On October 31st, I started my journey back to Alaska from Pennsylvania. I had a great week prior to leaving as I spent my last moments with friends and family from the area. They all knew I was back east for a short visit and would once again be leaving to pursue my dreams of living in Alaska and being a full-time missionary. This journey has not been easy, and this past month I even thought about quitting and giving it all up. I have faced many odds and taken multiple steps of faith to pursue my dream. One thing that always keeps me going is that I know there are others watching me. I have discovered by pursuing my dreams, it can give others hope to do the same. I may not be doing anything grand; haven’t become famous, haven’t won any big competitions nor made newsworthy discoveries. However, I am doing something that has been in my heart since I was in 5th grade. You see, I did a state project on Alaska back then and discovered it is a beautiful state that is not always covered in ice and snow. I saw pictures of its beauty and learned of its tales. That moment, I knew I had to go. If I asked you, what you love, what puts you at peace, or where you would love to go, what comes to mind? Go ahead and pause and take a minute. This blog will wait…
For me, I’ve always enjoyed the mountains over the beach and winter over summer. The best part about winter? Why the snow and sledding of course! Huskies are my favorite dog and bears are my favorite animal. I enjoy getting away from it all by spending time in nature. It just made sense. Alaska was made for me and I was made for Alaska. Once I landed back in Anchorage, I was able to stay with a friend for a week. During that week I readjusted to the time zone and weather while I began my search for a new used car. I had originally driven a cross-continental trip to Alaska this past summer with my 2002 Prizm – 12 days and nearly 6,000 miles from Reading, PA to Fairbanks, AK. I spent a lot of time in that car these last 2 years. I put a lot of money into it to get it ready for the big trip, kept up on preventative maintenance, and got it ready for our first Alaskan winter. However, while I was home in PA for a wedding and short visit, I received news that it had been totaled in Alaska 😥 Receiving this news was tough for me and put me in the negative financially. This became the hardship that nearly prevented me from coming back to the state of my dreams. Thanks to some amazing and generous friends, family, and the best fundraiser I ever had, I was able to make ends meet and come back in confidence. Now, I am a happy owner of my first Honda – 2006 Honda Accord, 4 cylinders.
As I drove my ‘new’ car back to the Copper River Valley for the first time, I felt an overwhelming peace and sense of being home. I was in awe of the beauty of the mountains back in my view and without even realizing it an expression of joy came over me. I was smiling ear to ear and began to laugh and shed a tear, knowing I pushed through the tough trials of the past 6 weeks and made it back home. Home… yeah, I like the sound of that word! I settled into the cabin where I’ll be staying near Glennallen and began to reconnect with everyone I know. I cannot wait to form new friendships, strengthen existing ones, and above all – see what God has in store.
After this evening my car has been fully winterized 🙂 I dropped it off at a local shop in Wasilla, called Distinctive Ride, to get fog lights, a light bar, and a remote start added on. Then I came over to LightShine’s mechanic’s house and Larry helped me put in a battery blanket, transmission pan, and an oil pan pads to warm my car up in the below zero temperatures. In the Copper River Valley where I live it can get as low as negative 40-50 degrees in the winter! Brrrr. Oh, biggest plus, when I bought the car, is that it came with a set of 4 gently used winter tires with studs. I know that there will be more challenges before me, but I feel a sense of peace as I face any doubts and fears that may come my way. Right now I’m living in a small cabin with electricity, propane heat, no running water, an outhouse for the toilet, and feeding myself on a shoestring budget. But ya know what, that is okay. If I have learned anything from these past 6 months since becoming a full-time missionary and living by faith, it’s that God is faithful! He follows through, even when we want to give up or doubt it is possible. He never goes back on His promises. I hope my journey may encourage you, to continue to pursue your dreams. As I type this I am 31 days from being 31. I dreamed about this 20 years ago, while in 5th grade.
Don’t give up, even if year 20 is about to pass you. Would love to hear what your dream is in the comments below.