Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time. Out.

This house is full of emotion.  
The end of school projects, reports, and presentations.
The understanding that each day we might be doing something or seeing someone for the very last time.
The arguments over who gets to use what technology, and why their need trumps the need of someone else.
Knowing that things will not feel comfortable at "home" for a very long time.
Reflections on struggles of the past, viewing pictures, sharing memories, laughing at Spanglish and cultural misunderstandings.
Turning in novels in Spanish.  Filling up the last pages of Spanish essays and notebooks.
Deciding what needs to come with us, and what we need to leave behind.
The taste of tropical fruit, chocolate, steamy caldos and soups.
An embrace from a friend that lasts just a little bit longer.
A disorderly house full of memories, good and bad.
The light at the park, the smell of eucalyptus, the warmth of piling into a bed together.

So we said, "Time. Out."

We left for our favorite park in Bogota, where there was fresh air, quiet space, and green grass.  And for even just a few hours, all the stress and sorrow just melted away.  The kids fell into their own space,  making up adventures, floating bark boats, working it out.

I took some pictures, but I mostly just sat and watched, and I was flooded with gratitude.



Yes, dear hearts.  You are processing so much right now.  It is hard work.  But remember, the best medicine for sorrow IS gratitude.  And you still have each other.  No matter what relationships enter and leave your lives, the connection you have as siblings will always be present.  Remember these connections, dear ones, and consider each moment you have together with gratitude.

Piano lessons

This year, we have been very lucky to have a piano teacher who comes to our house to give us lessons.  Aaron, Lydia, Andy, and Abby all wanted to learn, so we purchased a keyboard and called Diana Paula.  I loved preparing dinner while listening to the lessons.  I loved Aaron's sincere interest and his commitment to practicing.  And Diana Paula was very patient and kind, responsive to the varied needs in this family.


Scenes from the MCC Colombia Office

Excited for a visit from MCC Alumni.

Working out transition details in the corridor.

Lulo juice.

Luz, who lovingly cooks for us on Fridays.

Abby's favorite carrot salad and salty, buttery arepas.

Beautiful Vilma.

Ely Caro, the money manager.

Shared space with Mennonite World Conference.

A very appreciated library, with books in both English and Spanish covering politics, religion, poetry, novels, and workshop manuals.

My dear office-mate.  I will miss this view.  She will NOT miss my interruptions to her work.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


Andy is now on his seventh sport since we have been in Colombia.  He has thoroughly enjoyed them all, and we are grateful to live in a place where there is so much to offer.  This time, he was interested in tennis.  Before, Aaron and I would have said that Andy was a strictly team-sport kind of person.  He loves the contact and interaction of a group.  But tennis has been really good for him to work on concentration, technical skills, coordination, and personal satisfaction.  He plays on really nice clay courts with a view of the mountains, and while he is enrolled in a class for two hours a day, the first part is almost always a private lesson (because he is so punctual and well, the Colombians are...not).  He is learning a lot and enjoying a quieter sport for a change.

Abby chose to join cheerleading (Porras) as an extra-curricular at school.  This is a new team, and they had a contest to determine their name.  Abby won with the submission of "Star Flyers."  She is one of the older kids on the team, so she is in charge of getting people in order, organizing them, calling out lead numbers, and lifting other little girls.  It is a perfect fit for her.  She loves to learn routines, fit them to music, and work her muscles in new ways (she recently had a leg pain that the doctor says is common for cheerleaders).  I hope these picture make her Grandma Bobbie proud.

Swimming.  The perfect sport for an introvert.  Lydia has been swimming for awhile but recently decided to enroll in the intensive course, which meets four days a week for two hours.  She regularly swims 3000-3600 meters each day that she goes.  She is a very content swimmer, and has learned some good technique, but she does not compete in races, so it is low pressure an relaxing.  And when you are dealing with school anxiety, two hours of swimming is exactly what one needs in order to go to sleep.  Aaron and I are so impressed when we watch her in the water.  She is completely graceful, and very, very muscular.  (Not exactly how we might describe her on land).  I hope she can find a fun setting to continue with this sport when we go back to the U.S.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dia de Latinamericanidad

For the Spring school fair, the primary school each studied a different region of Colombia, and the high school students each studied a different country in Latin America.  

Andy's class had Venezuela.

And Lydia's class had Mexico.

While these projects are usually a lot of work, for both students and parents, I am always so pleased with the enthusiasm, new understandings, and pride that comes from them.

Abby's class studied the Eastern Region of Colombia, where there are plains like Kansas.

Each region of Colombia has its own food, clothing, culture, accent, and dance.  They learned it all, and presented a dance.  (I have to ask Lydia to help me upload the video).

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my children would be learning so much in this context.  And now there is a big part of them that is "Latinamericano."  

They feel at home here. They feel connected here.  Like a sponge, they have absorbed the warmth, pride, and love of this country, and it will no doubt be with them for the rest of their lives.

I found myself wishing that we took the time and effort to really study and celebrate the different cultures in the United States.  It is so much easier to think about what is "American" and what is "Unamerican" instead of really examine and understand the different cultures in our country, and honor their uniqueness.  I am so grateful for knowing this part of my children's identity, and I will try so hard to keep it there.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Semana Santa, 2012

Holy Week is the most popular time for vacations in Colombia.  However, we enjoyed another "stay-cation" with several visitors coming to see us.

Abby designed a puppet show of dogs and hamsters, and our Chilean friend Teri was glad to narrate and direct it for her.  Aaron and I did the sound effects.

We were also glad to have our friend Erica stay with us.

And Elizabeth and Neil came for a Sushi-making lesson/party that was simply delicious.