Acadia National Park, ME, 2011

What about your summer in Acadia surprised you?

Getting off the plane in Bangor and walking around the moose-plastered airport, I knew I was far from my city upbringing near Los Angeles. Living in a forest and serving God for a summer sounded too good to be true and led me to apply without really thinking through all that the decision entailed. The lack of internet and cell service and distance from civilization were all surprises, but a much needed break from the routine of home. In the silence I had time to truly rest and not have to worry about anything much larger than fogged-out ministry services. In the quiet I found peace in prayer and a much more open communication with God.

What was your favorite thing about the summer?

Having the opportunity to worship God with people of all backgrounds was something I looked forward to each Sunday. No two services were ever the same and the gamut of characters I met were a reminder that while we all may be from different backgrounds, we are all of one body. Worshipping God in creation is unlike anything I've ever experienced and brings deeper meaning to services when you're surrounded by gorgeous examples of His love.

What did you learn this summer and how will that affect your life in the future?

I jumped into this summer without really knowing what I was getting myself into, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Learning to roll with the punches and be flexible is a trait I will take with me after my stay at Acadia is over. This has been a summer of connection—learning to be open to new people, places, and situations that are different than anything I've known. I never thought I'd meet a Serbian who learned his English from video games or get into killer hiking competitions ("I'll take your ten peaks and raise you two!"...ouch, but fun) with an ex-navy Texan, but now they are part of the group that has become my family here. I'm leaving here a different person than when I came. The girl leaving Acadia is much more adaptable, open, conscientious, and full of much more peace and faith than the girl who arrived fresh off a plane from LAX months ago. I have gained a commitment to sustainability and protecting God's creation as well as a commitment to growing my faith in ways that sometimes challenge me.

"[ACMNP] strengthened our son's faith."
– April

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