Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, AK, 2011
Describe some specific times this summer where you encountered God in creation at Glacier Bay.
During a particularly rough week, [my teammate] and I took a walk down the beach, crossed a river, and sat in the sand to listen and watch whales. We both noticed that the whales seemed to come out a lot during our hardest weeks. According to rangers, this was the highest number of whales seen in the area for quite some time. I had been struggling to connect with [my team], but sitting out there in the sand, watching the whales, a little bit of the barrier came down for me. Later we bonded more when we stepped on sea urchins and had to dig them out of our feet… My new favorite thing to say might just be, “When life gives you lemons, go find some whales.”
How did you grow this summer?
I want to be a patient person so badly, but I often find myself chewing on the inside of my cheek to keep from saying something rash. This summer was a perfect opportunity to practice patience and understanding. One of my roommates summed it up the best: We should not treat problems with false positivity, as though they do not exist, but at the same time we should not look at everything as negative. Rather we should approach these problems with honesty, understanding, and open-minds.
How will you apply what God has taught you this summer into your life back home?
Positivity and kindness. Thinking before I speak. Journaling rash thoughts instead of speaking them. Loving those I encounter. Stepping out of my friend box to meet more people. Remembering that God loves me and that He loves everyone: that it has never been, is not, and never will be my place to judge someone. To get some more Christian friends who like to be rambunctious and have adventures.
What advice can you give the next year's staff in your park location?
“We can bring heaven a little closer to earth, even if it’s for just one person.” Our job as Christians is to love. There will be times when people do things that go against your morals or your beliefs, but I urge you not to let these things cloud your ability to love them. Go on walks. Watch the whales. Jump off the dock. Take advantage of the tours. Be kind. Get involved. Work hard, do your job, and do a little extra. Listen. Give sincere compliments. Get out and do things, even if you only have a little time. Don’t be afraid. Know that you are loved. Three months is not very long, but it is long enough to change everything.