Travel Experience - My Family Travels


Three Years Later


My entire life has been a travel story, part of my history that will forever be improvised on my heart. It was not painted by just an experience, but by a new language, a culture, a foreign people, a life sacrificed and replaced by the reality of fear, danger, kidnapping, and drug trade. I was taken away from “me,” who I was and the present I knew; my shadow stayed in the United States, and my identity suddenly became one North American girl amidst 11 million Colombians. At age 14, I took the longest trip, not just in distance or miles, but in time away – three years.

            Suddenly I was forced to speak Spanish and to understand Spanish. My freedoms were taken away, and I couldn’t drive or travel alone because my being North American made me a target. Schooling was small and limited, and I learned to survive alone. Soon I found that I couldn’t rebel or deny the experience, everything there and then would determine my future and who I would be. I couldn’t ignore my family and my purpose, nor the friends and people I left behind. My saving grace was accepting my circumstances and finding passion for where I was. Being in Colombia for three years was the path in my life that I couldn’t miss. No longer was I just a North American, I was Colombian too, and I fell in love with a country, a home, a people that were not my own. People impacted my life by letting me into theirs and by not caring about our differences or our backgrounds.

While there, I attended a church for a year and a half, and then one day, even though my Spanish wasn’t fluent, they gave me the opportunity to be part of the worship team. Families after that started inviting me into their homes to spend the weekends, so I didn’t have to travel alone between cities, from my home to church. The women cared about me and mothered me, daughters became my best friends, and the sons liked me for something real, for my heart. Such trust and immediate love, acceptance and friendship left permanent imprints on my way of thinking, my viewpoint on the world, and my outlook on life.  Even when I was depressed and lonely, the mountains and the way the sunlight shone upon the wooden houses scattered on the mountain, the tumultuous, constant rain pounding upon the dirt streets, the busyness of the Transmilenio (subway above ground) and the businessmen and women, housewives, and maids in the streets and in the neighborhoods, made Colombia perfect and beautiful. One thing I will always remember is working at the national police headquarters with my parents teaching English, and working in two small towns, Sopó and Suba, to build a children’s church and a church for poorer, lower-class families who have found happiness in the midst of hardship. The little children, who hung their arms around my neck and wouldn’t let go of my hands, touched my soul as they loved me immediately and wanted only to know that someone noticed them.  Such people transformed my heart, and as a result, every detail made Colombia my home, part of me.






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