In the genre of ‘best barbershop’


You might remember I once had a photo of the week

of a little establishment that called itself ‘the best barbershop’.


Well, on my way to work I saw this sign:

Colombia’s first healthy café.


Granted, a lot of Colombia’s most delicious snacks

are incredibly unhealthy, deep-fried and sugar encrusted,

but there is plenty healthy food to be found,

so I suspect there is just a little bit of hyperbole being employed.

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Roughing it


One of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ key policies

is the provision of 100,000 free houses to poor people.


Tonight (Friday 26th April) he has promised to sleep

in one of the apartments that is going to be handed over

to new owners tomorrow.


I am going to sleep there

and I am going to take a shower there,

and I am going to check the quality of the apartments myself,

he said.


With presidential elections next year,

it’s populism, pure and simple, but I like it.


I wonder what they put in the fridge for his breakfast?

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And God saw that it was good


Remember this?

Well, the first clubs to receive that series of lessons

have now had their outings in the countryside

and they seem to have gone well.


The coordinator of one club, a biology student,

led the children on a nature walk,

pointing out flora and fauna as they went along.


This may not seem much to you,

but I was thrilled. In a context where the Christian faith

often seems to be reduced to making sure you get to heaven,

it’s great to think of children understanding the truth

that the world is a beautiful and fascinating place,

a place about which they can be endlessly curious,

and which they can enjoy to the full.

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When I was on the Coast I had the conversation

I always have with new people:


No, I don’t have children,

and, no, I am not married

(always in that order)

and, yes, I would be happy

to meet someone,

but really, looking around,

being married is no guarantee of happiness.


Yes, said the person I was talking to.

In fact, I would say that 80% of marriages are unhappy.



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Another child


A little boy went to one of our clubs

and went home to tell him mum:

I want to go to that church.

They treated me like I have never been treated before.

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The only two exceptions


April is tax month here,

and a foundation I am involved with

had to present its books to the authorities,

as did thousands of other businesses and charities.


The rules are very clear:

you will be fined if you don’t get your papers in on time


1) your premises burn down


2) your legal representative has been taken hostage.

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Unsung heroes


The more pastors I meet on the Coast,

the more impressed I am with them.


Often they are humble people,

without much education,

who dedicatedly serve their communities,

making themselves available to their congregation 24/7,

often having to weep with the many who weep.


But others are highly educated,

sometimes with qualifications in other spheres.

They are people who could be making good money

working in the city, but who contentedly

spend their lives serving in the most isolated

and out of the way places.


Maybe it’s a waste in some people’s eyes

but not in God’s economics.

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What the Pastor said


On this last trip, I met one of our great friends on the Coast,

a pastor who is in charge of scores of churches

in an area very much affected by the conflict.


Sister Fiona, I think you are getting fat, he said.

I know, I replied, but then I have been on the Coast for five days

(=eaten lots of rice!).


No, no, it’s good that you are fat, he went on,

It means that people at home will know

that you are prospering here in Colombia.


I am prospering here in Colombia

but I would rather not get fat to prove it.

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What the chlidren said


Part of what I was doing last week

was taking part in the evaluation

of one of our newest clubs.


We always ask the children what they think about the club.

This time they said what they have said everywhere else,

that they love playing and they love singing.

They don’t like getting told off.


I ask one girl of about ten or eleven

if she had gone to the children’s activities in the church

before the club was started and she said she had.


Have you noticed any difference since the club started? I asked.

Yes, she said. Before it was sad and now it is happy.


And the children are voting with their feet.

Before the church had 7 or 8 children, and last Sunday there were 68.

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