Our team has made is safely back from Alaska. After a long night of traveling, the team arrived back in Columbia around 11 a.m. on Monday (7/27). The whole team was exhausted, but in that good, satisfying way. None of us could believe how quickly the time had gone, or how much we had crammed into such a short period of time. I made an attempt to write this blog post earlier, but I’ll admit that my brain just couldn’t get the words to come out right – sleep deprivation will do that to a person. So, after a full night’s worth of sleep (the first in almost 2 weeks), I’m going to give it a go!
I wanted to thank all of you reading the blog and supporting us with your prayers. We look forward to sharing with your our experiences as part of the Alaska Mission for Christ-CLC team. However, these daily blog posts cannot even begin to cover the breadth or depth of the team’s experiences this past week. It’s easy to share the amazing things that the team has gotten to see during our travels – the volcanoes, glaciers, moose, bear, and whale. Those things are exciting and novel for a bunch of people more used to corn/bean fields and cows. It’s so easy in Alaska to be reminded of God’s awesome power when witnessing His marvelous creations.
What’s harder to convey in these blog posts is the excitement that the team had during our VBS with the students of Anchor Point. Those are softer, quieter, much more personal excitements. What is most often included in these blog posts tend to be our bigger adventures – because they’re easy to share and explain. What you won’t read about are the weeks of preparation, organization, and conversations around how to conduct a comprehensive VBS 3000 miles from home. You won’t read about the interactions that we had in the communities that we entered, sharing our mission and the message of God’s love and forgiveness. You won’t read about the daily interactions with mothers, so thankful that their kids have the opportunity to attend our VBS and hear the message of God’s love and forgiveness. You won’t read about holding a 3-year old that everyone had wrangled all week while he reverently repeated a prayer. You won’t read about the children that those of us repeaters have gotten the opportunity to watch grow and change. You won’t read about the relationships that we continue to develop with the students, year after year. You won’t read about the hours of conversation that the team engaged in surrounding the daily happenings with ‘our kids.’ You won’t read about all of our reflections on the day and discussions of what and how we could improve the next day. You won’t read about the daily interactions with these kids that make us smile, or cry, or say an extra prayer. Even if we try to talk to many of you about these events, the words that we’ll use won’t truly convey the emotions that each of us have experienced.
This is my third opportunity to take part of this mission experience. I am continually in awe of the enthusiasm that the children and families of Anchor Point, and Homer, have for VBS. One mother that told me that she opted to forgo a conflicting activity for her children, at the children’s request, so that they wouldn’t miss any time at VBS. Other families told us that they had prioritized VBS, and had rearranged fishing schedules to allow their children to attend – a very big deal in Alaska. Another of our returning families showed up on Friday. They had been on a family vacation, and the students begged their parents to end it early so that they could at least attend one day at VBS with us. We have older students and young teens who serve as crew leaders to help shepherd the younger students through the transitions. These students are every bit the eager participants that the elementary students are. We were routinely asked by the children and families if we will be coming back next year. In today’s world, there always seems to be hundreds of presses on our time and attention. It would be easy to move a short-term experience down the list. But, for the families that we serve in Anchor Point, the opportunity to hear the message of God’s power, comfort, forgiveness, and love has become a priority. It’s an awesome responsibility for the CLC-AMC team, and one that we embrace with all of our hearts.
Before leaving Anchorage, we attended church at Beautiful Savior, the host congregation for Alaska Mission for Christ. The sermon text was Genesis 9:8-17: “12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” How wonderfully appropriate that this was the text. If you recall, I wrote the blog for the day that we traveled to Alaska. On that day, I witnessed a glory – the optical phenomenon of a rainbow encircling the shadow of our plane. Not only was it an amazing sight, it was a clear reminder of God’s power and promises. On the way back to Anchorage, the team came upon another rainbow. Ending the mission trip with a reminder of these promises was incredibly special.
I’ll end this blog with the running theme of our mission experience: recalibrate. I won’t go into how it started here, but just ask one of us and we’ll be more than happy to share. The concept of recalibrating gained traction, though, every time we got off course with anything. It became an in-joke and a slogan throughout the week. Now, as the mission team re-enters their daily lives, it’s time once again for us to recalibrate – taking the lessons that we learned from our experience in Anchor Point, AK, and applying them to our daily lives. We walk into the mission field daily, and our experience as part of the AMC-CLC team has left all of us better equipped to participate in the Great Commission. Anyone else need to recalibrate?
In Christ –