Glen Canyon-Lake Powell, UT, AZ, 2013
How did you grow this summer?
I have made new friends every day and have developed relationships with many of them, and I see the world differently because of them. They stretch me, test me, challenge me, frustrate me, and yet love me, and I love them. I have never experienced such a social situation, where we have nothing in common but living on the employee housing hill-top together. We have Bulgarians, Russians, Turks, Moldavians, Navajos, Filipinos, and of course Americans from every background and religion you could name. Somehow, our differences don't really matter here. Each night there is a gathering outside my dorm building, and sometimes we talk. Sometimes we play music. Sometimes people drink too much. Sometimes new people wander over, and we welcome them with open arms and excitement about getting to know them. Honestly, I never know what is going to happen here. I gave up attempting to fit people and schedules and moments into a box that I can understand. Very few things are reliable, and as I begin to see this, I begin to see why a solid foundation makes such a difference. It's something you don't really notice until you end up in a place where no one knows you, and most people don't believe the way you do. Tending to my relationship with Jesus has become a necessity, not an option. I need that consistency to remind me why I'm here, and to give me hope and purpose as I live each day. When nothing else is reliable, Jesus is.
How were your beliefs challenged?
This summer changed my life. My beliefs were challenged every day, and I was able to see the world in a new perspective—one shaped by real relationships with people who thought differently than me. I realized that just because you don’t agree, that is no reason to not value a person, or care immensely about them. I feel like so often my previous view of religion focused on being right and thinking or telling others they are wrong. I learned that it’s about loving and letting God work in their hearts. Planting seeds doesn’t always show growth, but it’s so important.
Describe some specific times this summer where you encountered God in creation.
Everyday! No matter how many sunsets/sunrises I see, I always catch my breath and think about what a creative, beautiful God we have. Exploring the area was always exciting—the terrain was always changing.