One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done is to step outside of the United States and to walk amongst the cultures of this planet. In Leadership studies we talk about the cultural context of leadership and cross-cultural context of communication. When you step into a culture different than your own, you live out the context of those studies.
There were times when I was surrounded by language somewhat foreign from my own. Granted, I grew up in South Florida and have been around Spanish half my life. But, this is different when for 5 days, over 100 hours – you are immersed in a language that is not your own.
There are many things I still have to learn about Colombia. I desire to go back and engage this beautiful country and the beautiful people. I wanted to get to know them and to see their wonderful country.
It is not until we eat at someone’s table, live within their culture and take the time to get to know them one-on-one that we can begin to understand them. Going to Colombia has been rewarding but also very humbling. The people there are hungry for knowledge and information. It was strange to have so much focus on oneself. They welcomed me with friendly arms and hosted me, translated for me and made me feel like family.
One final thought. As I grew up in my faith I often would “negotiate” with God that he not ever send me out into missionary work. I’ve decided that not only is God true to his word that he will not force us to do anything… he also has a great sense of humor. You see… I went to Bogota to teach a certificate course on Leadership but what God did was actually send me there to change me… I may not ever live in a hut in Africa or follow the Amazon River in a dugout canoe. But I can go into the world and teach them and where possible talk to someone about my faith.
I didn’t originally see this trip as a spiritual journey – but I did go into it with an open mind and heart and a willingness to receive what God had for me there. My heart now longs for the friends I have back there. My eyes long for the beautiful mountains that surround nearly 9 million people. I see a return trip sometime in my future… and it will be a wonderful homecoming.