No whales but plenty of eagles

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By Vicki Scott

My husband Alan and I just returned from a mission trip in Craig, Alaska. Bucket lists and blessings were beyond our expectations as our crew of 10 from First Baptist Reeltown put some finishing touches on a growing church. Last Sunday, our pastor asked us to briefly share about our experience. I told him I cannot do “briefly,” so he gave us questions to help.

The first question was what did I learn from the church in Craig?

I responded that I got a taste of how God can use people to accomplish His will. After the Alaska church’s membership had dropped to 10, its pastor felt led to change the name of the church to Liberty Baptist.

That church eventually dropped down to six members, four of which were family members. They were congregating in the basement of the church, praying for God to move them. The pastor then had a vision and realized that God had big plans for the church. Apparently, He did, as the church was averaging 70 members when we arrived.

Phone calls were made, and several crews from different churches in Alabama traveled by two planes and two ferries one way to Alaska to fill in this shell of a church with a sanctuary and fellowship hall. All of this happened since April of this year. I am still in awe. If that was not enough, the pastor at our former church, Cove Creek Baptist in Glencoe, has put together a crew going to Alaska in September. God is moving!

The Reeltown pastor’s second question was how God spoke to me during out week in Alaska. I had to pass the microphone on this question since it would have taken me a very long time to answer that one of our crew members was baptized in the Pacific Ocean. It was cold but amazing!

We were spending our first night in Alaska in a church in Ketchikan when Alan asked me to look up in the sky. It was a bald eagle! I almost cried. The church’s pastor there said there are more eagles than pigeons in the area. Some of our crew were aware that my bucket list included seeing a whale. They assumed seeing an eagle was up there as well, but seeing an eagle meant something else to me.

During the Alaska trip, my father would have turned 80 if brain cancer had not called him home. Around the time of dad’s diagnosis, my brother Will and I heard the song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw on different occasions. During one part, the song says, “I watched an eagle as it was flying.” He spoke sweeter, loved deeper, and gave forgiveness he had been denying. He lived like he was dying and hoped we would get the chance to live like we are dying. That is the way I interpreted that song.

The doctor who gave my father radiation treatments told us that we were all living a terminal illness. Even though I did not like what was happening to my dad, that made sense. He was only 65 years old at the time of the diagnosis. So every time I saw an eagle, I thought of that Tim McGraw song.

Seeing a whale in the wild has been on my bucket list for many years, so we went on a whale watching trip while we were there. After a few hours of not seeing a whale, the boat captain stopped after we rounded a peninsula. He instructed his assistant to get out the halibut and put on a glove and hold the fish out over the water. The assistant sounded a whistle and several eagles flew down! One of them ate out of her hand! The captain shared how he lost a finger while doing this and we offered to lose a finger!

I have several pictures of these eagles flying as a constant reminder to live like I am dying. These eagles were so majestic! I kept my mouth open every time I would see one, and these Alaskans see them every day – what a blessing! Seeing whales was icing on the cake!

It is amazing what we take for granted. I remember my cousin visited me from San Jose, California. He lived on a postage stamp of a yard and was amazed at how much land we had. I thought he was teasing me, but I get it now, that we are blessed in different ways.

The Reeltown pastor’s third question was if I learned anything about others in the group that I did not know before. That was a definite “yes,” because I did not know any of them very well except for Alan.

The fourth question was if the trip exceeded my expectations. I did not have to answer that question, because I am still in awe of what I witnessed. Alan did not even ask me before he volunteered us to go with the pastor from Cove Creek for the Grand Bahama mission trip in September. He did not have to, because he knew what my answer would have been.

One thing about living like you are dying is that you are not putting anything off. You speak sweeter, you love deeper and you give the forgiveness that you had been denying. If you get a chance, watch an eagle as it is flying. It is an awesome experience!

Vicki Scott can be contacted at lily200383@yahoo.com.

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