The first mission trip Allen and I ever took together was to Kodiak, Alaska in 2012, as co-leaders for our church’s annual youth mission trip. It did not go as planned. Like, at all.
The town of Kodiak is on Kodiak Island, south of where we live. It is only accessible by boat (ferry) or plane. Kodiak Island is the second largest island in the US and is slightly larger than the island of Cyprus. But Kodiak town is tiny – only about 5.5 square miles in area. There are about six other towns/villages on the island and you have to reach them all by plane or boat.
We kicked off the mission trip by driving from Wasilla to Homer (about 5 hours) then boarding a ferry to Kodiak (about 12 hours) with our team.
I get terribly seasick on ferries, so I slept most of the time, but look how cute baby Allen and baby Melissa were!
We were on the ferry overnight – look at this gorgeous sunset!
Alaska really is so so beautiful, and if you ever get a chance to travel on the Marine Highway, take it!
Here’s our ferry, docked in Kodiak:
In Kodiak, our team stayed at a church and were tasked with helping them run Vacation Bible School, do manual labor, and help with things around the building. The other half of the youth group traveled to a village called Old Harbor to do similar work.
I helped plan VBS for the week – we were focusing on the Creation story in Genesis and each day, we covered a new aspect of creation. I LOVE to teach and had a blast sharing with the kiddos who came each day.
But about a third of the way through our trip, things unraveled.
On Wednesday, we went to another church for their youth group meeting. We were going to play a few games, participate in their Bible study, then head back “home” to our host church to sleep and prep for the next day’s VBS.
During a rousing game of Broom Tag, I ended up at the bottom of a dog pile. About 7 youth were on top of me and I remember thinking, “This does not feel good. I want out.”
As I tried to wriggle out from under everyone, my body turned… and my right leg did not. I felt a snap in my calf and shooting pain. And then I started screaming.
Everyone was up real quick and I quickly pushed myself over to the side of the building and leaned against it.
Allen came running over, not sure what happened. I grabbed my leg and there was a large bump where there should not have been one… and pain. Lots of pain.
It was clear my leg was broken.
A few more guys came over and decided I needed to head to the hospital. They carried me to their van, drove me down the hill, and got me checked in.
Allen had the pleasure of calling my mom:
“Mrs. Krauss? I’m with Melissa at the hospital…”
“What happened this time?”
“Well, We think she broke her leg…”
“Does she have her insurance card with her?”
“Okay, call me later and tell me what I need to do.”
In my mom’s defense, me breaking a bone was nothing new. By this point in my life, I’d broken my left arm, my nose, and several toes; dislocated my wrist and elbow; and sprained my wrists and fingers. Truth be told, I’m not very aware of my body’s position in space and rather clumsy.
A few X-Rays later it was confirmed: spiral fracture in my tibia, plus I fractured my fibula and my ankle.
I was bedridden in the Kodiak hospital indefinitely. They couldn’t do the surgery there in Kodiak, but I couldn’t fly home until my bones had set somewhat. I could feel them shifting around inside the cast when I moved (it was terrible), but I was kind of…stuck. Not only that, but our team had planned for me to do all the VBS teaching and I was out of commission and totally drugged up on pain killers.
Praise God that Lisa was in town, spending the summer as a missionary at the church! She took over teaching at VBS (and rocked it!) and the rest of the team stepped up to help out.
Meanwhile, I watched a lot of “Parent Trap” and ate hospital food.
The hospital finally called my mom and said she needed to come down. It wasn’t until mom got to Kodiak that she learned the extent of my injury (I guess no one told her my leg was severely broken in 3 places…) and made plans to fly me home. We flew home on Monday, a full five days after my initial injury.
Soon after, we met with a surgeon and scheduled my procedure for a few weeks later. After having a metal rod inserted into my leg, held in place by several screws, I was deemed non-weight bearing for several weeks before graduating to crutches and (finally) a walking boot.
It was not at all the mission trip we had signed up for. It did not go according to plan and forced everyone to adjust expectations, lean into the Lord, and wait for Him to move in our midst.
And He did (like He always does).
Our youth saw God use the talents He had given them to prepare and lead games and crafts. Our new friends saw God form relationships with kids from all over Kodiak. And I saw Allen willingly and humbly care for me.
So this maybe wasn’t our best mission trip yet. But it certainly kicked off a shared love of missions and service between me and Allen, setting a foundation for our relationship that continues to this day.
Here’s to broken bones and how God uses even those to bring His will to fruition.