Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cold days in Atqasuk

Grace and greetings.

This past weekend I spent in the village Atqasuk, which is about 50 miles southwest of Barrow. I left Barrow at four PM and it was cold, about 28 below with a wind chill of -52. When we arrived at Atqasuk, it was -40 degrees, and I could feel the difference instantly. Like Wainwright, it was just a airfield, no building or desk to sign in or out of, pick up your luggage right out of the belly of the four seat plane.

A member of the community gave me a ride into town, about a half mile, as if I was being expected. (They knew I was coming, just not sure which flight). He took me to a member's house, which surprised me because I was expecting to stay in the small apartment attached to the church. I was treated to wonderful tutu (caribou) soup and freshly made bread.

The next morning was even colder, and there was only about nine of us in the chapel for the morning service. I came as a representative of the Presbytery of Yukon to ordain two new Session elders, since they did not have an ordained minister there. That evening had another wonderful dinner of different tutu soups and again fresh bread. Then there was the cold walk back to the chapel, (on right), for the evening service that went very well. We all went home to listen to the Sunday Night Radio show from the church in Barrow.

The next morning was greeted with another -40 below, but a beautiful clear sun rise, (picture above on left). As I was getting ready to fly out when we heard through the radio that the weather in Barrow was even colder, -50 degrees with ice fog. I contacted the airline to find out that ALL flights were on hold. Then I decided to walk around the village and get a few pictures, but after a few minutes, the cold sucked all the power out of the camera battery. The last picture I was able to take was of the chapel, so I made my way back home quickly. Instead of flying out at noon, at two, I finally heard that a plane was going to land at any moment. But the pilot felt that it was too cold, so went back to Barrow. Then at three, another plane came to pick some of us up. I got home before they cancelled other flights that evening. The picture below was one of the pictures showing the sight throughout the North Slope: flat land reaching out into the horizon.
Today is my daughter, Jacquelyn's 26th birthday. While I was working on this blog, there were fireworks going on outside in celebration of Kivgiq (The Messengers Feast), but I will explain about that later. I took the time to watch the fireworks tonight. We only have fireworks a few nights a year, mainly New Year's Eve and special events like Kivgiq. Usually I would not take that much notice of the fireworks, but I decided that up here you need to enjoy the very simple things of life, especially the wonderment of explosions in the sky. The nice thing about the fireworks here, is that they can only be shot off during the winter due to the dark. Since they are usually launched from the lagoon just out side our house, we can watch them from the warmth and comfort of our house. To see what we would see, check out the picture with the January 2, 2009 blog. I watched them thinking of Jacquelyn, hoping that she was enjoying the fireworks several thousand mile away.

May you enjoy your simple things of life too.

Peace and blessings.

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