Davies describes visiting the Great Wall of China:
"I liked the Great Wall of China the best – It was really steep; some of the stairs were really tall and some were really short, so it was hard to get up, but it was so pretty from the top, and the air was really clean. I'm afraid of heights, and so was my roommate, but we ended up being the first ones to finish (getting to the top) because we liked it so much. We were scared a little bit, but we got over it. It was really cold, and on the way down there was a lot of ice – so people kept falling down the Great Wall. But it was fun; no one got hurt. I saw God when I was on the Great Wall – it was the journey getting up there and then looking down, you could just see everything. It was so pretty. I felt blessed at the top of the Great Wall."
When Camryn Davies headed to China on the 2016 Mission of Peace, she carried a suitcase, but she tried her best not to bring any baggage.
"They told us to just leave all our baggage at home – drama, school, and friends – and just embrace the culture," said Davies, a 17-year-old high school junior, who attends Grace UMC in Lynn, MA.
"It wasn't that bad to leave my phone behind," she said. " ... it was good to leave all the distractions behind and just learn about the culture and experience it."
Some of those experiences included trying pig's ear, octopus, and eel (Davies said she didn't eat the jellyfish) and having wine and crackers on the communion table at churches where thousands may be in worship at one time.
Davies learned that in China it's polite to step over and not on the threshold when entering a home, and once at the table, the eldest person sits and eats first.
But despite these differences, Davies said: "I learned that we're all the same, basically. ... We're all people."
That lesson is one of the goals of the Mission of Peace, a yearly journey of discovery and Shalom to nations in our global community sponsored by the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
The 2016 Mission of Peace took place Dec. 28, 2015 to Jan. 15, 2016 and the group of youth and chaperones visited churches, seminaries, and landmarks – including the Great Wall of China – in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.
"All the people there were really nice to us; hospitable," Davies said. "They all took pictures of us because they weren't used to seeing Americans, but they were all really nice. And they accepted us."
While Davies left her baggage at home, she did bring some things back with her from China – including a practice that she says has helped her feel closer to God.
"Every day we talked about where we saw God in the day, and they told us to take that home with us," Davies said, "and pay more attention to where you see God in the little things in life."
While it's not something she did before the Mission of Peace, Davies said that now "I try to think about where I see God every day. It's made me closer to God. I pay more attention to the good things in life."
Other lessons gleaned from the journey were these: "Be kind to everyone. They were just so accepting of us. Even though they don't speak the same language, they tried their best to welcome us into their culture and their country," she said, adding that she also got to experience what it's like to be in the minority.
Davies, who said "I want to travel the world and see how people live everywhere," hopes to go on the 2017 Mission of Peace to Nicaragua, and she would encourage other young people to go on a Mission of Peace, offering this advice:
"Definitely go. Go into it with an open mind, and be patient and flexible," she said.
"I would definitely recommend going on it for anyone that hasn't," Davies said. "It changes your view on the world – to be more accepting of other people."
Learn more about the Mission of Peace
The 2017 MOP will be to Nicaragua; approximate dates are Dec. 28, 2016 to Jan. 10, 2017.
Deadline to apply is March 31, 2016.
Get an application form
Send applications to Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org