Oregon Youth Bring VBS To Alaska
A team of eight youth and three adults flew to the Siberian Yupik village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in June for the 10th annual mission trip sponsored by the Oregon Conference.
The group put on a week of Vacation Bible School (VBS) for about 100 children each day, the only children’s ministry offered on the island each year.
Because they were in Gambell over the Fourth of July holiday, group members were able to participate in the Eskimo village’s celebration, including races, learning to "Eskimo dance" and a variety of other community events. The people of Gambell were excited to see that the teens from Oregon were interested in their native Siberian Yupik culture.
In addition to the VBS, the youth hosted nightly teen meetings. About 15 teens came each evening for singing, devotional talks and games. These teens were curious to get to know the group, which made it possible to share Jesus' love with them. The Oregon teens were also able to demonstrate that you can have a great time without smoking, drinking or taking drugs.
After being in Gambell for 10 days, the group flew to the other village on St. Lawrence Island, Savoonga. Again, excited villagers met the plane, and children swarmed veteran visitors. As in Gambell, 75–100 children attended the VBS and even more teens come to the nightly meetings.
The Oregon Conference has been committed to funding this trip each year but, because of St. Lawrence Island's remoteness, the price of airline tickets is very high. Each team member raised a great deal of money to participate in the trip. There is also no fresh food on the island, so all the food for the team must be shipped, increasing costs. The Oasis Christian Center played a huge role in funding the trip this year, including donation of airline frequent flyer miles and VBS supplies.