Everything is back into full swing. We’re a few weeks back into classes. I believe Corey’s outlook has improved immensely! By the end of the last trimester he was feeling a bit frustrated, troche but this trimester he has been matched up with teachers who have teaching styles that fit him perfectly. I can see his confidence blooming! Next week we begin another week-long class from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Last trimester our class was on Cross Cultural Counseling. It was a great class. However, being the shameful one that I am, here I am finishing up a paper that is due by Saturday for the class from last trimester. I chose the topic of counseling youth who have been exposed to violence. This isn’t a paper on youth exposed to violence in the media or music, but actually violence, specifically community violence.

As I’ve been working on the research side of the paper I’ve been digging in a bit more into the youth in Colombia and I’ve been reading countless reports by agencies reporting on the horrific conditions many children and youth in Colombia face. Check out these statistics:
· Between 11,000 and 14,000 child soldiers; indigenous and Afro-Colombian children are often targeted for recruitment;
· Estimated 3 million children aged 11 to 17 are not in school;
· 2.5 of every 1,000 young women in Colombia is raped (estimated);
· Estimates range from 20,000 to 35,000 children forced into commercial sexual work;
· Estimated 15,000 to 30,000 street children in Colombia;
· Approximately 4,000 children killed with small arms every year;
· At least 100,000 landmines in Colombia, causing at least 96 mine-related child deaths in 2002.
I’ve read terrible stories of children executed, tortured, etc. It’s tough to read, yet it just renews that inspiration to go and do whatever we can to help the situation. I can’t clearly tell you exactly how God will use us in the next few years or over our lifetime, but I can tell you that I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Colombia is where we are called to be.

There is a silver lining. Violence in Colombia has dramatically decreased over the past three years. The different sides of the war have been working on laying down arms and things are bettering quickly in Colombia. I encountered another sort of inspiration today when I saw a video for Colombia. It seems the government is ready to show off the best of Colombia and is working to renew the interest in tourism and beauty in Colombia. Check out the video below. I think it’s great. Just a technical note, when you click to play the video, if you pause it and give it a few minutes to fully download you can watch it in one continuous flow. Otherwise, if you just let it play it will be very choppy as it tries to download while playing. Enjoy!

~Tona