A Faithful Performance
By Megan Luebke '09
I had just finished teaching the first half of a cultural workshop to elementary students in Puebla, Mexico, when I walked outside for some fresh air. A few of my students and their mothers sat on the playground in front of the school. It was lunchtime and the mothers had come with huge picnic baskets in tow.
I hadn’t planned on eating until later, but I couldn’t resist the tacos and tortillas brought to me by the wide-eyed children. While eating, I asked them about their favorite subjects in school and what games they liked to play. During our interaction, I sensed God’s presence. He was traveling with me on this adventure known as Up With People. He made those small everyday moments into memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Months before I graduated from Concordia in May 2009, I did what many college students do and started looking for a job. But something didn’t feel right as I went in for interviews armed with a degree in organizational communication. Concordia equipped me with the skills to make a difference in the world. I was a thoughtful and informed woman dedicated to the Christian life. When reflecting on what that phrase meant, I immediately thought of service. What better way to serve Christ than by traveling the world and serving his sons and daughters?
That’s what led me to my journey with Up With People. I have no doubt in my mind this was something God had planned for me to do long before the idea to travel with the program had even entered my mind. But now that my time with Up With People has ended, I believe I lived out his will by helping those less fortunate than I, while upholding my promise to Concordia. During my journey, I grew closer to God than I could have imagined. He uplifted my spirits and rejoiced with me. I learned to rely on him at all times.
Up With People is a nonprofit leadership and cultural exchange program in which students from around the world spread the message of hope and peace through song, dance and community service. During my six months as a member in Up With People Cast B 2009, I traveled to several countries, made more than 100 friends from 20 countries, and performed in nearly 50 international shows.
But Up With People is so much more than entertainment.
Up With People is going to bed at 1 a.m. after a discussion about religion and ethics with your host parents and waking up four hours later to catch the train to your next show. Up With People is meeting your new host family in Poland, only to realize they don’t speak a word of English. It’s learning how to sleep in any environment: on a bus, on a ferry, under a table, on metal boxes. It’s living for the unpredictable moments and soaking in the small, everyday experiences.
One day in Veracruz, Mexico, about 30 of us visited a nursing home. After singing a few songs to the residents, we played some music and held a dance party. I noticed a man sitting in a wheelchair in the corner of the room. I asked a worker if he wanted to join in on the dance and the worker replied that he hadn’t had many visitors in the last few years and was very unhappy. A few minutes later, a cast member from China walked over to him, held his hands and started to do the most ridiculous dance I have ever seen. This man hadn’t smiled in over a year but after a few minutes, he was laughing and clapping his hands.
Another day we traveled to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. I lagged behind the group, walking with two of my friends, Ronja, who is German, and Leslie, who is from the U.S. Ronja’s grandfather was affiliated with the Nazi party. Leslie is Jewish. Yet, they walked hand-in-hand through the camp, a sign the world has changed. Another sign of God’s presence on my amazing trip across the globe.