By Cheryl Johnson
The week after Easter, North Shore sent a mission team (Celia Rodriguez, Holale Azondjagni, Viola Mayol, and myself) to serve and to learn alongside CMF International’s Globalscope campus ministry in Salamanca, Spain. Thank you for your prayers, your finances, and your gifts of time, which enabled us to represent North Shore in Salamanca.
The ministry, called En Vivo, is a relational ministry for students at the University of Salamanca and the Pontificia University. En Vivo’s mission is “amando a los estudiantes, conectando con Cristo” and it lives out this vision through creating service opportunities in the community, Bible study, leadership development, and especially hospitality, providing students a home away from home at its campus house. It was a treasure to experience En Vivo’s alternate reality for a week! Memorable moments from the trip include:
These are just a few of my memories—please reach out to any of us if you’d like to hear more!
At the start of our visit, we received a devotional guide for the week based on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit. Thought provoking questions included: What does it mean to you that God is joyful? How have you seen faithfulness in Spanish culture? How have you seen peace on this trip? In someone you’ve met this week? What does patience look like? Most mornings we gathered as a team for breakfast to recap the previous day and to reflect on one or a few of the fruit. By keeping this scripture in the back of my mind throughout the week, it quickly became clear that God was present with our team, at En Vivo, and in Spain.
In order to catch our flight home, we begrudgingly (wink wink) capped off the trip by spending a night in the capital. Madrid is a city which long served as the heartbeat for colonization and the Inquisition. And yet hanging from my favorite building, the old national post office, was a gigantic banner reading “Refugees Welcome.” I enjoyed walking along the tree-lined museum promenade for a trip to La Reina Sofia modern art museum. It’s free after 6pm! I was anxious to see the Piedad y terror en Picasso exhibit on the 90th anniversary of the bombing of civilians in the village of Guernica; an exhibit culminating in Picasso’s painting of that name and showcasing the artist’s engagement with paradox. How do piety and terror, beauty and grotesque coexist? How can God be in Madrid?
One of the most impactful aspects of this trip was learning from one another as a North Shore team. We were a microcosm of the North Shore community—a multicultural, multiethnic, and multigenerational team. This mission trip was not a typical service trip in the sense that it lacked manual labor to engage and divert our attentions. We found ourselves engaging not only the normal personality conflicts that occur when individuals are far from home, but also the messy conversations and quiet frustrations that come with a diverse community doing life together. I’m happy to say that these frictions were accompanied by doubled-over laughter, inquisitive questions, refreshing wonder, and love-joy-peace-patience-kindness-goodness-faithfulness -gentleness-self control.
En Vivo means Live, as in a live television broadcast or watching a soccer game in real time. A live faith, a real time God. A God who’s willing to abide in the messy complexities of our world. A God who exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit. God is peace. God is patient. God is kind. God is faithful. This is good, and I’m grateful to North Shore for sending our team to Salamanca and to be reminded of this truth. Thank you.