This blog was written by Kacy Leyba our East Campus Principal.

I almost left a kid in Alaska…To be fair, there were moments a few days into our #DSSDoesAlaska trip where I considered letting our students wander into the woods, then sprinting away from them and leaving them all there forever. (What parent or parental figure among us hasn’t reached such a point of emotional desperation after being with teenagers for 72+ hours straight? Go ahead, cast the first stone.)

In all seriousness though, our trip was amazing. It was also, as they say, “all the things”:

paradigm shattering
spiritually challenging
full of tears and laughter
(and probably full of more loud rap music and “colorful language” than the sweet village of Port Alsworth had previously heard. Thank you for loving our students in grace, friends).

In eight short days, we traversed 3,500 miles twice over. Our students got a feel for the go-go-go vibe of Seattle, then were forced to screech to a stop to process alllll of the culture shock that came with arriving in the abject wilderness. Our team got a taste of the aviation and hard work ethic that is central to bush life and were even able to share bits of their culture with our Alaskan friends as they cooked caldo de pollo, carne asada tacos, ceviche, and ribs for community dinners. 

Each day a speaker taught a session about topics such as Christ as the Wounded Healer, adoption as a central theme of the Gospel, working through grief and loss, and spiritual warfare. Leaders and community members led into vulnerability by example, teaching our students how to share their life stories; by the end of the week, every student, team member, and speaker had the opportunity to tell of the good and difficult circumstances that made them who they are today, then had Truth and love spoken over them by one another.

At the end of the week, Precious (one of our graduating seniors who has spent the last 3 years at DSS) prayed to receive Christ as her Savior during a Bible class with the Tanalian Leadership Center (TLC), then asked to be baptized in the frozen bay so she could publicly declare her choice to follow Jesus. Several friends of mine used a chainsaw to cut through the 18″ thick ice and we baptized our girl. Never before have I been so stoked to stand in freezing water. (Although, to be fair, being extremely adverse to the cold, I wore fishing waders. Momma didn’t raise no fool.)

That night after her baptism, Precious came into our girls’ staff bunkroom and asked if we could leave her in Alaska so she could finish out the school year at TLC reading the Bible and soaking up every bit of Jesus she could get, distraction-free. Given how resistant she has been to Jesus for the entirety of her high school career, we were all shocked. Just when I think nothing about DSS life can surprise me anymore, Jesus manages to prove me wrong in the most miraculous ways…

In the end, all 4 of our DSS students came back to Colorado with us, but I am stoked to announce that both Precious and Kandie are currently hoping to return to Alaska for a year of Bible school and technical training at TLC this October. {If you feel led to help us pull together a scholarship for these girlies, please shoot me an e-mail; I’ve got some dreaming and scheme-ing going on already.}

Thank you for helping make this level of life change possible.

In every sense of the word, the Lord is doing a new thing in our girls, and I am confident that even though our boys didn’t walk away from the trip having experienced such radical or immediate life change, that the truths they heard throughout their time in Alaska will be seeds planted in their hearts, waiting for just the right time to sprout. God’s word never comes back void; what a marvelous promise we can cling to as we await full restoration.

Thank you for walking this wild road with us as we walk alongside our students. You can check out our highlight video to see more of our shenanigans or the boxes below for more info on how you can come jump in the thick of it with us.

Always grateful to be yours,