Enjoying the Process and a Change of Plans

I was set on going to Asia, specifically, Japan.

I was set on going to Japan—my lifelong passion—but God in his faithfulness changed those plans. He opened the way to know more of his heart for all peoples from every corner of the earth, whether I was to stay in San Diego or travel.

In this case, the plan was Argentina.

Study abroad and mission trip to Argentina Before my arrival to study abroad and do missions in Buenos Aires, even prior to deciding on Argentina, God began a process of transforming, expanding, and filling my heart with the things of his heart for the nations. That process continues to this day.

Everything is a process in this life. We can learn to enjoy the process by delighting and abiding in his presence, even in the most pressing circumstances or the most intense stretching by the Spirit. Of course that’s easier said than done.

For me, as the Spirit is constantly working and in motion, I’m learning to be spontaneous in the Spirit through ministry work. I’m grateful beyond measure with the community of people here and the opportunity to serve in different ways through homeless ministry and a major project in El Tigre with children and families in a very complicated situation. The restoration of the Spirit is evident and will continue even after I’m gone.

In another sense, I’m also learning to be more sensitive to the still, small voice of the Spirit and allow him to work in my daily life—to out pour the supernatural into the natural.

College mission trip to ArgentinaWhether walking around, sitting quietly somewhere by myself, with friends, shopping, running errands, and the like, all can be ways where God can reveal more of his heart. Even discussions in class and meeting with so many different types of students and professors, as well as with locals, has been an enriching experience in all areas. For someone who studies history, this area is especially enriching and challenges me everyday.

Earlier this year, I entered into the next step in my prayer life of learning what it means to be an intercessor (one whom the Spirit intercedes through). I have to say that it was one of the most painful and heart wrenching processes, but as I’m still learning, it’s also the most wonderful and indescribably beautiful. I’m also able to find (and invited to find) hidden beauty and the potential for beauty wherever I go. Even the harshest thunderstorms (as we had in the last couple days) are magnificently beautiful here in Buenos Aires.

Christian study abroad in ArgentinaHe is faithful and worthy of it all no matter what. The chiseling, pruning, molding, shaping, refining, and transforming are all worth it. It takes the focus off of me and directs it towards God and his people. The God who makes all things new.

There’s one particular phrase I keep in mind and the Holy Spirit reveals new things about everyday, “Where the will of God leads you, the grace of God will keep you.”

For that, I am thankful!


Shelby Tenove, a sophomore history major at Point Loma Nazarene University in California, is living an adventure this fall semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina to study abroad and serve through international missions. To read more student stories, visit our student testimonials page.

Did God change your plans? A semester studying and serving abroad could be the next step. Apply now.

 

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Do Tourists Experience the Real Paris?

Veritas Abroad is pleased to have Parker Windle, Mission Mentor for Veritas in Paris, guest post on the blog today.


Notre Dame. The Louvre. The Eiffel Tower.

Paris.France.2012.View from Below.Kyleigh Rose

What do you think about when you think about Paris?

The beautiful French capital is the number one tourist destination in the world, and those who visit do not leave disappointed. Whether they are promenading through the massive gardens of Versailles or enjoying some jazz music in the Latin Quarter, Paris never fails to leave its mark on those who stop over for a few days.

But do those tourists experience the real Paris?

Mosques. The red-light districts. Sikh temples. What do you find in Paris when you take off the pretty masks?

Christian study abroad in Paris FranceThe city of lights is now home to one of the most diverse populations in the world. Every tribe and tongue has assembled around this relatively small patch of land cut in half by its river Seine. These populations have not all taken to the baguettes and berets we typically attribute to Paris. They bring their cultures, their customs, and their worldviews.

The 93rd department of the greater Paris region is home to people from every country in the world except four (or, at least, so said my then pastor). The building I lived in had one native French family; the rest included families from India, Algeria, Bangladesh, Spain, China, and myself (a proud Alabamian). On any given Sunday, our church could host people from forty different nationalities, and our after-church lunches could include anything from Louisiana jambalaya to Nigerian fried plantains.

There are many elements to the mosaic that is modern Paris. Underneath this kaleidoscope of culture is a profound history of ideas and art that has been moving and shaking this world for a long time. Given the prominence of Paris in this world and the remnants of the nations that have assembled here, Paris is a strategic front for the church in her battle to see the gospel known amongst all peoples and the glory of God shining in the uttermost parts of the earth.

Yet, with a culture so complex, how does missions in Paris work?

How do you contextualize the gospel to a culture that is made up of thousands of cultures? How do you do church when everyone comes from such diverse backgrounds? How do you reach a neighborhood that is constantly changing? Is cross-cultural ministry even possible?

Mission work in Paris

Answers to questions like these do not come easily, and those answers we do get are usually not final. Mission work in Paris and other urban centers like it require constant learning, constant questioning, and constant changing. Urban church work is not for those who like monotony. There are no constants in this ministry.

Well, there is one constant. The power of ministry will always be the same.

The gospel is still the power of God for salvation, and that gospel can reach the citizens of Paris just like anywhere else. The death and resurrection of Christ has life-changing power for fundamentalist Muslims, secular humanists, traditional Sikhs, and the darkest nihilists you can find. Jesus died for them all, and while the application of the medicine may vary, the cure remains the same. As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

So, let’s size up the situation. We have a Savior who told us the end wouldn’t come until the gospel had been preached to all nations (Matthew 24:14). We have a command from that same Savior to be his ambassadors in taking this good news to the world. We have God, the director of all human events, who is urbanizing the world and bringing the nations to accessible urban centers like Paris.

What does that mean? That means we have an enormous opportunity.

Pyramid_at_Louvre_Museum_Paris_France1Could the famed City of Lights become a city on a hill? If so, it would be a torch the whole world could see—a heart that would pump the glory of God into the uttermost parts of the earth. I have personally seen how light sparked in Paris ignited flames in much more difficult to reach places. God is using the work done in Paris to reach the uttermost parts of the earth, and this is an exciting thing to be part of. Something you can be a part of too.

Hemingway once called Paris “a moveable feast” because of the way it stays with you for the rest of your life. Perhaps God is calling you to come and be a part of this banquet and see the glory of God advance in the City of Lights for yourself. A city on a hill can not be hidden, and neither can the light of the gospel.


Parker Windle is the Youth & Young Adults Pastor at Emmanuel International Church in Paris, France and also serves as the Mission Mentor for Veritas in Paris. He graduated from the University of Mobile with a degree in Religion, followed by a Masters of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. Upon graduating in 2008, he served as a Journeyman missionary in Paris for three years working with immigrant groups. Parker has a heart to see youth mature in their faith and a passion to see Paris know Jesus.

Do you share a heart to see Paris know Jesus? Engage in a culture with the support of Parker and other believers in France while you earn credit toward your degree. Find out how.

images via ISA

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What Celebration Looks Like in Chile

During her semester studying abroad and doing missions in Chile, Veritas student Olivia Neveu has seen a lot of celebration. From Las Fiestas Patrias, to her 22nd birthday, to the warm hospitality of the local church, Olivia and her fellow Veritas students have discovered what celebration looks like in Chile. Keep reading to find out.


 

Veritas christian study abroad in ChileAfter a full week of attending asados and dancing Cueca to celebrate Las Fiestas Patrias,  a group of ten of us—five gringas and five Chileans—from the church I attend here in Chile hopped on a bus and drove 14 hours down to the southern part of Chile to a city called Puerto Montt. This particular part of Chile is not only known for its fantastic mountains and gorgeous landscapes, but also notorious for rain. Months and months of rain.

college mission work in ChileWhen we showed up it was, you guessed it, raining. Some people from the little church in Puerto Montt met us at the bus station and brought us to the church. The town as a whole seemed so dreary and dark with rain and thick, black clouds, but as soon as we stepped foot in the church the people’s joy became obvious. They did not allow the joy they have in the Lord and the love they have for one another to at all be deterred by the disagreeable precipitation.

From the moment we arrived we were treated like family.  Not just welcomed or accepted, but celebrated.

It seemed the whole trip they did nothing but feed us and we did nothing but eat. They were beyond generous and jut plain wonderful. I have learned much from them about what it means to love.

College worship on Chile mission tripDuring our first couple days there, the church had a prayer campaign.  We went from house to house asking people if they had any prayer needs, and whatever thing they told us we would write down on a slip of paper.

While this was going on they also had a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church. There, we went through and prayed for all of the prayer requests we had recorded from the house visits. It was a really incredible experience getting to meet so many people, yet overwhelming to think we heard these little snippets of what was going on in all these peoples’ lives and what was on their hearts. And just think—the Lord knew about all those things long before we ever did. Even still, he knows and sees so much more than that! Overwhelming!

The blessings continued with an opportunity to spend some time visiting and praying with some local pastors and other Christians in Chile.

​In Puerto Montt, we celebrated my birthday to the fullest.  One of the guys from the church took us out for a day of adventuring, and it was absolutely indescribable! For the first time in almost two months the day boasted pure sunshine and a warm temp.

First, we went to a national park and saw the stunning rapids there,  then we went to the top of a volcano called Osorno where we took in a view of the valley below and the foothills of the Patagonia Mountains.  Naturally, a fantastic snowball fight followed.

Students on volcano in Chile

In the same day we went to the beach of a gigantic fresh water lake with black sand and enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch.  Then we walked through what felt like a jungle to find a huge thundering waterfall enveloped in luscious greenery and looming canopies—simply marvelous! I was speechless the whole day.

student picnic on the beach in Chile Last week, a group of missionaries from Texas came down here to work with a local church. A few of the girls in my group and I spent a lot of time with them to help translate. We all had a great time, and I think everyone walked away mutually blessed.

mission trip to ChileWe celebrated as we recognized how much our language skills and cultural literacy had improved over the course of the semester. At times it can feel as if you don’t know anything at all and that can be discouraging, but this ended up being a rewarding experience for us and another great chance to combine our academic efforts with our spiritual ones. Learning a language and living in a new place is extraordinarily humbling!

Classes have been well, the weather has been getting warmer and warmer, and I continue to be blessed by many incredible people. The Lord has been teaching me much and blessing me to the maximum! My cup overflows!

study abroad and mission trip to chilePhotos by Izzy Suazo


Olivia Neveu attends Houghton College in Houghton, NY. Celebrate with Olivia and the many Veritas students who have chosen to take a bold step: engage in cross-cultural ministry through combining study abroad and mission work. There’s still time to apply for a spring semester in Chile—the deadline is November 10. To see what other programs Veritas offers, check out our website or contact us for more info. We’ll see you out there.

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Intensive Language Programs Bring Missions to a New Level

intensive language study abroad programReady to go to the ends of the earth? Veritas Christian Study Abroad helps you get there.

Spend a couple weeks to a month developing your language skills while immersing yourself into a new culture. With the support of your Veritas family and Mission Mentor, you will not only learn a language, but also engage in a community of people in need of God’s transforming power and love (and we bet you’ll be transformed too).

Veritas now offers Intensive Language Programs in the following locations:

Add an Intensive Language Program to a semester or summer program or combine it with another Intensive Language Program and receive $200 off! For more info about these opportunities, visit the Language Intensive Programs Page or email us at info@veritasabroad.com.

Want to develop your language skills, earn college credit, and spread God’s love to the nations? Get going.

See what other Veritas students are saying about their experiences.

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Humbled by a Prostitute on the Streets of San Jose

It started off like any other day. Little did I know it would be one that would change my entire perspective of Costa Rica.

Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Costa RicaDuring my study abroad and missions in Costa Rica, I figured I’d see people who weren’t as fortunate as I but I never knew I would experience people so completely lost and broken spiritually. One day, I went to classes as normal and prepared to meet with my Mission Mentor for ministry. My Mission Mentor picked another Veritas student and me up, and we went on our way to meet the group we would be working with that night.

Upon walking into the meeting place, I could feel the presence of God there. The room was dark except for a few candles. A guy played worship songs on his guitar, and everyone in the room sang along. As I sat down, I felt this warm sensation and I knew the presence of the Holy Spirit completely filled the room. We sat and sang, and people prayed. During this time someone said something that stuck in my head: we are God’s agents for change.

I am not just a study abroad student or expat or hopeless wanderer in Costa Rica. I am God’s agent for change… but how would he use me in San Jose?

I knew part of our Veritas mission work would be to go out into San Jose and pray for people, but imagine my surprise when I found out whom these prayers would be for: prostitutes. In my life I have done much mission work—going to orphanages, churches, food distribution days—but never have I actively gone out to pray for people who probably need it the most.

study abroad in Central America

Our leaders set the objective for us: build relationships and pray. We went out and invited the women to join us for “te frio o cafe o galletas” (iced tea, coffee, or cookies). We talked with them, got to know what’s happening in their lives, and prayed for any needs they had.

Although I went many times to talk to the women, one specific lady I had the opportunity to pray for stands out to me. She requested prayer for her foot where she had a giant burn from cooking. I prayed for healing and protection over her. I asked God to keep her safe and pour his love over her. I talked with her and prayed with her and it was a truly incredible experience.

I can’t wait for the next time I am able to go out on behalf of my Savior and help invest time in others so they may know God to be their Savior. The entire opportunity came at the perfect time for me.Making friends on study abroad

These past few nights I have been reading in my devotion about how God calls each and every one of us to live life humbly. I thought over and over about which areas of my life could use a little more humility. I asked God to make me humble and work on my heart to make it more open for his work. I got frustrated trying to figure out my purpose in Costa Rica and how I was suppose to serve God and become closer to him while I here.

mission work and study abroadAnd that night, he revealed himself to me in a way I could never even describe. I am completely humbled by his glory, grace, presence, and the abundant amount of blessings he has given me.

This life isn’t about me—it’s about God and how I can serve him to further advance his kingdom. I am in no way close to being done with mission work in Costa Rica, but I know God will continue to change my life just as he changed my life that night. I look forward to seeing how God continues working in the lives of many people in Costa Rica.

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11


Kelli Brower is a sophomore at California Baptist University currently studying at Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Kelli isn’t the only agent of change God is using abroad. Join the Veritas family and the many college students who study abroad and serve through missions for a semester or summer. Find out how now.

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Home is Where the Calling Is

Study abroad and missions to Cinque Terre Italy

 

Two weeks ago, my roommates and I spent the weekend exploring Florence and Cinque Terre.  We took the train back to Rome late Sunday night and made our way from the train to the bus stop.  As we dragged our exhausted bodies out of the train station, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort as I stepped foot in Rome.

I simply felt home.

I can’t explain it.  It was the first time I have truly felt home in this city since I got here four weeks ago with Veritas Christian Study Abroad.

Home.

Just as Carmel, Indiana served as my home for so long.  Just as camp became a place of solace summer after summer.  Just as my heart grew to love Wheaton, a place of comfort and refuge.  And now, Rome.

My little Ikea (and I literally mean only Ikea) furnished apartment.  My three roommates full of love, laughter, and adventure.  My favorite look-out spot atop the wall overlooking the Roman Forum.  My darling little pastry shop just around the corner.  My favorite gelateria—wait, who am I kidding, I have yet to taste gelato my tastebuds would say no to! The garden down the block where I find refuge and solitude.  The family-owned fruit stand with the freshest watermelon down the block. It’s all mine, and I can finally call it home, not only by address, but in my heart.

And my heart is so glad to be here.

Transitioning to life here has absolutely been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. While I am still learning, I am learning in a place I can call my home—which feels a lot better than trying to learn in a strange country.Missions in Italy

And yes, I am still making a lot of mistakes.  For instance, when I tried to take my roommates to a cool spot I’d heard about in Florence, I actually ended up getting us lost for at least two hours.  How about the time I tried to purchase a monthly bus pass one day too late? It happened.

Now I am making more memories than mistakes.

Study abroad in ItalyIn Florence, I befriended a leather vendor, and also got really cheap leather bags, of course.  I never thought I’d make it, but I will never forget the breathtaking hike along the coast of Italy.  I didn’t understand a word of the sermon in the completely Italian church service, but I do remember how the Lord answered so many of my prayers.

I am learning so much about what makes a place a home.  It’s the little things, but mostly it’s Jesus.  It is the daily comfort I am able to find in God.  It is the way Christ has chosen to love me.

I am home because Christ has called me here.

I am home because God is here with me.  As I experience the comfort and joy that comes with my heart coming to know this place as home, I cannot imagine the immense joy that will come when I am finally, truly home, with Jesus for eternity.

I am still trying to figure out how to put everything I am experiencing here into words. Key word: trying.

But know that the Lord is at work here in Rome, and in my heart.  He is teaching me so much and showing me his kingdom and family that I have never seen before.  God is so, so faithful in bringing my heart home.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”
{Hebrews 12:28}


Jordan Bear is a Business Economics major at Wheaton College in Illinois. This semester, she’s studying abroad and serving through international missions in the historic, cultural, beautiful Rome, Italy.

Where is God calling you? Maybe “out of your comfort zone” is just outside your door or maybe it’s across the Atlantic Ocean. Wherever it is, find home in the will of God.

If you’re ready to say yes to a semester or summer overseas, apply to study and serve with Veritas now. Still have questions? The Veritas Christian Study Abroad staff is here to help.

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How the French are Like Coconuts

Study abroad in Paris During my ten weeks of study abroad and missions in Paris this summer, I encountered a few instances of “culture shock”. I think many Americans travel to Europe expecting similar cultural values and norms—after all, if you are white, and they are white, how much could be different between you? Right? (The answer is obviously no.)

We think as developed nations they share similar perspectives on morality, politics, even consumerism. We see their cathedrals and expect Christianity to be as pervasive to society there as it is in our own “Bible Belt”. That perception for many, however, is shattered once they land in the foreign airport!

After all, if you are white, and they are white, how much could be different between you? Right?

Europeans differ from Americans, and more specifically, Parisians differ from Texans. Having studied Europe as an International Studies major, I can say my basic framework for understanding French culture didn’t leave me completely naive. Anyone who has spent time abroad would probably agree a gap exists between reading about culture in books and experiencing it with your own eyes.

College misssion trip to FranceMy time in France opened my eyes to recognize stark contrasts between our norms and helped me view my native culture in a more discerning light.

I could tell you so many stories about “culture shock” with regards to witnessing pick-pocketing, urban poverty, some very public displays of affection (and once breast-feeding) on the metro. I could also explain differences in family structure and dynamics, attitude towards life and God, meal times, and views about education, but what surprised me the most about Parisians was seeing the well-known “Coconut Metaphor” in nearly every person I met.

The Coconut Metaphor refers to this idea that the French have a very tough exterior, which takes time and patience to break through, and sweet interior full of passion, loyalty, and emotion.

In my early days of being in Paris, I was very put off by the aloofness I perceived in everyone around me. Living in this great big city keeps you in a close proximity to hundreds of people at all times. You stand two inches apart on the metro, you pass dozens on the street after you get off at your bus stop, stand in an elevator with a neighbor from say, the eighth floor—people are everywhere, all the time.And yet, as a native Texan, an Aggie always walking around with a smile on my face, a girl who relishes spontaneous conversations at the student center, and who holds doors for others, I struggled with the apparent cold indifference I felt all around me.

I am a product of the friendly, relational South, and this urban setting wore on my emotions. Some days, I took it personally, and selfishly assumed that in my direct contact with shop owners and waiters, their coldness came as a product of their total disdain for my American identity (dramatic, I know. Women, right?)

Study abroad and missionsFortunately, as relationships grew with my Parisian friends at the wonderful church I attended, and I felt the deep love and hospitality of my French host family, I began to view these random people with more objectivity. As my knowledge grew, I saw the French attitude not as inherently rude, but simply an exterior that isn’t always indicative of the interior. The tough exterior didn’t reveal what they felt or thought about me. They could have been completely happy or they may have been terribly sad.

Rather than view the French attitude with contempt, I gradually began to see it with compassion and the knowledge that I couldn’t see the full picture.

In my French language classes this summer, we learned Parisians commonly struggle with issues like isolationism and depression— more so than many other cities in Europe. In fact, France has the highest levels of depression in Europe. Rather than view the French attitude with contempt, I gradually began to see it with compassion and the knowledge that I couldn’t see the full picture.

While I am certainly not insinuating every Parisian around me struggled with that urban, post-modern isolation, this new awareness that this might be a contributing factor to, and also result of, the Parisian attitude allowed me to view these random people around me as much more than a hollow coconut shell, and instead as a real person, with a real heart and real emotions.

We are the same. We are all humans created with deep needs and desires. Our outward expressions are certainly different. If I had said “Howdy” to a man on the street, he may have assumed I was crazy, or may have taken it as an invitation. Fortunately, I never took that opportunity to find out! The understanding I gained and the new perception I formulated has proved invaluable. This made my last weeks in Paris more enjoyable and helped me feel less foreign.

Study abroad and missions in FranceWhile this new idea deepened my understanding of French culture, it also helped me gain a new perspective on my own.

I have deep gratitude for the friendliness of the South, but I realized that here, we may have the opposite problem. The French may be coconuts, but we may have the issue of sweet and friendly exteriors that seem deceptively easy to break through, paired with broken interiors that many don’t see.

Exteriors don’t always reveal the heart of a person.

The sorority girl in the line at Starbucks may smile and make a comment about the new specialty drink, but she could be weeping on the inside from something tragic that happened the night before. Yes, that is her business, and my desire would not be that she flaunted this business to the world, or to me, a stranger she had just met. My concern is in how I view her.

I see happy, thriving people all around me. They laugh loudly, for they are American. They smile and say Howdy, for they are Aggies. It wasn’t my first instinct to look beyond exteriors in Paris, and I realized that it isn’t my first instinct to look beyond exteriors here either.

College mission trip to FranceExteriors don’t always reveal the heart of a person.

A tough exterior doesn’t mean the person is rude or hateful. A sweet exterior doesn’t mean the person has joy inside. I am grateful for the struggle I had in understanding the French attitude. Through it, I recognized I had a flawed, simplistic system of observation and perception. My study abroad experience with Veritas Abroad served as a great tool in expanding my lens in how I view the people around me.


Tara Glasener, an International Studies major at Texas A&M University, studied abroad and served through international missions with Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Paris, France this summer. To read more student stories, please visit our student testimonials page. To earn college credit while serving an international community, apply with Veritas today.

*The deadline to apply for Veritas in Paris, France Spring 2015 is October 15. Apply now!

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