Crater Lake National Park is a beautiful place to live. The lake is breathtaking, and the surrounding forest is lovely, especially when the wildflowers bloom in late summer. Serving on a team with ACMNP at Crater Lake was an amazing experience, but it certainly came with its challenges. From minimal attendance and difficulty publicizing to feeling overwhelmed and isolated as the sole teammate, it was not at all the summer I was expecting. When the summer began, I spent most of my free time in my room preparing for Sundays and feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by the season ahead of me. I developed friendships with coworkers, but found myself often getting discouraged that I wasn’t having conversations with them about faith, and I felt like I wasn’t making an impact.
Then about halfway through the summer, through the wisdom and encouragement of ACMNP staff and support members, I came to realize that my unwanted circumstances were not something to look at with despair and discouragement, but rather they were something to look at as an opportunity. Being the only team member at the park presented me with the unique opportunity to conduct services without assistance, gave me a beautiful opportunity to grow deeper in my faith and trust in Christ, and gave me the chance to develop closer friendships with my coworkers that I might not have had the chance to otherwise. With this renewed encouragement and motivation, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and be intentional about initiating conversations and activities with my peers. Instead of staying in my room, I would invite my peers to play games or watch a movie together. I realized that having an impact in the lives of my coworkers and friends is more than simply having conversations about Jesus. Taking an interest in others and asking questions is a great way to get to know people better, embody the love of Christ, and show them that you care about them as fellow image-bearers and individuals. My summer went from making me feel isolated, overwhelmed, and discouraged to making me feel excited, hopeful, and loved. God answered my prayers that I would have the opportunity to spend time with my coworkers and create a life-giving community with them. He gave me courage and boldness to get through the rest of my summer and provided me with the peace and wisdom I needed to sustain me from day to day. My coworkers and I grew very close in the last few weeks, and although I didn’t have many faith conversations with them, they all came to support me and join for my last three Sundays of services. My situation that I saw as such a burden gave me the unique opportunity to lean on God more and develop my leadership skills through leading services without assistance.
Back in June, I jumped into Crater Lake with my roommate and two others. The lake only gets its water from rainfall and snowmelt, making it one of the cleanest and bluest lakes in the world. This also makes it very, very cold! Before I jumped in, I knew it would be cold… Knowing this, I didn’t touch the water once before I got in. If I knew just how cold it was, I probably wouldn’t have done it! If all I did was dip my toes in and stop there, the temperature would have deterred me from getting in. That wouldn’t have been a very exciting story to tell. Well, I jumped in all at once and the water was absolutely freezing. But oh was it worth it to have done it! (And now I can tell people that I’ve swam in a volcano! How cool is that?) I think this is a metaphor of how we ought to be with our ministry this summer. We know it’s going to be challenging — who ever said that ministry was easy? And if we knew just how hard it would be, would we still do it? But if we fully commit to the experience (even though it’s a little scary) and jump all the way in, it is so, so worth it. The same thing could even be said of a hike to a mountain peak — the view at the top is so worth the pain of the journey. I don’t know about you, but I’m jumping all the way in. This is what I signed up for. Sure I might not get as much sleep as I’d like some nights, and there will be some tears and loneliness along the way, but this ministry is worth it, and there is so much grace and depth to be found in the difficult times. Those tend to be the places where we grow in our faith the most! The friendships you make, the moments where you look back and see how clearly God was working, the life-giving conversations and the genuine love of Christ shared with others… it’s all worth whatever struggles you might be experiencing in the parks. And everything gives you an opportunity to walk closer to the Lord and trust Him more. Are you jumping all the way in?
Rachel, Crater Lake Team Member 2022
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”