Hi from Sheila
It’s amazing to think that I would have an original thought after nine similar experiences here in Colombia. Some things do change, like the schedule and some of the places that we visit and serve but one thing remains constant….the people. There is nowhere in my home country that I feel more welcomed and embraced than here in Colombia. Complete strangers become instant friends with just the first greeting.
One of my favorite places on earth is a little school in Suba. Every time I see the familiar park and white with blue trim building, my heart starts to beat a little faster. This year as we walked up to the school we were greeted with signs, one after the other…welcome banners, maple leaves, and greetings of love – all for us. Much time was spent on these beautiful masterpieces in classrooms.
These teachers and children have been in school for only one week. The Colombian school year begins the first week of February… yes… last week. That fact hit me this time. I am well aware of the bedlam that comes along with the start of a school year. New teachers, new students, new classes. Basic survival is usually the only goal that first week.
But not here. Here they not only deal with the newness, but also with the arrival of 16 gringos and all of the disruption that they bring to the schedule. And they do it with joy. They do it with love. And we in turn can’t help but love them right back. They are family.
I can’t help but think about the way that I practice the gift of hospitality and friendship. I can learn many things from these people. To value others more than time, more than things, more than my wants… that is something that these people challenge me with.
And so once again, I leave a little chunk of my heart in this place. Thank you Andrea, Lina, Jeannette, Omaida, Chef Rene, Martica, and the rest of the staff here. Thank you to my sweet girls… Dianna, Camilla, Anna Maria, Julianna, Gabriella 1 and Gabriella 2, Valeria, Sarah, and all the others… for teaching me Spanish, loving me and remembering my name year after year – even though it’s so hard to pronounce.
Lord willing… I will be back.
Te quiero mucho…