Friday, December 27, 2013

It's just different here

As I look out the window this cold December afternoon and gaze at the ice fog that -45F creates I cant help but be reminded that it's just different here.  Not different bad, not different good, just different from what was once normal. The week leading up to Christmas framed that well for me. Though the outcomes would have all been the same, the challenges and difficulties are just...well different.

Sunday of that week a friend asked me to come check out the plumbing situation at his home. To his and my chagrin we discovered that the boiler line that is supposed to keep the sewer tank from freezing was not working. This created a 4 foot by 3 foot by 6 foot block of...bush learning opportunity. There are a couple of things that are different here: First, who asks their pastor about plumbing problems? Outside the bush you call a plumber or boiler repairman. Second, who has a sewer tank in their home? Well most of Galena does. This has to be pumped out periodically by the city. We set up a heating system to thaw the pipes and tank and let it be to do it's work. It's just different.

The following day (Monday) I decided that I needed to go to the post office and stop by to check on our plumbing progress. I made a right hand turn but my van decided that it really wanted to move diagonally rather than follow the path that I was telling it to go. This resulted in me running into the drivers side corner of a community members truck. Mortified I got out, made sure he was OK, and assessed the damage to his rig. It was all surface damage to the bumper, fender, and door. Nothing mechanical, or structural. There are a couple of things different here: If I lived on the road system, we would exchange insurance, call a cop, and then call a tow company.  Higher insurance rates would come later, his truck would be fixed and that's the end of it. Here we have no cop, no insurance, no body shop, no wrecker company, nothing. So as I've committed to fixing his truck I'm still calling around to auto parts companies and dealing with the challenge of "we don't ship to Alaska". Once I locate parts I'll have to borrow someones garage and replace all the parts. It's just different.

The following day (Tuesday) I went to pick up our mail from the Post Office and when I put the van into reverse, the shifter on the steering column broke. It would go into Neutral, Drive, and Reverse, but not Park. No problem I'll just drive it over to the local auto shop and ... oh we don't have one of those. No problem I'll just stop by the auto parts place and pick up what I need to...oh we don't have one of those either. No, I'll order the part on Amazon and wait for it to arrive. A week later, the part has since arrived and the shifter has since broken further which has the van stuck in drive. The negative 40 temperatures outside have made it where I am not encouraged to work inside the van. (The repair involves me disassembling the steering column.)  It's just different.

The following Friday, our dog that we've had since we got married over 12 years ago decided to eat some uncooked bread dough that Shell had rising by the woodstove. She looked miserable when we found her, but we thought nothing of it since she's a dog and has been known to eat too much of things she wasn't supposed to. By Saturday morning she was unresponsive, and Sunday morning she died. Unbeknownst to us uncooked bread dough when ingested by dogs will let off Ethanol in sufficient volume to cause alcohol poisoning. If we lived where there was a vet we probably wouldn't have brought her in until it was too late anyway, but they would have made that discovery for us rather than us discovering it on our own. The outcome would have probably been the same, but the way it all happened was just different.

Two days later was Christmas Eve. We had a nice Christmas Eve service planned for the church body. However around 1pm I got a phone call from someone who stopped by church and told me that the thermostats were showing 40F. This is the lowest temp they display meaning it could be colder than that. I hurried over and found that the circulating pump on the boiler had seized up and wasn't heating the building. How many of you have a spare circulating pump sitting around? Galena Bible Church does! It's just different. After that was fixed and the heaters were working I left. When I returned at 5:30 to set up for the 6:30 service it had warmed up to a balmy 46F. In my experiences people would normally have said, "We should cancel church" or something like that. But these people kept their parkas on, drank coffee, sang beautiful Christmas Hymns of the joy in Christ's Advent, and observed the Lord's Supper. Never once a complaint, even from the kids warming their hands over the advent candles. It's different...and I love them.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.... Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.     James 1:2-4&12
The call to follow Jesus is just different. It's different from this world and it's different from how we normally think our lives should flow. We are always uncomfortable with different. I'm so glad that Jesus is not concerned with my comfort. Rather he is concerned with my joy in Him. He's just kinda different that way.

Things you can be praying for:
  • It would be great if we had a working vehicle again.
  • The Hornfischer family is still stuck in Germany awaiting the US Government to clear their religious workers Visas. Pray that they can return home soon.
  • Pray that the Lord would lead us to persons of peace in villages all across Alaska. 
  • There have been crisis reports up and down the river. Pray that the Lord would hold back the spiritual darkness that leads so many men to self harm.


denimandroses said...

Thank you for sharing your ministry with the rest of us. We will be praying for the things you asked us to pray for.

Dustin Hibbard said...

Just different and well... Pretty hard too! You're a tough man Chris even if you don't feel like it so often. I've known more than one who tossed in the towel who were serving in your neck of the woods. Thank you for remaining and shining while you remain. Did you hear that? Thank you! Tell Michelle thank you too.

I'm sorry for the loss of your dog. That's a real hit for your family and a sorrow I understand.

Praying for you... Will give you a call soon.