It has been a long and crazy week since my last blog post. I have finished my job training, and worked until 3 AM or later every night since Friday. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about the adventure at Epcot that Cru took us on yesterday.
It started at 11 AM. We arrived at Epcot, me on barely six hours of sleep, and were split into groups representing the eleven countries showcased at Epcot. I got assigned to England, my favorite country (if you’re not sure why, go look at my Study Abroad posts, I lived there;)), so despite my lack of sleep I was very excited. That excitement, however, was short-lived. We were instructed by our leaders to act British, so since British people are rather reserved and less out-going than most Americans, we could only talk to one person the entire afternoon, and we could only make small talk with them. This in mind, we walked over to England, and once we arrived, our leaders began talking about the pride that we, as Brits, have in our country. We recited the national anthem, which of course none of us knew, so we were berated for that, then questioned over tea about the history of the British monarchs. It was very upsetting being only able to talk to one person, and being shunned at tea for not being versed in British history. By the end of the day I was tired, and drained from being shunned, and only having one person to talk to. What was the point of all this? To show how difficult it can be to share the gospel in Europe. Honestly, however, as a person who studied abroad in Britain- yes, they have pride in their country, and definitely know a lot more of their history than Americans do, and yes they are reserved and don’t wear emotions on their sleeves the same way we do, but there is beauty in their culture that did not come through in this exercise. The point Cru was trying to make was that each country had a spiritual need for Jesus, but the message didn’t quite get through. If I hadn’t known what British people were like before yesterday, I might hate them, or think that they’re lacking something that they need America to come fix.
Here’s the thing about wanting to be a missionary – you’re not going to fix a culture. You’re not going to show a people group how to be better. All you are doing is sharing with them the God they are already looking for. If you want to share God with a people group, you need to understand where they are at, and what their culture values. This is what this exercise was trying to get at, attempting to help us experience life in another country, but most students came away from their various countries with negative feelings toward them. They felt glad that they didn’t live in a country as horrible as the one they just learned about. The fact is, every culture is beautiful and has something we can learn from them. We have no right to share the gospel with someone if we think we are better than them. So rather than showing how cold people can be in Britain sometimes, we should have talked more about their beautiful heritage their country is proud of, and shared the enjoyment of their tea time. I’m glad Cru brought us to Epcot to talk about the spiritual needs of the countries there – they all do need Jesus! – but I wish we had done it in a way that was more respectful of the cultures.
The second part of the day however, was much more enjoyable for me. We got to go out and talk to the cast members in various countries about where they were from! Almost every cast member in Epcot is from the country they work in, so in just a few steps, you can talk to people from Europe, China, and Africa!! My partner and I went to Italy and talked to two young men, which was so fun! I got to talk to them about my short visit to Italy last November (see my blog post here), and reminisce over the beauty of their culture. I talked to one guy about moka pots, an espresso maker common there, and the other about how beautiful Venice was. One of my favorite things is getting to talk to other people about where they’re from, and what they think of the place they’re in, so it was a wonderful evening for me. We got both of the guy’s numbers so we could text them about Cru things that are happening and hopefully see them again.
Overall, it was a great day. We learned about other cultures, met new people, and all got to hang out for the first time in forever. After having so many days in a row with long work schedules, it was nice to get a day when we were all off work and could see each other and do Cru stuff. And at the end of the day we all got to watch Illuminations, the firework show at Epcot, which was beautiful! This summer project is amazing, and I can’t wait for the rest of it!