Colombia Update (part 2)

Day 6: …on Wednesday we spent the day in Barrio San Vicente, an invasion community south of the city of Barranquilla. An invasion community is a community that springs up when displaced people move to an area, claim land and start building. Over time, if they are able to organize, they can sometimes get utility service, sewer service, etc. Our primary task was helping put a roof on a new church. The construction was crude by American standards, but it will be a blessing to the people there which are currently worshipping in a house. It was a long, hot day, but the volunteers from the church worked hard. The group also helped clear out trash that had been deposited in front of the church.

Day 7 and 8: On Thursday we went to Riohacha to visit the House for Grandparents and the church their. It was a 22 year celebration which was very special. The House for Grandparents is what we might consider an old persons home. There are some residents that live their and there is also a large day program. They do many activities, have a social worker and health support. Along side this is the church. We returned from Riohacha on Friday after starting the morning with 6 baptisms. We participated in two at the Home for Grandparents and 4 at the beach. Then we headed home (5 hour trip). The car I was in was stopped twice at government police checkpoints, but we got through without incident.

[A personal adventure: Evidently, the kidney stone I thought I passed before I left for Colombia (and was told I passed by two doctors) was still around. The work on Wednesday, combined with the two days of car travel knocked it loose. I ended up in a private clinic run by the Baptists where I was well cared for. They helped resolve the issue in a low-tech but very effective way. I’m much better. I’m grateful for Gamalial Falla and Linda Shelly who navigated the system and translated for me. We now know each other far better than I thought we ever would.]

Day 9: On Saturday Jon and Deb participated in 2 baptisms on the beach in Barranquilla. The rest of the group rested in their host homes. We gathered for lunch and then attended a special 3 hour worship service of all the churches in Barranquilla. There were special music groups, dancing groups, times of prayer, singing and preaching by brother Javiar Garcia, a church leader who is also a biology professor.

Day 10: Today we were planning to go to church at Gethsemane and visit another congregation named Pan de Vida. However it rained a great deal and we were unable to travel to the churches. Rain makes the roads impassable in these neighborhoods. Instead, we spent the morning with Amanda and Gamalial Falla, learning more in depth about their work and some of the issues they are facing as they go forward. In the afternoon, we were able to go visit the two churches we were supposed to worship with in the morning. We had a rich time in both locations. Much prayer and saying goodbye. Tomorrow we are leaving for Bogota to learn more about the Mennonite Church of Colombia’s work in general.

That’s all for now.

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