Beauty, Mosquitoes & Service in Alaska

From June 2-9, 22 a group of 22 people from Souderton Mennonite Church and 6 friends traveled to Alaska to serve at two summer camps. The Victory Bible Camp group included Glenn Bauman, Wendy Clemmer, Linda Gehman, Steve Halteman, Alan Landis, Merrill & Nancy Landes, Earl & Betty Mininger, Keith & Dottie Reed; and friends – Phil Gehman, Linda’s son, and Debbie Landis, Alan’s sister. The Camp Li-wa group included Ed Brubaker, Don Housel, Austin & Julie Landes, Drew Mininger, Dottie Mininger, Jon Moyer, Merrill Moyer, Tim Moyer, Gary & Phyllis Sellars; and friends, Justin & Melissa Metzler and Dave & Ruthie Mumbauer from East Swamp Church. Click here to see more photos from their trip.  Members of each group wrote reflections on their experiences.

Working in God’s Beautiful Wilderness at Victory Bible Camp

By Dottie Reed

Alaska Victory Camp backhoe
Phil Gehman used the track hoe to backfill a trench at Victory Bible Camp in Alaska.

The thirteen participants who arrived at Victory Bible Camp (a two-hour ride from Anchorage) were awed by the creative splendor of our Lord in this area. Though it was cool and often rainy, the group worked hard, many times outside in the weather. We built three flower beds, constructed an outside bench, fixed benches around the fire rings, built a box around the phone in the gym, weeded a very large rock garden, cleaned the chapel and Miracle Lodge (dining and conference rooms, restrooms), relocated switches in restrooms, wired exhaust fans, replaced light bulbs, cut holes and framed areas for exhaust fans, cleaned the kitchen, cut croutons from frozen bread, unloaded the large truck full of groceries and supplies since they only go to Anchorage once a week… and anything else they asked us to do!

On Sunday we all attended Glacier View Church where our group of 50 counselors and staff from the camp made up more than half of the congregation. Devotions were held for us every morning at 7:30 a.m. on the camp theme, Truth.

Since it never gets very dark during the summer, we were able to do a number of fun activities after dinner. We toured the four smaller camps that make up Victory Bible Camp. We enjoyed dessert with Earl and Elaine Anders and Nadine Gillespie (92) who founded the camp with her husband. Many of us also visited and walked on a glacier, hiked to Inspirational Point, rode on a river ride in the rain, hiked many trails and mountains, and observed loons, muskrats, swans, curly-horned sheep, and many moose and their babies.

The first group of campers arrived on Wednesday for a short week. They seemed to enjoy themselves and some even went swimming in the beautiful lake in 38 degree water! All of the camp counselors and staff are volunteers who are supported by their friends and home churches. Our week was a great experience working in God’s beautiful wilderness.

Faith in Action… Swatting Mosquitoes

By Austin & Julie Landes

Alaska Liwa Wood
Ed Brubaker, Drew Mininger, and Phyllis Sellars split and stack firewood at Camp Li-Wa in Fairbanks, Alaska.

We are in the throes of parenting, so it felt almost like a vacation to head 4,300 miles to Fairbanks, Alaska to serve at Camp Li-Wa for a week. Leaving our two little girls in the care of their wonderful grandparents, we boarded three flights and exchanged our duties as mom and dad for almost constant daylight, moose sightings, and swatting mosquitoes–otherwise known as the state bird, according to Don Housel!

Our group reinforced and extended a hay loft 60 feet, built a fence around a petting zoo, split and stacked firewood, helped finish a new log cabin for the campers, sewed curtains, worked in the dining hall, and accomplished many other tasks around the camp. The highlight of our week was a day trip to Denali National Park – it was simply a surreal experience viewing some of God’s most amazing creation.

And then, three long flights back home…exhausted and back to parenting, back to work, back to our responsibilities. Why?

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” James 2:17 (NLT)

Service projects have been part of our yearly routine since we were married. It is faith in action for us. At first, they were almost built-in to our schedule when we were senior youth advisors for seven years, but now we intentionally fit them in. Serving is worth the expense. It is worth the sacrifice of your time and your finances. It has strengthened our marriage and united us as a couple. It has helped to adjust our perspective.  And there is something about traveling and living with a random group of people from your church that is just plain fun. If you ever get the chance – whether it’s serving a zip code or a country away – take it, you will be blessed.