In my college years, I had the opportunity to travel internationally twice. I consider myself very blessed to have had these opportunities and to have my eyes opened to the world outside of America.
The summer after my Freshman year, I boarded a plane with absolutely no one I knew and flew to Olot, Spain. There I served with one other gal and some missionaries, playing piano in their church and helping with a summer camp. The language barrier made it difficult to truly communicate with the people, but the opportunity to travel allowed me to see another culture and understand the way God works outside of America.
The Missionaries we stayed with, the Campos family, were not Americans. He was a native Spaniard and had been serving as a pastor while working full time. When some American missionaries saw how stretched he was, they advised him to seek support in the States. He was able to raise support and come back to minister to his people full time. He had (and still has) a tremendous passion for the people of his small town. I was blessed to see how hard he worked, and I was challenged to eat foods I had never had before in order not to offend my hosts.
Helping with VBS
While in Spain, I fell in love with Nutella (not what they called it over there, but the same food). It is as common over there as peanut butter in the States. While we were at the camp, they served bread for breakfast with a plate of Nutella formed into a square. I thought it was odd that they had formed the Nutella like that, but I spread a heaping serving on my bread and took a huge bite. Oh no, it was not Nutella. It was pate. Pate is ground up and seasoned . . . . Liver. ICH!
During one drive, Mr. Campos pulled over at this farm, where the man bred pure Spanish horses. They were gorgeous!
Standing at the site of Calvary, the place of the skull. Can you see the skull?
A couple of years later my college hosted an Israel tour, and any student who went received two of their required Bible class credits. I jumped on this amazing opportunity. With some of my friends, I toured Israel with two of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr. Oats and Dr. Radford. Dr. Radford had done this tour many, many times before, and he knew many of the sites intimately. While on this tour, we boated across the Sea of Galilee, floated in the Dead Sea, and dipped our feet in the Jordan River.
When we went to the Jordan, many of our tour mates decided to fill empty water bottles with Jordan River water. I didn’t’ have the desire to do this, because these sort of trinkets were never important to me. Dr. Oats, however, did.
After we got back on our bus and went to the next site, Dr. Oats could not find his River water. Come to find out, someone had accidentally drunk the river water! We all ended up getting this nasty stomach virus, and I feel that was the culprit!
I have so many wonderful memories from that trip, but I must share one that only fellow MBBC grads will truly appreciate. At one point we drove to the top of this mountain and then climbed down using these hand grips. Many of us were lagging behind the tour guide because we stopped to take pictures of the harrowing journey once we got to the bottom. The tour guide was getting a bit upset. I turned around, and here was Dr. Oats, the president of our Bible department and a very serious-minded teacher, sliding down the mountain (not the steep part) on his rear end through rocks and briars. It was a hilarious sight I have never forgotten, and I didn’t let him forget it later when he became my pastor for a short period (twice).
I don't have a picture of Dr. Oats and the mountain, but here we are swimming in the Dead Sea.
On the way home our entire group was getting ready to board the plane when we were informed it was broken. We were divided into three groups and sent different ways home. Because of this delay, I was sent through Belgium instead of the original European country (France I think). My flight was nine hours delayed! As a result, I almost missed my connection in Chicago to come home. Let me tell you, trying to find someone who speaks English well enough to understand my plight and a phone I could use my calling card on to call home in a European airport was very challenging, especially when I was all alone at that point because of being split up. I bought some Belgian chocolates at the airport, but promptly after eating them got sick with the stomach bug, so to this day I cannot eat Belgian chocolates.