We’ve connected with Global Passion Ministries, a missions and outreach organization based in Northern California, and through them Missionary Angela Narvaez who works largely with poor, rejected and discriminated peoples in the Northwest jungles of Colombia through One Hope and Book of Hope International.
Our project with Global Passion and Angela Narvaez this year will be a mix of work & construction as well as ministry & outreach in churches and to the surrounding communities.
Find out more: Global Passion Ministries and One Hope
During the height of the African slave trade in the 1800’s there was a very busy and prominent port near the region in Northwest Colombia where we will be ministering. The people who live in the jungles there now are a racial mix of native Colombian, Spanish and African, and because of this racial mix they have been severely discriminated against and rejected by all other racial groups in the nation. This is truly racism at it’s worst. In the eyes of the people of Colombia these jungle dwellers are stupid and disgusting, and often referred to in terms like the “putrid” people because of the mindset that they “stink,” which obviously is a completely bigoted racial slur.
The sad thing is that because of how long this discrimination has been going on, many of the people in these jungle villages actually believe the negative things that have been said about them. They think they are dumb. They think they are worthless. They think that they could never and will never amount to anything of worth, so many of them never even try. They do not pursue education. They do not seek better positions. They have been treated as refuse and have allowed themselves to believe it’s true. Because of these stigmas, poverty is rampant in the region.
Angela Narvaez is a Missionary and native Colombian who has a true heart to reach these rejected people in the rural northwest jungles of Colombia. She has been personally reaching out to them and working to help them see their true worth in Christ for the last 8 years. She ran into many obstacles as she attempted to reach out to the people, especially issues of distrust. The people just didn’t trust her; they had been burned in the past by others, those who came in the name of God and Church, who treated them just as badly as everyone else. She continued to diligently reach out to them in love and she personally paid for several students in the villages to go to school. Three years ago the first one graduated from high school. This was the FIRST graduate in memory, not only for that village, but for the entire region. The people of that village were so proud and excited about the graduation that they had a feast and celebration in honor of the student who graduated.
After that first graduate doors began to open more and more for Angela to work in the villages. She earned the trust of the people. She has the trust of the people. She holds the trust of the people. These are the people we are going to work with. We are going to build on that trust and show them the love of Christ like never before. We want them to see that God loves them more than they can imagine and that he has sent us, now, to help them begin to discover the amazing plan and purpose he has for them.
Our day of departure is finally here. It is almost surreal that we are finally embarking on our adventure after 6 months of planning, preparations, training, fundraising and all of the endless details and logistics that go into a project like this.
Before we get into the details of the trip I feel like I need to give a little background where we are going and what it took to get us there.
First off, I feel it’s necessary to commend this team on their diligent effort to raise funds, their generosity in contributing their own finances, and their incredible selflessness to take vacation time to be a part of this incredible project. When all was said and done, this team raised nearly $80,000.00 for this project.
Next I want to tell you a little about where we are going, Condoto, Choco, Colombia, which is the Northwestern dense jungle region of Colombia. We’ve connected with Global Passion Ministries, a missions and outreach organization based in Northern California, and through them Missionary Angela Narvaez who works largely with poor, rejected and discriminated peoples in the Northwest jungles of the Choco region of Colombia through One Hope and Book of Hope International.
During the height of the African slave trade in the 1800’s one of the busiest and most prominent slave ports in all of Central America was in what is now the Choco region in Northwest Colombia. The people who live in the jungles there now are a racial mix of African and native Indian Colombian and because of this racial mix they have been severely discriminated against and rejected. The region is one of the richest in the entire country in natural resources including large amounts of gold and platinum, but the people there never see that money. Many work in the mines, in terribly dangerous and filthy conditions, making just a few dollars a day while generating thousands of dollars or raw natural resources and precious metals.
The region has seen a tremendous change in the last 6 years or so. This was one of those places, just a few short years ago, that the State department would have posted warnings about and told you to avoid at all costs. The region was largely controlled by guerilla groups and drug cartels and only in the last few years has there been tremendous change. The Churches, Pastors and missions groups within the Choco have brought about this change. Now you can travel there safely.
We are the FIRST team from the United States to travel to the area we are going in Condoto in the Choco where we will be working with two incredible churches, and their amazing Pastors. We will not be posting their names in any of our blogs because they have a price on their heads from some of the guerilla groups who have been pushed out of the region. For this reason, we will be calling them Pastor A and Pastor B. This is an incredible opportunity for our team to either pave the way for countless other teams to come and work in this region after us, or close the door to all future teams. Let’s pray we do our job well…God be with us and go before us.
Down to Business: We met up at the airport all together today at 11:00 AM where we were joined by our representative from Global Passion Ministries and Team Co-Leader, Alli Wyman. We got everyone checked in to our flights in about an hour and a half and made our way to the gate where we waited in anticipation for our departure.
We took off a little after 2:00 PM and after an easy 3 hour flight arrived in Houston at 7:30 PM (*NOTE: all time references will be local time where we are). We then settled in for a lengthy 5 hour layover. Many got dinner, some took naps, and of course there were many conversations speculating hat the next week might hold. About 3 and a half hours in to our layover we got a little silly in the airport and one of the flight attendants (a native Colombian who spoke good English) threatened to not allow us on the plane because he “felt unsafe.” He, very loudly and publically, said that if we could not get our team under control then he would not allow us to go. I apologized, assured him that they would be under their best behavior and told him hat they were just excited to get under way. When his attitude still stayed funky, I flashed him my Police ID and he promptly changed his attitude toward us, but avoided us. Later, one of the other flight attendants approached me and sincerely apologized for his behavior, stating that he had no right to publically humiliate us like that. I felt vindicated.
After that it was just a short time until we boarded for the 5 hour redeye flight to Bogota, the capitol of Colombia. We departed the US at 12:30 AM.
We landed in Bogota, the capitol city of Colombia, a little after 5:00 AM. Most of the team slept on the flight, so we are at least partially rested. It was airplane sleep though, so no one is bright eyed and bushy tailed. We had a three hour layover there, though most of that was taken up going through the rigmarole of customs and immigration, baggage claim and then check in for our final flight into the Choco region.
We met one of our local Colombian Missionary Associates, Lily, just before we checked in for our flight. She was with us for the entirety of the trip and served in a crucial capacity as translator along with other vital ministry roles she filled along side of our team.
We had a quick breakfast at the airport, exchanged some money into Pesos, and headed through security to our plane. By the way, Pesos were about 1700 to 1 US Dollar, so you totally felt like you were rolling after you exchanged $50 US walking around with $85000 Pesos in your pocket.
Our plane to the Choco was a little puddle jumper so many of the team were enamored by the idea that they actually had to walk out onto the runway and climb steps to board. We took off at 8:20 AM and one hour and twenty five minutes later the flying portion of out trip was finally complete. We landed in Qibdo (keeb-do) the largest city in the Choco, which many of us would only consider to be maybe a small village.
The first thing we noticed was the extreme heat. Not heat like we are used to in Vegas either, because this heat came with some of the most intense humidity I’ve ever experienced. The air was thick, almost tangible, and many of us were wet from the moment we stepped off the plane. We grabbed our bags, hopped on our buses, and began our final leg of the journey.
Originally we had been told that this would be a 13 hour bus ride. We later came to find out, literally right before we left, that this had been a mistranslation in one of our missionaries many email correspondences. So when we told our team that they’d only be on the bus, they were ecstatic (I’m convinced this worked to our benefit as this way they were completely relieved to hear 3 hours, where if we’d started them at three hours there may have been considerably more complaining).
The next three hours went by quickly and many team members sang song, goofed around, slept, or just took in the sights. We went through some of the densest jungle I’ve ever seen on some very rough and sketchy roads. We passed through several small villages, all butted right up against a large river, and arrived at our final destination, Condoto, Choco, Colombia, at a little after 1:00 PM on Friday afternoon.
There to meet us were two more missionary associates, Jeremy and Darlys, a young engaged couple. He’s originally from Nebraska and she’s from Colombia. We also finally met our missionary, Angela.
Angela is an AG Missionary and native Colombian who works with One Hope and Book of Hope International and who runs an Non-denominational Outreach called Hands United for the Chuldren. She has a true heart to reach these rejected people in the rural northwest jungles of Colombia. She has been personally reaching out to them, working along side of them to help them see their true worth in Christ for the last 8 years. She has run into many obstacles as she attempted to reach out to the people, especially issues of distrust. The people just didn’t trust her; they had been burned in the past by others, those who came in the name of God and Church, who treated them just as badly as everyone else. She has continued to diligently reach out to them in love and she earned the trust of many local Pastors and churches which has opened countless doors for her to ministry there. That includes bringing a team like ours in to a place where there has never been ANY teams before.
We ate a quick lunch of chicken, rice and a salad of onions, cucumbers and avocado then we toured the church we were staying at. We hiked up to the other church we were working with to tour the construction site where we’d be building the house. Half the team stayed at the construction site to start work. The rest of the day went by quickly as the rest of us practiced skits, testimonies, and other presentations for ministry opportunities.
We were back together by 6:00 PM, had a great dinner and had devotions together then settled down for an early lights out.
By the way, the people there graciously built us two “restroom” stalls and two “showers.” Our restrooms consisted of a small chamber pot that drained in to the stream behind the structure – you brought in a bucket to flush your business down and threw your toilet paper in a small trashcan. Our showers were made up of a small wooden stall covered in black plastic for privacy – you also brought in a bucket, this time to wash your business down. If it sounds hardcore, it was, but we expected nothing so we were truly thankful, though none of us had yet had a chance to shower at all.
I can’t stop sweating. Seriously. Welcome to the jungle baby.
Time to get to work y’all.
5:00 AM wake up call. Teams were split during our ministry days so the construction team was out hiking to the jobsite by 6:15 AM.
The evangelism team stayed behind at the church, ate breakfast and received a briefing of how the evangelistic outreaches would run.
The morning went by without any incidents. The construction team moved a lot of dirt, then moved a lot of bricks, then moved a lot of sand, then moved some more bricks. A few of them started putting walls up and building forms for the concrete support joists by late morning. The evangelism team performed two street outreaches in the morning before lunch beginning with a hike to where the outreach would take place, a quick set up, a hike out in a half mile circle to gather kids for the outreach then the outreach itself. The outreach consisted typically of a couple of skits, a couple of personal testimonies, and some kind of closing message followed by an altar call. Then the team would form two lines facing each other forming a “prayer tunnel” that the kids joyfully passed through to allow each team member to pray for each child. Many of our team members had brought toys, candy and prizes in their bags and they were able to hand them out to bless the kids with them.
Both teams had lunch at around 1:00 PM. The evangelism team had an outreach at 2:30 PM right around the corner from the jobsite so the construction team hiked over to see them.
After that the construction team just kept plodding through for the rest of the afternoon and the evangelism team took a lengthy hike out to do one more community outreach.
Everyone wrapped up their work at around 5:00 PM. The locals had built “showers” at the jobsite as well as at the church so the construction team then got to take the first showers any of us had taken since before we left the US on Thursday.
We all got dressed up for Church and joined the Saturday night service at the church where we were staying. After their worship time a couple of our team members, Chris and Dan, led a few songs in worship as well and then Dan preached his first message with a translator – believe me, it’s not as easy as you might think. He rocked it.
We had dinner together after church and finished our day with devotions and a team debrief where we just shared some testimonies of the day. In the middle of our debrief it began to thunder and lightning and then the heavens opened up and it began to pour. The power went out, so we threw caution to the wind and went out in the street in the pitch black of night and had one of the most intense and incredible times of worship and prayer many of us had ever experienced.
We were out in the rain just praying and singing for a good 20 minutes before the lights came back on. After that many team members grabbed their shampoo, since they had yet to get to take a shower, and just scrubbed up in the rain.
We finally hit the sack around 11:00 PM and passed out to the sound of the torrent on the tin roof above.
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Time to go to CHURCH y’all!
I love going to church in Latin America. People go to church for a reason there. They go to church with a hunger, and an expectation, an anticipation of WHAT God is going to do.
Woke up at about 6:00 AM. Got dressed, read the Word, prayed. 7:30 was breakfast.
We were booked at both churched for both morning and evening services so we had to split the team into two separate ministry teams to each do one in the morning and then switch to the other church for the evening. For bothe Services, I (Pastor Steve) preached with a translator at one church and I asked Magdalena Gutierrez (Mrs. G) to preach in Spanish at the other.
There is WAY TOO MUCH to tell you in one short blog about what God did in these services. We could write books. Go personally ask one of the team members and let them tell you their favorite part or what stood out to them most. For this, here’s a couple of highlights:
1. God showed up. Every service. Every time. I already told you, people there arrive expecting God to move and He does. I think we can learn a little something from them.
2. Worship in any language is worship all the same. I LOVE to worship with people in other languages. I LOVE it when I hear a song that I know in English and they are singing it in their native language and we sing it together. I feel like it’s just a tiny glimpse of what heaven might be like.
3. God does miracles. He did them in the Bible. He does them now. I think many time the only reason we don’t see more miracles is that we have our own set of walls and blockades.
I’ve got to tell you this as well – several of our team members were brought to a place of complete obliteration. They met the real presence of God and fell facedown. One young man couldn’t compose himself for hours and through his tears choked, “I don’t know how to explain it, I just feel ruined.” God wipes a slate clean before He starts anything new. I can’t wait to see what He is going to do in those who encountered Him in such a real way.
The last thing I have to say is this, God is most undoubtedly real. So is the enemy. And he showed up too. See he doesn’t like it when we go where we are supposed to go, to do what we are called to do and say what we were called to say. He doesn’t like it when we finally begin to believe that we can be what we were made to be. I don’t believe I need to go into any detail here and give that snake any credit except to say this – he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. And that’s what he attempted to do to our team. He was trying to distract us, to disrupt us, ad to destroy the work that we had been called to do. He didn’t expect us to be on the look out though. We reminded our team members that we have nothing to fear because if God id for us then who could possibly be against us. We reminded them that the one who is IN us is greater than the one who is in the world. And we reminded them that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND.
I LOVE church. I LOVE God. I LOVE this team.
Everyone was up by 6:00 AM and both teams were headed out by 6:45 AM.
Those on the construction team went right to work and made some significant progress. One of the great things about a project like this though is that we know we aren’t going to finish. We sent the funds weeks ago to that materials could be purchased, local labor hired and the work started. Before we even arrived the foundation had been poured, and at least 5 courses of block laid.
We got to do our part, but it will be another 2 weeks before the construction is completed. This gives us a tremendous amount of freedom – we aren’t locked into a breakneck schedule to try to get ALL of the work done in the short time we are here. So there is time for relationships to be built. This is one of the most important parts of short term missions work – building relationships that will last. So I love it when I see team members break away from the jobsite for a few minutes to go play soccer with the kids who have gathered to see all of the “White people” (by the way, our team was an amazing mix of colors but in the eyes of the people from the Choco, we were all white people). I love it when I see one of our guys bringing a cup of coffee to one of the locals, and then watching them have a 15-minute conversation in broken Spanglish, non-verbal cues and charades. I love it when I see people connecting to other people, because even if they never see each other again HERE, the will one day have a joyous reunion in eternity – and there we will all speak the same language.
The people on the evangelism team got an incredible opportunity to go to several public schools to do programs. This opportunity carried a lot of weight though, because we had to abide by the “no church” language rules similar to here with the separation of church and state. If we could pull it off, it would open a huge door for future ministry and future teams. If we messed it up, we might close the door for any future possibilities. We prayed earnestly and asked God what to do and felt like he gave us a divine direction. We came up with a 30 minute program about “Choices,” how every choice matters and every choice is important, because every choice leads you down a path, whether for good or for bad, and every choice bears a consequence – either a positive effect, or a negative one. It all culminated with a brief lesson on the fact that no matter how many bad choices we have made, it doesn’t make us a bad person and a good choice is just one choice away. We utilized some skits and dramas, some personal testimonies and then wrapped it all up with a short teaching to tie it all together.
We could not talk about Christ or Christianity, but we could talk about a general idea of God, and we used that to it’s fullest. We brought the gospel message to the students in these schools without them even realizing and talked about how we believe that it is only with God’s help that we can not only make good choices, but the best choice that will lead us to find our best purpose in this life.
The evangelism team got to go to four different schools before lunch where they did 9 different presentations to both elementary and high school students. They were very well received at all of the schools and every principal personally thanked us for coming and bringing a message that they felt was timely and definitely something the students needed to hear. God totally used us and gave us unlimited favor in a setting that seemed like it might be very limiting.
Both teams had lunch around 1:00 PM and went back to work.
The evangelism team only had one school presentation in the afternoon because most schools are done by 2:00 PM. After a short hike they were ready to go by 2:30 PM. The school director gave extra time, and there were no other outreaches planned so we just had some fun with the students at this school. There were only about 60 students in this presentation, compared to between 200-500 at the other schools we’d been to. We did the Cha Cha Slide with them. We taught them how to Wobble. We got to just hang out with them for a good 20-30 minutes before we even started the presentation. This one went even better than all of the others and we really had a connection with the students who were there. The testimonies were right on, the skits went very well and the teaching was straight to the point. After we concluded our time the director invited us to stay for a time of Q&A with the students and we found out that this was a second chance school for students who had dropped out or been kicked out of other schools for various reasons. Some were young men who had made bad choices and found themselves in jail. Many were unwed mothers, girls as young as 14, who had gotten pregnant. Some had dropped out and ended up on the street, but were now just trying to turn their lives around. All of them were simply trying to make a choice for a better future and so they said that our message about choices really hit home for them. One young lady at the school in fact shared almost an identical story with Steph B., who had shared her testimony there. It was a definite God ordained moment with these students and it was very difficult to force ourselves to go.
Both teams arrived back at the church between 5:00-6:00 PM to get ready for church. Service was at 6:30 PM. Nick had the opportunity to preach that night, and just like Dan on Saturday Night, this was his first time ever preaching with a translator as well. To top it off, it was raining buckets when he started preaching and the sound of the rain on the tin roof was deafening. Nick rocked it though and God did what He does.
We wrapped up with dinner after church, then devotions and a debrief. It went a little longer than normal as so many people had stories to tell.
All in all, it was our busiest and most productive day. God totally used us and we felt completely blessed that we each got to do our part.
We were exhausted. Out by 11:00 PM. Tomorrow is our final day of ministry.
One thing you find out on a missions trip is how quickly your body can betray you. You are in a foreign culture, eating foreign foods, and being exposed to foreign things. You are in a constant heat – not heat like we have here in Vegas, but an oppressive heat, a strangling heat, a heavy heat. That combined with some of the most intense humidity I’ve ever experienced makes for some really tough days.
This trip brought probably the harshest conditions I have ever experienced, mainly because we never got any kind of relief from the heat. I personally was WET the entire time we were in the Choco. I was drenched with sweat nonstop, and everyone else was as well. You can only go so long in that kind of heat, humidity and with this strenuous of a schedule before your body rebels and just says, “enough.”
That happened today. Over the course of about 24 hours 15 of our team members were taken out by an intestinal bug that I know was intensified by the extreme heat and complete exhaustion. The first 3 started in the middle of the night with throwing up and diarrhea. That quickly grew to 9 people by breakfast. We set up an infirmary in the room where the guys were sleeping so that they could try to get some rest. In the next 3 hours 4 more team members went down. One more got hit after lunch and that last one came down the next night in the middle of the night.
What amazes me is this: no one complained! This team was so amazing! They faced some of the most harsh conditions any team has ever faced and they never complained, they were never negative, they never even became all about “me.” Even when they were sick many of them still wanted to serve. They humbled me on this trip and I cannot begin to express how much I love them for their attitudes and hearts of servanthood.
The positive side is that the “Jungle Funk,” as it came to be known, seemed to run its course in about 6-8 hours and then the people began to improve, so many who got it early were able (and begging to be allowed) to be back out by the afternoon.
This was supposed to be our last work day, but because so many were sick, we decided to release the final day of construction so we could try to recuperate.
For those who were not laid up, we got a chance to hear the stories of Pastor A and Pastor B (remember, we can’t put their names online because they have a price on them). Pastor A is a lady pastor who is really like a pastor to pastors in the region. She is an incredible woman of God and due to her work and the work of others like her, many cartels and guerilla groups have been pushed out - hence the price on her head. I wish I could go into more detail, but I can’t for her safety, so ask me when you see me. Pastor B never wanted to be a pastor, but couldn’t escape the call and is now where he is as a direct result of God’s call and divine guiding. He started a house church several years ago that has continued to grow and then he felt like God was leading him to somehow have their own building. He sold peanuts for nearly 3 years to save up the $2000 USD (almost $3.5 million Pesos) to buy the property on which the church now stands. The home we are building for him is also on this property. Many locals gave him the derogatory name, the “Peanut Pastor” because of this, which he now wears with pride because of what God has done. To save money, he and a group of other pastors, missionaries and people from his church hiked up into the mountains where they cut their own lumber and hauled it back to build the church.
We did a couple of final outreached later, one at a part and one at the church where we were staying. Both were a tremendous success and over 200 children came to the second one at the church – children who were not a part of any church and who had no church home.
For those who could walk, we had a late afternoon hike for one final look at the construction site. We took some pictures and said goodbye to many of the locals we would not see again. On our way back to the other church we could see the sun setting between the rainclouds above and the jungle canopy below. It was probably on of the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever witnessed.
We were blessed with one final big dinner with all of our missionaries and missionary associates, plus the locals who had worked with us at the construction site, the locals who had cooked for us and cleaned the church and cleaned our “bathrooms” (making sure that they were sparkly and fresh for the next person who would come puke or poop); pretty much anyone who helped take care of us while we were there. All in all there was almost one person there with us that night for every team member. That means for all of our “hardships,” and “harsh conditions,” we still took a team of over 20 people to care for us every day while we were there. How pathetic is that. Here we are thinking we’re really “roughing it,” and in reality we were being served and waited on hand and foot. We served all of them for dinner that night. Let’s be honest, it really was the least we could do after all they’d done for us.
Our missionary, Angela, had us finish our night by praying for each other, all of us together. So everyone just moved around the room praying for others. It was truly a beautiful moment. I felt an overwhelming urge in that moment to perform an act of service for our incredible hosts to even just begin to try to let them know how much we truly love them and appreciate them. We grabbed some bowls of water and gathered our team and we washed the feet of the Pastors and prayed for them together. When they realized what we were doing, they began to weep, because no one had ever done anything like that for them before.
I realized that this day had been symbolic of this region - that like the sickness that spread through over half our team there was a sickness prevalent in the majority of the people there. A sickness of heart a mind.
It was a sickness born in racism. A sickness that told the people of that region that they were less than others and lower than others. It was a sickness that had incapacitated do many of them for so long, they forgot that they could move. But just like the physical sickness in our team members was only temporary and they began to recover, so too would healing come in tome to the people of the Choco. We may not have changed the lives of thousands, but for those who we got to see and touch, those we got to smile at and hug, those we got to serve and wash their feet – they will never forget the crazy Gringos (and yes we are all Gringos to them) who loved them, and accepted them. Healing is coming to the Choco, and we got to do our part to bring just a little bit to just a few people in the town of Condoto.
After those incredible moments of prayer and love there were many tears and even more pictures and hugs as team members said goodbye to locals who had become closer to them than family in the few days they had known one another.
Goodbye friends. It’s time to pack up. Lights out at 11:00 PM. Last night in the jungle.
3:00 AM. Wake up. Seriously? 3:00 AM? I’m going to punch somebody in the face I just know it.
Alright. Let’s do this.
Packed up. Cleaned up. Uh oh, looks like one more case of “Jungle Funk” just got started (thanks God it was the last one).
4:30 AM. Baggage ready, rooms cleared & clean. Last devotion in the jungle.
Buses arrive at 4:45 AM. Load up and head out. On the road at 5:15 AM. One stop at 5:45 AM for final case of the funk to throw up. One stop at 6:15 for final case of the funk to have diarrhea. No more stops after that.
We arrive in Qibdo a little after 8:00 AM. Check in for our flight. Quick breakfast. Wait. We hear over the loudspeaker that there is a delay because the airport is being shut down due to weather. Seriously? I don’t want to be stuck in this tiny little Podunk airport.
I get called over by one of our team members who was checking out a local gift shop because the man who runs it wants to talk to the team leader. With Mrs. G translating I have a lengthy conversation with this guy and answer all of his questions about where we went and what we did there. He tells me how much he appreciates our team and teams like us and what we did there. He then asks if I will pray for his daughter. So we pray and he gives me a gift, a beautiful intricate platter and pot hand made by local natives. Mrs. G and I leave and we run into a lady who turns out to be another pastor and missionary in the region. She asks where we were and then tells us that she knows Pastor A an knows even better Pastor B and his family because she had worked with them and had even been one of the people who helped cut and haul the lumber down from the mountains to build that church there. God is straight crazy sometimes. I guess we can be stuck in the Podunk airport for a minute.
I think I’ll get a cappuccino. $1 and it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. Fine! No more complaining.
Right then a group of team members pray that there won’t be any more delay and the second they say “Amen,” an announcement is made that there will be no more delay and instructs us to begin boarding now. Now God is just showing off.
We have a quick, uneventful flight to Bogota and land just before noon. We disembark, grab our luggage and get on one last bus to take us to the heart of downtown Bogota. We grab an amazing lunch at a place that kind of reminded me of a classy El Pollo Loco. Then we hit a few markets, a few coffee shops, and a few local sights before we head back to the airport for our final check in.
We eat dinner at a restaurant in the airport called, “Crepes & Waffles,” which I think is one of my favorite meals I’ve ever enjoyed. For real, if you’re ever in Bogota you need to go there.
After that it’s our final goodbyes to Angela, our amazing Host Missionary, and Lily, our amazing Missionary Associate and exceptional translator. Then the whirlwind of security checkpoints and customs, more security, more checks and finally our final gate to our flight back to the good old US of A.
The flight to Houston leaves at 12:15. I’m asleep by 12:16. This is the best I’ve slept in a week.
We arrive in Houston at 6:15. We rush through customs and immigration to get our luggage at the baggage claim. From there it’s a spring through declarations to recheck our bags and go through US security to get to our gate. When all is aid and done it takes us about one hour and forty minutes to make it to our gate and we pretty much just walk on to the plane to take off for our final flight home to Vegas.
Take off at 7:20. Some sleep. Some read. Some cry. It’s really all over.
We land in Vegas after a 3 hour flight at 8:30 AM local time. Mad dash to the baggage claim. Family is there. Friends are there. But where is our heart and where are our thoughts.
One thing is certain - we left a piece of ourselves there and brought a piece of them back with us.
Today is a new day. We cannot go back to the world the way it was before. Not after what we have seen. Not after what we have experienced. Our entire worldview has changed.
God willing, some will go back to Colombia, to the Choco, to Condoto.
But wherever we may go, we will never be the same.
I’m glad you came…
711 Valle Verde Ct.
Henderson, NV 89014
We believe you should look forward to church. You'll experience a casual, friendly atmosphere, life-changing support ministries, joyous worship and humorous and relevant messages. We hope you and your family find your home here at GV Christian Center.