Tuesday, July 23
Our Lord Jesus gave us the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew, instructing us to go out and make disciples of all nations. But like the mission activity we read about in Acts, our time in Anchor Point each year is limited, and we have now returned home. Each of us landed safely in St. Louis yesterday and made our ways to our respective homes, tired but filled with the Holy Spirit and re-energized to continue doing God’s work. Our departure from Anchor Point may have been tear-filled (many of the families there now call it our “second home”), but there were promises to keep in touch via email and social media, and there is the anticipation of Campus Lutheran members coming again next summer.
Following Anchor Point, we drove to the town of Seward, where our previous blog post mentioned the sightseeing we were able to do. We are grateful for Resurrection Lutheran Church in Seward for graciously allowing our team to spend the night at their church. We learned that the church no longer has a cleaning crew to help care for the church, so as a thank you to them, we all pitched in that evening and crossed off many items on their congregation’s cleaning sign-up list!
Sunday morning we were back in Anchorage, worshiping with the congregation at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church (who, with Anchor Lutheran School, acts as our host while we are in Anchorage). We were then able to return some of the supplies we had purchased the previous weekend that were unused and return our rental van. That left us a few hours to walk around the downtown and the local craft fair to pick up some last-minute souvenirs for loved ones back home. Then it was off to the airport to catch our late-night flights back to St. Louis. And while there was some lack of sleep, and a short connection time at one of the layovers, our travel went well and without any incidents or hiccups.
The six of us, and the people of Anchor Point, would now like to extend a heart-felt THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and encouraged our team. For each of us who traveled to Alaska, there are many more behind us who also took part. Whether it was in prayer, fund raising, making phone calls, giving of their time, donating supplies, giving us rides, or any other activity, they put aside a part of their lives in order to help spread God’s word to others. This mission work could not be accomplished without the support of the community of believers to which we all belong. May God bless each of you.
Today was our final day at Roar VBS in Anchor Point. It was filled with excitement and anticipation. The kids were so full of energy, that if they wanted to start a mutiny we would have been done for. We had 49 participants, as well as 4 youth helpers. We actually had so many kids this week that we started running out of supplies, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast learning about God’s everlasting love and goodness.
Earlier in the week, we told the children that we would be taking donations to help the Alaska Mission for Christ. We made it a competition between the boys and the girls, and they were overwhelmed with excitement to see who won. At the beginning of VBS today we asked the kids if they had any God sightings from the last day. Like most days many of the children said things such as, animals, parents, siblings. But a number of the kids said that our VBS team was their God sighting. That made all of us feel very special. I told the kids that one of my God sightings was all of them, and their excitement to bring donations to help the AMC send more teams like us out to places in Alaska to do VBS with othe kids.
Finally, it was time. The wait was over. Durring the first day at VBS, we used a balance scale to demonstrate fair and unfair, and that if we change our perspective, God’s goodness will outweigh all of the unfair things in life. In the demonstration we used a bucket of rocks to represent fair and unfair. We also used an overflowing bucket of rocks to represent God’s goodness. Every time we had an offering update I would remove rocks from God’s goodness and add it to the guys and gals buckets, to help show the kids that they were helping to spread God’s goodness to all the children in Alaska. As I moved stones into the bucket and placed them on the scale you could feel the excitement growing to see who would win. The group as a whole brought in just shy of $400.00!!!! The guys ended up winning by less than $7.00! It was awesome to see just how generous the small community of Anchor Point can be. It was a great reminder of our Bible point for the day, “When life is good… God Is Good!!!”
Another person that really sticks out to me as a generous giver of their time and talents while we are on our mission, is our friend Gretchen. She used to be the DCE at Faith Lutheran in Homer. They did not have a VBS this year, but Gretchen was a huge help to us this year at our VBS. From making extra copies of CDs, helping Hannah with registration, bring us last minute supplies that we needed, even staying behind after VBS today and helping us clean up the church! She was an awesome God sighting this week and I pray that God would continue to bless her with a generous giving heart. She never misses an opportunity to spread the love of Jesus to anyone, and I am thankful for her each and every year!
Your brother in Christ, Luke Lilienkamp
July 18, 2019
This morning started off a little slow as we were all tired from yesterday’s walk on the Homer Spit. Around 8:40am, the first kid showed up to the church for VBS. We quickly got into gear and waited for everyone else to arrive. Today we had 49 kids! God has truly blessed us this year with a high number of kiddos.
Today at VBS, we talked about Jesus’ death and resurrection. In past years, the team dubbed today as “Jesus day” in reference to so. We talked about sadness and bad things that have happened to us, but then reminded the kids that God is more powerful than any obstacle that we face and that He is GOOD!
After VBS, we ate lunch at the church. We then headed to a super secret location with Gretchen, an amazing woman who has been helping our team since our first year in Anchor Point. She showed us how to pick wild Alaskan blueberries. We picked for an hour and collected about half of an ice cream bucket’s worth. Back at the church, Mary Ann cooked some of the blueberries and made syrup.
After berry picking, we all headed to the home of the Baker family, who have also been at VBS with the team since the first year. They have a big family and we all enjoyed playing with the kiddos. Mr. and Mrs. Baker made a delicious dinner for us.
Finally, to complete our day, we went back to the church and enjoyed some ice cream with the blueberry syrup that Mary Anne made.
Its 12:30am here and most of the team has gone to bed. Tomorrow is our last day of VBS then we head to Seward in the afternoon. It’s hard to believe this week has gone by so fast, but we are already talking of plans to return next year! God is good!
July 17, 2019
Vacation Bible School is in full swing at Anchor Point. This year, the theme of God’s goodness is being displayed through the Israelites and their captivity in Egypt. After 400 years of slavery, God raised Moses as the person who stood up to Pharaoh to demand the Israelites be freed. Through the unfair treatment they received as slaves, to the fear they must have felt during the plagues and being chased to the Red Sea, and then the change and adjustment they had to overcome by wandering in the desert, we’re learning that God remained with the Israelites the entire time. Trusting God was the answer the Israelites needed then, and is the answer that we need today. The stories leading up to the Exodus are familiar ones, and trusting God is a lesson that is reinforced throughout the Bible.
However, the message of trusting God was rapidly reinforced later in the evening during our daily devotion. Today, I selected Luke 13: 1-5. When I first decided to use that verse, it wasn’t trust that was on my mind. Instead I was thinking back to earlier in the day when our foam board backdrop fell over, and Luke made a comment afterwards that we should have been teaching about the fall of Jericho. So I thought, why not use a verse about a falling tower on the same day we had some of our scenery fall? But later on, I was reminded about an individual named Tad that Luke and Mary Anne met yesterday who has been struggling with the death of his wife. In the first five verses of Luke 13, we learn that sometimes bad things just happen. When the Tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people, Jesus tells us that those men who died were not worse sinners than other men in the city. We live in a world that is under the curse of sin, and bad things are going to happen. Whether we are faced with the death of a loved one like Tad is now, or natural disasters (Alaska is suffering from a drought and wildfires this summer, while back home we’ve had tornadoes and floods), or illness, or any other problem, our first inclination may be to be angry. And sometimes that anger is directed at God. But instead, in all things we need to be trusting God. He sent his Son to be our savior, to rescue us from the ultimate calamity of eternal separation from Him. Though we may endure temporary hardships, we know (and can trust) that the Bible tells us that the final victory is God’s, and as His children, we are co-heirs with Christ. That kind of trust should brighten our own hearts, and give confidence to the children here in Anchor Point.
Day 2 of VBS was another success for the books! 45 participants varying in ages from 2 to 12 years and 2 helpers aged 13 and 14 years. God is Good! We have been working together so well as a team and it is a wonderful experience. I have been participating in this mission trip 5 different years and I’ve never experienced collaboration like this. Sunday evening we, as a team, picked up rocks at the beach for Luke. Monday evening we all helped Jenna blow up 150 balloons for today’s game. Tonight we are all cutting fleece in various sizes for MaryAnne’s craft on Friday. And not one of us has grumbled about it! We have also spent time playing “team bonding” games; something that we’ve not ever done in the last 7 years. I’ve spoken about it before and I’m saying it again: we are here not only to mission to these children and this community, but also to be a blessing to each other and grow in our faith together. I also find it heartening that 6 people on a team from 3 different generations can work together so well to make something amazing happen. God is good. He finds a way to use us all no matter age, experience, or talent.
After months of planning and preparation, today was the big day – Day #1 of Roar! Our first kiddo pulled into the parking lot at 8:40, raring to go. And from there it was a steady stream (and at some points a flood) of friends, old and new. We have averaged around 35 students a day for the past few years. Today, we started off with 44! It made my heart happy to see the church so full. During craft, one little girl told me that she’d never been to a church before. Our team feels very fortunate and humbled to be able to share the message of God’s love and saving grace with her, as well as with all of our students. We’ve also gotten to renew some valued relationships with families in the community. We are so blessed to have so many people looking out for us, offering help and support while we’re here. Between our CLC and Anchor Point families, we have an amazing support system.
After a very busy morning, it was a low key afternoon and evening for the team to think through some logistics and prepare for tomorrow. Everyone on the team pitched in to help prep for each of tomorrow’s stations. Many hands really did make light work – and resulted in many laughs! MacGyver Luke came through again, rigging a quick, and sometimes explosive, way to blow up 120 balloons quickly. There were lots of giggles – and maybe one or two screams. And, to top off an amazing Monday, two young moose decided to show off a little, using the puddles in our parking lot for a watering hole. Hannah and I have been waiting 7 years to see moose in our parking lot, so it was really the cherry on top! We are all ready and excited to see what tomorrow brings.
In Christ –