Documenting Life

Last summer Kathryn came out to Port Alsworth to help document Tanalian Bible Camp’s ministry.  She was finishing up a photography degree at the Art Institute of Colorado.  Not only did she work on photos and video for camp, but she invested in the lives of the staff members while she was here. Here’s some of her work for TBC
  The past two weeks she came back to help do the same for the Tanalian Leadership Center.  It has been so refreshing and encouraging having her here.  God used her creative perspective on life and wonderful suggestions for books to renew my heart and mind in several ways.  Everyday we’ve had conversations that direct my heart back to the Truth of who God is in my life.  One thing I will never forget her saying many times is, “Thank you God for always providing more than enough.”  It’s so true.  He really does. Over the past few weeks I have been truly reminded the He provides for what I need even when I don’t know what that is.  He also is faithful and gives me many things that I don’t need, but want.

I plan to be pretty busy with camp this summer as well as working part time at the new General Store in Port Alsworth. Sometimes I get discouraged and just choose not to even dream up the things I’d like to do. This summer I have lots of things that I want to do.  I have laid all those things at the feet of Jesus.  I don’t know what this summer holds, but I know that God wants me to ask for the things I want.  I just can’t put my hope in those things.  He’ll provide everything that I need, but I am excited to ask for the frivolous things I want. It’s up to Him what actually happens.  This summer will be wonderful no matter what it holds because all the good and perfect things that it will hold are gifts from Jesus.

Summer Highlights

Each season in Port Alsworth brings about new experiences and things to learn.  Each time the seasons I change I find new reasons to love this place I have grown to call home.  I have definitely kept busy this summer, but have found time to play and enjoy the abnormally warm and sunny weather.  You’ll get no complaints from me about the 80 degree days and clear blue skies!  Here are some of my favorite moments and events from the summer.

GRACE: Several weeks back there was an unexpected visitor in Port Alsworth that quickly won the hearts of many.  Her name is Grace and was a 3 week old baby beaver.  I think you can see why she was a hit!

GracetheBeaver3      GracetheBeaver8

You can read more about Grace’s story and see pictures on my friend Kathryn’s blog. (Photo credit goes to Kathryn Bronn)

TANALIAN HIKE: I have done a good amount of hiking this summer, but one of my favorite hikes was with 3 lovely ladies that I met because they came out to work for Tanalian Bible Camp.  We had a wonderful time sharing what God has done in our lives (despite the high winds and temperature changes along the way).  I was disappointed when I realized I never took a pictures of us together, but here’s a shot from one of our stops along the way.

CIMG2117FOURTH OF JULY: On the 4th of July we had a major picnic that everyone in town was invited to.  It was a blast to celebrate with so many people under a giant tarp hung over a playhouse and bulldozer.  It was wonderful just eating and chatting with friends.  I realized how much I love these ladies and am grateful for the different ways that they each enrich my life.  I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly fortunate I am to have them.  I am not sure I would have made it through this last year without them.IMG_2234TANALIAN BIBLE CAMP:  I ended up spending a couple weeks in the camp kitchen and really enjoyed it.  I got to know some of the summer staff pretty well and made some great friends. I was refreshed because I got to spend time building different kinds of relationships, catch up with old friends, and intentionally mentor one of the girls on staff.  After sharing my testimony one night at camp, a girl on staff for three weeks asked me to meet with her.  I am not sure whether it was more beneficial for her or for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!  I will and do miss many of the staff members that came through this summer.  I am so glad that they got to experience camp and a small taste of Port Alsworth and look forward to seeing many of them back again.1016928_10151724027957629_1559481594_n

CONTINUED MENTORING:  This summer IMG_2251has also been time for me to continue mentoring in a different way.  Our friendships are growing stronger, but there has been a marked shift in how we relate – in a good way. It’s always a treat to spend time with Sophia and Girla (TLC students who have stayed in Port Alsworth for the summer).  I love them more each day and am certain God has amazing things in store for the two of them in the future.  They impress me with their maturity and faith whenever I spend time with them.

CAMPING WITH VALOR:  Another one of my favorite highlights was going on a camping trip with some girl cadets who came up through Valor, a ministry of Campus Crusade. I was asked to share my story with them.  I was told that I had up to two hours to share about what God has done in my life.  It was incredible how many of the things God has taught me struck a chord with each of them.  I also had the opportunity to facilitate a low-ropes Team Adventure Challenge Course day with them.  It was a blast spending time with those lovely young ladies.  An added bonus was one of the staff members happened to be a college classmate I hadn’t seen in 5 or so years.  I also thoroughly enjoyed trying out my “cozy” two-man tent with Sarah.  We stayed up way to late chatting and laughing.  It is not a night I will soon forget.


PICKING THE NET: I have also learned some valuable skills this summer.  One thing that I have been waiting to do since I moved here was establish residency so I could go out and pick the gill net.  Well, my time has come.  I was able to go out and pick the net with Eric and Jon.  However, later in the day neither of them was around to drive the boat.  So Sarah and I, completely undeterred by this decide that we can go out in a canoe.  It was slightly awkward, but we got the job done even with Ellah, our extra little passenger who thought we were going to tip and freeze to death.  All the salmon and lake trout were then vacuum sealed and the preparations for winter are started.

EVEN MORE SUMMARY: To fill in some gaps in the summer, I also checked off three more Alaskan towns; Kenai, Soldotna, and Fairbanks. Summer is a great time to go hiking, kayaking, and just adventuring with others.  As much as I have enjoyed the activities of the summer the best part has just been making friendships with the wonderful people of Port Alsworth and growing in the relationships I already have.  I may not be rich, but my life most definitely is.

Teen Pursuit

Teen Pursuit was simply amazing.  I think I could write a very lengthy blog post for each day I was in Alaska.  I will refrain through.  I left Illinois on May 31 and made it to Anchorage just after midnight.  I was able to stay with a camper I had met last year and her family.  It was wonderful seeing a familiar face and making some new connections in Anchorage.  They were extremely hospitable and I am so thankful for the generosity of families in Anchorage!

Friday morning I had my flight scheduled to Port Alsworth at 10:00am, so after breakfast we headed to Merrill Field to catch my flight.  But this is Alaska, so we waited until about 11:30am for all the passengers to arrive, then switch passengers due to the fact that two people brought dogs and it’s company policy that no more than one dog is allowed per flight.  Oh Alaska, you’re one of a kind.

I arrived in Port Alsworth just in time for lunch and was greeted by an entourage of old and new friends.  It was wonderful to see so many people that are dear to me.  I spent Friday & Saturday day catching up with Heather and learning things about the Port Alsworth community.  I thoroughly enjoyed staying with them and learning from Heather what to expect during my first winter in Alaska (just assume that I will blog often about new experiences in Alaska), cooking dinner with Heather, and just enjoying the beautiful weather.  It was in the 60s and sunny almost everyday!  It was wonderful.

We also had our first official TLC staff meeting with everyone present.  It was wonderful to have us all together!  God has brought together an incredible staff and I can’t wait to see what He does this fall.

Camp started officially on Monday morning and I was so excited about my cabin of girls.  I had five 18 and 19 year old ladies in my cabin.  It was a joy to get to know them and hear about what God is doing in their lives.  We had many deep conversations and challenged each other in our faith.  I learned new things about Native culture from them and I so looking forward to continuing my relationship with them.  Two of my campers will be back as students at the Tanalian Leadership Center in the fall! I also got to meet two other girls that are planning on coming in the fall too.  God is definitely at work and excitement about the program is spreading!

The week was packed with so many things to do with the campers, but also a lot of down time just to get to know each other.  Monday was a great day of reuniting with old friends and meeting new people.  Girla, the female student from TLC this spring, shared her testimony and was baptized after chapel in the evening.  On Tuesday we went to Pebble Beach for a picnic, rappelling, tubing, shelter building, and just hanging out on the beach.  Wednesday was Team Adventure Challenge day on the low-ropes course and waterfront day; including water skiing, knee & wake boarding, and more tubing.  Thursday we had each team build a Rube Goldberg Machine as their team challenge (this was the example we gave).  I had the privilege of being one of the judges, so I got to see all the contraptions come to life.  It was impressive what some of the teams came up with.  One team used a live puppy (don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the challenge) and another even flung a burning taxi into the air with a skeet launcher.

Friday we loaded up our packs and headed for Lake Kontrashibuna, which is about a 4 mile hike from Port Alsworth.  It was actually a great day for a hike, even if I did have to start out the day with rain gear on.  God was definitely at work in the students this week and much of what God was doing came out during the camp out.  Throughout the week a different counselor shared either their testimony or a story about what God was teaching them at the time.  By the time we were out on Lake Kontrash, students were ready to let the walls down and share what God is teaching them.

Lives have most assuredly been changed by God working through Tanalian Bible Camp this past week and I know that more will be changed throughout the summer.  Many students rededicated their lives to Christ, shared about struggles and asked for prayer, some even shared that they are not ready to trust in Christ as their Savior yet, but have asked for God to give them faith.  I feel incredibly blessed to have been part of the Lord’s work at TBC and can hardly wait to be back there in August (Lord willing!)

I left Port Alsworth on Monday morning and my flight to Chicago wasn’t scheduled to leave until 8:15pm so I had a lot of  time to kill. So I had quite the adventure exploring Anchorage.  It’s almost unreal how quickly we become accustomed to life in the bush and normal daily things like locking car doors becomes foreign.  (Side note: I now have an Alaska cell number and would be happy to pass that on.  Just send me an email at and I can get that to you.)

Being in Alaska was great and I’m looking forward to many more adventures in my new home in the near future.