In the past year my wife and I became “proud” owners of a small dry cabin on the Kenai Peninsula, near a boat launch on the Kenai River. Now, Alaskans know that the Kenai River is the prime fishing river in Alaska which can be easily accessed by the Alaska road system. In addition, people who know me, know that I like to fish. When people greet me I’m often asked two questions. The first question I’m asked is, “How are you doing?” But the second question people ask is, “Have you been fishing lately?”

As any landowner knows, owning property comes with responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep, and then all those little projects one may want to do. I have learned that a maintenance task which looks easy isn’t necessarily as easy as I thought. I am now at a point in my “fix-it experience” where I estimate the time I think it will take to do a job, and then multiply that time by 3! In fact, often, such as with this cabin, the jobs takes much longer, and are more expensive than I expected.

We did not build this cabin we now own. Another man built the cabin and had it for sale about a mile from the small piece of property Kathy and I bought. Part of the purchase price included moving the cabin, but then it was our responsibility to paint the cabin, get it set up for our use, and hook it up to electricity and propane. On its previous site the cabin had been on natural gas.

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For me, it was the propane conversion that took the majority of my effort. I thought, or I assumed, it would be simple to hook up a propane tank to the natural gas line, which was already part of the cabin. I understood that I would need to convert the space heater and the stove from natural gas use to propane use. But, the more I investigated, the more complicated this process seemed to be. Actually, while I am not a natural handyman, I have learned that I can pretty much do anything, as long as I make enough mistakes to learn. But . . . there are some areas where that first mistake might be disastrous, like with natural gas, or propane. So, I called a professional to install the conversion kit for the heater, and to help with the hookup of the propane tank. That was expensive, but it was a smart move.

Nevertheless, when I went to look for parts, I started at Spenard Builders in Palmer. They sold me two parts, but said I really needed to talk with a plumbing contractor in Wasilla. When I called this contractor, they sent me to Suburban Propane in Anchorage, who then sent me to Central Plumbing and heating. Central Plumbing sold me a regulator, but they also directed me to Alaska Rubber to make the hose to hook up the tank to the gas line. I still had to get the conversion kit from a business in Anchorage, who wouldn’t sell it to me because I wasn’t a licensed contractor. However, when I put them on the phone with the Kenai business which was installing the part the next day, they reluctantly sent it with me, as long as I gave it to the contractor. After about 10 stops, the technician from the company that sells the heaters came, and the propane was connected, the heater working.

That still left the stove. I have an owner’s manual for this appliance. But, after reading the explanation about how to convert from gas to propane I still had some questions. Harvey Kolberg was on the peninsula and he stopped by and worked with me. But, the manual was confusing. For example, when the manual indicated that we should turn the adjustment valves counter-clockwise, were we to look at the valve from the front, or the back? Were we tightening, or loosening? Harvey called the company and they admitted the manual could be confusing. He got some of the conversion done, but didn’t have all the tools he needed. On my 3rd trip to work on this issue, I too called the company, and finally, with all the tools in hand, finished the job. I’m sure someone who does this work professionally, could have done these jobs simply, quickly, and without the questions we ran into. Finally, on July 19, with Kathy and I in the cabin, we had the electric and the propane, and all the appliances working. . . I think!

As I said, “I can pretty much do anything as long as I make enough mistakes to learn. But . . . there are some areas where that first mistake might be disastrous.” With the complexity of seemingly simple tasks in mind, do your heart and soul ever fill with awe when you look at the Creation around you? I know the questions I had with the simple tasks of hooking up electric that was already wired. I know the mistakes and the trouble I experienced with the simple hooking up of propane to a building which was already plumbed. Yet, we are told about the creation around us, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31) God didn’t make mistakes. The Lord created our world, and still cares for it. The days and seasons and years continue, and God provides land and water, sun and rain, warmth and cold. Even with all the lack of wisdom which humans show in stewardship of God’s gift, we are still blessed by the world around us, by the beauty we experience, by the food we eat and the places we live. God is good!

The Psalmist wrote, “3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) We look at the creation around us, at the complexity, at the order, at the beauty, and the world teaches us about God. Creation teaches us about the power, and the wisdom, and the creative nature of our Lord. The world around us also teaches us about His love for us. The One who created us also, according to Psalm 8, cares for us. He cares so much He sent His own son to die for us.

The cabin we bought has taught me humility . . . again. I am thankful for friends and professionals who helped me. But, the complexity of these simple tasks has reminded me to be in awe of the beauty and the order found in creation around us. And, to know that the powerful Lord who created the world, and continues to keep it working, is the one who has reached out to care for me and to save me, gives me comfort and hope.

A Child of God, Living in Awe, and Comfort, and Hope, Because of my Creator and My Savior,

Pastor Jonathan

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