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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

Lord, I'll Go! Send Me!

Updated: Jun 19

It is currently 52 degrees in Copper Center, and the buzzing of mosquitos sounds like a Honda motorcycle flying down the highway.

Welcome to Alaska, folks.

This blogger had a moment-of-weakness hissy-fit right in front of Pastor Mike and a few other unsuspecting souls on the Lord's Day. It was Day Two of sleeplessness. I felt like I’d done everything for this place short of opening a vein, and the internet was hopelessly spotty. I’d felt from the beginning that the most help I’d be, aside from staying out of the way, was writing news bulletins for you folks back home, and now I couldn’t even do that.  What more do you want from me, Lord?

 “To obey is better than sacrifice,” 1 Sam 15:22

Mel has carried this everyplace but the worksite.
A mosquito in its natural habitat. Which could be just about anywhere.

The truth is that I hadn’t been very obedient. Among other transgressions, I complained, mostly in my heart and to my husband back home, about things that shouldn’t really matter. And then, the anger that I am scheduled to testify about to a Celebrate Recovery group this week peeked its ugly head out of the darkness.

It’s a good thing you all back home are praying.

While this particular team has developed a pretty good sense of humor about things, and our church has always been full of grace, had it not been for your prayers and how we within the team have been praying for each other, I‘d be writing with a completely different attitude.

“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there..” Matt 18:20

Our first full day in Alaska started at the Interact Center, where we discovered the morning people and those who were not. It was our first experience with conflict, which will probably continue until we touch down in Philly. But by Sunday evening, as we drove over Thompson Pass, which hosts the snowiest weather station in Alaska, recording an average of 42 feet (that’s Feet with a capital “F”) a year, I realized that we’d been working on our communication skills by collectively focusing on Christ and discovering our own unique sense of humor. Over the past two days, we’ve driven over 300 miles in a 2005 Ford E Series mini-bus ( and thank you, Lee, for going out in the Alaskan rain to gather that factoid) that we have baptized with pure, God-pleasing laughter.

Jason risking his life for the perfect photo.
No one was impressed with our Sound of Music reenactment.
Itching for a snowball fight.


But enough about our feelings, let's go back to Day One.

We hit base camp in Palmer around 7:30 that morning and were greeted with the frenetic activity of teams coming and going. Team 1 was leaving, Team 2 flew in with us yesterday and was settling in, and we, the Copper Center Team, were joining them for breakfast.  Check out all the teams that LightShine is sending out here:

Tom Denlinger, co-founder of LightShine and leaving with Team One,  gave us a commissioning-style speech, words of advice, and a prayer.

Bob and Angie Neuenschwander arrived at base camp about two weeks ago after taking a month to drive all their belongings from Pennsylvania to start their lives as camp hosts/directors. Angie has a pioneer-woman spirit about her, and was very helpful to Mae and the rest of the gals on feeding the team on an Alaskan economy and non-profit ministry budget. You can’t help but love these people.

Mel and Bob leading the devotional meeting for Team Two and Team Copper Center.

Check out Bob and Angie’s Facebook page, which chronicled their adventures here:

After a tour of the base camp, seeing what the volunteers were doing at their house to get them out of living in their camper, we took group photos and loaded our supplies onto the bus.

Jacob and Jason packing their own sandwiches for the trip to Copper Center

Destination Copper Center: The Long and Winding Road

After an eventful stop at the Fred Meyers grocery store, we discovered that Cheryl had left her cell phone at base camp, and we couldn’t retrieve it until Friday. That is when my delightful friend showed mejust what we were willing to give up for the team. I’d have been grief-stricken.

The next 150 miles would be a series of memorable pullovers where nature called in more ways than one. Some pullovers had names like the Matanuska Glacier State Recreational Area and Matanuska Glacier Viewing Area on Sheep Mountain, where we would, indeed, see sheep, thanks at first, to Jason’s keen eye, Jim’s binoculars and Lee’s mega camera lens. It may have been the highlight for a few of these guys. 

One of many stops we made on the Glennallen Highway.

Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves

We rolled in, wearily, at Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference Center, our home for the next six days, were greeted by Jean Paull at the door, shown our bunk houses, and were promptly put to work. This is where I first saw our team, awkwardly at first, find our places and work together. While Jean was furiously working on making fry bread and a half-dozen other tasks, we worked on opening up the kitchen and eating hall, which had not seen the light of day since last year at this time. This was also when we were treated to meeting Ken Johns, an Alaskan whose ancestors were some of the early converts when Vince Joy came here as a missionary in the 1930s. He also has connections to the Ahtna Corporation, an Alaskan Native shareholder-owned corporation established after the pipeline went in.  But Ken thanked “people like us” who made places like this possible. Was I really one of “us?” 

Jim takes on the Ghostbuster vacuum cleaner after all the tables and chairs were wiped down.
Creepy enough to make it into a blog. At first glance, we thought this was someone's hand.

Lee and Jacob building Jean a couple of shelves.
Home Sweet Home The girl's bunk house.

After a hearty meal, we piled back onto the bus, caught a glimpse of Copper Center Community Chapel, where we would worship the next day, and surveyed the parsonage where most of our time would be spent. Ron took no small pleasure in showing us his workshop, as did Jean as she led us to her sewing room that housed an impressive long-arm machine and a stash of fabric that kinda made me envious. This was also where we saw the havoc that mosquitos can play on the mind. As we loaded into the van on the way home, they rushed into our van like a swarm of hungry European starlings. The gloves were off.

Where the deck will be at the parsonage.

Getting ready for bed that night was a team-building project among the women as we figured out where our stuff should go, how to slaughter mosquitos and figure out the room temperature that suited everyone. But something glorious happened when Mae gently encouraged us to pray. Complaining is a really hard thing to do when you’re taking it all to The Throne. It would also be the start of our bedtime routine.

The day began and ended in prayer, which seems fitting considering the circumstances. Please continue to pray with us as you feel led.

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Jun 10

Thanks dIr keeping us up to date. Love reading the blog

Janet Richey
Janet Richey
Jun 29
Replying to

Thank you for reading and for your sweet encouragement. I take it all to heart 💜

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