Tomorrow I’m going back to my favorite place: the beautiful country of Colombia. I haven’t been there in a year and a half, and I really do miss it so much. We had some Hispanic guys at our house this week putting on a new roof, and just hearing them speak Spanish made me long to get on that plane (I may or may not have made them cookies for the sole purpose of having an excuse to go outside and speak Spanish to them).
I should be packing right now. I really can’t believe the trip is almost here. Last week was pretty rough (see my last blog post, Letting Go, linked on the sidebar to the left). I was so wrapped up in fear about physically surviving the trip that, this time last week, I was seriously considering not going. After lots of prayer, by myself and others, I realized how dumb of an idea that was. If I backed out now, not only would I regret it forever, but what would that say about my faith in God? So I prayed for all I was worth and He came through in a big way. This week has been nothing but the deepest joy, peace, and excitement; “Celebrate” by Rend Collective pretty much sums up my feelings right now. I can’t stop moving, I’m so ready and excited; if you’re in the Atlanta airport tomorrow, I’ll be the girl with the I Heart Bogota shirt and the ear-to-ear smile (because yes I am totally that cheesy tourist. I figure my gringo self is going to stick out no matter what, so why not embrace it?). I’m feeling so blessed and beyond excited to go back to South America and see what God has in store for the hearts of both the indigenous people group we work with and our mission team.
This weekend I was looking through some old papers and came across a report that I wrote for Spanish class when I was twelve. The first part of it read:
Colombia is located in northwest South America. Its president is Juan Mantel Santos, and the capital city of Colombia is Bogota. The population is 45,925,397. Colombia’s flag is yellow, blue, and red. Popular Colombian attractions include the historic Candelaria district of Central Bogota and numerous colonial towns. Colombia declared its independence from Spain in July 1810.
Never would I have dreamed that, a year after that report, I would go to Colombia myself and walk through the “historic Candelaria district of Central Bogota.” I never expected to learn Spanish, become addicted to bunuelos, and spend a significant portion of my life trying to get people to understand that it’s Colombia, not Columbia. I didn’t think I would meet girls my age who lived with their babies in a shelter with bars on the windows, deep in the heart of the Bogota ghetto; I certainly never thought that I would fall so deeply in love with them and then have to walk away. I never pictured myself playing soccer with indigenous children high in the Andes mountains surrounded by coffee plants, or becoming so closely acquainted with the (insert sarcasm) joys of third-world taxis and tap water. In short, at the time I wrote that paper, I never dreamed that I would set foot in the country of Colombia. Now, five years later, I’m preparing for my fifth trip to what has become my favorite place. As one of the missionaries that we work with once said, I kind of grew up in Colombia.
Tomorrow my dad and I, along with Mrs. Misty and Mrs. Joyce–longtime friends from our church–will be taking three flights, starting in Atlanta and ending up in Pereira, to meet the rest of our team–seven people from New York (Paul, Mike, Tiarra, Josmel, Julissa, Ruben, Rosdaly). Our ministry activities for the next week will include making Bible story videos and doing a backyard Bible club with, we’re told, as many as 300 indigenous children–meaning we need a lot of prayers.
I could talk all day about both past and upcoming Colombia adventures, but I really do need to pack, so I’ll leave you with one final story. The last time we went, in March 2015, my dad upgraded to first class on the flight home and left me in the back alone. It may sound cruel and unfeeling of him, but it actually wasn’t; I wasn’t in a good mood about going home to catch up on math, and I was glad to have the whole row to myself. I was sitting there watching a movie and flipping through my journal from the week. Earlier that morning, I had written, “Last morning in Santuario and I am so depressed about going home. Nothing at home excites me.” As I was reading back over these words, something prompted me to glance out the window. I saw a rainbow in the clouds, directly at my eye level, and was amazed at its beauty and the fact that God really cares about my small feelings. I took it as a promise–my own personal promise that I would be back. Or, at any rate, that it would all be okay. (If you look closely, you can see the rainbow in the picture below.) Since then, I have found many meaningful ministries to be involved with in the States. But a little part of me always misses Colombia, and tomorrow I am going back.
Hopefully, I’ll be blogging here throughout the week. If you want to stay updated, you can click the “Follow” button on the left sidebar, and you’ll get Colombia updates in your inbox. Who doesn’t want that?! Check out my dad’s blog too: thudsonblog.wordpress.com