Sunday, June 29, 2014

Alaska AIM 2014: Day 13

Update #1: Made it to Minneapolis!  Please Note A Time Change - We now expect to arrive back to CP between 2:30pm-3pm due to a flight change. All is well.

Update #2: Made it to KC! Now, to collect our luggage and meet our bus back to Lincoln. All is well.

Update #3: HOME!!! Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alaska AIM 2014: Day 12

After touring around Anchorage a little this morning, we have arrived at the airport and are preparing to travel home. Please note: A change in our arrival time: we will be arriving in KC at 1137am -> CP between 230-3pm.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Alaska AIM 2014: Day 11

Update #1: Well, we were supposed to leave Kotzebue at 9:30pm but our flight was cancelled due to weather. We're trying to re-book for tonight.

Update #2: Re-booked on the 7pm flight out of Kotzebue tonight.  All is well.

Update #3: Made it to Nome on the way to Anchorage.  All is well.

Update #4: Made it to Anchorage!  All is well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Alaska AIM 2014: DAY 10

(Wednesday) The team from Noatak got up this morning, packed up and cleaned the house we were staying in before piling into two boats for the journey back to Kotzebue. Quite a number of people from the villiage showed up to see us off.  It was hard to say goodbye to so many new friends.  The ride back was pretty choppy, but one of the boats saw some spotted seals along the way.  Upon arrival, we loaded up the four-wheelers and went back to the Kotzebue church for supper and the evening youth rally.  There were about 70 people in attendance, including our team.  Like last night in Noatak, the theme was "You Are Loved".  It was a fantastic service. 

(Thursday) After a little later start to our day, we visited a museum and art gallery before heading to the beach for a bonfire, four-wheeler rides, and BBQ.  It was cold and very windy, but that didnt stop a majority of our team from taking a dip in the Arctic Ocean! It was a great final relaxing day in Kotzebue.

Alaska AIM 2014: Day 8

(Tuesday)  Kids Sports Camp Day 4: Our theme of the day was, "You can BREAK FREE from selfishness."  We had 100 kids and 5-6 salvations.  At our evening Youth Rally, the main point was, "You Are Loved".  At the evening rally, there were about 50-60 youth.  Three youth reaponded for salvation and 12 rededicated their lives to Christ.  Local Food: salmon salad (like tuna salad) and homemade bread.  Tomorrow, we pack and clean the house before taking the boats to Kotz.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AIM Alaska 2014: Day 7

My apologies for the length of this update, but our team has been completely disconnected from the rest of the world for the last five days.  Our connectivity is still a bit hit and miss, but I shall do my best.

Day 4 (Friday)
We arrived in Kotzebue and all 38 of us and our luggage was shuttled to the Kotzebue Assembly of God on a four-wheeler pulling a trailer and in the back of a pick-up truck - that was a first!  We met Pastor Pastor Randy Wren, a missionary that pastors the church in Kotzebue.  He also has a couple of interns that will serve as our guides he next week or so.  After some breakfast, a brief orientation about the area and the culture, and lunch, we flyered all of Kotzebue with the post cards advertising our Kids Sports Camp this week.  After flyering, we said our goodbyes and 20 members of our team packed all of our bags and food for the next week into three boats and headed out for Noatak.  What was supposed to be a four hour boat ride was conquered in two hours and forty-five minutes!  What an experience!  Upon our arrival, we again climbed onto four-wheelers and in the back of a pickup and were dropped off at our home for the next week - an amazing comfortable five bedroom house that belongs to one of the church members.

Day 5 (Saturday)
Our first ministry day in Noatak - a villiage of about 500 people!  Our next few days will be pretty similar.  Kids Sports Camp from 1pm-4pm at the school gym, then an evening Youth Rally at the church from 7pm-9pm.  We had 87 kids at our first day of our Kids Sports Camp.  We were only expecting about 30-40, so we were quite surprised at our first day's attendance!  There were a couple dozen adults that stayed too!  Our theme of the day was, "You can BREAK FREE from self-doubt when you put your confidence in God."  Our key verse for the week is Hebrews 12:1-2, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”  10-12 kids responded to a call for salvation at the end of our Kids Sports camp today!  Much of our Youth Rally tonight focused on getting to know and building relationships with the teenagers that were in attendance.  We had about 30 native teens tonight.  Bruce gave a brief devotional and 12 accepted Christ for the first time!

Day 6 (Sunday)
Kids Sports Camp Day 2: Our theme of the day was, "You can BREAK FREE from lying."  We had 91 kids and 10-12 salvations.  At our evening Youth Rally, the main point was, "You Are Chosen".  At the evening rally, there were about 100 youth and adults, as it occurred in place the regular evening service.  One girl raised her hand for salvation.  Some of the locals prepared some native foods for us to try this evening: whale meat, bearded seal, caribou stew (with rice, potato, macaroni, rice), shefish, and whale blubber.

Day 7 (Monday)
Kids Sports Camp Day 3: Our theme of the day was, "You can BREAK FREE from bad choices.". We had 105 kids - about a third of the entire school, and an even larger percentage if you take out the older grades and account for all of the families that are out of town hunting, fishing, gathering and storing up food for winter.  One of our students had the idea last night of doing a water baptism in the river for any of the youth that wanted to be baptized.  After consulting with the local pastor, it seemed it had been quite some time since that had done any baptisms.  In visiting with students, and doing a brief teaching and training session, we met at the river this afternoon and baptized 30 students and adults!  The temperature was only about 45*F.  I have no idea what the water temperature was, but it was still covered in ice 3-4 weeks ago.  Sufficient to say, it was cold!  At our evening Youth Rally, the main point was, "You Are Called".  At the evening rally, there were about 40 youth and adults.  Seven students accepted Christ for the first time!  Local food sampling of the day: raindeer stew (with rice, carrots, potatos, and spaghetti).

Friday, June 20, 2014

AIM Alaska 2014: Day 4

Update #1: We are in Alaska! It's 1am and we just landed in Anchorage - and it's not dark! I believe we have about a six hour layover before continuing our journey to Kotzebue.  Thanks for praying. All is well.

Update #2: We have arrived at our semifinal destination - Kotzebue,  Alaska - and have officially crossed the Attic Circle. For those battling the sweltering heat back home, it's currently 36°F and windy! Half of our team will be staying here, and half (myself included) will be heading to the docks to begin a four hour boat ride up the Noatak River and into the bush! Internet access is limited to nonexistent. If you don't see any updates for a couple of days, it may not be available. We will return to Kotzebue next Wednesday. Thanks for praying. All is well.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

AIM Alaska 2014: Day 3

Update #1: And we're off to Kansas City!  Everybody now, "The wheels on the bus go round and round...."  Three hour bus ride.  Alaska or bust!

Update #2: Made it to KC and are checking in. Flight is delayed 2:45, which will make for a very tight turnaround in MSP, but provided there aren't additional delays, shouldn't create any problems. All is well!

Update #3: We've finally arrived in MSP and are hoping they hold our flight to ANC... If not, we'll see.  Assume, if you don't hear from me otherwise, that we made it!  (P.S. We made it!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

AIM Alaska 2014: Day 2

Wrapping up another day of ministry prep before departing tomorrow for Alaska.  A lot has gone in to reaching this moment.  Now, it's time to go.  And, we're ready!

Tonight, we joined Rock Solid, The Edge and Flatland Youth Ministry to collectively worship God. There is no better way to conclude our training time than with a time of soaking in God's presence, praise and worship, prayer and with a challenging message to keep our focus on God, regardless of the distractions around us.

Tomorrow, we start the journey to Alaska.  We'll bus to Kansas City, fly to Minneapolis, fly to Anchorage, fly to Kotzebue, and for those heading on to Noatak, take a four hour boat ride.  The whole trip will take about 24 hours.  Please pray for our team as we travel tomorrow.

Tonight, in our evening devotion time, a couple of students shared a couple of verses they felt were timely for the team:
  • Exodus 9:16 "But I have raised you up for this very purpose that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
  • Isaiah 49:7 "...Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
  • Ephesians 8:18, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
Prayer Requests:
  • Pray that the team remains flexible and adaptable.  Moving this number of students and leaders across such a great distance tomorrow will certainly test our flexibility.  
  • One of our students tonight said, "Change won't happen unless I actually choose to be transformed."  Pray that we remain open to Holy Spirit as he continues to lead, guide and direct us in all that we do and say.
  • Although we've only known each other and lived with each other for about 36 hours, added familiarity with fellow team members means some things that were funny yesterday aren't quite as funny today!  Also, guarded words and conversations yesterday aren't as guarded today.  Please pray for team unity and dynamics.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

AIM Alaska 2014: Day 1

Greetings family and friends!  Our journey to Alaska is underway.  We met the full team (38 participants) in Lincoln today to get acquainted and start training.  There's a lot that's new for us this year, not the least of which is our splitting the team into two parts and doing simultaneous ministry in two locations.  We're asking questions we've never asked before (So, how many people can we take on the four hour boat ride up the Noatak River?), getting to know our AIM family, and preparing for ministry to kids and youth.

Our ministry prep time today was focused on getting a broad overview of what our time in Alaska will look like.  We're going to be doing a some community service projects in the mornings, MEGA Sports Camp for kids in the afternoon and a youth rally in the evenings.   We also took some time to share our testimonies, which helped us get to know each other, but also let us see where we might best fit those into our ministry week.

For those who would like to know, the following leaders and students are on the following teams:  (Pardon my spelling....)

  • Tim
  • Danette
  • Cody
  • Chet
  • Sarah
  • Baylor
  • Cassie
  • Zach
  • David
  • Hannah
  • Emily
  • Abbie
  • Katie
  • Isaiah
  • Kaylee
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Brendan
  • Mitchell
  • Nate
  • Cory
  • Tim
  • Wendy
  • Rhonda
  • Morgan
  • Olivia
  • Jessica
  • Courtney
  • Kirsten
  • Lane
  • Emma
  • Jonathan
  • Caleb
  • Caleb
  • Justus
  • Caitlin
  • Jacob
  • Bruce (will actually split his time with each team)
Tomorrow, we'll continue training, getting into some of the details that will comprise our ministry week, assigning roles, and doing some run-throughs.

Prayer Requests:  I firmly believe that those who stay and pray and just as important to the success of our trip as those who show and go.  Each day, as time and internet access allows, I'd like to share some prayer requests with you that you can use to in prayerful agreement with our team.
  • Pray that we have clean hearts and minds, that no distractions of footholds will prevent us from doing what God has called us to do on this trip.
  • Pray against any distractions back home that might weigh heavily on our minds and prevent us from being fully here and all in.
  • Pray that God would pour out His heart on us, that we might have His heart and vision for the people that we minister to this week.
  • Pray that God would peel back the vail that prevents people from seeing the risen Christ.