Our first team for the 2015 summer volunteer season arrives in mid-May, with about 16 Alaska Native villages to be visited throughout the season. We expect to have a full summer of vacation Bible school and hammer-and-nail projects. The first volunteer team will be led by Curt and Sandra Melland from North Dakota and Ruth Meier from Minnesota. They will be joined by their pastor for vacation Bible school in the village of Tanana.
The Mellands and Ruth Meier are one example among many whose dedication is a continuing thread that connects the body of Christ. This love ministry is supported by their respective congregations, including Zion Lutheran Church in Fairbanks.
Retired pilot Dan Treakle, member of Zion in Fairbanks, shares some of the work in Tanana that he and other volunteers have taken part in over the years:
"Early on, we worked with the village to repair the mission house and replace the church bell tower. In 2006, four stained-glass windows were flown to Fairbanks for repairs. Over a period of seven years, residents of Tanana raised more than $10,000 to redo the windows and waited seven years for the project.
"After retiring in 2009, I continued to visit the glass shop to try to get the Tanana windows completed and arranged shipping for the windows back to the village with Wright Air Service, which they provided at no cost. Three of the windows have been completed and shipped to Tanana. The final window is being reworked at present and, with the help of Zion member Craig Robinson, will be shipped to Tanana and installed.
"Our partnership with Tanana is a special one. It is close to many people's heart in Fairbanks, particularly folks who are members at Zion. Over the years, we have developed many close relationships with Tanana residents and its elders, as well as the summer team volunteers and Zion members connected by family with the village."
Zion is one of many congregations that is partnered with our work with Lutheran Indian Ministries. Teams from across the county take part in many of the construction projects in the villages, as well as vacation Bible school. They will have spent months planning their work projects, Bible stories, crafts and songs. They generate their own funds to make the trip and purchase what they need, including their own food and beverages.
If you and your congregation are interested in serving as volunteers, visit our Volunteer Overview page for more information. Thank you for your partnership and prayers!
Rosemary Sternbeck, Volunteer Coordinator, Alaska/Interior
We ask that you use this card (and share the extra card with a friend) to pray for the volunteers and Alaska Natives who will hear they are forgiven in Jesus!
Click here for a PDF version of this article with the Prayer Card included.