So this blog could potentially be very long, but what I've decided to do is list what I did and give a brief description about each thing where necessary. Otherwise there is a risk that it'll be as long, if not longer than the Santander one! No-one has that much time to sit and read that much! I went to Medellin for a holiday and to attend a couple of workshops that UCU (work) were doing, which meant that I also got to meet the people who work or UCU in Medellin, which was good. I also got to see the other missionaries of Latin Link who work there, which was also a great experience.
So I left Bogota early Saturday morning and made my way to the airport to take the 40 minute flight to Medellin. Now had I been in England and used an airline I wouldn't have received anything and I would have been crammed in like a sardine. However, on this flight I had leg room and I was offered a cup of coffee, tea or water! Now that's service and good value for money. Anyway, the flight there was rather empty because Colombia were playing their first group game against Greece, which they won. I was met in Medellin by Fiona who is the Latin Link team leader and we went to a church to meet the lady who I was to stay with and to have lunch. This all went very well and later on, we went and met with Mark (other Latin linker) and some of their friends to watch the pitiful England game, which I will not talk about! I returned late to the house, but that was fine and despite the England game, I had a great first day and experience in Medellin.
So what more did I do…
Sunday- Church (El Encuentro con Dios- The meeting with God), which is the church where Isabel goes, she was preaching this Sunday at both services.
San Antonio (town) to eat pudding with Isabel and her friend Oscar who drove.
Cinema with Oscar, Johanna and Josue (friends of Oscar) to see a film called Bajo la misma Estrella- Below the same star- great film but very sad- cue tears!
Monday- Relaxed and went to the Botanical Garden with Isabel who I was staying with.
Tuesday- Pueblito Paisa by motorbike with Giovanny who is involved in UCU (a miniature typical town, miniature scale model of Medellin, perfect view of the whole city)
The national museum of Antioquia.
Rode the metro cable with Carolina who is part of UCU- Cable carts to the mountains where there are many people who live- this is the poorer part of the city and the metro cables are a form of transport not just a tourist attraction.
Wednesday- El retiro, La Ceja, Guatape, La pierda de Penol (the stone of Penol), El Sanctuario with Josue who is a friend of a friend of Isabel (towns and tourist sight, went by Motorbike). Random praise practice that Josue was involved in. So the stone of Penol is a huge stone that has 740 steps to the top, which you climb and can be seen from miles away. It's insane, incredible and the view from the stop is simply awesome. Praise God that He created this for our enjoyment! At El Sancutuario we met up with a Pastor friend of Josue and his family and went for ice cream.
Thursday- Went to the seminary where Fiona and Mark work and then we watched the football. Abi (Latin Link mentor) and new strider Mark (Swiss) also arrived in Medellin.
Workshop on sexuality and the church at the seminary with UCU. This was in Spanish so my understanding was rather limited!
Friday- Returned to the botanical garden to have a chat with Abi about my current state of being, ideas for the future and what God is teaching me. I love our chats, and we could chat for hours…we really need a whole day!
Bible study with UCU Medellin, again limited understanding!
Saturday- Walk in the centre of Medellin with Abi, Swiss Mark and Leo (Colombian friend of Mark and Fiona, and now me!). Loved this and we visited different parks- one called the park of lights where there were lots of skateboarders doing all sorts of cool things. In the centre they also have lots of figures by the artist Botero who is famous for drawing paintings of people but all made to be fat.
Workshop on Sexuality and the church (yes another). This one had a powerpoint so understanding was increased. We discussed why, even within the church, young people choose to have sex, and what it is that stops them. Sadly the first thing wasn't the word of God. If you want me to go into more depth on these topics, let me know and I'll write another blog dedicated to this subject.
Sunday- Church- this one had an America Pastor, was very lively and full of the Holy Spirit.
A park called Los Salados, which had a beautiful Lake in the middle of it (went by motorbike with Josue).
Hung out with Leo and some others, played cards, watched a film based on the true story of the American Marines who died in Afghanistan some years ago due to an operation going horribly wrong. Cue lots of tears!
Monday- Walk in the local area, wrote in my diary, and chilled out, welcome home and birthday celebration for someone with UCU and another Bible study (absolutely no understanding!).
Tuesday- Relaxed and did some exercise, went back to the seminary to watch the final group game for Colombia, then out later for some food in the evening with Fiona, Leo, Mark and his girlfriend.
Wednesday- Went for a walk, Skyped with my mum and Tom, then took my flight back to Bogota.
So what else…well I read a blog that was written by the family of an ex boyfriend of mine about their son Nate who sadly died to Leukaemia in the bone marrow when he was 20 years old. He died over a year ago, and it was something I was continuing to struggle with. He was a Christian, with what appeared to be, a long, prosperous future proclaiming God's word, which is what he wanted to do. His battle with cancer lasted 7 months and in that time he was declared cancer free for some weeks before it came back with vengeance. Reading the blog, and reading how in all of this he wanted God to be glorified was really encouraging. The family continued to praise God despite their pain and confusion, and Nate continued to worship God and reflect His character despite the pain he was going through. In the end, Nate decided to stop all medical intervention and give himself completely to God. God took him home. Nate always said that if even one person gave their life to God then all the pain was worth it. More than one person gave their life to God. Nate was still able to do what he wanted to do and felt his calling was despite being in hospital for a large period of time. After reading it, crying and thanking God for the life of Nate, I had closure. I also had a great time with God and was reminded of the importance of praising God even in the hard times, the confusing times and the downright awful times, as well as the good times. I was also reminded that it is possible to have joy in your heart even when you are sad. Joy isn't an emotion like happiness and sadness; it is a state of being. With God you can be joyful always no matter what your circumstances are because He gives life, hope and freedom.
Okay so really quickly, the differences between Bogota and Medellin and why I literally loved Medellin. It's smaller, less polluted, quieter, less traffic, more green areas, the metro is literally the easiest thing in the world to navigate, the people are nicer (sorry Bogota friends, you're great to), the weather is better (actual sun and warm…no jackets require) and like Bogota the food is pretty yum. What do I prefer about Bogota, the Arepas are better and the accent is easier to understand!
I settled in pretty quickly in Medellin, spoke more Spanish and listened a lot more. People asked me lots of questions, which helped me to feel accepted and settled and like they had an interest in what I had to say. My confidence increased in my Spanish and I actually felt like I could speak Spanish, something which I have doubted quite a bit. I was shown incredible hospitality, and welcomed very warmly. It was great to see Fiona and Mark and learn more about the projects that they are involved in and talk a bit about my struggles, etc. I also enjoyed having some quiet, time out and space, which I very much needed. Returning to Bogota I felt some sadness, but there was a card waiting for me from my mum so that made the return a bit easier. Anyway, a great holiday and break was had and I can't believe it's been a gone. I realised that I need more things to look forward to so I'm planning the next holiday!
The next blog will be a bit more emotion involved, as I'll be writing about our work retreat, in which God began to teach me yet another lesson…lesson 4!
Love to all