A few days ago when John mentiond that he knew a Methodist missionary couple in Nome, I said that I wanted to visit them. Today he set up the trip.
Since he needed to deal with some pressing issues at his church in Anchorage, I flew without him to Nome. This morning John suggested that I make the reservations in hopes that later in the day he could reach the pastors in Nome, Julie and David Elmore. He did contact them today, and they immediately said that they could put me up on an air mattress in the church and loan me a car. Because of the death of one of their congregation, they already had a lot on their plate, but they gave me a great welcome.
John asked me to write up and photograph what Julie and David are doing because John’s congregation provides some of the support for the Nome church. He also got his church to pay about half of my plane ticket on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage to Nome.
Booking a flight at the last moment didn’t give me the choice of a non-stop flight. Instead, I flew through Kotzebue. And that was just fine with me, because Kotzebue is even further north than Nome. In fact, it’s north of the Arctic Circle and is the second largest Eskimo village.
Kotzebue is 563 miles north of Anchorage. On the other hand, Nome is 539 miles north of Anchorage and just 160 miles from Russia.
On the flight from Kotzebue to Nome I got to know the fellow in the next seat who was traveling from Point Barrow to recruit people to work for the North Slope Village Response Team that responds to oil spills. I considered applying, but most of the jobs he’s offering pay only $10 an hour. His name is Pete Hopson, or, in his Native language, Inupiaq, Kutuk Lauyaqaknaq.
Both Nome and Kotzebue are on the Bering Sea. Nome’s population in 2005 was about 3,600, more than half Alaska Native. This far north it’s a bit chilly here. The normal September high temperature is 49 degrees. And it was colder than that when my flight landed at 8 p.m., although it’s still light as I write this after 10 p.m.
Julie and David gave me the grand tour of Nome. This is quite an interesting city, and I will photograph the city and the surrounding area as well as their work in the next few days.
Their congregation of several hundred is about half Alaska Native and about half non-native. But tonight I will be the only person sleeping in the church.