Life hard? You could be in Alaska

alaskan bush

There’s just something about Alaska that gets my blood pumping.

No, I’ve never been there. And anyone who knows me well would question my suitability to a visit.

For starters, I was born and raised in Milpitas, California — a city where it never snowed. Second, I only like snow about five days out of a year. Once the novelty wears off, I’m ready for flip flops and shorts. Third, I love cities. Too much “peace and quiet” and I start to go a little nuts.

And yet, there’s just something about Alaska.

Today I spent 30 minutes of free-time (and you moms know how precious that is) looking for what life is like in Alaska. Since I live in post-Soviet Central Asia, I also looked up what life is like in northeastern Siberia. I wanted to compare — to see if the cultures coincided, to see just how hard life is, what the people do, believe, etc.

I found it fascinating that in the Alaskan “bush” (which is most of Alaska), life is harder than it is here.

There are no roads to major cities (this defines what places are “bush”). There are not many movie theaters or shopping malls (or maybe none; I didn’t read long enough to find out). Regular, manual work is highly sought after because cash is in short supply in communities that mostly rely on subsistence hunting and gathering. Alcohol is usually prohibited but usually ever-abundant. Alcohol-related offenses are incredibly high.

Villages are so small that there isn’t a police officer to call if a fight breaks out or a woman gets abused. The people wait for a visiting field officer who makes the rounds between villages each month or so. In the meantime? I don’t know.

Plus, there’s the weather. One account I read said the sun rose at 11 am and set at 2 pm. After a year and a half teaching, one adventurous guy succumbed to an alcoholic binge and fled back to the lower 48.

So, why in the world does it get my blood moving? Good question.

I really don’t know except that when I hear of those last-frontier kinds of places, where no one is and almost no one wants to be, I start to get excited.

It’s the kind of place that is so hard, so empty, so impossible that it requires a miracle of God.

It would be a miracle for these villages to experience hope, joy and the power of God. For the kids to have a vision for their life, for the alcoholics to find something worth giving up alcohol.

But it’s always easier to look to regions unknown and imagine what great move of God could happen there when, the truth is, God has called me here. 

And while we have plenty of roads, shopping malls and movie theaters, there is plenty of emptiness and hopelessness to go around.

This week God challenged me to share the Gospel with someone every day. Since a few days of the week I stay at home with the kids, I’m not sure how it’s going to work out. But if the challenge really comes the the Lord, He will provide the opportunities. My job is to be ready.

Want to know how it goes? I’ll keep you posted.

Anyone else out there being challenged by the Lord to do something out of your comfort zone? I would love to hear about it.

(Image courtesy of the New York Times)



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