Two weeks ago, my wife Maryna and I were watching along with about twenty other Sterling residents, the five Canadian tanker planes dumping water on a huge fire burning out of control about two miles East of Morgan’s landing State Park from where we were watching.
The synchronized formation of the planes, how they dropped down and opened their bellies full of water on the smoke below then pulling up out of the smoke and heading back to Brown’s Lake for more water. The whole turn around from dumping to picking up more water to dumping took five minutes. Amazing and very successful aeronautics I must say. These guys really knew what they were doing. Each trip putting their lives on the line to save lives.
My gratitude and appreciation go out to the hundreds of firefighters and pilots both helicopter and tanker planes, the scores of behind the scene people supporting the fire fighters, some 24 hours a day and again to the men and women on the ground fighting the fire with precision and experience that made a difference to so many people’s lives in the Funny River, Kasilof and Sterling areas where their homes and property were threatened by the beast of a fire. We have heard all the statistics of how big the fire was, the wolf pups, the timber lost; it’s all amazing statistics one can hardly imagine the enormity of it all.
From our point of view, I knew how dry everything was prior to the fire. I knew that the more days of sun shine we continued to have, the more explosive the danger was going to be when we got our first forest fire, whether it was natural or man made. We had already put out an all points bulletin for prayers for our area because of the dryness. We had people praying all over the lower 48 and heard prayers even in our own town and churches before hand. Then it hit. Monday night, prayers going out as the winds picked up that night and the first billows of smoke pluming high into the stratosphere.
I was working the next day down on the river, just across from the fire a few miles away. By noon the helicopters were going back and forth with their buckets dousing the flames. Huge billows of smoke black on the ground but white as cumulus clouds on the top grew higher and higher. I called my wife and we prayed together for those who lived closest to the actual fire. The winds seemed light, but gusted every now and again. As the afternoon grew, so did the blaze. It looked like we were in for a big one.
Maryna and I continued to pray. The friends were knew were all texting to pray for God’s Mercy and Grace to spare the homes and property of those closest to the fire. Who had any idea that that was just the beginning of a beast waking up with a bear size hunger for as much as it could consume.
By the second and third day, the fire grew in intensity, smoke enveloped our area of Sterling with high winds pushing the smoke into our neighborhood. The tanker planes began to make their circle turns over head and the helicopters sounded like they were very close as smoke filled the inside of our house. Funny river and Kasilof areas were considering evacuation we heard. With the smoke in our area and embers of pine needles and ash falling on our cars and ground, westarted getting our motorhome ready to bug out. Yes, we felt the danger that close!
As this was all happening, Maryna and I went from praying 4 times a day to four times and hour. Not so much for us, but for those closest to the actual fires. We knew some of the people who were being asked to get ready, and who did evacuate. I can only imagine what was going through their minds, all the possibilities of what could happen. We prayed and asked others we knew as far away as South Africa to pray for us and our neighbors. The calls and emails and texts began to flow in each day,”We are praying for you all!” Who knows how many people were praying for Mercy, Favor and God’s Graces, but, I’m sure it was more than I can count. What a difference prayer makes friends.
I don’t know a lot. I won’t even pretend to act like I know a lot. I can only say that I found peace in the middle of the Funny River Fire Storm. I realized that at the drop of a hat, the winds could move that fire so fast in once direction or another, I saw it happen. I had no idea of what a forest fire like that could do. Maryna and I prayed for God’s Favor, His Mercies and Grace to save and be generous to us all. Then, we left the outcome in His hands. I knew it would not please Him to worry. I slept as well as ever each night as the fire grew, but, knew there was nothing I could do but to pray for others and their property.
This Funny River Fire was a great challenge for me personally. My trust and Faith in God was put to my extreme limits. You can say what you want, but for me and my house, we put our trust in the Lord.
The worst of the fire is over now. The rains came and are still coming on the fire, even as I write. The sky is blue, the trees are green in most places from the road as we drive around. The areas that burned will
mourn for a while in their char and ash. But soon and very soon, life will come back to those areas. The black will begin to show signs of life, but not after a long period of quietness and peace on the ground.
I have a verse God gave me during the time of the fire. It resonated with me over and over again giving me encouragement. I want to pass it on as a,”Taste and see the Lord is Good,” scripture. From John 5:24, “Jesus said, I assure you, those who listen to my words and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
And last but not least, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.” John 11:25
Once again, thank you Lord for your Love and Mercies always. God bless the Firefighters, the pilots, the support folks, the prayer warriors, the people of our community and support of everyone in this time of need. Here are a couple of easy verses to memorize: “With God, All things are possible!” “Prayer Changes things!”
Lord Bless us all.
Mark Conway is a believer of Y’shua Christ Jesus and is a Christian evangelist living in Sterling, Alaska with his wife Maryna.