Updates from January to June!
A cheerful hello to our family and friends!
It has been about six months since we’ve completed a blog post and it’s time for an update! I think, we are both feeling quite a bit more settled and life feels a bit more normal after the first year of many new and different experiences. (This is maybe why it’s felt hard to give updates!)
I think what I’d like to do for this post is just go back through the last six months and give some highlights.
- National Camp for youth
- We have written (or contributed to) several other articles about the camp: you can check out this one: https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/Annual-Colombian-camp-participation-on-the-rise
- Retreat with Mennonite Mission Network workers in Ecuador
- We had such a wonderful and much needed time of rest and renewal at this retreat held in a gorgeous valley in Ecuador. Mountain hiking, sharing with other workers, meaningful conversations with MMN staff Linda Shelly and Tonia Martin, learning about indigenous culture, touring Otavalo and exploring Quito were some highlights.
- Helped with games at a local camp with youth from La Mesa
- Continued to meet regularly with a small group that formed just before the new year
- Eric’s family visited
- We spent a fun week+ with Craig and Christine Bailey (Eric’s sister and spouse) and Daryl and Karen Martin (Eric’s parents).
- Touring some of Bogotá and then traveling together to the coffee zone. Highlights included: picture-taking, bird watching, souvenir shopping, coffee breaks, meaningful conversations!
- National Assembly for Iglesia Menonita de Colombia
- I believe Eric wrote some about this in our last newsletter, and I wrote an article you can read here: https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Holy-moments
- We invited about 25 youth (one from each local congregation) to attend a workshop on Servant Leadership during the National Assembly
- These same kids make up a new program we created called “Grupo de Liderazgo,” which kicked-off during the National Assembly
- Gregg Beitler and Lavonne Shetler visited
- We enjoyed a few days in Bogotá and then traveled to some of the beautiful beaches on Colombia’s coast. We stayed in a village called Taganga and boated out to National Park: Tayrona. Then we made our way to Cartagena and had a delightful time touring the Old City and taking in some rays on Boca Grande’s beach.
- We planned and gave three regional youth workshops (Costa-Caribe, Ibagué and Bogotá)
- Theme for this last round of workshops was “Up, In and Out”–a presentation of practices and ideas to strengthen our relationships with God (up); with our community of faith (in); and our relationship to the world–specifically thinking about marginalized people or the ‘least of these’ (out).
- Bid a sweet farewell to our friends Diana Cruz and Felipe Preciado who left for a 3 year term with Mennonite Mission Network in Benin, Africa. You can find them on the MMN website here: https://www.mennonitemission.net/workers/Africa/Benin/Diana%20Cruz%20and%20Felipe%20Preciado
- Eric began teaching an online course through the Seminario Bíblico Menonita de Colombia for youth
- This course is called, “Historia de Dios: Mi Historia–Una introduccion a la lectura de la Biblia.” Much of the material is used from Michele Hershberger’s book called “God’s Story, Our Story.”
- We have been working closely with the Colombian Mennonite Seminary lately to develop a 6-course program for youth that will be available online. We have invited other anabaptist denominations in Colombia as well as other Mennonite youth in Latin America to participate.
- Abby Hochstetler, Noah Hochstetler and Mitch Holsopple (former youth) visited
- Abby had just finished a May-term course in Ecuador and then came to visit us in Colombia. Mitch and Noah joined! We again, spent a few days in Bogotá then headed by bus to the coffee zone. We had a fantastic time and are grateful for their visit!
- Gave the regional youth workshop in the remaining region (La Mesa)
- Upcoming…visitors from Silverwood!
- Tomorrow, we are expecting the arrival of Jeremy & Laura Shue, David & Krista Kempf, and Janice & Dallan Troyer. We are grateful for their willingness and efforts to make a trip down here possible and are looking forward to sharing time together.
- June 15th Eric & I will celebrate 5 years of marriage!
Thoughts to wrap up…
It has been more and more fun to make deeper relationships with youth as our Spanish and communications skills improve. We have enjoyed increased interactions with youth in the camp, workshops, and other meetings and look forward to a retreat with youth leaders in July and the planning of the next annual camp.
Conversations among youth within the church include questions about faith, politics, sexuality, peace and justice issues, among other topics. One spirit we’ve adapted when asked to engage is a spirit of curiosity. When we are asked, “What do you think?” We respond with, “We see our job as being here and walking beside you as you ask questions and search for answers with you, not to simply provide you with answers.” Eric has held this position in youth ministry and I think it is very helpful–that it can be more valuable to a young person to be given encouragement and resources in their faith development than to give what seem like fixed and pre-determined answers. This position has fit well into what we are trying to live out which is youth ministry as peace building–helping others to learn how to listen, ask and dialogue.
- Wisdom and discernment in a visioning meeting we will have with youth leaders in July
- Spirit of openness and grace in conversations around sexual violence within the church
- Continued language development
- Spiritual freshness in our own personal lives
- Faith development, spiritual formation and leadership growth among youth in the Iglesia Menonita de Colombia