Dave and Rosemary Sternbeck have a vision for where God is leading them. Even though it happens to be in the frigid landscape of Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Yukon Territory—an environment that would send most people running for their central heat—this doesn’t deter the Sternbecks! Living—and learning as they go—the couple is making a determined effort to see God’s work transform people’s lives, even in this remote environment. “When we talk to people about our plans here, they often say something like, ‘That's quite a dream!’ And it is,” said Rosemary Sternbeck. “But we feel God has given us this vision and has called us to walk through the doors He is opening.”
Rosemary and Dave recently found the “perfect” home in Fairbanks for the work they accomplish with LIM.
“It is almost 4,000 square feet, with four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and a large kitchen, dining area, living room and family room,” she said. “We plan to use the family room downstairs as a conference room/Information technology (IT) lab and guest overflow. The IT lab will help David stay connected to those he is mentoring. Three bedrooms will be used to host volunteers on their journey in or out of the villages. It also will provide overnight housing for folks who may be visiting a sick loved one in the Fairbanks hospital or a student attending the college here.
“Since neither David nor I fly, we have been praying for a bush plane to be stationed in Fairbanks. This would allow for short hops from one village to another without the plane having to return to Soldotna after each flight.”
Sometimes, the Sternbeck’s mission receives blessings—even out of tragic circumstances.
“Last month we met Bob and Joyce Widman. They were all set to go for a two-year mission to Africa when, suddenly, their daughter-in-law passed away, leaving their son with a two-month-old baby to raise. They plan to be here at least two years helping their son. Bob is a pilot flying for MARC, Mission Aviation Repair Center. He is committed to helping LIM however he can, believing God will bring something good out of this tragedy.”
Rosemary said many people have volunteered their time, money and talents to further the efforts of LIM. Folks have donated everything from furniture and towels to outfit the Sternbeck’s home, to materials that can be used in their mission work.
“Quilting material and scrapbook supplies are being gathered to use in the villages,” Rosemary said. “Funds were donated for Christmas food boxes to be taken into 19 villages and were delivered, without charge, by local commercial airlines.
“Volunteers’ home congregations have raised money for water projects and fresh fruit. Volunteer groups also are getting together to help train new volunteers and expand the effectiveness of their allotted time in the villages.”
Rosemary said she often hears from the Natives who are on the receiving end of these blessings.
“I have been in contact with many villages and have been told how pleased they are to know we will be trying to find volunteers who are interested in teaching their children VBS again,” she said. “Other villages have been praying and raising funds for years to build a new church or pastor's cabin.
“They are overjoyed to hear volunteers are wanting to help with these endeavors,” Rosemary said. “And for all of you whom the Holy Spirit moves to volunteer in some way, we appreciate you so much!”
Photo captions from top: Pastor Dave and Rosemary. Bible study in their home in Fairbanks. Volunteers JoAnn Nielsen and Wanda Thoreson (MN).