Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flying to Clarks Point, Alaska For Communion

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

Friday, February 26, 2010 I flew to Clarks Point, Alaska (airport identifier PFCL). I fly to Clarks Point every Friday. Clarks is a short 12 mile hopp, skip, and jump Southeast from Dillingham. It was such a beautiful day I decided to fly East until I hit Bristol Bay then Northwest up the coastline to Clarks Point. It was an additional 25 miles or so.

Doug, the principal of Clarks Point School, picked me up and drove me to the school where Betty Gardiner (secretary) and Judy George (cook) work during the week.

After arriving at the school I jumped on Betty’s four-wheeler and she drove me to Louise Gardiner’s home. Louise is Betty’s mother and the elder of the village. I gave Louise communion and then posed for a picture with her.

Betty and her mom Louise pose for a picture after communion.

Next we stopped by Betty's home and I said a prayer with Betty's daughters Brittany and Justine and Brittany's new baby Jack (who I will baptize next month or so), her other son Samuel, and Justine's son Trevallian. We then four-wheeled it back to the Clarks Point School for lunch.

Since it was Friday, and it was Lent, Judy cooked Alaskan Salmon for Lunch, which was donated by Peter Pan fisheries. Below, Judy George prepares the lunches for us.

JB and Tiffany both attend Mass in Clarks Point and are students in the school. I new type of math has them making snowflakes and paper patterns for parkas. It is quite a creative way to learn math. Here is JB's paper parka pattern.

Here is Tiffany's parka pattern. All of the children's parka patterns are hung up on the gym wall.

Here is a snowflake made by Tiffany using the methods from the new Math Program.

I heard through the grape vine that Betty needed to get to Dillingham. Betty is afraid to fly with just anyone. Most villagers, after finding a safe pilot, will stick to them through thick and thin. For example people from Manokotak fly with John Bouker (Bristol Bay Air) and Yupik villagers from Clarks Point fly with Mat Vandeventer (VanAir).

Mat Vandeventer, owner of VanAir.

John Bouker, owner of Bristol Bay Air.

To make a long story short, Betty actually agreed to fly with me back to Dillingham. It took me over two years of flying out here before I finally felt comfortable taking up passengers. After flying out here four years people in the villages are actually starting to take note of my experience. With only about 550 total hours I still do not consider myself a bush pilot…maybe after a thousand or so. Upon landing in Dillingham I was lucky and my approach was nice and slow and I landed smoothly, i.e. without bouncing and without a controlled crash landing. I think Betty was actually impressed.

Fly Safe out there and hope you are having a prayerful Lent.

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