A Memorable Summer in the Arctic

By Grace Park
Grace Park in Iqaluit

My name is Grace, and I am in my third year of the MDiv program. During my undergraduate years, I was involved in campus ministry and that was when I became interested in theological studies and enrolled at Wycliffe College. After two years of working with a ministry that seemed unfruitful – and a mismatch for me – I felt discouraged. As I looked for summer internship placement opportunities to fulfill my program requirement, I was hoping to be placed in a ministry context where the gospel worked powerfully in people’s lives.

After I expressed my wish to Professor Annette Brownlee, she recommended an internship in Iqaluit, as she thought it could be a good fit for me. Since there were two Wycliffe graduates already ministering and serving in Iqaluit – Chris and Amy Dow, now with their three beautiful daughters – I had no hesitation going for the summer. That was how I became involved with the ministry in the Arctic, in Iqaluit, Nunavut. 

Some of my most cherished memories include times I spent with the Dow family, going over for dinner and painting, as well as having morning prayers with Rev. Chris and three other ministers: Rev. Ann Martha, Rev. Abraham Kublus, and Rev. Samantha Kublus. 

The infrastructure and landscape of Iqaluit, where trees grow horizontally on the ground, made Iqaluit unique for sure, but it was the people I met who made Iqaluit so memorable. There, each person had incredible stories to tell, and it’s easy for each to learn the other’s story as someone would always ask, “What brought you up to Iqaluit?” 

I do not know whether it was the traditions of the Inuit people, the city being on an island, the weather being so harsh during the winter that people instinctively knew they needed one another – especially when the days get short and darkness stays over twenty hours – but I found I was not judged, nor did I judge on the basis of possessions or skills, but rather every person staying in Iqaluit is valued and esteemed simply for his or her presence. In Iqaluit, I found a very wholesome sense of community, where people were cherished and valued for simply living there. 

In addition, many people in Iqaluit experienced the ugliness of sin, suffering, and death in the community, and the living gospel message was a very real, ever near, and tangibly living hope for them. The experience of being part of such a community – and of worshiping with those whose lives were powerfully touched and daily affected by the hope and provision of the living God – all this had a tremendous impact on me. Since the people gathering for worship and serving at the church were mostly older, my hope for the ministry in Iqaluit is that more youth and young adults in the community will be reached with the light and the hope in Jesus Christ.