I am listening to the Colombian music to which I was introduced, and trying to find the right words to capture the emotions and thoughts which now are engrained in my head and heart.
The Journey of Colombia, as the posts will now be titled, will unfold over the next few weeks. Quite simply, I know that words and pictures are not going to do justice for the experience, but I want so much to share with you all what I have learned.
It is a bit strange to come back to a world where everyone's life has gone on in the same fashion, and I come home with a completely new perspective. When others haven't shared in that, explaining it is difficult. My hope is that my new perspectives, which have in fact changed me for the better, will bleed out through my words, my actions and my love and they can then have a little piece of my newfound perspective.
So, as I share parts of my journey to Colombia over the next few weeks, I will have to try to separate it into topics, as that is the best way I can figure to break it down in the simplest of ways. There were new foods experienced, the heartbeat for speaking the Spanish language reignited, exhausting construction work being accomplished in unique ways, muscles strained, sweat dripped, laughter had, tears shared, love expressed in levels unexplainable, comfort zones broken, service as Jesus described shown in ways I've never known, and bonds of friendship made. You can see where it's going to take some time to recapture this for you. But, I am going to try.
Today, rather than touching on one specific topic, I want to just share a brief overview. I went into this experience not knowing anyone on my team, and have left the trip with a few of them becoming some of the closest friends I have ever had. Yes, in part that comes with experiencing something so unique together. But more so, it comes from the bond of love and servanthood and vulnerability- qualities so rarely found in the every day normalcy of our competitive world. When people would ask me if I was worried because I didn't know anyone on my team, I was not; I had no idea though how much I would bond with them. I never felt not good enough or bottom of the barrel as is my experience in the normal routine of life- we were all there to accomplish the same task, we were all there serving a purpose, and I felt embraced.
Last day together traveling home - me, James, Eric, and Paula LouThe whole team, including Bishop and the pastoral staff
While my skin was so white you could probably see me shining, and the kids loved when I compared my skin to their blanco (white) beads on the craft they made with us, I felt part of their culture and their home from the get-go. I never felt out of place. I worried a little beforehand about recalling all my Spanish, but I LOVED being able to speak with them in conversations. They taught me words I didn't know, and I would swap English words with them. I used extra-long sentences a lot, but they understood me in the end. I had (almost) forgotten my passion for their culture. Rediscovering this was wonderful.
Flexibility was the key our leaders emphasized to us, and there were countless times we had to exercise this. In fact, to be quite honest, I gave up trying to figure out what was happening the next day (which is so contrary to the planner in me!) and just enjoyed and went with whatever was going on. We had to change things nearly every day because of one reason or another (more details to come...) Our team did a great job of staying flexible. I have participated in many team activities through the years and never have I felt the cohesiveness I have with this group. Everyone helped everyone, stepped in when necessary and stepped back when needed. Everyone brought something unique to the group and it was wonderful to see each person's individuality unfold.
Paola, our translator and in-country expert, was awesome. Fun, funny, flexible, strong, independent, confident, loving, and beautiful. She made the experience all the more special. You'll find her in many of my stories and pictures. She did an amazing job executing details for us and while the translating I did was fun and I enjoyed it, it wore me out at times (mostly just the thinking at times of how to say some things...) and I know it exhausted her. But she was a champion.
|Paola on the beach|
|Me and Paola|
|Paula, me, Paola|
You can see where this overview is becoming a book. There are people's stories I want to share, lessons learned, and experiences had unlike any I have ever known. So, more to come, but I will close it up with some pictures. Each person who was part of this journey- Gil, Ed, Michael, Keith, Paula, Paola, Paula Lou, Angie, Barb, Eric, James, Yoleda and Tia and all the people of Brisas will be found captured in the days to come.
|Day 1 of our trip, much of the youth group pictured here to welcome us into Brisas del Mar|