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AK 2013: Saying Goodbye

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

AK2013teampicNo matter how many Fridays in the park I experience, they are always hard on my emotions.
I will never forget my first Friday's goodbyes to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.  That one was so heart wrenching...still feel it even now.  The kids followed us to the van, the clung to us (and we to them), and stood and waved with sad little faces as we pulled away.
I wish this unexpected tug on the heartstrings to no one else.
It hurts.
Painfully so.
After that goodbye, I always try to prepare my teams with a little pep talk about how it is okay to be sad and say so long, but leave it on a positive note that someone is following behind us with more cool people and fun stuff to do with them.  Okay, so it is really for me...but they need to know and be reminded, too...
It wouldn't be right for our park to have a non-dramatic ending.  We arrive to a body lying on the park bench.  From the kids we hear she's been there all day.
We go about our business with the kids who had ran over to the van before we even got out of it again.  Love those little faces!!!  A few new faces in the park today, which is good.  The dirty little familiar faces there make me smile...they break my heart at times, but I smile.  God is big enough and great enough to do something more for them than any one of us can.
I trust Him.
It has been a good week.
Tired, but press on.
Emotionally spent, but still play along when I get arrested again by D and return the hugs when I get hugged on by N and L.
P1180126I am going to miss these little guys something fierce!
We do lunches.  We play.  We talk.  All the normal stuff.  But, it is not the norm...this is different.
Bible time is an amazing God moment that will stand out for me for years to come.  Mrs. J volunteered many weeks ago and prepared for this day...this very moment of Bible time.  God came in a big way!  For some, the message of Salvation was watering seeds.  For others, it was a first time plant.  And, for a select few, it was harvest day!!!  We had 4 children accept Jesus as their Savior and it was amazing to see how God brought it all together.
Tag team ministry, as GraceWorks calls it, works well for many reasons.  Week after week in the summer, the message of Jesus and His redemption story is shared.  Some only get to plant and water seeds.  Others get a glimpse at the bigger picture and see those hearts ready to accept a Savior.
I had the pleasure of getting to talk afterwards with those who accepted Jesus that day.  They had a good handle on who Jesus was and what He did.  Room for growth and maturity, yes, but they got it.  A few wanted to understand more...and, hopefully, as the summer continues they will.
After the Bible message, Mrs. J had brought stuff to make survivor bracelets.  What a good item for Friday's craft, now that I really think about it!  Good positive item to end our week on.  Each of us on the team had been schooled on how to make them or finish them, so we were making bracelets one on one with the kids. This gave much opportunity for talking about the salvation message we had just heard while braiding our bracelets together.  I had the privilege to speak with three of the four that accepted Jesus as their Savior today.  They really seemed to grasp their need of a Savior.  They seemed truly repentant and knowledgeable of who Jesus is and what He did for us.  Lots of discipleship going to need to take place the next year!
As for the lady on the park bench, Mrs. O went over and spoke with her.  She didn't know where she was nor how to get back to the shelter she needed to be at in a different part of Anchorage.  We could not transport her ourselves, but we could give her money for a bus we were advised.  However, a lady I had been speaking with awhile, came to us and volunteered to take her to the shelter in her personal vehicle.  A local helping a local.  Success!  God brought the right person at the right time to make this happen!  As we were loading in the van, I saw the park bench lady getting in the car of the local lady.  Entertaining an angel, perhaps?
The time for goodbyes had come.  As we got in the van the kids were hanging around so closely.  A few hung on the van as we were closing the doors.  Smiles and waves...with a few tears...and we were off.
God blessed us this week with two wonderful park hosts, a group of great kids, and a team that meshed well and worked hard together to get our jobs complete.
Cannot wait for next year!
We stopped by and took our group photo by the "Welcome to Anchorage" sign on our way back to the church...see photo above. :)  We were going to take a group photo by the park sign, but on the day we were planning on doing that, the city had come and taken the sign away "for maintenance".  Sigh.
As for the evening activity, I was about to introduce the new team members to the most glorious of all pizza in Anchorage...and definitely better than any here at home.  The Moose's Tooth was our only agenda for the evening after we dropped Scott off at the airport to try and get on an early flight home.  Anything more than that would be extra, because everything else depended upon how long the wait was for us.  Unbelievably, we were in and seated in under an hour (on a Friday night, even!)  Yahoo!  Our server was the best I've experienced ever, but I know to keep my expectations low and to help by strategically making requests in bundles.  Works better this way.  We ordered, ate devoured an assortment of specialty pizzas (Santa's Little Helper being my favorite), boxed up leftovers, and left within a very decent amount of time.  Plenty of time for some last minute souvenir shopping at Wild Berry's.  Again, for the new members, it's just part of the tour...I didn't tell them about the reindeer across the parking lot because that part of the experience had already closed down for the night.
Shhhh!  I'll get to surprise them next year, maybe.  :)
As we were finishing up at Wild Berry, where the girls were extremely disappointed that there was no chocolate covered bacon to sample, Scott called from the airport and said he didn't make the non-stop flight, but could get out to LA tonight.  He decided to go for it, and said he'd meet us at the car rental place to say goodbye when we dropped off Mrs. J to pick up her rental car for tomorrow.
All in all it was an amazing week.  We are excited to go sightseeing.  Mrs. O has her heart set on seeing an Alaskan bear.  Thankfully, it will be on the other side of a fence.  I've had my once in a lifetime bear not need another one.  Ever.
God is God...and He is good!


  1. What a fruitful experience! I am so glad that seeds were planted, and that some came to accept Christ!


    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits


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