Wednesday, August 26, 2009

love them like Jesus...


Thinking again about Alaska and some of the specific things God taught me...or at least reminded me of while there...

This time I'm thinking on the Great Commission. There's never a time when I, as a Christian, can pat myself on the back and say that I shared the Gospel and consider it time to sit back and relax now that I've done my duty. There's always another person who needs to hear the Good News...always another person who needs to find freedom from sin...always another person who needs to experience God's grace. Never can I say that there's nothing else for me to do...I have a purpose and will have until my last breath.

He's still working on me...and I'm so glad He is!


Friday, August 21, 2009

another time...another place

I ran across a song from years ago...made me cry then and now when I heard it. Thoughts that crossed my mind as I listened to it again...music is indeed timeless and much more so is the God I love and serve. He inhabits eternity...the past, present, and future! Inhabits...oh, that I would allow Him to inhabit my thoughts, my heart, my life!!! Every inch of me should be inhabited by God...not things of God (see a previous blog on that one) but God. How things would be different...I'm inspired. I'm humbled, but ready for a change.

Another Time, Another Place (Sandi Patti/Wayne Watson)

I've always heard there is a land
Beyond the mortal dreams of man
Where every tear will be left behind
But it must be in another time
There'll be an everlasting light
Shining a purest holy white
And every fear will be erased
But it must be in another place

So, I'm waiting for another time and another place
Where all my hopes and dreams will be captured
With one look at Jesus' face

Oh, my heart's been burnin'
My soul keeps yearnin'
Sometimes I can't hardly wait
For that sweet, sweet someday
When I'll be swept away
To another time and another place

I've grown so tired of earthly things
They promise peace but furnish pain
All of life's sweetest joys combined
Could never match those in another time

And though I've put my trust in Christ
And felt His Spirit move in my life
I know it's truly just a taste
Of His glory in another place

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Alaska......I miss you....


Once again I found myself off in la-la land today thinking about my time(s) in Alaska. Oh, how it is addictive and thought provoking...so many wonderful God moments and things to think on...

The norm for my life changed last year in Alaska...and I am so glad it did! God blessed me twice with back to back trips to Alaska, and I'm forever grateful for every moment spent there and shared there with old and new friends alike!

I miss Alaska...and so ready to return again and again...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

from one extreme to the other


Last year after arriving in Atlanta from Anchorage, I found myself back in the airport bound for Florida within a few hours...and, this year, although it was a few days, I found myself back in the sunshine state after AK again. :) This is quite the trend...one could get used to it, too.


We left Thursday for FL with the fam...including, Fran, my mother-in-law (Kenneth drove down once finished with some business in south GA). We spent the weekend in Panama City Beach at the Holiday Inn SunSpree. Nice place...very family/kid friendly atmosphere.


I love having my quiet time with God out on the beach down by the ocean...the sound of the crashing waves takes away all the distractions that life has to offer. There's such power found in those waves, too...not unlike their Creator. I had time to reflect on my time in Alaska, too, sitting there...and dream about what the future may bring. God reminded me of things I need to do differently in life, things that He alone brought about, and things that He has promised to His children. I am blessed to have a God who is alive...who cares about the little and big things in my life...and who made me with a purpose. Me...of all people...


A great time was had by all. Not all of life's questions were answered down by the shore, but I know the One who holds the past, present and future and I am okay because of that and that alone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alaska: Day 7



7.31.09 Final day in Alaska...it has been a great week and there's mixed emotions about leaving. Ready to see the fam, but have a love of Alaska that just makes me want to stay. It has been another great week...God moving hearts and paving the way for an awesome display of His power and control. His knowledge does indeed exceed anything we can come up with ourselves.

It was a great day for sightseeing. Woke to sunshine and clear blue skies with warmer temps. We got an early start to Portage and had fun all day long, although wearing down from our late night at the house just hanging out and talking.




We visited the same places as last year, but in addition, we were able to take an hour long cruise on the Ptarmigan to see the glaciers up close and personal. It was awesome! After the tour, we hiked to the Byron Glacier and had fun on it...we took the girls sliding down on trash bags like we did last year. They seemed to enjoy that alot with us. We made trash bags fashionable again.

I spotted a black bear on the mountain side on the hike back. The joke for the rest of the day was whether or not somebody saw a bear...apparently, people doubted it to be a bear. However, it was a bear...it moved and everything. Nothing else was big and black on the entire mountain and moving. It was a bear. :)

We had a good day of sightseeing and fun. Went back and finished packing up and getting ready for our 7:30 flight. Had dinner and said our goodbyes to the IL team and our staff. The only thing that I had hoped to see during our trip was another amazing rainbow like last year. With all the rain one would have thought there to be many...but none. None that is until we were just off the ground and I looked one last time for one and to my amazement there was one...small, but a rainbow nonetheless. God is good...all the time.

Now that I'm on the plane I'm ready to see the fam...having to leave, but making plans to return. We'll wait and see what God has in store...

Alaska: Day 6










7.30.09 Happy Birthday, Ryan!



This is our last day of mission work...tomorrow we go sightseeing down to the Portage area. We went to the Food Bank of Alaska this morning. It was fun being back again. Mariko remembered us from last year somehow...I hope that's a good thing. :) We got to pack frozen bluberries into individual bags that would be going into children's lunches. I must say they were tasty blueberries...some would land on the table much to my liking. Our team of 9 was joined by a group of 14 from Alabama & the Carolinas that were in the Anchorage area working but not with GraceWorks. We knocked out quite a few boxes of blueberries...it was easier to work with the blueberries than the salmon and fries last year.

We had lunch back at the annex and rested up for our afternoon at the club. Once there, the kids were everywhere. We had a larger crowd today and it was rather chaotic. Once prayer was said it seemed to calm down enough to get our Bible time done and done well. I'm pleased with how Bible went this week...the message of God's love, protection, and forgivess through Jesus was given and that's what matters most.

My Brianna was back today! She opened up more to me today and wanted to be beside me every minute. I ended up holding her with her head on my shoulder for over an hour. She is so, so precious. Maya was on my lap during puppets too...Brianna on my left knee and Maya on my right. I was happy. The puppet team had a large crowd today too. They did balloons again after the puppet show. And, much to our pleasure, the new kids came today. Hopefully their mom will tell them the meaning once they get home. When it was time for us to leave Maya busted out in sobs and Brianna wouldn't leave my side. Brianna ever so sweetly said goodbye and gave me a big hug as I got up to leave and Maya gave me a huge hug, too. The worst part about coming to Alaska is always having to leave.

Nothing like Moose's Tooth pizza to make someone feel better, right? That's what we did after the club. It was absolutely as good if not better than what people had said. Yummy! They had freshbrewed Cream Soda which Jay and I split a pitcher of between us. And, there are moose on their plates...so cute. We got there right before the line started forming for seating. Perfect timing.

We spent the night just chilling at the house afterwards...Jay went to the airport to fly out tonight. It's been a great week of work...now time to play.

Alaska: Day 5

Well, rain has indeed affected our time here this year, but we're making the most of it. Our plans to work at Pioneer Home this morning were cancelled because our work there was to be outside. We worked at Grandview Baptist Church instead doing some odd jobs for them. We cleaned out closets, organized storage rooms, built shelves...and carried trash out. It was a productive morning...and we of course had some fun along the way.


We had lunch and set off early to the club. It's fun just hanging out with the kids and showing them love and attention. Several of the girls are always at my side...we just talk and mostly I listen. There are two sisters Cheyenne & Cherokee that are so sweet...and they have native bloodlines to follow suit with their names. Such young beauties! Another Cheyanne is one we met last year...she was so surprised that I remembered her. Maya is as sweet as ever and Brianna hasn't been around the past couple of days...missing her sweetness. :) It's going to be hard to leave again this year.


The puppet team did balloon animals for the kids today and it was a huge hit. They'll probably do them again when we go back to the club for our evening activity. The gals did a great job handling the mobs of kids waiting for balloons all around them...it could have been overwhelming but they handled it marvelously well. Afterwards, we all went to the Ulu Factory downtown and had fun shopping and goofing off before heading back for dinner.


We had sunshine this afternoon/evening...Praise God!!! We had fun back at the club tonight...they did balloons with them again and we all just hung out with them and spent time with them. We had some new kids come over who didn't speak a word of English. We told themto come back at 2 tomorrow, too, for Bible and puppets. One of the funniest things happened to David tonight. He was sword fighting with kids and stumbled into the trash can behind him and ended up sitting in it. It was so funny! Glad the can caught him, otherwise he would've had a long, hard fall to the ground.


We drove up to Eagle River tonight. It was a nice night for that drive. We had a little black bear run across the road in front of us. So cute! We drove to the coast, too, after Eagle River for sunset. Beautiful! David kept us entertained with his Russian accent and stories about Dudley, his pet chicken and whale rats...did John enjoy this?...no, not so much. Today we came up with nicknames for the girls...it started with "Kara-bou" and then went on to Hannah Moose...it went over well. Made them smile that we included them into our craziness.


I love Alaska.

Alaska: Day 4

7.28.09
Tuesdays in Alaska are turning out to be the best days ever! I awoke this morning at 5 am (again) and God revealed to me the reason I'm back in Alaska. Let me say that I'd like to awake to a revelation like this every morning. :) God had me back in Alaska to help our two teams mesh together...He needed me to be there for Hannah and Kara, specifically. And, the neat thing is, too, that my desire to return was so emminent from the start because the IL team knew they were coming last fall already and had tickets bought by November. God was working last year already to get this summer underway. That's awesome! And, for a week, I am back in youth leadership...I am blessed to have been the one appointed to such a service. This gives me encouragement to keep on patiently waiting on God to see how other desires and dreams I have can be realized in His time. He does provide exactly what we need when we need it.


We returned to Mountain View Baptist to hand out food this morning. This was so well organized...I was impressed. The registration was ran by a sweet elderly lady and she kept things running like a well oiled machine. When people registered she would get their card out and hand it to one of us to take the person(s) downstairs to assist them in choosing their food from the options laid out for them. They were given so many of each item per number of people in their families. Pretty basic instructions (I like that)...and things went well. I was impressed by the fact that those I interacted with were respectful and thankful for the food...and, if they didn't "need" a particular item they passed on taking it. I learned a lesson in judging people in this way...yes, by serving others we are able to learn more about ourselves and where our faults lie in our own lives. The morning passed by quickly. (And, I just realized that it's Tuesday again and they'll be passing out food to more folks in just a few hours...need to pray for that ministry).


Having lunch next, we relaxed for awhile before heading out again. I was feeling the jet lag finally set in big time. I fell asleep along with some others for awhile after lunch...nothing like a power nap to get one going again! :) Before we headed to the club we went to Home Depot and purchased some plants and flowers to plant at the club. We decided that since those seeds might not grow or at least not bloom prior to winter coming, we could give them some that they could enjoy for a few weeks yet. It was pouring rain at the time, but we went ahead and bought them just in case we could get planting them in if it stopped raining so hard.


At the club, we had Bible first off as we always do. Bigger attendance today. The kids who choose to come are ones who seem to have some knowledge of the Bible stories I'm covering. They pay attention pretty well for being outside with all the distractions around us. Unlike last year, we were not allowed inside the building for Bible club...it seems that right after our visit last year someone complained about God being talked about inside the building so that has to happen outside rain or not. We're enjoying the time together...and they like the bubble gum they get for answering questions from the previous day. :)

The rained stopped enough for us to go and plant the flowers with the kids. Ryan helped me out today. It was so much fun...and the kids were so well behaved. They did so well and we got the flowers planted in no time...with smiles all around.

During puppet time today a really strange thing happened. A man came up from seemingly nowhere with a rose to his face. He gave it away to one of the girls, but stayed around. As the singing started he went off to where some kids were digging in the dirt and had not come when we invited them before and somehow he coaxed them to come over and join us. And, during the show he was quieting them down and singing right along with the puppets...even joining in with the hand puppets the team had passed out to the kids. Before we knew it then, he pretty much disappeared just as quickly as he had first appeared. We're not so sure that we weren't visited by an angel today.

After the boys and girls club, back to the annex for dinner. We were supposed to get to Thunderbird Falls but it was pouring rain so we decided against this trip and went down to Bird Creek instead to see those in action fishing for salmon. It was incredible. Made me want to get in on the action...maybe next time. :) We stopped on the way back at this place where you can pan for gold...it was about to close so I didn't get to pan for gold, but I did find an Alaskan license plate like I've been wanting. It was ran by a lady and her father...they had so many interesting stories to tell. Mr. Bobby was in his element for sure. Just across the road, too, I had spotted an eagle as we pulled in to the parking lot. It was beautiful. We saw it up close through one of those telescope viewing things...(yeah, real technical terminology I'm using there). It was a good night even with rain along the way. No moose sightings tonight...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Alaska: Day 3

7.27.09 God is good. We went to work today...yay! After breakfast and devotions, we headed out all together to work at the Boys & Girls Club for the morning. Getting there, Dave told us what needed to be done: trash pick up around the park area, sweeping up glass, and planting seeds that were donated to them. I volunteered with that since I love to garden. It took all of about 2 minutes for David and me to have a group of about 6 kids hovering around us and claiming us as their own as we went to get the seeds, gardening tools, and walk out to the garden area. They were all new faces, too...such sweet boys and girls. I stand in awe of God and how He used such a simple task to open doors to develop relationships with the kids right from the start. It was so much fun planting seeds with the kids...don't know that any of them will grow, but it sure was a ministry moment for us.
After gardening and picking up trash, we went inside to do some work. The men went to work in the basement fixing some furniture and the rest of us went into the multipurpose room to clean it. We had a chance to get to know our team leaders better during this time, too, which was nice. Melissa and Jerry are from Newnan...go figure! They have been going into a bush village for the last 3 years and decided to work on staff this summer. Their stories were captivating.

We went to lunch back at the annex and then headed out to Mountain View Baptist church to help get food ready for the food giveaway on Tuesday before going to do Bible Club at the B&G Club at 2. We had to organize their pantry and aslo pull out items for distribution. Tomorrow is going to be fun and something we haven't done before.

Back at the club, the time went by so fast. The kids had met us earlier, so it was almost like day 2 for us. They came running when they saw the van. I was teaching the Bible lessons again this year. We had a small group, but you could tell they have been paying attention to the other teams before us and also at church that some claimed they went to every Sunday. The kids are a blessing to be around. It was fulfilling to be there again in their midst sharing God's love and truth with them. David and Ryan have their hands full giving piggyback rides and holding the little ones. Some of the older girls took to my side and we spent alot of time talking. The puppet team, Heavenly Hands, are such a blessing to have at the club with us. It makes the afternoon complete when they come at the end and have songs and a puppet show for the kids. They work at Canchee Park, first where they have a puppet show and hand out pb&j sandwiches to the kids. They say it was trying the first day and very chaotic...kind of reminds me of our first day that the club last year. With us at the club to help crowd control their time there was what I would consider a success. The kids loved the puppets and songs. I like that I get to mingle in the crowd with the kids during the puppet time. That makes me happy. There's a sweet little one named Brianna who just stands beside me and doesn't say much. She won't open up yet and won't open up to the boys at all. She's truly an Alaskan Princess. Little Maya is adorable as well. So full of energy and smiles. It was hard to leave and it was only our first day...

After dinner, we headed out to Hatcher's Pass. It was a dreary afternoon, but it was something new and we were up for the adventure. We had alot of fun on the drive up and back. We're getting along with the other team really well. The girls are getting used to our ways...and are alot of fun to have around.

Our days are long, but going by so quickly...




Alaska: Day 2

7.26.09
I was up at 5, but awake since 4. All the excitement and time change I guess has me up now. Church wasn't until 11, so after breakfast our 5 took a walk down to the coast and then through downtown. It was a great morning for a walk and we saw alot of downtown that we didn't get to last year. Saw lots of interesting houses, buildings and stores along the way. My favorite was seeing "The Sleeping Lady" and also then the mountains once we were closer back to First Baptist. Beautiful way to start our day.

Church was good...it's always an adventure going to a different church. We had lunch and then met alot of the staff at orientation. We moved to the Grandview Annex house afterwards. The married couple had their own room...the guys their own...the two girls a room...and for me, they offered me to stay in a room by myself but it was the storage room. After considering it, I moved in with the girls from IL.

We went to the Marketplace and to Walmart...got the souvenir shopping out of the way. Found Tim a stuffed moose, an igloo ornament and stackable Pooh characters from the Russian booth that I loved last year. Alex requested golf balls and an igloo ornament...found him a clay whistle, too. The night was young, so after the marketplace we dropped off our stuff and headed out on an adventure. First stop was FlatTop and then we went on a moose hunt, led of course, by the Great White Moose Hunter. :) Didn't take but a short drive down by Earthquake Park to find a baby and mama moose...and then, just a little further down we saw a bull moose, too. Not bad for day one of moose hunting! That bull moose was huge.

We made stops at "Atheist Park" (aka Airport Park) and then down at the coast by the airport. It's just as beautiful as I remember it being...

On the way back we pull over to the side of the road to see another moose and some get out but Jay, Ryan and I do not. A wildlife conservation officer pulls up and Jay says that it would be cool to see him pull out his "sterilizer" gun (meaning of course, tranquilizer gun). Ryan and I are just dying laughing because Jay doesn't realize his blunder. Ryan asks him a couple more questions and then finally we fill him in on what he's saying. That was a running joke for the rest of the week. Good times.





Alaska: GraceWorks 2009

I am home from a great week in Alaska...and missing it already. I kept a daily journal while there, so I'll share my thoughts from that. Maybe that will give everyone a better idea of exactly what we did on our trip. Be warned if you go to Alaska...it's addictive and you'll want to go back.

Day 1
7.25 Wow! It has happened...I'm back in Alaska. God is good - all the time. And, the awesome thing about God is He's good whether I am in AK or not. My status doesn't affect His, but His will always affect mine.

I am almost speechless at all that God has made possible. He's a wonder, that's for sure. Today...(all 24 hours of it) we gathered at church after a quiet morning at home with Scott & the boys and a late breakfast at CFA. We had prayer and left for the airport, courtesy of Dennis who drove us in the church van. We made it through the airport with no problems and had plenty of time to relax before boarding. There were some funny moments, however, along the way. For example, somehow in the security check line discussing with Ryan and David about what all you had to remove for screening it made it seem as if I told Ryan he had to strip of everything...so he started playing along those lines. I thought the three of us were going to fall over laughing. The fun was just beginning...

The flight went well. It actually went faster for me this year having only the 4 of us all seated together. The longer the flight the funnier things got. One time I looked out the window and asked, "Is that a wing?" to which they all replied something like, "Well, I hope it's a wing since we are flying." and "No, Janet, it's a leg and we're walking to AK." Once I was watching the flight on the screen in front of me and leaned over to David all excited saying, "Look, David! We're getting close to Juneau." "Constantly. We're moving." was his reply. I had tears from laughing so hard. Of course, then I had to make a Juneau joke, don't Ju-neau. :)

I was anxiously awaiting the snow capped mountains that we would see along the flight. Kept an eye out for them every now and again. When I lifted my window shade and saw them for the first time of course I found myself saying "Wow!" before I could even think about it. The view this year was clearer and more captivating than last year, hands down.

We landed in rain. Got settled in the house by First Baptist and met the team from IL that will be working with us this week. We move to Grandview tomorrow afternoon. We'll go to church at First Baptist and then have lunch and orientation before moving. I am so thankful for God allowing me and appointing me to come. (I Timothy 1:12). I'm thankful for GraceWorks as well, making it possible to serve the people of AK. I'm blessed beyond measure. Things are different this year, but that's okay. Awesome first day.