Everything Was Going So Well . .
“The day of June 6, 1912 began with bright blue skies and radiant sunshine in Kodiak. There was no premonition of impending tragedy. The future looked promising with a new cannery (1910) in operation. The town had even recently secured the services of a doctor, and was no longer dependent on the services of the U.S. revenue cutter for medical aid.” Alaska’s Konyag Country
Then it happened, Mt. Novarupta, a volcano on the mainland erupted. The first sign of this to Kodiak residents was a huge, black ash cloud with lightening blazing through it, making its way to the island. Since a single bolt of lightening can make the front page of the paper (I have lived here 17 years and yet to hear thunder of see lightening on the island), the fear must have been great. By evening it was black as a winter night with ash fall (remember it doesn’t get dark in the summer until about midnight). Many people thought they would suffocate and the gases were overpowering.Rev. G.A. Learn, the current superintendent of the Kodiak Baptist Orphanage reported that a large building just 500 feet away burnt to the ground and they had no idea.
Over 18 inches of ash fell on the island, poisoning water and killing much of the livestock. Many worried that all agricultural endeavors would forever be ruined and life in Kodiak may not be possible. But, after 48 horrible hours the skies began to clear and hope was renewed. An invitation was extended to Rev. Learn for he and the orphan children and missionaries to relocate to Unalaska. However, the it was declined, as they were all already hard at work removing the ash from the roofs and gardens. The year following this horrible event was more than challenging, but with each passing day, signs of life took shape.
It is clear that even the most horrible events cannot dissuade our all powerful, all knowing Jesus Christ. He placed just the right leadership and missionaries to do the work needed. They spoke life and love to the children and the community. They came out stronger and more assured in their faith and calling to do the work of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the island of Kodiak. Today, we have a reminder of the Mt. Novarupta eruption, you just have to dig down a little ways to find the ash layer.
Across our country and world we have new, unforeseen challenges daily, but there is still great hope. Nothing surprises God and we are always under his protective cover.
- Kelli Foreman, Kodiak Baptist Mission