Avodah Study of Mexican Culture in Baja, California
One of Providence’s classic Avodah excursions is to visit Baja California, Mexico each semester.
On September 19, one staff member and twelve students made the three-hour drive to Mexico with Adrian Crum, Providence 2010 alumnus, as their guide. Adrian and his family lived in Mexico as missionaries for numerous years and he has extensive knowledge of the language and culture. The first stop was at Centro Cultural Tijuana, one of Baja California’s most comprehensive cultural museums. During a guided tour, students learned of Mexico’s long and rich history. Later that evening, the museum hosted a presentation of traditional song and dance.
“The Mexico Avodah was such a wonderful opportunity to learn about the rich Mexican history by being immersed in the culture. We were able to learn about their traditions through music, dancing, and exploring the wonderful city of Tijuana,” senior Billie Sneider said.
Other stops on the trip included an attendance at a service at Tijuana’s largest cathedral, a stop at Friendship Park along the border, and Sunday morning worship at Filadelfia Reformed Presbyterian Church where the congregation and pastor welcomed the Providence students. The trip was complete with two authentic family-style meals.
“We were able to experience first-hand the welcoming nature of the community through fellowship and worship with like-minded believers. Even though there was a language barrier, both the church and those of us on the trip were able to praise God and bring Him glory as a unified body of Christ,” Snieder said about the worship service.
Even a short trip gave the students a firmer grasp of culture in Mexico, thanks to Adrian’s expert guidance and some rich stops along the way.
On this Avodah, Providence students focused on Mormon history, their persecution, and the confusion as to whether or not Mormons are Christians.
On October 26, twenty Providence students, accompanied by two staff members, enjoyed a morning at the Los Angeles California Temple and visitor center. Most students had a basic knowledge of the Mormon faith and this Avodah provided them an opportunity to dive deeper.
Students learned the basic tenets of the Mormon faith through two missionaries and one elder of the church. These guides led students through the visitors’ center, explaining the history of the church and what sets them apart from Christians. They explained to the students what a regular Sunday looks like in a Mormon church and what things Mormons are involved in outside of Sunday worship. Students were not able to go into the temple itself, for only members are allowed, but they had the opportunity to walk around it.
Sarah Bergquist (class of 2018) reflected on how this study related to her Avodah experience as a whole: “The Study of Mormonism Avodah is what the Avodah program is all about. Without an adequate understanding of the beliefs of a major world religion such as Mormonism, how are we to engage and renew the culture? This particular Avodah was somewhat similar to my other religious study experiences like the Jewish Cultural Avodah, but all experiential learning holistically affects the way we live.”
Even a short morning enabled students to learn more about this religion and better understand it. As was the intention, students were given an opportunity to interface with a current issue of the day, asking questions to both the tour guides and having discussion amongst each other, in order to better prepare them to be Christians engaging in culture.
Learn more about our signature Avodah Program.