This summer, I made the bold choice of listening to the Lord and following His calling for my upcoming fall semester. I attended Session One of the Summit Student Conference in Manitou Springs, Colorado, only to return home with further questions and an unquenchable thirst for a higher knowledge of God. I learned more in those two weeks than I ever thought possible, and my intellectual growth is exactly what encouraged me to embark on this intensive, three-month journey. I was excited to learn with like-driven people in pursuit of Christ. As I prepared to transition from constant cell service, flat sandy beaches, and my own comfort zone, I began to feel more and more anxious about living in a lodge in the middle of nowhere with people that were still complete strangers to me. With mixed emotions and tears streaming down my face, I said my goodbyes and I began my travels into what was still the unknown.
Throughout my trip here, the only thing left to do was trust in the Lord with everything I had. Finally, I arrived at the Durango airport. After finding myself in baggage claim, I let out a sigh of relief when I saw someone patiently waiting nearby, wearing a Summit T-shirt… I was finally in the right place. When joined by a couple of other students, we drove out to the lodge, sharing where we were from and our expectations for our time here. After finally arriving at the lodge, caught off guard, I was submerged in a warm embrace from a complete stranger. Then before I knew it, I was welcomed with an overflow of bear hugs from more students that had already arrived. I quickly began to learn that this was where God wanted me. Nestled in the deep forest of Pagosa Springs, with other students like me, wondering how exactly they ended up here. The community we share is a reflection of what God clearly had in mind for me to experience. Our different personalities and backgrounds have made table conversations so interesting and joyful. I am excited that when the time approaches, in November, I can return home with more brothers and sisters than I ever thought imaginable. In our time here so far, we have gotten a taste of how the Snow Wolf Lodge operates. We all pitch in throughout the week via our work crews in order to maintain the property and serve the people that blessed us with this facility. The atmosphere that Summit Semester cultivates is one that far surpasses what has become the family régime in today’s world. Within the few days I have been here, I have already seen what used to be old habits, diminished. I have exceeded limits I placed on myself (physically and mentally) that I struggled to believe were breakable, and it hasn’t been yet a full week.
To share some specifics of how we spent our time over the past few days, I would like to begin with Church on Sunday morning. We attended Grace in Pagosa and received an inspiring message on the first chapter of James. One thing I took away from the message was that trials and temptations do not come from God. Only pure and good things come from Him. Nevertheless, God can still use your trials and temptations for a greater purpose. He came to give us an abundant life and He implanted His word into our hearts and souls so that we may be saved. When we go through hard times, He is not to blame, but our fallen world is. God then uses the trials we experience to refine our faith. Our pure religion, in simplest form, should be equivalent to humble action. If we consume the word constantly without sharing it with others, it is useless. Faith without works is simply dead. The people at Grace took on the armor of Christ and welcomed us with full hearts. They also began consistent prayer for us individually as we continue to live and grow in knowledge these next few months.
After church, we went for a hike on the Piedra River Trail. The view was absolutely breathtaking. We packed our lunch and ate along the trailside while engaging in conversation. Some students chose to go to town and enjoy the coffee shops and Wi-Fi, while others of us chose to continue the hike and explore, swim in the creek, and climb as high on the rocky fixtures of the surrounding mountains as deemed imaginable. The fresh mountain air in combination with warm sunlight peering through the evergreens was heaven on earth. That night we had small group time. My group ended up going stargazing in the open field, discussing answers to questions written on paper that we each drew from a hat. Witnessing the Milky Way and a dozen shooting stars in a crisp unclouded form was magical. Getting to know my group of girls and leader, Lindsey, was truly a cherished time spent. On Monday morning we drove out to hike to the top of Opal Lake. While this hike was more challenging for me in the beginning, the view was well worth it. Once at the top, some students chose to swim through the cold opal lake and further explore the nature around us. After a couple of guys ventured to the opposite side of the lake, they had the idea of building a log raft to return on. After much scavenging and physical labor they had completed their boat. With five minutes left before we had to hike back toward the vans, they began their journey back across the lake. Although their raft fell apart half way through, their effort didn’t go unnoticed. You could say we have some wild adventurers amongst us. Although the experiences we have this semester may make wild adventurers out of us all.
Elizabeth Kresse, known to us as Liz, joins this year’s Semester class from Venice, Florida. With an interest in physical training, Liz competed in Varsity Weightlifting at her high school and received the Bar-bender award. She enjoys taking part in community service and worked as an intern with her church’s youth ministry. In her free time, she is likely to be developing her interest in photography or eagerly learning and discovering new things. After Semester, Liz plans to continue attending community college in pursuit of her degree in Exercise Science.