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

Saturday, July 24, 2010

heyyy macarena

We met the bishop of West Virginia, Mike Klusmeyer, and his wife Marsha last week. West Virginia has recently become Colombia's other 'sister' diocese (along with Connecticut). Bishop Klusmeyer and his wife were here to get to know the diocese and Bishop Duque of Colombia. We met with them on one of their first days here to talk about our work and lives here in Bogota. They had lots of questions for us and it was nice to be able to speak english!
We went to Usme to show them our kids and the mission. We had a lot of fun that day teaching the kids a country line dance and the macarena. The best part is that both bishops and their wives joined in!
The day after we went to Usme, it was a national holiday because Colombia turned 200! During the day, Sam and I checked out the big concert in parque simon bolivar and saw Colombia's current and future presidents speak. Then, we went downtown to grab an early dinner before the main event in the plaza. The doors opened from 4-7 to get into the plaza for the bicentennial show. Apparently all of bogota arrived early (definitely a first) because the entrance was closed by 5. Brittany, Sam and I couldn't even move in the crowd of frustrated colombians who were trying to push through. We decided to take advantage of a hotel contact and ended up on the roof of hotel casa deco with a bottle of wine watching some great fireworks. It ended up being a perfect way to celebrate Colombia's 200th birthday!

Today, Brittany and I are flying to Bucaramanga to visit a mission for about four days. Also, today marks my 11th month here! I can't believe how quickly time has passed. See you in a month!
Love, Kate

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

san pablo vbs

After a great trip to Cartagena, we jumped right into our last VBS in Bogota with San Pablo church, the one we attend almost every weekend. All of the children came from a poor neighborhood about 25 blocks above us. We met a lot of children from this neighborhood back during novena (the nine days before christmas). Like novena, the families said that the program would be best at night, when they could bring their kids down after work. The first night, we were waiting at 6pm with our t-shirts and songs ready. We decided to get started around 620 with only about seven kids. Around 645, ten more kids showed up and we had to adjust the schedule to make sure everyone could make a shirt, sing the songs and play. By the last day, we had over 20 kids and they started arriving at 5.
After the last day of VBS, the kids walked all 25 bocks up the hill with a few parents to their houses. It was pouring rain and they didn't have umbrellas. They told us later that the kids all arrived soaked to their houses but were so happy to have new t-shirts and some treats from the US that my boyfriend Sam brought.
The kids loved Sam and Brittany and I were so grateful for his help. Moises was a little boy who is one of eight children. He kept acting out and leaving the group because he wanted attention. Brittany and I were getting frustrated because Moises is one of the kids who we know best. We were counting on him to be a good example, but he just couldn't handle us sharing our attention with a group of other kids. Sam took him in as his little helper to solve the problem and his behavior completely changed.
Thanks again to everyone who helped us make these programs possible. We have been able to have five vacation bible schools all over colombia with your donations!
VBS ended and we went to Soacha for our usual Saturday program. Like I have mentioned before, Soacha is outside of the city and is where the majority of the internally displaced families start their new lives. For that reason, our group of kids is constantly changing. This past Saturday, we had four new children from the same family. The entire group was really well behaved and they loved their new hot wheels cars and hair accessories from the states (thank you Major family!).
This week, Brittany and I have been showing the bishop of West Virginia our work/Bogota and celebrating Colombia's 200th birthday. We are also preparing for a quick trip to visit a mission in Bucaramanga this weekend.
Love, Kate

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

mission trip with the diocese of connecticut

Last week, Brittany and I flew to the coast and met up with a mission group of 11 from connecticut. This was our first time working with other americans and we were excited to experience a new part of colombia with them. We arrived and went straight to planning. The plan was to have 4 VBS programs between the 13 people. We were told there would be about 25 kids at each location. That number ended up doubling as we had almost 40-50 kids at each location!
My group was placed at San Francisco mission for 3 days. It was the farthest away and was built on top of an old trash dump. We started with a bible story, sang songs, drew pictures, made bracelets, played with the parachute and gave them juice boxes and cookies. The ages ranged from 3-16 and we had more kids join us every day. Since there were only 3 american leaders and one colombian woman (Betty) helping us with the 40+ kids, the best way I can describe those days is organized chaos. The kids loved it and they all left with big smiles and their art projects.
Every day, the kids would get on our bus with us until we reached their houses. They were so excited to get on a big air conditioned bus and it was incredible to see their faces light up for those few minutes. On our last day it was tough to say goodbye. Betty had tears in her eyes as we hugged goodbye and the kids didn't want to let go of us.
We also visited a mission church in Malambo, about 3 hours away. It was worth the long bus ride as the kids put on a show for us. Then the professionals came in and blew us away. Their ministry is through dance and the kids line up at 8 in the morning on saturdays waiting for their lessons. It's a really special community and we loved seeing them perform!
The four churches/missions in Cartagena and the mission Malambo are run by Padre Rafael. He works with missioners to make them all successful. He has a wonderful family with three daughters and it was so great getting to know them. He has a big heart and he let us stay in his house by the church. Thanks again to the Diocese of Connecticut and Padre Rafael for an awesome week! It was so great to get to know you all!
After a great week with the group, Brittany and I stayed a few extra days on the coast. We went to the beach, went on a rumba chiva (party bus) and walked around the walled city. We visited a family from the church a few hours away in Barranquilla (shakira's birth city!). They were so welcoming and gave us SO much food.
Now we're back in cold, rainy Bogota. Definitely too cold for us to believe it's july! We are back with our work in usme and soacha (the kids are back from their 3 week summer vacation) and we are gearing up for another vbs program with an impoverished neighborhood above us next week.
Love, Kate