Dates:  June 22-28

This team will serve in Anchorage, Alaska, working in local parks reaching mostly immigrant children with a VBS-type ministry and a lunch program.  They will also reach out to the parents of the children at evening park times. 

Updated Friday, June 27

Phone call from Charlie
The team is doing GREAT, and the ministry is exciting.  The connection with our hosts is very encouraging, and we are eager to see how we may be able to serve together more in the future.  Our hosts appreciate the preparation and maturity of the team, and the way they stepped up to wider responsibilities at the last minute.  It has been a great experience so far, and all are feeling very encouraged.

Updated Thursday, June 26
Facebook post from Tarra (Charlie's computer has broken down)

Camden face painting at park bar- b-que: we didn't let the rain cancel the evening, feeling thankful for EZ- ups!

Updated Thursday, June 26
Facebook post from Tarra

Singing praise songs in the park before the Bible lesson. The kids were so excited to see us return today. Many more showed up. There was no rain today so it was much easier to hold their attention. Looking forward to another day full of opportunities tomorrow. We had an amazing salmon and halibut dinner cooked by the kitchen crew at the church.

Updated Tuesday June 24
E-mail from Charlie

Like the smattering of snow that we see out our windows on the distant peaks that surround us, my healthy anxieties have begun to melt away concerning this trip to our 49th state.  Those who have traveled with me before either in person or by following my postings would remember that I do not like airports.  I do not like waiting in long, pre-boarding lines, I do not like using a machine to print my ticket and I really do not like undressing halfway just so I can satisfy the authorities that I am not a bad guy and do not intend to harm anyone.  

Yet, by the grace of God, we got our whole team through all of this at LAX with just minutes to go before the final boarding call for our flight.  As we were saddling up, we could hear our names over the airport intercom urging all fifteen of us politely that we were likely to miss our flight. (Oh that's another thing that I don't like doing at airports, hearing my name as well as my fourteen other teammates over the terminal intercom.)   We did make it on board and I did my routine final headcount.  (My team calls me the mother hen as well they should.  Never lose a team member in a busy airport is my motto.)  

So far, coming to Alaska has been well worth the trouble.  The people at Grace Works, our host Global Partners here in Alaska, are living up to their reputation of being a well thought through and well oiled ministry machine. Please do not let the term machine put you off in any way.  The people here have a real servant's attitude and exist here to serve us in our ministry to the people of Alaska.  

After arriving last night, we all tried to settle down and get a night's sleep to rest ourselves for the ministries of today.  This turned out not to be so easy for us.  Jet lag wasn't the problem as Anchorage is just an hour's difference from Santa Clarita.  What made sleep hard was the fact that it never got to be dark here.  When we finally hit the pillows at well after 11:00 pm, the sun was still shining in our window.  This combined with the constant comments of all of the boys on the team about how they couldn't believe that it was eleven and still bright outside made it difficult to get the rest that we needed.  

After a while, the boys settled down and we did sleep quite soundly, all of our ladies in a room on the 3rd floor of the church building and all of the men in a room in the basement, a basement with windows that let lots of light in.  In the morning we awoke and had breakfast and then an orientation time and then we were off in our vans to the parks that we would meet our kids at.  

I have been on a lot of trips with a lot of different kinds of teams and I can tell you that I was very pleasantly surprised with how well this team jumped right in with what could have been a rather intimidating ministry opportunity.  

As our van pulled up to the first park, before we had opened our doors, we were met with a horde of rowdy boys with nerf guns in their hands all pointing them at us in a militaristic fashion.  I'm thinking, "Oh great, I'm going to be shot before I even get to introduce myself.  How am I going to do what I came to do?"   But from the back of the van, Mike Steinbock hollers, "Let's go with it! Give them something to remember about us.  Everyone get out of the van with their hands up!"  So we all got out of the van like captured criminals.  I'd hate to think what this might have looked like to any innocent bystanders.  

Time would fail me if I were to mention all of the rest of the little things that this team did to make the afternoon a success in the eyes of our Lord. Everyone on the team poured themselves out for these kids.  Then in the middle of it all came a thunder storm that was even louder than the F16s that continually pass over us because of the Air Force base up here.  This did not stop us.  We festooned ourselves with our rain gear and continued without missing a beat.  

We have this night off now and most of the team is out relaxing and driving around seeing the sights that they can.  Then tomorrow, we will do it all again. 

When I write again, I promise to have some pictures so you can see a little of what is happening.  In the meantime, you can just feel it with me in your mind.

Updated Tuesday June 24

Facebook Post from Tarra

Had a great day with the children in the park we are assigned to in Anchorage. They quickly bonded with us when they realized we were there to play and get to know them. It was a bit challenging to do crafts in the middle of the rain and thunder storm without cover but luckily the rain stopped and the sun came back out. It went along perfectly with our lesson on perseverance. It was fun to watch my kids play frisbee in the rain with some local kids in the park. We are so excited to go back tomorrow to see what God has planned. Feeling thankful to be in this beautiful place with such a supportive team.

Updated Monday, June 23

The team arrived without incident and settled in to prepare for their ministry.  The outreach started today, and the first day is going very well.  They are grateful for our prayers.

Earthquake Information: There was an 8.0 earthquake in the Bering Sea far from the Alaska mainland, closer to Russia than Alaska.  We have spoken to Charlie Davis, and the team didn't feel anything and were not even aware of the quake.  At this point, it doesn't appear that the team will be impacted in any way by the quake.  We will stay in touch with them to see how things develop.