Seasons’ Greetings to all my readers


Scotland is wonderful but it can’t compete

with Colombia in supplying me

with a steady stream of ideas for this blog.


And this is a time of year for living in the real world

not the virtual one, so I am going to take a break

from blogging until around mid-January.


Thank you for reading this blog,

for all your encouraging words,

for re-posting, for commenting, for appreciating,

and for all your support of my work in Colombia.


Have a wonderful festive season,

and see you back here in 2013.

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Behind the curtain


This has been an eventful year, with many, many challenges,

but with many, many blessings:


I kept well and safe.

I travelled thousands of miles, without major incident.

At work, we were able to produce 6 series of lessons

for use by 7 children’s clubs.


How was that possible?


Well, tonight I got a little glimpse behind the curtain,

meeting with a group of people who have prayed for me

every Wednesday for the last year and a half.


An unassuming little group, but full of spiritual warriors.

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Everybody drives a safe braking distance from the car in front.

Very few houses have Christmas lights visible.

Everybody looks enormous,

but that’s maybe just because

I am sharing a flight with the Glasgow Warriors Rugby Team.


At night I can hear absolutely nothing.

No screeching of brakes.

No firecrackers going off.

No dogs barking.

No bins been moved in the early morning for the recyclers.

No music.

Not a single sound.


When I go out, I don’t need to think about taking ID.

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New normalcy


Over the last few years I’ve travelled out of Colombia

and found it quite a traumatic experience.


After checking in and clearing security,

there was always another thorough security check at the gate.

Sometimes there were drug sniffer dogs,

and always someone was taken away for questioning,

I wasn’t smuggling drugs, but I felt terribly guilty!


Leaving Colombia this weekend

(I’m in Scotland for a month, by the way)

there was nothing like that.

It was like leaving anywhere else.

It was like leaving a normal country.

It was great.

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Remembering Armero


I am in Bogotá for a wedding

and on the radio in the taxi from the airport

I heard the most extraordinary story:


They were talking about the tragedy of Armero in 1985

when more than 20,000 people were killed as a consequence

of the eruption of a volcano called the Nevado del Ruiz.


Her voice breaking, a mother told of leaving her son in her house

with the maid, and returning later, after mudslides hit the town

to discover the house was gone.


So far, so tragic.


But the mind-boggling part of the story

was that this mother received word on more than one occasion

that her son had survived, only to find that there was no trace of him

when she arrived at the place where she had been told he was.


It seems that many children survived the disaster

and were given up for adoption to families outside Colombia,

rather being reunited with their families.

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Conversation in a taxi (6)


The conversation begins with the taxi driver

telling me that he had a heart attack three months ago.


He tells me about the ins and outs of his care,

his battles with his health insurers,

the disagreements his doctors have had about his care

before finally telling me that his cardiac rehabilitation

will start the next day.


Three months after his heart attack!


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What I have discovered


In other times of my life

and in other places

I have lived fairly tranquily,

and I have seen turbulence

as something to be endured

to arrive at a renewed period of tranquility.


But in Colombia there is no tranquility.

No day is like any other.

It may be because something great happens,

or something terrible, or just something unusual.

But there is no normal, no such thing as an ordinary day.


There is no enduring of turbulence

to achieve tranquility.


There is only embracing of the chaos.

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More Strange Concert Going Behaviour


Taking small children.


Taking small children with colds.

I’m going to cough now, daddy.


Taking small children and giving them noisy drinks and snacks.


Taking small children and allowing them to rock back and forth

on the theatre seats.


But at least they left at the interval.

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