It has been over a month since I went on a trip to Alaska – I can’t say that it changed my life completely, or that I was reeling from culture shock for weeks after – but it definitely altered my view on missions and what I want to do in the future. God corrected a few ideas of mine that needed to conform more toward His view, and definitely taught me some more patience and humility (seems to be the main lessons for me here at Ecola).

~On February 28th we had a packed day of 2 classes straight in a row (of Apologetics, too! Heavy classes that leave your brain spinning, taught by this guy that has 2 doctorates and almost a third. O.o !! Anyway…), then tests, then we packed sack lunches, loaded up the vans with our luggage, and headed towards Portland. It was fun hanging around the airport because the Haiti team was also there, so Ecola kids were everywhere. The Haiti team headed out a few hours before us but landed late the next day, poor guys…

Due to when the funds came in and when the tickets were booked, our team took four different flights to the airport. I was on the first flight and was so excited as we boarded the plane. I had not flown in over 6,7 years? So I was pretty excited as the plane rumbled and took off. It was dark so there was no view but I still love the entire experience of the airport, luggage, tickets, the ding of the ‘fasten seatbelts’ switching on and off, itty-bitty snack bags and complimentary drinks. It only took about 4 hours to fly to Anchorage.

There our ‘guide’ from Victory Bible Camp, Justin, met us with a 15 passenger van and a trailer for our luggage. He was a kind, younger man that had been attending the camp for years, met his wife there, and now they had two young, lovely girls and were full-time staff working at the place they loved. He would drive us around and take care of us at VBC.

To pass the time while we waited for the rest of the flights to come in, we drove through Anchorage and enjoyed some half-off appetizers at Applebee’s. The rest of the team arrived around midnight and we picked them up then drove to the camp which was about 2 hours away. Needless to say we were all pretty spent so we just unloaded fast, selected rooms and bunks, and fell asleep.

~ The next day we were introduced to the VBC staff and split into our teams of housekeeping, maintenance, and kitchen. From then on we were all busy at our various jobs. A women’s conference from a large, local church arrived that evening so Keri and I cleaned mostly early in the morning and late at night, during their sessions, so we had the afternoon free when everyone else was working. After the conference left the kitchen staff had very little to do but we were busy as all of the then-vacant rooms needed to be deep-cleaned. And maintenance was always busy as there was wood that needed to be chopped for the boiler, trucks to be un-stuck from the snow, and a house that needed to be completely renovated.

I was in charge of the housekeeping vehicle during our visit, which was a Chevrolet Blazer I named Petrie and got a wee bit attached to. 😉 I also got to use a walkie-talkie which made me feel important, wa ha ha!

~ And of course we did have our share of fun events, too! 🙂 We went hiking, played in the snow, had a horse-drawn sleigh ride, saw a moose, discovered crosswords could be done, took a lot of photos in a taxidermist’s house, Late at night, even though we were exhausted, we still found energy to do something before devos & bed. We played broomball twice, played hockey in their indoor gym, had a few bonfires, went tubing down their awesome hill, tried out snow machining, had a movie night where we watched “The Avengers”…

The tubing was definitely my favorite. We grasped ankles to make a train and went down this hill where it was steep enough that you started slow and then gravity grabbed you and you went “ahhhh!” what felt like straight down, then leveled out and ‘wooshed’ far onto this snow-covered frozen lake, beneath the starry sky with shadowy mountain ranges in the distance. Just a bit of fun. 🙂

We almost saw the Northern Lights, too. There is a website that will predict the probabilities, almost like a weather site, and we were just on the outskirts of the area of “slight chance” to see the lights on the second weekend, before we left. When the lights are visible people call one another to spread the news, so Justin gave us a call that the lights were a bit faint, low on the horizon. We all hopped in our van and drove to the darkest outskirts of the camp. I did ‘palming’ just as I was taught at our local fair – you rub your palms together hard until they get a bit warm then put them over your closed eyes for a while. The heat will help your eyes adjust to the dark. So I was able to see a faint green glow just on the edge of the hills’ heads. That was enough to impress me because I could stare at that and marvel – wow, that’s just a tiny bit of these remarkable phenomenon where my God wildly paints for fun across the northern night sky.

~During our ministry we took one day off to travel to Palmer, where we visited a ministry called InterACT. Then several days before we had to fly out we returned to Anchorage early and visited several ministries called Parachutes, Covenant House, and the local Youth for Christ. All targeted the at-risk and homeless youth teens in Anchorage in different ways. It was also astounding to learn of the diversity in the city – there are around 93 languages spoken! I especially enjoyed visiting Parachutes, which is a drop-in center for youth right in the mall. They sell drinks and food and offer couches, computers, etc, with the goal of encouraging kids to come in and find a shelter and love they might not have at home. Right now they are also having a dinner/bible study called The Table, which meets every two weeks and is going through all of the Bible stories chronologically. I really liked the idea of Parachutes – it seemed like something that should be in every mall!

~After a late night stop for more 1/2 off appetizers at Applebee’s – sorta became the bookends of the trip – we flew out Tuesday morning. Yeah, more flying!

There is a lot more I could go into about our trip, but then this post would be really really long. 😉 And if you helped support me financially and/or through prayer, I’ve already sent you a letter. 🙂 Thank you again!

Some pictures below of the beautiful wild state~