We live in Iron River, Michigan. That happens to be located in the other Michigan…the Upper Peninsula. To describe the Upper Peninsula is to describe what some call “God’s Country” and what others call a third world country located somewhere between Wisconsin, Lower Michigan and the Great Lakes and is coincidently NOT found on some even modern maps of the US. The UP, as we affectionately call it, is wooded, snowy most of the year, and populated by more deer than people. In fact, collectively, with a surface area that of New Jersey, we only have the population of Green Bay, WI!
The UP is beautiful…with waterfalls, moose, wolves, golden eagles, foxes, snowmobiles, and witness protection plans.
The UP is quiet…reference the deer to people population statement above.
The UP is historical…iron and copper mining, the Polish, the Italians, the Finns & Swedes…gangsters hideouts, the occasional Ted Nudgent siting, 4th generation lumberjacks, 3rd generation drunks, tales of UFO’s and Bigfoot, and a sweet northern accent to boot der eh?!!! (maybe that’s not ALL historical)
The UP is “dark”…both literally & figuratively, the UP has much shorter days in the winter than in Indiana where I was from (yahoo for racecars, basketball, and corn!)…anyway, sadly, the Upper Peninsula has it’s own unique underbelly with Native American idolatry, incest, teenage drug abuse and pregnancy and, again, the witness protection sheltering. We usually get everything Detroit doesn’t want. This makes this a great place to shine the Gospel of Christ.
The UP is home…I do love it here. It’s not a bad place to raise kids. I love our church, Calvary Chapel of Iron River. I love the people the Lord has called here to minister alongside of. And I love that I am called here too.
The indigenous people of the UP are known as Yoopers. Yoopers can be described in many uncertain terms. Kind of like a redneck in warmer clothes, the Yooper can scare up food, build a fire, and down a beer usually before the age of accountability. A stoic, tough and individual breed, Yoopers usually aren’t super talkative or outgoing unless you get them in front of a Packer game or in a bar–or both! Many don’t care what you think and don’t need your help, which is both awesome and sad, depending on the state of their personal salvation…and stuff. But, just because they call snowmobiles “sleds” and don’t yell at basketball games (instead they get very quiet before a free-throw…learned that the hard way!), Yoopers still captivate my attention and arrest my personal interest. And honestly, they have taught me many things. Moving on….
Let’s face it. We are a strange breed in a strange place, for such a strange time as this.
We are Neo-Hippie snow pirates sticking our beards (not the women) into a stiff northern wind and shouting to the storm.
Many times it feels like the trees and the rocks are the only ones worshiping with us UP here…but that’s OK; we feel–some day–many will come to see what this is all about.
Maybe you will be one of them….