From November 11-21 I was in a whirlwind of workshop, project visits, and MCC retreats. The SEED program is structured so that every 2-4 months we get a chance to visit a different SEEDers projects and do some kind of workshop on a pertinent theme. Sometimes we get to bring one representative from our “socio” or partner organization; this workshop was just such a time. (Which, among other things, means I had someone with me when we went to the wrong airport initially and almost missed our flight…) The theme of our workshop was the role of church in society. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I heard anything new, but the experience of seeing all my friends talking about their work and interacting with their work partners, getting to know them, and seeing the parallels and perpendiculars in our work was an extremely valuable experience.
In our time as just SEED we had the opportunity to each give a 15 minute update on how our placements have gone, our struggles so far, our communities, etc. One common theme was that of cultural adjustment, specifically related to how work is done and what level of punctuality is expected. (This not only from North Americans, but also city-dwelling Colombians, really most people…) Beyond that, there was a theme of lack of infrastructure and physical struggles from folks on the Atlantic Coast and Choco (No, it’s not easy to live without electricity, cellphone signal, travel accessibility and VERY limited food choices), political/violent tension from Cali/Choco and the various struggles of city living for the Casuca girls and myself. There were also the personal struggles that are linked to who we each individually are. Having too much time alone is not a problem for everyone, roommate issues, long-distance relationships, computer problems, all of these and more we had a chance to be sounding boards and supports about. And then we kept playing guitar, kept cooking, kept making each other laugh with the idiotic things we’ve done (Well…really mostly just the idiotic things I’ve done…it’s my special gift. Ex: Going into a store to ask where “Calle Parariba” is, not realizing that “Para arriba” is not a street at all, but rather a way of saying “Up that’a way!”…my most popular “Man, you’re dumb” story) For me, this time of being together, just us, in the miraculously-cozy apartment of the two SEEDers in Casuca’s apartment was a time of great renewal and joy.
The MCC retreat was also a good reconnecting time with the whole time; the highlight unarguably being the 48 hrs in which I got to play cards, listen to Christmas music, decorate a tree, make decorations and cards, use glitter, play soccer, sing, eat Turkey/stuffing/pie, and generally be of good cheer! I have since bought a modest string of Christmas lights to remind me the spirit and reason of everything. (Yes, everything.)
And then it was time to go. And that was hard. Because the truth is, friends, I do have friends and places to be here in Medellin; there are a lot of things that are really good; there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work…but it’s still not home, it’s still not easy, and my work is best described as a slow and awkward struggle up a worthwhile hill.
It’s been a crazy week being back so far, hence the not-so-thought-out update, but I wanted to at least let you in on what last week was about before launching back into the world of Medellin and my work here. And really, I just wanted to remember and share how meaningful and important it is for this program to be done in a team, to learn from each other, carry each others’ burdens, and encourage each other in the continued walk.
Today, for example, is the International Day of Nonviolence Against Women, something I also need to share about. Stay posted.