Living Alaska (Week 1): Finding Our Way

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Wow! It is so hard to believe that I have now been in Alaska for a whole week. I know I am probably keeping most of you wondering as to what is going on, from lack of news and only posting various pictures. I am going to try to make it a weekly goal to update on my blog from now on.

The beginning of the week started out with everyone flying in and a lot of team bonding. It is crazy how close we got so quickly. Once everyone had arrived we headed to the church we are going to be volunteering at every Sunday, Change Point. After getting to know one another and getting our volunteer opportunity straight we got organized and rented some wonderful backpacks to go on a three day backpacking trip through Denali (McKinley) National Park. The hike proved to me that I am a lot stronger than I think and that God’s beauty is so amazing. I also connected to people a lot faster than I imagined. My two roommates, Lydia and Alex, and I shared a tent and just spent the night laughing until we cried. It was great. As fun as it was we did have a few bumps along the way. Some people had pains, from prior injuries, return and my one friend twisted her ankle. Even though there was pain, an imminent feeling of weakness, and having to use the bathroom in a latrine, we pushed through, completed the hike, and enjoyed our time together in the wilderness. 🙂

After our hike we stopped for dinner in a small town known as Talkeetna, Alaska. According to my sister, and the Internet, the town’s mayor is a cat named Stubbs. It was a really adorable, small, and rustic town. We ate pizza at a very hipster like place called Mile High Pizza Pie and then followed it with some homemade ice cream. It was well deserved. The rest of the night we pretty much all crashed and caught up on sleep. On Saturday we went to the Native Alaskan Heritage Center and learned more about how Alaska became a part of the US, the hardships the indigenous people followed, and how they remain true to their culture today. It was a great learning experience and nice to learn more about the culture surrounding us. After learning about the Alaskan culture we went to experience it head on at the Solstice Festival. We split up into pairs and walked around the city meeting people of Alaska and telling them why we are here and asking what they enjoyed about the area. At first it was a little intimidating, but it ended up being all right. The people were pretty open and supplied a lot of information regarding Anchorage and activities to do. It was a great evening and was followed by some more rest.

The following day, Sunday, we headed to Change Point to volunteer during the first two services. We all ended up working with children and I had the wonderful opportunity of being with the one year olds and no joke their class name was “the walkers.” It was a lot of fun and the children were absolutely adorable. I cannot wait until next Sunday. After church we just rested and hung out with one another.

On Monday, which is when I’m writing this, we had devotional time and then prep for going out and reaching people on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus/ finding people to be a part of the Cru movement on the campus. After prep time we prayed and went out on the campus to find people to talk to. We split up into pairs and were off. I went out with my friend Alyxx. We were pretty nervous and apprehensive at first, but it wasn’t that bad. We talked to about three people before making our last round. I don’t think we were quite prepared for what was to happen next.

We began conversation with this one guy and told him why we were here. He replied with “well I’m not one of your people, but I’ll still talk with you about Anchorage.” Once we sat down we asked him questions about his faith and learned that he was an atheist. It was hard to hear, but we wanted to see his viewpoint. After a few minutes of talking another guy, his friend, walked up. We asked him about his faith background and told us he was a Wicken. I’d never heard about that faith before. It was very hard to talk to these guys and hear them distort the gospel. Alyxx and I walked away feeling defeated and at a loss, but we soon realized that only God has the power to change their hearts. We at least took the step to hear them out and talk with them. Just that simple gesture could be enough to put a light in their lives.

Overall this first week has been really great. It has been incredible to see how God can use us to reach others and how he is already molding, changing, and shaping our lives. I have learned so much about myself and how I need to really find my identity in Christ and not other things or people. This week has been a challenge, but a blessing and I cannot wait to see how the rest of this trip will go.

“He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall…”

– Isaiah 40:29-30

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