Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21Monday, June 24th
The day that I/we have been waiting for all year long finally arrived! Honestly, it's better than Christmas morning for me. Getting to be a part of something so totally bigger than myself is the most awesome thing ever! God is going to do amazing things this week and today was the first day to witness His ability to make a distraction an attraction.
Monday mornings of our trip are most often early mornings due to the fact that our bodies are still on EST. Nothing like being awake at 4 or 5 AM after having just arrived in Anchorage around midnight (or 2 AM, so some did).
However, I awoke after my 2.5 hours of sleep, thanking God that ALL of our team made it in to Anchorage! A few hours earlier, I did not know if this was going to be the case. Three of our team were delayed in Atlanta and eventually had their initial flight canceled. However, thanks to a great gentleman who helped them go over details with the agent, they all boarded a flight to Portland and made it from there to Anchorage sometime after 1 AM. I stayed awake to welcome them in to the church and give them all big hugs! I was so thankful that God provided a means to getting them here for the beginning of our week!
Enjoying a cup of coffee with S and R before breakfast...okay, maybe more than
Orientation happens on Monday morning. I will not give you the word for word orientation, but I, along with 20+ other people, could if you ever want to hear it. :) After orientation, we were served lunch at the church. Last minute prep has taken place, we have eaten, we are loading up the vans...it's park time!
Driving up the road to our park, it's a scene unfolding in front of us that should surprise us...but it does not because we are on a spiritual battlefield when on this mission. Not just one, but several police cars are parked where we usually park our vans. People are chatting with police, not necessarily voluntarily though. We park on the other side of the park and proceed to get our things out and set up for the day. Lots of kids are already at the park trying to see and figure out what is going on at the neighbor's. It ends up that 5 police cars and a firetruck later, a man is hauled off in handcuffs in the back of a police cruiser for whatever it is that he has allegedly done.
However, what Satan meant as a distraction, God used as an attraction to the park. People came milling in from every direction. We were able to meet people and talk with them about the police cars and such and why we were there. In the middle of all the police business, we had little faces to meet and greet. Our park hosts are awesome! I have had the pleasure of getting to know them a little over the past two weeks...even have visited our park on a few occasions and put some names with faces ahead of time. It has made the transition into our park so smooth having such great staff to work alongside of us, giving us the direction we need to get our feet on the ground and running.
We meet kids, hand out lunches, put names with faces...loving every second of it!
It comes time for the Bible lesson. Most kids are gathered around the picnic table. So, I go where the kids are and attempt to teach them where they are. Unfortunately, behind me is the swing set. On it, someone is flying like Superman. David and Jonathan's story of friendship cannot compete with Superman. So, I turn and enjoy the moment with the other kids. After that has subsided, I get in the rest of the lesson. For the typical chaotic Monday afternoon, it's not so bad. I expect it, so it does not rattle me. I do note that things need to change for the rest of the week.
As we are chatting with the kids at the picnic table, a discussion occurs with one boy, N, over what he likes for a summer day's treat. He says rootbeer floats. It inspires the notion that we will take the money given to our team from a men's SS class to use on our park kids and purchase ice cream and rootbeer for tomorrow after the Bible lesson. We will give them a treat after each Bible lesson if they sit down and actually listen the rest of the week. The plan is coming together for the rest of the week and our first day isn't even over yet!
One little boy has stolen a piece of my heart. L is a red-headed, smiling all the time, fast talking boy becoming a fast friend of mine. His stories go long and get longer as you listen. As we were getting ready to leave the park, he is accused of doing something to another boy in the park. The older sister goes off on L and his brother...her voice can be heard around the block, I am sure. Mrs. S and I encourage and usher the boys out of the park, telling them to go home and stay there for their own safety. The sister is still steaming over whatever it is she thinks has happened. As our team is going toward a trailer park to pass out flyers about our park party on Wednesday, Mrs. S and I see the boys outside of their house playing. We stand in front of their house on the side of the street watching as a group comes toward the house...the older sister leading the way. Just before the group gets there we convince the boys to go inside until they pass by. We have an opportunity then to speak with his mother for a few seconds. She is a street tough lady. Reminds me of what the older sister is going to turn out like unless the pattern is broken. The posse passes by without incident and remains away for the time we are there. Meanwhile, the rest of the team has had good contacts inside the trailer park. It's time to go back to the church. I was praying for things to settle down while we head back...the mama in me really wanted to protect my newest young ones that have made their way into my life...my heart. But much more and way better than I ever could, God has His eye on them.
The day in the park flew by...the excitement of being there among the kids is evident on all of our faces. The bonding takes place rather quickly with most kids. Others...it will take some time, as can be expected.
Monday evening after dinner we have free, so I take those who want to go with me to the Native New Life service. It's a church service on a Monday night that is videoed and broadcasted throughout the villages of Alaska. Singing, sharing of testimonies, and a speaker are part of tonight's service. It was cold in there, thankfully, or it would have been more of a struggle to stay awake. The time change and busy day were catching up to us all. It was a blessing to be there and experience a different way of worship.
It has been an amazing day with hopes of more to come!
God is God...and He is good!