Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Hopes

I was filled with hope as I read Monte Church's newsletter about advances in Native ministries. It reminded me of advances I have seen with the Arctic Mission Adventure. We have seen two positions filled with people who are interested in others. The funding for Arctic Mission Adventure and Conference Radio Outreach have a good start toward their goals. A Native elder was baptized in Fairbanks. We have become closer to the people of Selawik. Warren has made great progress on the auto-streaming 3ABN radio software and should have it finished very soon.

So instead of New Year's resolutions this year, I have a list of hopes and prayers for the new year.

1. Seeing low power Adventist radio stations begin to cover bush Alaska
2. See a plan for Adventist television in the bush.
3. Complete the funding for the Arctic Mission Adventure and Conference Radio Outreach
4. See Adventist parsonages filled across bush Alaska
5. See more mission trips providing VBS, evangelistic meeting, and various opening wedge contacts.

I want to see Alaska natives filled with the hope for their lives and families that only Jesus can bring.

A very hopeful New Year to all of you,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Looking back at joy

We are just two weeks from our three year anniversary of moving here. How does it feel? Well, Selawik has become familiar and comfortable, at least most of the time. We have become part of the community. We truly enjoy the people and the place.

Yet, we still have no major triumphs. We have been asked for more mission stories on our blog. I want to satisfy that desire, but honestly I'm not sure what counts as a "mission story". If it is conversion stories, we don't have any. We are still trying to learn the key that will change people's hearts here. Often it feels like one step forward, one step back. We also feel a need to maintain privacy: people here are reading our blog. As I have been considering my lastest posts, they seem rather morbid. Such is life out here. People have much more opportunity to gather for a funeral than for the rare wedding. In fact, people have been flying to Buckland because there has been a death (or two) there this week.

Still there are bright notes of joy among the negative noise of death and pain. We cannot hope to see victory in the lives of many here unless they learn to hear them. Here are a few of ours, if they count as "mission stories" I am glad.

Warren hopes to have the software to automatically stream 3ABN radio ready before we leave in January for pastor's meetings. Also we were excited to learn from Warren's Dad that the FCC allows unregistered TV stations where there are no broadcast stations i.e. bush Alaska (we only have cable not broadcast TV.) Now we want to explore that option.

Some kids came over this weekend and we decorated the Christmas tree in the church (we don't have room in the house). I was happy to see C again, it has been a long time. Then I got to tell the story of the shepherds and the story of baby Moses and Miriam because the children said they didn't know them. R even listened attentively to both of them. Then I got to play "basketball" with girls, this gave me a renewed desire to go to open gym time for exercise and getting closer to the kids here.

As I spent hours with P's family last week, grieving with them, rubbing their backs as they cried, sharing food with them, and learning more about all that takes place before the funeral, I become even closer to them. I even got to say "I love you" in Inupiaq. But I also learned more about myself and my weaknesses. I need to daily lay all of my plans at Jesus' feet and in the words of Christmas spiritual "Rise up shepherd and follow"

Joy to the world,

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is war!

This last week has been particularly hard for us. First, our vacuum sewer line froze all last week, so Warren's days were filled with carrying bucket after bucket outside after showers and during clothes washing. Then, we were confronted with teenage suicide for the first time last Monday. That was quite painful; we didn't know the girl but we did know some of her friends. We also know her younger sister. We are making plans for getting to know the teens better, so we can share the hope of Jesus with them. We have also been working on a plan for suicide and depression training for ourselves since this summer, but the wheels have been turning slowly. We need to speed that up. After every death, I would wonder how long it would be until it was someone really close to me, someone whose loss would tear my insides apart. Today I found out.

I went out to check the mail and pick up a few things for Christmas at the store. It was very windy and I enjoyed the mini-adventure. Little did I know what lay ahead. After I returned, I found out that P had killed herself. I spent the rest of the afternoon with her family, trying to comfort them, especially D who had spent all night trying to stop her. She ended her life sometime today while he slept. I cared so much for P and wanted her to walk beside D as he followed Jesus. I know she had suffered a lot in life and I wanted to get closer to her, but she held us back.

One night last week Warren and I were struck separately with the impression that we are under attack. Things seemed to have stacked themselves against our ministry. I hate what Satan is doing to the people here. Yet there has been good news. We have had good discussions with a number of people. It feels so good to be able to fellowship with the people here. Yet we know that we are in a war and we need to be covered in the armor everyday. Please pray we will have wisdom and strength; we feel so small compared to the job that stands before us.

To arms,