An Ahtna saint moves on to glory

Ben Neely was a man committed to his Native heritage, his people and his savior. He is now in the presence of the Lord he has loved and served for more than half a century. He will be missed.


Quotes from Galena

A recent conversation with a pilot/teacher/resident of Galena produced some interesting word pictures.

“A man-camp”

“Dusty, very dusty”

“Dump trucks”

“on the verge” (of rebuilding)


“Streets are a mess”

“Families back…?”

“FEMA=more money+more red tape”

and then…




Photo credit, Anchorage Daily News

There’s a lot of fish in the sea…

…or atleast, in the river. A quarter of a million red salmon (sockeye) passed the sonar station on the Kenai River Tuesday. I mean they passed the sonar station…ON TUESDAY! In one day! That’s a lot of fish during one 24-hour period. 

That’s, like, ten thousand per hour. Which is about 170 per minute. Or 3 fish every second.

The downside is the famous, but vanishing,  Kenai River kings; this year fewer than 600 (total) have returned.

Galena updates

The following will give you some updated info on the Galena rebuilding effort;


A tale of two churches

Follow this link and read a quick story about outreach ministry in a remote village in western Alaska.

a church growing in the woods

Out in western Alaska there flows a slow, meandering river.

Born in the central Brooks Range as a frantic, clear-water stream charged by melting snow and ice, the Koyukuk eventually leaves the mountains behind and begins to wander through the flat spruce and birch forests in what appears a confused attempt to find it’s way to the ocean. Boulder-strewn banks become muddy silt. The river grows, and slows, as the rush of youth becomes the slower pace of middle age. Eventually the Koyukuk meets the Yukon River and catches a ride to the Bering Sea.

Somewhere in the midst of the wilderness the Koyukuk ambles past the village of Huslia like a tired, old bear. This community of three or four hundred Koyukon Athabaskans is decidedly different from other villages; the population is actually growing. The high cost of living “in the bush” is forcing increasing numbers of rural residents to relocate, with Fairbanks and Anchorage as two popular destinations, but “Huslia people” love their home, their culture, even their climate; last winter’s sixty below temps have become this summer’s high eighties, accompanied by hordes of mosquitos.

This is the place Don Ernst and his family have called home for more than two decades. Well, most of them, anyway. Don and Brenda’s children have grown and their two sons are thousands of miles away, but their daughter and son-in-law live here in Huslia, keeping the Ernsts well supplied with visits from grandchildren.


Don and Brenda are church planters. Their ministry has been long, rewarding, challenging, often difficult and sometimes heart-breaking, but it’s also been effective. There is a church here. In fact, it’s a growing church…literally.

This summer Don coordinated visiting teams of volunteers with local effort to expand the log building where believers meet. During the brief summer they have torn down walls, milled logs, stacked them into new walls, constructed the floor, built and set trusses, and now the entire roof is on, protecting the building from the coming autumn rains.

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Before long, minor details, like doors and windows and lights, will be installed and the building readied for use.


In a couple of months the air will cool, leaves will flush with color and drop, and the woodstove will be fired up. Locals will gather to sing praise songs and strum guitars while Brenda picks a tune on the mandolin. They’ll thank the Lord for another successful moose season and a supply of meat cached in the freezer.

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The first snow of the coming winter will settle on the roof. And Don will step up to the pulpit, look out across the wide room with plenty of space for growing families, and open the Word of God, just like he’s been doing for the past twenty-three years.

The floods of 2013


The attached will give you a good idea how the communities of Ross River, Yukon and Galena, Alaska have been affected by spring floods. You will also find links for more information and ways you can help. Please check it out.

Flood Edition v3