“If I could describe my summer in a few short words I would use: freeing, wild, tiring, and trusting. The morning of May 27th, I gazed up at the sun that was stretching across the blue skies as I was in the car. Feelings of eagerness, anticipation, and worry circled my thoughts. As I was dropped off and said my goodbyes, I was given a gift that reminded me of the confidence I get to place in the Lord. It was a small, wooden cross that had the words “He is Risen” carved out. Throughout my summer, these three words continued to prompt boldness and courage to profess the truth about who my Savior is. As I flew from O’Hare International Airport to Bozeman International Airport, I felt peace knowing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was ready to see what the Lord had in store.
The next morning, I received my work uniform and began my job as a Room Attendant (RA) at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. For the first month, my work days looked very different due to the severe damages of an unpredicted flood that happened last year. There were still many repairs that caused the hotel to stay closed until the start of July. So, within the three months living in Yellowstone, I got to work three jobs; Room Attendant, Porter, and Room Inspector. Once the hotel opened, a typical workday as a Room Inspector looked like: clocking in at 7:30am and we had our morning inspector meeting that consisted of a list of the RA’s that I would be in charge of for the day, with a list of the hotel rooms that needed to be cleaned. At 8:00am, the rest of our team showed up. We always started the day off with morning stretches outside and by the middle of the summer, employees from other departments started to join us! Due to the uniqueness of the job as a Housekeeper, there was a community that began to form over time. It took a team to complete the listed rooms each day and there was always opportunity to help one another. After the stretches, the inspectors and I handed out the clipboards and roomkeys, that had the assigned rooms.
In the mornings, I went around to the assigned hotel rooms to strip the beds and make a pile of trash to help my RA’s clean the rooms at a quicker speed. As they finished rooms, I went back into the rooms to determine whether or not the room was “guest ready”. I found a lot of excitement through this job because I always tried to get my group of RA’s to finish all their rooms first. If it was a “short” day, we usually finished around 4pm. If it was a “long” day we would be done around 6pm. Through the role of being a Room Inspector, doors were opened to form relationships with each of my co-workers. Each day as I was assigned to my group of RA’s, the Holy Spirit kindly reminded me that He uses each interaction I had to shine the light of Christ and to be a vessel of God’s love.
As I inspected rooms, I learned a lot about my character and how to have the most success. For example, if I was inspecting a room that needed multiple corrections, I learned how to be stern yet gentle at the same time. I was able to earn the respect I needed in order to be a leader to be the most efficient. Especially due to the fact that every one of my co-workers were at least four to five years older than me! Something that was really special about working out in Yellowstone is that each of my co-workers were from all over the world. The Housekeeping Department had employees from four different countries; Spain, Taiwan, Romania, and the United States. I became friends with people who come from such different backgrounds and I may someday go visit them. I was able to connect with a group of the Spaniards who embodied the joy of the Lord. Their names were; Jorge, Laura, Angel, Cucu, Mawi, and Raquel. Each one of these friends had an overflow of kindness that brought me to endless laughter.
It was not only this group of people that made me feel this way. A sweet lady named Grace worked in the Employee Dining Room and every time I saw her, she brought a smile to my face. An older gentleman named Dean worked in Maintenance, he always asked how I was doing and encouraged me to finish the workday strong. A young adult named Joe who worked in the Hotel with me was always thoughtful with his words. Through each of these relationships, I remember being so confused with how fruits of the Holy Spirit were so evident through people who were not believers.
I would like to share more about the ministry as a whole. The Mission of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) is to embody and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ through worship, service, and the development of Christian leaders. In Mammoth, there were four of us that were a part of the team. Our team leader was named Ryan Perkins, a senior at Vanderbilt University. Next is Steven Givens, a junior at Cornerstone University. Lastly, is sweet Amanda Johnson who is a sophomore at Dordt University (who will be a lifelong best friend). On Sundays, the four of us lead worship services in the Mammoth Chapel. We had a rotation of who led each role at the services. A typical service looked like us greeting visitors and co-workers as they came, in hopes to make a connection before we began worshiping. We began our services by introducing ourselves and opening in a prayer to set our hearts in the right posture. We sang two songs that were from the ACMNP Worship Booklet and then read scripture to introduce what would be preached on that service. Each of us were able to preach two times this summer. After the message, we opened up a time of prayer and asked if anyone had prayer requests.
A short story I’d like to share is from the end of the summer. I had been inviting my assistant manager to come to a service and one Sunday, she came! During this time of prayer, she spoke up and shared how she recently had to be tested for Cancer and she asked that we would be praying over the results. I began tearing up. I was so grateful that the Lord brought her to worship and that we were able to pray over her. After we prayed, we worshiped through the time of offering and finished the service by singing another song and sharing the benediction. Most services were around 25-30 minutes which was a great reason why we were able to encourage people to come! After our service, our team liked to go hiking in the afternoon. We used this time to be really intentional with relational ministry. Amanda and I liked to invite our co-workers to come hiking with us on Sundays after our service! We always invited our co-workers to church. Sometimes they came but sometimes they just joined the hiking part. But, I learned that the Lord was working through each invite.
Through these consistent hangouts on Sundays, my team and I were able to form friendships with our co-workers. Our heart behind it was to be the light of Christ and be different from the world. We prayed that the Lord would use us to show them who believers are, in a positive way that maybe they have never experienced before. As the summer continued, we began to be known as “the people from the ministry” and I couldn’t be prouder.
At the start of the summer, the typical question people asked when you first meet was “what brought you to Yellowstone?” and I remember shying away from sharing how I was a part of a ministry. But, it was that small wooden cross that I was given before I left that reminded me of the good news that must be shared, “He is Risen”. Throughout my time, I learned how to profess my faith boldly without being ashamed. The Lord worked through my heart and took my worries captive about how others will perceive me. I was overjoyed to be different and to be known as “the people from the ministry”. I can only pray and trust that the Lord used me this summer to be His light among a place that holds a weight of darkness.
To close, I want to finish by sharing about what happened at our last worship service and how it showed me how the Lord was by my side at every moment and working through the hearts of each person throughout the entire summer. The week leading up to Sunday, we all shared with our co-workers that this would be the last service and encouraged a lot of people to come. As we went into our last service, the team and I had heavy hearts. It was a bittersweet feeling, we were soaking up the “lasts” leading this ministry in Yellowstone. As we entered into the time for the message, we each chose to speak by sharing a 3-5 minute testimony of what the Lord had taught us this summer. Each of my team members spoke and then it was my turn. I remember standing up, facing the pews, and pausing to look at each person. I noticed the faces of our “regulars”- Kathy and Nikki, The Shorts, Justin, Aidan, Crystal. I noticed the faces of my team. I noticed employees from the Employee Dining Room and from the Rec. I noticed the group of my co-workers from the Housekeeping Department all sitting together with big smiles on their faces. I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy. I was overfilled with gratitude with the community that the Lord formed. I was able to see each person that the Lord had brought onto my path and I was in awe.
That morning, I spoke on Psalm 23: 1-3 and reflected on my summer experience by walking through each verse. As we concluded our service, all of our co-workers came and gave us big hugs. There were tears, laughter, and sincere compliments. One of my RA’s named Raquel ran up to me, crying, and hugged me. She then told me something that I will always hold close, she said, “thank you for all that you have done for me, you have no idea how much you mean”. Those few words are treasured in my heart. That is what made all of the difficult moments worth it, if it was for one person to be impacted.”
-Kelsey Lundgaard, Yellowstone National Park, Mammoth Hot Springs – 2023
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”