Before we met, Allen and I both engaged in ministry and mission trips separately. From camp ministry and AWANAs to in-state and out-of-state mission trips, we loved to serve. Our first summer dating, we co-led a mission trip to Kodiak, Alaska (you can read about it here). And about a year and a half after got married, we led another trip to North Pole, Alaska!
In May 2016, we packed up Ruth (who was about 5-months-old), FLBC’s 15-passenger van, and two people from our College & Career Bible study group (a third member flew up to meet us later in the week), and started the drive from Wasilla to North Pole.
A few weeks prior, we had heard about a need at Moose Creek Baptist Church for some help with a Parents Night Out Event, cleaning and organizing their storage rooms, and leading worship. Allen and his family attended MCBC in the 90s while living on Eielson Air Force Base. In fact, it was at MCBC that Allen accepted God’s free gift of salvation and was baptized! So this church is near and dear to his heart and, of course, he wanted to go help however he could. We contacted the church, set a date, rallied Caleb, Lesley, and Juliet, and headed north.
It was a long drive (especially with a five-month-old), so we were very grateful to pull into MCBC, stretch our legs, and lay claim to our sleeping quarters for the week.
We spent the week cleaning and organizing (and found some really epic photos of 9-year-old Allen at AWANAs); sorting through old curriculum, music, and books; and planning a Parent’s Night Out. We prayer walked around the neighborhood, led worship on Sunday morning, participated in Wednesday night Bible study, and spent time with the Pastor and his family. And of course, we went to the Santa Claus House in North Pole.
The week culminated in the Parent’s Night Out on Friday. MCBC was working diligently to reach their neighborhood and this was one way they were engaging the parents around them. We had spent the week planning activities and handing out invitations. And when the event arrived, we had lots of kids show up! For three hours, we played outside (until it started raining), ate snacks, did crafts, and watched a movie. It. Was. Smashing. The kids were exhausted at the end and the parents were refreshed.
As a team, I feel like we served really well together. We cooked breakfast in MCBC’s downstairs kitchen and had a time of devotions together. We served all day, then spent evenings playing games or making music together.
We played a lot of Clue… and one time, Caleb made the right guess about who did it, where, and with what on his first try. We were all very thankful because we were all very tired.
For Allen and me, this was our first foray into serving with kids. And for sure, it was very different from ministry in our pre-kids days! I spent quite a bit of time making sure Ruth had her naps and was entertained so that the rest of the team could work. And to be honest, I struggled with knowing if I was doing anything productive at all. The Lord reminded me several times that first, I serve my family… and then I serve others.
Seeing Allen back in his element was such an encouragement. He loves the practical hands-on work of serving. He loves the conversations that happen side-by-side. He loves the discipleship and “doing life together” than comes along with a life of ministry. And he particularly loved being back in the church where his spiritual walk started and was initially fostered.
The Lord kind of brought things full-circle for us with MCBC: In June 2018, we visited MCBC again… but this time, it was to seek partnership as we prepare for full-time missions in West Africa!
We are thankful for the opportunity to serve together with Ruth and our College & Career group all those years ago. And we are looking forward with eager anticipation to serving with all three of our kiddos in Togo within the next few years.