Well friends, it’s been a while since I posted last. And normally, I wouldn’t have let so much time elapse between my last post and this one but sometimes that’s just the way it works out. I’ve been pretty busy as of lately (but not the bad type of busy - the fun type of busy) I’ve been climbing mountains, hiking canyons, camping with friends, and jumping off cliffs - all while clocking in 40 hours a week at my front desk job at the hotel. It’s been sort of crazy, but I kind of like it that way. I can safely say this has been one the best summers of my life thus far!
I’m still in awe that I have the honor of working here. Waking up and seeing the blue waters of Lake Powell every morning against the red cliffs of the canyon is truly a sight to see. Southern Utah amazes me in its vastness - there are massive canyons with springs running through them, huge mountains with forests on their slopes, and rock formations that look otherworldly. It’s simply incredible. God’s artistry is on full display here and I am so thankful that I have been given the chance this summer to take it all in.
Though that’s not to say things haven’t been challenging out here. Coming from a Christian college I’m not used to being the religious minority - but that’s exactly how it is out here. Both a lot of the employees and a huge portion of the guests are of the LDS faith. In fact there aren’t any Christian churches out here. The only place that offers religious services is an LDS church in Ticaboo (about 15 miles away). Realizing this just reaffirms the notion that our team needs to be here. And even though many people here claim to be Christians, they have no place of worship to go to. In fact just the other day one of my teammates said that their coworker was a Christian, but since living out here hasn’t been to church in 3 years.
Since being out here I’ve also encountered a lot of different world views. A common theme I am seeing among people out here is the “what’s good for me is good for me, and what’s good for you is good for you” mentality. I’ve come to expect that in today’s world but what I hadn’t expected is the difficulty of arguing against that. After all, what good is it of pointing them towards the Bible if they think the Bible is just one truth among hundreds of truths to choose from? It’s been difficult and I’ve praying for God’s wisdom to guide me when these type of conversations come up.
Speaking of conversations, my team has started a Bible study out here on Wednesday nights. Only a few people have started coming, but the fact that they seem interested in studying God’s Word excites me. However, as mentioned before they often bring world views to the table that are completely contradictory to the Bible. This can often to lead to problems as expected. In fact, one night got fairly heated among a couple of people and it didn’t end on a positive note. I felt completely discouraged and felt like crying. I kept asking God: What am I out here for? Am I even making a difference? What am I supposed to even say to these people?
Fortunately, my teammates were feeling the exact same way. Shortly after that particular meeting for Bible study, my teammate Liz and I ended up watching the stars and praying out loud together as we debriefed about the situation. Turning to God in the midst of our troubles is exactly what we needed. And ironically, what we had just talked about in Bible study was the first chapter in James: where it discusses the importance of trials in our faith. As I looked at the stars and contemplated the passage it finally all made sense to me: this was a trial and I needed to persevere through it with God’s help.
Trials aren’t fun though, friends. It’s not fun to get rejected when you invite someone to worship services, and it’s not fun to see your flyers tore down shortly after you’ve put them up. But then I just think of when Paul was in chains, and how he sang hymns in the prison - and then I realize that moping around and feeling discouraged isn’t the attitude God would want me to have, After all, aren’t we reminded in Romans that if “God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
But despite the trials, I’ve still seen God work in incredible ways. For instance, one of our Russian friends got her first Bible the other day after it finding it on a houseboat she was cleaning. And many people that I didn’t think would even open up about religion, have become quite frank with us: sharing with us that they often still feel confused and bewildered about life and its meaning. It’s been amazing to see the Lord work right before our eyes.
God has also been there in terms of safety. In one incident, a girl that works at the convenience store here rolled her SUV 3 times going about 65 mph down the main access road. Her only injuries were a few scrapes on her arms. And then just a few days ago, a girl was thrown from her truck in another rollover accident on the same road. She was found miraculously by a vehicle consisting of two doctors and a nurse who her able to respond promptly to her serious injuries. She was then life flighted to a hospital a few hours away. At first, they didn’t even think she was going to make it though the night. But now she is quickly recovering from the incident. (No broken bones, no bleeding in the brain) It’s a miracle.
Another amazing thing is that we’ve begun to start our Sunday services out here. Our very first service had four people in attendance. It consisted of a fellow employee/friend and a woman who lives here with her two children. She had been looking for a church to go here since moving out here with her husband who works as a park ranger. She said she was delighted when she saw the flyer about our services in the post office - previously she had just been having church in her home with her family. She expressed her joy in knowing that she could connect with fellow believers. It was great talking to her. She offered us a lot of encouragement and support as well. She even invited us to a future cook out of hers. I’m excited to have her involved in our services.
Overall friends, I am well and loving it here. Utah is beautiful and God is good. Glad I can keep you updated on my summer. Hope this post gave you a little encouragement today! Peace friends.
(Oh, and if you’d like, you can follow my adventures on instagram at bradyfield)