The Sixth Sense: Understanding

In a peculiar twist of fate, Église Évangélique de Perpignan, a church where je ne comprend pas anything that is spoken, has become my new home church. I can only make mild sense of this personal interest of mine. My entire stay in Perpignan has been compiled of wild fantasies of returning home where a mutual understanding exists between my neighbor and myself. That mutual understanding is speaking English.

Ah, but another mutual understanding exists in my world, the mutual understanding of knowing God. When I first introduced myself to Église Évangélique de Perpignan's pastor, Didier Santana, he asked if I knew God. He called me his sister in Christ, hence the feeling of an existing bond with a legitimate stranger.

Je suis Americain, while everyone else at this church is French. After learning survival French phrases to assist me in navigating this town, I cannot quite hold my own ears during a two-hour sermon. But even with such a huge language barrier, the Lord's message still comes through. I can still understand what these members of the congregation are doing. I can feel their emotions and love for God.

I was enthralled to have another emotional experience watching a wedding after the church service. Two members of the congregation joined their lives and hearts before God, while I could not understand one single word that was spoken. Again, even with no understanding of the language, the emotions still came through. As I crouched behind my camera while filming this wedding, tears streamed down my face. "Why am I doing this? I don't even know these people!" Although I have yet to meet this couple, their marriage still brought tears to my eyes through the power of emotional connection.

A smile is understood through all languages, and so is an emotional experience. Église Évangélique de Perpignan 's congregation members bonded with me that Sunday through a sense of understanding that only brings pleasure. Once my American feet are off French soil, I hope I face joys like these- joys that once disguised themselves as challenges.

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About the Program

Fifteen college students came from North America to Perpignan, France, in June 2011 to produce these videos and stories. To find out more, read a welcome letter from program director Rachele Kanigel, meet the program faculty and explore the 2010 website.