Most of the time, Alaska isn’t the first place on your mind when you think of a spring mission trip. However, an Alaska-loving Columbia Adventist Academy chaplain, Aaron Payne, has convinced many students that it makes for a great adventure.
This year's trip in March will be the fourth trip since beginning in 2015. The mission trips include a week of prayer and visiting shut-ins, working in soup kitchens and building cabins, helping single moms and others in need by painting, repairing and improving homes, splitting and delivering wood and other mission activities.
It hasn’t all been work however, as ice fishing, sledding, snow machining, hiking on the Butte, visiting the reindeer and muskox farm, attending an ice sculpture festival and antique car museum, and trips to Chena Hot Springs and Denali have added to the winter experience.
However, this generation of students isn’t the first to make Alaska the recipient of CAA’s love and an expression of reaching across generations.
In the ‘50s and ‘60s, several students from Alaska chose to make CAA their home away from home. Then during the 1967–1968 school year, ASB chose to raise funds to send a mission plane to the Alaska Mission to make life easier for remote villages.
The ASB letter-writing campaign and other fundraisers proved to be successful. The plane, a Cessna 180, was purchased and the cowling was painted “The Spirit of Columbia,” before being flown to Alaska where it served for several years.
The ways God has used and continues to use academy students to enrich and bless the lives of others throughout CA/CAA’s history are fascinating.
Just as many of the details of “The Spirit of Columbia” remain unknown — for example, hearsay is that it crashed into a glacier after three years, with both pilot and passenger miraculously surviving — likewise many of the stories have been lost with time.
We look forward to heaven and a big reunion of all generations where we can hear the stories of history, put all the pieces together and see what we already know through faith. God truly is weaving a beautiful tapestry.