The team left Bogota and arrived safely in Fort Lauderdale this evening after a great week of ministry in Colombia. We were welcomed by our three volunteer drivers, Scott Bradley, Jeff Elmore and Bill Belcher and driven back to SRC. Thank you drivers!
Praise God for a safe and fruitful trip!
The indigenous leaders from the Vaupes region with Pastor Leonel and Pastor Fabio
On our final day in Mitu, we started with a church service at the school where we held the clinic close to our hotel. The people from Pastor Fabio’s church in Mitu came along with the indigenous leaders and their families who had come from the jungle villages.
The service started with singing hymns along with special music sung by the leaders. It was great to see Servando playing the guitar we had brought as a gift and to see three of the other leaders wearing glasses that were given to them by Patricia the eye doctor at the clinic (thanks to the Lions Club for donating 300 pairs of recycled glasses). Almost one hundred people were given glasses during the week and that alone will make a huge difference in their lives.
Pastor Fabio gave a great message including the bad news and good news of the Gospel and what it means to be sealed by the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirt for all of eternity. Pastor Fabio was very emotional as he thanked the Lord for bringing the mission team to serve the indigenous people that are the focus of his ministry in Vaupes.
We had one last group photo before saying goodbye to Pastor Fabio, Diana and family along with Pastor Leonel, Belgica, Dr. Gigliola, Dr. Claudia and Dr. Luce who were staying in Mitu to spend time with Fabio and family until the next flight back to Villavicencio on Tuesday. We gathered up our luggage and took several means of transportation to the airport, some of us in the back of a police truck and even some on motor scooters. It rained a little on the way to the airport so some of us were wet as we checked in our luggage and waited for the flight to Bogota. As we took off we once again looked down on the winding Vaupes river and the dense jungle vegetation surrounding Mitu.
Luca dances with Natalia Baron
After arriving in Bogota and retrieving our luggage we took a shuttle to our hotel near the airport. We found very nice rooms with AC and hot water, very different from our accommodations during the past week in Mitu. David and Claudia Baron with daughter Natalia had arranged a bus tour of their home city of Bogota including a wonderful dinner at a restaurant overlooking Bogota. We had some great food and a little dancing to traditional Colombian music before heading back to the hotel to pack for the trip back to Fort Lauderdale on Monday.
We had a great time of fellowship and ministry in Colombia and Lord willing will come back again to work with Pastor Leonel and Pastor Fabio.
Team photo outside the restaurant where we ate our meals
Today we slept in and after breakfast went on a tour of the locations where Pastor Fabio has his ministry to the indigenous Cubeo people who live in the Vaupes region. We hired several 3-wheeled motorcycle taxis to take us around the city.
The first stop was to see the piece of land that was donated to Pastor Fabio to build a church building. The land is located not far from the center of town and has access to a well to provide water for the site. Pastor Fabio’s church is currently meeting in his rented home.
Next we went to the location where Pastor Fabio is building a mini-hotel with six rooms on the first floor to rent out to guests as a micro-business to help support his ministry. The second floor of the building is a residence for Fabio and Diana and their two sons, Nathan and Jeremy. Fabio is hoping to move from the home he is renting into this building sometime in July. The site has a well to provide water for the guests and Fabio’s family and is on the Mitu power grid. Fabio is awaiting funding to complete the six rooms below. This land is the site where Pastor Leonel lived with his family years ago and first started his ministry to the indigenous people of Vaupes and you can see the original building where they lived at the back of the property.
We next visited Fabio and Diana’s current rented home which is also where the church is meeting. Fabio also allows the leaders visiting from the jungle villages to stay in rooms built at the back of the property. We saw the eighty year old man who had been fitted for glasses and he was very pleased with his ability to see clearly again. We also saw several of the indigenous leaders and their families who were staying there before returning to their villages in the jungle.
After lunch we went for a boat ride on the river in two long boats (each made out of one solid piece of wood) with outboard motors. We went down the river and up a smaller side river and saw one of the villages there. On the way back we stopped at the Cubay artesan village where we saw how they make clay pottery and woven pot holders. It was very interesting to see the craftsmanship involved in making this unique looking pottery and the woven thatch holders made from materials found in the area. The pots were colored by rubbing different colored leaves from the jungle plants.
We went back to the hotel and took a brief siesta then went to dinner. After dinner Diana presented us with gifts provided by the tribal leaders we had been working with all week. Many of them are also craftsman and they gave us beautiful woven baskets and the women were given “man-catchters” which are woven tubes that you put your finger in and pull tight. We had a great time of fellowship with Leonel, Belgica, Gigliola and Claudia along with the dentist Luce and the eye doctor Patricia and her son and assistant Andreas. It was a great way to end our time in Mitu.
Team photo following the “Awards Ceremony”
Today was our last day of clinic and VBS and it was a busy one. After breakfast and a devotional at the restaurant (waiting for the rain to stop so we could walk back) we started the day with a variety of crafts and activities for the children and a full schedule of patients for the doctor, dentists and eye doctor.
There was another round of Nancy taking pictures and Heather, Susan and Linda showing the kids how to make frames. The children made personalized beach balls and played with them. Luca and Robin led them in several games including a spirited “three legged race” and other Mitu-lympic events. Rita shared another Bible story in Spanish with the children.
The clinic once again saw many patients with the dentists (Dr. Claudia and Dr. Luce) set up in the local dentist office up the street. Dr. Gigliola had another busy day with Leonel, Belgica, Pastor Fabio’s wife Diana and Claudia Baron helping with check in and serving coffee and snacks for the team and kids. David and Juan alternated between the clinic and VBS helping with translation.
In the afternoon, Juan gave a presentation on the importance of pure water for health and hygiene and then Craig took the tribal leaders through the steps of constructing a bio-sand water filter using plastic containers and sand, rocks and other materials that were available locally. Today we also saw the results of yesterday’s soap making workshop and each leader was given a piece of soap to take with them. I see a couple of potential business opportunities in the future.
We finished the day after dinner by hearing a couple songs performed by the tribal leaders. Then Dizzy the clown performed her magic act and Gospel presentation and delighted the children. Then it was time to give out the clothing outfits that were prepared for each child by name by the Lord’s Closet team. We also gave clothing gifts to each of the leaders and their wives and a special gift of wireless microphones was given to Pastor Fabio to use in his church. The evening ended with the “awards ceremony” where each person was given a medal commemorating the trip with “Spanish River Mission 2013″ engraved on each (thank you Tom and Mary Ann Souza of Personalized Experts for suppling the medals).
Team photo on the river bank directly across from our hotel.
Today we started off the day as usual by walking a few blocks to breakfast at the restaurant owned by a member of Pastor Fabio’s church. The town of Mitu is pretty small so you can go anywhere on foot. There are very few cars in town so mostly the traffic is bicycles, motor scooters and three-wheel motorcycle taxis. After breakfast, Pastor Fabio lead us in a devotion about witnessing for Christ by meeting physical needs and showing love for the people.
The clinic was busy as usual as people had previously booked appointments throughout the day. The dental clinic was moved to a local dentist’s office a few blocks away after having problems with some of the rented dental equipment (the local dentist provided the portable rental equipment also) which actually is a better place for the two dentists to work (Claudia and Luce). The eye doctor was kept busy by many patients who have needed glasses for years but could not afford them. One man who was eighty years said that he had glasses about twenty years ago but no longer wore them because they “stopped working”, He was fitted with a pair of recycled prescription glasses provided by the Lion’s club.
In the VBS, the big news was the bag of craft supplies finally arrived from Bogota on the plane that brought Claudia Baron and Natalia to Mitu from Bogota (David’s wife and daughter). We were happy to welcome them to the mission team and happy as well to have the craft supplies as we were running out of material for activities. Luca and Robin led the kids in a game of tossing water balloons as one of the events of the Mitu-lympic games. Linda and Susan were face painting, Nancy took pictures while Heather lead the craft activities including making picture frames. The rub-on tatoos were also very popular and Rita shared a Bible story with the children in Spanish. Dizzy the clown also made an appearance, sharing the Gospel with magic, translated into Spanish and Cubeo, the local tribal dialect.
In the afternoon, Luca, Robin and Susan led the soap-making workshop where they taught the key tribal leaders to make soap from materials found in the area. One leader in particular, Celestino, was very interested in possibly making and selling soap to other villagers since commercial soap is expensive and greatly needed for hygiene.
In the evening we spent time with twelve of the tribal leaders who shared about the villages where they had traveled from (some walking or riding in a canoe for ten hours) and about their ministries in each community. It was very encouraging to see how God is using these men to spread the Gospel of Jesus in areas where witchcraft is widely practiced. We can now better understand the hardships and struggles that these men and their families face on a daily basis.