Connected [Feb 16]


It’s strange to say that I feel more connected to the body of Christ now that I’m living in the middle of the bush, but it’s the truth; the Lord has graciously gifted my heart with an unprecedented connectedness to the global church in a season of relative isolation.

Occasionally I think back to the morning in October before my students first came to TLC. That Sunday I stood in the little church sanctuary of Lake Clark Bible Church (LCBC), completely overwhelmed by this new connectedness to God and His people I’d never experienced before. I remember looking out the picture windows to my left and watching the planes that were taking off and landing on the dirt airstrip, shaking the building as they roared past us every few minutes. Out the windows to my right, Lake Clark surged in and out of the bay, surrounded by hundreds of miles of stunning wilderness. I looked left, then right, then left again, in awe as the people around me sang the chorus to a song that comforted my heart in the midst of mild culture shock: “All powerful, untamable. Awestruck, we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim, ‘You are amazing God’”. Indescribable. It’s a song that’s so commonplace in church worship that I know the words in English and in Spanish– just two of the many languages I know the song has been translated into.

That morning, as I stood and stared out the windows, speechlessly mouthing the words to the song, I envisioned the thousands of house churches meeting around the world, who very well could’ve been singing that song in their own language. In my mind’s eye I saw churches and living rooms filled with refugees, survivors of war and religious persecution– those seeking to grow in their walk with the Lord, both in places of freedom and under threats of death.

I turned my focus from the windows and began to stare at the hodgepodge of people that form the body of Christ here in Port Alsworth (PTA). We’re a motley crew of missionaries and writers, airplane mechanics and artists, moms and hunters, teachers and retired mountain men. As I surveyed the group of people I was beginning to call my friends, I laughed at how ridiculous it was, that after praying for several years for the Lord to send me to the Middle East/ Asia as a missionary, that I was here… in the Alaskan mountains… preparing for a winter of teaching and discipling Native students with these people.

“You’ve got a sense of humor, Lord…” I whispered before joining in on the chorus.

I’ve known since the night Jesus first swept me off my feet that He was calling me into youth ministry. While that call has manifested itself in different ways and locations over the last 8 ½ years, I knew that this season was to be dedicated to the motto of the Tanalian Leadership Center: Raising up Godly leaders in Southwest Alaska. Little did I know, this call to work with youth in Alaska wasn’t going to be limited to just my students here at TLC.

Yes, my time has primarily been consumed with teaching, discipling, and generally “mom-ing” Emilyn, Brandon, Joey, Jordan, and Trevor (and of course, Julianna when she was still with us), but God has also graciously opened up opportunities for me to minister to the local youth of PTA through volleyball practices, basketball jamborees, community nights, and most recently, as a co-leader for LCBC’s youth missions trip to Cambodia this summer. Yes, you read that right. The Lord is (finally) sending me to Asia.

After struggling with my Post-Alaska plans for the last several months, I now know two things:
1) I’ll be moving back to be a part of the beautiful church in Denver come July 2nd

and… drumroll please…

     2) I’ll be spending the month of June co-leading two different short-term youth mission teams to Southeast Asia. For two weeks at a time, I’ll lead the future leaders of the church (teenagers I’ve had the honor of discipling here in Alaska and at the Denver Street School back in Colorado) as they teach English and share the gospel with students their age who more than likely do not know Christ.

With this in mind, I stood in the back of our little church last Sunday and laughed to myself yet again. Because yes, the mountains and airplanes outside our windows still make me giggle with joy, but I mostly was laughing because His plan– the way He’s connecting His church from all over the world to seek and serve those who do not yet know His love and salvation– is so good that I just can’t help but smile.

Thank you, as always, for your love and support in spreading the gospel, and tangibly sending the love of Jesus to the ends of the earth. I can’t wait to share more with you as this journey unfolds, but for now, I simply ask that you would join me in prayer as we move into discussing church planting and discipleship through our studies in the book of Acts here at TLC (and as I have the opportunity to “walk the walk” with both of my teen missions teams).

All of my Alaskan love and enthusiasm–

(To read more about what I’ll be doing in Asia this summer and my fundraising goals for each of the trips, click here. (Or feel free to shoot me an e-mail at; I love seeing your names pop up in my inbox!)

If you’re interested in supporting and sending the PTA youth missions team and I to Cambodia, you can donate by visiting LCBC’s donation site here and typing Leyba – Cambodia in the comment box. Or, if you’re interested in supporting and sending our Denver Street School alumni/ Outfitters for Christ missions team to Thailand, you can do so by clicking here and typing Leyba – Thailand in the Paypal memo.)

*As always, all donations, whether through TLC, LCBC for the PTA youth missions team, or Outfitters for Christ’s Thailand missions team are all 100% tax deductible.
%d bloggers like this: