Aah Bethel, you still have a place in my heart.

From the people, the culture, the wind and even the cold crisp air, the mountains in the distance on the horizon, the sideways snow, the dotted metal roofed landscape, the smiles, the Quyana’s (yup’ik for thank you), the snow machine trails, the wildlife... Bethel truly has a beauty all its own.

I’m also reminded of all the darkness that creeps in out here too... things that COVID has only immensely complicated. The drinking, the drugging, the depression, the suicide, the abuse, it’s also all still here with a vengeance. Covid keeps most gatherings closed and the absence human connection makes these things even more challenging. Connection in person to the surrounding villages is nearly impossible as a people group struggle to protect their elders from this rapid sickness. These regions know the danger of foreign diseases like this that years ago took out many of their population. Regardless of your views of COVID, the concerns in this culture are real and solutions are as complicated as ever.

This is all fresh on my mind from what’s becoming my annual trip to bethel for moose hunting up on the Yukon River. In Alaska we are blessed to provide meat for our family in this truly organic way, and it saves us from buying any beef for most of the year. The land is abundant with moose and we respectfully harvest one of our allowed allotment each year. Friends that God has given us help make this hunt possible these last two years, and it’s always a delight to reconnect with them and our other friends across Bethel!

Blessings Meet Complications

This year’s trip was more challenging with COVID. While God still blessed us with some beautiful meat, I travelled solo on this journey. We also get to come as a family for ministry teaching here, but not during these challenging times... at least until the shutdowns across the community begin to lift. So I quarantined with friends, rode 130 miles round trip on snow machine in the subzero temperatures to the hunting area, and then processed the meat back at the house. Several friends stopped by to visit shortly from a distance and masks are still widely used out here.

While I’m deeply grateful for God’s blessing of a year’s worth of meat, my heart is keenly attune to the needs across this region of our state. For those that don’t know, Bethel is a hub town 450 miles off the road system in a Yup’ik Eskimo region of Alaska. We previously lived there for a season of our lives and still maintain relationships there.

Alaska and especially native Alaska is still plagued with so much addiction and hopelessness. Yet as I stare at this amazing sunrise out the window of the 737 I’m flying on back to the road system, I’m reminded that Hope still rises and shines light across the darkness. And when it shines, that darkness retreats!! It’s something that motivates me to keep pushing forward with the hope God gives in recovery.

Darkness Flees from the Light

So we as a family do everything in our power to shine God’s freedom light across the darkness of addiction. We personally do this through ministry life, through our recovery church, through sober housing ministry, through networking with treatment and jail outreaches, and just general maintaining of relationships across Alaska. AND of course through the Choose RCVRY apparel brand and my wife’s bakery! Also in addition to our personal efforts, those friends who help with the brand are similarly involved in causes that are near to their hearts!

Choose RCVRY was truly born out of our collective involvement in all these ways, and we simply aim to amplify all the good we see God already doing! So wherever you live on this earth, keep looking to that light of the sunrise every single day. And join with us in amplifying the beauty of freedom over all addiction. We will keep shining with Choose RCVRY across every corner of Alaska and beyond because as we shine that Light, the darkness flees!

- Derek

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