The Mission of Peace continues to be a wonderful journey to Shalom.” That’s how Tom Schmidt, Communications Coordinator for the UMC Northeastern Jurisdiction’s Mission of Peace, signed off on a recent update of the 2015 MOP group’s nearly three-week journey through India.
Schmidt has e-mailed almost daily missives to report on the group’s travels, encounters and experiences as the 14 youth and a dozen adults–including seven bishops–learn much about their host country and enjoy its “unbelievable hospitality.” Details of their excursion are limited, reportedly due to security concerns; but there will likely be much information and many insights shared after they return Jan. 15.
Among the youth sojourners from around the jurisdiction are two from the EPA Conference: Morgan Orlowski, 15, a 10th grader from Grove UMC in West Chester, and Emma Doupe, a high school senior from Grandview UMC in Lancaster.
They are visiting Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Dehli, and Mumbai, encountering youth and adults in Indian churches, schools and community centers. They even toured and met leaders at a state government building and a Tibetan temple and monastery.
Bishop Peggy Johnson preached there at a Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve. She returned home Jan. 7 to attend the Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally Jan. 9-11 in Ocean City, Md., which will include about 500 youth and adults from the EPA Conference. She shared a trove of colorful photos that can be viewed in our online photo gallery. (Be sure to also read her reflections about her visit to India in her Bishop’s Blog, to be posted Friday.)
Since the tour group arrived in Bangalore Dec. 29, they have been mostly on the move with little time for rest. They have witnessed natural and cultural wonders and important landmarks, learned about India through lectures, conversations and presentations, and enjoyed music, singing, worship and fellowship with many Indian youth and adults.
In the meantime, they are also enjoying each other, forging new friendships and maturing, as they learn about “patience, flexibility and change,” wrote Schmidt, a retired educator and member of the Upper New York Conference Council on Youth Ministry.
There will be much more to share when the intergenerational entourage returns home with pictures to show, stories to tell and probably more than a few testimonies to share about lives that were touched and changed, including their own.
The Mission of Peace is a yearly journey of discovery and Shalom to nations in our global community sponsored by the Northeast Jurisdictional Council on Youth Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Information can be found at www.nejmop.com/About_Us.html
By John Coleman, EPA Conference Communications Director
Photos provided by Bishop Peggy Johnson