Volunteer Teacher Falls in Love With Alaska

July 01, 2008 | John Kriegelstein

Though being paid nothing, Misty Rowe has been fully responsible for a classroom of kindergarten through second-grade students this past year. She was not even given her own place to live. On top of teaching full-time in the Dillingham Adventist School, she also took on a part-time job at one of the two "everything" stores in town just to keep from becoming bored and to give her some "pocket change."

Each weekend she joined Rod and Brenda Rau in their small plane for the ride to the village of Ekwok for branch Sabbath School.

Rowe volunteered for this position in Dillingham, a small Alaskan hub town of 2,500, because she loves God, loves Alaska and loves His kids. She gave up her comfortable lifestyle as a junior education student at Missouri State University in exchange for the opportunity to live with a very supportive family for five days a week, a fellow teacher for the weekend, and various house-sitting opportunities throughout the year. She was dependent on these families for meals and transportation.

"Rowe had a tremendous influence on the kids, who thoroughly loved her," says Rod Rau, a fellow teacher. "Her youthfulness and endless energy were an asset to both the school and the church."

Rowe had not done this blindly and only for adventure. For several years, she and her parents have been bringing a Pathfinder group from the Iowa-Missouri Conference to the Dillingham area to conduct Vacation Bible Schools.

This experience gave Rowe knowledge of the area and the people. However, the only way to understand the long dark winters of Alaska is to experience one. Rowe understands now, but still she has fallen in love with Dillingham. In fact, she has transferred to the University of Alaska and plans to complete her teacher education program through a remote campus program right in Dillingham.

It is because of the generosity and mission-minded spirit of the local church that Dillingham Adventist School exists. For years, the school's student body has been more than 85 percent non-Adventist. The school faced a budget that would end in the red; yet, miraculously, will end again in the black. Their latest unresolved challenge is the apparent theft of 800 gallons of heating oil valued at approximately $5 per gallon. Yet, through all the challenges, God continues to provide people who will step to the plate with their lives and their wallets.