Most of the world is asleep at 4 o'clock in the morning. I am normally asleep at 4 in the morning, but not today. Today, I am sitting on the top of a mountain, shivering from head to toe, and waiting for the sun to rise. If I weren't so much in awe, I think I'd be crying because of the beauty that surrounds me. I look to the left and see the Portland city lights shining in the darkness. I look to the right and I can see mountain peaks against the barely lit sky.
I am humbled by all that surrounds me. I am so small in comparison to these vast sloping mountains. As it gets closer and closer to sunrise time, my surroundings become more and more beautiful. One of my teammates begins playing worship music on his phone and we all begin praising God for His masterpiece. I am in awe of the fact that the same God who created all this created me as well. I feel God's presence so strongly, I'm almost positive I could reach out and touch Him. That's when the beauty is interrupted.
The first words we hear are God's name being used in vain followed by a whole other slew of cuss words. A group of teenagers has decided to join us for the sunrise. They ignore our presence and begin climbing over the railing and all over the rocks. I am so afraid one of them will fall or get hurt. It is evident they are high and they've decided to bring some weed with them. Every other word out of their mouths is a cuss word. All I can think about is who these kids really are behind these masks. What struggles are they facing, what pain have they felt? What has caused them to hide behind these drugs and cursing?
I am completely stunned at how well this represents my time here in Oregon. From the first moment I stepped onto Oregon soil, I was surrounded by God's beauty. I've never been anywhere as beautiful as this, and I would love to just sit here forever and admire the beauty.
However, with each corner I turn, I am reminded how much pain and lostness there is here. For every beautiful thing I experience, I experience something painful as well. And even when I am completely surrounded by God's marvelous light, so much darkness still crosses my path.
During the two months I've been here, I've completely fallen in love with both this place and the people. I've seen so much beauty and felt God's presence deeply and passionately. But I've also seen so much darkness I cannot help but feel overwhelmed.
In Oregon, God has shown me you can see Him everywhere. There is nowhere you can go on this planet where you cannot see at least one of His masterpieces. But God has also shown me so many of His masterpieces have been tarnished with darkness. So much pain now fills this place it is very difficult to see the beauty behind it. But God desires to turn this darkness into light. He desires to turn all the pain into beauty.
And I really feel God calling me to be a part of that. I think God wants to use me as a vessel in this beautiful place, and if that's not exciting, I do not know what is.
Please pray for Oregon. Pray for the hurting and lost. Pray that God's light would diminish the darkness. And pray that God would continue to reveal to me His plan for my future and I would have the strength to answer His call.Laura Thomas, a student at Tarleton State University, served as a Go Now missionary in Beaverton, Oregon this summer.