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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

If I Had a Hammer...Or an Impact Driver

What Were You Doing Up There?

While Ron and Jean Paull have served the community through Copper Center Community Chapel for four years, the original church building held it's first service on Christmas Eve of 1943. This congregation was established when Vince Joy and his wife Beckie settled in Copper Center in 1937 to bring the gospel to the Ahtna natives. Between those two couples, a list of people came through to fill the role of pastor in this historic church. LightShine Ministries came along in 1995-1996, and in 2011 a group of Mennonite builders from Lancaster county built the facility they worship in today.

While the term "mission trip" conjures up visions of flannelgraph Sunday School lessons to wide-eyed children and talking to the natives with Bibles open to the Romans Road, it became clear to me after the team-building project in March that construction would be the focal point.

While the team did have the opportunity to interact with the natives through Sunday Worship Service, a Bible study led by Dennis Charley, and an intimate view of their struggles through a Celebrate Recovery meeting, our place was to support and serve those who already have a trusted relationship with the natives.

So what did we do up there? Here's a play-by-play in photos, starting with our first work day on June 10th and ending on Thursday, June 13th. The cabin got most of the attention, with the main entrance deck with an overhang and a smaller deck for the side entrance. Inside the cozy cabin, the team worked on a bathroom, shiplap paneling, and a new laminate floor. Finally, a chicken coop was constructed from the ground up. I hope you enjoy this journey...

The Deck Day One

Day One: Pastor Mike, Lynn, Lee and Mel. Pastor Mike would eventually move indoors. This was the first crack at the deck.
Pastor Mike, Lynn, and Lee. This deck was the perfect canvas for Lynn and Mae, who would work on a similar project later in the week.
End of the first day. Deck complete, now comes the tricky part.

The Deck Day Two

In the morning, it rained...and it was time to get creative. Mel and the crew had to figure out how to cover the deck. The end result was beautiful.
When we came back from our excursion to the Wrangell-St Elias Visitor Center, the sun came out! Jean is on the phone with Ron who was getting medical treatment in Palmer, over three hours away.

By the time they wrapped things up on Tuesday, they had the posts up and figured out how to put a roof on it. Lee and Mel seemed to work very well together.

The Deck Day Three

More rain. Mel and Jacob are on the ladders.
The framework was up. Tomorrow they would add the clear corrugated fiberglass sheets for the roof.

The Deck Day Four

And then it rained some more.
Roofing was up! Jean was so pleased with the results.

Inside the Cabin

There were a few projects going on inside the cabin, which visitors to Copper Center would use. It has an open floor plan with a kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, two bedrooms, and a cozy wood stove. The main area and bedrooms had paneling and laminate flooring installed. Jason installed a shower and painted the bathroom, and Lynn and Mae replaced the back porch floor. This exceeded Jean's expectations.

I have no photographic evidence from the work inside the cabin for Day 1, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I'll start with June 11th, Day 2...

Inside the Cabin:

Shower/Bathroom Day 2

Jason spent a lot of time in the shower this week.

Day 3 Shower/Bathroom

Jean's guests have a nice new bathroom.

Day 2 Paneling and Flooring

Shiplap paneling.

Pastor Mike working on installing the paneling.

Paneling/Flooring Day 3

Jason and Mike made quick work of installing laminate flooring in the entire cabin.

Paneling/Flooring Day 4

Jason, Mike, and Jim. The woodstove was nice to warm up to on those cold, rainy days.s
The side porch is to the left. Two bedrooms are directly ahead. To the right, a bathroom is tucked in behind the wall, and the right front of the photo is designated as the kitchen area.
The Finished Product.

Cabin-Back Porch

This project may have started at the end of day three, but most of it was finished by Lynn and Mae on Day Four. In the rain. It was on the bottom of Jean's Wish List that the team managed to squeeze in.



And Finally...the Chicken Coop

This was largely done by Jim and Jacob, though others might have chipped in when needed.

Chicken Coop Day 1

Jacob setting up the foundation for the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop Day Two

The framework and window were already up by the end of Day One.
Jim, ready to finish up at the end of Day Two.

Chicken Coop Day Three

The coop is off to a rainy start, but what else is new?
Where functionality meets aesthetically pleasing.
Jim and Jacob with their finished product.

Other Side Projects

Meanwhile, Jean and the rest of the community were ramping up for the annual Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference Center, where our team stayed. Jean baked like a maniac while we were there, and I was lucky enough to take in the aroma while trying to write the blog. Some of us chipped in and helped Jean where needed, and all of the ladies were blessed by some pure women-talk. There were also times throughout the week when some of the ladies participated in rock-painting therapy. The rocks would be placed around the campground for the kids to find. There was truly something for everyone to get their hands busy with.

Please pray for this conference that begins this Sunday, June 30.
Rocks that some of us painted for the children to find during the week-long conference.
On the other side of this tree line is the silty Copper River, and Jean has this view from her kitchen window. I would come out here, regardless of the weather, when things got overwhelming inside. It is one of many things I will miss about my time there.
The official "Mission Accomplished!" photo. L-R Mel, Jacob, Lynn, Cheryl, Mike, Jim, Mae, Jason, Lee and Janet

In Conclusion

In the next week or so, I'll have another blog about our final days in Alaska. Thanks to everyone for their support for this blogger and the entire team. It has been a real joy for me to keep you updated. God has blessed us immensely.

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Jamie Etter
Jamie Etter
Jun 29

Looks like a wonderful trip! So much was done in such little time ! God is good . Seems he had His hands all over this trip!



Jun 28

Looks like you had an awesome trip. God will stretch us beyond ourselves and give us grace to endure. Thank you for the blog. Please pray for our team that leaves on July 6th.

Pam Keim

Janet Richey
Janet Richey
Jun 28
Replying to

Pam, it is good to hear from you. Prayers are going to the Weio team! Thanks for reading!

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