“It’s nearly summer again, and I find my heart making its own way to Grand Teton National Park. I cannot believe it has been nearly 14 years since I served with ACMNP in the Tetons during the summer of 2005. What a remarkable experience it was! It is just as vivid and alive to me now as it was 14 years ago. In fact, I think it means even more to me today.
In the intervening years, I have been ordained and serve as a minister in the United Methodist Church. Currently, I’m Lead Pastor at a church in Augusta, Georgia, across from Augusta National. I’m sitting at my desk, watching them gear up for next week’s Masters. It reminds me of my time of “gearing up” to head off to the Tetons for an entire summer! I drove from Georgia to the Tetons over a three day period, driving up over Togwotee Pass in a blinding snowstorm, wondering what in the world I’d gotten myself into. The answer soon came: I had gotten myself into a slice of heaven! What a wonderful, awe-filled, glorious summer that was.
The answer soon came: I had gotten myself into a slice of heaven!
For the past 14 years, I often have found many of my sermons to be peppered with images of the Tetons, with memories of worship moments from Gros Ventre, Jenny Lake, and Colter Bay, with sights and sounds of day hikes, canoeing, and animal sightings. My congregation is as familiar with the Tetons as anyone can be who’s never really been there.
When my ministry work causes me any stress at all, I can escape my current worries by closing my eyes and being instantly transported to String Lake and Mount Moran and the Snake River. I can hear the sounds of laughter around campfires on the beach at Jackson Lake. I can picture drives into Yellowstone, day trips into Jackson, and soccer games in the employee parking lot at Colter Bay. I can see the faces of my colleagues as we read the Bible and conduct worship. I can see my co-workers, many of whom I befriended and, hopefully, showed that God has a sense of humor as well as a sense of purpose for us all.
I can never begin to describe the impact my ACMNP summer has had on my life.
I can never begin to describe the impact my ACMNP summer has had on my life. It reminded me that God is powerfully within each of us and that each of us is an amazing witness for Christ himself. I consider it a privilege to have been part of this wonderful, life-altering ministry. I pray that each person participating in 2019 has even one-tenth the experience I had, because I know if they do, they will be touched by God’s grace, blessed beyond their wildest imaginations, and will bring home with them rich, vibrant memories to keep, treasure, and guide them for the rest of their lives.
God bless all of this year’s ACMNP staff. May God’s glory shine brightly in all the Parks and may everyone gain a new appreciation for His wonders, splendors, and grace. He truly is a Creator God – creating the beauty of this earth and creating people who love Him and one another and serve Him in amazing ways.”
Fondly, and wistfully,
Linda, Grand Teton National Park, 2005
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”