Friday, April 23, 2010

Living in the Holy Land

History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard. It is a poem with events as verses.
~Charles Angoff

I have been Singspired. Just walked in the door from the first service I was able to attend of Singspiration. Standing room only. And of all the speakers that could be coming, I just found out today that Father Michael Oleksa, himself would be here tonight and tomorrow morning!

It may not seem exciting for some of you but for me he has suddenly become obvious bookends for my first year in Quinhagak! For me he's sort of a like a movie star when it comes to this journey of moving to bush Alaska. Last summer while touring around Anchorage, you may remember I met my friend Drew during a hike outside of Eagle River. Drew coincidentally (or not so) turned out also to be the son of the school psychologist who worked here in Quin (6 degrees to separation was the name of the game). Just wait it gets crazier so one day after a run, Drew and I went to a book store. He was suggesting reading material, one book in particular that I had already skimmed through and debated about buying was by Father Oleksa. With Drew's added recommendation I purchased the book Another Culture Another World.

In this book was an incredible amount of information and stories about Native Alaskan people of very high interest to me logically on the eve of my giant leap into rural Alaska. One story in particular caught my attention, it told of the first missionary to this little village on the Bering Sea, none other than the tiny community of ...Quinhagak, Alaska. (See my blog post from November 14, 2009). Sadly as turns out the first missionary ends up a martyr, killed by a Quinhagak hunting party, which in turn made me wonder if I would meet the same fate, kidding. Oddly enough or rather appropriately enough, tonight I sat in a little metal child sized chair in the cry room of our Moravian Church with 20 or so others who had also squeezed in hoping for a spot since the church was packed to overflowing by the time we got there. We strained to listen as Father Oleksa recounted that exact tale which had in such a strange set of events miraculously ended up in my hands last summer and intrigued me weeks before even setting foot in this place. It was surreal. He said that this was the first martyr in Alaska and possible North America. Then he pointed out something that I had never known. Apparently for a place to be considered a 'holy land' one of two things must have occurred there: first a people must pray without ceasing and/or second someone has to have been martyred there. So in Quin as history reveals we definitely qualify for reason number 2, Father Oleksa pointed out. "You realize, don't you, that Quinhagak is considered a 'Holy Land'?" "Huh." I pondered, "All this time I've been living in the holy land. Always knew something was special about Quinhagak." Bookends. Yep. Father Oleksa ushering me in with knowledge and sealing the year with a live performance of confirmation. To think I was bummed out that I didn't get to take my Alaska teaching courses with him this summer in Anchorage, and the whole time he was headed out our way instead. All I can say is that God is totally in the details. So much that it really boggles my poor little mind.

Bake Sale Update! We raised enough money at our bake sale to purchase out next bible study we hope to start in August on the Book of Daniel:) Thanks to everyone who bought goods and supported us!

"He brought them into his holy land, this mountain he claimed for his own." Psalm 78:54


  1. I've heard a lot about Oleksa, and I am anxious to start reading "Another Culture Another World" now that I myself am moving to Alaska. I'll be teaching in Diomede.

  2. Congratulations Meredith. You will really like the book. He has several others published as well but I've only read this one and a few essays he wrote for the Multicultural Class I took. You'll have take 2 classes to get your license in AK. I took them online through Alaska Pacific University they are: Alaska Alive (Alaskan History) and Culturally Responsive Classroom (Multicultural Class) I would get them done and outa the way even if you could this summer so you don't have to worry about them next year. Plus the information is really interesting and would give ya a headstart. Just a thought! Hey what is your email I'd love to chat with you or answer any questions ya might have! Cheers:)