photo courtesy of Jen Saner-Harvey

Team Manitoba!

Winnipeg has its own landscape—the expansive prairie, the steady winding Assiniboine and Red Rivers, the stretching spanning elms we live under.  All of these older than “Canada” and all containing stories of generations of people living on this land whom we will never know.  And what about yourstory?  Your stories started before you stepped off the plane at Winnipeg’s International Airport and other airports across North America.  What happened before you showed up in this place, this new place, this place that doesn’t know you or your story?  This place you have stepped toward in trust, eagerness, sacrifice, and uncertainty.  You arrive with a whole life of story.  I don’t know a lot about 3-D movie production, but I understand one method is to capture the images on two camera’s eye-width apart.  When those images are projected simultaneously it tricks the eyes to see dimension.  I have experienced cross-cultural 3-D reality.  One of the images I see as I look out is the new place, the place I’ve arrived at, the reality everyone else seems to be moving within.  Then the second image is the other place, the images of life back there, the people, the streets, the sounds, the smells, the beauty, the suffering, the rhythms of that place.  You find yourself moving through your day with invisible 3-D glasses bringing dimension to your experience no one else can see.  To live within this cross-cultural 3-D reality takes a willingness to stretch your heart to become three dimensional.  Sometimes these realities are so contrasting, they do not create an easy third dimension to experience.  It takes a willingness to live with discomfort and confusion.  There is an isolation almost inherent to the experience, because the “vision” you bring with you most others will not know.  How do we live whole within incongruent realities?  How do we integrate our experiences?  How do we live authentically in relationship with others?  In many ways everyone is wearing their own 3-D glasses shaped by their unique life experiences.  Individuals are often full of surprises, with similarities as well as differences we might not assume.  We will never know their “vision” and they will never know ours unless we risk engaging in genuine ways, living more intimately with the vastness and mystery of life, risking vulnerability and transformation.  This kind of living takes courage, honesty, patience, humility and grace.  And it brings with it a guarantee that you will be changed.  Your experience in this new place is now becoming a part of your story and when you return your “vision” at home will have an overlay of your “IVEP year”—complete with the texture of your experiences here, your relationships, your losses, your blessings, your encounters with God in these moments.  As you let others know you, both here and back home, you share the gift of your heart and of expanding the dimensions of their “vision.”  Transformation has a reciprocal nature.  Others will be changed from knowing you.