Before I tell of my recent mission trip to Alaska, I have to clear a few things up. To all the people who called worrying about me being lost in the wilderness, it wasn't real. It was a semi-clever joke. I've been safe all along. We'll just leave it at that.
But the trip was amazing. The travel time to get there was only bearable because of the company surrounding me. We had a canceled flight in Seattle, so we spent nearly nine hours and two meals in the airport.
Once we made it to Ketchikan, Alaska, we spent the night in a church and woke up early to catch the ferry to Prince of Wales Island. During the three-hour ferry ride we played cards, sang, ate breakfast and slept.
Once we pulled into Hollis, we spent some time at Hollis Bible Church where a good friend from Georgia, Jeff Jones, is pastor. There was a pot luck supper to which the entire town of 40 was invited. We played praise music and shared how God had worked in our lives to bring this trip about.
After performing skits and more music for Sunday morning worship in Hollis, we set out for Coffman Cove. What would be less than an hour's drive on straight paved roads took over two hours on winding, mountainous, gravel roads.
Several on the team of 13 began Vacation Bible School at the New Covenant Alliance Church on Monday morning. While my part of the group was teaching Bible stories, singing and playing games with the kids, others were replacing windows and building a fire escape on the church's trailer that houses mission teams.
Four team members walked around town after VBS one day and handed out Christian CDs and books. Just meeting people in town and building relationships was great.
The best part was the enormous kickball game we started. We were supposed to meet another mission team for a softball game. They didn't show, so we started playing kickball. It seemed like everyone in town participated and had an awesome time.
I could see some unchurched people getting to know the believers in the town just because we were there to lend a hand. It's an encouraging thing to see.
Of course there was a little down time to see bears, deer, starfish and experience Alaskan fishing. My uncle caught a delicious 32-lb. king salmon. My mother reeled in a trout and a sockeye salmon.
I hooked a sockeye and a huge halibut. Unfortunately, I was unable to completely reel in either one of them. I know; it sounds like a fish story, but it's true.
And one more thing that is true, I will be back in Coffman Cove sometime in the future. The friends I made are definitely worth the days of travel it takes to get to them.