Of all the questions we have gotten about our Alaska move, this one is the central one. Why are you moving to Alaska?
(Then the spattered questions around it, like ‘why THERE?’, but generally we just get a look of wonder, astonishment, and/or looks of pity. :))
There are so many reasons and so many ways to tell this story, but I will give you a bit of Mike’s perspective.
Mike, last Winter, went through a book called Multiply, by Francis Chan, with one of our pastors, Jared Walters (insert, it is Jared’s fault we are moving to Alaska… (I needed to get that in here for proper needling to commence when everyone finds out it is his fault. Though it could also be said that it is Francis Chan’s charge, segue to the Great Commission to go into all the world…and I am pretty sure Alaska is the end of it, so, I suppose it is Jesus’ doing, so…Jared, you are now off the hook)).
Throughout the study, one of the questions that kept coming back was, “What are you doing [to share the Good News]?”
It is not a secret that missions has always been on our hearts. We love God, we love people. So, when Mike went back to school, we went knowing that we felt strongly that this was a sacrifice we were making, financially, but one that would be worth it. We knew we would have copious amounts of student loan debt.
And while Dave Ramsey would not approve, I can honestly say, that was a journey of faith building, a season of grace, love, blessing, the likes of which I am unsure we will ever see or experience again. I hope we will see it again, though maybe without the stresses, if that is even fair to request! 🙂
In this time, he also was speaking with our friend Rob Mattox. Rob has a heart to see people step into everything God has for them and he challenged Mike to consider what is holding us back from ‘going’. The original goal was for Mike to at least do short term medical missions/mercy trips or even disaster relief. But, we are saddled with debt.
So, considering all of these factors, we began to talk about what we need to do, then, to get our loans paid faster.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was ‘never moving to Alaska’. Ever. Yet Mike kept getting this post in his inbox regarding this job in Alaska that had loan repayment. He mentioned it once. I said, ‘Wow. Sounds good. I am not moving to Alaska.’
He mentioned it over the course of a few months a couple more times. I cannot tell you what changed my mind, except that the opposition I had always felt about it was just…gone. I told him to go ahead and call.
Those who walked with us through this process know how he applied to this rural village with no running water and I put on a brave face saying, ‘we can totally do this!’ And God in His mercy, knew that jumping into a town like that, with so much hurt and heartache (there is a lot more to this that I am not comfortable sharing online…) would have been very, very hard.
The interesting part about this story, though, is that they did not want families at this medical site. So, he did not get the job…under the guise of ‘experience’, but knowing from the recruiter that having a family is more than likely the real reason the site manager said ‘no’.
We had found this family, a pastor and his family, that had been living in this town for years. And I cannot explain to you unless you have ever had a God-given burden for specific people, but when I thought of them and prayed for them, I would just…weep. I don’t know them. I knew little more than their names and pictures. Yet…well…I just wanted to pray for them and love them.
After hearing ‘no’, we were fairly…confused. Had we not heard from God? Were we only doing this because…we wanted it? Why would we have such a connection and burden for…nothing? We felt a little disillusioned, yet, we still felt a connection somehow… And no, we did not understand it.
A friend, Lori, mentioned something that stuck. Sometimes, the death of a dream happens before God brings it to reality in His time, in His way, so You know, beyond all doubt, it was Him all along.
So, I kept thinking and praying, ‘are we supposed to pray that this manager-guy changes his mind? Should we contact this pastor’s family? What are we supposed to do?’
Mike and I decided to contact the pastor. So, we sent him an email, got a response within two hours and talked with him the next night for almost an hour. Let me just say that I was blown away with how amazing and real he was. There was no pretense. He was raw and honest and had a heart for the people he is there to serve. He confirmed the reasons taking a family to this particular place might not be the best option. And then he shared that after 17 years, they were no longer there, but they had recently moved to a small town in central Alaska. He said it was a great place for a family and, what do you know? They just lost their PA and were looking for a replacement. 🙂
Huh. Still gives me chills.
Once he contacted the recruiter about this other position, she shared that someone was applying for that one, but there was also one in Wasilla that would be partial travel into the rural villages. But you can drive to Wasilla, unlike the other villages, which required flying to get to them. There is a Target and a Lowe’s in Wasilla…it is relatively still affordable and what do you know?! Even though we were willing to go wherever, we put it in God’s hands and he got the job in Wasilla. They shared that even though they could have filled it internally, they loved his experience and thought he would be a great fit. While this may sound prideful of me to say, I say it with all honest humility, that without God, His provisions, he would not have gotten through school. He does what he does and he does it so well. He is an excellent PA and I am amazed at this crazy journey of our lives.
Alright, this has turned into a book. But…suffice it to say, God changed our hearts. He has given us the grace to do this ‘crazy’ thing and I am blessed and amazed at the connections we are already getting to people who live up there! I know in my heart that in spite of my inner-incessant-questions of ‘what if?’ ‘How will we…?’ And ‘what about?’ that God has already gone before us.
He is already there and I have no fear of the future, not because I expect everything to go right. It won’t, but my God is good and I trust Him.
We are going because…of all of these reasons…
So when you ask and I look at you with a funny look on my face, it is not because I have no idea, even though there are times I have probably said that, but because of all of these reasons…and I probably just did not know where to begin. 🙂