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  • Kelli Foreman

Our First Year at Kodiak Baptist Mission - Jodi Peterson

When I think of a mission, I think of traveling to a place somewhat off the beaten path and

helping fill a great need. Food and shelter in a third world country. Bringing medical supplies.

Education. Water sources. Maybe helping families learn skills to give a steady income to their

families. Introducing Jesus to parts of the world that have never heard of God. It is a service to

many different places and people. Keeping all that in mind, we are that - but we are not. We are a living breathing stationary Mission that'



s been here since 1893. For 131 years Kodiak Baptist Mission has been here, in one place, changing a million times in all the years to fit the needs of the community in Kodiak Alaska. And though the needs are great - and it is in the wilds of Alaska, coming here to serve is not your typical idea of a mission.


First, some history. Kodiak Island is the second largest island in the United States, under the big

island of Hawaii. On Kodiak Island, there are 7 villages ranging from the 27 people that live in

Karluk, to the near 5,000 that live on Kodiak. Kodiak is the largest town on the island. And it is

the most accessible. Home to an airport with up to 3 flights per day in and out on a Boeing 737.

And also, home to the majority of the road system on the entire island with 90 miles of road.

Which only encompasses a very small portion of the island, leaving the rest wild and

untouchable by anything but boat or biplane.

Kodiak Island has a rich history The Suniaq tribe is native to this land as one of the 10 Alutiiq

tribes in this part of Alaska. This rich history has a heavy influence on the culture and

atmosphere here.  In the school system our pledge is given as "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We gather on the traditional homeland of the

Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people. The heritage and culture of the Alutiiq people continue to enrich our

communities and our schools. In addition to Native history there is a strong Filipino presence that dates back to the early 1900s when laborers came to contribute to the fishing and canning industries. And do'nt forget thatAlaska was once Russian - Russian Americans too have their place here. The city of Kodiak is also home to one of the nation's largest coast guard bases and a navy base. In all of this, the culture in Kodiak is diverse and a melting pot of many countries and different regions. It seems a bit of everyone is represented here.

With so many different cultures and their past histories, Kodiak Baptist Mission has played their

part in history too. From starting as an orphanage to where it is now, the Mission has tried its

best to be a steadfast supporter of community and life here. To be an example for our community and the world in the way that we love our neighbors through a holistic approach to education, as well as the dedication of time and resources to strengthen families.

What is life like living on a mission in Alaska?

Living in the wilds of Alaska sounds the romantic notion, doesn't it? Off grid, homesteading, nobody around to bother you. Freedom from other worldly things. Bountiful wildlife. Ability to live off the land. .... That's not exactly this. We have running water, and electricity, and gas, and food and schools, and most all the things that you’d have in normal life. It just may look different.

We wake up every single day surrounded by incredible beauty. It is unchanging, as in the

neighboring island is always there, the mountains across the bay are always there, but every day they are beautiful in a different way. Those days the sun shines just right and reflects off the

water and the blue is bluer than any other place on earth, and the green is more vibrant a green

then all the other greens - those days are absolutely spectacular. Those are rare days. I have seen my breath every single month of the year. I have replaced my every day sandals and closet full of cute shoes with Xtra tuff latex neoprene boots. They are a staple in every household. 100% water proof. Why? Because it rains more than 200 days a year.


Sunburn isn't a thing that happens here. Vitamin D deficiency is a thing that happens here. And

this fair skinned red head has yet felt the need to put on sunblock. It doesn't get hot by my

Nebraska standards. And it's never-ending days of rain and fog. Summertime’s 18 hours of

daylight are bizarre, with people jogging and walking their dog at midnight in the sunshine. And

the beast of winter with the sun not rising until 10:00am and setting a little after 4:00pm. But it's

beautiful!

Our food and all of our resources come by barge or plane. Across the ocean from Seattle mainly.

Tentatively our barge delivers once a week. But often, due to bad weather or other

circumstances, the barge does not come. Our main food supplies are often missing entire sections of food. I can only relate this to the feeling of stores in the middle of the Covid pandemic. Where isles of shelves were empty due to shortages, ours are like this on a regular basis. And don't think you will just grab fast food or go out to eat - subway and McDonald's are your options, with limited number of eat in restaurants. They also get their supplies from the barge.  You don't plan meals around what you want. You plan meals around what you can get. Just this week I had taco salad on the menu for our family. But the barge didn't come in, so there is no lettuce. Or fruit. Or fresh produce. It happens often. That's not to stay we are starving, or that there is the same panic as during the pandemic. It is normal life here. We don't hoard, we don't mass shop, we don't panic. It's a part of life.

If you want to take resources off the island, or bring them on privately, you must fly or take the

ferry. The ferry comes approximately 3 days a week and is very weather dependent. But plays

such an important role for us, and even more so down the Aleutian Island chain. It stays full with

runs between mainland Alaska and the outlying islands as a resource for islanders to take

vehicles and gather supplies themselves.

Which brings me to shopping. I hope you like Walmart from the 1980s, and Safeway. They do

an amazing job, but you're not going to have everything available that you think. There is a little version of everything you need, but only one. We don't have a lot of variety or options. Cloths shopping is done at Big Ray's sporting goods, or one of the several thrift stores. There is no mall, or department store. 

A lot of work and manpower goes into everything you can buy here, which means expense. A

study from The Council for Community and Economic Research held a study of costs of living

in 265 communities across the country. The survey looked at six categories – housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous household expenses. Kodiak topped the list nationwide for two out of the six: groceries and healthcare.

Fresh produce. Furniture. Clothing. Cars. All limited here... you learn quick what you need and

what you want. That seems limiting and inconvenient sometimes, but it also is freeing to an

extent.

Do you ever feel like getting away from the everyday? A change in scenery? A road trip a few

hours down the road? Maybe stay in a hotel in the city a few hours away. Or maybe a nice

winery out in the country for some quiet. Not here. You live on an island with 90 miles of road

that you are sharing with all the other people that live on the island. You are never alone, and you can't change the scenery. You do not road trip. You are out here with everyone else trying to do the same thing. So, in our isolation from the world, we are never isolated.

Living on Kodiak Baptist Mission is also a bit isolating in and of itself. We all have roles to play

here, our part to do. And sometimes we don't see each other for a week. Sometimes we are all we see. We are a village within a village. In the winter especially. We work and live all together, and our work sometimes doesn't take us off the mission for quite some time. I could go all week and not get in my car if not for taking the girls to school.

So why live here? Why be in this isolated, weather temperamental, expensive, in assessable

place that it seems I just spent paragraph after paragraph complaining about?


Because today I woke up in this wild place, and the sun eventually came out. I was on Kodiak

Baptist mission. This place that has stayed when things were much harder than they are today.

This place that has stayed and been a part of so many people’s lives through the last 131 years.


A place that stays as a supporter of this community. Being there for families of all the world and

cultures. And when things are hard what better example can you be then to wake up and hold fast because you put your trust in God and you know he is our true guide in life. And as the people of Kodiak are ever changing and have a large variety of backgrounds and histories - we have continuous work to be a solid foundation in everyday lives here. But unexpectedly, not just that solid foundation here, but really all over the world. As I can attest to with firsthand experience, the impact of the mission is far greater than our community. As mission teams come and visit and serve here, or as we do outreach through social media - our mission field has become so much larger. Not only can we be that example here for our small island community, but for every single person that comes across us. We are Kodiak's mission. And if you are reading this, you obviously have some connection here, even if it's just by you knowing me at some point in my life, we are your mission too. And I am here for the people that live here as much as I'm here foryou.  

Every day life.

There are several working parts here on Kodiak Baptist Mission. Depending on your role, you

might be milking goats at our certified grade A goat dairy. Mucking stalls of the chickens, pigs,

or horses. Making cheese and all the goat product wonderfulness and gathering eggs. Harvesting animals. And all the things that go along with a working farm. All the jobs that help support us on the mission, but also helps supply some much-needed food stability to the community.

You might be maintaining the 30 acres and handful of houses staff lives in, or that's used to house mission teams. Or fixing cars, boilers, leaky underground water pipes. Building fences,

mowing grass. Spreading rock and salt. And fixing the million things that break.

You might be in the office doing the books, paying the bills, filing receipts, organizing

paperwork, or organizing mission teams, or overseeing it all to run smoothly.

You might be a roman centurion in a Bethlehem experience, or the smiling face that welcomes

people to the Sunday service. You might be a person a non-believer relates to at an open barn

event, or at an ax throwing competition that pushes them to decide to check out Sunday services.

Or the person who provides breakfast or a meal to ease the day of people doing other roles.

You might be working with children. Bringing them the bible every day, and giving them a safe

place to be kids. You might teach them archery, or pottery, or how to make a paper airplane, or

sew a pillow, or simply be someone to listen to them when they talk.

You might be a mission team volunteer who comes to stain a fence or provide a specialized

service, to wire a light, to take pictures, or teach a skill that has otherwise been forgotten. Or

because you're looking for something you haven't been able to find yet. Or be the testimony during daily chapel that makes someone look to Jesus in their own life.

All of these roles together make a mission for Kodiak, for you, and for me. And though living

here is not easy, having the role to play in Gods big picture gives you the staying power, and

peace and joy beyond any struggle, or trivial want that goes unmet. After all, if you are in a place where God is working, you have what you need. 

Our family feels more than ever before that we are meant to be here at this season of our life, and the time period of Kodiak Baptist Mission. We do not know where the future will take us, or

what path we will be led to, however, for now, we are here and devoted to the people of Kodiak

and all of those whom our presence makes an impact on all across the country.


Jodi Peterson

Missionary at Kodiak Baptist Mission

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