Friday, March 27, 2009

If I lived in Glennallen Alaska

If we had said yes to the job opportunity in 1980 to go to Glennallen, Alaska, what would our lives have been like? I have been speculating the past couple of days.

If we had gone, we might still be there. If we were there today, we would be two among 574 townspeople. . I am sure we would consider it beautiful if we had stayed all these years. It would be home. And home would lie along the Glenn Highway at its junction with the Richardson Highway, 189 road miles east of Anchorage. We would be very close to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest US National Park. The Ahtna people historically occupied this area but while many communities in the region were built on the sites of a Native village, Glennallen was not. While the town is classified a non-Native community, 12.1% of the town population are Alaska Native. We would think nothing of driving past 65 vacant homes among the town’s 269 housing units. We wouldn’t be alarmed that 303 residents of the towns 574 population were not in the work force because the unemployment rate is pegged at 5.02%. It might concern us that the average house price is $166,000 when the median household income is $38,846 and per capita income is $17,084, and 8.04% of residents are living below the poverty level.

While they grew up in Glennallen our children would have attended Glennallen Elementary School and Glennallen High School where 450 students are enrolled. They may have hung around to attend Alaska Bible College, and possibly each might have met a life partner there. More than likely our children would have moved away years ago to pursue education and other job opps. That is unless they had adapted so happily to the northern life in this isolated but beautiful area.

Like everyone else who lives here we would have endured or enjoyed the weather of the continental climate zone, that is, long, cold winters, and relatively warm summers. The mean temperature in January is -10°F (-23°C); in July, 56°F (13°C). However, temperatures can reach -50°F (-46°C) in winter and 80°F (27°C) in summer. Likely I would have become a hunter although it turns me off today, ever since I popped a rabbit with a pellet gun when I was 16. I might have worn a bushy beard for decades. I might have learned to fly a float plane. And I would have chopped a thousand cords of wood.

My job was to be combination, of pastor, Bible School teacher and radio broadcaster. There are a dozen churches in town so I would not have been the town’s only pastor. Radio 790 KCAM speaks to the entire Valley with weather, news, sports, music, commentaries and interviews. Church, school and radio station are all sponsored and promoted by SEND International mission agency. In fact there are job opportunities there now for the summer and for full-time. Contact Northern Light Network (NLN) president Jasper Hall at , or call (907) 822-5226.

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