Arts & Culture

Ventured into Unfolded Places

by Emma Mitchell

Matthew had to adapt to several cultural traditions, one of which was eating 12 assorted ethnic foods. He also visited an Islamic mosque, learning about how Muslims pray. “I felt intrusive sitting in their prayer time but a Muslim came up asking if we have any questions. He was willing to answer anything.” Matthew also got the opportunity to visit with the Vietnamese, walk around a Mexican neighborhood, talk with Monks in a Buddhist temple, sing with a Japanese choir and attend a Cambodian church service. His conclusion was: “I can say that I’ve made close friendships with people on the trip. I am very happy I went to California to learn about the different cultures over there!”

Next, we travel 8,000 miles across the Pacific to India. Maggie encountered frequent events that changed her perspective. She faced unnerving experiences while traveling into the slums of Dharavi. “It was like a sense attack because there were a lot of different smells and sights and sounds to take in all at once,” she said. Maggie explained that they had to use the word, “cool,” as a code for Christian because they were prohibited from having any religious discussion. She also crossed the red light district and witnessed brothels through an organization called “Oasis.” “That was the first time I felt like an object. The looks that men gave were extremely crude.” Maggie also met a Muslim girl named Alisha. They found out that they shared many commonalities though they followed different religions.

Katelyn flew to Romania for the third time. Her first trip was with the GoEncounter trip, hosted by Dr. Tiberius Rata. Kate went back to get engaged to a man she had met there named Cipi Ungureanu. Kate also had the opportunity to spend time with the children in an orphanage. They surprised Kate with a cake and letters for her birthday. She was able to learn about the Romanian language and culture on a deeper level. One of Kate’s favorite memories was Cipi proposing in the city of Timisoara. If she had to identify her top two emotions during the trip, it would be joy and rest. She said, “I felt at home in Romania. Everyone is so inviting and full of life. I felt more connected with the people there.” She really appreciates how the people attend church frequently throughout the week. It allows her to feel more connected to the body of Christ.

What can be learned from these stories is: if you ever plan to venture into unfolded places, prepare to go with a moldable heart for God to do His work.