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I write this having two weeks left on the mission before I head back to my family in Kentucky, and then to West Virginia to be married, and eventually to Florida were my fiance and I will be living and have been attending college. During the last year, God has been guiding me toward native people. This led to a search for an internship that I could do during the summer break before I get married in July, and I discovered Arctic Outreach. When I talked with Rodger Rinker about the opportunities up here, I become more and more excited to be involved; there was outdoor work that needed done, many opportunities to work with the kids of the reserves, and also chances to use my musical experience. I began my internship on May 12th, and settled into a schedule right away. My day during the week usually includes a couple hours of clearing the airplane runway, maintaining the church grounds and keeping the building clean, teaching a few piano lessons, and spending time with the kids. We'll play hide-and-seek, go out on the swings, play basketball—just find ways to develop relationships with them and show them God's love. At this mission, there are plenty of chances to get to know the kids and attempt to demonstrate what Jesus's sacrificial, unfailing love looks like.
The first week of my internship, I had the chance to co-chaperone a handful of teens from the reserves at Native Youth Conference, a yearly Christian event popular among the teens here. Right away, this gave me a chance to connect with guys from the reserves, helped to understand the culture a little more, and provided an instant means to develop my leadership skills and initiative. The conference was also a blessing to attend; I really appreciated the teaching and the selfless dedication of the staff.
A good number of kids would come for Sunday school at the mission, and I helped to keep them under control during the lessons, joined them in the songs, and taught the 4-6 year-olds. I also gave the message for the adult service in the afternoon on a few Sundays. The church is a small gathering (the adult congregation is usually around 10-12 people), so the services and Tuesday Bible studies (which I also led on occasion) provides a great opportunity to grow together as fellow disciples.
Tomorrow, I will be leading a Father-Son gameday as a Father's Day event, where Father's (or grandpas, uncles, or older brothers) can bring their boy (or boys) and play outdoor games together and have a hotdog roast. I'll be speaking to them briefly of God's Fatherhood to us, and encourage them in the responsibility that God has given them to demonstrate His love to their boys.
Looking back on all that has happened, I am hugely grateful for prayers offered for me and my time here. God's presence is certainly very real here, and I have experienced His protection, His peace, and His fulfilling love. This time has been a vast learning and growing experience for me, and I'm thrilled to see the way God has been working to establish my new family's future through the time He has given me here. Continue to pray for this mission—the light is active here, and truly does dispel the darkness.