It’s September and for us that means month of Amor y Amistad (love and friendship), Pan y Paz (international day of peace), and Kelly’s birthday!
The last few summer months have kept us busy. In June we hosted friends from Silverwood and were blessed by the opportunity to share our lives in Colombia with them, have them catch us up on stories from home, and just enjoy being together.
We spent most of June and the beginning of July planning for a retreat we held for youth leaders from July 20-22. We invited young adults from each of the regions of Mennonite church in Colombia to participate in a weekend-long retreat where we had a huge agenda! (Maybe it wasn’t a retreat, but more of a intense brainstorming/working weekend!)
We opened the weekend talking about the diversity among us, recognizing that our differences (coming from many different cultures in Colombia) are a strength and that even though we may not always agree we are still part of the same body and church.
While the main point of our weekend was to have meaningful discussion on the definition of, the vision of, and the projected outcomes of Pastoral Juvenil (our work), we also included some other workshops that were facilitated by invited guests.
Our workshop on Saturday morning was facilitated by Seminary director Vanessa Cubillos. We have been working closely with her, developing a year-long course for youth and young adults through the seminary. This workshop was to gather ideas, thoughts and suggestions from youth leaders themselves to give input to this year-long course, “Diplomado Liderazgo Juvenil Anabautista en el Contexto Latinoamericano.” The session was inspiring and hopeful. Young adults and youth have been so grateful and delighted to have a course dedicated toward them that can further their education in theology, faith and identity as well as deepen their spiritual lives.
Side note- we have finished the first of six courses and will be starting the second next Monday. The second course is on Anabaptist History and will look to stories of Anabaptism across the globe.
On the last day of our retreat we invited Alix Lozano to lead a session on Healthy Boundaries, using her expertise in contextual reading of the bible to guide the conversation. We have found the importance of teaching about healthy boundaries with youth and youth leaders to be an important part of our time here. Many youth have not had or heard these conversations in a church setting before and are excited about the opportunity to discuss these important things.
In the beginning of August we hosted Matt and Cade Fisher, also from Silverwood in a fun-packed 4-day adventure. We explored a nearby lake, went to a crazy park called Jaime Duque, toured the famous Salt-Cathedral in Zipaquira, and took in the sites of Bogota. We had fun conversing with them, sharing about our lives and ministry, and having fun together! PS: Altitude was no problem for these adventurous hikers! They decided to walk up Monserrate (the 3100 meter climb) while Eric and I took the lazy route and rode the train–and they did it with no problem!
August was spent traveling to each region to give a workshop to close the first online class. We collaborated with an awesome woman, Tere Contreras, to give these workshops. She has lots of experience in theater and using some theatrical methodologies and practices to get people to access feelings and emotions, and then translate those to body language. We used stories on relationships between Jews and Samaritans in the Bible to talk about discrimination in the workshops. It proved to be a healing time for many youth who had experienced discrimination in their own lives, and also a powerful learning tool to recognize the ways in which we all have the power to discriminate against others, and the danger in that.
September begins for us the planning of our next national camp (which will be held in January); the continued work with the seminary; and preparing to present some proposals and give highlights of the work we’ve been doing in the Consejo de Comités (Committees Council) in October.
The day of Pan y Paz, we’ve learned, is the day of bread and peace. It is called Pan y Paz because, “Si no hay pan, no hay paz.” If there is no bread, there is no peace. For me, this is a message of generosity, of vulnerability, of sharing–not only food and other resources but also our personal stories of brokenness and love so that others too can share and find that good news of Jesús–that freedom, that shalom, that unconditional love. In a letter we wrote before arriving to Colombia we said, “We see God’s actions in this world as bringing restoration to a broken world and see this as an opportunity to engage in that work.” I hope that our actions and reflections have and will continue to engage in and fulfill this work–this seeking of the Kingdom of God on earth.
- Pray for the Mennonite Biblical Seminary of Colombia and it’s director Vanessa, that it continues to be used and grow as a valuable tool for ministry in Colombia.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment as we suggest programs and structure for national youth ministry in Colombia.
- Pray for the planning and organization of the next national camp.
- Pray for wisdom and courage when talking about difficult conversations in the church.
- Pray for the peace process in Colombia, that it continues to move forward and for the safety of all who are working for peace.
Fun little side note: We’ve been enjoying community building with friends Beth & Neil Miller Richer and Kristina Toews & Isaías Rodriquez. Fun activities lately have included playing the Colombian-version of Ticket to Ride that Eric made; and attending Isaías’ thesis defense.