Monday, January 16, 2012

Hardship and friendship

First of all: HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I hope that so far 2012 has found you blessed, and able to serve the Lord and the people around you in many ways. I apologize about the tardiness of this update, but as you will read in a moment, things have been......busy There has been a great many opportunities to develop the virtue of patience since my last update. Physical hardships have abounded since the cold snap that rolled in at Christmas, but I have been so impressed by the believers as I have watched them meet each others needs, and the needs of those around them.

Our Christmas Eve service was very enjoyable. We had about 45 people who attended, and had 10 or 11 people that shared different music, and led Christmas carols. It was very simple and very sweet. Christmas morning the church met again for our normal Sunday service, but we did not meet for potluck. It was that weekend that it started getting cold. It was about -38 by the end of Christmas day and it just got colder as the week progressed. Many people in town and in the church began to have problems with pipes freezing, and vehicles not working. So a large part of that week was spent at different peoples homes helping to thaw pipes.

New Years Eve we celebrated at my brothers house and popped fireworks on the slough behind his home. It was so cold that the wax on the candle that we were using to light the fireworks wouldn't melt sufficiently to keep the fire burning.  New Years day we saw -54 at our house. Another couple at church said their thermometer was reading -60. We still had church! It was a light crowd but we celebrated the morning together. After that weekend was when the real hardships started to develop for people.

Let me explain a couple of things about the functions of life in the village of Galena. Most homes do not have running water coming from the city. They have tanks in their homes that have to be filled every week or so, or they have a well. There are a few (our home in that few) that has city piped water. Most houses in Galena have tanked water. They either haul this themselves (the cheapest way) or have the city deliver the water. The same is true about the sewer systems of the houses. Most have septic tanks that have to be pumped when they are full. We also do not have a garbage pickup service. There are two dumpster location in town that you can bring your trash to, or you can drive out to the dump yourself which is 7 miles outside of town (almost at the end of the road). I'm explaining this to you so that you understand what has been endured in the past two weeks.

Problem one: Water station freezes. The pump house where individuals go to haul their own water freezes, thus inhibiting anyone from hauling water themselves. Luckily they can have it delivered by the cuty water truckl. Unfortunately, it freezes on a weekend, and a water delivery call-out on a weekend is an additional $100. This was a minor problem compared to the next problem.

Problem two: Trash truck failure. Apparently hydraulics and -45 below do not mix well with each other. The city asked all residents to hold their trash until further notice, or haul it to the dump themselves. This however pails in comparison to the final problem.

Problem Three: Sewer truck failure. Apparently nothing mixes well with 45 below for an extended period of time. The one sewer truck for the city had a motor malfunction that stopped it from being able to move. So sewer tanks that  were in need of pumping when it broke down were full for about 9 days. That means no flushing toilets, no showers, no laundry and nothing down the drain.

A couple of days ago I posted a "You know you're in Bush Alaska when..." post here is an additional one that was discussed right after that post. 
Lady from Church "Chris, did you get your honey bucket back from the other people that borrowed it? Can we borrow it?"
Me: "Yes I did and you are more than welcome to use it."
Her: "You know you live in Bush Alaska when you borrow a honey bucket from your pastor and you're not the first to borrow it."
Shell: "You know you're in Bush Alaska when your pastor owns a honey bucket."
Me: "You know you're in Bush Alaska when you know what a honey bucket is."

For those that don't know, a honey bucket is a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid. Ah the glamor of Alaska missions. We have been fairing exceedingly well through all of this. We have had no major problem with our own home situation. So it has freed me to be able to help others. Thanks so much for praying for us and for our church and community.

Last Sunday we kicked off a short series on the Great Commission called Discipleship. This Sunday I began teaching the adult Sunday School class a curriculum that I wrote called "To be a Hebrew" on Hebraic roots in the New Testament. We're looking at the Blood Covenant of the Old Testament, the Tabernacle, and the Feasts of Israel. I don't know if anyone else is as excited about it as me, but it should be a lot of fun.

Things you can be praying for:
- Shell and three other SEND Missionary wives will be attending a Ladies Retreat in Soldotna, AK next weekend with Arctic Barnabas. Pray for their safety, and encouragement there.
- Pray for me because I'll have all three kids to myself from Thursday to Sunday. My goal is to have as many at the end as I started with. 
- Pray for the SEND Missionaries (Brad and Madeline Fox, Martin and Silke Hornfischer, Josh and Theresa Kaufield) as they struggle with their homes in this long cold snap. Also pray that they would have clarity to know where and how to best serve the community and make relationships with people.
- Pray for warmer weather. I think my church would hurt me if I didn't ask you to pray for this.
- YoungLife volunteers will be traveling this coming weekend to attend the YL All Staff Meeting. Pray that God gives them encouragement and a fresh vision for reaching native Alaskan teens with the Gospel.
- Bible Church Youth Group will be starting back this Tuesday. Pray that we can continue to develop relationships with students, and model Godly love and wisdom to them.

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