Mixed Emotions – heading home

Hey friends and family,

I’m not sure if any of you will be checking in with our blog before we see you tomorrow afternoon, but just in case I thought I’d write a few thoughts.

Our day today was pretty nice and chill. We slept at Changepoint church in Anchorage last night – I’m certainly thankful that we are able to stay at Changepoint, though the floors are quite hard and it’s not always the best night of sleep. Luckily, I seem to be in the minority and heard from many others that they slept great . This morning was filled with church and packing up our stuff. Then we moved on to some souvenir shopping and dinner at a fantastic pizza place called the Moose’s Tooth. After dinner we drove through a park in the hopes of spotting a moose (no luck in that venture today) and then were dropped off at the airport.

So, that’s what we did, but what I really want to tell you is how today has felt. It’s pretty crazy to think that this is my fourth summer in a row of spending a week at Eaglecrest. Prior experience has prepared me for the pure exhaustion that today would bring, though everything was thrown for a bit of an emotional loop as the reality set in that this is my last trip to Eaglecrest for the foreseeable future.

This year’s team is an incredible group of human beings and I am so thankful to every one of you for lending your son, daughter, spouse, family member, or friend to this team! Our nightly leader gatherings were always intended to last half and hour or so and would instead stretch into an hour or more as we talked about the many moments we were privileged to witness of our students stepping out of their comfort zones, showing serving hearts, taking initiative, and rocking their roles at day camp. The leaders on this team are incredibly intuitive, caring, and generous souls and I’ve learned from each of them throughout the past week.

Eaglecrest is a beautiful place and I love the quiet moments of looking out over the river to see the mountain on the other side. To me, mountains are such a clear demonstration of God’s power and I cannot imagine a better setting to spend a week. Yet, all of that scenic beauty pales in comparison to the beauty I see in the relationships that are formed at camp. I’ve had the privilege of watching 4 teams of students bond with one another, 4 teams of leaders bond together, and 4 weeks of time to get a glimpse of the relationships that Jim, Lynnae and their kids are forming in Sutton, AK. The work that they do is hard, exhausting, and requires so much sacrifice, but to see the joy that happens in the moment when someone pulls into camp and just gets to say hi and chat with the Smith family – that is clear evidence that God is using them in such powerful ways. I have learned so much about relational ministry in my visits to Eaglecrest because of the authenticity and honesty of the example I see in Jim, Lynnae and every one of their kids.

So, as our trip officially comes to an end, I am full of mixed emotions. I am so excited to get home, see my husband and my dog, and I am really sad to be saying goodbye. Thank you all for your support throughout the many months of preparation and our last 9 days on the ground in Sutton. We will see you tomorrow!

Kelsey

Saturday – Debrief Day

Howdy folks,

Paxton here! Today is July 1st! Yes, yes it is! Believe me I’m just as shocked as you. This week has flown by, and we have all learned so much and grown together as a community.

A little bit about my experience so far, I’ve had a great time getting to know my team members. This trip is full of gifted students and leaders who I have been able to have great conversations with. My faith has grown through these opportunities to speak with and teach them. I’m blessed to have gotten to listen to and share with each person on our team, but here are some highlights. Over pizza, Robb and I were able to share about how to best use our gifts and live out our beliefs. (God is good in so many ways) I also was able to share and hear about the life stories of our team members. Discussions came up about why God allows bad things to happen to good people and what that means for us as Christ followers. How do we best follow God when times get tough? These conversations have certainly helped me to grow in my faith; I know our team cannot wait to take this knowledge back to Madison and share with y’all.

In other news, today we hiked Hatchers Pass, a mountain range and goldmine just outside of Sutton. God’s creation is so beautiful; we couldn’t help but marvel at the mountains and crystal clear water. Check out the photos on Eaglecrest they may be beautiful, but they don’t do justice to what we’ve seen.

Once we’d made it through the pass we went back to camp, cleaned up, and said our goodbyes. Now we are off to Anchorage to stay overnight at Change Point Church. Despite us being disappointed to leave camp, we are all very excited to return to Madison and continue building relationships at home. We cannot wait to see you all.

Best, Paxton & Company

Day 6 – Yard Games and Picnic!

HI! We had 2 groups of students writing blogs for us today! So here is another perspective on today!

DAY 6 BLOG

Hello,

Hola my name is Padraig. Today was our 5th day of camp we played dodgeball today. After the game was finished we went inside to make lunch, then once we were ready we headed for the vans and went to the school for games. On the way there we had fun in the vans. Once there we hung out for a while then went to the field to play games.

Some of the games we played where javelin toss: you had to throw the noodle as far as you could, Gavin and I won the one. Egg toss: every time you tossed the egg to your partner the farther you had to go back. Leg race: you and a partner had to cross the finish line first with one of your legs tied to your partners. After that we all had the lunches we made. Then we had an amazing race where each team created a team name and cheer. Then we had to do cartwheels and crab walks to race to the end. Green team won. After we were done we went to the camp fire and then did skill clubs. The skill Clubs were water color painting and cross necklaces. After that we hung until we had the pot luck. We got to meet more the families in our community and have fun. The food was amazing. Most of it was home grown, including the rhubarb crisp, other food was homemade. After we all ate people still hung out, past 10: 00PM!!!!

From the Alaskan students, and Padraig

Day 6 – The Last Day of Camp

Day 6
Hello again! It was our last day of day camp and everyone is sad to see the Alaskan students leave. We were excited to see some new faces and also returning day campers. We spent our morning playing dodgeball and field games with the kids from the library. We returned to Eaglecrest for skills clubs. The activities today were wire cross necklaces, watercolor painting, and improv games. This evening, Eaglecrest hosted a community picnic. It was nice to meet the parents and friends of the campers. We all miss our families, but are sad to see our time hear coming to a close.
Love,
Gabi, Misha, Jacob, and Quoddy (Jacob and Quoddy are two of the Alaskan students)

Day 5 – Camp & New Friends!

DAY 5 BLOG – this was written yesterday and again, due to some technical difficulties (on our end this time) wasn’t able to be posted…. here we go again!

Hello,

Today was our 4th day of camp and we are still gaining more students. This morning we worked on our self-image and meditation. In the afternoon today we had an incredible experience, hiking the one mile trail around Reflection Lake, creating unforgettable relationships and memories with each other and the Alaskan Students. After our hike we enjoyed some ice cream with the Alaskan kids and while we were getting ice cream we made a new friend named Kevin (a fact about Kevin is that he motorcycled across all 50 states and Alaska was his last stop), it was really nice to meet him. Tomorrow we pray for a good last day of camp with the students and for a good night’s rest.

Sincerely: Landon, Bennett, Gabi and Sarahi

P.S. MOM!! (This is Gabi) WILL YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT A COWFFALO IS!?! I’m pretty sure I’m not making this up from a dream. I might have gotten the name wrong, so if you don’t remember what it is, it is a smallish cow/buffalo looking thing with a lot of hair. No one knows what I’m talking about.

Hi friends and family.

Here we are, approaching our final day of day camp here at Eaglecrest and there are so many mixed emotions. We are excited for the campers to come and to watch the final skills clubs take place, but we are also pretty sad that this time has come to an end. The students have excelled far more than any of the leaders thought possible and each one of them have shown a servant heart, veracity (truthfulness), initiative, encouragement, and God’s love.  Tonight we spent a few moments highlighting one another’s strengths in these characteristics. To hear the love pour from one student into another, and watch the team become closer and overcome obstacles together has been a blessing that I don’t think you can explain, unless you were here. Speaking of which…. Have our stories, pictures and journey enticed you to entertain the idea of being a leader next year on this trip? Yes? Great! Find me when we get back, we we’ll talk!

One of the things that has surprised me has been the community’s response when we go out on the town. We have had many people question our sanity, quite a few people laugh at the candidness of our children, and so. many. compliments. (Seriously. Whatever you are doing at home – please keep it up. )

Our friend Kevin (a former law enforcement officer from Ohio) expressed it perfectly when he said, “in a world of so much negativity and brokenness, it is truly God’s blessing to have these kids involved in mission work and a Christian community at such a pivotal age.” I couldn’t agree more.

On this trip I have been not only a leader, but a mom as well. (Talk about an interesting dynamic…) In one hour, I have experienced the FULL range of emotions and have constantly come back to the same thought, “Our leaders are incredible.” Their gifts work so well together with each other and with our children and at times, it is truly unbelievable. To be a parent and leader on this trip, and take a step back and watch the strength, the passion, and the vulnerability of the people who are walking hand in hand with us and our students – it’s something I don’t think I ever appreciated before as much as I do now. As a leader, this is by far the best team I have EVER been a part of. I say this from all of our leaders – thank you for giving us the opportunity to walk with your children on this journey.

Much love,
Kristin

 

 

Day 4 – Wednesday – More campers and more fun!

It’s a beautiful day in Alaska. Sunrise was well about a month ago but it’s still amazing to wake up to it. Had some walkers and runners this morning (and yes, Bennett has been joining in those morning runs)
Our devotional topic was veracity; being open, honest and having integrity. It led to some great conversations around the fire pit.

It was a really exciting day at camp as on top of new students that had never come to Eaglecrest before, more students returned. For those of us returning we were psyched to see a few familiar faces that we’ve been missing during the first couple days of camp. We all had the opportunity to enjoy some new Skills Clubs today. Tie-dye t-shirts were a beloved staple, Fire making skills and Alaskan S’mores (who doesn’t love marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate warmed up over a fire?)
And then after filling up on those treats we tested our skills at the Native Youth Olympics. Think decathlon with an Alaskan twist. Check out the link here: http://citci.org/partnerships-events/nyo-games/2017-games/

After all that fun we got some pool time, indoors this year, YEAH!, so it was significantly warmer than our previous experiences at the lake. All in all today was filled with many new friendships being formed. We learned wonderful tidbits about our new friends, and we learned about their lives and their stories. We saw some new faces filled with joy and it was super fun to meet everyone and watch the conversations and relationships develops.

 

Day 3- Camp Events!!

Hey friends!! Sorry for the technical issues this morning. Looks like we are back up and running….

Hi! Thanks for reading our blog post for Tuesday the 27th. This is Misha and Bailey telling you what happened on Tuesday.

Our day started with a walk around the area and a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy with baked blueberry oatmeal. When we were done with breakfast we had a devotional about what is respect and why it is important.

During the day camp we packed lunches for a hike up the Butte. We were very fortunate to have included the library kids on out adventure up the Butte. It was steep and very windy but once we got to the top the view was totally worth it and we found a spot that was blocked from the wind and ate our lunches there contently.

Once we came back from the hike we had a campfire and sang worship songs. It was sad to see the campers leave but we were looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. After the camp we had free time playing GaGa Ball, nine square and making paracord bracelets. It was amazing to see how many bracelets we made and how many were made for others who didn’t. We know there will be many cool bracelets to share when we get home.

Hey everyone! Kristin here. Alaska is amazing and it’s a bit easier to be away from home because The Eaglecrest Staff and Smith Family have made us feel like home! We have been having a wonderful experience here and spending so much time in activities, adventures, and relationship building and Lynnae has been capturing those moments with her camera. How cool?? She has posted them on Eaglecrest’s Facebook and we’d love for you to check it out!

Much love & hugs from AK!

Goodnight!

Posted by Eaglecrest Alaska Missions on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Day 3 – Shout Outs!!!!

Hey there!! The last few days we have been talking A LOT about community and building relationships here and we thought we’d take a moment and send some “Shout Outs” and love to our community back home.

Don’t worry tomorrow morning (most likely around your lunch time) we will be sharing pictures and stories about today’s amazing hike up the butte and out fun at day camp. But for now….. here is what we’d like to say:

Anthony: shout out to my nephew hudson. Thank you for the letter, i read it on my plane ride. Also, shout out to my dad. I’m thinking of you a lot out here.

Makae: Shout our to mom and dad. I miss you a lot and I am having fun.

Quint: Shout out to the Dahmen’s!

Gabi: Shout out to the Dobereiner family and friends. Thank you so much for the cards and the opportunity to go to Alaska. It is amazing.
ps: **Amanda Kelsey & Kristin would like to know what a Cowffallo is. Kristin might have made Gabi believe that she had had a Cowffallo Burger on State Street before. 🙂

Ellie: Dear Mom, Andy, Betsy & Dad, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. Thank you for sacrificing your time and your resources for me. I appreciate you so much. Love you and miss you.
Shout out to Mrs. Jacobson – you are so good to me.

Misha: I want to give a shout out to my parents, thank you for putting in your time and effort to this trip and encouraging me the whole way. I wouldn’t be here without you.

Sarahi: Shout out to Mo. May 7 years be the year for you! Shout out to my parents for making this trip happen. Shout out to Yaritza for convincing me to go on this trip! I’m having a good time!!

Bailey: Shout out to dad/Ian & uncle Arthur. Good luck cleaning up Grampa’s property!

Madison: Shout out to my parents and other family members. Thank you for making this trip possible. I am having a blast. I have made tons of new friends.

Zoie: Shout out to my family for writing me letters everyday. Thank you. Peace. *squat*

A: Thank you to my parents for letting me come to a place so far away from home. To my sister don’t drive our parents up the wall!

Emily: Hey Christa, Ellie and I miss you a ton and we were thinking of you on our hike today! Amen.

From Jack to my parents: Thank you.

Bennett: Hey fam, just want you to know im pretty good. i had a really good sleep last night.

Hagen: Thank you to everyone for funding this trip.

Padraig: Thank you friends and family. Hi!!

Gavin: Shout out to Nolan!! And the family in Colorado!

HP: Shout out to mom, dad, jake & wylie it’s gorgeous here! Ops team- thanks for covering while I’m away!

Kristin: Praise be to God for the miracles, encouragement, and showing up in so many ways. The views are amazing & the people are incredible. Can we move here? 😉 Thank you family and friends for the love and encouragement. It has been very well received! Love you all. Jay- accomplished my goal!!!! 🙂

Amanda: Shout out to my family – miss you guys and I can’t wait to show you all the awesome pictures and make you guys jealous. Megan – miss you buddy! I appreciate all the post-its 🙂 Emily Albright- Friend! Thanks so much for the amazing Alaska jokes, I will definitely be sharing those!

Kelsey: Shout out to Ella, Tessa, and Pants! I’ve been missing you all and have been reminded multiple times of some awesome memories with each of you from AK!

Robb: so much love to share with so many people. Shout out to my wife and daughter rocking it in Michigan. Love you more. Thanks to Megan for the care notes and tasty treat, too sweet you are indeed. To Christopher W your advice for ear plugs was a savior!

Paxton: Shoutout to Mom and Dad, Bryson and Jace, and all my friends back home. I miss yal, thank you for all your well wishes 🙂 love you guys!

Monday-Day Camp Begins!

Hey! Thanks for checking in with our blog today, Monday June 26. This is Madison and Kelsey here, telling you all about it!

Our day started out with a group heading out for an early morning run. Shout out to Konnie Dahmen for helping to start that trend last year! Quint followed in your example and took the lead of the front group this morning.

After devotional and breakfast (Emily Davis is keeping Christopher’s 2016 AK Go team pre-breakfast cheers going strong) we kicked off our first day of day camp. We all loved having the kids who came to day camp today! Day camp started out with a crazy fast paced ice breaker led by Paxton where we were able to learn tons of random facts about the students at camp. We had three skills clubs during camp today: making bracelets, decorating cupcakes, and doing archery! Sadly, we don’t have any pictures to show you today of the skills club, but we will definitely have some another time. We also played an outdoor kick ball game, which was really awesome! Overall, everything today just felt like such a great way to learn more about the other students at camp! Day camp wrapped up by gathering around the campfire where we worshiped God by singing out hearts outs (even if we were a little off key, we all had an amazing time).

Here are a few other random tidbits from our day:

• Emily and Ellie were some awesome photographers today. Anthony showed them how to use his super fancy shmancy camera and they had a blast practicing throughout the day.
• A stepped out of her comfort zone about 50 times in one day, rocked it all and is having a blast!
• Chloe and Makae sang their hearts out for all of camp to hear – it was silly awesomeness
• Jack ate a lemon like it was an orange. We saw him do this last year too, but this time he pulled Hagen into his shenanigans 🙂
• The views were still amazing today and we saw so many ways God was communicating to us with His beauty. We all hope you are also growing your faith in God while we are gone and have a wonderful day 🙂

Shout outs:

• Shout out to Emily and Ella – Madison loved the card and crown (see picture), and Kelsey was glad to be reminded of the most important Alaska rules (I’d actually forgotten to pass along those rules… silly me)
• Shout out to Brady just because I can (from Kelsey if that wasn’t obvious)
• Shout out to Craig – thanks for following the blog this week!
• Shout out to all those that comment on the blog – we love the encouragement and it’s a highlight of our campfire every night to know you’re following along!

Happiness And Love,
Everyone from Sutton, Alaska