“One Of The Originals,” A Guest Post From Spencer Vanderheide

October 15, 2013

A guest post from Spencer Vanderheide. Spencer has been leading Young Life at his alma mater for the past five years. He enjoys his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, making music & teaching special education.

One of my last epic adventures of Summer ’13 was a road-trip, also known as “Bro’d Trip,” with some of my buddies out to The Grand Tetons. While the mountains, wildfires, bears, elk, moose, bison, glacial lakes, and forest fires were incredible, if I had to choose one part that was my favorite, it would easily be a conversation I had with an 85 year old woman.

The fellas had just hiked 10 miles out of the backcountry after spending several days in the middle of nowhere and we were desperate for anything that tasted like regular food and made us smell just a little bit better. We stumbled upon Colter Bay Village.

In the tiny village, there is one convenience store and one gas station. I let myself into the small store and took a brief glance over at a mirror near the Bro-Tank aisle. I was haggard; with my foul odor, dirt-covered face, and gross mustache that grew 5 times faster and longer than the rest of my facial hair.

When I looked up, a sweet old lady who worked at the store and could have been my grandma’s sister said, “What is Young Life?”  I looked down and realized I was wearing my favorite black Young Life Under Armour tee. Of course.

I stuttered at first, and muttered, “It’s a faith-based organization I’ve volunteered with for the past 5 years back home in Michigan.”

She glanced around, then leaned in slowly and said, “I know honey, that’s where I found Christ in 1954.” I started doing the math and concluded this woman was old. Like 85 years old, old. “I’m one of the originals” she said. “I met Christ at Young Life camp that summer and I’ve been walking with him every day since. Life is much better with him, wouldn’t ya say?”

Yep. I would agree with you on that one Loraine.

We had a deep 20-minute conversation while the rest of our hiking crew stuffed their faces with donuts and chocolate milk. It was as if the presence of God was there with us, facilitating the conversation, and laughing and smiling with us as we shared our stories.

I tried to quit Young Life last year “because I was too busy,” but after a summer off, I just couldn’t do it. I’ve got too much love to invest. Loraine reminded me of that.

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” -Psalm 145:4

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