This year for Spring Break, I had the incredible opportunity to travel with Campus Crusade for Christ on a Vision Trip. On this trip, I traveled to Miami with a fantastic group of believers from Concordia College. While we were there, we engaged in spiritual conversation with students from several local universities and volunteered at an elementary school for underprivileged children. This trip was a great opportunity to both share and grow in my own faith. It was also an amazing cultural experience as we met many people of different cultures and were able to experience some of those cultural differences first hand.
First, I will address the cultural differences that I saw in Miami. During our time on the three campuses we visited, I saw a large variety in both cultures and religions. To give a general idea of the breadth of this I will give a few examples. First, as a group, we engaged in spiritual conversation with roughly one hundred and thirty students. In those one hundred and thirty we met people from about thirty-five different countries and about twenty-five different states. There was also a huge variety of religious backgrounds. We met people who identified themselves as Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Agnostic, and Atheist. All that said, this was a place that I found to be much different than the Midwest, but the most startling difference was how open the students were about their faith. I find that in the Midwest, talking about religion and spirituality is reserved for religious events, such as Church. Overall, this is something that I think we could all learn from these students. Many of them were willing to sit an talk to us for hours about their spirituality and faith, even though we had just met them.
I grew in my own faith as well on this trip. As well as engaging in spiritual conversations with students in Miami, we also shared our own faith and spirituality with them. This was particularly trying for me as I had never shared my faith with a stranger before. However, I was fortunate to have two friends who had shared before with me on our first day of sharing. One thing that really helped to bolster my courage was when I was able to share with a student one on one. This helped prepare me for the following days when I started initiating conversations as well as sharing. Overall, I think the area that I grew in most was in trusting the Lord. I have often had a problem with trying to solve my problems my own way under my own power. But being in such a different area where the people are so open about their own spirituality put me in a very foreign environment. This combined with my lack of sharing experience forced me to give up on my own strength. From this, I learned to trust and rely on God more and more, which is a lesson I am still learning.
In the end, the trip to Miami was a blast. I made new friends and grew closer to old friends. I was exposed to a "healthy" dose of other cultures and had spiritual conversations with strangers. I read to kindergarteners at a local elementary school for the underprivileged, and I grew much closer to God and learned to trust Him more. I would say that if that does not qualify as a successful trip, then what does?