We’ve been back from Medellin, Colombia for 10 days. So now that I’ve had some time to reflect, and time to put together a presentation on the trip, it’s time to post a wrap-up here on First Free’s blog.
Our team of 12, was a fun and enthusiastic bunch. Steve, Gabbie, Manuel, Kim, Rita, Jeff, Andrea, Isabel, Ruth, Ian, Josiah, and I, had an amazing time participating in this big adventure. We were involved in three main efforts: teaching, work projects, and relationship building.
During our visit to Medellin, our team taught three different seminars for the benefit of CDUC coaching staff. On Sunday evening Steve taught a marriage seminar for coaches and their spouses, which included panel discussions with Jeff & Andrea, and Ruth & I. On Monday morning I taught a seminar on the subject of teaching spiritual life lessons to the players through the lens of soccer training and athletic discipline. Finally, on Monday afternoon, Kim taught a seminar on sound financial principles, emphasizing the Biblical principle of stewardship of personal resources.
Our work projects included the arduous job of clearing debris from a very rocky field to make way for a third soccer field on the CDUC campus. We stayed hydrated and managed to move over 2 ½ tons of rocks and boulders, raking out to level the new soccer field. We also helped to clean out, paint and prepare a new shower/locker room on campus. And last of all we sorted a giant rubbish-heap into piles of reusable metals, woods, PVC pipes, and newborn kittens. We found the 1-week old kittens in a gap at the bottom of the rubbish heap, and made them a nice, new, and safe “cat house” out of some of the scraps.
The best part of our trip was the relationship building! On Saturday evening we met and feasted with the “USA Kids”, a group of kids from the soccer clubs who have lived in the US as exchange students. Then on Sunday morning we worshipped and shared a meal with the church plant in Acevedo Sector. And on Sunday night we served a special dinner to the couples who attended the marriage seminar. Throughout the week our team of 12 broke into smaller groups of 3, each visiting the home of one of the CDUC coaching staff, for a meal and fellowship. And, of course, it wouldn’t have been a complete trip if we didn’t get to play soccer! Throughout the week we visited 6 different sites around the city to join in the soccer practices, play in soccer games, walk and talk with the neighborhood locals, and to share with the kids and coaches our testimonies about God’s work in our lives.
Two unexpected highlights made the trip more memorable than we could have expected.
First, Gabbie celebrated her 23rd birthday on Monday. When she heard that Adriana (a coach’s daughter) was getting baptized that day, she sensed the Holy Spirit telling her “Now is your time too!” So in a wading pool right on the main soccer field, she and Adriana were baptized by Mark. To make this experience even more amazing, Gabbie later found out that her mother (who passed away a couple of years ago) was baptized as a young woman on her first mission trip as well!
Second, Jeff & Andrea’s 15th wedding anniversary was on Wednesday. They came on the trip knowing that any celebration would have to wait until they returned home to Chicago. But when Mark found out about their anniversary, he secretly set up something special. When it came time for our team to gather in the dinning hall for dinner, Mark ushered Jeff & Andrea up to a special outdoor table on an elevated patio that overlooked the soccer field and the city lights of Medellin down in the valley. After they had been seated and started their meal, he dropped an even bigger surprise on them: a live, 6-piece Mariachi Band to serenade them as they ate their celebration dinner.
In so many ways the trip was a success. Our primary goal was to strengthen the partnership between First Free and Mark Wittig’s CDUC ministry, and we hope our big adventure will serve to tighten our bonds of unity.
Grace & Peace,