Willow, AK – Weekly Report – Aug 3-7, 2020

August 24, 2020

The MDS project in Willow, Alaska was by invitation from the community itself. Volunteers were asked to follow the safety protocols and procedures put in place by MDS to ensure that the communities and people that we serve are protected. As MDS looks to reopen projects, the Benchmarks for Project Startup document will be used to guide the decision making process.


This fourth week of rebuilding homes damaged and destroyed in the devastating 2019 fire near Willow has been an extremely productive one, with twenty-two volunteers working tirelessly. Folks have traveled to Alaska from California, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as Canada, in an effort to show Jesus’ love to people who have experienced terrible losses.

Ron and Chrissy Musbach, and Ned and Erica Sparks had the finishing touches put on their homes, with their front porches, doors, windows, and soffits being finished. They are both looking amazing, and their owners are excited to be able to move in and complete the interiors.

On the third project, the addition and remodel for Keith Ahart, it was determined that it was in the best interest of quality workmanship to remove the asphalt shingles on the old part of the structure, and reroof the entire home in metal. After removing existing siding, furring strips were added, so better R Value 21 insulation could be added, while the original insulation was reused to fill holes in the attic space of the house. Because of the harsh climate in Alaska, this is extremely important for Keith’s health and safety throughout the winter season.  Keith is suffering from stage three Lung cancer, and shared that with the poor insulation in his home last winter, when temperatures hit 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit for 40 straight days, he was unable to keep his home above 50 degrees. This forced Keith to temporarily leave his home, for his own health and safetHe really appreciates all of the work being done to make his home livable, and being allowed to participate in the planning and decision-making process. Volunteers have had several opportunities to pray with and minister to Keith through the building of strong relationships. 

Additionally, Josh and Rose Thompson’s home is coming along amazingly quickly. Floor joists were set in the first part of the week, and walls raised. Finally, Thursday and Friday brought a new challenge with the need to building from scratch is a time-consuming project, but with the limited availability of building materials in the local area, it is necessary. We are very thankful for skilled volunteers that can build high quality custom trusses on site.

Toward the end of the week, we were blessed to receive new project leadership, in the form of Director Michele WhiteEagle.

In the Thursday sharing time, Duane Cookson gave a powerful presentation about his work volunteering with Kairos Prison Ministry. He gave testimony to the impact this weekend long program has on many incarcerated men, and how many lives are changed and saved for the kingdom. Experiences in a super-max federal prison, where hardened criminals, who have been written off by society, are able to feel the love of Christ for the first time, show a powerful working of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Kairos.