Once upon a time, there were thirty-two people who were planning to go to the Grand Canyon. These individuals were known as the Semester Students of the year 2015. Throughout the last two months they had grown to appreciate each other’s company and were really looking forward to going on a camping expedition for the second time together. (The first was known as “The Greatness of the Sand Dunes“, which is readable in previous sections of this account.) In the days leading up to their departure they discussed their plans on what sort of adventures they wished to embark upon. Some boasted heroic goals of traveling down the Canyon and back up in only a day. Their dreams were later dashed when several of their overseers informed them that such a feat could not be accomplished in a solitary day. Others wished to forever immortalize their moments of glory in pictures. Still others simply wished to go for the experience of fellowshipping with those to whom they had grown close over the past few months.
Unfortunately, life enjoys shattering the hopes and dreams of those who dare to have them. We planned to leave on Sunday after church. I was so glad that we had been given the opportunity to visit such a beautiful and well-known place. In the past, I have seen many beautiful landscapes, especially since I’ve spent much of my life in Central America. Coming to Summit helped me find a whole new appreciation for mountains and scenery. In my mind, the Grand Canyon was to be the highpoint of all the gorgeous things I had seen in nature thus far. So when, on Saturday night, I found myself curled up in the fetal position with horrible stomach pains, the chances of me departing the next day with everyone else dwindled down to a near impossibility. However, that wasn’t the only ailment with which I was afflicted. I also suffered from a horrible case of optimism, also known as denial. I was determined that I would go to the Grand Canyon. The next morning, I tried to downplay my current symptoms as much as possible when talking to Lauryn. Lauryn was both my mentor and the nurse for all of Semester. When I asked if I had her permission to go along, she advised that I stay behind. “Camping on the ground in 30 degree weather isn’t the best idea for sick people,” she said as gently as she could. Realism is the best medicine for optimists. It doesn’t taste very good, though. I resolved to suck it up and accept my fate of having to stay behind.
Originally I thought I would be all alone, but I wasn’t. Kenna, Caden, and Daniel had also been found guilty of sickness and were given the sentence of two and a half days at the lodge. We weren’t completely alone, because the staffers with families were staying behind. Therefore, other than the occasionally distant laughter of a child, the place felt like a ghost town. Later on that day, my stomach felt worse, and I grew to appreciate Lauryn’s verdict. The others all seemed to be suffering of more cold-like symptoms. After I emerged from my room, post-resting, I found the others talking. Throughout our time together, we engaged in some of the most personal and in-depth conversations I’ve had since I’ve been here. We talked about everything from movies to how we had seen each other grow and mature while at Semester. We ended up playing a bunch of board games on couches that we had moved close to the fireplace. It was probably the most “at home” I had felt since getting here.
Spending so much time with those three caused me to reflect on all the relationships I’ve built since getting here. Getting to know different sides of people and seeing them in various environments really helps you appreciate them. I’ve learned that sometimes the best relationships don’t have to always agree on everything, but should rely on respect, care, and trust. If I hadn’t needed to stay behind, I would not only be sicker, but I also might not have thought about a lot of this. I’m actually glad that I was able to spend time both resting and reflecting on the relationships I have with everyone here. I’m also glad I was able to have so much fun with Daniel, Cade, and Kenna. Closer to the time when the rest of the students would return, as well as the end of our isolation, the phrase, “two foreigners, a redneck, and a Minnesotan” was coined as an apt description of our group. As much as I was disappointed, at first, by being unable to go, I was even more grateful for the time of bonding and rest I had with my friends.
Hope Banta made her way to Snow Wolf Lodge all the way from Guatemala, where her family is on mission. She is a recent high school graduate, and is passionate about communication. She desires to pursue this interest either through film and cinematography, or in the realm of politics. Hope is especially looking forward to growing in her relationship with God and with fellow believers during her time at Summit Semester. After attending the 2014 Summit Summer Conference in Tennessee, Hope believes that her time at Summit Semester will help her stand firm in her beliefs so that she is not easily swayed by the opinions of others.