From time to time, when I tell people that I’m taking my family to help run a camp in Alaska, they ask me, “Why Alaska?”
And that’s a good question!
What about Alaska made me go there?
And why do I keep going?
What I usually share is that friends of ours have been going up to Mentasta Village in Alaska for over 20 years. It is a place where their family and friends live. It was the home of Katie John who was an incredible woman of God, native leader, and native subsistance rights advocate. It is a place where we have seen God do great things and we hope to see greater things the more we go.
But before I knew any of that, before I saw anything happen…the answer to the first question would be…because someone asked me to come. Back in 2002, my friend Matt asked if we would come to help out with the Alaska Ablaze Camp. At the time, it wasn’t even being held in Mentasta. It was at a trailer park in Gakona, Alaska. Thinking back to that camp, I remember being with friends. I remember going fishing in the river and not having the right footwear and freezing my feet when I stepped in (barefoot). I remember the best message on communion I had ever heard. I remember the story of God being told through dances, languages, and cultures. It was something bigger than me…something I was honored to be a part of. (I also remember getting strep throat, too! That wasn’t so good. But then Aunty Yvonne put me up in a super nice B&B…with Tom and Julio…they came to keep me company…and that helped me get better…the B&B helped me.)
After that camp, we didn’t go back till 2007. By that time Alaska Ablaze had been moved to Mentasta Village. We were there with Richard Twiss and a few people from his team, a youth group from Colorado, my sister Jodie, our friend Cory, and the whole Echohawk family. It was also the first time I had met Grandma Katie. If I hadn’t known who she was or what she had done, if you could remove all that information from my mind, it would still be obvious that everyone loved and adored Grandma Katie. But knowing all she had done, it was incredible and even inspiring to know that this unassuming woman in her late 80’s had such vision and power.
Tiana and I left that camp not knowing when we would be back or if we would be back.
Fast forward to 2011, the Echohawk family was enduring a tragic family event and weren’t sure of the future of Alaska Ablaze. When we heard the news, we felt like we should gather a team and go up to help. Ever since then, we’ve been basically going back every year.
We never envisioned going back again and again and again. It’s something that just kept happening. Year after year, we would ask if people wanted to come and year after year, they did. Every year a different team, every year God doing something different…different but good…through us and in us.
Here are a couple videos/slideshows from recent years.
This year, as we’re getting ready to go again, we are praying and hoping for bigger and better things.
So to answer the question, “Why Alaska?”
..it’s because someone asked me to come…but now, it’s so much more. It’s hard to explain. Maybe one day you’ll just have to come with us to see what I mean!?!? Let us know!!!
Thanks for reading…
Take care and God bless,
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