Sunday, March 28, 2010

hiv/aids education, world cup, and palm sunday

Brittany and I spent the weekend in Soacha. Like I've mentioned before, it's about 1.5/2 hours away in bus so we stayed with Padre Carlos and his family for a couple of nights. As always, it was great to spend time with his 3 children and his wife, Janet. On Friday we met up at the church in Soacha. We played uno with a few kids and taught them colors and numbers using the cards. We are starting an after-school program there on Fridays.
On Saturday, we had our first HIV/AIDS education workshop. It went really well and 13 people showed up. We used a video, information from a book and the internet, and a few review questions to complete the lesson. We are going to have our next workshop in April, followed by a day of olympics for the kids in Soacha. It's been great forming this relationship with the community and we are really excited about starting these programs there.
Saturday afternoon, we took the soccer ball out to a field and played for two hours with some boys from the neighborhood. We played one of my favorite games, World Cup, and they loved it! It was so much fun to play soccer again, especially with a bunch of enthusiastic kids and with Padre Carlos playing goalie. After playing soccer we made decorations for the church, including a tree with our handprints.
The Palm Sunday service was great. We arrived early to decorate and set up. Then we started our procession through soacha. We started at one family's house,

walked through the streets of soacha,
and ended up back at the church to start the service.

It was a great weekend with an awesome family and community. This week we will be busy working at Usme for Holy Week (Semana Santa). It should be a great experience and a very interesting week. I'll be sure to update about it after next Sunday. I hope everyone has a great Easter!

Love, Kate

Sunday, March 21, 2010

San Andres w Suzi!

Suzi and I have been best friends since I moved to Maryland in 6th grade. Eleven years later, we are practically sisters.
She and her boyfriend (Andrew) came to visit me last week. We met up in San Andres, a beautiful Colombian island. While there, I had fun translating for Suzi and teaching her some spanish. We had all kinds of adventures:

We visited the first baptist church in all of South America (and went all the way up to that bell tower to see the entire island),
visited a pond full of crocodiles,
watched a beautiful sunset (island style),
saw where Captain Morgan hid his treasure,
learned a typical island dance,
took a tour around the entire island,
enjoyed clear beautiful water,
snorkeled for 2 hours straight, bought about 10 bottles of sunscreen, played countless games of uno at night, and ate a year's worth of fish and rice.

It was an amazing vacation with two incredible friends. I'll miss you guys...see you in September!
After getting in late last night, I was back to work this morning. I went out to Usme and spent the day there at church and a big planning meeting. I thought novena (9 days before Christmas) was the busiest time of the year here, but I had no idea how important/intense their 8 day Easter celebration was going to be. Brittany and I will spend 3 days in Soacha this weekend and then we'll be at Usme almost every day during holy week. After talking about the long days (holy thursday: 2-9), I'm a little overwhelmed, but really excited!
Love, Kate

Friday, March 12, 2010

los olimpicos!

Brittany and I celebrated two days of olympics with the kids this week and it was so much fun! First, we taught them all about the winter olympics and how different countries compete against each other for the gold. We broke the kids into their three "countries"; red, yellow and blue. Below is a group picture with the Colombian flag behind us.
After painting the kids' faces, we had the captains light the olympic torch to officially start the olympics...let the games begin!! We had relay races, individual events and team races. They were able to win medals and points for their teams and we kept track of them on our medal chart.
The kids loved the games and were so excited. They cheered each other on really well. Look at their faces when Katherine won...they're not even all on the same team.
While the Majors were here, we made medals for the kids. After every event, they all received either gold, silver, or bronze. Jefferson (boy with red pants in the picture below) loved his gold medal so much that he wore it back to the mission for day 2.

To finish the games, we gave out special awards like "best helper", "spirit award", "best sportsmanship" and "mvp".
The olympics were a huge success! A big thanks Mr. and Mrs. Major who made it all possible. They planned the games and brought all of the medals and other supplies. The kids all loved it!
Tonight I'm going with Myriam to a national day of prayer celebration. Tomorrow I take off for a week of vacation to San Andres, Colombia with my best friend from middle school, Suzi. It will be so great to get some sun and to see her again!!

Love, Kate

Monday, March 8, 2010

el paro

Last Monday, I walked out on the usually busy carrera septima with Sam and tried to get a bus. I quickly realized that I hadn't seen a single bus going in either direction. For a street that is normally full of buses, I knew something wasn't normal. I jumped in a taxi and asked what was going on. The driver told me that it was a paro, there wouldn't be buses all day because the drivers were on strike. When I arrived in the office, Myriam told us not to worry because bus strikes in the past had never lasted more than a day.
Below, a man directing traffic in the streets for money. He would let people go if they gave him change.
Little did we know that it would be 4 whole days until we would be able to hail a bus. The second day, over 21,000 taxi drivers joined the strike. Bogota was paralyzed and over 8 million passengers were affected. The strike spread to other Colombian cities and caused more chaos. Frustration and growing tension led to violent protests in the outskirts of the city. Bogota's mayor called in the army to deal with the violence. Private cars became taxis/buses and groups of people would pile into the backs of trucks to get around. After four long days, the buses came back and now everything is back to normal!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to go to Usme last week because of the strike. Sam and his parents were visiting and had planned an entire day of olympics for the kids. We will still do the olympics tomorrow, but it's such a bummer that they couldn't see the mission and meet our kids! Luckily, we were still able to do a lot of other things in the Bogota area. We spent an afternoon at Monserrate and it was absolutely beautiful. You really could see the entire city!

The Majors were able to meet the kids and people from the cathedral during the coffee break after church. They tried arepas, obleas, chorizo, and drank lots of coffee! We even played rana, the typical Colombian game. We also went bowling, colombian style: the pins were put up by a person who also rolled the ball back. We went to an open market where dogs were doing tricks for money. We went out to lunch with Myriam and drank coffee at her apartment afterwards. It was a special afternoon and I'm so glad that we were able to spend that time together!

I loved sharing my Colombian family and the culture here with the Majors. I am so thankful that they came all the way to Bogota to visit me and even brought lots of new books and movies from the states that we are really excited to start. I am so grateful for everything and appreciate their support so much. Like I said earlier, Brittany and I will be doing the olympics at usme tomorrow. We will be sure to take lots of pictures of all the great decorations and olympic medals that the Majors brought for the kids. They are going to love it!
Love, Kate