Friday, December 16, 2011

Finally... I Have Arrived in KOTZEBUE, ALASKA!

By Pamela Rae Schuffert presenting investigative journalism from a Biblical Christian perspective-

Finally after three plane flights and hours of tedious waiting in Airline terminals, I have arrived in Kotzebue, Alaska. The flights were glorious, far above the winter gloom of the grey overcast skies, as we soared high into the atmosphere above the cloud covering below, to bathe our eyes in radiant sunshine framed in turquoise heavens.

It was dark when we flew into the Kotzebue airport  early last night, however. Here in Alaska within the Arctic circle, we are rapidly approaching the time in which there will be twenty days of no sunlight whatsoever. And even now as I type this report at 10:00 AM, there is no sunshine to be seen.

However, even in the dark, I was impressed with what I could see in Kotzebue by the light of street lamps. The people in the airport greeted me warmly when I arrived. I was especially grateful as a young Inupiak woman lent me her cell phone in the airport terminal, when I discovered to my horror that I  had lost my friend Lisa's street address, and had no cell phone of my own to use to contact her. To my relief, Lisa answered and gave me directions to her apartment immediately.

As I waited outside the airport in the bitter cold, one fine young taxi drive pulled up almost immediately  outside the lobby, and kindly grabbed all my baggage and placed it carefully into the back of his taxi. I was taken immediately to my friend Lisa's apartment. I could not believe the low taxi  fare: only $6.00! Unheard of in the lower 48. I was more than happy to give him a generous tip and wish him a Merry Christmas, as he smiled shyly and disappeared into the frigid Arctic night.

Snow and bitter cold and MORE snow everywhere! But the resilient Inupiak respond to the bitter cold and it's many challenges by radiating more love and kind assistance to one another everywhere, knowing that it indeed DOES "take a village" to survive as a people and a culture here in the Arctic.
                                                    ULU KNIFE
In fact, even as I write this report, savory moose meat is slowly simmering on the stove. ( As I prepared tonight's dinner, I stole a morsel of moose meat and it is YUMMY!) A wonderful Inupiak man by the name of Lance donated some of his locally hunted moose and other wild game to Lisa to help their family with her food needs at this time. Lance is an amazing person, one who has retained ancient tribal skills in hunting and creating necessary tools of survival such as the ULU KNIFE from local resources.He is also a devout man who has professionally trained in studies of Bible Scriptures and has many degrees.
                               ORIGINAL INUPIAK HUNTER
Lance has the reputation of being a mighty hunter in this village. He is taking the time to carefully instruct Inupiak youth in these ancient and necessary tribal survival skills as well. Knowing that it "takes a village" to help feed all it's members, he cooks and provides large meals for all who attend his Bible studies as well. Thank you Lance, for this wonderful moose meat to help Lisa's family!

Since I arrived, Lisa has shared with me her inspiring encounters with the local people such as Lance. There are so many dedicated people here, in fact, that it would take a long time to recount all that so many individuals have done to help contribute to the well-being of Kotzebue and her people.

There is JEAN, who has done incredible things with many handicapped children here, enriching their lives by her excellent skills and compassion in working with them on a daily basis. And so many more....I am looking forward to meeting many of these gracious people of inspiration and encouragement as I gradually come to know Kotzebue and her people better.

Pray for Lisa and her family and I at this time. Many challenges await all of us here, and we know that we cannot respond to them successfully without the ongoing  power of God and prayer.Your love and prayers are appreciated. Thank you.

-Pamela Rae Schuffert reporting from Kotzebue, Alaska at this time

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