Latest News from Colombia

News from Rev Rick Edwards, Moose Lake United Methodist Church, Minnesota.
A third Moose Lake mission team trip to support the work of the Methodist Church in Colombia was completed in January 2012. The group focused chiefly on completing two schoolrooms at the Vista Hermosa secondary school in Brisas del Mar.
Please note prayer points at the end of the report.

Our trip went quite well, though there were but six of us on the team.
We completed the roof on the two schoolrooms and filled the cavities inside the foundation walls up to floor level. (Exhausting work in the heat, that!)  The day we left they were preparing to pour the concrete slab floor. It’s been left to another group to do the interior finishing, the hardware, and the exterior paved sidewalks. The mayor of San Onofre had apparently been shamed by our undertaking to initiate another three classrooms with public funds, though they stood there unfinished.

When the rooms are finished, they’ll be able to carry primary and secondary education all the way through graduation. Upper level students from another nearby village are to be brought to Vista Hermosa, too. The school still needs help with ESL (I’m guessing English as a Second Language), and I’m bent on organizing a small group of ESLers to take there for 2-3 weeks to work with all the teachers.

We visited a Zenu community near the town of Palmito, further inland and near Sincelejo. We worshiped with them and found them a warm and welcoming group. The Methodist congregation was launched 18 months ago; there is a resident pastor (brother in law to pastor Enrique in Rincon del Mar) whose living conditions are primitive–there is need for a decent house for the man and his family.

We visited the new community well in Brisas del Mar; while we were in the area Bishop Cardona came to organize teams to install water mains and taps in various parts of the community, and to give the water tank a good cleaning. We found construction master of the works John, with helpers, finishing a couple of apartments behind the Clinton Rabb clinic for staff.

It was a good experience.

Last Saturday I attended a team leader training and picked up some tips on organizing that should help me avoid the US$6K deficit from this last trip. I hope! I’m working on raising the funds to pay this down so we don’t jeopardize the other work of the Colombian church. At the moment, I expect not to launch another team this year but to do a more thorough preparation and hope for two teams in 2013.

Bishop Cardona, on Jan. 26, our departure day, was hosting a meeting in Cartagena under CLAIC auspices, to organize a human rights accompaniment to be based in San Onofre. There will be rotating teams staying there for three months at a time to protect local human rights workers against assassination.

Pastor Enrique is organizing a second congregation in San Onofre made up entirely of displaced farmers who are hoping to return to their land. He needs help with transportation of these workers to and from Sincelejo for court appearances and visits to government offices involved with restoration of titles.

Please keep all these undertakings in your prayers, along with team members David, Beatrice, Janice, Will, and Carmen. Carmen, by the way, just underwent surgery to remove a benign cerebral tumour

Grace and peace, Rick Edwards