Mount Rainier National Park, WA, 2011

How did you grow this summer? How were your beliefs challenged?

This summer I was challenged in my faith in many ways, both by those around me and by the temptations of my own heart. At first this summer I really wasn't fully "heart- committed" to this ministry and I felt that I was here for my job. In the first two weeks when I was first job training and fresh out of college, I looked at the ministry as something I had to do and something that was taking my free time instead of something I wanted to do and time that I was giving to God. Then about the time of the second ministry meeting that I attended in my second week, I realized what I was mentally doing. I was putting other things before God in a summer that I had devoted to God. I decided that I was going to fully commit my heart to the ministry at that time. I was fully committed in both body and mind ever since.

My beliefs were definitely challenged by the day-to-day grind of getting through the summer. People were always watching my actions to see how I would respond to situations that were thrown at me. I got to practice living a bright Christian life that everyone can see. I talked to coworkers of all religions about my beliefs and also got to hear a lot about theirs.

How was your experience at Mt. Rainier different than what you expected?

This summer surprised me because I thought that I was going to be working with a bunch of teenagers on summer break from college who wanted to hike and get outside. Many people up here weren't like that at all. A lot of people live a nomadic lifestyle going from ski resort in winter to national park in summer. Many are internationals visiting the country. There was just such a diverse group of people and hearing all their totally different life stories taught me so much about life.

How will you apply what God has taught you this summer into your life back home?

In my short 19 years I have never just had an extended amount of time to sit down and look back on my life and rationally sort through everything. It was a summer to go over memories and regrets. When I get back home I will use the knowledge of my past mistakes that God revealed to me to not follow that same path again. I have truly learned so much about forgiveness in my own heart, both about forgiving myself and forgiving others, that I feel [God] has really molded me into an entirely new creation.

"It was especially neat to begin developing an eye for analogies and concrete images in creation, tying observations in with our relationship with God and seeing that there are, in effect, ...parables' all around us of God's care and the gospel."
– Jonathan, Calvin Theological Seminary 2011

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