September 2021. It is always interesting when you return to a place you have been before to see what is the same and what is different. Sometimes what you remember the most and has the fondest memories, is no longer there, so you have to make new memories or realize it can never be the same again. There is nothing like being in the countryside of Colombia though for that sense of peace and relaxation that co-existing with nature can bring. It is sad to see so much deforestation and "progress" that has been taking away a lot of the green spaces, but it is still as beautiful and lush as it once was in many places.
COVID has changed many aspects of life but we all can learn from what has happened and adapt in hopefully new and better ways. School is school (as it is everywhere) so the challenge becomes being the best influence you can where you are with what God has given you to make a positive difference. It is amazing how much you can see within a short distance from where we live, for example, our monkey friend above! Not just every hiking trail has howler monkeys and tropical birds overhead.
It has been great to have a classroom that is a window to nature every morning. The students are the wildlife in the afternoons (jaja) but the birds sing a pleasant song outside each morning before the controlled chaos begins inside. I never get tired of hearing the flocks of parrots overhead and every once in a while, I can see one up close. We like to take drives in the countryside on the weekends and we found a new place that was a fun weekend trip. We went to Recuca which is a scenic coffee plantation featuring a cultural tour, a coffee experience & a traditional eatery. You can see below the pictures from the motorized "villages" that told the story of coffee and the Jipao or Yipao, the Willys jeeps that are used for all types of agriculture and merchandise transportation. Steve is even out picking coffee! If you find yourself with nothing to do in December, come and enjoy the Alumbrados which kick off the season of Navidad. This video gives you a good idea of what you might see. There is something every season to enjoy here in Colombia!
August 2021. As we settle into a somewhat comfortable routine here in Colombia, I find I am asking myself what my purpose is here for God. I am not the most patient person so I often have to be still and listen and know that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, including what I have been created to do here.
We, of course, are always on the outlook for our feathered friends! The Glossy Ibis and the Caravana birds like to hang out in the cow pastures. The Blue Necked Tanager likes to flit about in and out the trees outside my classroom. The Buff Necked Ibis is a migratory bird that usually is found in Peru but we have seen them quite often this month in the cow pastures and valley near our apartment building.
The school here in Armenia has a nice campus with an open concept so my classroom has a balcony that looks out on a beautiful view of the countryside. So we look forward to what is to come and hope that we can be a positive influence and learn and share with those that we meet!
July 2021. We are back home in Armenia after a 10 year jaunt around the world that included Guatemala, the US, Honduras, China, and South Korea. If I said it was like returning home I wouldn't be lying because it truly is. We have gotten the science of moving down to an art and can make it work anywhere with ten suitcases between us. The trick is in being able to actually navigate the airports and destinations obstacles with the luggage! Armenia still has the small town country charm that we love with friendly people and lots of birds and nature.
View from our apartment balcony. People waiting to get the vaccine on every corner. The luggage awaits its next assignment.
The more we travel the world, the more I can see the parallels to heaven. I know that may seem strange to some, but I have found that if you look at each place we have been, we have left behind parts of ourselves, but once we are gone, it doesn't really matter because what is important is what is ahead. Each place had its purpose and lessons to learn, but there is always more ahead. As much as people say they will stay in touch, it is hard and truly "out of sight, out of mind" becomes the norm and that is okay. People need to live in the presence and apply anything good that others have shared when they were there.
We always look forward to the next place as it is a new adventure with unknown elements and challenges with the excitement of something new and different. I think heaven will be like that journey and be better than I could have ever imagined it, the last stop on our travels, a final destination that will be all that and more. When God is done with me here on this earth, I look forward to being taken to the that place without having to worry about what my baggage weighs.