My new Alaska series has debuted with book #1 DAWN'S PRELUDE. Over the next few blogs, I hope to share with you some of the inspiration for this series set in Sitka, Alaska.
There will be three books total in the series, and it will be what I call a generational series. Book 1 is set in 1870, book 2 in 1889, and book 3 in 1906. Sitka is a fascinating location, and I hope you'll come to enjoy it as much as we have.
First, understanding where Sitka is located is of the utmost importance. Located on the Baranoff Island in the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska, Sitka has been settled for hundreds of years. The Tlingit people were there first. Their culture has definitely left it's impression on the island. Even now you can view the totems they carved, and watch the native dances. The people there are friendly and very informative.
Dawn's Prelude will deal in part with the questions that revolve around missions work in foreign lands. As we often see in history there were two major trains of thought. One was to go in and strip the people of their culture and westernize them. Often this entailed forcing them to give up their native language, their manner of dress, their rituals and their lifestyles. In the situation in Sitka this was evident in the school created by Sheldon Jackson. Jackson was an incredible man who had a heart for God, and for educating native children. His school in Sitka originally took children from their homes to live at the school where they could be completely immersed in western culture and education. The thought behind this was that in the future they would need to be able to blend in with white society, and could not do this if they were practicing their Tlingit culture. I believe their heart was in the right place, but I don't think the manner in doing this was necessarily right or best.
On the other hand, there were Russian missionaries who felt that incorporating the natives in their everyday living with the new religious beliefs was the best way to minister. Often this meant allowing all beliefs to merge and interact. This too caused problems.
So what was the right answer? What is the right answer for missionaries today? Difficult to say. I go to the Bible for examples of Jesus, however. He was never pushy or imposing with His ministry. He shared the truth and lived it in front of the masses. And because of this, hearts were changed. Lifestyles changed of their own accord and traditions and cultures were greatly effected.
I think we have to look to Jesus for our example of right living. Sometimes in our human enthusiasm we tend to try our own methods instead of His. My prayer is that we will reflect Jesus.
Okay, this has been an interesting week for all of us. There's been sorrows and joys, and to this I add confusion.
Some wonderful folks are putting together a new website for me, and in turn those wonderful folks are asking me what I want. The trouble is - I DON'T KNOW. I probably wouldn't even have a website if my kids hadn't told me I needed one. I haven't joined facebook yet - it's my own private protest, but I know I have to update the website. I just don't know what I want on it.
I know my favorite color is red. I know I love the mountains. I love chocolate, kittens and bunnies. I love writing. I love my family. I especially love God. Can you make a website out of that?
I told the people - frankly I feel like you're asking me what I want for Christmas and I'm telling you I want a pony.
But then you want to know what kind of pony? What size of pony? What color pony? What accessories do you want with the pony? Do you want a real pony or a plastic pony or a cloth pony?
Do you want a pony that talks? Should the pony dance?
Sigh. I just want a pony.
I'm glad I'm a writer and not a web designer. I think we each have our gifts and talents, and web designing is definitely not one of mine. Pray for me.
This week has been a doozy, although looking at some of the problems others have faced, my trials don't seem nearly so hard. Although I was reminded of something my daughter once said. "Mom, the worst thing you have to go through is still the worst thing for you. Doesn't really matter if it's someone else's "worst".
She's right. So my pain and sorrows are equally painful, but through it all, I know that I need to keep taking it back to my Saviour. That's when I was reminded of yet another old hymn. I figure I'm on my "Old Hymn" kick. So I thought I'd share this one by Lizzie DeArmond.
WHEN I LOOK IN HIS FACE
Tho’ the road may be rough where He leads me, Still His footprints I plainly can trace, And the trials I meet with seem nothing, When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
When I look in His face, His wonderful face, In Heaven, that beautiful place! All the hardships of earth will seem nothing, When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
So I keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus, While I’m running life’s wearisome race; I’ll forget the hard pathway I traveled, When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
Tho’ the shadows around me may gather, Safe I rest in my Lord’s “secret place.” For I know there’ll be glorious sunshine, When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
* * * * * * Lizzie DeArmond was Born: Ju?ly 23, 1847, Phil?a?del?phia, Penn?syl?van?ia and Died: Oc?to?ber 26, 1936, at her home in Swarth?more, Penn?syl?van?ia. She is very famous for writing a lot of Sunday School children's songs. I think one of the things that blessed me most about her was the following quote from her diary.
Un?der date of Jan?u?ary 1st, 1915, she writes, “Now in the light of the glad New Year, 1915, if an?y?thing I have writ?ten has helped to lift one soul above the cares and wor?ries of ever?y?day life, and brought it near?er to the great lov?ing heart of Je?sus, the joy is mine, but the glo?ry be?longs to God.”
This week has been a lot of fun. My aunt (the girl in the back row of the above photo - my mom is the girl on the lower right hand side) and uncle arrived for a visit and with them came one of my cousins and his wife. We have laughed and talked and eaten with great gusto, but mostly we have shared stories and photos from the past.
A couple of my cousins, including the one who came for a visit, had put together a dvd of old home movies my grandfather shot. In these I got to see my mother as a child and my aunt as a young woman. With each scene I got to hear stories of what had brought them to this place. Of course each scene brought additional stories and comments.
There was laughter and tears as the memories spilled out around the room. I learned that my grandfather fancied himself a great photographer, but often cut off the heads of his subjects. We got to a place where we were starting to recognize bodies and necks. We watched the aftermath of a horrible flood that hit Kansas in 1951. My mother told us of the shock they had returning home to find everything ruined and a beloved pet gone. One section of the video offered proof for an age old family argument regarding a car they once owned. (Thank goodness for that because the quibble has gone on for several decades.)
We saw new babies - now adults pushing their 60's. We commented on how my mother's younger sister looks just like my great aunt now long gone. It was a precious time to be sure. My cousin took notes throughout the entire dvd as my mother and his share their memories. He loves researching genealogy and knows the importance of keeping the old stories--because those stories are a special part of our past. This is a photo of my great-grandmother and her children (including my grandmother - also shown above as the mother in the photo. Note how much she looks like her mother as an adult).
I hope you too have a legacy of family stories and photos. I hope you'll write the stories down for future generations and please please write names and if possible dates on the back of photos. We have such a great treasure in stories from the past.