Creation and Community
The ACMNP team has been here for about a week and a half and already we have experienced so much of God’s work and had so much fun exploring Creation. We have seen the vast glaciers up the bay, gone on miles of hiking trails, and spent many nights sitting around campfires on the beach. There are only 55 employees at the Glacier Bay Lodge, and since we all live together, we have gotten to know a lot of our coworkers, many of whom I would already call good friends. Everybody comes from such different walks of life and has a different path for the way in which they got to Glacier Bay… one of my favorite parts about being here is just engaging in conversation and getting to hear about where everyone is from. I am surprised and excited by every story, and to hear about diversity in lifestyles is refreshing.
Since I started working at the Front Desk of the Lodge, I have gotten quite the knowledge about Gustavus and Southeast Alaska in general. The phone book for the town of Gustavus is a single 11”x17” sheet of paper, and every phone number begins with the same three numbers. I have met a lot of locals who come in to the Lodge and those who work in town, and they are so kind and the epitome of small-town living. A Gustavus summer favorite is the Friday night softball league. Under the bright white lights (just kidding- it’s the dim glow of the never-setting sun), four teams square off for some serious competition. The Glacier Bay Lodge, the National Park Service, and two local teams play every week to see who will be the Gustavus softball champions. While it was nice to get out of the Lodge, it was so great to see everyone from work and town come together bonding and engaging with each other. This community truly thrives on small, but meaningful things like this, and it made me excited to feel like I was part of it.
After settling in to our positions here and getting a feel for how Glacier Bay works, Jerusha and I were finally able to hold our first Sunday service yesterday. We had one person come to worship with us, and even though it was a small group, it was still awesome and exciting to actually be doing one of the jobs we were sent here to do! Jerusha gave a great message about how God is with us no matter the situation, and that we should cast our worries on Him because he can provide peace always. This was a great reminder that the worries I came with (and the worries that are bound to come in the next few months) are not worth dwelling on because I know that God will always come through and be there to calm my woes. She used Psalm 23 to sum it up perfectly: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me” (23:4). Sometimes the dirt path employees have to walk on between the Lodge and our housing feels like the valley of death because there are porcupines and lots of mosquitos, but I use that time to pray out loud that God will protect me and allow me to get back to my room safely. Seriously- the National Park Service said that when we walk alone we should talk out loud to alert any animals that we are there so we don’t scare them.
All jokes aside, what I experienced this week at softball and at the Sunday service showed me that relational ministry is going to be a huge part of my role up here this summer. I may not be able to reach a ton of people through the weekly service, but I know that I can show people God’s love and his purpose by living my life, and engaging in activities that allow people to see God’s work in me. I am excited for more discussion and conversation with people that may or may not lead to talking about faith, but either way, I know it will be entertaining and thought-provoking. In ten days, living in Alaska has already done so much for me that I cannot begin to explain, but I am just glad I still have three months here. I came in not really understanding why exactly God had called me to serve here, but I am definitely starting to see not only the impact I can have here, but the impact Alaska is having on me.