This is Nolan...
Today totally exceeded my expectations, just like every day here in Colombia. It all started with the opportunity to finally sleep in till 8:00am. After waking up over and over at 6:00am to teach, 8 o'clock was exactly what the team needed. When breakfast was over, we all piled in the bus for the millionth time, and headed off to the teen mom's home- the ONLY place in Colombia for girls that come from bad families, are homeless, or were sexually abused at a young age. The goal of this place is to provide a home for these girls, teach them how to take care of their child and house, and eventually reintegrate them into society when they are ready. Girls at the teen mom's house have the opportunity to have a place to live at no expense, while they work to make money and move out in the long run.
Before we left, we were told that the guys and girls on the team would be split apart. The girls got to run activities with the moms, which included colouring, painting canvases, making necklaces, and doing their nails. I, on the other hand got to go play with and hold their babies. Originally I wasn't particularly excited about this idea, seeing as I have absolutely no experience in this field. And the idea of getting baby fluids on myself wasn't the most thrilling. However, just like everything we've done, it blew my expectations out of the park.
We ended up playing with the babies for over three hours. But this time flew by, and the little niños were forever entertained by our lack of experience. Grasping at anything nearby, my group and I attempted to do everything possible to keep them from crying. It was far more easy and fun than I had expected. All I needed was a few toys, a xylophone, and a basketball, and I was set for the whole morning. Playing with these kids put me in a sort of trance in which time did not exist. As we held, played with, and comforted them, it was evident to the young moms nearby that God was at work. The best part of the day was when the teen moms told us that they wished we could stay longer, and come by more often.
Colombia has tested me in such a unique way, a way in which Three Hills could never do.
My five senses have never been exposed to such a radical adjustment in what they're used to. I've seen broken people, and lives renewed before my eyes. I've heard the sound of a concrete school resembling a jail, bustling with over 700 screaming kids, and testimonies that have blown me away. I've smelled the freshness of the Colombian mountains, and the staleness of handicapped orphans condemned to spend the rest of their lives on a mat. I've felt the softness of a baby's skin, kids jumping on and punching me, and the pain of repeatedly hitting my head on things. And lastly, I've tasted and enjoyed the amazing food of the fascinating Colombian culture. Through all this exposure, God has revealed Himself to me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Here is Emma
Well, first off, here is a fun fact: when you take away my sleep and introduce a new language, I become terrible at both the new language and my original one, so perdon mi inglish...
Getting here to Colombia was so entirely God formed, because due to finances it just didn't seem like it would be possible... but this in itself is just testimony to how idiotic worrying about finances is, when you have God on your side. So thank you, to everyone who prayed for me and the team, and who gave generously.
Anywho! When you walk into the Colombian market you see stalls filled with gorgeous handmade shoes, bags, pottery, and other amazing creations. The people are smiling and friendly even when you butcher their beautiful language and the atmosphere feels exciting and new. It seems like the market is all butterflies and rainbows right? In reality, in getting to the market we had to stick closely together, clutching our wallets, and watching for anyone who may try to take advantage of us foreigners. The streets are dangerous, the shoes are on the telephone line, and there is sadness in the eyes of the children. This is how all Colombia has been to me; a barrage of beautiful, loving, kind, bright and welcoming people and traditions, that has a shroud of darkness around it.
You all probably know, the first place we went to was Luz y Vida (the handicapped orphanage).
We walked up into the patio where some of the children were, and before I knew it I had a little boy who was probably around 4 or 5 years old wrap himself around me, showering me with more instantaneous love than I have ever experienced before. After that I fed a little lad some soup... every time I did the airplane-spoon method he would just throw back his head and laugh. Not smile, not giggle, but LAUGH. It hurt me to think, that the uproarious laughter he had wasn't ever going to be experienced by his parents... because no matter what circumstances forced him into that orphanage, it wasn't good. So even in the goodtimes and laughter, there was still a shadow of pain and suffering.
In La Mesa, where I left my heart behind, I met people who I miss so so so dearly. These kids didn't choose to be there, and even though to me the compound felt like a camp, these kids were there in protection against prostitution, homelessness, abandonment and abuse. Yet they were so welcoming, and would give me things when they had so little.
This blog post is so random, I am so sorry.
In a summary though, Colombia is a place in need. Everywhere. Even through that all, God is all powerful, and good. He cries a million tears for each child that is suffering, He has more sadness than anyone could ever fathom. Mostly I have learned through this week is that: I have no right. I have no right to whine, I have no right to feel misunderstood... because God is here, God is listening, God has given everything to me, and in turn I need to give all of me to Him. He has revealed His Glory to me over and over and over again, and it is magnificent.
In the good times and the absolute worst, God still gives me joy, and I pray that this experience will let me help others find that joy as well.
Thank You ^.^