Our Students are out and about again. Traveling the world to experience some of the challenges and blessings of multicultural experiences.
The Latest MX Blog Posts
MX1 - 2023
MX Blog Archive
MX3 Blog #12 – The End of the Journey
By: Melissa Thiessen
During the last week of this experience our team split into 3 teams and went to different parts of the country. The team I was part of spent a few days in the most beautiful small farming town. They grew olives and peaches in abundance. This town also has a rich history of art, specifically tile painting. As we walked around seeing all the history and art shops, I felt the age of this people. There are homes and structures built upon the ruins of the Roman Empire and older. Generations have lived here without a thought of moving.
One of the days we set out to pray as we walked. I strongly felt that instead of walking, I needed to sit and watch. So, I left the group to have a delicious cup of Turkish coffee. The area I chose was next to a school and within a small plaza of artisans. I took in the sounds and tried to pray, but no words came to me. So, I finished my coffee and walked across the street to get a better view of the school.
Here I saw a large group of parents waiting for their children to be let out of school. Across the school was a mosque and a small park. I sat here on a bench, in view of the school, the park, and the mosque. I watched as the children were let out, as a grandfather played with his young grandson, a group of boys chasing each other shouting “tavuk” to one another (which means chicken), and I still has no sense of what to pray. So, I sat in faithfulness to listen. My eyes were continually drawn to the simple existence of these people. I looked upon their faces, I observed a moment of love and joy between the grandfather and child, the rush of the mother, the frustration of the boy being called a chicken and I felt like crying. I felt God calling me to just look at his works of art. To take in the glory of what he has created, that which will not last for hundreds of years, that which man cannot replicate, and what no one stops to marvel over.
There is something about the glory of a person that causes the details of their face to slip our mind. We are able to recognize but if we were asked to draw our mother from memory most of us would have a very hard time. It is as if God has created us in such a way that we cannot handle the depth of how Good we have been created. Looking into the eyes of a sister must be broken with a smile as the intensity grows because there is something so inherently beautiful about a face. The image of God, a glimpse of Goodness, a being like no other, because they were made ‘very good’. This is part of what prayer has taught me while in this country. That sometimes God wants us to stop and really look at what is happening around us and praise him for the goodness he has created.
MX3 Blog #11 – The Living Church
By: Betty Valdes Ramones
A couple of days ago I was standing in the ruins of St. John’s Basilica —a church from the 6th century— and it only took one question to make tears flow out of me. The question was: “What do you find meaningful about this place?”
I think what struck me at that moment was that I was standing in the same place where people used to gather 15 centuries ago to worship God. Now, in the 21st century, the global church is still alive and, despite many obstacles, it has survived. This realization brought me to tears because I felt my faith increasing a bit more.
St. John’s Basilica is just one example out of many that can be found in Central Asia. This land is so rich in church history, and yet it seems that the essence of that history has been buried by other diverse traditions. In our travels we saw many churches from earlier centuries that were turned into temples that worship a different god. But despite this heart-breaking reality, we were also able to witness how God is still at work. From small fellowships that gathered in houses, to bigger ones that have a building; God is definitely at work in Central Asia! People are choosing to identify as Christ-followers and the community of faith is growing fast. A building or worship place does not limit God’s work. St. John’s Basilica is now labeled as ancient ruins, but those ruins do not reflect the current state of the church. Instead, St. John’s Basilica serves as a reminder of the resilient spirit of the church that continues to be present in the 21st century by the grace of God.
God’s church is indeed a living church.
MX3 Blog #10 – History and Hospitality
By: Nolan Penner
Today we were graciously hosted by a family who later took us to a village where they produce onions. We also went to visit a friend of our hosts and got to share about life with each other. It overall was a great time.
The Turkish people are very hospitable, and care deeply for their guests. Our group also toured an old Roman settlement which was very influential in the trinitarian theology we believe today. The church has lots of history here at the town’s foundations. The people today have a culture that displays similar biblical values such as the appreciation of children and a great respect for the elderly.
I want to emulate this love for others in my daily life through acts of service. This experience has taught me how God is present in everything all around the world. He is in control, and we should not fear. It’s interesting to see God’s work in the small things such as when a parent is playing with their child to an elderly person giving wisdom to the next generation. It’s a beautiful picture of how God sees his children every day.
MX3 Blog #9 – Joy and Duck, Duck, Goose
By: Tyla Pankraz
This trip has been a wonderful experience. Not just because of the places we have been, but because of what I have learned, the people I have met, and because of the joy that is present despite hardships. Everything reminds me that God knows and He designed perfectly. I have seen and heard how beautiful prayer is and seen the beauty of the children and people here. It has been an experience of learning and growth in what I thought I already knew.
I have witnessed that prayer is real, it works, and it is so powerful. There have been times of prayer during this trip when I have found it difficult to pray or sense God’s presence. But He has shown himself in ways I never thought He would. On our first day someone who was giving us a tour prayed, “God speak to them the way that You designed them to hear and listen.” This idea has stayed with me throughout the entire trip. It has been a reminder to me that if I do not hear what someone else hears that is okay because God speaks to me in other ways. What I have learned is that I need to be obedient in what I hear from Him. When I am obedient in praying what Jesus is already praying, that is when the power of prayer is seen.
Yesterday we got to spend the morning at a preschool and teach kids in kindergarten and preschool. Through the teaching, reading, dancing and games, the laughter and smiles on the kids’ faces brought joy to my day. I have never heard a child laugh so much while playing duck duck goose. I saw the loving hearts of their teachers by how they comforted and spoke to their students with patience. Through the many people we have met I have been encouraged to see the kindness of the locals as they welcome the workers who live in their cities into their lives. I can see God’s beauty in their hearts and smiles.
I have loved this experience and being able to join with the workers here in prayer. Seeing God’s beauty through people has been even more of a blessing then I could imagine.
MX3 Blog #8 – Faithfulness in the Fog
By: Dominik Kosta
We have now entered into our final week in Central Asia. It has been so meaningful to be present in different locations throughout these weeks. Each city has offered unique opportunities to meet new people, see diverse representations of culture, and observe the beauty around us. I have been so blessed to make new friends, try new things, and to see God at work in my own heart.
We started our time in this new location on a high hill overlooking the city, proclaiming God’s blessing over it. It was quite foggy in the morning, which was a disappointment as our view of the city was veiled over. As we stood atop the hill though, a few different thoughts came to mind. Fog often represents lack of vision, which can be clouded due to an absence of truth or lack of understanding. Fog also seems emblematic of God’s presence, like the cloud on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 14. Even though there are very few believers, God’s presence is still within this city. He is seeking out every person who He fearfully and wonderfully created, to grant sight to those lost in the fog.
Many aspects of this trip were clouded in uncertainty, but it has been amazing to see God’s faithful provision. From last second flight changes to meaningful time with others, God has been faithful in providing a way and directing our paths. Thank you for partnering with us in prayer. We’ve seen God answer them. We look forward to hearing and seeing how God continues to answer these faithful prayers in our time here and beyond.
MX3 Blog #7 – Community And Connections
By: Sofia Epp
The past weeks have been such a unique experience! It has stood out to me how important connecting with others is. We have been able to meet so many amazing people and experience God at work in and around us! It stands out to me how we are made to be in community with each other and God.
A personal lesson I have been reminded about repeatedly on this trip is the importance of me connecting with God. The first days I struggled to find my place in our group. I was trying to make a huge difference by my own strengths which brought me to a lot of frustrations. After a couple of days God showed me that it was not about me doing great things but about His power and love flowing through me. I needed to stop focusing on my own strengths and connect with Him! Throughout the rest of the trip, I have noticed repeatedly that we need to remain in God and let His power flow through us and not rely on our own strengths. Remaining connected with God is a gift!
Throughout the trip I have also noticed how God blessed us with the ways we are able to connect with others. It has been so neat to be with other believers despite language barriers and different cultures. A gift today was connecting with people at a soup kitchen where anyone was invited to enjoy a bowl of lentil soup. People were able to be in fellowship with each other as they enjoyed the warm meal around tables. I was so blessed by the hospitality shown in this place and by the laughter shared. I especially appreciated talking with the young adults that were serving there. We got to connect with each other by sharing stories and listening to each other. Even though we hardly knew each other, there was a bond which we shared that we all belong to God’s family.
This trip is teaching me so much about what it looks like to connect with God and others and how these are intertwined. I have been blessed by this gift, as well as the encouragement that is found in connecting with others in Him.