I'm not sure how to describe my Colombia trip to you. Our week in Medellin is a blur of images and feelings. My heart and mind are full of many stories from Medellin, but when I skyped with my friend it was hard to find words to begin to describe all of the things I saw. So here is a start to everything in my heart from our Colombia trip.
1. I found the sun.
The mornings and evenings were cool. The rest of the day was usually between 70 and 80 degrees. Though we got hot from working, we never got too hot. And every day there was the sun sitting glorious in the sky.
2. I tasted fresh mango and pineapple for the first time.
There is a reason people rave about the fresh fruit in warmer and tropical areas- because it is AMAZING! Huge, juicy, sweet, golden fruit. Though I am sure it has been said before, it reminded me of heaven. In Vermont I can buy pineapple and mango and tangerines and lots of different fruit at my local grocery store and it tastes wonderful. In Colombia, it was the same taste that I loved, but fuller, or like it became real. What I have grown up with is not false, but just not the most it could be. And that is what heaven will be like. We get many glimpses on earth, but in heaven everything will be in its' true form.
3. I worked hard.
The church we served asked us to build a mezzanine to more people. They were filling their church to full capacity at four hundred and were telling their members to go to other churches so that unbelievers and non-church members could hear the gospel. It was a big job, but thanks to long hours and many skilled men on our team, we did it! Now the church can seat six hundred people! The photo below was taken from the mezzanine we built when it was almost finished.
4. I realized again and more fully how weak I am and how strong my God is.
There were many things I couldn't help with as we were building the mezzanine. I am not strong and I am unskilled. I swept and picked up the work area a lot. Anything that I did do other than that I had to be taught and people had to be patient with them as I asked many questions and did things slowly.
I was also a foreign woman in a city that spoke no Spanish- a triple whammy. For safety, women had to stay in the middle of the group as we walked the streets every day. I couldn't leave buildings on my own. I couldn't even take many pictures of the city since it would draw attention to me and distract me from being fully aware of my surroundings. I couldn't hold basic conversations with people I met.
Then there was the contaminated water we couldn't drink and constantly wondering if they had prepared our meals and drinks without using that water. Did they use bottled water to make our coffee? Did they use bottled water in the juice? How much of their tap water were we consuming after they washed the fruit?
The entire trip was a reminder of my weakness in all of those different ways. But it brought me to 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I would rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me." I am weak, but my Savior is strong, and my weakness points to His strength.
5. I worshiped with Colombian brothers and sisters in Spanish.
Before this trip I had never experienced worshiping with fellow believers in a different language, country, and culture, and like the fruit, it was a glimpse of heaven. There were several melodies I recognized (like O Come O Come Emmanuel in February) despite the Spanish words. But their smiles and their obvious joy for Christ and His gospel required no translator.
6. I cried when we left.
I always cry when I leave a place I love. And within the six days we were in Medellin I fell in love with the city and the country and the people. In The Little Prince, a favorite children's book of mine, it is explained as "taming".
"'I am looking for friends. What does that mean- tame?'
'It is an act too often neglected,' said the fox. 'It means to establish ties.'
'To establish ties?'
'Just that,' said the fox. 'To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world...'" (Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince).
For better of for worse, I have tamed Medellin, Colombia.