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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

Time To Build An Ark?

Updated: Jun 24

June 13, 2024, Morning Reflection

The rain does not end. 

I am, by nature, an early riser. And, as it turns out, so are most of the men on our team. In our six days at Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference Center, we fell into a comfortable routine that wasn't too far from the one I had established back home. Wake up around 4 AM. Make coffee. Read a few devotionals, and then I write. While the guys wander in much earlier than my husband wanders into his home office and my son gets up for school, both routines have been comforting and familiar. It gave me some time to listen to masculine banter and discuss our families with each other. I've felt God's presence in both routines, and those early mornings in the dining hall are one of the things I treasure the most.

Waiting for the menfolk.

Personal Struggles

My insecurities assault me like the swarms of mosquitos pounding at the ladies' bunkhouse door.

  • I am not enough.

  • I serve no purpose.

  • How can I even call myself a writer?

Throughout most of this trip, I struggled to find validation within my team, knowing full well that my value and my identity come from Christ. And yet God was gracious enough to put people like Mel in my direct path with this unexpected factoid: LightShine Ministries will not deny anyone the opportunity to experience a mission trip. Then, one of the guys told me that if God puts it in your head to go on a mission trip, there is a reason for you to be there.

Satan is the father of lies, and I have been foolish enough to believe them. Oh, ye of little faith.

LightShine has teams going all year long. So, if you’ve got the bug for a short-term mission trip and want to see some of the most beautiful places to do it, check out their website and see if you can be a missionary.


On the Job Site Day Two, June 11th.

Tuesday morning started with a devotional shared by Mae, which included passages from the Book of Lamentations. This was followed by a time of reflection with soft worship music playing in the background. The service ended with one of her beautifully styled prayers, which you may have heard on Sunday mornings at Living Water Community Church. It was a reminder of my beloved church back in Pennsylvania.

Rain, Quilts, and Wrangell St. Elias Visitors Center

Tuesday might have been my favorite day. When I went into the parsonage, Jean had giant vacuum-sealed bags filled with quilts she’d made over the years. She loves this team because they know what they are doing, and she can leave them relatively unsupervised. I believe we blessed each other that morning. She could talk in sewing lingo that didn’t require explanation, and I heard stories as intricate as the quilts themselves. It was a treasured moment of connection, as we differ in so many other ways. It might be presumptuous to say, but I believe she enjoyed talking with a non-native such as myself, shedding the hat of the preacher’s wife. I was happy to oblige.

A quilt with a story.
The Story
"Spottwo" was always looking for attention from the team.

As we gathered for lunch with sandwiches we made at Wrangell Mountain before coming over, Mel studied the weather radar and saw a break in the clouds a few hours away. Empathetic to his cold and soggy crew, we visited the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve just four miles away from the parsonage. For about an hour, we pursued several buildings and exhibits, checked out some of the virtually non-existent views due to cloud cover, picked up a few souvenirs, and acted like star-struck tourists. It was a nice reprieve from the mission field.

One of many exhibits at Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Center

By the time we returned to the parsonage, the clouds had dissipated, and the guys were back to work. It had been a very productive day.

Photos During the Rain

Mel checking out the progress of the chicken coop.
Lots of hands were on deck with this project. If you look closely you can see where this blogger actually put a few screws in under Lee's patient, watchful eye. Here they are setting the stage for the roof. If it would just. Stop. Raining.
Pastor Mike, keeping dry while working in the cabin...
...while Jason installed a shower in the next room.

Photos After the Rain

Jean is talking with Ron, who was in Palmer for treatment, Jacob, Jim in blue, Lee in front of him, and Mel on the ladder. For once, the weather app was relatively accurate.
Jean, Jacob, Mel on the ladder, and Lee. These guys were hungry to finish this project.

And Then, a Water Crisis.

In the middle of the dinner prep, the water suddenly shut off. An electrical connection failed, causing smoke to come out of the well, and the water shut off. The connection between the pump and the power supply was corroded, and these guys figured out a way to replace the connection, and within 90 minutes, we had water again.

It was another example of how God uses His people to answer prayer. Again. And again.

The offending part.
Mel, Jason, Pastor Mike and Jason at the pump. Photo courtesy of Lee Barkus

After dinner, we sat down to a Bible study led by Dennis Charley, who guided us through parts of Acts 20.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” Acts 20:24 ESV

I also met Tawny LeBlanc, the ministry director for Celebrate Recovery, and we chatted about the testimony that I would share at their meeting on Thursday night. I liked her instantly, and I grew more impressed as she contributed to Dennis’s Bible study, which was comprised mostly of men. Check out Dennis’s testimony here:

What A Way to End the Day!

The evening ended with a trip to native-owned (Ahtna Corporation) land along the silty Copper River, where we were given special permission to be on. Ike (Frank Hobson), our native friend, showed us how a fishing wheel works while the rest of us were fighting off the thickest swarm of mosquitos I've ever seen in my life. On the way in and out of this dense forest in which no four-door sedan had any business (we were in a twelve-passenger van driven by Jean), the peanut gallery in the back row forecast our collective martyrdom in news-bulletin-type language. ( I won't name names, but you know who you are.) We were also desperate to find moose or bear, which we saw none of. Where the heck were they??  As we got back on the paved road back to Copper Center, Alaska’s answer to civilization, I saw a big object in the middle of the road about half a mile away. I was sure it was a bear, based on the low profile.  “Ooh! Look at that up there!” I said excitedly.

“Uh, Janet. That’s a Honda Civic”. 

There is always a fine line between humility and humiliation. I can't decide where that experience landed.

Ike effortlessly pulls out a salmon from the fishing wheel.
The only way to beat the mosquitos. Photo courtesy of Lee Barkus.

Here's one for my map nerds.

Wrapping Things Up

I started this journal on Thursday, June 13, at Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference Center, but it is now June 18th, and I am writing this in the comfort of my own home. My goals of a daily blog were shattered by spotty internet and other things, no less planned by God, that was completely out of my control.

I hope you will continue to follow this journey as I guide you through the last two days of construction, driving back to base camp at Palmer and then to Anchorage for the flights back to Pennsylvania. I think it's safe to say that each team member felt your prayers during this journey, and we appreciate your support.

Please continue to pray for Mel, Jim, and Lee, who stayed behind for another week to support the Bunkhouse Team at base camp in Palmer. They will head back to the Lower Forty-Eight on Sunday.

Stay tuned.



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2 comentarios

Carol Apgar
Carol Apgar
19 jun

Janet - we were blessed to support you and the team in prayer while you were in Alaska! Never doubt your value in God’s eyes. You were fearfully and wonderfully made! Your gift of expression shows just what a great job God did!

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Janet Richey
Janet Richey
20 jun
Contestando a

Carol, thank you for your unwavering support. It means the world to me.

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