We’ve been in Colombia for nearly two weeks and words can hardly describe the experience that I have had so far. It was difficult to know what to expect but I am certain that the expectations have been exceeded in significant ways. Having been to Colombia at the end of 2013 I was looking forward to seeing some old friends while also getting to meet new ones. When I left Colombia on my first trip in 2014 I felt like I had become part of the family and was welcomed with open arms. As a year and a half has passed I wondered what it would be like to see the people I had met and to reconnect in some way. Would I still feel so welcomed? Would I feel like I was part of the family again?
Well I don’t know why I even questioned it because the same thing happened. We were all welcomed with open arms and loved like we were part of the family. It was a reunion for some of us and an opportunity to become a larger family for all of us. That love that was felt at the camp continued as we visited churches, worked at the school in Pereira, and as we made our way to the General Assembly in Cali. This has continued in Cali at General Assembly as we reunited with many people we had met over the previous two weeks who had travelled from all over the world to be at the General Assembly. The love of this country continues to be shown as we eat together, worship together, and simply talk with one another. All whom we have encountered has welcomed our entire team, youth and adults, in a special way.
I have been very impressed with the young people on our team, as they have made a strong effort to be connected with the people in Colombia and have worked so hard through the long days of our trip. These trips are often exhausting and emotionally draining as we rush around to experience everything that we can but our entire group has powered through. The youth on this trip have been excited about each new day and another opportunity to be with their new Colombian friends and with each other. The love that we have felt has been reciprocated by our own group of youth as they have tried to welcome their new Colombian friends into our family. We have all worked together as one body of people to become a special family. There have been some challenging moments but their have been even greater moments that have made this new family of Colombians, Americans, Japanese and many more what it is.
We woke up very early. We went to General Assembly at Colegio Americano in Cali. We got to see many of our friends we’ve made along the way from the camp and Colegio Americano in Pereira. We have a room on the campus where we can gather with other youth advisory delegates to hangout. At the end of the day we all gathered together for a celebration of 90 years of ministry of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Colombia.
This trip has been way above my expectations! As we go to different places in Colombia, I’m amazed by all the people who are full of a welcoming spirit and kind hearts. The Colombian people are very genuine. What has surprised me the most so far was how much everyone is interested in language, even though we are not able to understand everything, it’s nice to know we are connected as one body in Christ.
Teaching English as an ESL teacher at Colegio Americano in Pereira was nice because I was able to experience what it was like to be on the other side of the fence since I was the one being taught English 5 years ago.
I love learning about how much Colombians care for one another. One night we had too much food, so instead of throwing it away, a local church packaged it up and was able to share it with someone who was hungry.
As I’m writing this it is my birthday, I really appreciate our awesome youth team for making my birthday one of the best ones I’ve ever had! The last two days, I have awakened to the happy birthday song and today, folks have been singing it to me throughout the day. I’ve never felt this much at home in such a short amount of time. I’ve made so many new friends who have shared with me notes, candy, songs and big hugs! Tonight, they even surprised me with a birthday cake. It almost made me cry. Thank you so much for letting me be part of this trip!
Sorry for the delay but you get two blogs for the price of one! The first is from Eleanor Forester and the second was written by Kelsey Hayes.
In Pereira, the Colegio Americano School is a special place. Every morning, our mission team leads the students in energizers. Before we started, I was worried that we wouldn’t get much of a reaction out of the students. I was pretty sure that the nine of us leaders would end up dancing by ourselves while the others just sat and watched. However, that was not the case. When the dancing started, we were met with a great bundle of energy. Just about everyone participated in the jumping and the twisting and turning. It was amazing that they were so quick to have fun with us.
Despite a few bumps in the road, the time in Colombia has been a wonderful experience. The camp was a huge blessing, the school has gone great, the team is doing well and the food is muy bien. Today was the last day with the elementary students at Colegio Americano. We taught about feelings and emotions. It was amazing to see how fast they opened up and caught on! In the afternoon, we traveled to a nearby town called Manizales. We visited with folks from the CP church there and they gave us a tour of their beautiful city. At one point, we got into groups of about 8 people and rode the metro cable through the skyline of the city. It was absolutely breathtaking. After that, we walked to the highest point and learned some of the town’s history. This is also the spot that a Chilean poet named the “sunset factory”. It was a wonderful day! Our next stop is Cali! God is truly working! Chao!
Today was our first day at Colegio Americano in Pereira. I think everyone was a bit nervous and not knowing what to expect. It took a minute for the students to warm up to us but when we split into different grade group’s things changed. We did a worship service and it was nice and a lot of the kids participated and enjoyed the artwork. Then we went to the classrooms of the younger children helping to teach them English. Then we went back to our home away from home and swam the rest of the afternoon. That evening we practiced for the next day. One of the things we practiced was singing, “We are marching in the light of God.” We sang this in English, Spanish and Japanese. We were practicing for the next day when the sun was going down behind the mountains outlying the city. That experience felt peaceful and unifying to the group.
Well, yesterday was our last day at the camp and was very emotional for all of us. After our last worship service, we all took communion together it was especially exciting because it was Noah’s 1st time leading communion after his ordination. However, the emotions of our team quickly changed from excitement to sadness, as we realized would soon have to say goodbye. We all connected very quickly with the Colombians, which made it really hard to leave. After we left, we stopped in Salento, on our way to Pereira, and enjoyed shopping in the market. So while our day was full of ups and downs, I think we are all excited to start this next chapter in our journey. Caminamos en la luz de Dios!
This is Nathan. The video I made was too large to share on the blog. If I get a way to share it on youtube I will let you know. In the meantime, here is reflection from Abby Miller.
The team’s third day in Colombia was just as amazing as the first two! This was the second and last full day of camp. In the morning, we had devotion and it was my turn to speak. I was nervous but once I got in front of everyone it wasn’t as bad as I thought. After morning devotion, we had our workshop classes and recreation in the afternoon. Everyone watched the Colombia vs. Venezuela match. At the beginning of the match the whole team was presented with a Colombia national soccer team jersey. I’m blown away by how quickly we connected with the people here in Colombia. The people here are very patient with us and happy we are here with them. I love it! We are excited to see all that God has in store tomorrow. Hasta Pronto!
Our team’s first day in Colombia was pretty awesome, but the second one was even better! Now that all of the camp’s participants finally arrived, we got to start meeting folks. Every single one of the people here are so kind, happy and inviting. They immediately made us feel at home. Since this was the first full day of camp, we went to morning devotions, then workshop classes and had a fun team-building relay race for recreation in the afternoon. All of the meals and snacks prepared for us are delicious and the cooks even surprised us Americans with hamburgers and fries for dinner. After dinner, we all went to worship. The Colombian musicians here are spectacular! In fact, everything in Colombia is spectacular (except maybe the cold showers haha). We can’t wait to see what other awesome things God has in store for this trip!
Buenos dias, greetings from Colombia. We are having a great time so far on our trip. We are blessed to be here in Andes presbytery spending this weekend with over 130 people at church camp. Every day one of our youth mission team participants will share about their experiences here in Colombia. Here is post by Eleanor Forester.
When we arrived in Armenia, our mission team was exhausted. We couldn’t see our surroundings as it was very dark, and we were falling asleep anyways. Little did we know what was waiting for us in the morning. As soon as we left our cabin door, we were met with striking views. Anywhere you stand, you can see the mountaintops of the Andes. God’s wonders abound in this camp. From the ever-present smell of coffee to the lively and accepting Colombian participants, it is easy to feel the Holy Spirit moving in and around this space. The first full day has provided so many wondrous moments, and I am excited for what the next day will bring.