About 2 months ago I went on an amazing trip to Bogota, Colombia with a group from our church. We got to work with a wonderful group of missionaries from YWAM (Youth with a Mission) who live and work in the Bogota area. It was also really neat to actually work in the building that our church helped pay for through the Bigfoot Comedy night fundraiser last year. The building is used as a play center where the street kids in the YWAM program can come to have fun. We got to add some great play areas in that building, like a rope bridge, a texture wall, hammocks to climb on, a basketball court, and we fixed the rock climbing wall. Also, we got to go out and visit some of the schools and drop-in centers that YWAM helps run for the street kids. It was truly incredible to get to be with these kids, both in the centers and on the streets, and experience a small part of what life is like for them there.
I’ve been on short-term mission trips before, and there are always lessons learned and experiences you take from them. For me, there were several experiences that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. One was seeing a perfect rainbow in the mist over the city of Bogota, a reminder to me that there is beauty in the world even in the most unexpected places. The streets of Bogota are often filled with trash, and the homeless are everywhere, living where they can and struggling to survive. Seeing the incredible poverty, I couldn’t help but compare it to the way we live here at home. We have clean streets, safe homes, and an abundance of food and possessions. We are so blessed, but I know that I was reminded that we must never take that for granted, or think that we somehow deserve the blessings God has given us. We are blessed so that we may bless others. I know that it is good for me to be reminded of that, and to keep a sense of perspective in my life and a sense of gratitude for all God has given me.
For me, the most memorable experiences in Bogota were when we got to meet the children. Each day we visited a different school, so we only got to spend an hour or two with most of the children, then say goodbye. I wasn’t sure what kind of impact we could have in such a short amount of time. However, what we got to represent was simply the love of God for those kids. We were there to smile and hug and show them that somebody cares. And they showed us the same. We helped them make a beaded cross necklace, with each color bead representing part of the salvation message. Hopefully these crosses will remind them of God’s love for them always. These children had so little, yet they were able to laugh and smile and show love. We, who have so much, should certainly be able to do the same.
Going to Colombia was an amazing experience, and I hope to be able to go back sometime soon.