Monday, July 3, 2017

Colombia #5. The Team

So many experiences, so many lessons, so many different conversations and moments to share. Breaking it down takes so much time, so much processing.
 Today I want to tell you about my team.

Last year, I had an incredible group of people with whom I traveled. This year, the experience was jut as good. I loved them all so much that after spending that whole week with them, after our 4 hours plane ride from Colombia back to the states, I couldn't wait to talk to some of them again, who had been several seats back. After a week together, it felt like 4 hours was a week apart! We just bonded that well. So, let me share a little about each person with you. I should do this in 2 blogs, because this will get very long, but you can stop reading if you get bored ;)
The team in the city on our last night

 Pastor Ed
 Pastor Ed was on my team last year, and I was looking forward to traveling with him again. True to his nature, he was full of jokes. And nearly any time he'd begin a story that sounded so serious, we all began to "just wait for it" because there would be a punch line in the end. He has a passion for preaching and he loves the people of Brisas del Mar. He is one of the people who is diligent to ask me if I am ok, recognizing when I am in deep thought. And while the answer was always yes, I appreciated the fact that he would take notice that I was reflective.

  James and I traveled together last year as well. James served as team leader this year, and he loved the people of Brisas as well. James is quiet, but when he shares, it comes from his heart. He always cared about making sure each person on the team was taken care of and doing well. He is reflective and pensive and is a huge giver.

 Michael is another team member I went with last year, and Michael is the co-leader. He coordinates the ministries between the states and the Colombian church. He loves the community so much and the kids love him so much. In Brisas, if you saw a group of kids anywhere, it was pretty likely that Michael was in the center of it.

 Barb is a woman with a heart for service. She is a trooper, because the conditions were tough for her. But this was her second time going and she did such a great job! I will talk about the food program there on another day, so I don't want to give it all away in this blog, but Barb has taken that on as her project and has been diligently raising and sending money to Brisas so their children have food to eat for lunch. I loved getting to be with her again on this trip. I will tell you more about her when I write about the food program.
This photo will appear in another blog, it's a cool story

 Oh, Cindy. She is a woman who has a beautiful story. It has only been around a year since she lost her husband, and I commend her for stepping out of her comfort zone to join us. Cindy has a loving, tender heart. She was so good with all of the kids. She worked hard when she could, and when she needed a break, she was often found with the kids as well. I have to tell you, though, that Cindy was our clinic visitor on this trip. Poor Cindy sprained her wrist on day 1. And later in the trip got some sort of weird bite, which was never identified, but the nurses staff fussed over her for it and attended to her needs. She always hated that, but they loved on her. Cindy and I had a total giggle fest our last night together, and it is a moment neither of us will forget. We laughed so hard we could not breathe. Literally. She never had a daughter (she has a son) so I made myself her surrogate daughter, whether she asked for it or not ;).

  This girl is amazing. She always has a smile and I so admire that she knows what she wants to do and be. She knows what she likes and doesn't. She is confident in a healthy way. She laughs so much of the time, and she was so great to have conversations with. She was inquisitive and caring and genuine. Such a positive gal to be around. We also had some great laughs together, which were caught on camera and I will share later because those are a couple of my favorite photos from the trip.
Gin, Emma, Ashley

 I saved these guys for last, because they are a family. And I absolutely admired watching them interact. I saw a father and a husband in a new light. I saw a mother and a wife I admired. I watched this young girl evolve and grow each day. The Swoffords were a neat family.

 Chris is a hard worker. He was innovative and worked hard to understand and communicate with John on the worksite. Well, he worked hard to communicate with everyone,  really. But I saw his skills highly utilized on the construction site. Chris smiled and he cried. He felt with his heart and that was evident to me. He did not always have a hundred words to say, but what he did say had great value. He was so good with the kids in Brisas. He was never afraid to ask questions to learn and I think he took the best photos out of everyone on this trip.

 Emma was the youngest on the trip. She claimed to be shy, but honestly, if she was, she fooled me. She did so good with the kids! And she worked hard to learn Spanish so she could communicate with them. She'd come ask me "how do you say..." and began a little notebook of phrases. At one point, MIleth, who I was trying to teach some English to, and Emma, who was trying to learn Spanish, began helping and teaching each other. She is spunky and feels deeply. I am so happy she had this experience at her age. I love this girl! There were several times I would turn to her and say "Are you my daughter?" because she had such similar tendencies as my own daughter. I had a great time getting to know her.

 Known as Gin as well. Gin became my sister on this trip. We laughed hard, she held my hand while I cried hard on her shoulder, she listened to my very lengthy stories about my activities and family, and she offered me great feedback and advice on more than one occasion. I know she prayed and does pray for me. We shared mom stories and hundreds of other stories and I could not have been more grateful to have her on this team. We did a lot of teamwork together, the 2 of us, on the construction site, and we became a well-oiled machine together, I do believe. A new friend for life. A new sister.

 And that is our team. We were made up a variety of ages and abilities and we blended well. And I am forever changed a little more because of my interactions with each of them. I miss them so much. When you experiences a week so monumental together, words can't really do any one of them justice.

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