Ephesians 3:20

God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20


Seward, Alaska

Seward, Alaska

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Home Sweet Home....soon

We're sitting in the airport patiently waiting to board our flight.  This week went by so fast.  It was amazing.  I didn't blog last night when I looked at the clock and saw the time....so many were still laughing loudly and enjoying being with each other.  

Our day yesterday was spent at the Native Heritage Center and doing service projects.  We helped bag rice, painted a food pantry, worked at the salvation army, and helped Pastor Mark unload his moving van/semi trailer.  Our theme was about breaking down the boundaries of poverty and reaching out and helping others.  It felt good at the end of the day to be tired....it was a good tired.

The Native Heritage Center was awesome!!! So much to learn there.  We watched native dancing and also Native Olympic Games.  You will have to ask us about it......but don't ask ME to demonstrate! Ha! Learning about their different cultures has been a lot of fun and I believe the youth were intrigued by what they saw at the center.

A highlight for us all was last night when Angela and Lil  Blue came to the church to see us again and taught us how to make a sun catcher.  They were surprised how many of us really got into it.  I have a feeling that many more will be made when we get back home.  What made it all so special was they helped us make our souvenir to bring home to remind us of Alaska. The friendships that developed so fast was a blessing to be able to watch.  Now every time we see our sun catchers we will remember them.  (NOW to get them to come and visit us. ;) )

I think none of us really want the trip to totally end.  Our last night became a "lock-in" with little to no sleep.  Laughing, joking, cards, uno, heart to heart talks.....it was all there all night.

A year of planning and anticipating...fundraisers, meetings and prayers.....all to be fit into the 8 days we will never forget.  Although this week is over, we imagine the possibilities that lie ahead.  Everyone has changed in some way.  It has enhanced our understanding of Gd, ourselves, and how God sees us.  It helped us challenge ourselves to break down our own self made boundaries, whatever they may be....to view a bigger world than our own....to learn about others and other cultures.  Everyday, we learned little ways to let Jesus in.  The challenge is to do a few small things back in Marshall to keep what we've learned fresh in us and and our relationships there.  

We will never be able to totally explain our adventures to you all.  We will try to give you snapshots into our faith journey this week.  But just as a picture doesn't truly capture the beauty of Alaska, words will not  totally explain it all to you.  

Know that Jesus took our imaginations far beyond where we could go on our own. With our Bible verse theme of Ephesians 3:20, we did learn that "God can do anything you know....far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit gently within us." Daily in so many ways, with so many experiences, so many devotional times and studies....so many new and renewed relationships, His Spirit helped us Imagine No Boundaries!

Thanks so much again for all of your support and prayers....for your belief in youth ministry and what God is doing in all of the lives each and every day!  God is good!

In Christ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monday.....just IMAGINE

Today was the day that we traveled to Coopers Landing to ride on a 3 hour flow trip down the Kenai River.  We all became a part of nature for three hours. We floated down the river, soaked in the sunshine, looked in awe at the beautiful nature AGAIN, and were surrounded by animals....many bald eagles. One group even saw a bear. (Don't worry.....from a distance!). It was such a calming time and relaxing time....we don't get to just "be" enough in life.  

You may have heard that Anchorage had an earthquake.....rest assured you heard it more than we did because we never felt it!  Many many mild earthquakes happen everyday.  Can we claim it on a bucket list that we were here?! Haha!

Tonight ended the evening with a little friendly competition at the bowling alley down the street.  It was a blast!  We think we were competing..... (some of the boys were more than the girls!) but without a doubt, we laughed way more!!  The owner of the bowling alley was great!  He gave pins as awards for the top guy and girl....and the low scores for the guys and girls. Karen Meister and Brandon Groenewold are our bowling champions.  Jada Moon and Colin Pfeiffer were encouraged with their pin trophies to"keep trying" ;).  Glad I didn't win because the pin would put my suitcase over the weight limit!!! Ha!

I can't believe that tomorrow is our last day.  Throughout this week we have learned so much about ourselves, our Lord, each other....and there were many examples of how to let Him into our lives.    It is not going to be easy to transition back the our daily lives.  It's easy and safe to focus and open up here.  Cellphones and schedules....drama and daily life will all return.  Our prayers are that we will use our daily devotional books and memories to keep us grounded....to re-IMAGINE when it gets hard.  Breaking the boundaries and keeping them down is a daily adventure for all of us...young and old.  It has been an incredible gift to have the adults along to share their faith stories with the youth...to share their experiences and daily struggles with the youth.  Our youth are so blessed to have so many adults here and in the congregation who support, guide and pray for them.  As we travel back to Marshall our hope is to see God, ourselves, and our place in the big world in a new and exciting way.

Tomorrow we will go out into the community and help with various service projects....to put into action our "no boundaries" and living like Jesus would.

As I close for the evening.....some are still up just visiting....laughing, and sharing.....and playing Uno. :).  And what's cool is that it's a varied group.  Knowing everyone on the trip....but now hanging out with new friends.... That's the part of the end of the week I love.

And again.......The Kenai River today reminds us that God says to each and everyone of us to...."Be still and know that I am God".....be still and know that I AM......be still and know.....be still......and to just quietly.......BE.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy....

Today we helped Gloria Dei celebrate the installation of their new pastor, Pastor Orf.  The congregation was so welcoming and greeted us so warmly.  We are constantly surprised by the number of people who live here that either lived in Minnesota OR have relatives that live there. I even met someone who worked four summers at Shetek Lutheran Ministries!  How cool is that.

After worship we headed to Kincaid Park for a picnic of grilled hot dogs chips and s'mores.  Two guests Angela and Kristy Blue came to visit us and talk about the different native cultures in Alaska...different customs and traditions.  It was so interesting and helped prepare us for our visit to the Native Heritage Center on Tuesday. 

The sun was bright and amazing today...perfect for some soccer and kickball! We never did get to go to Flattop Mountain with our schedule changes. But our hike at the park along the coast and seeing a moose and two eagles made up for it!  Woo hoo!!!!! We finally saw a moose. (Ok, I FINALLY saw one.  Hahaha!)

Back to the church to relax, nap, shower, eat and bible study.  

Our small groups had great insight and conversations about the boundaries that Jesus breaks down.  The boundaries of differences in each other, the boundaries of sin that keeps us separated from God,... and how worry keeps our focus away from our trust in the Lord.  We continue to find more ways to imagine what God can do in our lives.  

It is a true blessing to watch the youth and adults learn more about each other...to mingle with new people.....Get to know friends at a faith filled level....to wonder and share together on this faith journey. We laughed harder than ever tonight with each other.  New groups were put together to be creative and funny, and let me tell you.....IT WAS HILARIOUS!! You'll have to ask us about the game.  I can't even begin to put it into words.

A surprise "bedtime snack" brought all 58 of us together before we called it a night.  ...going around and sharing our highs so far,....our "ah ha moments".....One of my favorite times is to hear the seniors have heart filled conversations with the underclassmen and encouraging them on the FLY journey....to remind them how important it is to stay grounded in their church family....and to be there for one another.  We are truly blessed by how lives are touched and faith is fed on our trips.

So.....A full day and yet a day where we remembered the sabbath day and kept it holy! :)

More pictures to come tomorrow....it's after 1:15am again..... The silence of the night is calling....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Solstice

The gentle rain from last night was still in our presence this morning when we woke up....Flattop Mountain was no longer an option today.  It's a good thing that FLY has become the professionals of plan b, c, and d.  :). So now as I look by through the day, I see so many more blessings.  The last two days we're spend seeing the beauty of the nature of Alaska.  Today we ended up being blessed by the beauty of the people of Alaska and their traditions.  

We went to the Saturday Market where almost everything there is alaska-made and is a weekly tradition.  But the cool thing about today....it is the Summer Solstice.  We went to the festival in the afternoon. Watched the Hero Games...and enjoyed "Great Alaska Pizza Company" for supper.  The anchorage trolley came and picked us up and the highlight was learning about the city, the history of what happened during the earthquake of 1964, and basically the differences of living here.  We were all so attentive and learned so many things.  The evening ended with an open concert by Spin Doctors.

The daily devotional time was thought provoking....taking the time to make a conscious effort to appreciate the positive influences within the group and to think about how we can be the positive influence to others.  ....to see the attributes that are God-like and imagine those in each other.

So it's 12:30 and the kids and adults have just come in from playing ultimate frisbee!  Not something we could do in Minnesota.  How cool!!!  The group is steadily gelling and the groups, grades, and gender separations are losing their boundaries.

Tomorrow is a new day promising sunshine and breaking down other boundaries.  Good night Marshall..... Sweet dreams our new friend Alaska.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday.....Matanuska Glacier Guided Ice Trek

It's 12:30am....the rain is gently coming down as I try to catch up.  The men are preparing for breakfast tomorrow.....and believe it or not the youth are exhausted. The ice trek today was definitely high adventure and we loved every minute of it.  How God creates this and how it is continually changing is soooooo cool.  I feel like I've been using the word amazing all the time......but it was AMAZING!!  As Hans says......breathtaking, overwhelming!!!  We got back to Anchorage to be able to go to the Bear Tooth Theater!  Ok.....we need one of these in Marshall.  You order your food, go sit down, and they bring it to you so you can eat it while you enjoy the movie.  Once again "Captain America" saves the day! And we think that was the best pizza ever created.

Our theme today was tearing down boundaries to make a change in the world.....to do little things with great love.  The bible study had us studying Moses and how we too often put borders or boundaries up because we think we can't do what God calls us to do for one reason or another.  It's comforting to know that when God calls us He promises to give us what we need....and to put people in our lives to help with the calling.

So with all of this....it's a little darker outside now......and the snoring is now harmonizing with the rain. Until tomorrow.........

Friday, June 20, 2014

Aleyeska Tram and Seward--Thursday

Wow! Yesterday was amazing.  You truly understand the majestic beauty of Alaska when you are here.  All of the youth and adults agree that "pictures" just can't capture it all!  I think I'm safe to say that we were all glad the tram took us to the top of Aleyeska. And yet how much further we could hike around on top was exciting.  Our bus driver has a million stories for us about Alaska and moose and bear. ....and basic history.

We then traveled to Seward the fishing village for supper.  The rainbow we saw against the mountains made me smile and think that God was giving us a huge "thumbs up!"  Some kids even tried seafood :)

Our Daily Devotional started off our theme by having us take time to think about how others see us....how we see ourselves....and how God sees us.  We did our bible study "on the bus". (Ya gotta be creative with our time! Haha!). It was fun to have "one to one" talks about Psalm 139 and relating this to our lives.  Go look it up! Have a conversation tonight at supper.

Again the youth are being great!  I LOVE to see their excitement and see how God is and will be working in their lives through this faith journey.

I better get going!  We are almost to the Glacier!  And I still need to be looking out the window for moose!! Ha!