All good things must end…

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 –

Mary Anne

2 IMG_3673

Advertisements

A Whale of a “Tail” or Two 

Today was the team’s last full day in Alaska. As you might have guessed, we saw a whale! Actually we saw a momma whale and her calf. They got so close to the boat that we were on that we could almost see the momma’s entire body. However, as those of you who have ever been whale watching may know, no one had their cameras ready when they surfaced that close to us so I can’t prove it. I hope that you all can forgive me for not getting that picture. As we learned in VBS this week, God has the power to forgive! So if you find yourself having a hard time forgiving me, just ask God for some help. Here is a picture of one of the whale tails that we saw today.

  
As we were sitting there waiting for the whales to surface, our Captin was trying to lighten the mood. He told us that this is the part that the website doesn’t tell you about, this is the more common past time, that we like to call, whale waiting. We all gave a little chuckle, while secretly wanting to throw him overboard for not being able to bring the whales back. As I thought about this for the rest of the day, it reminded me of our relationship with God. Much like when we are waiting for a sign from God, or waiting for an answer to a prayer, we get a little restless, and when he doesn’t conform to our time line we get a little grumpy. Rather than waiting for God to answer in His time, like waiting for the whales to surface on thier time, we start to blame others, and get impatient. Then when the time is right, God shows Himself in all His glory, much like the whales today, on our tour. 

So the next time that you find yourself feeling restless, or impatient, just remember that the hardest part of talking to God is waiting for an answer, but let me tell you, it is well worth the wait!

I Love McChickens

As a teacher that takes frequent trips with students for various FFA and leadership events, eating is a staple to any venture outside the county. A constant favorite along the road in the big yellow schoolbus is a stop at the Big M Supper Club, better known as McDonald’s. I LOVE eating a McChicken. The fried “McChicken” sandwhich with a proportional piece of lettuce and dollap of mayonaise just hits the spot. When you get that ordered with a medium fry and large $1 drink, you might as well change your Facebook status to “#dayismade”.

The taste of the McChicken is reason enough for liking it, yet there is another component for my ever-slight obsession with the sandwhich; it’s consistancy. Whether I’m in Columbia, Missouri or Homer, Alaska, the sandwhich is vertially the same. Sure, maybe that dollop of mayo might be varying in size or the wrapping of the sandwhich in the paper is done at a different angle, but in the end, the components of that meal is essentially standardized. 

Just like the consistancy of that tasty Mc-D’s sandwhich, this week at the Mt. Everest Vacation Bible School in Anchor Point, Alaska, we have been able to see the work of the Holy Spirit, the ever-flowing generousity of Jesus Christ, and the power and  love of God the Father work consistantly in our Mission of planting seeds of faith with the children in this area of Alaska. 
Our theme of teaching the kids at VBS each day that God has the POWER to provide (day 1), comfort (day 2), heal (day 3), forgive (day 4), and love forever (today). It’s obvious that God has loved everyone, everywhere, forever. God showed his love in the Old Testament to Elijah in 1 Kings by providing him with food and water while hiding from the corrupt King Ahab (a story shared with the VBS kids on Monday).  God has shown his love for our team through safe travels and opportunities to serve others. He has shown his love for the children we have served this week by placing allowing us to teach them.  God is consistant in His love and will continue to do so. 

The enthusiasm to share the love of Christ is consistant throughout the world. Just this week, we have met other teams serving in the Alaska Mission for Christ from varying regions of the country. The enthusiasm of kids to learn of His love is apparent in here in Alaska, just as it is back in Missouri. 

His love is also consistantly apparent in different cultures. Just today, a member of the church in Anchor Point,  Nelly, asked if she could pray a prayer of praise with us at the conclusion of our VBS. She prayed with us in Yup’ik. Being able to communicate with God in a different language shows that God consistantly allows his people to talk with him, no matter the language, race, affliation, or what have you.

Our prayer tonight (or this morning), is that all people have the opportunity to recognize God’s love as it comes to you. His love may come by providing our neccessities (2 Corinthians 9:8), comforting us in time of need (2 Corinthians 1:4), or forgiveness (Psalm 147:3). Yet, all these things are Christ’s LOVE! And he’s pretty darn consistant in showing us his love, wherever we go! 
Oh, He even fulfilled our wants today, because we got to see a Brown bear fishing for salmon in a river. Our team has now arrived in Seward, Alaska and is ready for a day of adventures tomorrow. Please pray for our team’s safe travels and ability to show God’s LOVE through our actions! 

  
Yours in Christ, 

Sean 

This is not a drill!!!

Today was a fantastic day. Day four of VBS was a great one. It was especially eye opening for me since I was able to see the kids really enjoying their time with us. I recieved many thank yous and hugs for us being there. At snack time this was the second day that I made snow flakes with the kids and we wrote our God sightings on them. They were so excited to be doing something as simple as making snowflakes out of paper.  We were tied with Tuesday for the record number of kids, at 34. 

After VBS we hit up the Blue Bus to get their famous milkshakes, which hit the spot. It got its name from the fact that everything use to be served out of the blue bus. But the bus is now permanently attached to the building. They were pretty fantastic. After the bus as we were heading back to the SPIT we spotted a female MOOSE!!!! We were all super excited to get to see another one. Again we had to turn the car around to get a better look. 

At the SPIT we did some shopping, walking on the beach…and for the boys, napping. It has been one of the most beautiful days since we have been here. It was warm and sunny. We even spotted an eagle flying around.

Then we headed back to Liz’s house to help with some more cleaning since we felt the urge to finish the rooms we started.  Her friends and family were extremely thrilled to see us again. It was a large task to tackle, but a good feeling to see progress in the house.  

On the was home when stopping for gas we SAW A BULL MOOSE!!!!! It was just the icing on the cake to a great day. We were not all together so this is where the “this is not a drill” came into play.  I had to call Mary Anne to come see the moose and while on the phone I heard her yell “this is not a drill…where are the key? Where are the keys?” They were also able to make it to see the bull moose. We were just 15 yards the moose while he just munched on some grass. What a wonderful God sighting!! 

We are all a little sad that tomorrow is the last day of VBS.

Blessings, 

Dana   

   
   

GOD HAS THE POWER TO HEAL

Today was a wonderful blessed day! It is the middle of the week, we are half way to being done with this mission trip. I did not know what to expect as this is the first mission trip I’ve been on. All the children have been wonderful and exciting. Each and every child has thier own unique traits. 

There was some sad news at Faith Lutheran Church in Homer, they had lost one of thier members. We joyfully were able to help clean out the house for the family for several hours. Some of the team was working in the kitchen on the main floor and the rest of the team was in the basement working on the pantry, craft room and green house. The members of the family were pleased that we were able to cut the work load by a week.

Love in Christ, Kristin Duque

  
  

Pray Continually

Day 2 of VBS here in Anchor Point was even more successful than yesterday. We had 27 participants yesterday and 34 today! I believe that is a record for us. It is so great to see more and more children come to learn about the love of our Lord, Jesus, every day. They all seem to be having a great time and I believe that even we are having a good time. 🙂

The rest of the day our group was split in two. Some of us went to the Homer Spit to be tourists and the rest went to Faith Lutheran Church in Homer to take care of things such as laundry and homework. We all experienced some good things and had opportunities to bond with one another which is just as important as bonding with the people here in Alaska. 

Pray continually. Pray without ceasing. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and we just can’t pray enough. We pray before meals, before bed, when we awake, at church, and many other times. As part of VBS we pray with the older participants that are helping us out as Crew Leaders and I love it. I think it sets a great example and it probably helps teach them how to pray when they may not know how to. The groups pray again when they are at the Glacier Games session. 

Some people may not realize how important prayer really is for us. Our group had a bible study this evening and the theme seemed to be prayer. It was enlightening to hear how many times Jesus would pray. In almost every passage we read He would pray. Jesus came to earth to be an example and if His example is to pray, we should pray.

I know and hope that many, if not all of you, are praying for our mission here in Alaska. There can never be too many prayers! I want to thank you all for your support and prayers for without them, our mission would not work as well. Keep praying!

Hannah Lilienkamp 

   

GOD HAS THE POWER TO PROVIDE!

“God Has the Power to Provide” was the lesson focal point today for our first day of VBS. And the Lord does provide greatly for us every day, all day.We woke up this morning with the rest that God provided for us during the night. God provided us with light and warmth (Alaska style). Then 9 am rolled around. God once again provided us with what we needed when we needed it. He provided us with 27 children to start our new year of VBS. God provided us with smiles and smiles in return as we renewed friendships with returning students and made new friendships with new children. God has provided us with additional invitations as well. We’ve already been informed that 7 more children will be joining us tomorrow.

God provided us with wonderful team members who interacted with the children in encouraging ways. One of these team members is Sean Frankenbach who is acting as our Bible Story guide this week. He did such a wonderful job of sharing how God provided for Elijah, students began sharing other Bible stories where God has also provided for His people.

God provided us with a wonderful afternoon in which to enjoy His beautiful creation with a trip to the historic Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik and some time on the beach. One of the traditional activities for our teams is to pick up the “pretty” rocks along the beach.

  
God provided us (the non-front seat riders) with some entertainment on the way home, while waiting in the queue for the construction zone flagger to give us the go sign.  God provided us with a delicious meal made by team member, Kristin Duque.

If that is what God provided for us in the first day of VBS, the second day will only be more wonderful than the first.