The day after we arrived we went straight to the cell phone company to get our phones set up. After one issue after another about five visits to the office, signing and putting my fingerprint on a mountain of papers… Yesterday, 12 days after starting, we all finally have cell phone service.
The majority of our time so far has been poured into finding a home. All rental houses and apartments are individually owned. There are a bunch of agencies that manage the rentals but no one central service, so house hunting involves going to various agencies so they can show you their listings and driving around looking for phone numbers on places that are available.
We were thrilled that after looking less than a week we found a great apartment. Because we are foreigners it’s extremely difficult to rent ourselves, so a friend was going to rent the apartment and two other friends would be co-signers. Again, another mountain of paperwork. After getting it all together, we were ready to turn it in when the agent told us that the owner of the apartment wants to sell it, so we’d have people coming to show it while we lived there and, if it should sell, we’d have two months to move out. We didn’t want to live in that kind of limbo, so we decided not to take the apartment.
We started over and have seen many more houses and apartments. Tomorrow we have appointments to see a few more and we will hopefully make an appointment then.
We’ve been staying with a friend, who normally lives alone in a three bedroom apartment, but school is out for a month of break so her four grandkids have been staying here, too – not all at once, but there’s always one or two here at a time. They are such a sweet family. The three of us have been sharing a small bedroom, though, so we’re ready to stretch out a little bit soon!
If you’ve watched our group page you’ll see we’ve eaten a fair share of Burger King – not because we really like their food or miss American food, but because it’s the only solid internet we have found. Communication has been difficult but as soon as we get an apartment we’ll be ordering high speed internet and catch up on messages we have missed.
We were excited to reunite with the youth group we have worked with locally. It’s amazing to see how many of our kids from the children’s church have grown and transitioned to youth. Maggie jumped right back into the youth worship band.
We spent an evening out with some of our youth and most of the town of Envigado watching Colombia play in the Copa America soccer tournament and my heart broke for young girls throughout the park openly getting drunk, vaping and throwing themselves all over the boys. They couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 years old. It confirmed in our hearts that the youth here desperately need to know Jesus.
On Sunday a 15 year old girl came to church with her mom and brother. She’s six months pregnant. They asked me to pray for them and took time to talk and tell me about their family. Their dad is in prison and mom is trying to keep the family going. We hope we can be a blessing to this family and help them through this time.
We spent last Monday all day in a youth leaders training seminar. It’s exciting to see that while we were gone, leadership has recognized the need for youth ministry. Over 120 people traveled, some as far as nine hours, to learn how to reach out to the youth in their communities.
We’ve had several nights out grabbing a bite to eat with friends. It’s so great to reconnect, to be able to hug and laugh again with people who have become so dear to us. We have a saying with our closest friends that says, “I forgot how much I missed you,” which just means that when you get together face to face you remember how great it feels to be with that person, how comfortable it is and what that friend brings out in you. We are blessed with amazing friends!
We also reunited with another member of our family, Angel.
After just a couple of days back our local pastor called and asked if we’d preach on Sunday morning in two services. It takes time, after a year and a half of not practicing every day, to get your Spanish hat back on. However, I had recently preached at a Spanish church in the States and the theme of the message fit perfectly with what the pastor asked me to preach. Both services had a beautiful altar time at the end.
Once a month pastors from all over the state come together to worship together, take communion and share what’s happening around the state. It was wonderful to see so many friends and hear how God has been working throughout Medellin and beyond.
We haven’t had much time to take a break, but at our pastor’s recommendation we did go see the movie San Andres, which by the way did not help me relax after a stressful day! Yesterday we were also able to grab a couple of hours out at the pool that’s part of the complex where we’re staying. It’s been hot, hot, hot, so it was fun to finally cool off!
That’s it in a nutshell. Many hours have been spent simply waiting. That’s Colombia. We’ve had a good start to this term.