SHOPPING FOR SPANISH
Over breakfast this morning, Pr. Jairo said, "Why don't you go with Consuelo and Liria this morning. They are attending a meeting at a church, but if it's boring there are some shops nearby. Either way, you can be back by 1pm in time for us to have lunch." "Sounds good." I said. I should've known better.
A few hours later, I found myself shopping for clothes and serving as the translator for a woman from Cameroon who speaks mostly French, but a little English together with Pr. Consuelo (Pr. Jairo's wife) and Liria (Pr. Jairo's daughter) who speak pretty much only Spanish. And then there's me - few years of French in high school, not quite two levels of Spanish with Rosetta Stone, but plenty of English. Unfortunately the latter was the least useful language in this particular situation!
The annual meeting for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) begins this Friday, June 15 in Bogotá and some of the pre-gathering meetings are focusing on women and women's issues around the world. The meeting this morning hosted by the largest Lutheran church in Bogotá - 'El Redentor' (The Redeemer) - was an opportunity for women of the Lutheran Church of Colombia to welcome some of the LWF delegates. Specifically, six Lutheran women from Rwanda, Cameroon, Japan, Germany, Iceland and India were present at the meeting this morning (see the picture here).
After the meeting, Pr. Consuelo and Liria and I and Jannett (the delegate from Lutheran Church in Cameroon, which just happens to be the companion synod to the South Dakota synod of the ELCA!) went shopping. Unfortunately, all of Jannett's clothes were stolen before she left Cameroon, so this was not window-shopping. It was out of necessity.
By trial and trouble, we made it through and found a few clothes before we sat down for a bit of lunch (pictured here with the blog entry and with the "location" for this blog entry being roughly where we went shopping). Upon asking a couple questions, I realized that Jannett was actually Pr. Jannett. Which might not seem like a big deal, but the Lutheran Church in Cameroon only began ordaining women one month ago. Pr. Jannett and two other women were the first Lutheran women to be ordained in Cameroon.
Add to this the fact that Pr. Consuelo is the first woman to be ordained in the Lutheran Church of Colombia and this was no ordinary shopping trip. Also, Liria (Pr. Consuelo & Pr. Jairo's daughter) has completed high school and is beginning theological studies with hopes of teaching theology some day. As if this lunch table I was sitting at wasn't impressive enough, I wouldn't be surprised if she was the first Lutheran woman to get a PhD!
Of course, this was just one of the many wonderful (and a little bit terrifying!) experiences I've had these last couple days. Check out the photo album here for a few other things I've been up to, but some other highlights include…
Having lunch yesterday (Wednesday) with the family that hosted Christine last summer - Rosa & Nora. Christine is from Custer and is currently a college student at St. Olaf in Minnesota and spent an entire month in Colombia last summer. Since I also had visited their home two years ago, it was a delight to see this family again.
After this visit, Pr. Jairo and I (you guessed it) hopped in a bus and took an hour and a half bus ride to visit another family. Alejandro & Diana are both about my age (in their 30's) and have two children - Daniela (probably between 6-8 years old?) and Tomas (about 2 years old). I shared pictures of my family and when I mentioned I liked fútbol (not American football, of course, but soccer), Alejandro brought out a jersey of his favorite team in Bogotá, which he gave as a gift to me. It evolved into quite a great joke since Pr. Jairo and his whole family cheer for the rival team in Bogotá and he warned me that I might need to find another place to stay for my remaining few days in Colombia. I was also interested to hear how they came to be Lutheran since they come from entirely Catholic families. Finally, I learned that they are applying for a visa to visit the U.S. for a family trip. They just might come and stay with us in Custer if everything falls into place!
With just three full days remaining in Colombia, my time seems to be taking on the character of one of those spinning tops, which begins wobbling out of control as the momentum draws to its natural conclusion. But I'm afraid I still have some exciting adventures ahead before I leave!