Our family recently talked about the idea of pastoring a church in Alaska.
I gave my immediate input:
NO. ----->(Picture a super bold Elephant font with a lovely italic tilt.)
My reasons for not wanting to go? My reasons?? I didn't need reasons.
Because...I said so.
My simple 2-letter decision didn't have anything to do with the population of the town: 4,327 (at the 2000 census). We'd once left our current home in Washington to pastor in a town of 1,500 in Nebraska. So I'd learned a thing or two about small towns. (Such as: Stop lights? We don't need no stinkin' stoplights. Seriously, the first time we ventured from the small town into a big city, & our two little girls saw traffic, they thought it was a parade.)
I don't know why I was so adamant about not wanting to go to a place where my parents weren't right next door, where coldness could literally freeze your face off (I hate the cold), where a different country would separate me from the rest of my homeland (hello down there!), where I'd have bears as neighbors & moose as lawn ornaments, where I'd basically be living in a giant snow globe (I hate the cold), where teeth chattering is a local sport (so I hear...or maybe I made that up), where the nearest Target is a 3 1/2 hour drive away (so I'd basically have to get a hotel for the night if I wanted to shop at Target), where I could, if I wanted, (but I wouldn't, 'cause I hate the cold) build a 9-foot snowman from a small patch of snow in the backyard, & where I'd be closer to Russia than to my own mother.
PEOPLE, TARGET IS A 7-HOUR ROUND-TRIP EXCURSION.
And in case you don't get it: I. HATE. THE. COLD.
So, I have some news to share: We're moving to Alaska!!!
(And those aren't regular exclamation marks. They're sarcastic ones.)
And I'm scared. Because every time I tell people "We're moving to Alaska," they gasp real loudly. Like, if I were to tell them I'm moving to, let's say...Ohio...they would just be like, "Meh." But when I say the "A"-word, they gasp. Every single time. No joke. Or they wish me luck (with major amounts of pity oozing in their voice), or they'll touch my shoulder & give me a wordless expression with watery eyes, or they say a quick prayer to Our Father in Heaven, thanking Him for not sending them to that wilderness.
Oh my gosh, people. You're not helping.
But I'm OK with going. Really.
And, honestly, it was quickly after I said "No" (if 2 months is considered "quick") that I was fine with saying "Yes".
Our girls, Zoey & Pazely, (a teen + an almost-teen) were giddy from the start. Which surprised me. And I think it surprised them too.
We met some people, we had some talks, & at the end of October we all flew to Alaska for the first time to visit Nikiski & the folks at Aurora Heights Worship Center. All the while I kept thinking that it just seemed like a perfect fit. Who we are: all our giftings & talents & personalities, combined with what the church was looking for & what the church needed, seemed to be the ideal match. Either that, or we were simply the first candidates to not say "No". And I'm pretty sure it's the latter. But oh well. The deal is done. Russia's neighbor, here we come!
I do hate the cold. So there's that. My first journal entry during our initial visit there, reads:
Alaska is freaking cold.
One morning, during our stay there, (after the sun rose at 9:30 am) we went to "the beach" to hunt for agates. It was so cold. And windy. And even raining a tiny bit. I was worried about how frozen my kids were. Zoey was bundled in a giant blanket, nose pink, lips numb. After hunting for a while, & not finding any agates, Zoey came over to me & exclaimed, "This is SO MUCH FUN, MOM!!!"
What a sweet little confirmation that was for me.
Yeah, we're gonna do this.
I feel so happy to have made every step of this decision as a family. And my kids are getting to see how God works out the details in this story of their lives.
*Probably the most random thing of all is that we will be living just several miles from where my dad grew up! I will have tons of family living nearby that I've never met, + a few I have.*
We are pretty sure we're crazy & nuts for doing this—which, to me, oddly solidifies this as the definite next step we should take in our lives. I am certain God is up to something. I am positive we are about to embark on one of the best adventures of our lives. And I can't wait to see how God uses each one of us, in our church, in the lives of our neighbors, & in our community.
I want this space to document all the adventure. I want to write. And take oodles of pictures. And share all the things we see & do, all the places we go. I want it to be a space full of thoughts & heart & inspiration.
A journal of our journey.
P.S. You may now refer to me as "Nikki from Nikiski".