The reality is I could write on and on about this trip. I didn't include the stories about the food program or our day in Cartagena and I could continue this forever. Perhaps I will return to the stories every couple of weeks to keep on sharing. The experiences just sit in my heart and resonate in me. Putting it to words is always a difficult task when the journey has been so monumental.
My first time there the trip was life changing. This time it was just as much so. I really want to try to put into words for you what I learned and how life has changed for me upon my arrival home, but I am not even sure I can do that adequately.
The conversations I had while in Colombia and the culture I took in truly gave me a fresh perspective of who I am and who I want to continue to be and how to view life a little differently. We have a tendency to look through such a narrow lens at times. This trip opened my eyes and heart even wider.
Here, we focus so easily on things. Our drive often comes from getting to the next best thing in life, whether that's a job, a car, a possession or a place. I have always been a relational person. But I took that in more deeply on this trip. People matter. Love Matters. Relationships matter. We spend so much time bickering over little things or picking at the petty habits or idiosyncracies of others that we lose sight of what matters. Or the focus is on how much money we make or what we do for a job that we don't put time into the things about which we are truly passionate. We get caught up in all these focuses and lose sight of the people and the love in front of us.
In every activity we did with the community, when we would finish, they made a point of walking around to each of us, hugging us, kiss on the cheek, saying "Dios te bendiga" (God bless you) or telling us they loved us, and we were strangers to them. But they loved us. They have experienced more war and devastation than my blogs could even begin to describe to you, so I have a tendency to leave it out. But in spite of all that, they choose to love. They get it. They aren't perfect people, but they display the concept that so many of us miss..... that life is about loving, not competing. Life is about working together, not bickering or picking. Life is about others, not self.
There is a Bible verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that the message version words in a way that I really like . 1 Cor 13:3-7 says "If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love."
That verse comes to mind when I think about my trip to Colombia this time around. Because without love, all those things don't matter.
I don't mean to get up on a high horse here. I just am saying this is one of the most powerful lessons I walked away with this time. Last year I went and I came home with the different perspective of being grateful for running water and electricity and amenities and a home. And I did learn the power of love there on my last trip as well.
But the relationships and the conversations and the culture I took in on this journey have been carried home with me in a way that has transformed me. It doesn't make me perfect at this or better than anyone else. It just makes me want to live life a little differently. A little more intentionally.
Life is about love. It's about getting over ourselves sometimes and investing in others. It's about seeing ourselves as Christ sees us, not as the world wants to tell us we are. It's about crying together, listening to one another, loving eachother, disagreeing maybe but respecting the differences, and helping eachother be the best version of ourselves we can be.
As the verse said "I'm bankrupt without love." It's not about money or things or looks or body types. It's about love. And the village of Brisas taught me that on a deeper level than I have seen in a long time. A people with nothing who love with everything.
Our first night there, they sang their national anthem and then played ours for us to sing. Then they braided the colors of our flags together. They were blending two cultures as one because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. That is love. That is what life is about.
So, one month from the time I have left that little village, I have been sorting through learning these lessons. I have been processing the many conversations and experiences and putting them into my every day life in new ways. I have grown in a monumental way through these people, this trip that can't quite be articulated into words. Life is not all roses and rainbows, and it isn't for the people there either by any means. But simple acts of love can go a very long way.
I close by just sharing a few of my very favorite snapshots from this trip. There really are more stories to go around, but in time....
|This girl... Love her. We laughed so much.|
|Me and Gin, Eating Mamón. So delicious.|
|Eating Mango, not so gracefully.|
|Me and Mileth. Love this girl.|
|Me and Tía.|
|Me and Pastor Javier|
|I love these girls!|
|It's the little things, like wearing our gloves...|
|Part of the team at Alto de Julio|
|Juan, mi hermano.|
|The team in front of the clinic, right before departure.|
|I love this photo of us with the youth|
|Me, Miguel and Mileth|