The WEST Institute Blog
My name is Spencer Edsall and my wife, EmmaJulia, and I are both attending The West Institute this year. Both of us grew up in Denver but most recently lived in Durango, Colorado. It was in this small mountain town that we met and both obtained our undergraduate in Adventure Education from Fort Lewis College. It was at a college ministry that we met, and it is also where we were first introduced to The West institute. EmmaJulia, who had been working on staff at the college ministry, knew that she desired a closer relationship with God and sought out the program as a way to draw closer to Him. Through the Lord's grace, He led us to The West Institute. Although I had originally planned to go through the program a year later, the Lord very quickly put it into my heart that I needed to attend as the same time as my wife.
Since that time, the Lord has been very gracious to my wife and I. There have been many difficulties in doing the program together. Some of these difficulties include time-management, monetary provision, and other general challenges that come from being in class with each other. Yet, through all of this, The West Institute has done a tremendous job in directing our hearts back to the Lord. The tools that The West have been blessed to use is the construction of theology in our lives, personal mentorship, and the building of a healthy community. The community of The West certainly takes on two distinct "spheres", the class itself and the church that supports The West Institute. As a class, we are encouraged to build strong relationships with one another. In this we can help build each other up and have reliable friendships that point us closer to God. Some of the most enjoyable times we have spent together have been our trips to Rome and Israel, as well as other local adventures. It has been immensely encouraging watching one another grow and pursue the Lord with a deeper theological understanding.
The second "sphere" that The West Institute class is encourage to develop, is our involvement in the local church community. It has been a blessing to have to opportunity to serve and learn through the body of Laramie Valley Chapel. The health of this church has been a significant part of our time at The West. All students are encouraged by the staff to get involved with one of the numerous ministries at the church and to also be part of a small group. Joining a ministry was first in our minds as we moved to Laramie. EmmaJulia and I knew that we were called to serve somewhere together, as a couple. Prior to moving Jeremy had told me about Techne Ministries. Techne was established as a ministry focused on disciplining students at WyoTech, a technical school in Laramie. I had some personal experience working in mechanic shops and knew what this ministry was doing, was incredibly important. Though my excitement for this ministry grew, my wife was hesitant. EmmaJulia, who loves pink and glitter, was less than enthused at the thought of serving in a shop environment. However, through the Lord's glorious providence, she was provided a great opportunity to serve and to love students attending WyoTech. She has had the chance to mentor a small group of female students whose hearts have been forever impacted by the love of the Lord. The fruit in this ministry has greatly shaped our love and passion for the community. I got to observe and participate in the discipleship of several wonderful men and saw how God took a small opportunity in Laramie to greatly expand His name.
We were also able to participate in a small group outside of class, which has been wonderful. Shortly after beginning the year we were invited to join a group of young married couples. This fit EmmaJulia and I perfectly as we had just gotten married and seeking better ways to pursue each other and the Lord. This group turned out to be a major blessing as we got the chance to spend time with and learn from other couples. God used this to help shape much of the time we've spent in the church. It allowed us to seamlessly integrate into the community. The church has been a family to us and we are beyond grateful to be a part of this community.
Our time at The West Institute cannot easily be summed up. There have been many good parts and some bad parts; times of blessing and times of challenge. Through everything however, God has provided for us. We have both grown in our relationships with the Lord and our relationship with one another, but one of the greatest gifts He has given to us has been the community of Laramie Valley Chapel.