Women of Alaska's Interior Blessed by Retreat
During the spring of 2004, the Fairbanks women’s ministry group chose to host annual retreats for the women of Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta Junction, Tok, and all other Alaskan women who choose to attend. Carolee Pick, the Fairbanks’s women's ministry leader, and I searched high and low for a good place to hold the retreat. We discovered Twin Bears Campground at that time, but it was too late to book it for July. So we held our first Interior Women’s Retreat at Harding Lake and immediately reserved Twin Bears for 2005.
Consequently, the second annual Interior Women’s Retreat was held at Twin Bears Campground on Chena Hot Spring’s Road, approximately 30 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska. The Fairbanks women’s ministry sponsored the event and invited women from all over Alaska to attend.
Carolee Pick, Christine Petty, Von Clarneau and I arrived around noon on July 29 to set up camp. I was so surprised at how beautiful our little camp was. Nestled among trees and adjoining a small lake, the campground facilities included cabins, showers, a kitchen lodge, a meeting lodge and a walkway connecting everything together. The place looked like something out of a picture book.
The kitchen lodge was huge with a restaurant-style grill and stove, large refrigerators, a pot-belly wood stove, and long picnic-style tables and benches. Large kettles and cooking utensils hung above the stove.
The meeting lodge was just as charming. Comfortable couches and chairs surrounded a large room, which also contained a pot-belly wood stove. From the front bay window, we could see the lake and campfire areas.
At 5 o’clock, Christine and I started preparing for the spaghetti supper. By 6 o’clock the remainder of the campers arrived. While the dinner was cooking, we went outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery. It was then that we noticed Mother Moose. She was standing in the water, at the far end of the lake, and kept sticking her head under water, eating the vegetation on the bottom. A half dozen small ducks followed close behind, so they could catch whatever Mother Moose missed. It was quite an amazing sight to watch.
Altogether we had 14 campers for Friday night. We enjoyed a great supper, and then moved over to the meeting lodge for vesper services. Daphne Keeney, guitar, and Dianna Clayton, keyboard, accompanied us as we sang praises to the Lord for providing us a wonderful place where we could enjoy each other’s company.
Nine more women arrived for Sabbath morning, making a grand total of 23 women who attended. We had two from Wasilla, three from Delta Junction, and one from Tok. The rest were from the Fairbanks, North Pole area. Although our group was a small one, we enjoyed an invigorating Sabbath School, led by Von Clarneau, in the kitchen lodge, following a wonderful breakfast of fresh fruit, tea, toast and bagels.
After Sabbath School, we moved over to the meeting lodge where we held our church service. We started with singing, then Daphne Keeney spoke to us about the acronym POTTER. After church service, we returned to the kitchen lodge and feasted on a mouth-watering lunch of haystacks. In the afternoon, Kim Greenlee and Nancy Birkholz presented our meeting on Martha.
For supper, we built a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s'mores and then returned to the meeting lodge for a warm fire in the pot-belly stove and a wonderful evening vespers service. After the service, the old-fogies retired to their cabins, while we young (at heart) stayed up and played games and laughed together.
We all rose early on Sunday morning, helped to break camp, prayed for each other’s safe travels, then returned to our individual homes.