Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making First Impressions

It has been an eventful first couple of days in Galena. We arrived on Thursday at -46. It didn't get much warmer than that until Sunday afternoon. We've been unpacking groceries, and luggage since we arrived. There have been a couple of interruptions to unpacking. First, Friday morning there was a city wide power outage for about 45min. That wouldn't have been a problem to most residents on the road system, except it was -45 outside and the heating systems of most houses doesn't heat without electricity to run the pumps. Plus we had to try to find flashlights and candles in the dark which were all still in boxes. (Our sons thought all of this was very awesome!) Power came back on thankfully and life resumed as normal. Second, Saturday evening we were planning a surprise birthday party for our youngest son, and got a call that part of the city school was on fire. So I (Chris) and my brother went over to see if we could help. There is a volunteer fire department here, but the definition of who is on the volunteer fire department are very loose. If you show are on the team. Here is a link to the news story on the fire.
  It was about -50 when we were fighting the fire. If we stopped spraying water through the hoses, they would freeze, so each time we ran out of water (there were no hydrents to connect to so we had to pump out of a water truck) we had to detach the hoses and drag them into the school hallway so they wouldn't freeze. Several members of the church were directly affected by the fire because it burned a some ATV's, snowgear, and chainsaws that were being used in the shop class. Please be praying for them, and for the kids that used those classrooms, as the school tries to decided what to do for the rest of the school year.
Third, Sunday was scheduled to be our first Sunday at church. Problem was it was -58 when we woke up that morning, which is dangerous to get out in, especially for those who walk to church. So our first Sunday service was canceled due to extreme cold. It did warm up enough to still have the community potlatch that  night to "come meet the new pastor and family". The volunteer fire chief came out and told me thank you for helping. I also was able to meet a couple of the village elders.
Monday night singer and guitarist Dennis Agajanian gave a free concert at the Galena Bible Church. There were about 35 people in attendance, a number of which were dorm students who are learning to play guitar and bass guitar. Dennis gave a clear presentation of the Gospel, and encouraged students to connect with church leaders if they wanted to make a decision to follow Christ.
Things you can pray for this week:
- Safety for the YoungLife area directors that are flying in to Galena for an annual meeting. Pray that God births God-sized ideas about youth ministry around the state.
- Pray for safety for the missionary family Hornfishers as they travel back to Anchorage to buy more groceries to continue their community outreach and hospitality.
- Pray for Chris and Shell as we continue to make new contacts with people in the community. Please pray for our first impressions to be ones that show how beautiful our God is.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Awesome "Cold" Reception

Thanks to Illiamna Air Taxi............We made it!! God graced us with great flying weather for our trip from Anchorage to Galena. The only problem was the temperature difference between Anchorage (14 above zero) and Galena (-48). The owners of Illiamna Air Taxi are a Christian couple who really have a heart for Galena and the ministry that is happening here. They flew us and all our stuff at no cost to us from Anchorage to Galena on their PC12 airplane. What an amaizing gift! We are SO grateful for their generosity. There were eight church members who managed to get their vehicles to start (no small task when it's this cold) and came to meet us and all our gear on the runway. There is no baggage handling service in Galena, so we unloaded all 1800+ pounds of luggage and groceries into awaiting vans and cars. We then drove to our new home that members of the congregation had worked really hard to get ready for us. One couple had cooked a soup for us and others to eat lunch at our house after unloading, and another two ladies from the church had cooked another soup for dinner, with home made croissants, home made rolls, and cookies! What a blessing. We've been steadily working on un-packing and organizing what we were able to bring of our groceries.    The rest will arrive in the next few weeks as the Iliamna air taxi come and goes through Galena.                                                                                                   

I think we filled up the back of the plane.

 the Yukon River...frozen for now.

 The view from an upstairs window...our winter wonderland
 Our detached garage.
 Yes, it does say -45.
Gorgeous view from the kitchen window. 

It has been an interesting thing driving around town the past two days. There are a lot of people walking the couple of miles from "New town" to "Old Town". This seemed really odd that people would be walking when it's -50, so I asked about it. Many people here walk to where they are going because the cost of fuel is so high, but during the coldest parts of the winter even more people walk because they do not have vehicles that will start at these temperatures. Our van is one of these vehicles that does not want to start. Please pray that we can get it going. It's too cold right now even for snow machines to run.  Jason and Kim, my brother and sister in law, have been a blessing to us by getting us where we need to go.  Kim's taxi service is fantastic!
Please pray for the following things as you think about us:
-Pray that God would help us make great "first impressions" with the church members and the community.
- Pray that God would send us some warmer weather so that we would be able to get out and meet people, and so that people will be able to come to church services
- Pray for me as I begin preaching tomorrow.
-Pray that God would use the Denis Agajanian concert  on Monday to lead people to know and love our God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is how we Roll/Fly!!

The definition of a modern day miracle:
23 pieces of baggage
2 dogs
3 children
2 adults
All successfully arrive in Anchorage Alaska!!
God blessed us so much along the way in this journey, that it was almost comical and we had to ask God "OK what next?" On our flight from Lafayette to Dallas, we were not able to sit together as a family, so the boys sat together, I sat behind them, and Shell sat behind me. There were 3 'grandparent' type individuals who sat beside the boys and took care of them the whole flight, wiping the PB&J off their face, opening their juice boxes, etc. Shell just so happened to sit next to a lady that was the wife of a mission pastor at a church in Austin TX. She and her husband are moving to Africa this summer. When Shell and I were trying to gather up our children and 12 carry on items, one of the "grandmotherly" ladies offered to help us get all our stuff to our next gate...three terminals over! She just happened to have been a missionary in Australia. On our flight, from Seattle to Anchorage we weren't able to sit together again, so Clint and I sat together, and Shell, Preston and Cara sat diagonal behind us. We had the opportunity to talk with a man in his late fifties, that was also moving back to Alaska, and was in a place of spiritual vulnerability. He had been an elder in the Mormon church, but had become disenfranchised to that church. He asked all kinds of questions about what we were doing, and couldn't believe that we would sell everything to follow Christ where he is leading us. I gave him one of my cards and told him of a great church in the Anchorage area that he was really interested in attending. You can pray for Russell, God is calling him to himself.
We are enjoying 2 days of visiting with my brother and his family in Houston, AK. We'll begin arctic gear shopping today, and head into Anchorage tomorrow to buy our 4 mo worth of groceries. We will also be meeting with several churches and christian leaders in the Anchorage area. Please pray that God would guide our conversations for his glory.
Other things to pray for:
- I'll be sharing the need for Sunday meals for dorm kids at FBC Big Lake Sunday morning.
- We as a family will be meeting the missions committee at Faith Bible Church in Wasilla, AK Sunday night.
- Pray for Kim Kopp as she travels to meet us on Thursday to help with meetings and shopping.

Thank you so much for your continued prayer and support!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The God of the details

Dear Friends,

   I trust that you had an excellent Christmas with family and friends. The Galena Bible Church took the opportunity to celebrate the birth of our savior with a Christmas Eve potluck and special music given by members of the church. Christmas evening was celebrated by many of the church family at one of the member's home, with food and games. What a wonderful thing it is when the church is 'of one heart'.

   God has blessed Shell and I so much during this intense time of transition. From simple things like safety in travel, to important things like patience in trial we have seen God's hand in everything that has been going on around us.  We want to share God's sovereign grace with you so that you, like us, can be in awe of our God of the details.

- God has lead several churches and individuals to committ to be financial supporters.
- God has enabled us to sell 80 percent of what we own (which was a major task). We now have everything we own in a 10x10 storage unit that we will move to Galena this summer.
- God has helped us to sell our home, which we closed on this past Wednesday.
- God lead Illiamna Air transport to volunteer to fly our family from Anchorage to Galena for free, with all of our groceries (all four months worth), and our dogs too! This was a HUGE blessing since that trip was going to cost us over a $1000 plus the cost of shipping our groceries!!
- God has given us favor to speak to several additional churches who are interested in partnering with the Galena Bible Church in missions.
- God has even provided a place for us to keep our homeless dogs until we fly out on the 10th of January.

   We await with eager anticipation to begin serving with the Galena Bible Church. We ask that you would partner in prayer with us for these specific prayer requests.
- Pray that the Galena Bible Church would continue to love and support one another as they do now.
- Pray for Martin and Silke Hornfisher (German missionaries in Galena) that God would open doors for them to connect to people in the community.
- Pray that God would empower me to speak with boldness as I preach both morning services at FBC Ville Platt Sunday the 9th.
- Pray that my truck would sell before we leave (if you know of anyone interested let me know :) ).
- Pray for endurance as we finish out the marathon of checklists left to complete.
- Pray for protection from the enemy for my family. We have seen his attempts to attack us.

May the God of the details bless you as you rest in him. "all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16