A Recap of My Mission Trip to Bogotá, Colombia
I spent a week in Bogotá, Colombia last month on a mission trip with my church. I love traveling and I love the Lord so I really appreciate when I have the opportunity to do both at the same time. This was my first time in Colombia, my second time on the continent of South America.
Here’s a recap of my trip from the weather to the food to the purpose (saving bodies and souls). I spoke about my experience briefly on last week’s podcast. See that post here –> You Are Richer than You Know.
It was cold
They told us to bring a “light weight” jacket. “It would get cold in the evenings, but it would be warm during the day.” Um, not. It was cold the whole day. I’m especially easily chilled so I was freezing. It was in the 50s every day. Apparently, there are no seasons in Bogotá. It so close to the equator that the weather doesn’t fluctuate much. That seems weird that it would be 50 degrees outside in March, July, September and in December. But that’s what they say.
The food was pretty good
People familiar raved about arepas. We just had to try them. And so we did. I thought they were just okay. I much more preferred the empanadas we had for lunch the last day.
The strangest thing we ate was a sandwich with lunch meat, cheese, and butter. In the US we would use mayo instead of butter. We only eat butter on a sandwich if it’s being grilled.
We ate at a restaurant called Crepes and Waffles twice. Not exactly Colombian food, but good food. They had the most amazing drinks. I tried the Coconut Lemonade and the Spearmint Lemonade. Both delicious.
Chicken, rice, avocado, and plantains were staples. We much ate chicken and rice for lunch everyday. Except the last day we ate beef and rice. It was good though.
Colombia is known for its coffee so we had to make a stop at the best coffee place in all of Bogotá. It happened to be in the bottom floor of a museum. I was being adventurous and ordered the drip coffee. No Bueno. I like coffee, but I’m one of those people who drink coffee in my milk and sugar. I was expecting a condiment bar with creamer and sweetner which didn’t exist. I could have ordered milk, but I passed. Plus, I like a mild coffee. Since I wasn’t feeling the drip coffee I ordered a marshmallow latte. Much better.
Bogotá is so beautiful. It is mountainous. One day we went to one of the highest peaks in the city and looked over the city. We prayed and praised over Bogotá at that spot. That was a beautiful moment.
Es tu cabello?
A group of young girls crowded around me while I was giving an eye exam. They were playing in my hair. “Es tu cabello?” one young girl asked. I could barely make out what she said. “No.” I replied. “Es un extensión!” a young boy answered. “Si,” I laughed, “Es un extensión.”
That was definitely one of my favorite moments.
Another favorite moment is when this beautiful girl came up to me to give me a hug. We had chatted earlier that day (about my hair among other things). Her and her sister had just gotten their nails painted and were headed back home. She runs up to me and hugs me and says something in Spanish I didn’t understand.
This wasn’t a vacation. I was traveling with my church for the purpose of providing medical resources to residents. People were able to see doctors, nurses, dentists, dieticians, and physical therapists. They were given glucose monitors, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. For a lot of people this was the only opportunity that they would have to seek medical attention. Some residents even came to the medical clinics simply because they were hungry.
I’m not in the medical field so my role was to give eye exams. I basically pointed to the letters on the board, but it was super fulfilling. So many people of all ages will have better vision in part because of me.
In addition to medical professionals there was also an evangelism team that shared the good news of Jesus and helped save souls.
Have you ever walked into a room and searched for someone who could be your buddy? Especially if you don’t know anyone? That was my experience. I was the lone African American traveling on the trip and I was one of a handful who didn’t know anyone prior to this trip. Plus, I was added to the team late (I wasn’t originally chosen to go L).
I often say that sometimes we think we’re doing something for God and God is doing something for us. I didn’t really feel like I related to the group. Most of them were good friends with at least one other person. They were in the same age bracket (mid-twenties). They spoke Spanish. I wasn’t any of those things.
What I’ve learned is that I have to find the similarities when building relationships rather than counting the differences even if I have to search a little harder. Now I had many similarities with the group for one we all are faithful servants of Jesus. And two we all go to the same church.
But we tend to identify most with people who share some type of demographic characteristic with us. Ever heard, “people like people who look like them?” Age, race, gender, style of dress tend to connect people first and foremost.
So I’m going to make it a point to find how I do relate to new people going forward (instead of feeling like the odd man out).
Where have you traveled to recently? What have you learned about yourself or life? Have you ever participated on a mission trip? Would you?