Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 14, 2015

Amazing Alaska

Alaska is amazing — and certainly far more beautiful than I ever imagined. This past week I had the privilege of traveling to Alaska for the first time. Our missions ministry is working closely with our Men of Kingsland ministry to provide shared mission / shared adventure initiatives for men. Over the past year-plus our men have ventured to Cambodia, El Salvador, Idaho, Houston’s inner city, and Brookshire on shared mission / shared adventure initiatives. Our men have made some unforgettable memories while serving people in need in these locations.

This past week, a small group of our men journeyed to Alaska to serve among an Athabaskan tribe. From Anchorage we traveled eight-hours to the northeastern part of the country along Alaska Highway 1. The word breathtaking does not seem adequate to describe the scenery along this route from Anchorage toward the Yukon. Our drive, in fact, took us a little longer because we stopped so many times to drink in the intoxicating scenery. Most of the time we just stood and stared, not wanting to disrupt these sacred moments with unnecessary chatter.

Alaska Glacier
After several hours on the road, we stopped to eat lunch at the Caribou Cafe in the little town of Glennallen. With hunting season starting the next day, the cafe was packed with folks who were on the road. The food at the Caribou Cafe was excellent. Of course, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and was not disappointed. Several hours later we arrived in Tok where we met our hosts and enjoyed another delicious meal together at a place called Fast Eddy’s. Interesting name. Excellent food.

From Tok we pushed on to our final destination — an Athabaskan village hidden away deep in the backcountry. The particular tribe we served owns more than 800,000 acres of the most gorgeous scenery I have ever laid eyes on. The village where we served has a population of just over a hundred people. Even so, the small village has a state of the art school building, medical clinic, and a large tribal hall. The tribal hall is where the village conducts business, observes potlatches, and celebrates a variety of observances.

Within minutes of arriving at our destination, our team started making connections with the local folks. It didn’t take us long to fall in love with the kids. Like kids everywhere, these kids were full of energy and eager to get to know us. We shared Bible stories, sang together, did some of the coolest outdoor crafts you have ever seen, and enjoyed lots of recreation. We concluded each day with a fellowship meal with folks from the village followed by a worship service.

There is no question that Alaska is an amazing place. But I have found that it takes more than breathtaking scenery to make a place memorable. I enjoyed my time in Alaska because of the guys I served with and the people we served. Ultimately, it’s the ordinary people who live in the context of the places we visit that make our memories of those particular places either more or less meaningful and memorable.

Alaska Team on Mountain
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to help lead our Men of Kingsland to Alaska. We made friends with people who have the same dreams and aspirations for their families as the families in our suburban hometown. I will always cherish my memories of Alaska as a result. We hope to return to Alaska next summer to serve the Athabaskan people who made our stay so memorable. They are a large part of the reason I found Alaska to be so amazing.

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