The Warren Family
March 2020 Newsletter
Greetings in the name of the Lord,
During February and the first half of March, before the Corona Virus restrictions were implemented, we were very busy. I was able to go to Pilot Station twice more by snowmachine to minister, and was also able to chainsaw a sled load of driftwood, and take it to a disabled man who lives in Pilot Station. Then, in late February, I went on a long trip with a man who comes to church, and was able to minister in three villages. The plan was to go 15 miles upriver on the Yukon River, stopping in Pilot Station to minister to a relative of the man who comes to church, and get information on the trail conditions between Pilot Station and Marshall. There had been a blizzard the day and night before we had departed, adding one foot of fresh, soft snow to the four feet of old, hard packed snow that we already had. As we witnessed to and prayed for the folks in Pilot Station, we also were told that no one had travelled upriver to Marshall since the blizzard had stopped the previous night, so we would be breaking trail. As the forecast called for a temperature of about 20 degrees (Perfect travelling conditions, warm enough to not be uncomfortable driving an average of 30 mph on an open vehicle, cold enough to keep water from coming up on top of the ice and permeating the snow, which causes a slush called overflow.), we were not deterred by the prospect of being the first to break trail. After prayer for the Lord’s will and safety, we headed out on the next leg of the journey, 35 miles up the Yukon to Marshall. Within ten miles of leaving Pilot Station, the new snow started getting deeper, and the weather started getting warmer than the forecast: eventually, the new fallen snow from the blizzard the previous 24 hours would be three feet, on top of the four feet of old snow, and the temperature would be well above freezing, leading to conditions ripe for deep, slushy, overflow! We began getting stuck in the overflow, again and again, losing count of the times we got stuck that day. Sometimes we would be able to get unstuck in five minutes or less, other times it would take us up to two hours! About half way to Marshall, I noticed my travelling partner had encountered some deep overflow, and I had to make a snap decision: I couldn’t go where he went, as he had made a deep trench in the overflow, and I would surely get stuck; I couldn’t go right, because there was a hole in the ice; I couldn’t stop, as I was sinking in the overflow already; my only option was to go left, which appeared to be safe, but hardly had I gotten 6 inches out of my travelling partner’s tracks, than I ran into an ice upheaval hidden by the new snow! I went from 30 mph to a dead stop! I miraculously received no injury, but we had to get my snow machine out of the overflow before it sank! After 15 minutes, we were able to free it from the overflow (Which included mud oozing up through the cracks in the ice! Leave it to Florida Man to get muddy in the middle of the Alaskan winter! My firearm fell in the overflow, and within a couple of minutes of getting it out, had a half inch of frozen mud coating it.), and assess the damage: my cowling had exploded like a hand grenade, and in many places the frame was warped and broken. The engine and track were still functioning, but the front suspension was severely damaged, with the left ski pointing about 45 degrees out from straight, and the handle bars very crooked as well. After some judicious pounding with my hatchet, and some liberal application of bailing wire, zip ties, and duct tape, we continued at a somewhat slower pace to Marshall. It would usually take about an hour and a half to snowmachine from Pilot Station to Marshall, but it took us 8 hours! We stayed the night at a friend’s house in Marshall, getting some hot meals in our bellies, dry clothes on our backs, and some much needed rest, as we were punch drunk with exhaustion from wrestling over six hundred pounds of machine and equipment out of overflow time after time. We were able to minister to many people in the village that evening, as many came to visit, considering it a miracle that we had made it! The elders had only seen snow like this once in their lifetimes, in the early Ninties. We had a service in the living room, and I was able to share my testimony. The next morning, we continued about another 100 miles to Bethel, having been given information that the trail between Marshall and Bethel was much better, with less snow and no overflow. It only took us 8 hours to travel the 100 miles to Bethel. There is a Skidoo dealership in Bethel, and they totaled my machine, and my friend had to leave his machine there as well for repairs, so after a nights rest, we flew back to Saint Mary’s. With my other snowmachine having a blown engine, and this one a total loss, it left me without a snowmachine to continue the circuit ministry to other villages, but the Lord blessed, and we have been able to purchase one new snowmachine, with our sending church, Independent Baptist Church of Anchorage, Remote Alaska Missions, and many other churches and Individuals giving towards this need! It should arrive in April, Lord willing.
Rebecca and Nathan flew to Florida for one of her sister’s wedding in early March, and as she was about to travel back, RAVN, the small airlines company that flies from the road system of Alaska to Saint Mary’s, went bankrupt, and the Village of Saint Mary’s enacted a travel ban, trying to keep the Corona Virus out of the village. The village is it’s own little country, and the village council has restricted everyone to stay at home, except for necessary trips to the store and post office, and snowmachine trips with only family to do subsistence activities, such as hunt, get firewood, ice fish. Any breaking of these mandates will result in a hefty fine, and repeat offenders can be banished from the village. As a result, Jubal, Kezia, and I have been cooped up, with not even a snow machine to get out and do subsistence activities with! Pray for our sanity!
RAVN going bankrupt has ended daily flights for passengers and mail, and for time being, we only get two cargo flights a week from Lynden Air Cargo. Because no passenger flights are coming out, when our communications system goes down, no one can fly out to fix it, so our email prayer letters have been infrequent. With mail coming in twice a week, weather permitting, we have not been able to get office supplies here reliably during these months to mail out prayer letters: because of these inconveniences, we are going from a monthly news and prayer letter, to a bimonthly one. We apologize, but it has become necessary during these times.
Two souls have been saved during these hectic months, a teen age boy who moved to Saint Mary’s a year ago, and has been coming to church, and a teen age girl who has been coming to Sunday school and VBS since we moved here! Praise God! Pray for their growth in the Lord. A special thanks to those who have helped us with VBS these past three summers: the girl clearly knew the Gospel, and what it meant for her as a sinner, and she was eager to put her faith and trust in the Lord for salvation. These are the first teenagers to call on the Lord for salvation since we moved to Saint Mary’s! Praise God!
Israel J. Warren