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Orientation to Village Living

Family Safety
Travel conditions in Bush Alaska vary widely. People normally travel to the offroad villages via commuter airline services connecting with Alaska Airlines through a hub village (e.g. Dillingham, Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel). Adventist missionaries have often bypassed the normal travel lines, often arriving by light aircraft. Locating villages when traveling via private aircraft is much easier than it used to be, considering the vast wilderness of Alaska. However, care is still needed to avoid an unplanned wilderness landing. A few villages have pickup trucks in use and some have a few miles of road to explore. In summer, people travel within the villages and the few surrounding roads by 4-wheeler, and by boat on the many bays, lakes and rivers. In winter, people travel sometimes over a hundred miles by snowmachine.

Travel Safety
Travel safety by boat or snowmobile is important. In some regions, due to strong storms on large lakes or bays during the boating season, and violent blizzards in winter coupled with monotonously repetitive landscapes, it is easy to become disoriented without navigational aids. Village men sometimes have an active trail committee which is responsible for marking snowmobile trails between villages. Hazards such as overflow on top of ice but under the snow, and thin ice on certain rivers, can catch the uninitiated


2 . Also carry a spare drive belt which is in good condition. with a companion who also has a reliable machine when traveling away from the village. Know how to get back on the marked trail anytime you are out of sight of the village. Try to carry a dry pair of socks and waterproof snow packs if traveling away from the village more than a mile or two (In sub-zero weather. Propane tank handling requires extra caution on several counts:  A full tank is under very high pressure. the tank may turn into a missile. it does not take wet feet long to freeze. causing great damage or explosion. but often they blow and drift over quickly. An exception might be made when traveling during a time when others are known to be traveling on the same trail behind you. and know how to replace a broken belt. Make a habit of traveling with a well maintained machine.) Maintenance Snowmachine Maintenance: Always carry a spare set of spark plugs when traveling in case a plug fouls. Propane Bottles: Propane is a highly explosive gas. especially if the snow is blowing. Sometimes you can follow your tracks backward. and there is no way to get out of overflow without getting your feet wet . They have much wisdom to share with anyone willing to listen.or unwary person. etc. It is important to consult with trustworthy and competent village men when planning to travel away from the village. If something breaks off the nozzle/valve.

Recently. and as propane is used from the tank. this rule is often “bent” due to extremely cold/windy weather. three men were badly burned when they damaged a propane bottle while moving it out of their boat. propane does not liquefy readily.  After installing a new tank. The escaping gas was ignited by a near-by campfire.  Propane bottle thread fitting rotation is opposite (left-handed) from normal. If a tank is in use inside an enclosed building or hallway.  Safety rules dictate that propane tanks are always kept outdoors rather than inside a building. and will not fit an oxygen bottle fitting (right-handed). Years ago. and causing the death of a child. and remember that a distant pilot light is all that is needed to engulf an entire building in an instant inferno!!! 3 . internal pressure drops. In the Arctic. causing an even greater temperature drop than ambient. Remember that to loosen a propane fitting. If the connection or valve leaks propane gas. double check for leaks as specified above. ALWAYS check for leaks by placing dish detergent/water around threads. turn as if “tightening” it (to the right). escaping propane from a bottle hooked to a gas clothes dryer exploded. burning down the girls’ dorm at the Bristol Bay Mission School. explosion due to a spark or flame may surround the tank for many yards on every side. which causes the propane tank to “run out of pressure” while there still is propane inside (below zero degrees F.

Follow this with the BRAT diet: banana. Keep things clean. broth. or juice. Get 20-30 min.Health The best health program is good health habits. betadine. keep drinking water until it can be tolerated. For vomiting do not eat until you are really hungry. lentils. alcohol. 2-3 servings of protein beans. 10-12 hours for children. at least 4 servings of whole grains daily. applesauce. use a vaporizer for congestion or cough ( if you don’t have one. cotton balls. Band-Aids. Then Jello or other clear liquids. For bad diarrhea use Imodium and if it continues see the health aid. boil water on the stove or take a hot shower and spend time in the steamy bathroom) hot and cold baths help to keep the germ fighters active. thermometer. tinactin. Use hot compresses on chest and a hot foot bath for chest congestion. Learn the native edible greens. Q tips. 4 . apples. rice. Keep skin clean and moist (use Vaseline. Eucerine Cream. deep heat or Vicks. and a source of Vitamin D and calcium. silvadene for burns. green and yellow vegetables. Get 8-9 hours of sleep at night. Eat a well balanced diet with some source of vitamin C daily. Keep extremities warm. or some similar product on chapped hands and feet) and keep hair clean. of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week. enjoy the berries in season. larger dressings and tape. Get outside for fresh air and sunlight as often as you can. ace wrap. Have a good first aid kit with Neosporin antibiotic ointment. toast. hydrogen peroxide. Don’t share germs. For diarrhea after antibiotics take acidophilus or yogurt. variety of fruits even canned or frozen or dried. split peas. Drink half of your pound weight in ounces of water every day. Dress up well whenever you go out. use charcoal for infections and meat tenderizer for bee stings and bug bites. Use Echinacea and Vitamin C or zinc at the first sign of a cold.

people love children. women are safe within Alaskan villages during daylight hours. to be extra cautious. and usually reflects wisdom commonly needed by that culture. and when accompanied by trusted companions at other times. Sexual abuse also happens. but most often it has been associated with those women being under the influence of alcohol / drugs. Ask questions before attempting anything that might be risky. 5 . and large non-predators such as moose. Outside of the village limits proper. requiring parents of small children. alcoholism is a serious problem in most villages. However. so that they may avoid or resist animal predators such as wolves.Depression Depression can be a health issue for anybody who spends significant time in farnorthern or far-southern on Depression recovery. bears. more or less all the time. Common Sense Common sense is really not all that common. see material from www. Child and Woman Safety Generally. For specific information on how to treat depression. whether male or female. care must be exercised by all people. Common sense varies from culture to culture. but more acutely at some times than others. Drug abuse has come into Alaskan villages.nedleypublishing. Common sense usually consists of accumulated wisdom from your mistakes and mistakes of other people that you have known. both boys and girls. Abuse can and does also happen to adult women. and also presents some concern for unattended children. Generally.

plan to spend at least several years in order to build relationships and effectively share the Gospel.Connecting With Your Village To connect with the people you are serving. Student nurses from WWC spent summers in villages for a number of years. The coming and going of missionaries (as well as the yearly migration of many Public School teachers) has led many natives to suspect that you are not going to be in their village for long. Though the 6 . expecting that you will leave them soon. you need to know how to relate to them. there is no such thing as an “Ex-Adventist” in native thinking. you will likely find baptized members dating back to each era when missionaries were present. focusing on articles relating to your region. Alaska. the Alaska Student Mission program was instituted whereby college aged couples spent one or two years pastoring in a village. Often these members have become discouraged and have reverted back to their pre-Adventist lifestyles. Later this was expanded to include other workers. Back when Bristol Bay Mission School was in operation. to most effectively share the Gospel. However. students were flown from the villages by various pilots in small planes to Aleknagik. It makes it hard for them to trust you and build a relationship with you. While none of us knows the future. History of the work in Villages Read the Alaska Mission History by Nadine Hanson. Following the mission school era. Many missionaries have come and gone over the years. Church Discipline If you are in a village with an Adventist church. Here are some tips that may help.

you may have to get up early the next morning. Men will often go hunting. may have actually “disowned” Adventist members so that they cannot ever “go back. they will always be an Adventist in the eyes of the village. whether good or bad. with 18-24 hours of daylight. adults are often up morning through evening.village may look poorly on the Adventist Church due to the low standard of behavior exhibited by some of its members. the village as a whole. Daily Cycle of Living In summer. and members from other clans. It may require some sacrifices for you to spend time with people and get to know them. but make every effort to get back in balance as soon as possible. to maintain your health and sanity.” Once a person has stepped across the line. 7 . while children and youth are often awake evening through early morning. and encourage them. Some families will go berry picking at traditional sites. Then. you may prefer going to bed at 8 pm. In this sense. cutting short your sleep. indoor and outdoor activities are often grouped separately. It does do some good to visit them. and sometimes they will spend the night at a familyowned permanent camp. In winter. sometimes just for the day. after a late night. pray with them. the daily cycle of living revolves around school life. Be flexible in order to serve people. it does no good to disfellowship them for aberrant behavior. Due to difficulty of dressing in heavy outdoor clothing. but you may have to stay up to 10 pm to play a game of baseball with the youth. For example.

Ask the elders which plants are edible. Holiday Season / Winter Games. In addition to the scheduled events of the year you can join in. Take food when you visit. They are often done in “wake” style.Yearly Cycle of Living The yearly cycle of living revolves around seasons: Freeze Up. Since the high schools have been built. different churches provide Vacation Bible School for children and youth. For a person who died outside the village. basket ball games and other school events also draw the villages together. and the humility you exhibit as a learner will go a long ways toward building friendships. funerals are very important to the community. For example. Take the opportunity to participate in the events of village life. Ask how you can join in the holiday with the community. Break Up. You can help dig the graves. even if you'd rather spend it at home with your family. They will be happy to share their knowledge. the arrival of the body (generally via commuter airline) is a big event you can participate in. Thanksgiving and Christmas are not just for the immediate family. If you are not comfortable doing this. This is a labor-intensive task especially in 8 . (Label your dishes so they can be returned). Ask to join in a hunt or go on a fishing trip. This means you should visit the family and grieve with them. participate in the Subsistence way of life. but are shared by the whole community (which is often like a large extended family). even if they are outside your comfort zone or area of interest. to leave and share. Holidays are very important in village life. at least participate in berry picking or gathering wild edible greens. Spring hunting. and Summer berry picking and fishing / drying. Some summers.

When someone comes to visit you. If you are a carpenter. Adults will often decline. Don't feel like you have to eat. taking your turn and resting.winter.spanalaskasales. you may start to wonder if they are going to eat all your food. The younger generation has not always learned the polite ways of their elders. when you are visiting someone else. When large groups of children frequently visit. You can purchase cases of oranges and apples from Span Alaska (www. but the work is shared by a large number of people so it is not too much to handle. Prepare to stay a while. You should keep snacks around for this purpose. Be comfortable with and sometimes they even make it to the village 9 . eating their food will show you don't consider yourself better than them. but if they urge you. Avoid the perception of being egotistical and selfabsorbed. and may become quite demanding. Nor should you ask a lot of questions-. Just be aware that some people are extremely poor.that comes across as being nosy. You should be prepared with an abundance of healthy snacks. Visiting Visiting other people or having them visit you is important to your ministry. You do not need to talk a lot or loudly (unless the person you are visiting is hard of hearing). yet will offer food because it is expected. though if you are sitting down to a meal. they may offer you food. eating the provided snacks and being part of the social atmosphere. you can help make the coffin and/or grave marker (usually a beautifully stained and varnished cross). in the native tradition. You can learn a lot by being a good listener. Similarly. Observe first before asking questions. offer them something to eat or drink. they just may join you.

Honda – Any brand of 3 or 4-wheel ATV. and a shrug of the shoulders means. Additionally. Example Village English/Native language   Snowgo/Snowmachine – a snowmobile. you should learn common words in the native language of your region. and graham crackers are always a favorite. and you'll find people are more responsive than you may have thought. not a machine for making snow. slightly raised eyebrows mean “yes”. cutting of the opportunity to share the gospel. Cookies are something you can even make with the children as an activity while they are visiting.without freezing in winter. Miscommunication is very likely if you are not aware of the ways people communicate non-verbally. For example. there are nonverbal ways to say things in native cultures as well. “I don't know”. Native words tend to slip into conversation and even some English words may be used in a different sense than you are used to. Just like a vigorous sideways shake of the head means “no” in European cultures. Popcorn is an inexpensive snack. even though English is spoken commonly. Sources of Misunderstanding Communicating cross-culturally leaves open the door to misunderstanding. Mistrust on both sides can build up. People may be responding to you. Watch for these cues when you ask a question. but you are simply not aware that they are. 10 . especially when cultures have mingled enough to lure you into thinking everything is the same. and a slight wrinkling of the nose means “no”.

Iñupiaq-English Taikuu (TAE-KUU): Thank-you. so that even if you do not speak and understand full sentences. When your five crates of food (your year's supply) arrives. but also let 11 . Coming from outside the village. You may wish to share some of it right away. “Can I follow you on another Honda or Snowgo”. but “Can I ride with you?” “Go store” or “Go post office”. as many natives do). You will have to determine how best to keep your food supply while still being a sharing person. it will help them feel you really care. fishing and gathering most of it. Iñupiaq Adii (AH-DEE): An expression of dismay or disapproval. You will sound stilted if you use the longer form. perhaps even a yearly barge order. it is much more effective than if you say “Stop it!” Used to sympathize with someone else's problems. After all.   You can learn many other words and phrases relevant to your region. greetings. Yup'ik/Iñupiaq Quyana (COY-AH-NAH): Thank-you or you're welcome. “Let's drive over to the store” instead of “Let's go store”. both in meaning and in connecting in friendship with the people. The most economical way to purchase your food is in large orders. whenever they receive a windfall of food (a successful hunt) they are expected to share it with the elders first before keeping any for themselves. you can communicate more effectively. it will be easy for the villagers to consider you stingy if you do not share it with them.    Evenrude – Any brand of outboard “Can I follow?” Does not mean. you will likely need to purchase most of your food (rather than hunting. Used to discourage misbehavior of children. Stinginess One thing that can lead to mistrust is perceived stinginess on your part.

Beliefs Another source of misunderstanding is disparaging of local beliefs and customs (whether intentional or not). Others may be unbiblical and need to be addressed. things which themselves would have no value to the children. make efforts to store curiosities. Instead. especially ones that may be hard to get (such as mirrors. You may be surprised at the things that disappear. and even if you do share. or simply make fun of superstitions. If you fail to share. Doing so may be a way to challenge the belief system and point to our freedom from evil spirits in Christ. out of mind” when children are visiting. dating from prior to first contact with non-native cultures.(especially curious children) know they can visit you throughout the year. Because of a belief that the raven represents a spirit creature. you 12 . but if you simply do it out of ignorance. Some of the beliefs and customs may be harmless but different from what you are familiar with. Consider asking questions to stimulate thinking. one taboo is picking up raven feathers lying on the ground. whether it be food or other trinkets. night lights) “out of sight. but in the proper way and time. but which they may never have seen before and be curious about. Resist the urge to accuse and keep people out. it is not considered safe to pick up the feathers. and you will share more with them or others who are in need. rather than directly challenging false beliefs. There are various taboos still followed and passed on to the younger generation. bulb syringes. children are likely to pilfer items from your home. For example.

Then. Rather than merely taking one or two beavers. and other stories) have been used to teach morals. came to the village. a Christian native teacher shares a traditional story with the preschool children. In many ways. A man goes beaver hunting and finds a lodge full of beavers. Here is another example of how taboos are passed on. Hansel and Gretel. After the man returned back to his village. This story is one of many traditional stories used to teach the morals of native society. lit them on fire and dropped them in through the hole in the roof. and cut a hole in the roof. the beaverturned-human took the canoes of the village people. the beaver changed himself into a man. we can relate it to how European-culture fairy tales (for example.are losing an opportunity to witness as well as putting yourself on Satan's ground (as the power of evil spirits remains very real in places where people live in fear of them). sealed off all the doors of the meeting hall. in revenge for the death of his beaver family. he seals off the exits. he and his people gathered in their meeting hall. That beaver determines revenge. While they were all there together. breaks a hole in the roof and smokes the whole lodge of beavers to death. The Public School system now provides for native language education to help preserve the culture. one of the beavers was not in the lodge at the time. Unknown to him. Cinderella. and escaped death at his hands. smoking the whole village of people to death. It is intended to teach how we should treat nature with respect. Little Red Riding Hood. 13 . In one school.

Others may simply not have the personality to be leaders. but that the God of the Bible is above nature and all other spirits. even though it is contrary to the high Biblical view of mankind. rather than disparaging native vs. show how they both have their fairy tales and animistic beliefs. your approach must be the careful one of a learner. This has born good fruits in a harvest of people brought to Jesus. The beaver story also indicates a view of the spirit world in which animals and humans can interchange. due to their past mistakes. Still others may have once been leaders but are getting older 14 . etc.When we compare these stories to the Bible (both western fairy tales and native stories). For example. are not considered as leaders by their communities. or perhaps through no fault of their own. Hansel and Gretel escape the witch by doing unto her what she intended to do unto them (contrary to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”). Successful Ministry Much of the efforts made in the past to reach native people have focused (rightly so) on the poor. One of these is a lack of native leadership in many churches. they do not measure up to the truths of the Bible. Likewise. those suffering with addictions. While they intend to teach good morals. not through a God-given responsibility to care for it. However. the story about the beaver teaches respect for nature through fear of nature. And when you do have an opportunity to share the Biblical view. Being aware of the beliefs about the spirit world can help in your efforts to share the gospel. This animist view is not seriously challenged by most Christian churches. it has also produced its challenges. they indicate a different world view than the one the Bible presents. However. Often those who have been reached are people who. European-based cultures.

They will face the temptation to “not rock the boat”.” (Ministry of Healing. When converted to Christ.. Other existing leaders may not even be Christians. Thinking our goodness can save us. God will convert men who occupy responsible places. Being leaders in their community. men of intellect and influence. Our challenge is to help them see their need of Jesus.. He showed His sympathy 15 .and ready to retire (yet there is no young leadership trained and ready to take over). and their responsibility to share it. there are challenges in reaching existing leaders. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. they could be powerful messengers for God. However. p. they may be relying on their humanitarian efforts for salvation. Some may already be church leaders in another denomination. We are not trying to destroy the leadership of other churches. but we should make an effort to reach them still. This situation points to the clear need to reach existing native leaders and lead them to see God's claim on their lives. but help them to more fully understand God's message for this time. they will be inclined to feel they are already “good enough” and better than those around them. 216). many will become agencies in the hand of God to work for others of their own class. If they can be led to see the truth as it is in Jesus. This leaves the church in the poor position of being dependent on outside missionaries or pastors to keep it functioning. We should demonstrate by our lives that Jesus has changed us. or be only nominally so. Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. “If those who are workers together with Him will do their duty bravely and faithfully. and lead them to ask what makes a difference in our lives.

Then He bade them. p. "Follow Me. greater results would be seen. By thousands of voices. Let us pray that we can inspire many others. be without fruit. If less time were given to sermonizing. the sick cared for. and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower us. will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. the inexperienced counseled. cannot. the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted. 612 “Servants of God.” 16 . as described in Great Controversy. We are to weep with those that weep. and rejoice with those that rejoice. this work will not. p. Accompanied by the power of persuasion. the ignorant instructed. the power of the love of God. and those we serve. and won their confidence. the warning will be given. (Ministry of Healing. 143-144).for them. Let us resolve to learn from past mistakes. all over the earth. with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration. and more time were spent in personal ministry. The poor are to be relieved. the power of prayer." There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. ministered to their needs.