ATW II Unforgettable Adventures

“Some of the most beautiful things you learn on the Around the World trip is that no matter where you go there is always a story to find. You can have a birthday in a different country or worship in the middle of nowhere. You can sail on a boat or ride a motorcycle to go to a secret destination were you will never go back again. The most beautiful thing is when you look back and all that matters is not where you went, but who did yo go with. That is one of the profound treasures of the trip”

David Garcia
Around the World I

Concordia in Vietnam

We were blessed with the opportunity to visit the Concordia International School in Hanoi and to facilitate a day of games and activities.  We planned and implemented an “Around-the-World Day” for the younger grades, complete with activities that taught them about different places in our world.  For the older grades, we led activities that would excite them about English and allow them to have a little bit of fun, even on a school day!

It was very enjoyable to spend time with these international students and to hear a little bit of what Concordia Hanoi has already been able to accomplish in a short three years of operation.  The students as well as the staff were attempting to recruit some of our CUI students to come back and teach after just a few hours!  Many of us hope to visit Vietnam again in the future, and to visit our friends at Concordia Hanoi soon!

Parable of the Lost Bag

Alex Bagnara and his bag

Written by Alex Bagnara. Photo by Prof. Adam Lee.

Not 3 hours ago we were all sleeping in the Beijing Airport after a night of adventuring. We had just walked off our 14th-and-a-half hour of flying into the Ulanaan Baatar airport. Our group of 37 Rounders had a healthy blend of jetlag, lack of sleep, and unfiltered excitement for a journey that we had just scratched the surface of. We had just finished signing paperwork to enter Mongolia and were anxiously waiting by the conveyer belt for luggage.

Then all the luggage from the plane started falling from the chute: metal luggage, duffle-bags, weird luggage wrapped in saran wrap, and various other types of luggage. Large backpack after large backpack quickly followed. Professor Lee, myself and a few other Rounders just start grabbing backpacks. We toss them to the rest of the team to start walking outside.

After a few minutes, 36 big backpacks, and plenty of manly luggage-throwing later, the magical chute that so graciously provided 36 Rounders with fresh underwear neglected to provide the 37th tired, sleep-deprived, and unfiltered-ly excited Rounder with his bag. That Rounder was me. I, who so stupidly jinxed everything by even bringing up the idea of losing luggage, lost my bag.

God puts us in community to grow us. He puts us there to remind us that we can’t do anything alone. We need Him, and we also need other believers. We can’t live this life alone. We need help. Sometimes it isn’t easy to notice that. Sometimes we get too into our own process, our way of doing things, that we forget we sometimes need a little help. I realized this when I was stuck for a day without my bag. It was only a day, but in that day I felt the love this team has for each other. I felt the love that God has so graciously given these Rounders to share with each other.

Bogd Khan’s Palace

Palace Entrance

Written by Nick Duerr. Photo by Nick Duerr.

On our first Saturday in Mongolia, our group visited the palace of the Bogd Khan. All of the museums and tourist spots in Mongolia have a strange rule: No cameras except for those which have been paid for. Our team decided that we wanted one camera, and since mine is the best on the trip, I was deemed camera man. And this was no small business. I was equipped with a press badge and a separate ticket for my camera. I felt very official. Every time one of the museum workers saw me operating my camera I would show them my badge and that was enough to keep them from telling me no. Of course, as the group photographer, I spent most of the trip in the back of the group taking pictures of everything from tapestries to ceiling tiles, from statues to grand architecture. Though I was not able to investigate the palace as thoroughly as I would have liked, I was presented with the chance to practice my photography in an amazing location.

As we passed through the gate, the architecture was astounding—lofty roofs held up by tall pillars; graceful walls complimented by curving ceilings; small stone critters graced some of the edges along the roofs of buildings. Almost every wall was painted with scenes and diagrams from the mythical history of Mongolia. Inside of the buildings was as impressive as the outside. Some of the first exhibits we saw were large wooden statues of what appeared to be mythical creatures. There were also large tapestries containing images which I associated with the history of Buddhism. Several rooms even contained large metal statues of Buddha and other images. As I rushed through the museum at the breakneck plod of a photographer, I did not take the time to fully comprehend any of the art. But I was able to enjoy the environment and the culture as I took notice of it between adjusting settings and setting up the right angle. Catching a glimpse into the world of a people who seem so distant from us was quite an opportunity, even if it was only through the lens of a camera.