Alaska's off-season is for relationships

For those of us living in the lower 48 (everyone except Alaska and Hawaii), Alaska winters stir up visions of parkas and frostbite. But for ministry staff working out of the Fairbanks Lutheran Indian MInistries Mission Center, it's just another season that brings another list of projects to work on.

 Dave and Rosemary in Arctic Village, a two hour flight, to share a meal and fellowship.

Dave and Rosemary in Arctic Village, a two hour flight, to share a meal and fellowship.

"The winters have been fairly mild the last few years," Rosemary Sternbeck described. "We only get a few days of 40 below zero temperatures and maybe a total of four feet of snow. It's colder in the villages, and many of the houses have trouble with freezing pipes."

Never the less, the cold months don't put a damper on the ministry work in Alaska. The ministry team organizes and plans for next summer, but most importantly they nurture relationships.

"The volunteers who go out in the summer do an amazing job of getting to know the people of the village. And those who return each year have developed great relationships, to the point of becoming a part of the village family!" Dave Sternbeck (Nuu-chah-nulth), LIM Ministry at Large,  explained. 

 Rosemary and Carissa spent four days in Tanana with a local woman, the grocery store owner and advocate for the youth of the village. They led craft projects, including making puppets, and focused on building relationships with the village and showing the youth Jesus' love.

Rosemary and Carissa spent four days in Tanana with a local woman, the grocery store owner and advocate for the youth of the village. They led craft projects, including making puppets, and focused on building relationships with the village and showing the youth Jesus' love.

"But unfortunately, none of us live in those villages year round. Though many of our volunteers stay in contact via Facebook and other means, the bond which begins in that one week in the village is put on hold until the next trip."

To keep those relationships strong, Dave and Rosemary work all winter to keep those open and receptive to the work of LIM, volunteers, and the Holy Spirit.

They fly to a village for a meal and fellowship. They create care packages for Christmas celebrations and special events. They talk and minister to those in need. They disciple, and they show God's love.