Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another house fire causes death

A recent Selawik house fire, the third one (second house fire) in two months, claimed the life of a woman. I received a call about the fire around 5 am, Friday February 8th. As I was getting my outdoor gear on, someone came to the door to get our fire extinguisher.

Arriving on the scene (the house was only four down from our church), I found one fire hose already hooked up and spraying the front and side of the house. Helping get a second one hooked up, we had a valve lever break off. I was able to help by supplying a pair of pliers to open the valve. Other than that, there wasn't much I could do to help.

Nobody seemed to know if the occupant had escaped the house, and nobody had a fireproof suit and breathing mask to make it possible to go into the burning house to check. We later learned of the woman's death. She was found near the wood burning stove. Rumor has it that she had mentioned the stove being dangerous, prior to the fire.

We are saddened especially by this loss of life, and have considered how such losses could be prevented in the future:

  • Fire alarms need to be provided for all houses that don't have them. You can get fire alarms for $10 or less at Home Depot.
  • Heating and electrical systems need to be held to safety standards.
  • Education, exit plans, fire drills.
  • Better and more fire fighting equipment.
  • Fire rescue equipment (suits and masks, etc.)
One additional thought about fire safety. Using fire extinguishers (10 or more at times) from outside burning houses seems to me to mostly worsen fire danger. The extinguishers cannot stop the fire at the point where you can't get into the house. But using them up leaves the neighbors without a first-line defense. So unless fire extinguishers are handed out by the city, I don't think using them enmasse at a fire is much good. (I've seen them used at all three recent fires, but to no avail).

Having another death in the village brings home once again the urgency of our mission here in Selawik. Yet it is not only Selawik that is a mission. There are millions of people in this world going to Christ-less graves all around us. Do we really realize how serious this salvation issue is? Do we care for others enough to do something about it? What have you done for someone's salvation- today?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let Them Come

We have a core group of kids who like to come and visit but vary in regularity. We may not see them for weeks and then they may come all at once. I try to make myself free to join in a game or have an activity for them. But sometimes when I am tired and don't have a plan, then I feel at such a loss for what I should be doing, that I just watch them in a stupor. I like these kids, but a group of 5-10 of them all talking at once do that to me.

Lately, my trust and respect issues with them have had more sting than usual for me. Yet I have also been having plenty of “I love being here” and “I belong here” moments. Meshing these two opposite feelings in my mind, I came to the conclusion that these kids really are special to me.

Our Valentine's Day cookie decorating as they watched The Jesus Movie for Children seemed to go rather well. They loved having their pictures taken as always. Despite all the things they have done and said to us, I still see the all good times we have together. So when I hear that nerve-racking pounding on our door, I let them come.

I am so glad Jesus never turns us away, despite all we have done to hurt him. God is so good to us, we are just beginning to discover how much.



Eleven visitors packed to the ceiling