Monday, February 6, 2012

Vacation As A Ministry Opportunity?

As YAGMs we get some time vacation time to do a little traveling and get some rest. Since a lot of things shut down here during the summer (which is now!) I recently got to explore some in Southern Argentina.

After camp and a few days in Bariloche with some of my fellow YAGMs I set off on my own to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing penguins in the wild. I ended up at Puerto Madryn, close to the largest colony of Magellanic Penguins in the world with literally a million penguins!

I had some expectations going into my time at Puerto Madryn: seeing lots of animals (there are also sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, and other shore animals there), having some space and time by myself to reflect, and hopefully making a few new friends.

But what I didn’t expect was the questions I would get. Wait, what are you doing? What is a Lutheran, do they really believe this, this and this? So, are you a missionary?

The people I live and work with have a lot of experience with volunteers so what I am doing seems fairly normal. Besides a couple of questions about why I wanted to be a volunteer I really haven’t received many questions about what I am doing. But once I became a traveler that changed. Me and my experiences are pretty unique among the hostel crowd, people were interested in knowing more.

I got to have all kinds of interesting discussions. The history of Lutheranism, why exactly Luther formed a new church, what the difference is between Lutherans and Catholics, why the church in the US cares about the church here, and so on. I was challenged to explain my beliefs and struggled to explain things that I am probably not really qualified to explain well (and especially not explain well in Spanish), and it was fantastic!

I loved getting to talk about these challenging topics and to connect with people on a deeper level then you normally do when first meeting them. I look forward to doing this again the next chance that I get to travel, though this time I will do a little research first so that I can have better answers to the questions that are posed to me.

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