The Background

From the pristine beauty of Alaska to the rural hills of Pennsylvania, the commands of Jesus Christ ring out: “make disciples of all the nations.” The call has come forth to reach out and plant a church in the Mat-Su region of Alaska. Throughout the past several years a small group of families in Alaska have invited us to oversee teaching, leadership, and church planting along with their families in this area. Several ministers, their wives, and other individuals from Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren have been visiting and continue to bring back favorable reports of the potential outreach there.

The formative stages of the work in Alaska are now being finalized. Bro. Sam Bucher, along with his wife Rhoda and four children, from the Heidelberg COB has heard and answered the call of the Lord to move to Alaska as a devoted minister of the gospel. Please pray as others answer the call to this great ministry opportunity. Pray for the development of Christian ministry and evangelistic work in the planting of the Church. Also remember the families presently living in Alaska as they meet and develop a fellowship.

The Plan

Saturday morning September 7 I awoke to a phone call from the Pleasant Hill Mission Committee. The Committee knew that I was interested in visiting Alaska, and so I was asked if I wanted to travel with Sam and Rhoda when they move in October, helping by taking turns driving. I was very surprised at this unusual offer. I said I definitely was interested.

I was told that I would need a passport, and that if I wanted to do this I needed to get it  NOW! I made an appointment at the Hanover Post Office for that Tuesday. I went in, filled out the forms, gave them my birth certificate, and got my mug shot taken. I was told I only needed the Passport Card, so that is what I applied for. I told the lady I wanted it within four weeks, and wondered if I could expedite it. She said I could not. So I sent it in anyway, assuming I had no other option but to let God work.

I went home and went to the travel.state.gov website. It showed current processing times were 4-6 weeks. This scared me very much. I started praying for a miracle. I couldn’t understand why God would open a door and then close it by not letting me get the Passport, so I assumed God had it under control. I decided to call the National Passport Agency. The man I spoke to was especially nice as I explained my situation. He said to call back later because they hadn’t received the application from the Post office yet. So the next Monday I talked to a lady, and I successfully paid $182 to have the Passport Card and also the Passport Book expedited to me. It arrived that Friday, four days later! I was very excited to have it in my hand long before it should have been! (Also if there is a government shutdown soon, the Dept. of State would be shut down too and I would have been unable to get my passport.)

Lord willing I plan to leave with Sam and Rhoda Bucher’s family on October 9, 2013. Sam’s uncle Joe Alsbaugh, a Canadian citizen and retired truck driver, is planning to go along. We will be driving a 97’ Dodge Caravan and a 26’ box truck with a trailer hauling an S10 pickup truck.

UPDATE: Sam now will be the primary driver of the minivan with Rhoda as a relief driver. Joe will be the driver of the box truck. I will be the primary driver of the S10 pickup truck with Sam as a relief driver. This is due to snow in Canada. We will also be driving shorter days since we will not be able rotate drivers and take breaks.

Sam had AAA develop customized “trip tics” with six 12 hour days of driving. Alaska is approximately 72 hours away. After thinking about it, we decided it would be good to take our time, perhaps take in some National Parks in British Columbia and arrive in Wasilla Alaska by Friday, October 18. We will be taking the famous Alaska Highway, which from my research is going to be a once in a lifetime experience!

Tom Walmer will arrive that week and join all the families, Sam and Rhoda, and myself in a church service at Sam and Rhoda’s rented house on October 20. Then he will accompany me for a few days to show me the area. Tom has been there 13 times so far, and so I’m hoping he will be excited to show me around even though to him excitement may have worn off some. We will also be there for another church service together October 27. Tom and I plan to fly home from Anchorage, AK Monday night and arrive in Harrisburg, PA Tuesday morning, October 29.

The goals for my trip are as follows:

  • Assist the Bucher family with travel to Alaska
  • Assist the Bucher family with moving into their new home near Wasilla, AK
  • Spend time with the Bucher family. This will allow me to pick up on and note any needs and means of support friends and supporters can offer.
  • Meet the families and fellowship with them. Many of you know I am and extrovert “people person.” I love talking to anyone, whether they are friends or complete strangers.
  • Assist with the church services
  • Continue to  grow in Jesus Christ by His Spirit as I continue discern God’s direction for my own life through the experience
  • Bring back a positive report to Pleasant Hill about the potential outreach and ministry opportunities there to continue to arouse interest in and support of the work.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! I’m really excited! Your kind words have been especially encouraging to me! May the God of all grace and peace be honored by the work He is doing through His servants.

Please pray for Sam and Rhoda and their family as they make this move. Life in Wasilla Alaska is extremely different than life in Lebanon Pennsylvania. They need you! I will be developing a blog for Sam and Rhoda, so as soon as it is live I will let you know so you can subscribe to it for ministry photos and updates.

Hopefully I can post some updates and photos on Facebook during the trip. I’ll probably take about 1000 pictures! 🙂

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