After six weeks of the semester we have learned an extravagant amount of information, begun to process the endless questions flooding our minds, and become a close knit community. Every week we have had the chance to escape this cloistered life in the mountains and attend church at Grace in Pagosa Springs. Over the course of these short hours every Sunday, we have been able to share life and get to know some local folks. This past Sunday was special. All the semester students were invited over to the houses of church members. Mostly going in groups of twos or threes, we were able to share in a day in the life of local friends.
Church service ended. The ‘host families,’ my fellow summit students, and I were directed to a corner of the sanctuary. I waited to be paired with my adopted family for a day. Slowly my fellow students and their host families started to be paired and they trickled out of the sanctuary. My name, along with two other students’ names, was called. I moved with eager and curious anticipation toward the unknown couple that stood before me. After introductions between me, my two fellow students and our friendly middle-aged host couple, we headed to the grocery store to pick-up hamburgers for lunch. Getting back on the road, we drove through downtown Pagosa Springs and casually made a 20 minute drive out of town toward the distant mountain ridges. Reaching the ridges, we started to ascend up the rocky dirt road. We passed through many brilliant yellow aspen groves. After making a hairpin turn and climbing more rapidly up the side of the mountain ridge, we turned into their driveway. A picturesque little log cabin stood before us, nestled in the midst of pine trees on the slope of the ridge.
We started to prepare lunch, grilling hamburgers and setting out the various condiments. While waiting for the grill to heat and burgers to cook, we continued our conversation from the car ride getting to know better this Godly, successful, and loving couple we were privileged to spend the afternoon with. Walking onto each of their decks we gazed in awe at the beauty before us. Looking down, a gorgeous valley of cattle pasture, looking up across the valley, there was a mountain peak towered above us. The whole mountain range across from us was speckled with aspen yellow. After lunch, all five of us and Winston, the dog, piled into a six person ATV. We sped up mountain roads, passing through dense aspen groves and many camps of elk hunters. Occasionally we would break out of the trees and catch a glimpse of our altitude, the vast valley below and the proud peaks above. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. And that time had come. We had to say goodbye to the wise, joyful, and God-fearing couple we had come to love over just a few short hours.
Although the beauty of a sunny Colorado fall day was awe-inspiring and incredible, there was something greater that I and all my fellow summit students were able to experience, Church. I mean, for a day I was able to step into and experience the fulfillment of the community that the Church is called to be. Five people spent an afternoon investing in each other’s lives. And ultimately the only reason we were able to come together was Christ. Without Christ we would have never met. It’s because and through Christ that we were not only able to meet, but we were willing to invest in, share life with, and love each other. Five people from 2 countries and 3 different states were able to, and wanted to, spend time with each other and walk beside each other. Last Sunday I experienced the Church of Christ fulfilling its mission. My prayer is that this would become a common practice of the worldwide church, that the church would rise up and consistently do what it is called to do by Christ.
Noah Prahlow follows in the footsteps of his older brothers by attending Summit Semester, making his way to the lodge from Galien, Michigan. Noah has a number of passions, and recognizes that those desires and gifts are an important part of pursuing God’s purpose for his life. Noah is planning to attend Valparaiso University to pursue a degree involving aviation, law, or political science. He enjoys involving himself in his local teen political group, working with wood, and making short films. His hope is that his time at Summit Semester will prepare him for one day running for political office by teaching him to defend his faith and sharpen his critical thinking ability.