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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Update From Port Graham

A view from our church.  Amazing!
Hello from the remote village of Port Graham, Alaska!

Remember us, the Ristows?!  Contrary to the rumors, we have not been eaten by bears, carried off by giant Alaskan mosquitos (although they have tried!), nor have we fallen off the face of the earth.  Thanks be to God, we are safely settled in the beautiful village of Port Graham.  We miss all of you dearly and have been so appreciative of your letters, packages, phone calls, support and prayers. 
We apologize for not updating you sooner, but we are fully experiencing what it means to be unplugged.  For example, we ordered internet service on June 4th and our installation date was July 12th (last Monday) and still we have yet to be hooked up (we’re borrowing a friend’s internet service for this update).  Our cell phones (as many of you know) are spotty at best and only work when we lift our left leg, point to the SE and hold a fork in our right hand.  Amazon Prime (our new remote village “shopping mall”) touts of a fast 2-day delivery, however in remote AK it means a one- to four-week delivery, and that’s only if they agree to send it in the first place!   All to say, we are learning to be patient and are fully thankful for any modern services at all.  Thank you for being patient with us!
It seems to all of us that we’re living in a bit of a time warp.  So much has happened, so many people met, so many lessons learned.  Last July we asked God to radically change our lives...today, exactly one year later, we’re living in a church, people are calling us the “Preacher Family”, our girls are regularly catching giant halibut, picking wild chives and driving the ATV, and our world consists of living together with 150 native Alaskans!  We thank God every day for the blessing of serving Him. 

So what’s been going on the last two months?  In a nutshell, lots of training, meeting people, moving, deep cleaning, painting, preaching, fishing, swatting mosquitos, and slowing waaaaaay down.  The villagers attending the church are eager to grow in their relationship with Jesus and have kindly embraced our living among them.  God continues to give us little treasures here and there in the forms of friends, kind words, and gifts of fish and food.  Although beauty surrounds us, the spiritual warfare here is alive and well.  There is not a day we don’t feel the eternal battle for this village.  Thanks be to God for His armor, His Holy Spirit, His giving us the courage to stand for Him, and our ultimate victory through His son, Jesus Christ.
We have so many stories to tell you and look forward to when we have internet to keep you better updated.  Again, thank you so much for your patience, your support, friendship and prayers…they mean the world to us.  We too are praying for you and your families.
May God bless you and keep you!

Warmly in Christ,
The Ristow Family
 
Here’s a few pictures to give you a snapshot of our new life:

Meet Wallace, our friend and fishing
buddy.  He’s lived in Port Graham all his life,
and knows everything there is to know
about the village, fishing, and history of

the Alutiiq people. 



Fishing is the lifeblood of Port Graham, especially in the summer
months when the salmon are running.  Since freezer space is limited,
nearly all the homes in the village have a smoke house to preserve
fish
for the winter months.  At this time of year, there is a
distinct “smoked fish” smell wafting through the village.
 
Inside a smoke house. Preserving fish is a time-consuming and tedious job. The villagers check their nets several times a day, and process the fish as they catch them. The process includes cleaning and filleting the fish, cutting them into strips, and then individually tying the strips to “rafters” in the smoke house.  The smoke must be maintained or the villagers run the risk of the fish rotting before it is completely dry.  There are many factors that play into the amount of drying time (weather, humidity, size of smoke house, etc.), but most of the fish take anywhere from three days to a week to dry.
 
Klaira shopping in the “Down Store”.  The store is
well-stocked but it comes with a hefty price tag. 
We regularly spend $150-$250 for a small (kid-sized)
shopping cart of food.
 
Main Street, Port Graham…at rush hour!
 
Our local gas “station”.  They just recently installed the
“pay by credit card” pump so we don’t have to prepay
for our gas at the store.
 
Our local dock.  Many villagers have “skiffs” (fishing boats),
in order to bring in enough fish to feed their families
through the long winter months.
Port Graham airport.
 
Fishing at 11:00 pm.  It doesn’t get dark here until
12:30 or 1:00 in the morning!
Port Graham’s Chief, Pat, throwing an arrow, Aleutiiq-style
at the village’s “Celebration of Life” event – their
version of 4TH of July.
A typical Sunday Service with our fellow believers in Christ!
  
 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your new life and your adventures with Christ in Alaska. From the swatting of mosquitos to the distinctive summer fragrance of smoking fish, you've helped me feel like I've had a short visit with you. God Bless your ministry! Cedar Creek Church members regularly keep you in prayer and in our hearts.

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