Day 6: Final Day!

Our final day of work was filled with more power-washing, putting the final touches on newly sewed aprons, re-building a walkway, dusting theology books in the library, a few bee stings, and some fried salmon. Oh what a splendid time we have had in Soldotna! We are energized, tired, a little sore, more muscular (or we’d like to think), and encouraged by our time here and our interactions with the college staff and students. Thanks Hillside for following us on our adventure! 

Today I had the privilege of talking with the president of Alaska Christian College, Keith Hamilton. He is a delightfully disarming man with a beautiful heart and vision for the college and its students. 

How have you seen God move though the college? 

Well, first off, thank you Hillside for almost 15 years of extreme support to the college, not just by sending work teams, but by allowing me to share stories when I come to visit Walnut Creek. We are true partners.

We began with one building on 10 acres and we now have 16 buildings on 27 acres. But it's not the buildings and the land that have been the form of our success, but Alaskan natives returning back to their home villages after they graduate. We are part of a movement seeing the face of the Alaskan villages changed student by student, family by family. We are seeing villages reclaimed for Christ. We're working with other entities to capitalize on the gospel being preached throughout the state.

What is you vision for the college? 

ACC is an educational arm of the church, and Alaska is our mission and our passion. We want to see more disciples in more villages leading and serving as followers of Christ. 

Musing of the day: 

“Wonder is the precondition for all wisdom.” Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

Day 5

Because it’s summer break, many of ACC’s students are at home, so a walk around campus will have you mostly bumping into sweaty and enthusiastic workers. However, there are a few students living on campus for the summer and working, like Tia from the Navajo Reservation in Flagstaff, Arizona. While a large majority of students are Alaskan Natives, many are from other areas as well. 

What are the ways in which ACC has impacted you? 

I have learned more of who Jesus is and have become part of a community. From the students, staff, and counseling center, I've learned who I am in Christ. They really go beyond what normal counselors do. It’s also Christian counseling which is hard to find, and we don't have that in Flagstaff. 

The counseling center is what really made me want to go here. I knew that I desperately needed counseling. They've helped me to deal with issues of self-harm and have equipped me with different coping mechanisms and the skills to be vocal about a lot of the things that I normally wouldn't tell people. 

How you have seen God move in the community? 

We share each other's burdens, especially with the suicides that have been happening this past year in the different villages. I felt like God was calling me to minister and just be there for the students who were going through that, seeing as I had attempted it before. There are moments where I've felt like I needed help, and there were people who came alongside me and prayed for me.

#TBTTT (Throwback Thursday to Tuesday) 

We went moose and caribou sighting! As we’ve all learned from searching for Bigfoot, it’s hard to get good pictures. ;)

Oh and Sarah found her fairies (in reference to Day 3) …

Day 4

All work and no play makes David a tired worker. 

Hard work and fun play makes David a happy camper.

It is good to work, and it is good to rest! On Wednesday, we worked for a half day and then took a 2 hour drive to Resurrection Bay for a dinner cruise with some animal watching along the way. The waters were filled with scuffling sea otters, a humpback whale that managed to elude my camera (look for the picture of splashes…), two bald eagles (they look like ping pong balls in the picture with the cabin) and darting puffins, all enveloped by the colossal mountains of Alaska. 

Dad quote of the day courtesy of our new Floridian friend Brad: Go(at) for it! (after we were pointing out the many Dahl sheep in the mountains) When looking at the pictures, if you see any white spots amidst the green of the mountains, it is probably a Dahl sheep perched precariously on a cliff. 

Musing of the day: “If there is a constructive way forward for Christians in the midst of our broken but also beautiful cultures, it will require us to recover these two biblical postures of cultivation and creation. And that recovery will involve revisiting the biblical story itself, where we discover that God is more intimately and eternally concerned with culture than we have yet come to believe.” Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

Day 3

Today was another day of tough and rewarding work as we continue to serve with our partners! Val and Erik were brave souls cleaning out a room with bed bugs; Lindsey, Sarah, and David power washed a few buildings in preparation for re-staining (may I just say how fun it is to use a power washer…), Kathy and Lindsey painted; and Jana was a sought-after master apron maker. 

Quote of the day from Sarah: “Where are all the fairies?”

A philosophy that we hold dear at Hillside and Compassion, Justice, and Missions is that of partnership. This week spent in Soldotna, Alaska is one of the ways Hillside is continuing our current partnerships with churches and organizations. ACC is just one of our partners, along with the Safe House in SE Asia, GROW in Thailand, and Del Camino Connection in the Dominican Republic, just to name a few. The church has been a partner and supporter of ACC since the very beginning and sending teams to help in the summer is continuing this reciprocal relationship. It’s not just about sending money or taking over a project with what we see as our talents and resources, but coming alongside what God is already doing within churches and communities. 

Musing for the day: “The starting point for church-to-church partnership is discovering what we each believe about Missio Dei or God’s mission for His world… We talk about Missio Dei because we really feel that in partnership part of God’s overarching plan for the restoration of all things is that we come together in Christ as brothers and sisters at our Father’s table, realizing the good news: we are all significant players in His mission as citizens of the Kingdom of God.” Shared Strength: Exploring Cross-Cultural Christian Partnerships, Edited by Beth Birmingham and Scott Todd 

Day 2

Number of nails hammered: 975.5

Number of boards painted: 632

Number of conversations about fishing: 235 and growing by the minute

Number of friends made: 420

Number of tired and happy Hillsiders: 7

Today was our first official day of work! It was filled with sorting out the tasks we will be doing for the week, a tour of the college, and dessert at the president of the college’s house. A few of us painted a garage that is being built, others cleaned and painted a yurt, and others are working on cleaning a student housing dorm, with a wide variety of tasks sure to come. 

After dinner, the president of the college, Keith Hamilton, shared with us about the substantial work that Alaska Christian College is doing in the lives of Alaskan natives. Many come from difficult home lives and find ACC to be a safe place of spiritual, emotional, and academic growth. Hearing stories of his interactions with students was a wonderful way of introducing us to the people that we are  partnering and serving with, and it left us all the more excited to continue our work on their campus. 

We appreciate your prayers throughout the week for healthy bodies, enthusiastic attitudes, and a closeness with Jesus as we continue our week of service. 

Musing of the day: “What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.” 

  N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope 

Where Are We? Day 1

Where are we?

Seven Hillsiders - Jana Clark, Sarah Ago, David Doering, Lindsey DeWilde, Cathy Nemanic, Erik Nemanic, and Val Sommese - will be in Soldotna, Alaska for a week helping serve alongside our partners at Alaska Christian College. I (Lindsey) will be documenting the week via this blog and my rookie photography skills, so join us, Hillside, on our trek through the small town of Soldotna, Alaska!

Alaska Christian College’s mission is to “empower Alaska Natives through biblically-based education and Christian formation to pursue excellence in character, learning, and service as followers of Christ.” They are affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church (that’s us!) and we are excited to continue Hillside’s longstanding partnership with the college. 

What are we doing?

We are doing Kingdom work!! We, along with other people from various Covenant churches, will be helping finish an indoor garage and storage space for the college that will make the hard winters in Alaska a bit easier for the students and faculty. The college relies heavily on the work that the churches provide during the summers. 

How can Hillside be praying for the team?

We would love your prayers during this week! 

Jana - For heath and strength throughout the week

Sarah - For a fruitful week of good teamwork 

Lindsey - To welcome insight into God’s purpose and press on in faith even without that insight 

David - That our offering and service will be multiplied and used to further God’s Kingdom

Kathy - That we will accomplish the project in a timely manner so that the project manager can return home to his wife with cancer; to reveal the impact the project will have going forward

Erik - To strip himself of himself so that the Lord is seen through him

Val - Prayer request coming soon…

Day 1:

We arrived Saturday evening after a day of travel, the last leg being a beautiful, breathtaking drive from Anchorage to Soldotna, and then had some time to settle in and rest. Sunday morning the gang headed to a local Baptist church with some other Covenant friends who joined us along the way. After a delicious lunch in town and some errands, we headed to ACC staffers Steve and Lindsay’s house for a fresh-caught salmon and halibut dinner, with some pre-dinner bald eagle watching and some post-fish dinner fishing. Tomorrow, after a night of only 6 hours of darkness (welcome to Alaska in the summer!), we will start our first day of work! Stay tuned!