“Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”

There’s a cute African folk tale called “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears” that can really jerk your heartstrings for the plight of the poor mosquitoes.  However, after living through the last few days at Kako, we have no more sympathy for these vile creatures.  They are vicious, tenacious, and like cats, they each seem to possess the proverbial nine lives.  Oh, how we would love to see the miraculous demise of all mosquitoes around Kako!  Until that happens, we have armed ourselves with mosquito netting (around the bed), duct tape (around all visible cracks in the house), and bug spray (which doesn’t really work, but it makes us feel a little better about stepping outside).

Along with the bugs, events around Kako have drastically picked up since the beginning of the camp season almost two weeks ago.  We started out with a group of 28 junior high campers, followed this week by another junior high group of 37.  Next week we’re expecting 50 high school students, and we even have several on the waiting list!  This means lots of flying for the pilots, especially on Mondays and Fridays.  Last Monday Jared logged about 10 hours in the plane, and, together with another pilot, brought in kids from 14 different villages.   Jared’s doing a wonderful job in the role of pilot.  He has great rapport with the kids, and the steady flying hours and unpredictable weather are really helping to hone his skills.

Carol’s main role has become “transportation contact person” on Mondays and Fridays.  This requires keeping contact with the pilots, organizing flights, and relaying drop-off/pick-up information to all of the campers’ parents.  Slight difficulties include the vastly different schedule that most villagers operate by (party late, sleep late), last-minute additions or cancellations that throw off a “perfectly” organized flight schedule, and unpredictable weather.  All of these factors combined mean extremely hectic Mondays and slightly frazzled Fridays (at least by Friday we know exactly how many kids we are dealing with!).

During off-days/hours, we each fill our time with other activities.  Jared has helped with supervising the rock wall, preparing and planting the Kako garden, and playing the guitar for songs during “Bible Time.”  Carol also helps out with leading songs, planting the garden, and the never-ending kitchen and laundry duties.  Lucy has been filling in wherever she’s most needed.  This past week, being a little short on staff, she was promoted to co-counselor, in addition to her regular jobs of running the snack shack and helping around the kitchen.  Carol missed her help with Titus, but we’re so glad that she can be useful around camp!

As you pray, please ask God to strengthen the counseling staff and give them hearts for these lost kids.  During the first week of camp we had a volunteer team of college students from Tennessee that did an amazing job of forming relationships and feeding spiritual truth and the love of Christ into the campers.  Several of the campers from that week now profess faith in Christ!  This week, however, we’ve had a much weaker group of counselors that haven’t made a strong connection with the kids.  Please pray that the counselors will be imbued with energy and enthusiasm for the task before them, and that by word and example they will “preach” Christ loudly and effectively to the next three groups of campers.  That’s the reason we’re here!

Enjoy the pictures below!

Jared transports volunteers for Public Relations work in the villages (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

Jared in Plane

Village kids ready to go back home after a week of camp (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

Boys in plane

Wednesday dinners are always a hotdog roast (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

Roasting hot dogs

Titus makes friends everywhere (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

titus and neely

Lucy operates the Snack Shack like a pro (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

Lucy at Snack Shack

Campers about to enjoy the obstacle course in the woods (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

obstacle course

Jared helps create a drainage tile for a very muddy pavilion (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

Jared working

The kids love music, even though they’re not that great at keeping a beat:

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Titus enjoys a not-so-rare moment at the controls (photo courtesy of Matt Finn):

Titus flies plane

The view from Kako Mountain (photo courtesy of Neely Lawson):

view from kako mountain

Life on the Inside

Folks around here refer to the modern, fast-paced world that we call home as “The Outside.”  From that, we must infer that we are currently living on “The Inside” at Kako.  Let’s take a peek at life on the inside…at least what we’ve experienced of it in the last couple of weeks.

#1. Government still holds sway on the inside.  The scheduled family camp and first week of elementary camp had to be postponed because of water regulations.  Some staff members are in the process of drilling a new well to comply with government standards.  Camp is now scheduled to go ahead this coming week!

#2. New faces are a refreshing sight on the inside!  Imagine living three quarters of the year with only the same four or five faces to look at every day (unless you’re lucky and get to make a trip to the post office with the pilot once in a while).  We noticed a burst of energy around camp with the arrival of a student work team from Tennessee.  These young people have not only offered everybody more faces to look at, but they’ve also contributed hugely to the work effort around Kako.  Lots of big projects have already been accomplished, and they will man the counseling staff for the first week of camp.

#3. Electricity and watermelons are not to be taken for granted.  The camp generator is used as sparingly as possible to save on fuel.  The general schedule is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  (This can be a problem when you own a 15-hour battery charger.)  Prioritizing tasks becomes second-nature, and with Alaska’s long summer daylight hours, artificial light is rarely missed.  And did I mention watermelons?  A staff volunteer treated everyone to a  delicious watermelon last week.  It was hard deal to pass up at only $30 in nearby Russian Mission!

#4. Kako is a haven of beauty and cleanliness compared to most of the surrounding villages.  Campers who come are amazed at the toilets that flush every time (well, at least when the power is on), warm showers, and the brightly painted houses.  Jared and a few of the volunteers have had opportunities this week to hand out informational fliers and visit with the kids in several local villages.  One day, Jared was assigned to visit a tundra village.  A boardwalk snaked through town, and at every edge was thick muck that would swallow a person up to the knees if they ventured into it (which the kids love to do, of course).  Volunteers in other villages had similar experiences, but they all enjoyed the opportunity to rub shoulders with locals on “The Inside.”  As a result of this public relations work, more kids call to sign up for summer camp every day.  We’re expecting close to a full camp (around 40 kids) for this first week.

#5. The truth and beauty of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever–on both the outside and the inside.  Is it possible, though, that with all the material distractions and “Christian” saturation on the outside, we might often take that truth and beauty for granted?  Here, in areas of such limited access, Christ shines so brilliantly wherever He is found.  He truly makes a difference in the lives of those who trust in Him.  There are villages here that are crying out for help from Christian workers…but there aren’t enough workers to fill the need.

Pray that the Lord will raise up workers for this harvest throughout the villages of Alaska.  Pray for the hearts of the children and teens who will attend camp at Kako this year.  Maybe some of them will become God’s harvesters!  And please pray for safety as Jared and other pilots perform all the necessary transportation throughout the summer.

Following, you will find a few pictures of life as we know it on “The Inside.”

Jared lands downhill at Kako (we live in the brown house):

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A dusty takeoff:

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Jared and Russell, a native foster boy who lives with a family here at Kako:

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Unloading newly-arrived volunteers:

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Lucy helps with a house-painting project:

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Birds-eye view of a native village:

village

Doing public relations work in the villages:

jared with village kids

Airplanes get dirty around here:

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We can’t even get away from airplanes during naps:

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