Hard Work and Wonder in Alaska


By Hanna Saveraid

During our Alaska mission trip, I was part of Construction Crew Two. We worked at a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) site where two missionary families lived, and were able to meet one of them, a husband and wife from New Zealand with two daughters, Emily and Rosemary. They generously made us treats each day that we could enjoy before our lunch devos, and blessed us so much with their hospitality.

We worked full days at the worksite on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, helping out YWAM by digging ditches, making stairs, reinforcing the deck, mowing the lawn, and more. The first day we separated into subgroups to work on the different projects. My group was made up of a Next Step leader Cameron and Audrey, Britt, and my sister Elisabet from Gloria Dei. Our goal was to build a platform for a wood burning stove and fireproof the area around it so that the people at YWAM could safely stay warm in the winter. We first had to push up the chimney so we could move the stove to another spot. Then, we spent a long time cutting and pulling up carpet to expose the wood floor underneath. Once we did that, we started learning how to use new tools like the circular/skill saw to cut pieces of wood and screw them to the floor and each other to create the main support for the stove. We gained a lot of experience “toenailing” screws, which is when a screw is first drilled in one way, and then bent another way to screw together two surfaces at different angles. We nicknamed our subgroup of crew two the “toenail squad” because of this.

After building the wooden platform on the floor and walls, we cut and attached drywall to the wood. We signed our names on the drywall before we covered it up with tile. The tiling took a long time because we had to measure and cut tiles to fit all the weird edges, and we also had to mix up a lot of mortar. Unfortunately, the huge bag of mortar didn’t last us the whole time, and we ended up running out on Thursday morning with four tiles still to go. However, the Next Step leaders were kind enough to finish up the fireplace so that our entire crew could go to a hill called Murphy Dome with Rocky, a contractor and Athabaskan Indian who donated much of his supplies and time to help the community.

Murphy Dome was one of the favorite experiences of Crew Two, and we regret being unable to bring everyone back there. We drove for nearly an hour from our worksite to reach Murphy Dome, and we got out of the vans to an ugly parking lot and a nearby government site. Rocky wasn’t there yet, but we decided to explore on our own, and began following the gravel path. After a little while, there was another path that branched off onto the beautiful springy ground, covered in all sorts of different plants. Eventually, we reached a more open field where we could finally see all the mountains in the distance. There were blueberries, small trees, and rocks everywhere. It felt like we had stepped out of a blighted place into one that truly showed the wonder of God. As if that weren’t special enough, when we got back to the parking lot Rocky had arrived. He took us to another overlook and told us his personal story of hardship and perseverance. He also gave us new insight into the tradition and current status of some of the many native peoples of Alaska. We felt so blessed and changed by his wisdom, even though what we learned is just the tip of the iceberg.

After spending only a short amount of time exploring Alaska, we were amazed by the natural beauty and wildness. The landscape was so different from what we see everyday in the twin cities, and it was a unique place to visit while discussing and learning more about our faith. We also felt so grateful to have had the chance to give just a small portion of our lives to help other people. When more and more people do that, it can make a difference, and I am glad that our group was so willing to take risks and grow from the experience.

Hanna Saveraid, 11th Grade, Central High School

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We’re already planning two trips for 2019. Click here to find out more!