These last couple weeks have been quite a trip! Not only have I been planning and praying for my travels up to Glacier Bay, but I have been taking finals and moving out of the dorms in Iowa, spending a quick four days at home in Colorado, and trying to pack up for the summer up North! Like every year, classmates, professors, and random people I talk to in the checkout line at Target ask what my summer plans are. The faces that I get when I say “I’m serving on a ministry team in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska” are a crack up, as I think they expect me to say that I’m interning, or working in town, or taking a summer class. If the conversation goes beyond just that, I get questions like “how did you find that program (ACMNP)?” or “how long do you have to be there for?” But my absolute favorite question I have gotten so far is “Why Alaska?”
When I applied for ACMNP in February, I was flipping through the pictures on the park profiles and was overwhelmed with the beauty that is all over this country. When I came across Glacier Bay and Denali, I automatically knew that those two would be on my top preferences for placement this summer. Visiting Alaska has been on my bucket list for a while now, and so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity not only to get a check on my list, but have a truly adventurous summer in the “Last Frontier”. However, I had some reservations about wanting to go to Alaska. I knew that being so far away from my family meant they wouldn’t be able to visit, and that I wouldn’t be seeing them for three months. This is something that I am constantly struggling with as going to school out-of-state has really made me appreciate the small amount of time I do get to spend with my family when I come home. Also, the town I go to school in is pretty small and remote, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend more time in an even smaller and even more remote community. I had serious reservations about going all in and serving in Alaska, but after lots of prayer and listening (and looking at all the pretty pictures of the park on Pinterest), I decided to do it- it was what I felt I was being called by God to do.
I submitted my application with no doubts about Alaska, and I was accepted to Glacier Bay. Even though those worries were still in my mind (and still are, don’t get me wrong) I felt confident that everything would be alright because I had put trust in Him in just figuring out where I wanted to be geographically. As summer has gotten closer and other plans have developed, I realized that me being so far away means I can’t partake in summer traditions that I have maintained with friends and family for many years. However, my trust in God has allowed me to make peace with this, and has helped me show others just how strong my love for Him is. When I get the “why Alaska” question, being able to respond with “It is where I am being called to go” is so easy, and allows others to see just how much of a role God has in my life. I feel like being able to share why I am going all the way to Alaska to talk about God is just the first step I am taking with my ministry responsibilities. I keep saying I am going to Alaska to be on a ministry team, but I’m realizing that just telling people in Iowa and Colorado my plans is me ministering because it shows them just how much of an active force God plays in my life. This realization was really great for me to come to, as it has made me truly realize what kinds of opportunities there are to show others the goodness that is in God. I love God and trust Him so much so that I am going to spend the summer in the wilderness that He has created; Alaska and my worries are daunting, but God’s presence and peace makes them seem so minuscule. Here’s to a great summer in Glacier Bay- let’s see where God takes me!