Monday, August 18, 2014

Ordinary and Extraordinary

Yesterday, Sunday, I thought so many times about routine. I love routine and structure, schedules and calendars. It has been almost two months since I have had any sort of routine in my life (since I left Evergreen Lutheran) and it is exhausting for me. The last two months have been chaotic, with every day bringing some sort of a new adventure. Yesterday, for maybe the first time in two months, I felt like it was (almost) a normal day. We got up and went to church. Even though the whole service was in Spanish, I, somehow, understood. The same creeds and prayers I have been reciting since I was a child, the same words of institution that I know by heart and the same Bible verses that were read by Lutheran churches around the world…it was familiar and routine, even though it was new and in a different language. After worship, we went out to lunch with Jairo and his family. Jairo has been our amazing host since we have been here, showing us around the city, and helping us get oriented. His wife, Consuelo, is the pastor of the church we went to. Their daughter, Lydia, joined us for lunch (they also have a son who didn't join us). Growing up my family always went out to eat on Sundays after church, Curtis and I continued the tradition of family dinners (with our roommate in Evergreen). Those are all special memories for me, and part of a routine. Lunch was ordinary, with laughter, sharing stories, jokes, teasing, and getting to know each other. After lunch, Curtis and I came back to the guest house, and I skyped with my parents. This has also been a Sunday tradition, and one that always makes me happy. Yesterday was a day filled with familiar routine; the ordinary was extraordinary for my soul. I woke up today ready for the challenges and adventures that a new day would bring. 

The altar & front of the church. The sign reads: 'The Spirit of God is in This Place'. This is a missional/start-up congregation. Jairo is on the left, he played guitar because the normal musician was away for the weekend. 

Hymnal: 'Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal'

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Mountains Are to the East

We have arrived in the beautiful city of Bogota, Colombia. The welcome we have received gives us much excitement and hope for the weeks, months and years ahead. Spending the day getting a little more familiar with our neighborhood and making introductions with our counterparts has been exciting. The Lutheran Church in Colombia is involved in many moving projects, from human rights to environmental issues, from HIV/AIDS to elderly care. I am eager to learn more about them and especially to begin to find the places where my skill-set could be beneficial in the human rights program. But for now Katie and I are enjoying the beginning of our experience.

Tonight, with a comfortable cool breeze in the air, and a rainbow shining through from a light drizzle earlier this evening, Katie and I are watching the sun set from the balcony of our temporary guest house.  Coming from Denver, Colorado we are used to watching the sun setting to the west, setting into the mountains. However, here the mountains (really everywhere) are to the East. The advice we were given in terms of orienting ourselves in the large city is to find the mountains and remember that is east. Hopefully we can remember this, and avoid the confusion of being lost as we look to the mountains with westward minds.

While there will be plenty of time to get lost, to learn the hard way, and break cultural taboos, Katie and I feel that we are in good hands. The warm welcome we are receiving has been openhearted and comforting. 

This photo is from our balcony at our temporary guest house, if you look closely there is a rainbow just left of center.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Chapter

From Curtis: 

With tickets now in hand and bags (getting) packed, Katie and I can hardly wait for our arrival in Bogota, Colombia. This new chapter of our lives holds so many promising opportunities, challenges, frustrations, achievements, relationships, and so much more.

I am constantly thinking about the excitement of the new that everything will hold when we are first seeing, smelling, hearing, experiencing this new home. On arrival, all the buildings, homes, parks, gardens, will be brand new. I won't understand all of the meaning of all this newness being experienced. As days pass on, and familiarity starts to set in, however, all of the new things will start to gain meaning. Knowing how things fit together, how they work, as the exciting newness fades into a more comfortable familiarity, will push us to build our community, our network of family and friends amongst the brothers and sisters we are soon to meet.

Finding and adjusting ourselves into the rhythms of a different culture will be both challenging and rewarding. It will push us out of our comfort zones. It will help us find new meaning in practices we have grown accustomed to. The rhythms will help us gain more understanding of the humanity that we are a part of.

I am honored and thankful to have the opportunity to go to Colombia to join with brothers and sisters in their outstanding efforts to build peace out of their countries tragic recent history. I am honored and privileged that my wife will be standing by me, offering support, love, and encouragement to me, along with her own strength and skills to those Colombians lucky enough to know her. On Tuesday, August 12th, we are ready to flip the page over and begin this chapter.I hope our counterparts in Colombia are ready for us!