Monday, July 19th
First day of cooking for my Texas team of 21. Never know how things will go until you are in the midst of them or until they're over, really, when it comes to food. Breakfast on a Monday should be a great first impression...at least I think it should be anyway. Made french toast and bacon as the main items...always had fruit and cereal as well as options. I had made the egg batter the night before so all I had to do this morning is actually cook the food. The stoves were awesome...two big gas stoves with most of the burners working. The only issue was the fact that the plug ins for the griddles I was using to make the french toast were across the room from the stoves where the bacon was frying. I am good, but not good enough to be in two places at one time, so when one of the ladies asked if she could help I graciously accepted and asked if she would take over the bacon. It just so happens she fries bacon every morning at home. That was God's first of many blessings to come this week in the kitchen. Breakfast finished cooking, they ate...I sighed a huge sigh of relief! One meal complete...only about 17 more to go. :) They wouldn't go hungry the first few hours at least.
The lunch was going to be sandwiches they would make once returning from orientation at Calvary...not too much preparation for that. I made some rice crispie treats before we left to have for dessert with our sandwiches. Those are always a favorite sweet something...and they were a hit. I am a huge fan of making desserts...homemade goodies just make the meal complete in some way that nothing else can.
Orientation was interesting...I was invited to sit with some of my team, which was nice. We had begun to mesh over bacon that morning and it continued to grow into a great relationship all week long. Although I had only met them hours before, I still knew my team better than I did anyone else at Calvary for orientation that morning...(except for Traci, of course). They gave me a sense of belonging that God knew I needed. I thank Him still to this day for sending us to Eagle River, AK at the same time!
After orientation, we went back to the annex and the team passed out flyers before lunch. I got the fixings out for lunch and made another batch of rice crispie treats...just in case. :) Good thing I did...when lunch was over and the team headed out to the park for the afternoon there was only one left.
The afternoon for me was spent getting things ready for the Alaskan fish fry we were having that night...I did all the sides and left the fish in the hands of the mighty, capable, Jay...griller of the salmon. It was a nice quiet time...just me and the potatoes I was wrapping in foil to bake for dinner...made a few phone calls while it was still early in the Eastern time zone...and then prepared the Cherry Delight dessert.
I haven't shared yet about the coffee and tea drinkers on my team...I really never knew how much coffee was a part of some people's lives until this week. Unbelievable amounts of coffee were made throughout the entire day...and always consumed to the last drop. Three pots of coffee were gone before 7:30 (breakfast time) and I don't know how many cups of hot water for tea...I learned early on to make sure to keep an eye on the coffee and hot water levels. They were a gracious team and made more if they saw I was busy, though, too.
I always like to have an open door policy when I am in the kitchen...come and go as you please, just clean up after yourselves. It's fun and inviting that way, I've found. And, this week, it proved to be a great time of fun and fellowship in the Lord. It helped, I'm sure, that the kitchen was always the warmest room in the building...some just came in to get warm and that was a great way to get to know my team as well. Self preservation always brings up things for discussion. :)
The salmon dinner was a huge hit...and for those of us who just aren't lovers of all things fishy, I had asked Jay if he minded grilling some chicken as well. And, because he's a really nice guy, he did...and we were all happy and well fed. (And, if you ever read this, Jay, thanks again for grilling for us...you did an awesome job!) I was a trooper and tried a piece of salmon. I am probably the only person who, upon tasting it, did not "Ooh!" and "Ahh!" at it's flavor but instead wondered to myself, "Now what do I eat to get this taste out of my mouth?!" At least I tasted it...
After dinner we were off as a group to downtown Anchorage, some to attend the Native New Life Fellowship church service and some to shop...your choice. I went to NNLF and loved every minute of it. The first part of the service people called out page numbers of songs they wanted to sing and the leader led us in them. Then, after awhile, the leader would call out people's names for them to come up front and share a testimony or a song. I heard songs sung in native tongue for the first time in Alaska...it brought tears to my eyes, it was so moving. The people would sing 3 verses in their native language and then the last verse in English so one could recognize it if they didn't know the tune already. One lady sang with her parents in Chu'pik...it was beautiful. Come to find out she was the oldest of their 11 children...amazing testimony and beautiful family.
The leader called up another group to sing a song...this one left me speechless, coming from the lower 48 in the heart of the Bible Belt. He called for anyone who had been addicted to alcohol before coming to know Jesus as Savior to come and sing a song together. Without hesitation, people began to walk forward. I counted them, but I forget now whether it was 9 or 11 people that ended up singing...that was about 9 more than would have gone forward in churches back home. It was a great testimony to me that they had nothing to hide, but wanted to glorify God by testifying that He had helped them overcome alcoholism! It wasn't something of which to be ashamed, but it was to be proclaimed that God is mighty to save! It made me realize we focus on the sin much more than the Savior more often than we should. Any of us as children of God could have stood up on stage with them for He saved us all from sins that entangled us...alcoholism just happens to be very dominant in Alaska.
The night ended with a visiting Pastor giving a message from Philippians...a great message of hope! God blessed me in that service, more than I could ever have imagined possible.
God is good!
We made a late night even later by driving down to Earthquake Park before heading back to Eagle River...no moose, but some frangrant roses and huge mosquitoes were along the pathways.
P.S. I realized after getting home today, I haven't taken but a few pictures in two days...so unlike me when in Alaska. I have to remedy this starting tomorrow! :)