Friday, April 29, 2011

back to bogota!

I'm blogging (after 8 months of being back in the states) because I am leaving tonight to visit Bogotá! Brittany and I have been talking about this return trip since we left Colombia and the day has finally arrived. We are going to stay with Myriam, our amazing host mom, for a little less than a week. Though it will be a short visit, words can't express how incredibly excited I am to see our kids at the missions and the rest of our Colombian family.

My church youth group is sending over clothes, toys, letters and special gifts for all of the children. My checked bag full of everything just made it at 48 pounds! A big thanks to St. Andrew the Fisherman church in Edgewater, MD for continuing to support this special relationship with the churches in Bogotá.

I'll keep you updated!
Love, Kate

Thursday, September 9, 2010


August 24, 2009: I left for Colombia with a big smile on my face, ready for an adventure in Bogota.
August 24, 2010: I flew back home to the states with a big smile on my face, knowing that I'll be back to visit Colombia as soon as possible. It was an incredible year!
After leaving Bogota at 730am, I arrived in Houston! After about 2 hours of customs, immigration, intensive bag searches, and rechecking my bags to Baltimore, I ran out to international arrivals to spend the rest of my layover (we ended up pushing my flight back to spend more time together) with my awesome boyfriend, Sam! He met me with open arms, flowers, and a big "USA" gift basket full of my favorite foods that I had missed so much this past year. I opened the bag of tostitos right good.
Hard to beat a homecoming like that, right? Well, it got even better when I arrived in Maryland. I saw the big "bienvenidos" sign and Colombia and USA colored balloons right away. My grandparents, parents, and best friend, Suzi were all there waiting for me.
Life back in the states has been great so far! My first few days I had trouble remembering that I don't have to speak spanish and that toilet paper doesn't go in the trash can. I was a little nervous to start driving again, but Annapolis roads are much easier/safer than those in Bogota!
I started classes the day after I arrived. I've already been to a Navy football game and taken a microbiology test. I've been back to St. Andrew the Fisherman church and felt so at home. We had our annual labor party on September 4 and it was awesome to see friends and family again! It's good to be home.
I still expect to wake up every morning in the church basement, ready for a day in Usme. I miss my kids in Colombia more than anything. I have yet to really sit back and reflect on my year away and honestly, I don't even know where to start. This weekend I have a presentation about Colombia at my church. I am really looking forward to the YASC re-entry retreat in New York this October.
Thanks for all of your love and support throughout this year!
Love, Kate

Friday, August 27, 2010

last few days in colombia

Saturday: Anna and I went to Usme for a big health brigada. There were about 150 people there throughout the day and they all paid 1,000 Colombian Pesos (50 cents) for a full day of doctor's visits and a hair cut. There were optometrists, physical therapists, general physicians, lawyers, and barbers. While the families did the rounds, I helped the general physicians while Anna worked with the kids. It was a big day and our kids looked great after their haircuts!

Sunday: My last Sunday was spent in Soacha. My dad flew in to deliver pillows that were made by kids from my church in Maryland. When we walked into the church, one kid yelled "la gringa!!!" and about 15 kids ran up to me with big smiles and lots of hugs. It was a great service and the kids all came up to 'lay hands' as padre carlos gave me a 'goodbye' blessing. After the service we went upstairs and delivered the pillows. The kids loved them! It was so cool for them to know that they were made by kids in the US. Thanks to St. Andrew the Fisherman Vacation Bible School for making them! I've seen the community in Soacha grow throughout this past year and I met so many strong people there. I am so grateful for Padre Carlos and his amazing family for welcoming me into such a special place.

Monday: My last day in Usme with my kids in the after school program. It was a fun day and they absolutely loved the pillows. They all made bracelets and wrote notes for the kids in Maryland and then we watched a video of our year together. Watching that video and hearing the kids laugh reminded me of how special this year was with them. It was hard to leave my nenos but I feel much better knowing that Anna is there to continue our work with them. I can't believe that our time together is already over and I will miss them so much!

Tuesday: I was off to the airport early in the morning for a 7am flight to Houston. I arrived home in Maryland at 1130 at night. More on my homecoming in the next blog!

Love, Kate

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

anna moves to bogota and darcy visits!

As I waited for Anna at the airport on August 12, I thought back to my arrival a little less than a year before. I remember long lines and a huge crowd waiting for people at the airport exit. Her arrival wasn't much different, with 5 planes all arriving at once. After finding her in the crowd, we went to Myriam's apartment, where Anna will be staying for at least a month.
A couple of days later, one of my best friends from high school arrived for a five day visit. It was perfect timing because I was able to show them the city at the same time. Being their tour guide was a lot of fun. Here are some highlights of our time together:

Checking out the city from Monserrate:
Helping Anna buy a 40,000 colombian peso (20$) guitar from an open market. Spending time with Panchon was a lot of fun!
Spending time with my Colombian mom, Myriam and taking her out to dinner!
Padre Diego introducing Anna to the cathedral congregation and saying goodbye to everyone on my last Sunday there.
Teaching Anna the transmilenio system. Doesn't look like she was paying much attention....
Spending time walking through the center with our new friend, Andres. People thought we were famous because we had a 'police escort'!
Playing 'memory' with the kids. Thanks Major family for the cards!
Making picture frames with the kids in Usme. Darcy brought the pictures that were printed at Wal-mart. Toots and Grandpa sent foam picture frames and things to decorate them. All the children went home with a picture of themselves and their "profes", Brittany and me.
Welcome to Colombia, Anna and thanks for visiting, Darcy!
Love, Kate

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Medellin was once known as the most violent city in the world. Today it is a beautiful city full of happy people. It's a perfect example of the resilience and optimism of the Colombian people. Brittany and I stayed at the church and ate breakfast every morning watching about sixty 3-5 year olds at Medellin's Episcopal School. The kids were adorable and they had some amazing teachers.
Lorena, Juan and their seven year old niece, Samara were our tour guides throughout our three days in Medellin. They showed us Colombia's impressive metro, complete with a teleferico to take people to their houses up on a hill. We went to Plaza Botero, full of Botero's can't help but love them. We were there for the Feria de Flores (flower festival) and saw a concert in a park on our last night!
From Medellin, I flew to Quito to spend a few days with one of my best friends from college, Raleigh. He has been teaching english there for almost seven weeks to teenagers. They all love him and are learning really quickly. I think it's due to the fact that they have such a great teacher...I even learned a few things! He surprised me with a trip to the pacific coast where we spent two nights in a cute beach town, Manta. It was relaxing and fun to get away from the city. It was so great to experience another culture and to spend some time with Raleigh!

Arriving back in Bogota felt like arriving home. Brittany left last Sunday so I really miss having her around but Anna (the next YASCer) arrives tonight! I have two weeks left in Bogota and really can't believe how quickly a full year has flown by. My remaining time here will be spent helping Anna transition to her new life in Colombia, spending as much time at the missions as possible, sharing my life in Bogota with a best friend from high school, and finding a way to say goodbye to a beautiful country that has become my home throughout this past year.

Love, Kate

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Yes...bu-car-a-man-ga. It's the name of a city that Brittany and I visited last week. We stayed with Padre Jorge and his wife, Esmeralda and they were so welcoming and hospitable. We heard over and over again how much they wished we could stay longer than four days so that they could show us everything. We would have loved to stay, but we had to get back to spend some time at the mission before our next trip to Medellin.
The first morning, we visited the church's mission with Ernesto, a missioner of the church. We drove up a dirt, rocky road and finally arrived at a very poor community up on a hill called Pueblo Viejo. The view was amazing and we couldn't believe that there was actually a neighborhood so secluded from the city. As we cleaned off the makeshift benches, Ernesto rang the bell to notify everyone that the church service would soon be starting. Families started to arrive and we had a really nice service on top of the hill.

Afterwards, there was a sunday school class and we ate lollipops with the kids. They were intrigued by our english and asked when we'd be back. We decided that we'd try to come back as soon as possible after we saw the church's land and heard about their future plans. Next time though, we would like to bring a mission trip to help build a school and church. The Bishop of the Diocese of West Virginia has expressed an interest in taking a trip to Colombia and we are excited about working together to make this happen.
We also went to Padre Jorge's service later that day. It was a very interesting and lively 2.5 hours. As always in Colombia, we were welcomed with open arms and were given the opportunity to talk about our years here. Another highlight of our trip was when we visited a colonial village close to Bucaramanga called Girón where all the buildings are white with black doors and brown roofs. It was a very pretty town and a nice break from the city. We walked around trying to find their speciality, fried ants, but didn't have any luck. Don't worry...I bought some at the airport on our way out! Thanks again to Padre Jorge and his wife for a great visit!
Love, Kate