Magnets

IMG_6504Last month, after I went to Soldotna to see my sister, I was praying on my way home for God to open doors. I wasn’t specific I meant doors of opportunity. Anyway, I was tasked to go pray at the Alaska Native Medical Center. I walked through the halls of the hospital on a Sunday and there was a mini church service in a meeting room by the Quyana Care wing, lovely singing. I paused for a moment to listen and my heart was happy. I brought with me my Bible, my sewing tin and a stuffed ducky from my sister that was meant for Duke, but she also gave him a lion and he would be happy with that. Duke was at the cabin with his dad. I knew I had to go up to the second floor “meditation” room I called it the prayer room. I walked up and tried to open the door. My heart sank, it was locked. I was infuriated because who would lock his special place? Where mother’s pleaded to God for their children, father’s prayed for their mother’s and where I begged God to save my brother Axel the first time he tried to commit suicide. His brain stem was decaying after he hung himself in Unalakleet. My cousin Ginger brought us the news, when she did I asked her “Doesn’t God make miracles happen?” And she looked me in the eyes and told me yes and I believed her. I went to this same prayer room that was now locked and pleaded to God for my brothers life. He pulled through miraculously. He commited suicide three months later. My world shattered and Jesus is still piecing it together. So you see, even to me, this prayer room meant a lot to me. So I walked up to the desk on the second floor, I asked the lady nicely to have security come and open the door to the meditation room. Then, THEN I asked her in a stern voice of authority “who locked this room and why?” She didn’t have the answers to my questions, but she said she would ask her supervisor. I went back to the common area where there was a display case with hand made grass baskets. I love to look at all the intricate handiwork at the Native Hospital. I am in awe every time and the two that I was drawn to were made by women from Hooper Bay. I have been there before and will return one day. The security guard came and I heard him talking with the lady at the desk. He opened the door and I politely thanked him. I told him that this door shouldn’t be locked, because most people won’t bother to ask for it to be opened. I went in and read my Bible and sang songs on my heart. Then I prayed to God at the alter and Thanked Him and loved Him. I let go of the hurt and the pain from my brothers death. And I sang for Him to create in me a clean heart and I pray that every day. Doors were opened.

I took my grocery bag of my sewing tin and the stuffed ducky and held my Bible close to my chest and proceeded to the main lobby of the hospital on the first floor. This lobby is circle with seating in the area in the shape of a circle where our people can drum and dance our native way. I had to go sit and listen. There was a elder couple sitting on one bench and that is where I sat. I started sewing my sealskin mitten ornament. Wow how I enjoyed each song and dance. There were two boys to the left of me, one playing on the floor by himself and a younger son with his dad who was drumming sitting on one of the inner benches. The women dancing made me smile, they were beautiful and dancing their heart out. My foot tapped along with the drum and I’m sure my head was bobbing while I was sewing. This group was from Kotlik area and they made my heart overflow with joy. I have relatives all over Alaska and no matter how distant, I will love them just the same. A man tapped me on my shoulder and asked what I was working on. He asked where I was from and I told him Unalakleet. He knew one of my Aunts who passed away from cancer. He had lost his wife six years prior. I listened to his story of hurt and he said “sometimes around the holidays it’s hard because we miss those who are gone, sometimes it’s hard to let go” and I told him “no, it is easy. You just have to remember that they are in a better place and they no longer live in pain and suffering.” He smiled at me and I smiled back. He wanted to say goodbye to my aunt but her daughter didn’t allow it. He loved her and just wanted to say goodbye. I told him to stay strong.

After we were done talking I had to go sit by the boy playing by himself on the floor. I asked him what he was doing. He had an awesome set of magnetic toys in the shape of squares and triangles. I was so fascinated and he wanted to show me something cool. He laid out a pattern and slowly and ever so gently the magnets linked together to form a sphere. I was in awe and thought it was an awesome toy. I loved magnets as a kid, but we didn’t have anything this cool. The younger boy by his dad was watching us. He didn’t have a toy and I asked him what his name was. Quinton. I was heading back to the cabin soon I told them both. The older boy looked sad I was going but I told him not to be sad and that it would soon be Christmas and he smiled. I explained that I had a son waiting for me at home. I gathered my sewing tin and Bible and gave the yellow stuffed Ducky to Quinton and wished them both an early Merry Christmas. My heart was overfilled with joy. Simple acts of kindness, making our future leaders smile.

Be a magnet by following your heart. It is made beautiful fully when you accept Jesus into your heart. Without Him in your heart there is pain and suffering, or if you have Him in your heart and are running in shame turn around and embrace Him. There is no need to run in shame, He washes the shame away. Your story has a purpose. You can change the world. Jesus wants YOU! Love and be beloved.

We share the same purpose

Mankind has a tendency to think that our survival is based on water, to most the one thing needed to survive. When, in fact, the one thing that is needed for our life is the one thing that causes us to age and die and that is the breath of life. With each breath our lives are sustained, but in turn we draw closer to death. Time is illusion of man and steals souls making him to think his only purpose on earth was to punch a time card. We are truly only asked to do one thing and that is to love God, recognizing that He is the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All else will follow. So with each breath you take give thanks. Thankful for love. I do not watch the news and gave up being an active member of Facebook. I want to encourage everyone to get in the Word, then get out in the real world and spread some smiles. Even through a simple smile hope is found. Our Hope is Jesus and He indeed will dwell in your heart once you accept Him. Love.

My Anna LaMug

fullBy Gertie Ann

Ever since I was a little girl one of my favorite people to simply observe was Anna LaMug. She frequented our humble home when she traveled to Unalakleet. It was my one goal to make her smile while she visited, I won almost every time. Her stature and the way she carried herself is how I hold myself when I need to, only when I need to. I saw her beauty beyond her red stained lips and make-up. I knew she was making her rounds, meaning that I felt she was a prayer warrior. You could feel it, literally feel it. The best warriors make their rounds without telling a soul. But some of us just know. And she made my heart happy because she always looked ageless to me and her seriousness was what I strived for at times, only when I need to. Her smell was pleasant and sometimes I’d get a hug from her. When we observe people in their actions, you have the ability to learn from their actions. I call it learning through other’s actions. Taking advice to heart only to strive to be the very best person you were created to be. When I went to church for the first time after my brother Axel died, I did not want to go. I had just gotten over being sick for seven days where I only had strength to get out of bed only to tend to Duke’s needs. The Sunday before Christmas I got ready to go to the Mat-Su Covenant Church. In my mind I told myself to pretend to be Anna LaMug so I made myself presentable. The thinking behind that is that people are more willing to accept a message when it is made presentable. So i made myself presentable.

It was going to be Duke’s first time going to Church and after my brother died I refused to ever go again until that day. Our frankenvehicle did not have heat so we bundled up, the white car had engine problems so we were left with no choice but to dress warm. I took one look in the car and saw no car seat, I completely forgot it was left in my brother’s vehicle, he had invited us to Thanksgiving and that was the one time we saw people for three months, we were ever so thankful. So no car seat, yay we don’t need to go after all. Then the idea that my neighbor had a carseat was set in my mind. I sent her a text and she had a carseat but they weren’t home. No go. So maybe we didn’t have to go to Church after all. Then I remembered there was a booster seat we had for when Duke was old enough. I found it and the seat was covered in frost, I took the frost off and it fit him just right. It would work for the purpose of going to church, so we took off. It’s a forty minute drive from where we live.

On the way a thought that maybe we would be too late crossed my mind, so my next thought was just don’t look at the time. I didn’t look at the time. We kept going and maybe we were almost half way there and I felt like turning around and just going back to the cabin. Then a song that I never heard before came on. Be brave, say what you want to say do what you want to do and this lady singing this song gave me the gumption to keep going. I was on a mission. I brought my notebook that had a part of my testimony written in it. I was like, ok I will bring it but don’t expect me to share. First, no one invited me to church I just had to go  (Holy Spirit) Second, usually when people speak in Church it’s preorchestrated. We made it to Church. I took Duke to the Children’s play room and to my great surprise my cousin Ruth was watching the children. She invited me to stay in the play room with her and as much as I love children and adore them I had to say no. I had to go sit and listen and worship.

Duke had no problem letting me leave he had his two cousins to play with. No matter how much I try to be a kid with him he needs the social interactions of actual children. I was looking for a place to sit and my cousins husband was leading worship and he was seated up at the front. Oh gosh, really? I have to go sit up at the front? Any chance I get I will try to go unnoticed. I was wearing my Parka from my Aunt Harilynn and she recieved the Parka from her Aunt Agnes, I only had to do the fur work on it. I felt a little peacockish but not on purpose. No way was I going to walk down the middle isle so I walked up the left isle of the pews ALL the way up to the front. I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit and went with His flow. I gave my cousin a hug and he was surprised to see me. His last name is Johnson and that is my maiden name, he married my first cousin so I call him my cousin, she got to keep our last name Johnson.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to share but worship was coming up soon so I asked my cousin if I could share something to the congregation. I said look, this is what I want to share and he skimmed my testimony and said to keep it around two minutes. I smiled and agreed. He called me up and I did not want to go up. It’s not like I wasn’t already praying for strength and for God to use me. I got up there and the congregation was among my favorite people, elders. I love elders because my mom taught me to. Anything my mom has ever taught me in love stayed in my heart, same with all the lessons of love people showed me simply by loving me.

I shared my testimony. Tears, heartache, then smiles and hope. Always a message of hope. It was good to go to church again. I met people who knew my dad and saw the Egli’s who used to live in Unalakleet. I gave them a hug becuase I love to give hugs to people I know and love. When so many people show you kindness, how do you not live to do the same thing. My heart was happy and I hope the one person who needed to hear hope heard it.

God is good to me, even when I have nothing I feel as though I have everything because He loves me. I will never give up on my family, on generational healing and on spreading Love and that is allowing Jesus to continue to be the Lord of My Life, this time all the hurt and pain that caused me to run and hide is no longer there. I was never afraid, only ashamed and Jesus is not ashamed of me, He carried me through the darkest of hours and I spent a lot of time in dark places because I was following my own self desires and the further I strayed the harder life was. But, I wouldn’t trade any of it because I met amazing people through simply being someone experiencing the world through my own perspective. Always choosing good over evil when that is made clear.

If you feel ashamed of your life, give your life to Jesus and walk a life free of shame. I only want to be a sheep if Jesus is the Shepherd, and He is a good Shepherd. Amen.

 

Unalakleet, Alaska and the great Awakening

IMG_1636Way up in the Northern regions of Alaska is a small Inupiaq and Yu’pik community of Unalakleet. Growing up I was told the meaning of our town is “where the east wind blows.” Our community has been a hub for surrounding villages for a long time. A major trading village in the days of old. The old town site is historical and my mom took me there once, fascinating to imagine old sod houses where the ditches in the earth are now covered with tundra. We did not disturb the old home sites just carefully picking cranberries around the area. The village can be a good thing or a bad thing and I’m hoping to shed light on some of the dangers of living in such a small, isolated community. Most of all to portray the goodness.

The village of Unalakleet is nestled in a valley at the drainage of the Unalakleet River where it meets the Bering Sea. Growing up the road to the hillside was along the airport road which aligns with the beach. This was after the old bridge was gone and before the new bridge was built on the Gwethluq slough. The dike separating the slough from the two lakes in the village was man made but built to help with flooding. This is a sand spit and eventually the village will have to relocate, something those who are capable are already doing by building homes up on the hillside. There used to be the old army hill where there were run down buildings from an old army base. A road travels 11 miles parallel on the left side of the river and ends at the old White Alice site. There used to be three towers there and the view from our cabin growing up allowed us to watch first hand the explosions that tore the towers down. The land used to be riddled and may still be today with PCBs. Our land will heal as our people are continually healing as we strive for a better future for our children.

Our Native Corporation store was once a larger scale operation than what it is today. The Post Office is now located in the old store building. The post office used to be near the Alaska Commercial Company store that is located “downtown” or at the point of town where the mouth of the river is located. Along with the fish plant and Brown’s lodge. Once in it’s hay day of civilizing our culture there was a boarding school for students called Covenant High. In the middle area of town there is “the Igloo” a snack shop and hangout for locals.

Growing up we had Bill’s video, that was a VHS rental in Bill’s home then was moved to the back of the Igloo. There used to be Maggie’s shop next door to the old house, she also rented out VHS tapes and had snacks and soft serve ice cream. Before there was peace on earth pizza there was a man who made pizzas out of his home, if I recall correctly his name was Dan Masters.

Near the airport side of town there is Happy Valley, a subsection of homes that are similar to hud housing. I liked to think of it as the suburbs but that was far from the truth. A lot of my cousins and friends grew up in that part of town. The Tiqasuk library used to be close to the Unalakleet Schools. There was a headstart program in the building that is now a coffee shop. My first teachers were Millie, Margie and Kermit. I would ask my mom for “potato soup” because that’s what I loved to eat at headstart. It took my mom awhile to figure out that I was actually referring to tomato soup. I had to go to school with a pair of dark blue Velcro shoes and I was not happy with that. Some of the activities I loved were building with brick looking cardboard blocks, the reading nook not to read but to look at pictures in the children’s books and going outside to do the dome game where we worked together to fill a dome parachute looking contraption with air and going under to create a dome. My teacher Millie always had beautiful marks on her face like my mom, beauty marks. My teacher Margie was a delightful soul always so happy. My teacher Kermit had one finger missing but I was never scared of him because he wore the same white tee shirts my Grandpa Johnson wore. There were substitutes here and there but I remember these three teachers very well. I thought of Headstart as a play program where I got to do cool projects, learn how to brush my teeth properly and actually not get my way.

The classmates you grow up with are almost an every day part of your life. We had a pretty chill class. In Kindergarten I would pluck out one of my classmates hair to tease him and say “I’ve got your hair.” I did not like nap time but I loved anything having to do with “it’s time to line up” I remember Mrs. Brown and Ms. Haugen and mainly being interested in arts and crafts or play time. I do remember a puppet in a tool box that I loved when Ms. Haugen would teach us lessons through him. The bilingual teachers would stroll a cart to our classroom for our heritage learning. Mrs. Mary Ann Haugen and Mrs. Charles. They both wore glasses so I tried to always be in the front so they could see me better, silly for thinking they couldn’t because that is what glasses are for. There was a day our class invited our siblings for part of our day and I was taken back at one of the girls making rough movements on the corner of her chair. I asked the teacher to help her thinking she had an itch or something. She was more than likely one of so many little girls who were molested. Something prevalent today in the rural villages. This will no longer be swept under the rug. Part of my testimony is that I am a survivor of sexual assault, sexual molestation and later in life rape. It’s a harsh reality to come to terms with, let alone to heal from. It literally has lifelong effects but there is always hope for a better future. To create change we must identify or expose the problem, then it no longer becomes acceptable or hushed behavior.

In such small communities I do not know how our women can sit idle. It happened to them and they don’t care if it happens to their daughters? That is the worst mentality to be occurring. We can create change and hope. Most adult problems and depression stem from early childhood trauma. This trauma can be overcome.

School was mandatory and so was summers spent at our cabin but that was the best part of my childhood. There is such a deep love for nature in my heart because my summers were spent in nature. We were poor, so we had to work very hard to gather enough food to last us through the winter. Five children is no easy task when it comes to keeping our bellies full for the majority of the year. One of our main staples was fish, every sort, caught during it’s run and cut and hanged to dry on our fish rack. Berries in the order of salmon or cloud berries first, then blueberries, raspberries, crow berries, cranberries and currants. With each coming in to season after the other. We put away masu in the spring and that is a root from the tundra, reminiscent to me of carrots but sweeter and of white flesh. Our greens gathered included Elephant ears we dipped in milk and vinegar sauce was always a special treat around the time we would gather sourdock leaves, something sour that my mom magically turned into something sweet called achathluk. Sura was a willow leaf collected right after bloomage and it was sour but nutritious. We stored the picked leaves in seal oil. Beach greens were so easy to gather and fun because we could look for sea shells at the same time. My mom would have us pick rosehip petals sometimes for jellies or to mix in with our ayuu tea. Our meats consisted of Moose, Caribou, Beaver, Porcupine, Seal, Ducks, Geese, Swan, Crane and Muktuk (whale). All these riches gathered by our hands from the land to help sustain us through the winter months. It was the good life.

There is an awakening occurring in the rural villages of Alaska where the sin of man will no longer be swept under the rug, and that is hurting little children and those who cannot fend for themselves. It is going to stop. We are the generation of healing and forgiveness, both go hand in hand. But the wounds must be ripped open as to no longer fester but to be cleaned through Jesus and to heal through Him. I am on a mission of Love and it is so very simple, all I am required to do is smile each day and all else will follow. We work with what we have and what all of us have that are saved is love and a smile. Please pray for the Rural Villages of Alaska. There is such goodness in the people but we are healing from the loss of our cultural identity and that identity will be restored. A learned behavior is hard to break, a lot of hurt and suffering comes hand in hand with colonization and our blood is not used to the effects of alcohol. Our bodies are allergic to it in a sense that we are basically infants trying to consume alcohol. All this is relatively new. Retaining our knowledge of the land and the subsistence lifestyle will go hand in hand with healing of not only the people but the land as well.

 

Flying for His Kingdom

Flying for His Kingdom

By Gertie Ann

Don Irving was a missionary in his own right, flying for the missions of rural Alaska through the Mark Plane Ministry. He was a significant pilot to me because he was willing to lay down his life each and every single day for Jesus. His wife was beautiful inside and out and the type of woman who respected her Husband and took care of her children in a loving manner. I babysat Jodi and Bradley up at the Unalakleet Covenant Bible Camp their older brother Brandon didn’t need one, and they were all a joy. Children have a tendency to make anyone smile, especially  Jesus Himself. That is a love all people are capable of to put the future of our Children in the forefront of decisions for they are the ones who will carry on in the works of our Father. When roots are burrowed in the foundations of love even the strongest wind will not cause uproot. Swaying in the wind, standing firm and continuing each day as the blessing it is. You’ve heard the story in prior post of the CORE trip and the miraculous events that that saved a group of High School Students serving the Lord through Missions work in rural Alaska. Don was our pilot. He had a woodman’s look with his beard but it was never out of control. His gentle eyes were passed down to his children, and they are oh so beloved, as you and I are. I often think of his wife and how she might be doing. Only to remember she is in the best care and that is God’s care.  When I attended University in Fairbanks I was blessed to see them at their home. I felt the sense of loss and inner hardship and continually pray for them. Not once did God stop loving you. The Mark plane had engine issues. On a solo flight just after take off Don crashed into a lake and passed away. I remember hearing about Don’s passing while on our boat up the Unalakleet River. My heart sank as if it was down on the river bottom, being rallied with the currents, then I remembered, Jesus is in control and His will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Death is not a bad thing, it is a part of this worldly life. When we change our world perspective to an eternal perspective it is impossible to loose hope. Do not deny the love that Jesus has for you, do not dwell in self pity for that is a trick of the evil one. Do be a light that shines in the darkness, and whatever your calling of love in life and that is the will of God, be loving and kind and selfless and always willing. Willing to hug those hurting, smile in delight for those who exhume joy and also be joyous. Our Father in Heaven is watching, taking note of all, do not be afraid, be yourself and be the person God created you to be. We lift up the Irving family and remember those who fly for His Kingdom. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and that is what lies in the heart of your heart beyond reasoning and understanding it is what your heart beats for. To further advance His Kingdom on this earthly plane, when that one person He loves beyond compare is saved, all the heavens rejoice and exclaim His strength and power over all. That one is you, no more so than I or those who have come before us.  It is louder than thunder, deeper than the depths of the earth, and expands further than the ever expanding universe that is His creation. We are not all called to be pilots, but when we do what we are capable, we are more than capable. It is so very simple, so very comprehensible, simply put, Love Him and in turn you become a ray of His love. It is only through love where we find Hope, and Only through Jesus where hope is found. Amen

 

Shattered plates

IMG_6526As a young girl, I remember hearing about children starving around the world. I could not imagine how? Were there no berries to pick? No fish to catch? My little mind did not understand, I would sit at the table to finish my food because we were blessed to be fed. I had to finish my plate, to the point if I was too full, I would finish in tears. My heart could not take it. The land provides food and why were children dying from starvation? It’s a heartache we all face today. When a race, which is mankind, no longer cares to teach children how to gather their own food and how to survive, one of the foundations that helped our species thrive is lost. I pass down what my mother taught me to my children. That is what directly is available as a food source and good for us and utilizing that in our diet. We are capable to create change. How the desire to do so is not there is unfounded. It is so very simple, hold on to your cultural identity, learn the ways of your people, who for milenia thrived without the inherent need to buy meaningless possessions, when what we posses  in our heart is made beautiful through Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. So when you pray today pray for learning for the starving children, they hunger in more ways than we can imagine. Imagine them smiling and that smile gives them hope. Hope is not lost in this world. We battle every single day and your vote is where you spend your money and what you spend it on. Big corporations who starve these children’s bellies? Or the small local farmer continuing that what was passed down? Simple choices, every day acts of impact that most cease to care about. Why then? Did your mother love you so? A Mother’s love will change the world. It starts with an Army of One. The One is Jesus when you accept him in your heart. That is the battle won for today. You are loved. Be beloved.

Battle for the Kershaw blade

IMG_6473The things that make a mother smile. I was driving back home from Soldotna and stopped at Turn Around lake to take in Gods beauty and enjoy a glorious picture painted differently each day, a true blessing in itself. I was content to bask in His splendor.

The kid in me is the kid in you. The ice was covered with snow with circles of clear ice here and there. I knew I could glide across the ice if it was thick enough. I had to Investimagate (investigate). The first try was just a trial run. I was pretending to play an old Eskimo game gliding across the ice free of snow. I did this three times and headed back to the Passport.

I came close to the bank and found a cool pocket knife. I was kinda bummed it wasn’t a Gerber, little did I know it was a better brand, out of my league. Then I smelled it. Green. I had to go make sure the people smoking didn’t loose this knife. I walked up to them and asked, they said no. There was a couple with a dad in the back in one vehicle, the single mans son was in the other vehicle alone playing on his iPad.

I asked the three grown ups if they wanted to play a game with me I just made up. The heavy set driver said the ice wouldn’t hold him, I said it was thick enough. He still said no. I asked the dad in the back. He said he was terrified of ice, I told him I would hold his hand if that made him feel better, he said no and that his son might want to try and that he was a skateboarder. My kinda people.

The pocket knife they said was a good find. Really, I have never heard of it before and I had to explain its a brand simply out of my budget. The battle for the Kershaw blade.

I asked the young son, who had beautiful long dreads and the smile of an angel I would get to see soon. He said yes. I explained that it’s easy to walk on the ice with white specks of snow, but the clear circle was slippery. I showed him my game I just made up, like so many I’ve made up before, and he tried it.

The first was practice but we raced. Then I said, let’s play for something I just found, it’s very precious according to your dad. In my heart I wanted him to win. He was excited and I can see it all over his face and I took so much delight in his smile and excitement. The first go I won. I wasn’t going to hold back and I wasn’t going to let him win on purpose. But I said let’s just do best out of three. The hope in his eyes and on his face were intoxicating. We went again. He fell, trying oh so hard to win. That one didn’t count let’s try again. The next two I tried my best to beat Ezekiel gliding across Turnaround lake playing what I called an old Eskimo game, had to make sure and tell him I was an Eskimo. He wasn’t from Alaska. He played my game and won a Kershaw pocket knife. He held it in his hand with a smile on his face that reminded me what my heart beats for. Spreading hope, something I’ve never had growing up, but I found my hope in Jesus and not once let go.

The joy of giving a smile, simple acts of kindness, living for what your heart beats for. Amen.