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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Up Ship Creek

"Up Ship Creek," oil on canvasboard, by Carol L. Douglas
If you were to clone Aroostook County, stamp it out an infinite number of times, and suck out all the people and most of the potatoes and roads, you would have created Alaska. Oh, you’d need to crumple your finished drawing too, for Alaska is also very mountainous.

I know this because I am hundreds of miles north of Anchorage. Our intended starting point for this trip was the Arctic Ocean. I’m not sure we’re going to get that far north, because the paved road ends at Coldfoot. But we are heading north to see.
Nenana. The name of its river, Tanana, doesn't rhyme with it.
I started the day at Buzco Automotive in South Anchorage. It is very unprepossessing but the owner, Jayson, is a very gifted mechanic. A replacement catalytic converter was $1000 and a day’s delay. Instead, he cut the pipe and cleaned out the mess. Presto, a smooth engine.

While Jayson worked on my car, I painted a little study of Ship Creek, which winds through industrial South Anchorage. (I was working from a tow yard and would have liked to add a few car parts, but the angle was impossible.)

The car ran like a top as we zoomed through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Mist shrouded the mountains and the autumn foliage stood out against the towering, jagged peaks.

And then we blew the muffler.

Reluctantly, I turned back to Wasilla and Googled muffler shops. We opted for the local one, Quality Muffler, and prayed it wouldn’t be busy.

Mike was waiting for us. He smiled when we said, “Bet you heard us coming!” 

Ten Thousand Reasons (to bless the Lord) by Mat Redman was pouring out of his speakers. Mike replaced a gasket, a hanger strap, and the missing bolts. He pumped up our spare tire and sent us on our way with two jars of his wife’s home-canned salmon.

We have been moved along a chain of saints since arriving in Anchorage. Pastor Jerry and Heidie Godfrey, Jason Rowland and Debbie Paine, Jayson the mechanic and Mike the muffler guy all helped us because, as believers, they felt an obligation to the wandering stranger. It’s a powerful ministry and I hope I can do as well for others.

You may believe this is coincidence, or that Christians just like blessing other Christians. But I was there. We have been guided step-by-step by the Holy Spirit, and now we’re cruising north of Fairbanks in a car that’s purring like a cream-filled cat.

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