Loving the Locale and the Locals

Work, Locals, and Beauty

Wednesday Morning was our last morning working at The Net together. Thursday-Saturday we will be working the afternoon shift which is 2-8 P.M. Wednesday Morning we had to say goodbye to a local named Richard. He is moving to Palmer, Alaska with his wife. We definitely did not want him to leave and he did not want to say goodbye either. We have learned a lot from the locals. Mostly about fishing of course, but also about their life stories, their walk with God, and history of the town. Wednesday night, Sean and Caeley convinced Deb to stay up for the sunset. Of course, here the sun does not set until about 11:40.
This was a challenge for Deb because she is not much of a night owl!  But we made it. We went out at about 10:45 and started to search for bears. After seeing none, we decided to make our way to the bay and get ready for the sunset. It was worth the late night because that was one of the most beautiful things that we have ever seen. Since Thursday was the day we started working afternoons, we had the morning to do as we wish. Lacey, Jeremy, and their son Malachi decided to go to the beach and invited us to go along. Before we went to the beach we made a pit stop at a local coffee shop called Shearwater. It was one of the cutest coffee shops that we have ever been to. It overlooked the bay and they provided some binoculars so we were able to see everything closer.
Afterwards, we strolled along the beach for awhile. As we walked, we came upon some bald eagles. One even flew right over our heads! We also learned the little sheds on the shorelines are where some of the fishermen dock and stay when they are out fishing. How interesting. After lunch and a little cleaning up we were headed to the Net for our first afternoon shift. It was really different walking in and not seeing the normal locals that come in the morning. The shift started off slow, but started to pick up. We were able to have some good conversations with some of the fishermen and the cannery workers. We even had a younger group of people start up a scrabble game!

Planting Seeds of Love

The Net is a place where everyone is able to experience love. Love that people do not get when they are thousands of miles away from home. Love is a free cup of coffee and cookies, it’s the books and bibles that fill the shelves that they are able to take back to wherever they are going. It’s also in the free warm clothes, blankets and quilts given away. The hugs and prayers from the workers. Many seeds are planted even if we do not see it right away.
The people that come through never fail to thank us for the hospitality that we provide and the services that we offer. There is a huge need for this ministry here in Alaska, and that becomes more and more obvious every day. One thing that really breaks my heart though is to see those same people at night walking the roads heading for the bars to waste their nights away. Unfortunately, because we are so isolated here, there is not much else to do here for those people. Everyone is waiting for the salmon. They are waiting for their 16 hour days to begin. Friday morning, we woke up to the first rain that we have had here. With the rain comes quite a bit of rain too. We were able to sleep in especially with the gloomy weather. Friday our afternoon shift started a little bit earlier around 12:30. Today we only worked till 6 because we had a pizza party that evening with Pastor Jeff and Jane. This was one of the busiest shifts that we have worked so far.
Sean and Caeley were constantly baking trying to keep up with all of the goodies being eaten and trying to make sure they had some frozen cookies for the next morning to use. Debbie was talking to people and handing out quilts.
Keep us in your prayers!
-Caeley and Deb

Alaskan Arrival!

After worrying about our bags being overweight with all of our food and clothes for the next 16 days, the man at the counter did not even weigh our bags. They did not even charge us at check-in for them. So, hopefully they make it to where they need to go! After Deb and I bought our caffeine for the night, we boarded the plane at 11:55 P.M. All went well and we left right around 12:35 A.M., to begin our 6 hour journey to Anchorage, Alaska. As the plane loaded, we came to realize that we were the only two people in our row, so we were able to have the middle seat open and spread out.

Despite the heavy turbulence in the air, we were both got around three to four hours of sleep. This was a blessing considering the future time change we were going to confront and the flight connection. The flight into Anchorage was beautiful and we learned fast that their “nighttime” was still light. CRAZY!

We decided to get some breakfast and sit down and look at the view outside of the window until our boarding time at 6:30. Little did we know that there was heavy fog where our plane was coming from which caused us a delay…wait no make that a cancelation of our morning flight. We had to reschedule for a later flight at 6:00 P.M. As we were waiting in line we met a guy who is going out to fish for the summer. He came from California and turned out to be meeting a bunch of Christian men to fish with all summer. He had to spend two nights in the airport without any family or friends. Wow, God works in mysterious ways we were able to take him out to lunch and a walk around Anchorage. He says he was so thankful he met us because he was starting to get frustrated.

Finally when 6:30 rolled around we were able to board our plane and take off for King Salmon. From there we found John and Carrol who picked us up from the airport. We were then taken to the KAKN radio station, which is where we would sleep every night. Thank you for all of the prayers! God Bless.

—Caeley and Deb

Mitch on Mission with YWAM in Vancouver

To the Church of West Lisbon,
Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for me, my team, the ministries we are working with, and the city of Vancouver over the past month or so. I have been seeing incredible things in my first week and a half here, and I cannot wait to see what else God has in store. Yesterday, the other intern, Beth, and I finished our training for the Mission Adventures program and we will hit the ground running starting Monday when our first youth group comes in.

I’m super excited to be working with the team that we have and to be given the opportunity to show Jesus to the high school youth that come into Vancouver. As a lot of you may already know, I came to have a life changing encounter with Jesus through various youth group involvement during my sophomore year in high school that saw me dedicate my life to God and his will for my life, so I am very excited about having the opportunity to share Jesus with nearly 100 high school students I’ll be meeting over the next four weeks.

​Before I left for this trip, I read a book called Gospel Fluency by a pastor named Jeff Vanderstelt. This book taught me that the key to seeing God work in incredible ways in your life is to believe in the gospel and believing in the gospel more deeply will allow God to work deeper and in more powerful ways in your life. I thought that I had a good understanding of the gospel before I left, and I couldn’t wait to see how God could work in that. During my training, I realized that the gospel is way deeper than anything I can know fully. In other words, as long as life isn’t perfect, God can teach us something new about his love for us, and that can change our lives in a deep way.

​I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve definitely experienced discomfort on this trip. Nothing poor has happened. I love my team. I love the city I’m serving in. I love Tim Horton’s (basically Dunkin Donuts, but way better). There’s just something that has me out of my comfort zone, but that’s okay, because I’ve learned that this is where God grows us the most. I was doing some devotional time this morning, and I was reading Matthew 6 and John 15. Matthew 6 is part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where he encourages us saying that we do not need to worry, because God loves us. John 15 talks about how we cannot do anything beneficial apart from God and that in order to live a life worth living, we need to abide in Him.

​This has definitely been an area in the gospel where God has been growing me over the last week and a half. No matter what the circumstance, no matter where I am or who I’m with, whether I’m in a city like Vancouver or a village like Lisbon, whether I’m in the US or Canada, if I am with God, God is with me and He will produce fruit in me (John 15:4-5). That is a promise from God and something that I can put my hope in. I have nothing to worry about, because God is good. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support. I hope to give at least one more update before I am home. I love you all, and I cannot wait to return and tell you all the stories about how incredibly God is working. If you want updated prayer requests, please do not hesitate me to message me on Facebook! I may not get back to you right away, but I will certainly find time to give you prayer requests. Thank you so much for the love you’ve all shown me and your continued support for me in prayer. I love you all! God bless! ​​

-Mitch Friestad

Summer Fun at the Brooklyn Tabernacle

Right now we’re on our flight home and we had a great time in New York! This Summer Fun Week at Brooklyn Tabernacle Church was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. Working in Brooklyn was very different than VBS at West Lisbon but I loved every second of it. There were lots of fun times loving on the kids and playing games with them. And I learned a lot while sitting with the kids and learning about God’s salvation, his peace, wisdom, comfort, and unconditional love during story time. I had so many great moments but one of the experiences that sticks out to me the most was with a little girl I became very close with. On Monday we were learning about John 3:16 and how God will always forgive us. She was telling me about God’s love and forgiveness and I was agreeing with her and then she said, “All you have to do is say, ‘I’m sorry Allah, I love you.'” Then I realized that we had different beliefs about who God was. She went on to tell me that she called God Allah, but he was the same God that Christians and Jews believed in. On Tuesday we were singing a song which said, “He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. His name is Jesus.” After we sang this song, the girl asked me why we were saying that Jesus is the King of Kings because he wasn’t a king when he lived on earth. I was telling her about how he came to earth to save us, he is God’s son, and more. Then she said he wasn’t God’s son because he was a prophet. Then she began talking about Muhammad and other things. She had to leave right after this so I did not get a chance to talk to her anymore that day, but that night I was able to ask Pastor Rex about that and how to talk about this sort of topic with a five year old. So the next day I was talking to her again about the Bible and how the Bible is always true. We were talking about how the Bible says that Jesus is the King and more. She understood this but still had some questions and comments about how she had learned different things about Jesus and God. For the rest of the week I was able to have some one on one time with her everyday and we would talk about God and Jesus and tried to answer the questions she had and kept trying to encourage her in having questions. On the last day of VBS her mom came in to pick her up and I was able to talk to her for a little while. She said her daughter really enjoyed the week and thanked us for having her. It was very interesting to me that she was coming to a VBS at a Christian church but had many thoughts that were more Muslim. Since meeting this little girl I have been praying for her to keep becoming more curious about God and keep looking for truth about who He is as well as her being given more and more opportunities to go to places like Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Summer Fun Week. I would love if you all would continue praying for her to keep learning more about the truth of God as well as all the other little children.

We also found out that another little girl accepted Jesus as her Savior this week!!! Thank you all for all your prayers before and during this trip. Everything came together so great and so many lives were changed including ours. Thank you again!!!

— Mackensie Friestad

Six Hours in Brooklyn

Hey y’all. I don’t even know where to start. So Monday, I worked in the streets of Brooklyn at a prayer station. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. Now that the week is over, if I were to ever do this again, I still wouldn’t know what to expect.  I’m fairly confident every single possible scenario I could have experienced was experienced in my six hours in Brooklyn. I met a Buddhist, an Atheist, a Muslim, an Agnostic, a Satanist, and someone who thought I was Satan.

The prayer stations were really neat to work with. The first day, I got to pray with about 20-25 people or so, I got to share the gospel with about 15, I got my Muslim friend’s, Shahbaz, phone number, and I’ve been able to stay in contact with him and discuss different questions he has with Christianity. The highlight of my week was getting to help lead someone I prayed with to Christ. That was the first time that I ever had the opportunity to do that. We’ve been told throughout the week that we would be planting a lot of seeds, and watering a lot of seeds, but there isn’t quite anything like the feeling of harvesting.

I’ve had so many good conversations with people in New York. I’ve learned a lot about the diversity that I don’t necessarily know enough about. I’ve loved spending time with our youth group this whole week and getting to know all of them better throughout the week. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know my other brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ve made friends from Illinois, Indiana, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and all over the country. It’s been such a neat experience that I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to participate in.

As we wait for our flight back home, thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for us while we’ve been here. God is doing crazy big things here in NYC. It’s so surreal to be a part of. See y’all tomorrow at church. Thanks again for all your prayers.

God bless,

Mitch Friestad

All Things New

Friends,

What an amazing week in NYC. There are so many stories and experiences to share. I want to try to give you a glimpse of what I saw God do this week. 

Redeeming Union Square

The first time I attended the Spread Truth NYC trip, Union Square ate me for lunch. We are typically out in a park from 10-4pm with a break for lunch. In the parks, we do surveys like this, “Hello, my name is Rex, and I am with a group in the park today who is trying to find out what New Yorkers think about four worldview questions. Would have time to participate?” The last time I was in Union Square in 2011, I had two, very long, discouraging conversations – one before lunch  and one after. There were some others I think, but those two beat me down.

So this year as a Cord/Team leader and knowing that Union Square was our team’s first stop, I prayed for the Lord to open hearts to pay attention and to show me favor. He did. He redeemed my Union Square experience – I had a number of thoughtful, serious conversations about God’s Story. My favorite was with Ian, who once we finished said that our conversation was “refreshing.” Another conversation with Aster and Kevin ended with them saying that they wanted to consider more what we shared with them. 

Worshipping with the Redeemed at Brooklyn Tabernacle

I felt like I saw a glimpse of heaven – people from every race, land, language, background, and social class lifting their voices in song and prayer so that the balcony where we were sitting literally trembled. The Brooklyn Tab choir was a sea of joy filled faces. We learned together about the life of faith from Pastor Jim Cymbala’s sermon. All this started with a solid 30 minutes to quiet ourselves before God to pray and read his word. If this was what heaven will be like, I look forward to that day with great anticipation.

Fellowship with the Redeemed

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer (Romans 12:12).

Not everything that happened was pleasant and easy. Some of our team members, including me, had some very difficult conversations with folks. Like one gentleman I prayed for in the Bronx who was planning to divorce his wife that week. Or the president of the Muslim block association in Harlem, who sought to deceive our team to make us feel that we hadn’t gone through the proper channels to get permission to be in the neighborhood. 

However, as I heard our West Lisbon brothers and sisters share their hope and suffering throughout the week, I watched God weld our fellowship stronger. God has given us a memorable experience together that has forever changed our worship, mission, and fellowship. We grew stronger in him and in our bond together. We wept with one another and prayed for one another and encouraged one another. Wow. 

All the other leaders commended the faith and love of our teens to me. I am blessed, so blessed. Our adult leaders loved on the kids, and they sought God in their own experiences too. We had a few late night conversations together that were a blessing. How good it has been to serve with them on mission for Jesus.

The Story Doesn’t Stop Now

Even this morning as I was packing up and taking my luggage to the necessary location, God had a divine appointment for me. There’s a particular bell man at the hotel who has been so kind to us all week. He and I had some time to talk today, and he was asking questions about our ministry and the gospel. He called our ministry and the gospel “beautiful” after we visited.

Pray for this man and his beautiful family. He is a married father of four boys. One of his boys just this week was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. He’s walking with his son through this with compassion and faithfulness. 

Heading Home with Redemption in Our Minds and Hearts

We’ll be home soon, and thoughts about wanting those in our own community to know God’s Story are already processing. Thank you again for your prayers and support.

In Christ,

Pastor Rex