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Author: Julie Muenster

This is an unusual place

I attended the high school football game this afternoon here at Sunshine Bible Academy. It is SO different from Peshtigo!

  • Peshtigo has night games; the game here was at 2:00.
  • The Peshtigo field is next to a river; here, it’s next to a sunflower field.
  • Both teams prayed together after the game.

I love seeing teams step out in faith. When the game ended, I heard one of our guys run over to the other team and invite them to pray. The team that just beat them 42-6.

I am living in confidence…also an unusual place for me

I just know this is where God wants me. What a peaceful place to be after all these YEARS of praying and crying and uncertainty. I have not felt this confident and secure since…well, I can’t remember when.

That doesn’t mean life doesn’t have its challenges here. The job I thought would be a dream has turned out to be a struggle. But it keeps me close to God, and I appreciate that. It has been a humbling experience, coming in here thinking I would create relationships with these students and they would respect me and then we’d do all kinds of fun things together. I am no better than my predecessor or my colleague or anyone else. I have to rely on God’s strength every day. Though I wish my job were easier and more enjoyable, I am grateful for having to rely on God’s strength and knowing I’m still making a difference in these kids’ lives. And there’s always hope!

Miller, South Dakota

The local grocery store is about 13 miles away. It’s quite nice inside. Of course, it’s more expensive than Walmart—but 45 minutes closer! I often stop here after church to pick up a couple things to tide me over until the next Walmart run.

Miller has a population of about 1,500.



There’s art in downtown Miller! This is what I see when I step outside the grocery store.



This is the scene from the four-way stop in town. It’s a quaint place. I don’t know if there’s any kind of tourism draw here. I did find a museum, but can’t find out when it’s open.



This is the view from outside the Ace Hardware Store. There are no lines for parking—just make a spot!

The sky (and the campus)

I’m just fascinated by the big sky here. In fact, the day I took most of these photos there was a tornado warning! I got the alert while in my classroom, then headed for the cafeteria (which is in a lower level). They were just serving supper, so I got a free meal. 🙂

Here I was facing south over the sunflower field.

I just turned 90 degrees to the right, and the sky is completely different.

In these photos, I’m standing in the main parking lot of the school. Here, I’m facing north. You can see the old church building (The Chapel) where we have staff devotions on Monday mornings and services with the whole student body on Wednesday evenings.

When I turn slightly left, I see the main building where the offices and high school classrooms are. The cafeteria is in the basement. The girls dorm wing is off to the right.

I’m facing southeast, toward the old gym. This is also where the junior high classroom is located as well as the art room.

This is where my classroom is located! It’s the newest building on campus. It has a gym, wrestling room, music rooms, and elementary classrooms. And air conditioning!

The landscape

I am still adjusting to the landscape here. It’s so different from northeast Wisconsin.

First, there are much fewer trees. There are many on campus, and it’s obvious when driving that patches of trees were planted at one time. Most of the prairie is just that. It’s not completely flat—it’s gently rolling. Here’s the road/path where I take my evening walk. It goes up a slight rise and then down the other side to a slough (I just love that word!).

Soon after I arrived, a huge field of sunflowers burst into bloom on the southern end of campus. I could not capture their beauty or abundance (they stretched for hundreds of acres) in a photo.






I walked to the end of the farm road and took a video. I saw no people or buildings. There was no traffic noise—only the wind. It was a little unnerving.

I do miss my lake and woods, but I am fascinated by this landscape.

My classroom

This was the first view of my classroom. I couldn’t wait until Monday to explore; I got to work Sunday night.

There was a lot to sort through—shelves, file cabinets, bins, cupboards. I purged like a maniac. I found stuff like this. This wasn’t the only thing that was over 20 years old.

The first two official days of work were spent mostly in meetings. By Thursday, my room was a disaster area. Piles everywhere.

But by Friday night, I was ready to go!

Except for the lesson planning! I had to spend the weekend working on that!




Day 3: Sunday in Miller

Heidi Seaman (friend from 20 years ago who also lives here!) invited me to attend her church. The sign suggests the people here have a sense of humor!



Oh, no! The announcements and lyrics were in Comic Sans! You know I’m a font snob!



They have a library! Alas, no one was in it. And the books were really old. Missing my Garden of Readin’ chums back at Faith Church in Peshtigo. This was my first hint of homesickness. Not only does Danette keep up on current books, but the room is also a sanctuary for introverts. 🙂

They have a greet-your-neighbor segment in the service here. Sigh.



I couldn’t wait till Monday to get into my classroom! I started going through files and bins to see what I had. I was having such a good time, it didn’t even feel like work.

I did get frustrated with my phone connection. I didn’t have service much of the time. And I had no internet connection yet, so I felt a bit isolated. I’m surprised how much I didn’t miss watching Netflix or Amazon Prime. My mind was so occupied with pleasant things that I didn’t need the escape.

Day 2: My new home

Day 2: Aug. 10, 2019

I could not sleep in! Today was the big day!



The scene from my hotel room. Yep, looks like everything is still in the van. It was gray and cloudy all the way to Miller, and it rained most of the way. Couldn’t dampen my spirits, though!



Look! They put up a sign for me!

Google had me take back roads as the most direct route. I didn’t mind—got to see the scenery. Besides, the closer I got, the more nervous I got.



I stopped in Huron, the closest Walmart. They have my candy! The same price as in Marinette! I didn’t have to bring a cooler full after all!

There’s a lot of racial diversity here. Much more than in Peshtigo. I will be learning South Dakota history along with my students.

They also have cheese. Got what I need to survive!


I was so nervous!

Fortunately, no one knew exactly when I was arriving. I knew where my house was from the description Heidi gave me (my friend who lives here), and I looked it up on Google satellite.

I fell in love immediately. It’s so open and sunny! (Of course, the kitchen will eventually be yellow!). I got to explore by myself and was thrilled with everything about the place.

I was about a third of the way unpacking when Paula the cook stopped by to help me unload. Then my neighbor, Alanna the art teacher stopped by. And Megan, the K-3 teacher, came over and took me on a tour to my classroom. It was all so exciting! I could hardly take it all in!


It’s like a Tardis house—it feels so much bigger on the inside!

Those kitchen windows face south, so I get lots of sunshine.

I don’t have to mow my yard. Woohoo!



I was welcomed with flowers, notes, a journal, and food (on the counter, in the fridge, and in the freezer). Neighbors kept coming by with more food. I told my kids, and Autumn commented that she thought they only did that kind of thing in the movies. They think I’m being groomed to join a cult.





Can you believe all this fit in the van?!

By bedtime, almost everything had a home. I enjoyed every minute of unpacking. I have so much space! So many cupboards! Three bedrooms, two bathrooms.

One bedroom is my exercise room. All I do in there is stretch. (It’s the only room with carpeting.)

Day 1: The adventure begins

Day 1: Friday, August 9, 2019
The Adventure Begins!

I couldn’t wait! I decided to leave on my new adventure a day early. Give myself a mini-vacation by taking two days to get there. It’s such a treat to stay in a hotel!





I took a final ride on my scooter and said goodbye to the lake. I will miss walking around it every evening.








Tried to collect from Logan, but he said he didn’t have any cash. YOU CAN PAYPAL ME!!!





I got up at 3:30 to say goodbye to Grant, and I saw Autumn the night before. The rest of the crew is here to send me off.

Katie is the most excited for me about my adventure. Grant and Logan just want the house.




Family tradition, handed down by my parents: Wave goodbye outside!

I was a little weepy, but still so excited about what lay ahead.




Couldn’t hit the open road just yet. Stopped at my brother’s to finish a painting project (Mom helped). My last official work as Julie’s Off the Wall! (Though we’ll see—I’ve said that before, and it turned out to not be true).

Then stopped to say goodbye to my folks. I don’t think Dad is much of a selfie fan, but he indulged me.

My folks and my siblings all got together the previous Sunday to send me off. It was nice to know they’ll miss me (and I’m kinda surprised they will!). I do love hanging out with the family, and like they said, it’s nice to know we’re all close by. Or rather, we were.


One more errand—get new teaching shoes. I had a gift card for DWS, and with the coupon they gave me, these babies cost me four cents. Yeah, they’re not pretty, but they feel like slippers. What every teacher needs!








Finally, I could hit the open road! The stretch to Wausau felt the longest. Zipped on over to Chippewa Falls (passed Thorp—I had my first teaching assignment 15 miles north of there, in Gilman. Twenty-eight years ago!).

Hit some traffic in Minneapolis (not literally). When the road went down to a two-lane highway, I decided to stop at the next hotel. It was a Super 8 in Glencoe, Minnesota. Not the prettiest place, so I was hoping for a good price. The desk clerk gave me the construction worker rate, so the room was within my budget. 🙂



I love Stanley Tucci! Watched “The Hunger Games” (end of one and all of two—the best ones). I was too tired to get anything to eat. They didn’t have room service. Still, it was a lovely evening of relaxation.