Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A New Website

I was away from Medellín, Colombia for quite some time, but returned in May, 2011.

I have decided to communicate with the world in a different way - still blogging, but with some information about Colombia thrown in for free, as well as some pretty pictures.

I now have a website called Don't worry - there is an attempt at an explanation of the obscure title on the site. Thanks for sticking with me until now and see you over here.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Five top moments in Colombia - 5

Not only my top moment in Colombia but one of the most remarkable experiences of my life: Again, the setting was downtown Medellín. I met a young man there in March 2009, at a particularly bad time for murders of street people. He told me he had come from Bogotá, that he was a drug addict and that he had studied theology in the past. All we did was chat to him and give him bread and jam, and hot chocolate. Months later, I was at a concert held in a church in the centre. A smartly-dressed young man came up to me and said in English, do you remember me? It was the young man I had met in March. We spoke briefly and made an arrangement to meet up the next day. He was living with his mother about 20 minutes from the seminary. Over three or four hours I heard their story, with mother and son taking turns to tell their side. He said that that meeting had been a turning point for him – it was as if you had given me the Holy Spirit with the bread and jam, he said. He was able to get back into contact with his family, find a church, go to a rehab centre, in short, to start again. That Sunday, the day I heard his story, was my best day in Colombia.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Five top moments in Colombia - 4

I helped to distribute bread and hot chocolate in downtown Medellin. We had a lot of contact with a group of young adult men who live on the streets and are addicted to sniffing glue. For months they nagged us to bring along a football so they could play a match with the lads who came along to help give out the bread and chocolate. Finally, a ball was found and we picked a street for the match to take place in. Frankly, I didn't have high expectations for the game. The streets boys have an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle, and live in a context of extreme violence, so I felt the chances of a good, clean game of football were pretty low. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. The game flowed from end to end, there was maybe one bad tackle in a couple of hours of play and you couldn't tell the street boys from the volunteers, either in terms of their fitness levels or their skills. The final score was something like 9-8 and it all ended in handshakes and hugs at about midnight. 'This is the kingdom of God,' I thought.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Five top moments in Colombia - 3

The first time I was invited to the home of a displaced family was during the misison in 2008 and I went with Gabo, since the women weren’t allowed to go out on their own. In the dark, I hit my face on the barbed wire that marked the boundary of their plot but thankfully without much force. Yeffer, the 10-year-old son of the house, had invited us. His mum, Oralis, made us avena, a drink made from oats, and we sipped it down, trying not to think about how polluted the water was. From that simple act of hospitality and generosity out of extreme necessity grew a friendship that endured till I left Colombia.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Five top moments in Colombia - 2

Next, the thanksgiving service in Santa Rosa.
Five days later, Gabo, sufficiently recovered from his accident, preached at a little service we held to celebrate the end of our work in the community. The children (and adults) sat entranced as he preached on a passage in Luke 4: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."It was a fitting ending to a wonderful week.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Five top moments in Colombia - 1

You might have worked out that I like these kinds of lists. So, to finish off my reflections on life in Colombia, five key moments.
Number 1, arriving in Santa Rosa.
Santa Rosa is the community on the coast where we built latrines last year. We were meant to have gone as a team to meet the people but things had gone horribly wrong earlier in the day. Two of the lads, including my co-leader Gabo, had hurt themselves falling off a motorbike, so in the end, I was despatched to make the first contact, along with Xiomara, the engineer from the NGO we were going to work with. The people were waiting to meet us and as we sat in the gloaming they told us about their lives, when they had been displaced and from where, how long it took to grow yucca and rice, where their children to get to school, how dirty the water was… I can’t quite put my finger on why it was so lovely but maybe it was the location, nestling at the foot of wooded slopes, or the graciousness of the people, or my sense of God starting to put things together at the end of a traumatic day.

Friday, 4 December 2009

My Top Five Places in Medellín (5): La Terminal del Norte

Finally, we have a winner. For a long time I hesitated between two candidates for my favourite place in Medellín, but a couple of weekends ago I realised that there was another place, not very special in its own right, but the first step in many memorable outings, that was my favourite spot in Medellín.
But first of all the two runners up are, 1) the Botanic Gardens, a safe place to enjoy beautiful flowers, trees and butterflies:
and (2) the Museo de Antioquia, more for the space itself, and the lovely café, than the excellent art:But the winner is the bus terminal in the north of the city. I beganlots of adventures here, late at night, ready for a 6 to 12-hour journey to somewhere new and exciting, or a return vist to old friends. Add the fun of seeing how they spelled my name on the ticket this time, the end-of-term feel of travelling with students and the chat from the ever-cheerful Colombian travellers and you have the ultimate gateway to adventure.