_ About a month ago, I (Sean) lead a group of two staff and two students traveled to the village of Elim and helped CYAK (Covenant Youth of Alaska) lead a high school retreat for village students.  We helped lead small groups, assisted in the worship service as well as games and activities for the students of Elim and the surrounding villages.

Just to add some perspective, Elim has a population of around 300 people and is located on the Norton Sound of Western Alaska.  There is no pavement in the village apart from the concrete pad for playing basketball outside.  Even the runway was dirt.

Visiting the local store, prices were a bit higher than in the lower 48.  A package of Oreos costs $8.19, if you want a 47” LCD TV, it will cost you $2,000, and if you need gasoline, you have to drive your 4 wheeler over a mile out of town to the fuel storage tanks.  

High school retreats are a bit different in the village as well: everyone sleeps at the local school; we prepared food and ate in the school cafeteria, and the student who were not from Elim had to fly on a plane to get to the retreat. 

It was good to be in a native village and see firsthand where many of the students at Alaska Christian College come from.  While apart from playing basketball, going on hikes, and bonfires at the beach, there was not much to do.  Yet on the flipside, it was very peaceful.  I found myself being able to relax even surrounded by 50 high schoolers.  Village life is just a bit slower and less hectic than the hustle and bustle found in many of our home towns.

I think the highlight of the week was sitting with the students one crisp night at the bonfire on the beach.  We were staring at black sky littered with stars.  Then looking towards the mountains, the northern lights were spread across the sky.  The beauty was breathtaking and you cannot help being caught up in God’s creation.

They are experiences like these that we look at where God has us and are extremely thankful for the way He continues to work in our lives.

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