Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Freed to Lead - National Women's Retreat

Monday I came back to Bogota completely filled, renewed, and exhausted from the weekend I spent as a participant at the National Women's Retreat.

Group photo with everyone wearing our brand new Katalina Von Bora shirts (Martin Luther's wife) who was a very important woman in the history of the Reformation. There were also participants from Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and from the Southeastern Synod of Minnesota. Photo credit: Jorge Diaz, communications IELCO
128 women from all around Colombia came together to celebrate the anniversary of the 500 years since the Reformation, to renew relationships and to learn. The theme for the weekend was "Freed to Lead". The whole weekend was focused around the 4 questions: Freed through what?, Freed from what?, Freed by whom?, and Freed for what? The retreat included a time for the business of the women, where there were elections for the new leadership. We also worshiped, had devotions together (including a devotion led by our sisters from SE MN Synod - which they led in Spanish), laughed together, ate together, had a talent show, and even a craft project. Here a few of the many pictures I took.

Pastora Angelica leading the session "Freed from what?" and Pastor Consuelo (on the right) showing how we are enslaved and need to be set free. 

The newly elected council of the women (on the far left is also Pastor Consuelo who is the coordinator, her face is a little cut out). 

The women from Vida Nueva, the church where we attend in Bogota when we are not traveling. You will also notice a few men in the photo, the music team from Vida Nueva led all the music all weekend, these men are part of the music team. Photo credit: Jorge Diaz, Communications IELCO

This is Kathy Chatelaine, the Coordinator for Global Mission Relationships for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod and Pastor Stephanie Wood, also Southeastern MN synod. They came to participate and learn from and about the women of IELCO in true accompaniment spirit. It was a blessing to have them at the retreat.  This was a photo station for the talent show night. 
 
The sending blessings to all the participants was a few drops of perfume to always remember that we are called to service, and to remember the promise of Jesus to the woman who washed his feet with perfume - 'you will be remembered for your service'. It was a powerful closing worship service. 

One of the decorations showing our transformation as women. I can't thank the women who organized this and participated in this enough. What a blessing I feel to have participated. Thank you IELCO women - well done! 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Planting Trees and Reconciliation

The Lutheran congregation in the city of Bucaramanga, The Divine Redeemer, has been working on strengthening its relationship with the Sustainable Farm of Rehabilitation of Antipersonnel Land Mine Victims. They invited the Justice and Life project of IELCO to accompany them in this process. So far this year we have completed two workshops. The first one at the church building with members of the farm invited to participate, and the second workshop was done July 15th at the farm.
On the left is Pastor Sergio, beginning the day with a devotional about the churches 'ministry of reconciliation' with church members and members of the farm. Photo by Curtis Kline.
At the farm we talked about reconciliation and the protection of life and the work for peace. At the request of the farm, we then planted 30 trees. The trees were chosen by the members of the farm to help block out the sound and smell of a nearby sugar factory. The Justice and Life project has accompanied the church and the members of the farm in conversations about conflict resolution and peace-building in the day-to-day, as well as how the church can better accompany the farm.

Planting trees at the farm. Photo by Curtis Kline.
Apolinar Ramirez Ayala, member of the farm of rehabilitation. With the support of the farm he has graduated from high school and is studying diesel motor maintenance. Photo by Alexis Aubin (communications director for the campaign Colombia Contra Minas - Colombia Against Mines)
In September at the third workshop, also to be held at the farm, where we will monitor the growth of the trees, and plan the continuation of the accompaniment between the church and the farm.

Planting more trees. Photo by Curtis Kline.