There´s a certain tipping point, I think, a subtle shift between when where you are is such-and-such a program, this specific block of time, and when it is simply your life. Because of having 2 months of context analysis as a team, because of our regular meetings and our focus on advocacy, because I have family and friends and comunity far away, I think my mentality about SEED and living here in Medellin has been able to tip-toe that line for a long time. But I think maybe why I´m getting worse at blogging (and some may say at comunicating in general…) is because I´m stepped into that “just living” stage.
It´s not that my spanish is now perfect, it´s not, in fact it´s frustratingly far from. It´s not that I now know how to walk or take the bus wherever I want (although I do have many more routes than I used to), or even that I´ve got a routine (I definitely do not, nor do I think I ever will here…) I think it´s that I can´t quite imagine waking up anywhere else right now, or what I would do if I did.
Still, this is all just an excuse, and a backwards apology for being so out of touch. In any case, I wanted to fill y´all in a little better about what´s been going on here in work and life and lifework.
As you may recall my schedule has been mostly filled with four different processes: work with the Victim´s association in La Ceja, work with “FOAP” the two year organizational strengthening process for churches, work in peace-theology and conflict transformation workshops in a men´s prison, all of which is in the big basket of my overall work helping strengthen the Sanctuary Peace Church network. A few words on each of these processes:
La Ceja– The pattern for working in La Ceja for the church has been to give monthly thematic workshops. Since I´d arrived we talked about trying to push for smaller groups meeting more often so as to create community, re-weave the social fabric, work through trauma and hopefully even gain a skill that can help economically. In January I on a whim invited a woman from my church to join me in going to the first planned crochet group meeting. This ended up being fortuitous as she became the leader and teacher of the group which is now a fairly consistent group of 8 women learning new kinds of crochet and handicraft and meeting every week! This group gives me hope. The rest of the work in the Ceja is still confusing to me.
FOAP- The coolest part of this process so far has been where it´s intersected with the work we´re trying to do with ISP (sanctuary peace churches) in terms of giving workshops on Consciencious Objection status. I got to help lead 3 workshops (two in our church and one with pastors from other ISP churches) on this and then listen in when, during the Regional Encounter of all 6 churches going through this process, a co-worker from Bogota gave a workshop on the legal aspects of consciencious objection in Colombia. I´m excited to see what more we can do on this topic. Probably the biggest impact on my life of this new program is the arrival of Dianna, the main worker hired to run the workshops with all 6 churches. We´re buddies now, and it´s really great.
Prison Workshops– Jorge has started consistently sharing his lunch with me and Alex and his cell block made me a beautiful blue heart-shaped box with my name and a Psalm on it. Working in Bellavista is nuts because you never know when or if they´ll let you in (so we´re WAY behind schedule) but it´s also never boring. We´ve worked through the idea of shalom and justice and looked at nonviolence from the perspective of Jesus and the civil rights movement, we´ve debated reconciliacion and done active sculpting to represent some of these ideas and lastly we used the onion model and conflict tree to do some conflict analysis. It´s sad to think I´m actually almost done– we have to do some work on nonviolent communication, do a debrief of the whole program and think about the future and have a closure party and done. Crazy.
ISPA- Getting people to meetings continues to be frustrating. Honestly, this is the most uphill-y part of my work here, although it is also that which gives the foundation and raison-d`etre of all of the rest of it. As they say here, “Alli vamos…” Here we go…
As far as life in Medellin and work are concerned that´s what´s been keeping me busy. I´m happy to say my social life is also chugging along nicely and I´m getting to enjoy things like the poetry festival and Medellin´s ¨summer¨.
Something exciting coming up is the SEED learning delegation which it ends up I will be involved with as a translator!
If this wasn´t coherent, it might be relevent to note that I´m going to the doctor´s today because it feels like an alien has entered my stomach. Peace to you all!