(editor's note....This picture portrays the Colombian precautionary way to prevent germs. Brandon was hit the hardest with a viral infection in his respiratory tract. On Friday he went to see the nurse at El Camino and among other "exciting" remedies...he and Joanna had to wear masks. He was a great sport to wear it all day long without any complaints.)
My experience in Colombia has been full of many eye-opening experiences. First we got to see the Bronx in Colombia which really was a shocker. No sane man could go out of that place and not believe in the total depravity of man. It made Sodom look like a moral place. This area was full of drugs and many of the people were high at around 1:00. I remember when Steve Bartell (the manager of the Jungle and the YWAM orphan house) asked for a couple of us to help this guy blocking the road. When we exited the van the police jumped as if to stop us but we continued anyway. The guy's cart fell apart though when he tried to move it so we entered into the bus. This moment in my life was probably one of the most dangerous I have have ever been in. We could have easily been attacked by some random crack-head or some drugged up guy but God protected us through it.
In the same area we passed through the area known as the "tolerance" zone. This zone is the only legal prostitution area in Bogota and there were many women sell themselves on the street. It was truly depressing to see the state of this area and how evil humanity really is. The only thing giving me hope for humanity is knowing that through the gospel these people have the ability to be saved. I believe Steve Bartel's ministry is doing this in this region and it is incredibly encouraging to see.
While we were down here we also had a chance to go to a place called Barrio Egipto. This place is a low class neighborhood were crime is rampant. But in the midst of this there is a man their named Elias. The one major thing you can notice about Elias is that he is always smiling. Through good times, through bad times he is always smiling. I think this is be because he truly does trust in the Lord at all times and believes wholeheartedly that God is in control. I am greatly inspired by Elias and I can only hope that one day my faith may grow to be as strong as his. Elias runs a place called the Good Seed which allows kids in the area to escape the troubles of crime found within their homes and to have a good time with other kids as well as having a Christian influence on them. We did some activities with the kids there including giving them some soccer balls with the gospel message on them. We left to do other activities. Later in the week though we found that a wall had collapsed at the Seed and had left rubble all over the street. So we as a team decided to go and help move the rubble away from the street in bags. It was a good experience and we all worked hard to get the job done. Elias was very thankful for our help.
My experiences down here have exceedingly surprised me time and time again. Everything from seeing how destitute these people are to how friendly the people are it is just so different. These experiences have strengthened my faith in God and have made me more thankful for what I have. It has made me more willing to give God all the glory in everything I do. It has built my faith more. And finally it has helped me understand even more so than before, the importance of the gospel and how crucial it is in our lives to witness to people.
Soli Deo Gloria