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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Trip Back to VA

A view of Denali (or Mount McKinley)
Russ with Davanea, the nurse that made his special penguin hat
We had to say goodbye to Laika, a sad day.  Thanks to the Lanfear family for taking her.
A ride on the Alaska Marine Ferry
In front of Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau
A totem pole in Ketchikan
The world's biggest fly rod!
Pictures from Banff
Don't see this sign every day!
For all  of you Trekkies, we stopped in Vulcan, Alberta and saw a starship.
Standing in the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota
Paul Bunyan and Babe in Minnesota

We have had a good trip.  Had a blown tire on a rough road in the Yukon, but otherwise smooth sailing, including our time on the Alaska Ferry.  Thank you for all of your prayers during our trip.  We are currently visiting Sue's family in Nashville, TN, and plan on being back in Pearisburg early this week.  We already miss our friends from Alaska, but look forward to seeing our friends and family in Virginia.

Please pray for-
Deborah Crowe, Karie Pepe, Melodye Gilbert, Sherri Cox and all of the nurses and other staff who are "holding down the fort"  at Cross Road Medical Center

A new long term doctor at the medical center.  The Yeager family is scheduled to visit at the end of this month and we pray that if this is God's plan, that doors will be open for them to come and serve starting this fall.

Danny and his family.  He played basketball with Case, and was in a serious accident about a week ago.  He is still in ICU.

For our family as we return to life in Virginia.  Russ starts a new job(sort of his old job), Luke goes back to Liberty, Bridger starts classes at New River Community College, and Sue, Case and Ansley resume life and school in Pearisburg.  For wisdom as we seek to continue to serve and glorify God as we return home.

This will most likely be our last post,which is a little sad.  Thank you for all of the prayers, packages and support over the last 2 years.  It has been a great experience for our family as we were able to be a part of the Lord's work in Alaska and He has shown Himself faithful in our lives.  We praise Him for the opportunity to serve in Alaska and thank you for all of your love and support.
The Meltons

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Sunday, June 9, 2013


The snow has finally left and summer is here.  It was a long winter, officially the longest on record since records were kept in Alaska. Our last snow was several inches on May 18, but then it got warm quickly and now is in the 70s.  The mosquitoes are starting to catch up with the warm weather, but so far they have not been that bad.  We have enjoyed being outside and have caught a few trout and grayling.

We had a great year with AWANA and finished up in early May.  Bridger finished his last book and will receive the Citation Award.  We are very proud of him as that means that he completed AWANA all the way through high school, finishing 13 books.  Bridger also graduated from (our homeschool) high school  this month and plans to go to New River Community College in the fall.  He will take some engineering classes to see if that is what he would like to pursue.  Luke is home from Liberty and helping out with IT at the clinic.  Case and Ansley are enjoying being out of school, Case just got back from a team basketball camp with his team here.
Sue is taking a big breath after finishing school this year and thinking about packing.

Speaking of packing, we are planning on leaving here on July 15 to make the drive back to VA.  It has been a long, hard decision filled with prayer, many discussions, and even a few tears.  We strongly considered staying here for another year or more.  But after all of the above, we think that at this point, it's time to come back to Virginia, at least for now.  It has been hard and sad in some ways, but we feel that it is the right decision for now, and we know that God is in control of things, including His ministry here at Cross Road.  We're not very good at knowing the future, but are still very interested in missions and open to the idea of returning to work here in the future.

It has been a very interesting time at the clinic.  The winter was a little slower than last year, but it has gotten back to normal with the arrival of the summer crowd.  When we leave, Deborah Crowe, our nurse practitioner, and Karie Pepe, our physician's assistant, will continue to work at the clinic.  They have been here the entire time with us and do a great job.  We have been aggressively recruiting a doctor to be Russ' replacement, but don't have a definitive replacement at this time.  We do have a doctor coming for 3 weeks in August who has recently been training doctors in Afghanistan.  In the midst of all of this, our director is still working on the idea of opening a new pharmacy and clinic in Delta Junction, 3 hours north of us.  As I noted in the last blog, Delta has no pharmacy and no 24 hour clinic, and has asked us to open a clinic there.  They have to drive 100 miles for emergency care.  We've also recently been contacted by a Christian psychiatrist who is interested in working with us.  Suicide is a large problem in Alaska, particularly in the villages.  This psychiatrist has felt called to work in this area and specializes in children and adolescents, which is very rare in Alaska.  She is coming for a visit next month.  This is not something that we had planned, but the need here is great and we're open to God's leading in this potential new direction.

Sue and the kids have continued to participate in the outreach in the villages.  They have continued to work teaching Sunday School once a month in Chistochina and work with a child and youth group outreach weekly in Mentasta for the summer.  Dede Duntze, our nurse practitioner who works in those villages, recently organized a concert and conference in both places.  She was able to get Susie McEntire, Reba's sister, to come with her husband and share about domestic violence and abuse, and God's work in her life in the midst of this.  They seemed to be well received by the community.

This will probably be our last blog from Alaska.  We may put on a few pictures from the trip home or just do one when we get back.  Sue and the kids are giving Russ a hard time for seeing the world's biggest beaver, buffalo, etc on the trip up.  He has already figured out that we are passing the world's biggest hammer and fly  rod on the way home!

Prayer Requests-
-For strength for Karie, Deborah, and the other providers at Cross Road Medical Center in this transition
-That God will provider a great doctor with a heart for missions to work here in the near future
-For continued direction for the clinic in the opportunities at Delta Junction and the potential for branching       out into mental health with a Christian perspective
-For Dede Duntze and the continued ministry in Chistochina and Mentasta
-For AWANA next year at Glennallen Community Chapel.  They will have a new director and will have to replace some leaders as well.
-For continued direction for our family, as we seek to glorify God in this new phase in our lives, and for safety and no car or trailer problems on the way home.  ( We'll be driving back like we came with the suburban and the trailer.  We're taking the ferry in Alaska for the first part of the trip.)
-That God would continued to work to change peoples' lives and bring them to Him through the ministry at Cross Road Medical Center.

June Pictures

AWANA Sparks
AWANA Cubbies
Caribou Road Crossing
Ansley on a dog sled ride with our neighbor
A Big Brown Bear in Fairbanks
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring in Alaska

The temperatures are warming up to above freezing during the day and the snow is melting at times, although we just got about 6 inches of new snow.  This is our favorite time of year to go out and play in the snow since we still have up to 2 feet in some places, but it's warmer.  Luke was able to come home for spring break and it was a blessing to get to spend the week with him.  We also enjoyed a visit from Russ' mother and sister, who just left to go back to Virginia.  We continue to work with AWANA at our church and just prepared for the AWANA games, held in Delta Junction 3 hours away.  Unfortunately, on the day of the games, our team was unable to get through the pass because of blizzard conditions.  It's been a good year and it's been fun since our whole family has been involved in teaching or leading games in AWANA.  Sue and the kids have continued to be involved in the church at Chistochina, teaching Sunday School to the kids once or twice a month.  Today for Easter, Ansley sang at the church and Sue did a presentation with Resurrection eggs for the kids in the community.  They have also been helping with a children's / teen youth group in the village of Mentasta, 2 hours from us.

Life and ministry at the medical clinic continues to go well.  Things were a little slow during the month of February, but are now picking up.  Our mission committee developed an Easter outreach for the children in the community including an egg hunt in the snow (see the pictures).  We continue to try and share the love of Christ to those in need in our community, and continue to see patients here in the clinic as well as making housecalls to people in the area.  One big new development is the opportunity for possible expansion of the ministry into another area of Alaska.  Community leaders in Delta Junction, 3 hours north of us, have contacted us and asked us to consider starting a clinic in their area.  Their current doctor has had to cut back and they are 2 hours from the nearest hospital with no 24 hour care in the area.  They came to us because of our common experience working in a rural area of Alaska and our faith based approach.  Our CEO and our board of directors has been exploring how we can help our neighbors there and possibly expand our ministry into new areas, which will take a lot of work, but is an exciting possibility.  We are also looking into partnering with a medical clinic in Central America and possibly sending staff on mission trips to help as needed.  We already have a few people planning to work in Haiti later this year.

On a more personal note, our family is seeking God's direction for the coming year.  As most of you know, we started this adventure as a longer "short term" mission trip, planning to be here for one year.  We are now in our second year, which will be up in July.  We still have our house in Virginia and have continued to plan to return after our time here.  It has been exciting to be here and see God work in ministry in the medical clinic and the community.  Currently, the clinic is staffed by Russ along with an excellent team including a nurse practitioner and a physician's assistant.  As of this time, there is no definite replacement for Russ "in the wings".  We continue to pray and ask for your prayers as we seek direction in continuing with our original plan to return to Virginia versus staying here to continue to help meet the needs in the community.  We have good reasons for both courses of action, so we pray for clarity.

We thank all of you for your continued support, calls, emails, times on skype, visits, and especially your prayers.  Keeping connected with our friends and family gives us great encouragement and we long to visit with you in person.  Thank you for coming alongside us in this mission adventure. 

Prayer Requests-
For wisdom and openness to God's direction for our family.

For the continued ministry here at Cross Road Medical Center and wisdom for our leadership as they consider expanding into a new area.

For Bridger as he graduates from high school this year!

For the continuing ministry through the church in Chisotchina and the youth group and Bible study in Mentasta.

That the Lord would work through the staff at Cross Road Medical Center to be a light in the community and change lives through His love, shining through us.

We pray that you have a wonderful day as we remember our Lord's resurrection!
The Meltons

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring pictures

Skiing on a lake

The kids and Danita, Russ' sister, at North Pole, AK
Ice sculptures at the Ice Sculpting Championships in Fairbanks
Ice slides you can go down on your sled
Easter celebraion at the medical center with an egg hunt in the snow!
Case playing JV basketball
The real start of the Iditarod in Willow, AK
Playing softball on Lake Louise
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

December Pictures

Crazy Hat Night at AWANA
Cutting down a tree for Christmas and skiing it home
Glad to have everyone home for Christmas
Russ skijoring with our husky, Laika
Luke and Bridger on First Lake

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas a Few Days Late or THE BIG COLD SNAP

Hello Everyone,
As many of you know, December has been an interesting month here.  I'm not sure about the month as a whole, but there were at least 2 or 3 days where we set record cold temperatures.  Starting in late November, we had about 2 weeks of temperatures around 40 below zero, it warmed up to about 10 below for a few days and then went back to 40 below for a couple more weeks.  I think the lowest we saw on our thermometer at our house was 48 below.  We did fine, and nobody got frostbite ( not even the husky that we are dogsitting who never wants to come inside), but it does give you cabin fever because you can't get outside much. (Sue here.  I did manage to get mild frostbite--on my stomach, of all places!  While loading groceries into the back of the Suburban, I was leaning against the hatch with my coat unbuttoned and only a t-shirt between me and the metal (not very smart, but I was in a hurry to get on the road back home!).  Upon feeling a burning sensation, I hurried to finish and hopped down, but I continued to feel that burning sensation all through the day and had a very red belly for two-three days following! I learned a lesson on that one!).   Right around Christmas, it started to warm up and is supposed to be above zero today.  After being at 40 below, zero feels really warm, although we're not in shorts (except maybe Bridger, who loves this climate).  The big problem with it staying cold for so long is frozen water lines.  At one point, we had 9 houses of mission personnel at the clinic or the Bible college that had no water.  We have 2 maintenance people who have been working hard to thaw the lines and 2 of the lines are open at last count.  They tell me that it is not unusual for some people in the community to have their water to freeze and for them to live in a "dry cabin" all winter.  Our house has had no problems to this point.  I know that many of you have been praying for the temperatures and the water situation and we appreciate it.

The other big news this month is that Luke is home for Christmas (thanks so much to the team from Riverview who helped us get him here!! That was the best present we could have gotten).  He had a great first semester at Liberty and is looking forward to returning.  His broken leg is healed, but he still has to wear a brace when exercising.  He has been out cross country skiing and we've played a little indoor soccer and he seems to be doing fine.  Bridger has finished a couple of classes at the community college and we're talking about what to do for college in the fall after he graduates from high school.  He is Russ' main cross country ski partner.  Case is now enjoying playing JV basketball for the local school.  He goes to the gym almost every day, even when he doesn't have team practice.  Ansley had a good season playing basketball for the middle school.  She had a great Christian coach, and Ansley was able to pray for the team before each of the games.  Sue was a chaperone for many of Ansley's trips, which meant that she got to know many of the girls better, got to sleep on the floor of  classrooms in many schools, and was given a stadium seat by the coaches because she sat through 6 or more games each weekend.

Life at the clinic has been good , but busy.  It was slower when the temperatures where so cold, but not as slow as last year.  We have had a busy 2 months from an emergency standpoint, seeing people with heart attacks, strokes, and serious abdominal issues, who have had to fly into town.  We've seen two people show an interest in following Christ after a serious illness and our chaplain has been visiting with them.  We may have a change in the spring as Melodye, our physician's assistant who comes up part time from New York, may not be able to come consistently.  That would mean we may need extra help, especially for the busier summer.  Russ was able to go to a missions conference in Louisville, KY to recruit help.  Nothing definite has come of that so far, but it was a great encouragement to be around medical missionaries from around the world.  He heard a speaker on Christian suffering and was reminded that many times life can be hard for those trying to follow God's plan, so don't be surprised if things get tough sometimes.  Russ also read the book Not A Fan on the trip and liked it so much that we are reading it as a family.

We continue to be involved in our local church and serve in AWANA, which we enjoy.  We get to see kids from Glennallen, but also from the local villages.  Russ is the Game Leader and Sue continues to be a TNT girls leader. Bridger, Case, and Ansley all work in AWANA, but are also continuing to work on their own books as well.  Sue and the kids continue to travel to Chistochina at least once a month to teach Sunday School for the kids in the village.  The church has a new pastor and we're hoping that more of the adults from the village will start attending as well. Quite a few of the adults came out for a Christmas program put on by the children.  Sue and Ansley, just helped out with a sleepover for the girls in the church at Gulkana.  In some ways, it is a slow process getting to know the people in the area, but it has been fun to get to know the kids through Russ' work, basketball, and the ministries in the area.
We had a good Christmas and holiday break.  Luke will be heading back in January.  Thanks to all who have visited, encouraged and helped Luke since we are so far away.  We are hoping that December is the coldest month this winter and that January won't be as bad.  We are also hoping for more snow, as it insulates the ground.  We hear that some people may be visiting in the spring, and that is always a treat.  We are always encouraged by all of the prayers, cards, packages, and support we get from our friends and family "back East".  Thank you.
The Meltons
Prayer Requests-
-For Luke's safe trip home and a good 2nd semester at Liberty.
-For the continued outreach through the medical center, AWANA, and the local churches and for the many people in our community who need the light of Christ in their lives.
-For more moderate temperatures, more snow, and flowing water to the houses in the area.
-For the personnel needs of the clinic in the coming months and that God would send the right people here at the right time.
-For continued guidance for our family in particular as we pray about our plans for the coming year.
-For a boy we have been working with in Sunday school, who had been growing greatly in the Lord.  Because of difficult circumstances, he had to move, so we are no longer able to see him.  Pray that the Lord will bring people into his life who will pour the Word and love of Christ into him.