I extended my Bucaramanga visit by a day to take advantage of generous hospitality. This has been a socially, culturally and spiritually fulfilling trip. As of last Thursday the house was filled with visitors. At one point there were six guests for Esmeralda and Fr. Jorge. Now our numbers are down to four visitors and I will be leaving tonight on the night bus to take me to Bogota. The other five visitors are family and friends of Jorge and Esmeralda. They are down to earth, zesty and full of coastal flair. This brings with it a coastal accent that left me befuddled a number of times as to the theme on the discussion block. I am not sure if I have made any progress in my Spanish skills or if I´ve regressed. The generosity of my host and their friends revealed to me Christ`s face of generosity. I found myself meditating on scriptures that command us to give generously and to serve the stranger in the land. I found my joy in washing dishes to serve a need and hopefully express my sincere gratitude for all that they have done to make my stay so pleasant and enjoyable.
So far my plans once I arrive back in Bogota are up in the air. There was a plan to ride down to Quito with friends from the cathedral to attend the ordination of Bishop Luis Fernando. Unfortunately my friends had come down with the flue about three weeks ago and I haven´t heard from them yet. The plus side of canceling this car trip is that I get to delve into a super veggie diet for a while. After two weeks of local food I am going crazy to get a steady supply of greens and oats into my body. I am considering, seriously, a return to vegetarianism when I get back to the states. However, I would not trade the opportunity to share in the culture through their food. It has served me well in every home I have entered.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to visit one of the missions in Bucaramanga. Out of a strata 0-6 this is somewhere between 1 and 2. They have electricity, but no water and the houses seem well constructed out of brinks and or cement blocks. It is set up a large hill, perhaps it is actually a small mountain. It looks as though the top of a mountain had been cut off revealing a rocky dirt environment. Father Ernesto took me with him in his car. This looks like a rinky-dink of a car but man it bumped, swayed and danced its way up through the stony dusty hills and chugged up some steep terrain. Everyone was impressed that the car made it up. As soon as I get into Bogota I will have the ability to post the pictures.
This is a very humble mission. It is attended by an ordained priest every other week. They are already in the building faze of their program where they have intentions of building a sanctuary, a school and apartments to house serving missionaries. They have great expectations that our missionary team will reside in the community. This is a fledgling community lead by one driven man who was named the president. It is through his ingenuity and drive that they have electricity, school desks, the plans for the school and that the Episcopal Church is their spiritual leadership. That morning the children gathered under a tin roof held up with pilings as the priests wife lead them in studying the days Gospel lesson. She is a skilled teacher by trade and her gift showed through as she interacted with the children. I was certainly inspired to take back her energy and knowhow to the children I work with. As the service began, it was clear that the community sees the churches present as a thing for the kids as the child to adult ratio something like three to one.
As I prepare to leave I am evaluating how Young Adult Service Corp missionaries could serve this community. I have greatly enjoyed my time here. I could invision myself serving here for a while. There are a lot of open possibilities. All of us will have to pray and discern on our own part where God is leading us. I have a lot to think about… Bosa, the mission in the South, all of the other parishes I still have not visited, etc.
Unfortunately, due to the Latinness of Latin America I was never able to make it back to the Elderly mission house. That is a hard lesson for me to never go anywhere without my camera, if at all possible.
1 week ago