; the final chemo treatments have been very taxing, due in part to their cumulative effect. Consequently, he has had to take more breaks in between, resulting in a later finish date.
We are praising the Lord for giving grace, strength, and (amazing!) ability to Jona to "bounce back" after each chemo treatment. 
  • Please continue to pray! Jona is scheduled to have his last two chemo treatments the weeks of July 26 and August 2, if things go as planned.
  • Pray that Jona will do well with the final chemo treatments and will have the strength needed to start school again in mid-August.
  • Pray that the tests the doctors will run after the final round will show no sign of cancer.
  • Pray for wisdom and grace for the family, especially as they minister to others going through similar trials. Esther again commented on the many opportunities the Lord has given them to minister to other families who have children with cancer.
Thank-you again for praying! We truly appreciate the many ways you all have been an encouragement to the entire family.

22 July 2010

in Anchorage

The weather in Anchorage continued to be cool and rainy. I must admit that I enjoyed it, and the clouds resting on the mountains had a beauty all their own.

Taking advantage of a respite from the rain, Pastor and Mrs. F took us on a whirlwind tour of Anchorage. Here are some views of the city and surrounding mountains. (Do you get the impression that we love mountains?!)

We were constantly intrigued by how low the snow-line is in this area; Anchorage is basically at sea-level. We were told that when the last snow finally melts, it's time for snow to start falling again...

Other interesting sites in Anchorage included: The Chocolate Waterfall!

This tourist attraction trap "is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world" – with 3,400 pounds of real liquid chocolate! Elizabeth wanted to wade in it. As you might imagine, it's not edible; but yummy samples of chocolate candy are offered elsewhere in the store.
We also visited The Fur Factory. Very interesting! I especially like the carved moose racks. Amazing works of art!

Elizabeth and I were also invited to participate in a morning outing to Imaginarium at the Anchorage Museum. We're thankful for these opportunities for fellowship with individual believers in the churches that are each in some way sending us to Uruguay. Our Lord has indeed blessed us abundantly!

20 July 2010

to Anchorage

The weather was overcast and somewhat rainy on the return trip to the Anchorage area. But the mountains – and the "Christmas trees" – were as beautiful as ever!

The greatest highlight was seeing a Mama Grizzly with three cubs on the highway! (Cub #3 didn't participate in my picture.) And we were thankful to be on the inside, looking out!

The cubs (especially!) look like Teddy Bears – but don't be fooled!


A highlight of our time in Fairbanks was going to Denali National Park & Preserve with the L Family: Carrie and Steven and Samuel and Elizabeth. (Thank-you so much, dear friends!)

There was so much to see! Gods creation is truly amazing!

We enjoyed a (relatively) short hike in spite of a cool drizzle. We actually found the weather refreshing, and the overcast skies provided optimal lighting for pictures.

The wildflowers were spectacular!

And seeing the wildlife (including two bull moose and a family of ptarmigans) up close was very exciting!

On the way back to Fairbanks, we stopped at shops near the park entrance. The knotty wood is quite a novelty for those of us who come from the Outside to visit; it is often used as porch posts.

(Click on the collages to see larger versions of the pictures.)

in Fairbanks, AK

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Fairbanks, AK. We had opportunity to share our future ministry in two churches there and enjoyed catching up with a (surprising!) number of friends from college days who currently reside and minister there.

We (re)introduced several friends to Uruguayan yerba mate – and were told that a local college coffee shop now serves a Mate Latte! Unfortunately, we ran out of time to pursue that adventure.

Alaskan evenings can easily include the 10:00 p.m. range; it's still quite bright outside! So, Carrie and I shared many memories on our evening walks. Our due dates for our baby boys are exactly four weeks apart!

We finally got to watch at least part of a World Cup game – because Uruguay was playing, of course!

Among other things we enjoyed quality time, reading a favorite book: Buttercup Hill by Eileen Berry.

We now miss our friends...

16 July 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Thankfully celebrating eleven years as best friends for life!
And praying for many more!

03 July 2010

to Fairbanks, AK

The drive to Fairbanks was beautiful! We enjoyed a very clear day – although not clear enough to see Denali (Athabaskan for The High One), also known as Mount McKinley.

But all the other mountains and Christmas trees everywhere were beautiful!

In Alaska!

Elizabeth and I arrived in Anchorage on June 30; John Mark drove in from Canada later that night. We spent our first few days in the Palmer/Wasilla area, catching up and enjoying fellowship with Dad and Mom W (now also Grandpa and Grandma W for Elizabeth).

They really do have "bright nights" in Alaska! The following picture was taken after 10:00 p.m. If the "setting sun" weren't quite so bright, you would see the glacier that's coming down one of those mountains.

Note the pleasant 60 degrees on the outdoor thermometer!