Monday, October 31, 2011

The weather outside is frightful...but the fire is so delightful.

To all that gave toward us being able to purchase the wood stove for the parsonage...THANK YOU!! What a blessing! We've been able to run the wood stove for about 2 weeks now and have not had to burn any fuel oil yet. This will help save the church thousands of dollars every winter. Those savings will help the church be able to do much more intentional ministry outreach.

Last weekend we hosted a SEND North Galena team building workshop. I have mentioned before the partnership that Galena Bible Church has made with SEND North in helping to equip potential Alaskan Bush missionaries in the ability to live and do ministry in rural Alaska. The vision of this partnership is three fold:

1. Providing an opportunity for missionaries to ease into the difficulties of living in rural Alaska (lack of supplies, difficulty of travel, DIY projects, extreme living conditions, etc.) so that they are able to transition from city life to Bush life.
2. Helping prepare them to minister in a different culture and context than they have before.
3. To have them in Galena means that they are exposed to students and adults from villages all over the state through GILA, Kokrine Hills Bible Camp, and Galena training events. This provides opportunities for them to develop a heart for a specific village before they go.

There are currently three SEND missionary families in Galena, and one couple 90 miles north in Huslia, Alaska. During the workshop, we met together to learn more about each other's gifting and to pray for God's leadership in church planting in Alaska. Galena Bible Church hopes to become a sister church to these new church plants and to be a support to their growth and development. In the coming weeks, SEND will be stationing a plane in Galena and we will begin to use it to support a group of believers in Ruby, AK, which is about 50 miles up river. We are so excited to see what God has in store for the interior of Alaska!
The Galena Bible Church has been doing very well. We finally remembered to take a picture at potluck. The church has been doing a great job of providing enough food for everyone. We've had some people donate paper and plastic ware, and that has been a huge blessing. THANK YOU for helping us serve these teens and our church family! For our newer readers: We do a potluck every Sunday because students from the dorms only have two meals on weekends. Brunch 11-12:30 and dinner. If they chose to come to church they basically opt out of Brunch. So Galena Bible Church decided last year to do a potluck every Sunday to remove that hindrance. As such we have seen our student body grow at the church.

 This past Saturday there were 5 guys and one young lady that helped rebuild a set of stairs for a family that is a part of the bible church. The existing stairs were dangerously rotten and went from the ground up to the house which was elevated about 9' off the ground. This would have been quite a fall if the stairs had failed. We worked in the driving snow and 5F temperature to get it finished in one day. It was such a beautiful thing to see God's people taking care of one another.

Things you can be praying for this coming week:
  • Tomorrow night we kickoff our Youth Group. Pray for the volunteers (myself and Shell included) that we would be effective at discipling students.
  • This coming weekend, ChangePoint Church in Anchorage is sending 3 guys on a mission trip to Galena. Please pray that we can utilize their time for the most impact.
  • Safety - The weather is cold and we've had more snow than usual for this time of year. Pray that as people begins to navigate the land via snow-gos (snow mobiles for non bush speakers) that they would be protected.
  • Spiritual Protection: The enemy is keenly aware of what God is doing here, and I have seen signs of attack. Pray for courage, and steadfastness for us and the rest of the believers as we continue to serve in spite of challenges.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Fiddler Floated Down The Yukon

Are you scared of heights??

We've now been in Galena for almost 10 months and I keep waiting for the season that "slows down". Maybe next week. The past couple of weeks have been a blur of events, projects, and spiritual conversations. Two weekends ago I was asked to be the Master of Ceremonies for the 2011 Yukon Jamboree, a fiddle and folk band concert that promotes sobriety and highlights musicians from 5 villages, and several student bands from GILA. It was a great privilege to be asked to serve since this is a "native" sponsored event. In between introducing bands, Shell and I educated some of the locals on the Cajun two step. There were a couple of other couples from Church that are proficient in country dancing, and even swing!Who said Christians can't dance.
We successfully  hooked up the plumbing at the church and once again have a flushing toilet. We still have a lot of finish work (paint, flooring, trim, etc) to do, but we are in good shape with the rest of the project. Since the Church bathroom is operational, I began working on the wood stove in the parsonage this week. We should have that operational by the end of today. 
YoungLife sponsored a Basket Ball Clinic for JrHigh and High school students Thurday, Friday, and Saturday. They averaged 45 students at each event. Saturday night the Church housed a youth event where the lead Basket Ball coach for the clinic could share his testimony and personal walk with Christ. This time at the church was advertized as a Christian event (no bait and switch here) and was still attended by 46 students!! We pray that Cornelius Williams' testimony impacts the lives of these students in a life altering way.
          Cornelius preached for me on Sunday morning, and was a blessing to us as a Body; not because of what he said, but because of what he received. He shared with us what we have been sensing from the Holy Spirit: This is a healthy body! Praise God! I have asked some of the people that have attended the church for a long time if they have EVER seen the body acting as they are now. Their answer was without hesitation: no. Community is going really well at Galena Bible Church, and when I have time I hope to blog about it and give you a snap shot of the Acts 4 type church activity that is taking place here.
The boys got to make their pizzas before the teens arrived. Hooray for Pizza!!
         Shell and I have also been busy getting to know more of the boarding school students through hosting dorm events. We hosted "Bakers Autonomous"- 14 teens descending upon our kitchen making fudge, cookies, and rice crispy treats. We also hosted another pizza making event with Jane Thistle similar to the one that we did not long after we arrived in Galena. Both of these events were an awesome opportunity for us to get to know a bunch of the dorm kids, and model a Christian home and loving relationships. A couple of the dorm kids have asked if we can be on their "sign-out" list, meaning we would have permission to check them out of the dorm individually. We're looking forward to having them over.

Some things I ask you to pray for:
  • Pray that this Spirit of Unity can be shared with other churches, and that we would guard against the certain attack of the enemy.
  • Pray that People who are not believers but who are attending church events would understand the difference between religious activity, and Christ's design for their relationship.
  • Pray for our Youth Group that will be starting in a couple weeks. Pray God would lead volunteers to step up to disciple Christian teens to boldly live out their faith.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Full Freezers and Warm Hearts

We have Moose!

Well, actually we now have hamburger, breakfast sausage, maple breakfast links, roasts, stew meat, ribs, backstrap, tenderloin, and 25 lbs. of moose andouille sausage. Have I mentioned how BIG a moose is? An average Bull Moose has about 300-400 lbs. of meat.  The church worked together with great effort to make sure that everyone's meat needs were met.  There were more people at church this year that could not hunt than could hunt.  (Law requires you be an AK resident for one year before you can shoot a moose).  So the church family rallied together and organized pairs of hunters with non hunters with the intent of the nonhunters going along to help with the whole process of getting the meat out of the wilderness and into freezers.  Consider it grocery shopping by boat.  When the church operates as a family it is easy to see God being honored. Acts 4:34a comes to mind: "There were no needy persons among them".  I believe part of my 'job' is to help meet the physical needs of the church as well as the spiritual.
Moose Heart...Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Right after my last post, I received a phone call from the chef at GILA, the boarding school.  He was wanting to show appreciation for what the believers have been doing for the community, so he invited us to cut meat that had been donated by guided hunters, most of whom only want the rack  Fifty percent of the cut meat goes to elders and to the GILA cafeteria to feed dorm students.  The other fifty percent we got to keep.  So we invited three other families in the church to help us cut four front quarters, four sets of ribs, and about 200 pounds of neck meat.
I hunted with Keith Ramos the following week from Monday to Friday. We came home with a moose, but not one that we shot. Steve Pavish took a medium sized bull and gave it to us to share. This completed our meat need for the winter. I thank God for the generosity of his people.

I arrived home from hunting on the 23rd and 4 guys from The Gathering Place Church in Alexandria Louisiana arrived on the 24th for a week long mission trip. Job number #1: Cut meat. The above meat pictures are from our 10 hour cutting party. The guys were such a blessing to us and our community. They cut meat for 5 families, gathered, cut and split firewood for a lady at church, leveled a porch, helped clean before winter snow, and worked at the church removing the failed sewer tank and beginning the bathroom remodel. I think the guys attained sainthood for their work removing the tank. Once we got it out, we found 3 quarter sized holes IN THE BOTTOM! 
The way it was.

As always we loved having the guys stay with us. They are already planning on coming again, and bringing their families with them.
Well, I feel that this is an inadiquate post for the business that has been the past month, but the business isn't over. I'm off to go work on the church bathroom some more.

Things you can pray for this week:
  • Pray for a young native guy who I got to spend some time with today. He made a profession of faith last year, but has just started college and is struggling. Pray that he will connect with the believers I put him in contact with in Fairbanks.
  • Youth Group: The Bible Church is going to be starting a youth group this month. Pray for guidance and leaders as we begin this ministry.
  • YoungLife Basketball Clinic: The YoungLife youth ministry will be hosting a basketball clinic in a week and a half. Pray that the last minuet details fall into place and that the Holy Spirit will lead students to attend and hear the Gospel.