Wow, I have now been here exactly one week! Hard to believe it, but you can see it (pardon the hazy pictures… it’s not pollution, just smoke from forest fires). This promises to be the longest (most important?) e-mail of the summer. But to appease everyone, I’ve separated it into two sections, a short and long.
* Orientation is over
* I’m working at College Heights Baptist Church in Soldotna, AK (lots of salmon fishing)
* My job
o Start a college-aged Bible study that will continue to meet through the Fall
o Work with the youth group
o Do other things the church asks (like make an igloo out of milk cartons)
o Help create AlaskaTrek with my supervisor during 1-2 weeks in July
Fun facts about Alaska
* Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the US, but did you know that it was the easternmost as well? It crosses the International Dateline, making those tiny islands the US’s furthest eastern possession. Hey, it’s also the southernmost state on several maps, too.
* If you cut Alaska in half, it would be the 1st and 2nd largest state
* Alaska is 1/5 the size of the Lower 48
* There are 365 MILLION acres of land… 1 million acres per day
* It has 3 million lakes, 5000 glaciers, and 70 active volcanoes
* Total population: 600,000; about half live in Anchorage
* More planes than cars
* Twice as many bears as people
* 95% of Anchorage is unchurched
* 95% of Alaska is unchurched
The church’s goal is for me to:
1. Jump start the college-aged part of their congregation by leading a Bible study Sunday morning that will last through the fall semester.
2. Disciple, encourage, and strengthen the youth group as well as assist the youth minister (Jim Torkelson) as needed, especially during the two weeks that he will be absent
3. Serve the church in whatever way they need me. This week is building an igloo from milk cartoons and later building a glacier from foam. This is what happens when people find out you’re an engineer…. “Oh, you’re an engineer, then you must know how to do….”
4. Help my supervisor (Brenda Crim) to lay the foundation for what will eventually become AlaskaTrek. The vision for AlaskaTrek is to become an adventure leadership experience led by students of University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), where Brenda is the campus minister. The 10-14 day trek could be a mixture of sea kayaking, backpacking along Resurrection Pass, and who knows what else, but we imagine that we’ll mostly be working with college students.
In Alaska people love to play! Especially in the summer… can you blame them? So people often leave town on the weekends. The other major difficulty is many of the residents, post high school to parent, work in the oil fields up in the Arctic for 1-2 weeks straight. Also, the college-age portion of the church is always in and out of town. Most won’t even be here, except a guy named Micah. He’s my only link to people my age in the Soldotna/Kenai region.
How you can help/pray
* One that God would provide me a cell phone and a bike or car
* He would show me 5 high school guys to begin meeting with on a weekly basis to study the book of James
* For a good relationship with the youth minister, Jim
* That our group of college students would grow to 7-8 people who will still be in Soldotna for the fall
Thanks for skimming/reading this far. There’s a lot more to say, but I think this is essential. I really can say enough about how wonderful each of you are. Have a great rest of your summer!!