Late last year, someone involved with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) here in Alberta approached me about the possibility of taking part in a “pastors learning tour” to Colombia in the spring of 2012. Initially, I was a little hesitant. I didn’t really have the resources to consider international travel and I wasn’t sure about the security situation in Colombia. I was, of course, very interested in the opportunity to travel and learn more about a country I know little about, but still, the trip seemed like a bit of a longshot to me when I was first made aware of it.
However, over the past few months I received some fairly persistent encouragement from a number of people both in my local community and through MCC Alberta. I have also been very generously supported and encouraged to participate by my congregation. So, to make a long story short, tomorrow I am heading off for a ten-day trip to Colombia! We will be heading out from Calgary at an obscenely early hour on Saturday morning and arriving in Colombia around 8 pm or so local time. We will spend four days in and around Bogotá and then head off to visit a few rural communities on the coast. Our trip will conclude with a touristy day in Cartagena before flying back to Bogotá to head home.
And what will we be doing, exactly? Well, learning. We will be learning about the country itself, about the Mennonite church’s presence there, about various peace and justice initiatives connected to Mennonite organizations (Justapaz, for example), about communities whose members have been displaced due to various conflicts that have taken place throughout the past half-century or so in Colombia (La Violencia, being the most well-known). We will be visiting schools and meeting with MCC workers. We will be worshiping with Colombians, hearing their stories, and expressing our unity and solidarity with them as followers of Jesus. We will be learning about these and many other things, no doubt! It promises to be a very stimulating, challenging, and rewarding ten days.
At any rate, I thought I should at least explain why this blog will likely be very silent over the next 10-12 days or so. I don’t anticipate posting here while I am in Colombia. I may throw up a brief post at some point depending on whether I have the time, the internet access, etc. More likely, though, I will not. For those who are interested in tracking the tour, MCC Alberta has set up a blog for the learning tour which can be accessed here. I will probably be one of the contributors posting occasional updates—again, depending on things like time and internet access. There’s not much up on the site yet, but hopefully we will have the opportunity to add content and photos to keep people up to date as the tour progresses.
So, ¡Adiós! ¡Hasta pronto! I am looking forward to a great trip, and look forward to resuming conversation here when I return.
MCC USA has designated April 15-16 as Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia. The theme for this year’s event is, “A Place to Call Home: Hand in Hand for Peace in Colombia.” For more information and resources, click here.