Saturday, August 4, 2018
Today was our last day on mission and the second day of community outreach. As our bus climbed the hills high into the Bogota communities, the material poverty seemed to reach up to the sky. Living in the comforts of America, I never seem to become numb to material poverty when I go on a mission trip. It’s not that I believe everyone should have equal riches, but I believe everyone should be able to earn necessities that provide for human dignity.
The destination of our climb was La Isla, Soacha, and our bus finally stopped in front of the library—one of the village’s first buildings. We set up the medical and dental units in different rooms, while the tents were erected, and musicians gathered under an awning across the street to protect their instruments from the occasional rain shower. Families started arriving, and a few local pastors, including Pastor Ramon Valbuena and his family, came to support our community day.
While Jeisson played guitar with the local band who sang out praise and worship music, Pastor Ramon’s kids line danced in the streets. A few others and I grabbed several of the children’s hands and danced them into the street. Let’s get God’s party started.
The kids also loved Heaven in the Street, where they colored their dreams onto white canvas. The team and volunteers circled the kids, touched their head/shoulders, and prayed for them while they painted. These children are the future of Colombia, and we needed to pray for them to be all that God has called them to be.
After lunch Conviventia hosted an oral hygiene demonstration, and afterwards, the kids were encouraged to take a free toothbrush/toothpaste. As the kids stood in long lines, I got to ask each of the kids their names, so Conviventia could document who got a hygiene pack. It was an opportunity for me to exchange a few words with each child. Families were also encouraged to sign up for locally donated clothes. They sorted through them excited at the prospect of something used yet new.
The tent was again set up for families to bring their pets for vaccinations. I assumed this free government service benefited the community by curbing disease—especially rabies. Just when I thought the medical outreach was winding down, an army of kids dressed in school uniforms descended upon the area. Where did these kids come from? I then realized how many kids didn’t go to school—seemed at least half. The sad true is that without an education, these kids won’t likely step out of poverty.
Because of the activity in the streets, I was only able to briefly touch base with the triage team to find out how they were doing with the medical issues. They had run out of several basic medicines such as antibiotics yet were managing with what they had available. Sarah, the baby nurse, who was giving eye exams all week, said she would be happy not to have to do another eye exam again.
Our flight didn’t leave until midnight. We were blessed to grab an hour nap, and then dinner, before leaving for the airport. Darin and I did get one final stop at Crepes and Waffles for an ice cream with fresh fruit dessert waffle. As I finally sat in a chair by the gate waiting for the flight to board, I was able to reflect on the entire week. Regardless of what happens, there’s no such thing as a bad mission trip, because I always learn valuable lessons and get incredible insights for the future. My mission take-aways from the field were:
- Leaders don’t do everything. They do what they can and ask others to do what they are called to do.
- With leadership a top 5 core value, I don’t have to lead, but if I’m not leading, I have to be led well. If a mission is not led well, I can’t be part of it.
- Darin and I made a friend for life in Brigitta.
- Marriage ministry, teaching, and workshops will continue to be a major part of my mission field. I feel like it’s time to go global in 2020 and create a 20/20 Vision for marriage ministry.
The Conviventia mission has come to a purposeful end, and now it’s time for me to focus on our next mission trip, which is to drill a water well in a youth prison in El Salvador. I thank God every day for the opportunity to serve and learn in the most interesting and inspiring ways. My prayer is that some of the words and stories shared in my journal entries will inspire you to go serve locally, nationally, or internationally. If you’re looking to find more of yourself, you’ll find it through serving others. God bless!
My Two Life Scriptures
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11, NIV]
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” [John 5:15, NIV]