One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to experience different cultures. First of all, I’m from the smallest of small towns in the most northern part of Minnesota. So just coming to Switzerland is a cultural difference. Even though our center is located on the edge of a smaller city, there are still many differences in culture. (As well as typography…)
I always say that there’s a lot of similarities between Swiss culture and American culture, but that mainly comes from the fact that we’re both Western cultures. There are still quite a few differences, despite a small overlap. And that’s what makes life exciting most days. A bit confusing and frustrating at times, but for the most part it’s good. Experiencing different cultures broadens our perspective of life and it helps me to realize that there isn’t just one “right” way of doing life.
So United States to Switzerland, cultural difference number one.
But beyond experiencing Swiss culture, we also get the opportunity to experience other cultures when we go out on outreach. The past two years, I’ve had the chance to travel to Bosnia and Croatia. Both times I’ve been there have been amazing experiences getting to know people and learn more about their culture.
This last year, we spent lots of time with the people we met at each location. So we got a pretty good taste of how people do life in different countries. It’s an amazing experience! But my favorite part of outreach is getting a taste of how people from other cultures encounter God. I loved being able to attend church services – even if they can be long and in a language I can’t understand – just to be able to worship together. Just to be able to experience God together. In those moments, you don’t need words. Your hearts are simply joined together in a moment as you realize that you’re all worshiping the same God. That’s a feeling that has never left me. I love it. And I think it’s something that sticks with a person throughout their life.
So the other night when I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, all of the sudden the words from a Croatian worship song popped into my head. I know it’s a song that’s been translated into Croatian from English, but I don’t know the English words. So as the words came back to me, I just stood in the kitchen, chopping onions and singing out the lyrics on my heart.
Isuse, budi centar
Moja nada, moja pjesma,
I don’t understand Croatian. I have a bit of an idea of what the words mean, but when it comes right down to it, I have no idea what I’m singing. But God does! And that’s what blows me away by how great He is. He fits into every culture. He created every language. And He knows every single person on this planet and loves us all the same. And He loves it when we come together just to worship Him. When we put aside all of our differences and simply enjoy Him; He loves that.
I believe in those moments, even if the worship is in Croatian, my heart is still full because I believe that in those moments we can feel the joy God feels. We can feel His delight in our praise.