It is the end of February and we all hope that we are finished with the worst of the Alaskan winter weather. The deep snow has brought the moose down into our neighborhood and they have eaten every soft twig they can reach. We hope that the snow does not melt all at once this Spring, if it does that will create serious hardships for many of our ministry areas along the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers.
I am pleased to say that I have finished all my courses for becoming a Licensed Deacon in the LCMS. An interview is scheduled in the next week which will complete all of my requirements. This will shift my ministry from a study focus to a practice focus. Of course the learning will continue.
In my last blog I mentioned that I would say something about SW Alaska. This is my ministry area. The most striking feature is the size! The second most striking feature is the isolation. In this whole vast area there no highways. The scattered villages are connected by boat or small plane. Most of the native Alaskans who live in these remote villages live by "subsistence". This means that a good portion of their food comes from hunting, fishing, and gathering. The concept of hunting and fishing for "sport" does not really exist. Social life revolves around the local school and native cultural events. Communities gather for dancing and sharing meals. Dancing is an especially important part of community life. There is much to be said for this kind of life. The people live close to the land. Therefore, they know it and respect it. Community life is strong. The villages are isolated but not the people in them! As with any place in our fallen world there are problems. This area reports some of the highest rates of domestice violence and sexual abuse in the entire United States. There is a need for Christ, and a changing of hearts. Next month I will talk more about what the Alaska Mission for Christ is doing in SW Alaska. Until then God bless you.