The SPICE trip to Colombia was an amazing experience. The first week of our trip consisted of going to classes during the day and going on guided tours throughout the city in the afternoon. We also had the privilege of staying with host families during our time in Medellin which added to the cultural experience. Whether it was getting a homecooked Colombian meal, conversing with our families, or even joining in on their nightly gatherings with other family members, we were able to find out what a typical Colombian life is like.
On Saturday we went to the city of Guatapé. Guatapé is a major tourist attraction with a large rock that visitors can climb. After 700 steps you reach the top and are surrounded by amazing views of the surrounding man-made lake. After the climb to the top we went to the downtown area of Guatapé, which had a vast array of restaurants, gift shops, and other stores. The buildings in the downtown area were painted a variety of colors and it was amazing to walk around and take in the beauty of the city.
On Sunday we went to WELS’ sister church in Medellin, which is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Church of Colombia. The members were very welcoming to us. They have two pastors, Pastor Tony and Pastor Henry, who have received instruction from our synod. This was one of the most valuable parts of the trip because we were able to see what worship is like in a different cultural setting. There was more music than what we are used to in the states. Later in the day we split into groups and went with different church families to eat lunch. This was a great experience to have because we were able to talk about our faith and see that even though we have cultural differences, we are all united in the same faith.
On Monday of second week we decided as a group to go to Comuna 13. Comuna 13 was a community that used to be run by cartel groups. In 2002 the police ran an operation to overthrow these groups, and they did so with violence. Throughout the years the community has changed and now is a tourist attraction. The history of the community is displayed by the graffiti that covers the walls. This trip was special because it showed us the history of Columbia in a way that is distinctly Colombian.
That Tuesday we went to Parque Arvi, which is equivalent to a State Park. During our time there we walked around the trails and took in the sights. The best views were traveling to and from the park when we used the metro cable system to get there. Later that night we had lessons to play Tejo which is the national sport of Colombia. It is like Cornhole, but the biggest difference is that Tejo has explosions. If you ever find yourself in Colombia, playing Tejo is a must!
Our final 3 days in Colombia we were in the city of Ibagué. While in Ibagué we went to Cañon del Combeima which was a nice hiking trail. We were able to see more amazing views of Colombia, on the way we came across a stray dog and decided to name him Luther. For our next trip in Ibagué we went to cascades near our hotel where we were able to jump off rocks, swim, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The last thing we did in Colombia was have a worship service with members in the Ibagué area. This was such a neat experience because we were able to come together once again with fellow believers. Talking to one of the members, Maritzabel, we found out that she came to learn about Jesus through the Academia Cristo resources. When we talked to another family, we found out that they started coming to church after Maritzabel’s kids talked to her kids about Jesus. It was incredible to see how the Holy Spirit had worked the gospel message in such an amazing way.
The SPICE trip will greatly help all of us in our future ministries. We all grew in our ability to speak the Spanish language since we took a Spanish only pledge. This will possibly help us to minister to Spanish speakers in our future ministries. We also learned what a Hispanic worship service is like, which could be beneficial in our future ministries. The biggest takeaway I got from this trip was the fact that there are many people who still have not heard the gospel message. This trip showed me why we need to have an evangelistic mindset to ministry, and to give thanks to God for all those who have faith in him.