“Water? Check. Mosquito nets? Check. Keyboard? Check. Survival backpacks? Check.”
We were packed and ready for another attempt to fly out to Grayling, Alaska as a family – the seemingly umpteenth time since December. Our previous attempts to visit the village had been hindered by weather. So as the day approached, we all wondered if it would really happen.
This time was different though. We had spent the weeks since our last attempt with a focus in every family prayer, multiple times each day, specifically asking God to not only make the conditions favorable but primarily to prepare each heart in our family to have peace and joy about doing what God had planned for us. Our prayer partners were also praying with us. So, as we headed to church that Sunday morning before our trip, we were wondering what God’s answer would be.
After church we checked the weather, squeezed ourselves into the plane, sorted out the spaghetti-like wires that for our headsets, buckled our seat belts and fired up the engine – still wondering.
Later that evening we were no longer wondering. Instead, we found ourselves flying back to Fairbanks rejoicing. We weren’t able to stay overnight as there is really no place that can accommodate our family. There’s a house that’s available to us but it needs lots of work. Yet another opportunity to pray and trust God.
As we flew back, conversations from our trip echoed in our minds, remembering our children saying things like, “Did that one little girl ask you what color your eyes are? She hardly ever sees ones that aren’t brown...Can we go back next week?” And we thought about things the people in the village had told us –“We need to get the church building open...we need someone the children will listen to to teach them.”
Throughout the bumpy 21/2 hour flights out and back we were still learning – learning that God does change our hearts when we ask Him to, that He does give peace in situations that we perceive as being beyond our control, and that there is great blessing in submitting to His plans. We look back at this eleven-hour ice-breaking trip as an “Ebenezer,” that old word from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. In Joshua 4 God parted the Jordan for the Israelites to cross over into the Promised Land on dry ground. When they all got across, God told Joshua to have a man from each tribe set a stone to build a monument (an “Ebenezer” - “a stone of help”). One day when their children would ask what the stones meant, they were to tell them about God taking them across the river, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Joshua 4:24)