(I hope you’ll enjoy the images…just click to enlarge.)
Well, a week ago we were in Alaska. After a breathtaking drive through South Pass, we boarded our first flight. All of the travel went smoothly, and I enjoyed having the window seat for every flight so I could snap photos coming and going. We arrived Thursday afternoon. We were met by Pastor John Judson (who pastors Gateway Baptist Church) and his wife Connie (long time friends from college days) at the airport, and ushered onto a ferry to cross over to where Ketchikan is located. It was raining (Ketchikan is considered to be rain forest) and quite windy! We were treated to a delicious meal at Ocean View Restaurante (a mix of Mexican, Italian, American and
Greek offerings–the menu was unbelievable…like a book!), then the Judsons graciously helped us do some basic grocery shopping for the days we’d be staying in their parsonage. After this we went back to get settled in the house for the evening.
The retreat did not begin until after lunch the next day, and I was up bright and early at 4:30am. I enjoyed the quiet time! We joined the Judsons at 8:15 at a local restaurant, where they were hosting a breakfast in appreciation for their day care workers (the downstairs of the parsonage functions as a day care ministry). After this we went back to the house for an hour or so and I had some time to review my notes. Then at about 11:30 we got in the van to make the drive down to George Inlet Lodge.
We got to the lodge early and had time to arrange the tables etc. the way we preferred. I took my things up to my room. The ladies began arriving
about 1pm. We had our first session at 2pm. Someone asked me if the retreat was “well attended”…and I can say that although there wasn’t a vast crowd, the event was indeed “well” attended. Those in attendance seemed to really enjoy the fellowship, the singing, the time around God’s word.
There was a bit of free time in the after noon prior to dinner. Some sat and chatted while others made cards to send off to missionaries. Dinner was parmesan chicken and pasta, and Patricia, the lodge owner, did a marvelous job with our meals. We had one evening session, along with singing. I loved hearing the ladies sing. We were
small, but the group made a very nice “joyful noise.” 🙂 Following the evening session, there was a fun skit by a few of the younger gals (all of them are quite delightful company…I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them a little) and more fellowship time. There were some heart to heart discussions in the wee hours I understand. I know nothing of the details, but am so grateful for the Holy Spirit’s working in hearts. My internal clock was still set for mountain time, so I did not stay up as late as some. I fell asleep to the sound of rain falling into the sea outside.
On Saturday morning I awoke early again, with enough time to leisurely read through Colossians and snap a few photos (a couple of a seal swimming under my bedroom window) before joining everyone downstairs. Breakfast was yogurt/berry/granola parfaits, lemon poppyseed bread, coffee cake and orange wedges. Wonderful. The morning devotional was a special blessing to me. One of the young ladies shared courageously and transparently of her own struggles, encouraging others to walk in holiness. There was a brief break afterwards and then, since
some were being dealt with, we switched the schedule and had our singing/sharing time before the final session allowing the others to have time to join the group. We met around the word one more time (and I actually made it to the end of my outline), and then the ladies took me completely off guard by giving me a basket of gifts. I was overwhelmed! Plane tickets for my husband and I, groceries for the house, special meals out, the privilege to minister to these wonderful gals, an unexpected offering (!) and now this! Yes, it made me teary. I was so blessed as I opened each gift, thinking of all God had done. So many precious treasures that, with each use, will continually remind me of these dear Alaskan ladies.
Pastor John and my husband showed up toward the end of this, and joined us for lunch. White chili and corn bread. I need to get that recipe! 😉 Then, it was time to pack up and say our goodbyes, trek up the long stairway and board the van for home.
We were not back at the house long before it was time to accompany John and Connie on their boat to go and pick up what they called the “shrimp pots” that had been dropped the previous afternoon. It was a very nice trip on calm water. The catch was not exactly abundant, but enough for everyone at dinner that night to have a taste. On the way back to the marina we saw two whales (actually, the spouts mostly). They were hump backs. The second actually arched and flipped its tail in the air, but sadly my camera did not want to cooperate and capture the shot. We enjoyed dinner with the Judsons and two of their Christian school teachers who live downstairs in their duplex. We turned in before it was too late, since we had church the next morning.
We enjoyed the challenges Pastor John shared in Sunday school and morning worship. I shared “God Sees the Heart” as special music. The church is small, but there is a very good spirit among the people. We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday lunch with the Judsons and their daughter, son in law, and children and those sweet teachers once again. Rested a bit in the afternoon, as Patrick prepared to preach Sunday night. His message was a challenge and encouragement. It was a refreshing day in the Lord’s house. We went back over to Judsons after church and enjoyed reminiscing over tasty leftovers and popcorn. Then it was time to turn in.
Monday morning we packed up, ate some breakfast at the house, and we were headed back to the ferry to return us to the airport. We had a little
bit of excitement on our flight from Seattle to Denver (a young lady was having heart problems so we had to make an emergency landing in Boise…during which stop they discovered…after a very hard landing…that the plane was carrying too much weight and the brakes had heated up), but other than that things went smoothly. We got into Rock Springs quite late, got settled into our hotel after a quick trip to WalMart, and hit the sack. The next morning we went to IHOP for breakfast and then headed north to pick up the kids. After happy reunions and some quick visiting with dear friends, we were at last on our way back to Lander, and normalcy…whatever that means! So great to serve the Lord, so good to be home.