What a privilege to end my state class season with TeenPact in the state of Alaska. After attending my first 4-day class in 2008, it was a hard, sentimental, and beautiful goodbye. But first of all, the experience itself!
I thought I was used to mountains, considering that I live in the Pacific Northwest, but the west coast mountains are nothing compared to Alaskan mountains. Everywhere you looked was breathtaking.
On the first full day in Alaska, the McKinnis family took us sledding at Hatcher's Pass. I can't do it justice with words! I was blown away by the gorgeousness of the surroundings, and I was exhausted by the incredible "black diamond" sledding slope. Glad I survived!
My team for the week was led by Johnny Leifheit, along with Michael Wagner, Sarah Hufstedler, Ian Gallagher, Grace Renner, Lauren Smith, and Mr. Stewart. Each of these people blessed me so much, even when they were pelting me with snowballs.... Plus we got to work with our state coordinator, Mrs. Carlson, on her first class - great job!
From the very beginning of the class, we were all loving and laughing with each other. ("and survived!") And throughout the week, we got much closer still. I love small classes, and I loved being able to know each of the student's names by the end of the week. We talked of deep things and learned much together. You are all so special to me. Let this be the beginning of many friendships.
It was pretty exciting having my first class that was not held at the Capitol, playing in a frisbee field with a huge mountain background, doing elections on a one-day class, teaching crossfire debate, seeing the USS Anchorage come into port, seeing a herd of elk, and meeting wonderful alaskans.
Yes, it was the last class. The last frontier, as the nickname states. As a team, we allowed the knowledge that this was the end of the 2013 season be a motivation to pour absolutely everything we had left into each day. We believed our strength came from God alone, so it was impossible to run out! And so we kept pushing forward through each final day. Some moments were harder than others, but each one echoed the faithfulness of God. On Thursday, as we prepared to sine die for the last 4-day class, these were some of the thoughts going through my head that I wrote down.
" Here I am, printing my last quiz. How has this flown by so fast? Just eight classes ago, I was printing my very first quiz. I was finding all the little typos in the quiz questions and forgetting to take off “true” and “false” on my fill-in-the-blanks. This little task that I’ve grown to love, that’s been my bit of personal time for weeks, that’s been my personal responsibility. I remember when it sounded crazy as I was called the Quiz Queen for the first time. I’ve found so much joy in making the students all over this country just laugh a little, learn a little, and grow together. Even with all the little mistakes, typos, grammar errors, bad wording, and formatting mess-ups, each of those meaningless pieces of paper has a lot of meaning to me.And now, here it is, sitting here with tears filling my eyes as I listen to the elected officials speeches. Ten minutes ago, we sine-died for the very last time. I just gave out my final homework award and did everything I could to hold it together while up front. Coming to the back, the students gave a huge cheer and applause for that person who demanded quizzes and homework all week long. Yes, I have felt like a queen for a whole season now. I’ve felt like royalty because I’ve been showered with the gifts of people who support, who lead, who love."
The last frontier. But yet, it was North to the Future.
It was a beautiful ending to a season that will take so much more debriefing than this small blog post. I am overwhelmed with blessings and with a heart that is trying to allow God's vision to once again be mine. He's had me here for a season, and it has been more beautiful that I could have imagined. The last few pages of this chapter will be written over the next month, and then He will begin something new. How blessed I am to have this chapter in my book.