SwissMiss Reflection: God is at Work, and Working In Me
March 4-14th, a group of 12 volunteers, mostly from Ridgeview, visited the Movida campus in Walzenhausen Switzerland to help with the work being completed by Scott & Mani Langemeier and the team of PRISMA students (all from the Spanish speaking world), missionaries, and volunteers from around the world.
We affectionately named them the SwissMiss team.
The team engaged in four days of practical work on the campus along with four days of travel and ministry to regional churches in Germany and Switzerland. We are so grateful to God for the work He did. He provided safe travels, health, energy, joy, and wisdom throughout each day. Each volunteer joined in the fruitful work as God worked in them by His grace.
The following are short reflections on the trip and God’s work from each of the volunteers.
Soli Deo gloria!
“The mission trip to Switzerland was so awesome! God humbled me this week. I expected that the language barriers wouldn’t be an issue. I thought that everyone would be able to speak English. God humbled me. He showed me that English isn’t superior. I am not exceptional. But God is! No matter the language barrier, we have a commonality of Jesus. It was eye-opening to see that the same God we worship is the same God they worship. God also humbled me through work. I thought that the way I did things was better. I was shown this week that everybody works differently, and that is okay. It is more about the intercultural experience of working with others than getting the job done.
One of the highlights of the trip was spending time with the Latinos singing, “I Saw the Light.”
Praise the Lord. I saw the Light!”
“I grew a lot during our trip to Switzerland. I learned what it means to serve, what it is like communicating and working with people across cultural and language barriers, and what Movida is doing with their PRISMA program in Switzerland. Trying to work with people whose language I don’t speak was humbling and made me rely on God’s strength and patience and flexibility. I was moved by seeing Ukrainian refugees in the flesh. I experienced the beautiful thing that is Christian hospitality towards traveling missionaries. Praise be to God for his wondrous grace.”
“The trip was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much. I was surprised that most of the time we were there we did physical work, like shoveling dirt, planting trees, and picking up sticks. There were a lot of lessons learned. I never would’ve considered moving truckloads of dirt with a shovel as missionary work. But whatever the leaders at the campus told me what to do, I did it because that was my mission. Scrubbing potatoes and planting trees was my mission. I learned that being a missionary doesn’t just mean going to different churches, it’s also laying yourself down and serving God with whatever mission He puts before you.”
“It was such an amazing trip – seeing God at work in such a multicultural context. There was amazing unity in the team and such joy in serving together on the campus and other places.
I saw Him at work at Walzenhausen among the students from Latin America whose hearts are on fire for the Lord. I saw him at work in the hearts of Movida leaders who responded with such compassion and determination to the refugee crisis.
I saw Him at work through the hands of Polish and German people that greeted refugees with soup, free sim-card and transportation options every step of the way once they crossed the border.
In the prayer of a young mama, who was grateful for quietness and the roof.
In the wide and cheerful smile of a 19 year old student who volunteers at the shelter till midnight every day.
In the quiet conversation of an older couple who decided to take in a refugee in their home.”
“Passion. Patience. Flexibility. These are recurring words that only our group will truly understand… or anyone who has shoveled a mountain of dirt in one day! The days were filled with hard work, relationship building, exposure to various cultures, and being pushed out of my comfort zone; this trip has given me more than I could have imagined. Seeing a true passion for the Lord and the spread of the gospel by people from around the world was encouraging. Patience was displayed by all involved with language barriers and games of charades. Most importantly, this trip taught me that flexibility is where your faith shines brightest. Did we have no idea what was going on some days? Did we question the methods of how to complete tasks? Was I scared to spend the night in a German woman’s home alone? With flexibility, prayer, and the grace of God and others, none of these questions mattered. The opportunity to serve and be a witness towers over these questions. And for that I will be forever grateful.”
“God was so kind to us throughout this trip. He provided our every need, even staying off jet lag so we could work effectively. It was a blessing to see our team of volunteers work without complaint. When some of the Latino students were questioned regarding what unique qualities they see in our group of Americans, their response was shock a how willing we all were to help and to serve. I was greatly encouraged to hear that Christ was working in us to encourage those around us.”
“This trip showed me there are whole cultures I haven’t even learned enough to communicate with, let alone understand. This terrifies me, because I really value knowing what’s going on and understanding the why and how of everything. So, going on a trip planned by others, on a continent I’ve never been to, with people speaking languages I don’t know challenged me to trust God both in the big and in the small decisions. More than that, I saw that God is the same God in Switzerland, Germany, and America. I may not have known the details of the next day or the eccentricities of a second language, but I could still have spiritual conversations with the Latino students, the volunteers at Movida, or the Germans we met. Our God is the ultimate common ground in a world of infinite diversity and the ultimate rock in uncertainty.”
“During this trip, God taught me that you can encourage others in Christ without speaking their language perfectly. I was encouraged often by non-native English speakers:
Oso’s (a Movida volunteer) exhortation to trust God even when we don’t have all the information we might want.
Debbie’s (a Prisma student from Chile) smile, chocolate, and good questions asked through Google Translate.
Miqueas (a volunteer from Argentina) sharing his testimony in Spanish of how God touched his life.
Jessica (our German host during a visit to the churches) welcoming us into her home
Spending time with others who have different languages and cultures while knowing that we share Christ. Examples: Praying and devotions together, jamming out in the car to Christian music, taking a walk outside and conversing in mixed Spanish and English, playing Spicy UNO.
I loved being part of this trip. Please pray for me to keep growing in Christ and to find more opportunities for evangelism and discipleship in my daily life.”
—Hannah Swanson (Hannah is sister to Abigail and currently lives in Omaha)
“For me (Jayde), our mission trip was a sweet time of fellowship with the body of Christ as We worked, worshiped, and served with brothers and sisters in Christ from all around the globe. Despite the fact that we often struggled to speak each other’s language, the simple fact that we shared Christ turned strangers into family, even in the short period of time we got to know each other.
In addition, My eyes were opened to the reality of what being a “missionary” truly means. A missionary is not just someone who goes to Foreign Country to tell people about Jesus. Rather , a missionary is a person wholeheartedly on mission to do the Lord’s work, wherever they are, and whose passion that ALL may know Christ is evident in their everyday life, words, and relationships.”
—Cody & Jayde Trump
“This trip has impacted me in many ways. It has shown me how difficult it is to go into a different country where you don’t know the language or the culture. You have to find ways to get your meaning across to others. But what was cool is that even through all of the trip, our group and the people there could connect because we were all from the same family; the family of Jesus. We worked for the Lord. We fellowshipped for the Lord. And, as we got to know each other more, we saw the love of Christ. We were able to help out with many things there. We scooped dirt, planted trees, plowed fields, and pulled out tree roots. Everyone had an amazing work ethic and we got it done so fast it was amazing. You could see God’s hand in all of it; keeping everyone safe and keeping us going day after day. God worked in this trip to impact our hearts and theirs all for the glory of his name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11”
—Lily Varpness (Lily is daughter of Zach and Kendra Varpness (former members of Ridgeview) and currently lives in Orange City, Iowa)
“While on this trip, I learned to not underestimate what God has given us to do. Too often I get caught up in what I have to give or contribute is too small. Yet, God is asking us to follow and obey Him. Each part of what is happening is contributing to bringing God glory. Those behind the scenes actions are helping make what seems like something so much more important get done. I’m so thankful that as a team we were able to come together and serve our missionaries in Switzerland. Knowing that no matter the personalities, language barriers and cultural differences we all are like minded with a heart that wants to honor God. My prayer request going forward is that I continue to be open to ways God is asking me to help and serve. Getting out of my comfort zone is a good thing.”