Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Over the River and through the Woods

What an awesome Sunday School Class I've been blessed to be part of. We had a fantastic canoe  trip with 20 ladies and a couple of token men (who provided emergency back up). Twenty ladies loaded up into canoes and kayaks for a 13 mile float trip.
Again I'm photographer and am not in the pics. The lady with the red life jacket is Wanda. Babs from the Tok Mission Center is I center and Lynne on the other side. Notice the Alaskan ladies in sandals or water shoes. The water temp is about 36 degrees. The water on Clearwater River is crystal clear showing submerged rocks of many colors.

The rapid flowing current turned over one of the canoes right off the dock. The women were soaked and cold, but okay. They were given a ride home to change clothes and warm up.
Wanda, my paddling partner is deaf. What a challenge to keep the canoe on course! We made a brief shore stop. The shore is lined with huge spruce and willows. We saw an osprey, a bald eagle landing on its nest and several "V"s of geese.

Eight miles down the Clearwater, the river joined the murky, silted Tanana River which was braided through gravel bars and lined with sweepers (fallen trees that cause an undertow in the swift current.
The wind picked up to 20 MPH wiwth gust up to 40. We struggled to enter a stream that was flowing from the Clearwater Lake. Paddling against the current and into the wind, Wanda and I gladly accepted a tow. So did the canoe on either side of the flat bottomed motor boat.
Alan and Babs Dial, the missionaries from Tok pose with their two adopted sons from Africa.
Babs and Alan have several ministries to the local (within 100 miles or so) of Tok. They house and sponsor mission teams from the lower 48 and have had an exhausting summer.

I accompanied Babs and others to one of the villages to contribute to a pot luck. The Native gentleman is preparing for a memorial potlatch in honor of his parents, his wife and his two adult children who have recently passed away.
He is holding some of the blankets donated to the potlatch.

Some of the elders were instructing the youngsters in Native songs, dance and drumming. I think the boys are dancing and chanting to a hunting song.

We visited a Native cemetery. The spirit houses and decorated fences are testimony to the influence of the early Russian settlers.

I don't know the family's personal significance of the end of the trail symbol over the American flag. Someone suggested that the person buried here had been in military service. This was his last resting place, the end of the trail.
Summer is rapidly coming to a close. Last Sunday we hosted a church wide picnic at the camp with about 80 adults and numerous children (they didn't slow down long enough to count). While the adults ate and visited, the kids ate and played in the rain.
Monday early we traveled 350 miles, 7+ hours from Delta to Wasilla. I'm at the public library in Wasilla sending this blog and enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Later we'll be going to Anchorage, then back to the camp to drain water lines, close up the camp and prepare for winter.

Friday, August 15, 2014

African Children's Choir

This past week First Baptist Delta hosted the African Children's Choir from Uganda. The 18 children, ages 9-11, and their chaperones were housed by generous families in the area. They performed at the high school gym which was packed with Delta residents and guests. Many of their songs were Christian choruses, but they also sang and danced accompanied by drummers to native songs.
This energetic group of young people was an inspiration to all of us. They are a part of the Music for Life program in Africa. Children audition for a place in the choir and are selected not only on their singing ability but on their leadership qualities and educational potential. Many children are from single parent homes or are orphans being reared by grandparent or others in extreme poverty.

The children chosen for the choir are sent to school beginning at age six and are guaranteed an education through college. Their families benefit from the children's education.

The young lady at the far right is the choir director. She was once a child in the choir and has gone on to earn a college degree. The children's choir was begun 30 years ago and has had tremendous success in educating children and raising families out of poverty.

There are several choirs on tour in the U. S. and around the world. This group started in San Francisco and have been traveling by bus up the western coast. They have a full time teacher and study as they travel. They will be on the road for more than a year. When they return to their home in Uganda, they will continue in school and learn to be leaders of their country.
I hope to arrange for them to come to our part of Texas.
Another choir is scheduled to be in Missouri City, TX in Dec.

We help people in need where ever they maybe. Lynne and I have been helping with donations at "God's Helping Hands" a local thrift store. We sort and arrange merchandise. These girls are helping their mom shop.

This past week we spent a couple of days in Tok at the Mission Resource Training Center. Fortunately the job of cutting 40 lengths of spruce, splitting the logs and stacking them had been taken care of by a group of volunteers from Tenn. A team from Texas installed the metal trailer for storage. The shed is stacked with firewood inside to the same dimensions as the woodpile outside. Believe it or not, this wood will be gone by spring.

Lynne and I tackled a job of making table cloths from fabric that had been donated. We then began the task of making curtains for the center.

We were blessed by the baptism of a young lady. Our youth pastor,, who has been her mentor had the honor of baptizing her. Through out the camping season we have had several children who have asked Jesus to be Lord of their lives, and many others who have rededicated their lives to God. Several teens have already been involved in missions.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Coming to a Close

We have hosted our last official camp, with a few short time activities left before snow flies. We are loosing about 6 minutes of daylight now. In the past nine days we've lost almost an hour of daylight. Seems strange to wake up at 2 or 3 AM in the dark. Perhaps we'll see an aurora soon.
Mickie, one of our counselors, reflects all of us as she collapses after the last youth leaves for home. However, the follow weekend we hosted 20 teens from Delta Baptist who went on a night hike and then camped over with us. We fed them breakfast, then cleaned up. A typical day.

On my rare off time, I designed and beaded a necklace using a beading loom that Dale helped me put together. I entered the necklace in the Delta Fair and won a blue ribbon. So much for having a little time off.

We are using time off a little more practically. Lynne, Dale and I spent one afternoon picking the blossoms of fireweed. The plant begins to bloom from the bottom of the stem, like a bluebonnet, and continues to open blossoms for a short period. The lower flowers become seed pods which open releasing dandy lion like fuzz called, "cotton". A week after we picked the blossoms, the fireweed began "going to cotton". This indicates summer is almost over.

Returning to camp, we spread six gallons of blossoms on sheets to allow the hitch hikers (small green bugs) to scamper away. The blossoms were then bagged and frozen until we had time to make jelly.

Never idle, with a servant's heart we agreed to power wash the new asphalt parking areas of the church to remove the silt and grit that had blown in from the Delta River.
The parking area dried in the unusually warm (70 degree) sun. Our next entry on our resume of jobs was to spread sealer on the clean asphalt. We didn't expect this job to take four days!

In between working at the church, Lynne, Dale and I took time off to head by four-wheel drive to our favorite, secret blue berry patch. In two hours we picked two gallons of tiny but sweet berries for jelly making.
Back at camp we utilized the camp's large kitchen to boil fireweed blossoms (back pot), then strained the juice (front pot), added pectin and sugar and boiled into jelly. The largest pot holds the hot water bath for sealing the jars.

We got so busy that we didn't take pictures of the 150 jars of finished fireweed jelly. Here we are with 50 jars of blue berry/rhubarb jam, and a few jars of plain blue berry jam. Don't we look proud?
I'll be bringing everyone a sample. Can't wait.

This is the view of the north slope of the Alaskan Range as seen from the church parking lot. Notice that the snow is fresh and terminates at an even elevation line. This termination dust, as it's called, is an indication that summer is almost over.
While we were working on the parking lot, we had many visitors who drove or walked to the back of the church to photograph the mountains. We met ladies from France and Quebec, and RV caravans from the lower 48. They were invited to stay and attend church.  
As summer comes to a close we are planning to do volunteer work in Anchorage and then in Tok at the Mission Training Center before heading south.