A Wonderful First Day of Unleavened Bread

Trip Start Apr 06, 2017
Trip End Apr 24, 2017

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Flag of Colombia  , Antioquia,
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We did not jump out of bed as soon as we awoke today as it was a Holy Day, and we only had one service in the afternoon. We did some reading in bed first.  Then we decided to have breakfast, and then prepare for the day afterwards.  We had the same for breakfast as the day before.  We enjoyed watching a dove that was walking around looking for something to eat.  We didn't dare give the bird something to eat, as then it would draw some other birds that are not as quiet and serene as the dove.

We returned to the room and I showered and then wrote my blog.  Scott returned e-mails and then went to the gym in the hotel to walk on the treadmill. He must walk every day, several miles, to keep his health challenges in balance.  It is nice to be able to walk on the treadmill instead of having to negotiate the traffic on the sidewalks.  We had a morning that was a little more relaxing than most mornings.

At noon, we decided to go next door to McDonald’s for lunch.  I ordered the Caesar Salad, and Scott had the Salad Granaja (which had farmer’s cheese and mixed vegetables).  We made sure to say "no croutons" because of the Days of Unleavened Bread.  While Scott waited for the salads, I ordered two cappuccinos in the Café Express area.  Finally, the salads arrived about the same time the coffees were ready.  We decided to take all of it back to our room as it was very busy and noisy in McDonald’s and not at all conducive to relaxing eating.

After eating, we gathered our bags for church and went down to the lobby to wait for Mario G.  We found a bench outside on which to wait.  Mario G. was several minutes late; he said “the last two blocks took 10 minutes.”  Such is life in another of Colombia’s densely populated cities.  I asked Mario G. several questions about his flooring business on the way to church.  His favorite type of flooring to install is Teak.  He likes it because it has a lot of oils in it that naturally preserve the wood.  We talk about the nature of doing business, and I found out that he has the same type of problems that we had when we were in business; customers are late in paying, employees show up late or don’t have money for gas, etc.  We decided that human nature is the same no matter which country one is in.

We were the first to arrive, but everyone else soon followed.  I set up my flute for the hymns and offertory music.  Scott went over details for the service. I then did a sound check with Mario G.  Maryory arrived and she had a surprise for me—a handmade friendship bracelet.  I told her that Scott was going to be jealous, and she said, “Oh, I made one for him, too.” Scott has several bracelets he wears that have been given to him as personal gifts over the years. Since he pastors Colombia, these mean a lot to him, and remind him of those that are distant from us at times…yet close to our hearts.

Mario G. was the song leader.  Though we had inquired weeks ahead of time if Mario G. could lead hymns, we found out that he had actually never done it before!  It was a little bit of an education session during services, but since we are not here at other times to train the men, sometimes this is how we have to do it.  Immersion by fire!  Sink or swim!  Mario G. was a good sport and he got it done.  Scott led from our seats so Mario could follow his movement. Mario G. led songs, did the sound, and gave the announcements.  Maybe he will have to ask someone else do the sound when he is leading songs; it would make it easier for him.

Scott gave the sermon--La levadura, un vistazo más de cerca! (Leaven, a Closer Look!) He gave specific examples of five different types of spiritual leaven.  After services, we were informed that several people wanted to be anointed, each for different ailments.  Because up until three days ago, there was no elder in Colombia and getting anointed was a bit of a challenge.  Anointed cloths were sent and Scott had given several to our assistant each time he came on a visit. We make anointed cloths available, but it is not the same as being personally anointed when there, although God equally recognizes both.  Scott ended up anointing eight people—all but two people in attendance, not including Scott and me. This was a record on one visit to a congregation for Scott!  I made a comment saying that after all our prayers were answered, we were going to have a very strong and healthy congregation in Medellin.

We chatted for a little while, and then we were informed that Mario G. had driving restriction until 7 PM.  It was 5:45 PM and everyone was prepared to sit with us and chat.  We asked if there was a restaurant nearby, and found out that there was a Kokoriko’s (fast food chicken restaurant) about two blocks away.  I knew this restaurant would accept credit cards, have food we could eat, was not too expensive and should have room for all of us.  We invited them all out to dinner.  Scott and I like to do this, as people love food, and we can sit and talk for hours once our bellies are full.

We walked the three blocks to the restaurant.  The only “problem” was that the restaurant was in the middle of downtown where there are LOTS of people going every which way.  The brethren made sure to put Scott and me in the middle of the line to “protect us.”  We stick out like “sore thumbs” as they say.  We walked slowly as we had Maryory on crutches and a couple of elderly as well.  After being very vigilant about our surroundings, we finally arrived in the safety of the restaurant.  We went upstairs where there was more room and less people traffic.

They put the tables together so that all 12 of us were at the same table. Zuli was very helpful to us, making suggestions of what we could eat that did not have leavening, breading, or ham.  I ordered a chicken breast, French fries, and a salad with lettuce, tomato, and avocado.  Scott had chicken wings and the same salad.  Everyone else ordered similar things.  It was a very unifying experience to eat and talk together. We shared food with one another so nothing is wasted.  

I sat next to Oliva and I asked her about her first contact with the church.  She said that she was a Catholic and she had asked a question about the book of Revelation.  The priest or a friend of the priest gave her a copy of La Pura Verdad which had an article about the book of Revelation.  She really liked the magazine, and wrote for more information.  She got every booklet that she could.  She, and her mother, and her two sisters all studied the material.  After four years she received a visit from a minister, Pablo Gonzalez, and they were baptized in 1970.  They had services in the home of her mother for years afterward.

I also talked with Blanca Nubia about plans for the Feast.  Blanca is a physical education teacher for children age one to six.  With this age group, activities have to be exciting and fun.  Blanca has a lot of new and fun and exciting idea possibilities for the Feast.  I asked her to write me a letter with all of her ideas so that I could consider them better.

When we finished eating, it was 7:30 PM, so now the driving restriction was off.  We exited the restaurant and were met with even more people on the street. It was like New York, but less organized. We tried to stay close together in our attempt to cross the street to get taxis for some.  While we were waiting to cross the street, Scott was bumped on one side where his cell phone was and also felt someone trying to open a flap on his attaché case.  He had been aware, so he hit their hand very hard with his fist, his shoulder into the other and nothing was lost or taken.  He appreciated it as Mario G. stayed closer to him to help if needed.  We crossed the street, and Oliva and her family all got in one taxi, and Gloria and others got in another taxi.  That left Mario G., Zuli, her mother Melba, and Scott and I to walk to the salon.  Melba hooked her arm with mine as “security.”  We walked the two to three blocks and breathed a sigh of relief when we entered the parking area. We are considered easy targets.

We loaded up in the pickup and we were off.  We drove to Zuli and Melba’s apartment, and then headed to our hotel.  We reminisced about the day and evening.  Mario G. said that everyone was happy about the day, but they are sad because we are leaving.  It is difficult for us, too.  We care for all of them as a shepherd cares for his sheep.  We give Mario G. a big hug when we arrive at our hotel.  We say “good bye” until next time.

We decided to stop at the restaurant for a refreshing drink and some strawberries for Scott.  There is a special treat for the hotel guests this evening.  They have a pianist and a singer performing relaxing Spanish Jazz music.  We sit and relax for ¾ of an hour, but we have to be up early in the morning, so we retire to our room to prepare for bed.

I notice that my throat is a bit scratchy so I take some vitamins to help ward off any sore throat or cold.  A good night’s rest should help too.
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Judy Averill on

I enjoyed reading about your trip. Keep up the excellent work! We have had a good start to these special days and now we are looking forward to the rest of the days. Take care. We pray for your health and safety. Love, Judy and Jim

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