Nearly 50 boxes filled with food each weighing 40-45 pounds were sent to 23 Native Alaskan villages this year. Many partners helped make it all possible. Churches and individuals gave cash and food donations; volunteers packed boxes for mailing and some helped deliver the food; LWML ladies from Nebraska and New York sent fleece blankets, socks, mittens, stocking caps, scarves and sweaters; MARC pilots flew volunteers and boxes into villages. Members of the body of Christ worked together to provide a merrier Christmas for those in need in Alaska’s Native villages.
Curt and Sandra Melland from North Dakota flew into Fairbanks and soon headed out to do repair work on a single mother’s home in Fort Yukon with another volunteer.
Later they accompanied Rev. Dave & Rosemary Sternbeck to Beaver where Paul Williams, Jr. greeted them with sno-go’s and toboggans to take the boxes of food and presents to the church. Despite the -25 degree temperature, the congregation warmly welcomed them, having started the fire in the wood stove the night before to heat the log structure church. Dave preached, and Curt played music for the hymns. Curt and Sandra taught the children some new songs while Rosemary, Joseph, and Clara helped set out the lunch they had also brought along.
From Beaver, they flew to Tanana. God brought Curt and Sandra Melland back to Tanana at just the right time. Having volunteered in the village for the past seven summers, they have developed deep friendships with the community and looked forward to seeing them once again.
Cynthia and her husband own the village grocery store and hosted the Mellands in their Bed & Breakfast for the week. Sandra had packed sewing projects to teach the women and girls in the community, as well as extra fabric. Many of the girls came after school to sew pillow cases and small quilts they planned to use for an upcoming potlatch.
“Dancing with the Spirit” was in Tanana for the week and Curt helped teach guitar. This program, led by Belle Mickelson, uses strings, fiddle, guitar and mandolin as a way for young people to express themselves through music in an effort to reduce suicide.
Cynthia has been actively working with young people in her community starting a non-profit called “Grandma’s House” and Rick MacCafferty, new LIM staff, was coming to meet Cynthia to discuss how we might work more closely with them to address the issues of suicide and abuse.
Sadly, suicide still happens and that week a funeral was held for a local man who took his own life. Rick was available to meet and talk with some in the community. Rick is from Kotzebue and has worked for the past 10 years as a volunteer and staff with Southcentral Foundation, leading programs for victims of abuse and those affected by suicide.
All these events were scheduled before the suicide took place. Isn’t God’s timing amazing – He provided the best people to reach out with the arms of Christ in His way.
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