There is something about stepping out of your comfort zone, exploring new areas, building relationships, and most of all, growing closer to God – all things that encompass a mission trip. This past week, we headed to Alaska for our youth group mission trip, that was intergenerational too. The group of 30 embarked on the journey there last Saturday and it was a long day of travel, but it was worth every minute. The individual lessons God taught each of us, the beauty He proclaimed through the simple, yet magnificent sights and sounds of Alaska, and the closeness of the group made this an incredible trip.
Like any trip, it is hard to put into words exactly what it meant to each of us, but being a blogger, I can’t help but try and do this very thing, as this blog is also my personal journal. So I’m going to treat it as that, through pictures. I hope you one day get a chance to get up there and experience the beauty of God’s creation in Alaska!
Being in youth ministry, we realize the privilege that it is to go to various parts of the world on mission trips. Youth ministry, like any job, has it’s own struggles and hardships, and it is a whole lotta work for Dan, but being able to do them together, only increases our ability to relate to the youth and create life-long relationships.
So, here’s a small glimpse at what our trip to Alaska looked like:
We left Saturday, July 6 at 9am, in three 15-passenger vans and a truck with our luggage, and headed to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The flights could not have gone smoother!
Lots of luggage! We had to take sleeping bags (or we could choose to rent them), so that added a bit of luggage!
Riding the train to the correct terminal in Seattle: surfing subway style!
It was pretty surreal to think we were flying to Alaska again! It was my second time, and Dan’s third.
Our layover in Seattle:
We knew we were getting closer to Alaska when we started to see these guys poking through the clouds:
And then the mountain barrier between land and the ocean:
We arrived in Alaska at 9:30pm Alaskan time. The first night we ended up going to bed at 4am Michigan time, which made for a LONG day! Needless to say, we were ready to hit our pillows once we got all settled in. We stayed at Eaglecrest Camp, which is located in Sutton, Alaska. We had stayed there on our previous trips to Alaska and knew we had to take a group there again! We were often told that it was one of the most impactful trips our youth group kids ever took, so we were hoping to do the same with this group. Our congregation really got behind this trip and we surely couldn’t have done it without them and God’s faithfulness!
On Sunday after church, we went on a hike to a waterfall called Thunderbird Falls. Some kids (and Dan) got the guts to sit in the water that was frigid! I chose otherwise…
It was actually quite hot there (record temps), so it was around 90 the first couple days, but by the end of the week, it cooled off.
Moose are popular in Alaska, as you can see! 289 moose were killed in the past year, which is incredible to think about. There is a waiting list though, for those who want the bodies – meat and antlers are a hot commodity!
Dan and I spent our work days at Victory Bible Camp, which is about a 40 minute drive northeast of Eaglecrest. We spent the time splitting wood and soaking in the beauty of our surroundings. The drive was breath-taking, but also rather nerve-wracking. For those who don’t like heights, it’s not a drive for you. Cliff drops with no guardrails. The first day, I was climbing over others to get to the other side of the van I was so scared (apparently I forgot about those drop-offs). By the end though, I convinced myself it was a bush plain ride and I was good!
On our way to the work site:
The rough beginning of our log pile that was started before we came, but was the pile after the first day I believe:
This was what we ended up accomplishing – 4 rows and lots of wood to burn for the winter!
We only put a SMALL dent in this huge pile of logs!
Dan spent every minute sawing logs, sharpening his blades, and fixing his chainsaw. Dan the handyman came to the rescue numerous times!
That mountain in the background at Victory was HUGE – so hard to put into words how large it was!
Our hope was that we could eventually see a moose and we saw a few! This specific moose was crossing the road and decided to take a snack break:
Others worked with other home owners who needed lawns taken care of, metal moved, wheelchair ramps removed, baking for the library children, and most of all, more wood split! It seems like a small task, but it is extremely time consuming actually, considering how much wood it takes to heat a house in Alaska! We were thankful we were able to bless those we served, and little did they know, the blessing they were to us!
Stay tuned for more pictures this week!