The Finish Line

September 7, 2012 | Kam Schaefer

The signs are noticeable all over the park.  The temperature is already beginning to drop.  The leaves on the trees are falling to the ground.  Fewer kids running around.  School is starting.  Summer is coming to a close.  ACMNP only has two weeks of services left and the team in Yosemite has already lost several members to early college start dates.  So what are we going to take from this summer in the park?  What have we learned?  How have we grown?  Remember, it is important to reflect in order that we may understand how far we truly have come. 

Early in the summer our team was pretty scattered.  A few of us knew each other prior to arrival but we tended to stick in those groups.  Probably because that was comfortable and familiar.  We struggled through those first few weeks.  Struggled to find our way around the park, get settled into our jobs, and to become accustomed to the surrounding culture.  We felt lost and in need of a leader.  Eventually we settled into a rhythm and things began to click for our services.  Team members were enjoying success in relational ministry and we thought we were doing pretty well. 

After Spencer visited, our team realized how far we had yet to come.  He reminded us of some responsibility that we were still neglecting.  We were still not truly one team, one body.  We remained in our small groups, still neglecting to reach out to each other on the team.  Many of us experienced some extremely difficult, dark, and lonely moments about this time, during mid-summer.  We felt alone.  We were frustrated by the demands of work and the ministry on top of simply trying to live contrary to the culture here.  We needed someone to take action and God sent Spencer.  Soon after his departure our team really came together.  We began throwing our energy into investing in each other and the ministry God could do when we operate as one unit.  Thank you, Spencer.  And thanks to all who faithfully kept us in prayer during these times.  God heard the cries of our earnest hearts, felt the desperation in our souls, and responded with compassion, showering his children with grace.  Sometimes it takes a point of desperation to move us to where we need to be. 

Lindsey and Lauren conclude a second summer with ACMNP with a hike to Ten Lakes Basin.
And God did just that.  Following the lowest point of our summer, we rebounded and rode the wave of success through the rest of the season.  Our team really began to click as we spent time together outside of our weekly prep meeting.  We hiked, biked, climbed, ran, swam and simply hung out together.  We enjoyed pancakes together one morning a week and a picnic dinner one evening a week.  Relationships were formed and beautiful things happened.  Our services took off and we were able to hold services at two to three locations for nearly a month. 

This is the story that continues to today.  Our team has truly discovered what it means to be one body, to be of one heart and mind.  Each of us has learned to sacrifice sleep, free time, and sometimes our passions of climbing or hiking for the better of the team and ministry.  We have become great friends and true brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Tesia, Lauren, and Becki bouldering together.
However, the summer is coming to a close and it is winding down all too soon.  Several of us have already left the park.  Kyle and Kelbe, we miss you already (especially when climbing on the granite cliffs!) and wish you the best at Spring Arbor this school year.  Becki, thank you for your beautiful singing voice this summer, it is noticeably missing in our worship services.  We pray that you can display Christ through your theater and choreography job this fall.  And Lindsey, no one could ever take your place on the ukulele or bring as much enthusiasm and encouragement to our team.  We hope you have an awesome year at Mount Vernon.  We are praying that each of you will be able to take what you have learned and experienced this summer in the park and apply it to your lifestyle back home or at school. 

The rest of us will remain in Yosemite at least through the end of September.  We plan to continue meeting together and holding services as long as possible, for this is what the gospel calls us to do.  We also hope to make the most of every opportunity in our last days here, relationally and recreationally.  The season is almost over and that truth really hit me when members of our team started leaving.  My time here has flown by and before long I will be leaving too.  Life is very much the same way.  Time is ever elusive and before we know it our time on this earth will be over as well.  At the end of your time what will God say when reviewing your life?  Will you be able to share in the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7?  Fight the good fight.  Finish the race.  Keep the faith.  Amen.

Goodbye for now and God Bless,


PS.  Thanks to all who have read any or all of these entries.  I hope you found them helpful in providing a glimpse into life in Yosemite and the ministry here.  Furthermore, a special thank you to all who kept us in prayer this summer.  We really appreciate the support and your prayers were answered.  God showed up big time for our team when we needed it the most. 

PPS.  You may have heard about something called the Hantavirus here in Yosemite.  Several cases of it have been reported and two people have died from the virus so far.  Luckily it cannot be spread from person to person, but please continue to remember our team and those who live and work here in prayer as we continue to deal with this situation.  

"This experience deepened my assurance of calling to the ministry and sharpened the skills I will need for congregational leadership."
– Kam, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond 2011

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