A Facebook update from Kelly as the group prepares for the return trip from Colombia:
As TCOW 2017 packs up and prepares to head home to Canada today, we do so with full hearts and spirits moved.
Our time in Colombia has been full of laughter, song, work, and tears, but mostly it has been full of love and the holy spirit.
If you believe as I do, that the place to experience the divine is in relationship, then you will see the spirit alive and well in Brisas Del Mar, Colombia.
If you are friends and family of a TCOW 2017 member, here are some things for you to think about before the return of your loved one:
This has been a life changing experience for us, for many reasons. Because of experiencing a different way of life, developing the understanding that those differences, including language, don’t limit the possibility of deep relationship.
Our time in Colombia has been a time of growth and self actualization as we have the space away from our busy regular lives to reflect and gain perspective on the issues we face there too.
Here are some ways to support your returning
If you want to hear about the experience, set aside a chunk of time for this conversation, go for coffee or have dinner together. The depth of this experience cannot be shared in 3 sentences and that kind of elevator synopsis leaves us feeling hollow.
Give your loved one space and time. There is a lot to process, we are still working through it and may not be ready for that long conversation yet. We want to share with you, but we appreciate your patience until we are ready.
Readjusting to life at home is hard, hold space while we figure out how to be our new selves in our old life. We still love you and are grateful for the many privileges and opportunities life in Canada offers, we just need to reconcile our new experiences with our old life.
Support our new ambitions. This experience is about more than a trip, it is about becoming a global citizen. Support us in making changes to improve our lives and communities with our new found passions.
Our deepest thanks to those who helped make this experience happen and those you spiritually and emotionally support us before during and after. And our deepest gratitude to the community of Brisas for their open hearts, hospitality, and for showing us the true way of the gospel.
An update received from Meghan Witzel (one of the trip leaders) on Facebook:
Having the BEST time!!!
What inspiring youth, and what a hospitable community in Brisas Del Mar, Colombia 🇨🇴
Wonderful children and youth and so much kindness.
Taught sign language for MV #26: Your Love is Amazing to the kids.
So glad I brought the guitar. Everyone is playing it, especially the Colombian youth!!
Our flight to Panama left at 9:30 and we were in Cartagena within the hour. We got off the plane onto the tarmac and stood figuring things out under the beautiful night sky in Colombian warmth. We were so excited to finally be here after hours of flying!
We met Juan, our guide, who took us to our hotel for the night and got us all settled in. The hotel is gorgeous and this morning we ate a yummy latin breakfast for which there are no english words! Fruits, cheeses, loaves, eggs, etc.
On to a day of touring the city before driving to Brisas del Mar.
Hello family and friends, we’ve made it as far as Panama! I write this during our layover (which at this point cannot end soon enough), so far it has consisted of burgers and milkshakes, card games, colouring and napping.
The flight this morning went well, everything was on time and finished with a smooth landing.
The group is getting along great with lots of laughs and conversations. We cant wait to meet everyone in Colombia and see what the next 9 days have instore for all of us!
We send love and thanks for the support we have revieved throughout this whole journey!
Lillian for the TCOW 2017 group
p.s. the view out of the Panama airport is beautiful and the weather is lovely!
A quick return note – our flight just left Miami and is nearing cruising altitude. We expect to be landing on time and at the gate in Toronto for 5:31. A number of us were pulled into the secondary inspection area at US Customs (likely because we were on a farm), however that was only a short delay. I expect some of us will have the same visit in Toronto with Canadian customs.
Went out to breakfast at the same place we went yesterday. Today the chocolate tasted much more bitter and was not as good. Everything else was delicious. We got on the bus and went on our way to zip lining. When we got there we got our safety equipment on and headed up the hill to the top of the zip line course. After a emvery/em brief safety lesson we started the course. There was around 10 different zip lines we went down. I went down “superman” style and upside down. Everybody was brave and went upside down on one of the zip lines. (We all still have our limbs). After this awesome experience we went to the Masaya market for some shopping. We bought things for our family, our churches, and ourselves. We ate a quick lunch and then headed back to Managua to go to our host families. Sadly, a few of us had to switch our host families so we did not see the same people as before. We got changed then went to the “Art Games” at Los Quinchos school where other groups were doing their service projects. The Art Games consisted of 3 groups of 3 painters creating a picture in 20 minutes. The winner of their group would move on to the final round where they would compete again to win. We were able to buy raffle tickets to win any of these paintings. Lillian and I won a painting and Harrison won 2! We went back to the home stays and went to bed knowing we had to be up at 4 in the morning.
Woke up at hotel. Then we walked through the town to a restaurant to a restaurant called “Maison de Chocolate” (house of chocolate). Then by 11:00 we boarded two small boats for a boat tour through these small islands close to the shore. The islands (all 300 and more) were created by volcanic eruptions in the 1700s, which is pretty cool. We saw a lot of birds and some monkeys. I got really burnt from that. After getting off the boards we got a bus tour around Grenada from Victor. It is a really nice city it almost feels fake. It feels like we’re not in the same place as we were for the past week. It feels like a facade for tourists. There is no more tin roof shacks and a lot less garbage. After this we had free time. Harrison, Annika, Rowie and I went to the little market in front of our hotel. They mainly had little touristy items like shirts, hats and trinkets. We got Harrison to do all of our bartering for us. Got more sunburnt from that. We ate supper at a fancy restaurant, then we attempted to go salsa dancing, but the hype was more than the reality and we were all out of there within half an hour.
Hola from Nicaragua, I hope you’ve been enjoying the blog posts so far.
Today we said our final goodbyes to the farm. They were very happy to receive all of our donations, and hoped we would come again. After that we it was of to Masaya, where we would all finally get to climb a volcano. Volcano Masaya is actually made out of 4 craters, and one of them has been nicknamed “the mouth of hell” after a large cross was built on the side. The hike to the highest point was hard but the view was amazing. The landscape is so beautiful here. Afterwards we headed to the lovely city of Granada. It was a city colonised by Spain when they came, so all of streets are very narrow, especially with cars. The hotel we’re in is very nice, especially after being at the farm. Two more days before we’re on a place bound for Canada.
Today was or last day of work. Or projects have been completed, the mural is amazing and the other things we have done will make life for the workers and their children much better. I personally have been kept quite busy (not that everyone else wasn’t) today with mixing cement, painting the outside wall of the school house, and cleaning a lot of tools.
While painting, two of the boys who live on the farm wanted to help us paint, so we handed them some brushes and they got right to work.
On the topic of children, they are all very sweet kids and each of them sports a million-dollar smile, and that’s the best part of the trip so far. Interacting with the Nicaraguan people either with the help of Juan or one of the interpreters is a great experience to know more about how people live here in Nicaragua, as well as being able to share things about our lives in Canada with people who have never been there before.
Each day after our contribution to the projects, we have a lesson about some part of the process if coffee production, or just about life here at the El Recreo, and today we had a more interactive lesson by going coffee picking. The lesion started by taking a terrifying truck ride up the mountain to the coffee trees. We tied or baskets around or waists and fought through the yes to pick of as many coffee cherries as possible, which was more difficult than it seems and w was a real eye-opener into the lives of the workers we hear getting on the truck at 4 AM each day to get to work. After picking, we hiked back down the mountain to sort the green and ripe cherries onto a tarp.
Dinner as usual was very good with chicken, vegetables, rice, and (homemade) potato chips. Dinner also was or segue into our final mixer with some of the people who live on the farm. This mixer featured a piñata which was a real hit with everyone who was there. We danced, sang, and then had a nice farewell with the children before heading back to our rooms for the night.
Or time here at El Recreo has come to an end although we will always have the memories! Of to Granada tomorrow!