Coming to Summit Semester this year has been an experience never to be forgotten. I have learned many things about Christ, life, the world we live in, and even things about myself I didn’t know. I feel like between the time of arriving and leaving Snow Wolf Lodge, I will be better equipped spiritually, theologically, philosophically, politically, and biblically. I will be going home better rounded than when I came to Colorado, and ready to use the things I have learned, more confident in myself than I have ever been in my whole life.
What has surprised me though, is that one of the biggest places I have been challenged is not through my studies, lectures or reading, but through work crews. Every Tuesday and Friday we spend nearly our whole afternoon with Nathan and Matt, the property managers, doing various jobs around the property of Snow Wolf Lodge. Growing up on a farm, I thought I knew what good, honest hard work was. At home, physical labor is one of my favorite things to do. There are always things that need to be done, the list never ends, and the feeling of getting something accomplished cannot be replaced. If there is ever a chore I don’t specifically want to do and maybe even complain about, the voice of my dad comes into my head saying: “Hard work builds character.” That is usually enough encouragement for me to get the job done.
Well, if my character hasn’t been built by the end of semester, then there is something wrong. I’m sorry Nathan and Matt, but I hated work crews when I first came. Whenever I woke up on a Tuesday or a Friday, I dreaded whatever the afternoon held for me. After lunch and dish pit, we all gather together and listen to the devotion before we actually head out to work. After the devotion, we are assigned to our crews, which could be kitchen, indoor, outdoor, or baby-sitting crew. I have gotten the privilege to be a part of each and every one of these crews, some more than others. The first work crew to which I was assigned was the kitchen. I really, really wanted to be on outdoor work crew, so my mindset was not in a good place even on day one. When you are appointed to kitchen work crew, you are either taking everything out of the kitchen to completely bleach everything, or you are helping Steven, the cook, prepare the meal for that night — sometimes both. Now, my favorite thing about kitchen crew is the fact that Steven is a music fanatic and he loves to blast music. It’s a great variety, anything from Disney to Johnny Cash, or Creedence Clearwater Revival to some kind of pop music, I don’t even know… I enjoy helping put a masterpiece meal together, but sometimes it gets frustrating. There are so many people doing so many things at once, and I guess the good Lord knows when my introverted self needs to be stretched.
Indoor work crews used to be just downright boring to me. Indoor, is in charge of the deep cleaning of the lodge (dusting, vacuuming, washing windows, etc), Echo Canyon, where lectures are held, and maintenance of the Summit vans. For some reason, time ticks so slowly when I am dusting.
Whenever I ended up on outdoor work crews, it was a good plus. If I had to be pulling giant thistles and weeds, at least I could be outside in the sunshine. So why did I still hate the work? I pull weeds at home, in the gardens, but I just dreaded those doggone thistles. Additionally, digging trenches which seemed to go on for miles to prepare for future snow falls made me so sore. Heck, digging trenches at home is fun, why is it different here?
And then, there is baby-sitting. Some of the cutest and most fun kids that I have ever met are probably Rafferty (age 5), Cosey (age 4), and Briar (age 3), belonging to Dustin (director of Summit Semester) and Ruthann Jizmejian. I have only baby sat once, but engaging with those kids is like engaging with mini angels that make you laugh till your sides hurt.
My work crew attitude, as my readers can probably tell, stank. I noticed my attitude, sure, but when I seriously started thinking about it was when I realized I still had two and a half months to go.
Something clicked when I was listening to a certain devotion before work crew. It was that one Bible verse that was one of the many I have been raised on. Do everything, as if you are doing it for the Lord. I sure had not been doing anything during work crews that could have been done like the Lord was standing right there with me. Which okay fine, He WAS standing right there with me, but still.
And I’m sure everyone knows that God has a sense of humor, right? Well during this process of changing my work crew attitude, I learned real quickly not to complain. One day, there was rumor that the kitchen crew was going to be breathing bleach, and cleaning the kitchen—again. So during lunch, I stated out loud, how I hoped I wasn’t going to be on that work crew.
Guess what? I don’t know if Matt or Nathan heard that, but I know God did, and he so generously placed me on kitchen crew. I got humbled.
Whenever we started sanding the lodge for staining that is when I really started enjoying work crew. Running those orbital sanders you can’t hear anything, so it was a good time for me to think and pray. God brought my memories back to a couple years prior when my summer job was to sand and repaint our whole front and back porch. I had fun doing that, and I thought to myself that it sure as heck shouldn’t be any different here. I started seeing work in a new perspective, on every crew I was assigned.
Driving the summit vans down to the shop to check oil and brake fluid became something to which I looked forward instead of just a time consuming activity. And I also learned that you can really get to know a person when you’re cleaning toilets side by side. That’s right my friends, cleaning toilets is a character building activity—for sure. I am now eager to learn how to prepare and cook meals, because I can take those traits home with me. I am still working on the bleach aspect of the kitchen, my attitude continues riding the line on that one…
Altogether, the Lord has taught me a few things about work that I have learned better to appreciate. And I have also grown to understand that work isn’t always considered hard physical labor, work could be hard or easy, and it could be something as simple as improving your attitude. Because yeah, Jesus IS standing right beside you. Watching you, always watching…
Stormey Coleman has traveled from Georgia with her sister, Alex, to attend Summit Semester. Currently, Stormey is pursuing her nursing degree from Chattahoochee Technical College. After she has completed her RN degree, Stormey would like to get her Master’s degree in nursing and work in pediatrics. Being a farm girl, another of her passions is horses. Through this love, she has been able to mentor younger girls. Stormey loves having the opportunity to teach girls about horses while also exemplifying for them the life of a Christ-following young woman. While at Summit Semester, Stormey is excited to see how God grows her in boldness and knowledge so that she can better share the truth of Christ with others.