Tuesday, January 9, 2007

From the Frozen North

This past Wednesday we descended from 35,000 to land in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada. That was the last time I saw the sun until today. It just peeked over the horizon for about an hour. It's amazing to watch the sun move for an hour parallel to the horizon and then sink out of sight.

Last Wednesday, after arriving in Inuvik we traveled up the ice road (the frozen McKenzie River) for about 100 miles to the Arctic coastal village of Tuktoyaktuk, population 900. I am making this trip with long time missionary friend Bill Brown and Kerry Kirkwood, one of the young men I grew up with in Amarillo, Texas, who is now pastoring in Tyler, Texas.

It had been ten years since I had been in Tuk and it was great to renew friendships with Pastor Emmanuel Adam and his congregation. We had nightly services through Saturday and then two services on Sunday. God was so good to grace us with his presence with many receiving a visible touch from God. I find that when God's presence comes upon people they respond pretty much the same wherever you are regardless of ethnicity or geography.

In Tuk we "chop" our drinking water. They have running water for washing, laundry, bathing, etc... but it doesn't taste very good so everyone goes out to a fresh water lake near the village and chops their drinking water. You bring in the ice chunks and put them in a barrel until they melt and that is your drinking water.

We also went on a dog sled ride. Eight dogs pulling a big sled with two of us on it. It's amazing how those dogs love to run. It's also amazing that the dogs live outside on chains in this weather. They each get a frozen fish every other day for their food. My dog doesn't know how good he has it!

One of the local hunters went out this week and bagged an 11' polar bear 20 miles outside of Tuk. They can sell the skin for about $3500. It's one of the ways they earn a living, along with fishing and hunting caribou. I have had Canadian goose, caribou stew, muktuk (whale blubber... which is actually pretty good. When you eat it, it actually warms your body up. Amazing!) and coney (a large white fish they catch in nets hung under the ice... there is one in the picture below). Can't find those on the menu back in Arizona.

On Monday we made the trip back up the ice road to Inuvik where we will be in services through this next Sunday at Lighthouse Church. Harold and Darlene Robinson are the pastors. The temperature has hovered aroun -20 degrees Farenheit for most of my time here. However, this Friday they are expecting temperatures to drop to near -40. They told me they won't let the kids in school go out for recess when it gets to -40. Can you imagine?

I find that my heart really bonds with the people here. They so love to worship the Lord and
hear the Word of God taught. They are so gracious and hospitable. It will be difficult to leave them, but I am getting anxious to get home to Janet and my family, as well as my church family. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to worship with the family of God in this part of His world. I will take home many wonderful memories.

Psalm 57:9 "I will praise the Lord among the peoples. I will sing to Him among the nations."