From Colombia, With Love – Almuerzo a Mango 75

Lunch at Mango 75 on Classroom Day

Picture uno: Eve & Sam with their pescados (fish)

Picture dos: Desert! Guava with Cheese (sounds weird but is soooooooo good)

Picture tres: The lovebirds Kaona & Chuck with their pollos (chicken)

From Colombia, With Love – Classroom Day

And on the third day God put the group into a classroom in Bogota. Well, maybe not a classroom per se, but a like setting.  After we finished a huge breakfast we got back into the bus and headed over to IELCO headquaters with Stella (complements to Luis, our fantastic driver). At IELCO, we met the bishop of the Colombian Lutheran Church (Reverend Eduardo Martinez Diaz) and many people working under IELCO. We started the day of “meetings” in a conference room and watched an informational video about IELCO’s mission as well as listened to short presentations about specific areas the Lutheran Church of Colombia is working on such as Asivida, an organization to educate the public and help the people in Colombia live a better and more spiritual life with HIV and AIDS. We learned that IELCO has strong ties with the Lutheran church in Finland. We learned that their scholarship program that once gave out 200 scholarships per year to students that now only gives 47 due to the recession. We learned that by only donating $250 dollars a year, a child can go to school. We also learned that millions of people are displaced in Colombia each year and IELCO is supporting a percentage of those families by giving them basic needs (food, homes).

After the morning was over, we walked to a nearby restaurant (Mango 75) for some lunch (see next post).

Then in the afternoon we made the short drive to the offices of Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief (Christine, Hannah & Sam are pictured standing in front of the office building).  A Lutheran pastor from Brazil (currently working for LWF) spoke to us about the history of violence between guerrillas and paramilitaries as well as the millions of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Colombia.  There are between 2.5-3.5 million people estimated to have been displaced in Colombia (this is the second largest amount of IDPs in the world… second only to the Sudan).  Many of the people displaced come from rural areas and are forced to move to the outer parts of Bogota where there are little or no basic services.  Despite severe conditions, Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran World Federation advocate and work directly with displaced people.  They provide basic food and shelter as well as opportunities for displaced people to become self-sustainable.  We were left with a quote from Bishop Mark Hanson (presiding bishop of the ELCA and also current president of Lutheran World Federation: “We do God’s work not because God needs it, but because our neighbor needs it.  And we do it in the name of Christ for the life of the world.”

After a long day in the classroom, we headed home and walked around our neighborhood.  We visited some local shops: a market with fresh fruits and vegetables, a store that had candy and sweets, a pastelería (a pastry shop – Chuck’s favorite!), a kitchen supply store and the clothing store that Olga (our host mother) owns.

In closing, here is a video taken of the group admiring the view from our balcony.  You can see the busy turn-about and the moutains in the background.

From Colombia, With Love… Breakfast

Breakfast this Monday morning:

A hearty bowl of potato soup with fried egg on the bottom, topped with cilantro and green onion

Fresh fruit – pitaja



From Colombia, With Love – Sunday, May 30

Attending San Pablo Lutheran Church on the southern side of the city was the major event on our second full in Bogota (And, might I ad, the first sunny day. Quite appropriate for a Sunday, no?) After we got all done up, we arrived via bus along with Stella at nine o´clock, a little before the service started. The clan soon discovered that although the service was in a different language, and in a different country with a different congregation, a Lutheran is a Lutheran no matter where you go. The service was lead by Pastor Jairo and a contemporary praise band. There was also a lot of singing; in spanish of course, which is difficult if you can´t read Espanol and you don´t know the tune. 🙂 During the service, Pastor Kent (aka “The Boss”) preached a sermon to San Pablo´s congregation surrounding the name of our church and what it meant, while Stella translated in Espanol for the congregation. We were also blessed to share the peace with the entire congregation, and eat delicous home-made bread and coffee with them afterward. After church, we hopped back into the bus, stopped by the voting polls for Stella and Pastor Jairo  (Colombia is in the process of electing a new president), went back home for a quick change of clothes, then headed over to see IELCO (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia) headquarters and pick up Pastor Jairo´s familia for lunch. While eatting almuezo (lunch) at “Crepes and Waffles” with Pastor Jairo´s family, Sam, Christine, and Hannah tried to learn some Spanish tongue-twisters from Pastor Jairo´s daugther and niece. (Hannah and Christine got it, but Sam needs a little more practice.) After the late lunch we dropped off Pastor Jairo´s family and headed back home to relax. We ended the day with a downpour of rain and a fantastic tuna casserole made by Olga and Sonja. Now, sleep. Until tomorrow…


From Colombia, With Love – part 3

 We had a great first full day in Bogota.  After Sam woke the girls up at 6 and we each individually experienced cold showers, we were ready to start our day! Sam, Hannah, and Christine began by applying a little 100 spf sunscreen which was reported to “keep Sam and Christine´s skin in perfect condition, but apparently Hannah needs a little more protection than the sunscreen offered.”  We did a little shopping at a local market before going to El Museo del Oro (The Gold Musem) and learned about Shaman that have been and continue to be an important part of the Colombian culture.  After some authentic Colombian food, we headed to the top of Monserrate to overlook the city (see picture).  Hannah and Eve had the pleasure of experiencing paying for toilet use (fortunately the price of 800 pesos or about 40 cents included 4 squares of toilet paper).  Next, we went to the presidential district of Bogota, one of the oldest in the city. Christine felt very privileged as she was photographed with several different policemen (a little scary, but we had their permission).  Everyone was amused by the two love birds, Chuck and Kaona, who were caught holding hands as they walked down the street. Kent our fearless leader continues to respond to the nickname lovingly dubbed, The Boss.

Pictured above: Stella, Hannah, Kaona, Kent, Chuck, Sara, Pastor Jairo, Eve, Christine, and Sam relax at the top of Monserrate which was described as being “just like Harney Peak, but better.”

From Colombia, With Love – part dos

Today, we began our journey to Colombia. We discovered that heart of palm is indeed quite delicious in salads. Also, we learned that traffic is CRAZY, but tons of fun.  After going through customs, we joined up with Stella, Pastor Jairo, and the family of Olga (owner of the apartment where we are staying.)

So far, the people are very nice, the apartment is beautiful (much more so than we expected), although no one really knows Spanish or English very well, besides Stella, we have been able to bridge the language gap fairly well.  Other than the group, pictured here from left to right going up are Sara, Stella, Sonja, and Wilson.

Now, sleep.               Christine, Sam, Eve, Hannah, Kent, Kaona, and Chuck

From Colombia, With Love – part I

The bags are getting packed.  The plane tickets are being printed off.  We will try to go to sleep early, but will probably lay in bed all night wondering if it is 4 am yet.

Tomorrow a group of seven from Custer Lutheran Fellowship travels to Bogota, Colombia.  Depending on our access to the internet, we hope to provide daily reflections on our trip right here on CLF’s blog.  You can also check out the 2010 Colombia page where you can find a brief itinerary and schedule for devotions.  We hope that you’ll join us in starting your day the same way that we plan to – with story/scripture.  Each of the readings was chosen by a member of the group or are the readings for the Sunday.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and support in this journey.  We’ll do our best to keep you “posted”!

Pastor Kent