Many Mansions in Alaska

by Bryan Ross

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

During our journey to Anchor Point yesterday, we received some news that had the potential to present quite an obstacle to our team.  Our contact person in Anchor Point texted us to tell us that the church is having boiler problems, and as such there is no hot water.  For the rest of the drive we looked forward to a week of ice-cold showers and having to boil water to wash dishes.  We persevered, and despite some shivering and chattering teeth last night, we managed to shower and get ourselves bedded down for the evening.  What we realized in the middle of the night, as the temperature dropped outside, was that the lack of a working boiler didn’t just mean no hot water, but also no heat for the church.   But again, despite the forecast for lower temperatures for the evenings in the upcoming week, we persevered and traveled to the town of Homer to worship with our sister congregation at Faith Lutheran.  It was during and after lunch that our housing prospects changed.  Hearing about our lack of heat and hot water in Anchor Point, the congregation at Faith generously offered to us their church building for the week, giving us a place to sleep and shower and prepare and eat our meals.  What a blessing!  But God was not done, and had even more blessings in store for us.  The Pastor of the church in Anchor Point, also knowing of our misfortune, told us that because he will be traveling to Seattle this week, offered us his house.  If we wanted to sleep there, shower, do laundry, or anything we needed, he was offering his home to us.  So in a matter of hours we went from having difficulties and discomfort to having our choice of places to live.  Thanks to God for giving us friends, thousands of miles from our home, to care for us while we at the same time are here serving their neighbors.

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Faith Lutheran Church – Homer, Alaska

It is now 11:30 at night, and it will be getting dark soon, so I will say good night from Alaska.  The church has been decorated.  The snacks and games are prepared.  And God’s servants are filled with His Holy Spirit and ready to share the good news of Jesus to the children of Anchor Point tomorrow!

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Pastor Kent and Mary Anne hanging decorations

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Using our Gifts Humbly

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ. Today was our first full day in Alaska, after our travel day. We got up early, had breakfast, did a morning devotion, packed up and headed south from Anchorage to Anchor Point. We saw some amazing examples of God’s great creation along the way. We saw some wildlife, beautiful mountains, and even a glacier!

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The devotion from this morning talked about the faith of the Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). In verse 10 Jesus says “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” What a compliment! This Roman centurion, who humbles himself in front of Jesus, by telling Him that he is not worthy of Jesus even entering his house, is told by God himself that one of his greatest gifts is his faith. The centurion has told Jesus how important and high ranking he is in Rome, and yet says that he is not worthy of Jesus even entering his house. This brought out a discussion of how we can use our gifts that the good Lord gives us while still being humble. Part of being humble is realizing that God has given you a gift to be good at something, and using that gift to the best of your ability. Some people look at others, such as athletes, or scholars and say, “well they are just showing off”, and while that may be true in some cases, I feel that those people are taking the gifts that they have been given and using them to the best of their ability, much like the centurion used his faith to heal his servant, without Jesus even stepping foot in his house!

Another great example of this is something that we got to see for the first time today. On our way out of Anchorage we had the privilege of seeing some Dall Sheep on a high ridge along the highway. As we watched them we started talking about how they walked around on the steep ridge without any trouble at all.

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These sheep, even the little ones, have been given a gift from God, and you can bet that they use it to the best of their ability. They have tiny pointed hooves, and yet they walk and jump around effortlessly on the edge of these very steep rocks. While much of their gift is God given instinct, it is something that they are instructed in when they are little and requires practice for the rest of their lives, much like our faith. We are here in Anchor Point, Alaska to instruct and help the children of this community practice their faith and their other wonderful God given gifts, much like the Dall Sheep do every day.

Your brother in Christ,

Luke

In the beginning…

Greetings from Anchorage!

After a long day of traveling yesterday, our team woke up this morning excited to get started. All the AMC teams heading out to sites this coming week met for an orientation with Ruth Zellar, our AMC serve the event coordinator. Typically, we’ve been one of the last teams to come come up each year, with the AMC ‘season’ ending right after we return home. That’s generally meant that only a couple of other small teams are heading out to sites at the same time that we are. This year there were at least 5 other teams represented at orientation – it was quite the full house!  By show of hands, it was the first time participating in an AMC event for several of those at the orientation today. On the other end of that spectrum, for the team leaders of the Minnesota team this is their 18th year!  But, it was clear that no matter your level of experience, everyone in that room this morning was excited and passionate to share the message of the Gospel here in Alaska.

While it was lovely to catch up with some familiar faces, this morning’s orientation was bittersweet. Ruth is retiring at the end of the month.  But we had the opportunity to meet Brittany Baumgartner, our new coordinator. Her husband is the Pastor in Chugiak (just north of Anchorage).  Though we will miss seeing Ruth, I know that Brittany will do a great job continuing the work of AMC.

 

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Brittany and Ruth

After orientation, our team headed out with our lists and shopped for the supplies that are needed for this week at VBS. While we are blessed to be able to borrow a great deal of what is needed from the church in Homer and the people around Anchor Point, there were still several items that we needed to get before leaving Anchorage and heading south to the Kenai Penninsula.

From there, we decided to head north for a little site seeing. We were blessed with BEAUTIFUL weather today – we definitely thought of you all at home while we were enjoying the sunny 70° day! We decided to head up to Talkeetna on the off chance that we might be able to see Denali (Mt McKinley). We were in luck! Though there was some cloud coverage, we got a pretty good look at her. Such a powerful reminder of the beauty of God’s creation.

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That white pointy thing in the background is a mountain!

Even though today was a fun day it was very important for our team. While we know each other through shared worship at church, and different combinations of individuals have different levels of connection prior to this trip, today was an opportunity for us to establish our team dynamic. Each year that I’ve participated in AMC, the team dynamic has been unique – with every member contributing something different and important. What took almost 2 dozen adults and youth leaders to do at the VBS at Campus last month, we will be doing with 6 team members, for roughly the same amount of students. Our unity as a team benefits our kiddos in Anchor Point, strengthening our message of God’s love.

Time to head to bed now.  Tomorrow we will head down to Anchor Point and start the on-site preparations for Monday.  I’m so excited!  Please continue to pray for our team and for the children and families that we are preparing to serve.

In Christ –

Mary Anne

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Denali through the clouds

 

 

 

Travel Day

Thursday, July 14

Our team arrived in Anchorage tonight on two separate flights. Glenn and Susan greeted us at the airport and drove us to Cheap Wheels to pick up our rental van and to Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. After a good meal at a local Mexican restaurant and a trip to Walmart for some basic supplies, we headed back to the church where we will crash for the night with other Alaska Mission for Christ teams from Wisconsin, California and Florida. In the morning we will all go through AMC orientation together.

Keep us (Norah, Luke, Mary Anne, Bryan, Kate, and Kent) in your prayers as we prepare to share God’s love for us in Christ in Anchor Point. We will lead Vacation Bible School there, teaching children that Jesus gives us hope, courage, direction, love, and power.

Peace in Jesus,
Pastor Kent

Romans 10:14

CLC AK VBS 2016

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

Our Alaska Mission Team will be commissioned for service this Sunday, July 10, 2016 at Campus Lutheran Church during the 8:30am and 11am services.  They will board their planes on July 14.

A big THANK YOU to the generous members of Campus Lutheran Church and the many supporters of the Alaska Mission Team.  Your generosity as a mission sending congregation and sending team is more than words can express.  You have seen to the full funding of this mission team! Thank you again.

Please keep us in your prayers during the remainder of our preparations and during our time of service.  You can access our prayer guide here Prayer Itinerary 2016  or from the home page of our blog.

Alaska Mission Team 2016

It is June and this year’s VBS Alaska team has been meeting for several months as they prayerfully prepare for their time in the mission field in the village of Anchor Point, Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska.
CLC AK VBS 2016
This year’s team members are Luke Lilienkamp, Kate Mirly, Kent Pierce, Norah Pierce, Bryan Ross, and Mary Anne Wolfmeyer.
July 14, 2016 the team will be traveling to Alaska as a part of Campus Lutheran Church’s short-term mission team.  They will once again work with Alaska Mission for Christ in supporting the efforts of a local congregation in serving children and families while living and sharing the transforming love of Christ by leading a Vacation Bible School the week of July 18th.  The interactions and relationships facilitated through the VBS will provide them the opportunity to introduce children to the Bible and share with them the Good news about Jesus, our Savior.
For the prayer itinerary and trip posts, stay tuned to this blog.