One Little Candle
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalms 119:105).
In Alaska Mission History, a scrapbook of Alaska Mission work, Nadine Hansen includes fascinating stories of early work around the vast territory.
In one account, we find Thomas Watson clearing the dishes from the evening meal and preparing for additional study with his student, Nicolia. In the pre-Depression era of the 1920s, Watson had already worked for years as a government teacher in Alaska. Now he had been assigned to the little schoolhouse on a knoll overlooking Kulukak Bay, west of Dillingham and Bristol Bay.
Outside over the frozen bay, an icy wind howled, swirling snow and ice crystals across the landscape. Watson had gathered study materials near a lighted lamp when the impression hit: "Move the lamp over to the window." Watson didn't hesitate. Together, he and his student sat down at the table by the window in the warm light of the lamp as they began their study.
Out in the gathering darkness, stumbling through the teeth of the gale and blinding drifts, a traveler drove his weary dog team through the wilderness, disoriented, lost and shivering with cold. He knew what it would mean to be forever lost on such a night, in such a place. As he paused one more time in an attempt to gain any sense of direction a light faintly glimmered like a far-off twinkling star. It disappeared, only to reappear. He wondered at first if his mind was playing tricks. But each time the drifting snow cleared, the light was still there. Hope surged, and he pressed his dogs forward, always bearing toward the light. Two hours later, he staggered, half-frozen, into the little schoolhouse, with the light beaming in its place at the window.
The weary traveler's name was Frank Waskey. Watson was impressed that God had saved Waskey's life for a reason. When he resumed his journey a few days later, he left with literature filled with the story of salvation.
Frank Waskey was no ordinary man. He was the first representative to the U.S. Congress for the Alaska Territory. As a longtime prospector, pioneer and trader, he was known in every village in western Alaska. More importantly, saved physically by that little light, he was saved spiritually through the efforts of L.D. McGhee, leader of the little Adventist company in Dillingham.
In a letter written March 9, 1924, Josie Moody, one of the early Adventist believers in Dillingham, sent in her report, published in the GLEANER on July 10 of that year. She writes: "God is blessing in the work, and the influence is being felt far and wide. We look forward eagerly to the arrival of the first mail boat, which brings us our first parcel post since last August. We hope for many Sabbath School supplies, hymn books and Bibles then."
You can call it fate or Providence, but Josie Moody and Frank Waskey were married just a few months later. Together, they lent their support to a growing mission outpost of Adventists who would bring more and more light to a vast mission field.
That growing radiance began with one small choice and one little candle, giving hope to one desperate man out in the dark.
It all starts the same way today.