So, we went to a lot of cool (and not so cool) places, and we did a lot of fun (and some not so fun) things. We learned and experienced A LOT. However, all of that can still leave us void and leave a meaningless impression if it wasn't for all of the amazing people that we met and the relationships that we developed on the way. The awesome thing is, that no matter where you travel or how far you are from home, all you have to do is connect with others in the Body of Christ to immediately know you are among family. Your family as a believer in Christ is more than just biological, it's more than just who you're married to, it's more than your local church, it's more than your intimate small group. It's worldwide. My favorite part of traveling is meeting and worshiping with and serving together with my brothers and sisters in Christ who live in another country, continent, and speak another language. So let me introduce to you the "family" that we met and connected with on our journey back to Colombia.
We got in late our first night, so the very next morning, we met our first new friend, Zayde. Zayde works for the ECALI English Institute that is connected with El Camino Academy. She and I had corresponded very formally via e-mail, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she lived just a few floors up from our apartment and had a daughter just a year younger than David. She invited us to a meeting the following day at a coffee shop so we could meet the other teachers that we'd be working with. That first connection that day turned into an amazing relationship over the weeks that followed as she began to understand our story and she shared their own story of an adoption that didn't work out. We not only worked together for the next three weeks, but we traveled to many places with her and her family, including a nearby town called Chia, her own local church, a cookout at a nearby church (which was divinely orchestrated for us to be at) and a weekend retreat at a Colombian paradise. Her huge heart and generous spirit just blew us away. God provided her with the job at the school when she most needed it, and I couldn't think of a better person for the position because she REALLY takes care of her teachers that come from abroad.
We went to the meeting the following day at the coffee shop, and there we met Andrew (a college student from Chicago, originally from Hong Kong), Kelly (a young single missionary from the Chicago area who was still fairly new in Colombia, who just happened to have studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina--just like me!), Angela (who was my amazing aide in my class of pre-k and kindergarten), Diana (who was the director of the summer school program, with the absolute sweetest heart ever), and Melody (another young single missionary from Moody Bible Institute, originally from Peoria, Illinois). Soon after that meeting, we later met Stacey (a newlywed from Montana who shared a lot of common physical features with me, so we called ourselves sisters), Hannah (a grad student from Wheaton who was finishing up her Master's degree in teaching English as a second language, and who had studied abroad earlier in Uruguay in one of the cities that I visited during my own study abroad experience), and Roger (a long-time missionary in Colombia who works with a disabled ministry, but who was also serving as the P.E. Coach for summer school--he grew pretty fond of David by the end of our stay. Roger even came over at 5:30 in the morning on our last day just so he could pray with us before we left). Once school started, we got to know Kathleen (a long time missionary in Colombia who raised her 3 sons there, along with two Colombian daughters, one of whom she never got to officially adopt) and Lilian (the lady who taught the art classes for summer school). We developed a wonderful relationship with all of them, several of whom have now read my book and got to get personally involved in our story. Kelly, Hannah, and Andrew all went with us on our retreat to Apulo, so we got to connect on a pretty personal level with them there. I miss them all already, but thankfully the internet has kept us in touch since we came home. :)
In addition to our coworkers at school, we also met Susie (who Julian has been living with since February), Maria Victoria (the neighbor who invited him to join their prayer group each week), Albita (the lady who has been discipling Julian, who unfortunately is battling cancer right now), Fery and his wife (a famous Austrian man who married a Colombian and adopted 3 older siblings from Julian's orphanage and lives near where Julian lives), and Mercedes and her daughter Carolina (who God used to continue to reveal Julian and "Juan's" story to us). We also had the privilege of being reunited with our dear friend Claire that we met last year (who has since moved to Medellin, then spent two months in India, and was coming through Bogota' for a day on her way back to Medellin), Jen (who was Claire's roommate a year ago, but now lives alone and had us over for dinner), Julian (who was with us from the moment we arrived at our apartment until the moment we left) and our precious "Juan" (who was overjoyed to see us and spend time with us).
All of our time would have been meaningless had it not been for all these wonderful people that we had the privilege to get to know. We are eternally grateful.
- I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother. Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing. Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.