By Laura Shoopman
Kailee, Lauren, Laura, Kristen, Grace and Ryan went for a morning stroll to stretch our legs while the boys continued to sleep. This was the first time seeing the mountains in the daylight and we were amazed! With some extra time before our next flight, a few of us stopped by a Walmart as well as got some outstanding coffee at Kaladi Brothers Coffee Shop. We went to the Anchorage airport to depart for Unalakleet and while the airport was of standard size, our boarding area was small. When it was time to board, we walked outside, straight up the steps and onto the 29-seat plane.
As we flew over Alaska, I couldn’t help but think about all of the land that has yet to be explored. Seeing the mountains, snow, trees, water, rivers, and much more leaves me in awe of God’s creation.
After the two hour flight, we were greeted by Stephanie, Katie, and Able at the Unalakleet Airport. This airport was far different than any we had been in before. It is just one large room. 10 bags were unloaded from the airplane using a CAT tractor. Because we are larger than the average person flying to Unalakleet, we had hit the weight maximum and they had to leave some bags behind to make the next flight. Kristen was the only person on the team who received their bag on the first day.
However, just because we did not have our bags, does not mean we slept on the floor or had no clothes. The town came around us and generously stopped by with things they had. Several let us borrow jackets and gloves. Others dropped off sleeping bags and air mattresses. We were taken care of and it was amazing to see the immediate outpouring of generosity from the first day.
Stephanie was our trip leader from Praying Pelican Missions. She coordinated our service projects with the church as well as communicated with people in the village about experiences we could have.
Katie lives in the village and works at the power plant. She was heavily involved with our service projects within the church.
Able is the Youth pastor and he lives in the youth church building. He has a lovely family that we met during a dinner where they made moose spaghetti.
Later that day, we went to a Bacchaloreate at the Church where the graduating seniors are celebrated through a service and followed by fellowship and food. This was our first experience directly with the kids that we would be spending the next days with. We met many kids, and following the celebration, Margo, Tristan, and Julianne took us for a walk around the village where we could ask questions and get a feel for the area.