One popular saying goes like this, “what goes up must come down.” Well, for us, it is something like this, “what goes on itineration must go back to the field.” Ok, so not much similitude there, but you get the point!! Well, it is that time. God has blessed us with a little over a year of time, Stateside, and now it is time to return to Colombia. This is always a bittersweet time. We have spent the last thirteen months with our home church, our friends, and our family, and we have enjoyed it. Now it is time to get back to the place where God has called us.
Have you ever wondered how you prepare to change countries, cultures, and languages? One may suggest that it could be quite easy … you just pick up and go! However, it isn’t so simple. There is a lot of preparation that goes into getting things ready, getting children ready to change again, paperwork that has to be done. In fact, much time is spent on going to embassies and making sure VISAs are correct, updating passports that will expire in the next few months. And, what about any documents that are going to expire in the United States while we’re away. The logistics can be overwhelming. But, once all these things are taken care of, it’s on to make sure that we have everything we need to pack (remembering that it’s not quite so easy to get things in a third-world country).
You might actually be surprised by some of the things that we packed. Sometimes, it’s not that they are expensive, it’s just that you can’t get them there. Things like spices so we can make some Indian food; this certainly doesn’t sound like something essential to pack; however, it’s the little things like some food that you love that can make a not-so-good day into a not-so-bad day. Sometimes those little comforts are really important. And how about some stuffed animals … you can’t leave home without a squishy and comforting stuffed elephant.
We made it through all the preparation and the day came to return to Colombia. We left the house at 7 in the evening on a Monday and made it to the airport at 10:30 pm. We felt like we had all the time in the world to get checked in and get through security. Then we entered the airport. We spent 90 minutes getting through all the “COVID” checks and finally being allowed to check in. Then we still had enough time. But the dreaded security checks took their toll. One of my carry-ons had to be “checked by hand” no less than three times … and one may ask why? Because of a Sonicare toothbrush!
We finally made it through security and made it to the gate just in time to board. Everything seemed to be going well until we sat on the runway for an hour. Finally underway, our thoughts went to our connecting flight. Although late, we arrived just at final boarding and made it through. This flight was on schedule and landed in Bogota at 9:30 am. We had now been traveling for 14 hours, only seven more in bus … so we thought. That final ride turned into 13 hours! Well, 29 hours after leaving Pennsylvania, we made it to our home in Colombia.
Although completely exhausted, arriving back in Colombia re-ignited the passions that God had given us for the country and the people. Just driving through the towns and seeing the people again stirred our hearts. Stopping and eating some arroz y pollo frito makes you feel at home. Seeing the poverty and the need brings you to an understanding of why God brought you there in the first place. As we drove through the towns (some smaller and some larger) like zipiquira and chicinquira, we saw the spiritual decay and the need for Christ. It is humbling that God chooses to use us here. What a wonderful flame burning inside me. Exhausted? Yes … but burning with a passion for extending God’s kingdom.
As we have now been here for almost a week, we are looking forward to what lies ahead of us. We have so many new projects that we need to review and prioritize. We need to seek the Lord and see which ones we should be working on. One which is a priority is evangelism events and evangelism team. This is something that God had placed on my heart many months ago. We will be looking to host many outdoor evangelistic services.
Another project that we feel is a priority is the development of a care program for school children in Curiti. There are many children who come to the town from the farms, maybe traveling an hour or more. Many of these families don’t have money for school uniforms, and the children arrive disheveled. This program will help feed and care for these children while they are in town.
These two new initiatives are only the tip of the iceberg; however, there are many existing projects that need to be addressed. Some of these projects, including the seminary extension in San Gil and the church building project in Barichara, need reboots. We are looking to complete the church building project this year; it is such a need in this town!
And speaking of these projects, we are looking forward to having a couple of teams come down from the States to help out. We know the conditions currently are not the greatest to travel, but it will be a great privilege to host these two wonderful churches that are making this incredible effort in the middle of such turbulent times. We really are looking forward to this year and what it will bring. Being back in Colombia has re-ignited the passion in us. There is so much that needs to be done here. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do!