Let the Little Children

Most weeks, I’m excited to see Friday come.  However, that was not the case this week.  Today was the final day of our Maker Fun Factory VBS in Anchor Point.  The week went by so quickly – it seems that we were just heading down to the Penninsula to get set up. This past week in Anchor Point has been amazing.  We had 46 students ranging from 2 to 18 years old.  Of those, 16 were new to us, coming with friends and family to join us.  While I always look forward to renewing our relationships from previous years, I love expanding that circle to include new students in the sharing of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness.  As our relationships grow deeper and wider in the community, we can continue to share the transforming love of Christ  with the families in Anchor Point.
In addition to the songs, crafts, games, and stories this year at VBS, we participated in Operation Kid-to-Kid. This is where the students at VBS get to share God’s blessings through their offering to help children in other parts of the world. This year, the focus was on clean water for children in Peru. Each day we talked about how blessed we were to have safe water for drinking and cooking, and that $5 would provide a child in Peru clean weather for 1 year. When we talked about this on Monday, our kiddos set a very ambitious goal for themselves. They set a target of collecting $400 in offering for the week. When the total were calculated today, they did not meet their goal – they surpassed it by $100! Through the enthusiasm and generousity of our Ancho Point children, we will be able to help 101 children in Peru! Wow God! 
The ending of Alaska VBS is always bittersweet to me.  This is my 5th year, and I’m never quite ready for it to be over.  Looking back over the years, I think I have ended up with the Friday blog post for most of those years (Thanks, alphabetical order!).  While I’ve shared many of my thoughts on our time here in previous years, there was one thing that stood out to me this year.  This year we have several little-bit ties, ages 2 and 3.  Due to some logistical issues, we do not run a parallelpre-school program like we would at  Campus.  Rather, we run the regular program and try to accommodate as needed for out little ones.  It can occasionally be quite challening (I never seem t ohare enough to hands!), but the reward was days like today watching these tiny friends sing and dance with gusto.  It just shows how powerful God’s word is.  
In the end, there were lots of hugs and since everyone hated to say goodbye, we settled on “Until next year!”  And maybe some more hugs.  Then we started the pack up and clean up process, setting the church back to rights and returning the much appreciated supplies.  We had a final lunch at the church of delicious salmon, provided by our friend Nellie.  From there we went and checked on our ‘property’ – a lot for sale down the road that overlooks the bay and the volcanoes that we keep threatening to buy – one last time for the summer.  Then it was time to hit the road.  We stopped near Cooper Landing at Russian River Falls for one last hike.  We met a guide on the trail who had just scared a bear off the trail seconds earlier.  While we had been hoping to see a bear from a safe distance (i.e., from a well protected viewing platform above the natural salmon ladder), that was a little closer than we were wanting.  We did complete the hike, but made sure to make enough noise to announce our presence to deter unwanted visitors.  From there we drove to the other side of the Penninsula to Seward.  We’re currently staying at Resurrection Lutheran Church before setting out on an excursion tomorrow morning, with the hope of seeing a whale (or 10).  
Thank you all again for your prayers and support.  Without them, this mission trip would not be possible.  
In Christ – Mary Anne

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