Friday, March 31, 2017


We are so thankful for the generosity of all of you - the congregations and people who support us. This quilt was just given to us last week from the group that came from Mt Olive in Rochester, MN, thank you! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017


At the end of last year we (The Ministry of Education) changed offices. For those of you who have been to the IELCO office, Education is now located on the 2nd floor. To celebrate and decorate our new office we made a giant world cloud. Here are Zulma and I, proudly in our new office. (Photo credit: Curtis Kline)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


The human rights program of the IELCO has been developing a relationship with the Free Seeds Network of Colombia, finding ways to help advocate for the right to food and the rights of rural workers. These are some recovered species of ancestral corn seeds that the Network guards. Photo by Curtis.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


These alstroemerias were growing at a retreat center where we held a retreat in February. This is one of my favorite flowers. 75% of the flowers in the US are imported from Colombia. 

Monday, March 27, 2017


During a retreat for the human rights program this past weekend, Pastor John Hernandez (playing the guitar) taught us a new song (Fe y Esperanza Viva, Living Faith and Hope). Everyone loved it and got into singing it. Photo by Curtis.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Chocó is one of the departments of Colombia hit hardest by the armed conflict. This is the flag at the bow of the boat, announcing that we are a humanitarian mission and do not participate in the conflict, the other side of the flag has the logo of the Lutheran World Federation. Photo taken by Mario.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


On my recent trip to Chocó, I learned how little infrastructure there really is in the department. We took this boat/canoe 6 hours up the river to arrive at the communities participating in the Lutheran World Federation project. As it was dry season and the river is very low, sometimes we hopped out of the boat to push it up the river. Photo by Curtis.

Friday, March 24, 2017


This is a painting by Paola Flores a member of the community in Piedecuesta (San Juan). She painted this woman last year for the International Day of the Woman, with the theme across Colombia being a tree. A few weeks after she painted and donated it she died in a motorcycle accident. The church had the plaque made to honor and remember her. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017


As the communities of the Embera-Katio Indigenous People of Chocó are vulnerable to flooding and losing their crops, they have learned many techniques to adapt. Here is a raised garden on stilts. I found dozens of gardens like this as I walked throughout the communities. Photo by Curtis.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


In the city of Cali, southwest Colombia, every year during the week between Christmas and New Year, they celebrate a series of daily parades. Last year we were able to experience as the parade of the history and culture of the area passed right in front of the hotel we were at in Cali.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Visiting families in the rural area of Boyaca, I was shown how they make cheese. This is a cheese press (homemade), I had never seen anything like it before. There are three blocks of cheese being formed underneath some heavy stones and a pot of hot water. Photo by Curtis.

Monday, March 20, 2017


The Lutheran World Federation's offices in Colombia work with Colombia's most vulnerable communities, where there is nobody else. This community in Chocó is especially vulnerable to flooding. Photo by Curtis.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Entering one of the indigenous communities last week I noticed this sign. It states: "We the indigenous communities of  the Chicue River do not want war. Long live peace."

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I was recently invited to assist in an evaluation of a humanitarian mission of the Lutheran World Federation in the department of Chocó. Chocó has been heavily hit by the armed conflict, and has very little government presence or infrastructure. The Lutheran World Federation's World Service Program has been assisting communities of the  Indigenous Embera-Katio People after heavy floods washed away their crops, destroyed their houses and polluted their rivers. I will share many photos from this trip in the coming days.

During a community evaluation of the humanitarian assistance project of the Lutheran world Federation. The women of the community were discussing what worked well and what could be improved (the men held their own discussion). Photo by Curtis.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Two hands together seems like such a broad symbol of reconciliation, I was drawn to this image for today for the broadness it offers, as well as the specifics between how we reconcile caring for our environment and urbanization (a very big problem in Colombia). This is a mural from Cali. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Pictured here are Pastor Glenn and Ruth Monson, from Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Rochester, MN. They are currently visiting Colombia. I enjoy being with the groups when they are here, to see the new ways that people look at things that have become ordinary to me....curiosity. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Part of the closing activity we did in the Christian Formation retreats this year was the burning of our sins on the cross. It was a beautiful and powerful reminder that we are indeed forgiven. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


One of the goals of the Education Ministry of IELCO is to create Lutheran materials for the churches to use. These are photos of the different materials that were created and distributed last year.  

Monday, March 13, 2017


Part of my work with the Education Ministry is with the teachers of the different Lutheran Schools. For this first activity of this year, I led a team building activity - 'the marshmallow challenge'...the object is to build something out of spaghetti, tape, and string that is able to hold the weight of a marshmallow on top. This is the one of the groups that succeeded at San Lucas; their spaghetti tower was 79 cm tall! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Another mural for peace we passed by the other day. This one says, in Spanish "Con la Paz, Todos Ganamos, in English,  "With peace, we all win". As the Colombian government and the FARC signed a peace agreement in November of last year, hopes are high. However, with the signed peace agreement, the hard work of healing and reconciling a society is just beginning. "Blessed be the Peacemakers".

Saturday, March 11, 2017


On a small coffee farm, we learned the process of how the world famous Colombian coffee is grown....yes, this is the fruit that coffee comes from. 

Friday, March 10, 2017


In an effort to realize our goal of eating healthier this year, we found a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near us. Every week fresh fruits and vegetables as well as artesenal bread, honey and yogurt are delivered to our door. It is delicious. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Curtis teaching the youth leaders of the IELCO about biblical perspectives on the responsibility to protect human rights. Photo by Jorge Diaz 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Laughter of pure joy as Floribella plucked a very large perfect carrot out of her garden. The IELCO supports a food security project in the community of Toquilla, Boyacá, accompanying families regain their agricultural traditions. There isn't much more joy than in harvesting your own fresh, organic food. Photo by Curtis

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


On my recent trip to the mountainous region of Boyacá, Colombia, the beautiful landscapes, gardens, farms, mountains and skies, all left me in a very pensive mode, thinking about the need to find space to evaluate the work for peace and justice and to remember new learnings through cultural differences. Photo by Curtis.

Monday, March 6, 2017


A few hours from Cartagena (on the Caribbean coast of Colombia) lies the community of San Basilio de Palenque, Escaped African slaves founded this community and were so successful in freeing other slaves and fighting off the Spanish that in 1691 the Spanish Crown declared the community free, the first free Africans in the Americas. This statue in the community  is of Benkos Bioho, an African King from Angola, he was enslaved by the Portuguese ,escaped from the city of Cartagena, and founded the Palenque de San Basilio.
Photo by Curtis.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


As we were going by the National Pedagogy University today, we noticed these new murals. On the left it says "Yes to the formation of teachers for peace", on the right "We are the voice of the forgotten". Two very important perspectives regarding Colombia'as search for peace. The one looking to the future, towards the training of teachers to educate future generations to be peacemakers. The other, looking towards the past, to remember the pain, suffering, as well as the causes of the armed conflict. Both are fundamental to peace-building.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


During the workshops we lead, there are often children present. This is Yamile's daughter, who was an absolute angel during the all-day workshop in Bucaramanga. She was very excited when I let her use the markers to color in her notebook (and on her hand). 

Friday, March 3, 2017


Every year, to celebrate the Reformation (at the end of October) there is  a special worship service, the idea is all the churches in the region worship together that day. Last year, Zulma and I, along with a team of Sunday School teachers in Bogota, were in charge of the children's activities during the worship...these were the gifts we made for each child - you can't tell by this photo but there were over 60 handmade bags (all recycled paper). 

Thursday, March 2, 2017


The Emmaus Lutheran Church (Mission) in the city of Medellin recently celebrated the confirmation of new members. As Lutherans, we believe in the priesthood of all believers, this means these new members are promising to live into their calling as Christians.

Pastor Atahualpa Hernández (Bishop of IELCO) on the left, and Pastor John Hernádez (pastor of the Emmaus Lutheran Church in Medellin) on the right. Photo from the Emmaus Lutheran Church.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Blessed are the Peacemakers"

As we begin Lent, we will start our 40-day photo challenge again. There are several reasons for this: one, while we were on Home Assignment last summer, during a conversation with my Grandpa Garnett, he said, 'if you do it once and it goes well, it should then become a tradition'. Another reason is that one of the purposes of Lent is to be more intentional, to slow down, and to deepen your faith. To me, part of slowing down is noticing life....noticing the ordinary. This is a list of words I compiled from Rethink Church, South Central Synod of Wisconsin, Unitarian Universalism, and Busted Halo. Because Colombia is living into a new phase of peace, every Sunday the word will be 'peace'. We heard many positive comments about the photo-a-day last year, so, it now is our tradition. I hope you journey with us...."Blessed are the Peacemakers". 

Connection: This was an activity during our most recent ProFILE leadership retreat: Rosy, Mauricio, Jenny, Cecilia, and Henry. Photo by Katie