Being a missionary kid has given me the opportunity to travel to many different places around the world: Mexico (2 years), China (1-1/2 years), and Colombia (6 months). Our most recent trip took me and my family to Medellin, Colombia where we worked with street children. During that time, many relationships were formed that will never be forgotten, and many events that took place affected me and how I see the world today.
We went planning to house-sit for a missionary family that was returning to the United States on furlough. We had no idea of the menagerie of animals and the amount of responsibilities that awaited us in our new home. That was our first surprise. When they left with two of their dogs, we remained with three dogs, one cat, three parakeets, two canaries, two roosters, ten chickens, twelve guinea hens, and five doves, along with a pool and a seven-bedroom home to take care of. I learned how to catch and confine chickens to a coop each night, while keeping an eye on the roosters waiting to attack! I chased one rooster up and down the street after it escaped, eventually catching him, and watched one of the parakeets, on his escape, fly right into the mouth of our guard dog. That was the end of him!
Our second surprise involved the weather. When we arrived, we were told that it was the rainy season, so we weren’t surprised by the daily afternoon downpours at first. But after three months the downpours continued. We quickly realized that it always rains in Medellin, and life must continue even in the downpour. Being located in a valley of the Andes Mountains, the rains rush down the mountainsides, turning roads and pathways into rivers that must be forged. Arriving soaked was not unusual!
The organization that my parents worked with rescues children, between the ages of six and fourteen, from the streets . The children are helped educationally, spiritually, and physically. There is also a boys farm located outside of the city where the boys live and are taught vocational skills. In addition to this work, the organization helps families in very poor neighborhoods where cardboard and tin homes are built on top of the city dump and up the side of the mountain. These families literally fear for their lives when the rains threaten to wash their homes away. In addition to our work with the organization, I had the opportunity to get involved in a youth group whose focus is to share Christ with others and to live exemplary lives. Through my involvement, I became friends with many Colombia teens and their families. I still maintain these friendships today.
My overall experience in Colombia broadened my view of the world. After seeing such extreme poverty, the destitution of street kids living on drugs and prostituting themselves, and the city’s efforts to recover from the drug cartels and the guerrilla, I was amazed by the people’s resilience and joy for life. I realized how fortunate and blessed we are here in the United States. My life will never be the same. This summer I returned to Medellin and stayed three weeks with some Colombian friends. The youth in Medellin have taught me a lot about passion for a cause and compassion for others. What I have seen and experienced with them has definitely affected my life and my future goals. I want to live my life with passion and compassion also. In the future, I want to return to Colombia, my second home!
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