Time to go (español abajo)

A couple of years ago I began to have a sense that my time in Colombia was coming to an end.

And now it is.

All being well, I’ll be returning to Scotland in just under three weeks.

So now I am living in a strange twilight zone of the end (for now) of a 10-year adventure, torn between wanting to savour every moment and wanting it all just to be over!


Hace dos años empecé a sentir que mi tiempo en Colombia se estaba acercando su fin.

Y ahora mi tiempo en Colombia casi se terminó.

Si todo va bien, regresaré a Escocia en un poquito menos de tres semanas.

Ahora estoy viviendo un tiempo extraño del fin (por ahora) de una aventura de 10 años, con sentimientos encontrados: el deseo de saborear cada instante y el deseo que todo se acabe ya!

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I have just come back after 12 action-packed days in Guatemala. As usual it is the miniature that charms me:

1. Boy in the street: Where are you from?

My friend: From Colombia.

Boy: Cali, Bogotá, Medellín, James Rodríguez.

2. Me, to young woman vendor of handcrafts: So how has your day gone?

Woman: Really well, thanks be to God.

Me: Lots of sales?

Woman: Oh no, I meant my health.

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My Father’s Care

Today I need to pack for a 12-day trip and attend to some stressful things, so I was glad this fallen bird reminded me of Jesus’ words:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (Matthew 10:29).

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Amazing growth

A couple of years ago I visited a friend who lives near Medellín, in a slightly cooler place. I stole a cutting from her garden. It quickly produced roots in water and flourished when I potted it up.

My flatmate says it has a lot of personality because when it needs a drink, it flops melodramatically, and then perks up as soon as it is watered. For the horticulturalists among you, I think it is a variety of the Iresine plant, or bloodleaf. In Colombia, I think its popular name is  corazón de Jesús, or heart of Jesus.

I started giving cuttings to my colleagues and eventually my boss had the idea of filling an empty space in the grounds of the seminary where we have our offices with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that original cutting.

We have now planted out almost 20 plants and more are on the way.

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The heart of art

Months and months ago, I sat poised over my keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. My task that day was to write a drama for children about the context of the giving of the 10 Commandments (we are nothing if not ambitious here at Vive!). The point of the drama was that the people of Israel were liberated from their oppression in Egypt before they were given the Law, a fact that the commandments themselves highlight. (Identity before behaviour, a key idea in the New Testament, too).

Anyway, I had the idea of an Israelite family talking about the Law and remembering the events of the Exodus while leafing through a family album of photos (anachronistic, I know). I imagined a family at one side of the stage and a huge “photo-frame” at the other, which would be uncovered now and then to reveal “frozen” actors, representing some part of the story (the oppression in Egypt, the Exodus, the first hard days in the desert). At one point, the actors would unfreeze and come out and act some more of the story.

Fast-forward to today. I was scrolling through photos of this year’s circus and there it was, the idea I had all those months ago, working, on the stage!

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For a few weeks last year, I posted the flags of countries that had been affected by terrorist violence as my Facebook profile picture in an attempt to remind us that the countries that are suffering most grievously are not in Europe or North America. I appreciated the response I got in comments, likes and tearful faces.

But this week, I realized that outrages were happening everywhere and I just couldn’t keep up.

There were the attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel and Save the Children in Afghanistan, car bombings in Libya, and, closer to home, the massacre by unknown assailants, of seven people in Yuramal, a town 75 miles away from Medellin.

So, I am going to leave the flags to one side for now, but hopefully not my heart.

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