Friday, February 21, 2014

Emerald- Home Away From Home

Ecuador was a short side trip I took during the beginning of my stay in Colombia. It was time to go back to my home away from home. Colombia had felt like my second home in the time that I was there and even to this day I miss the life there. It is very exciting, and in a way a little dysfunctional, but I absolutely loved it! There were parts however that did not feel like home at all, in reference to the comfort zone of an American. It was quite the experience. I'm sure many others who have served in other countries can agree that sometimes you have to give up a level of comfort. To me, it just added to the fun of it all! For most of us living in Florida, it is unheard of to live without air conditioning. We truly feel we will die without it, but actually this rumor is false. I assure you, you could survive. This was just one of the discomforts to put up with, though. But remember with sacrifices, always come blessings. I had the privilege of visiting a little island very close to Cartagena almost every weekend. You have to take a little boat to get there. The area is called Bocachica. This isolated territory has no running water so we had to take a bath from a bucket, wash dishes from buckets of water, and transport water from buckets for other little things as well. Experiences like this help you to see how much you take for granted living in the comfortable homes of the USA. Despite the heat and having the feeling I was never truly clean, I had the best sleep of my life there. I went to bed every day with a smile on my face. It was a result of the weekend spiritual adventures I would have there. Walking in the sun all day in service or conducting various Bible studies from early morning till late at night on that island. During most of the meetings there was only one brother, and us sisters had to help out in the reading. There was a lot to do there! Maybe it doesn't sound like a lot of fun to some, but trust me, it was! This was genuine hard work, and a true jewel made up of happy memories.

Kingdom Hall at Bocachica

On my way by boat

One of the sisters that travels to this island
every weekend to support the preaching work there.
It is her congregation's isolated territory.

Thought this was funny. Definitely not in the
comforts of USA.

Inside the Kingdom Hall. 

Studying with the children

This is their sound system and the sister in charge of it :)

Cooking in the 'kitchen'

Saying goodbye

This is another Kingdom Hall on the other side of
 the island. It is another territory. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Turquoise- A Taste of Paradise

When I was in Ecuador, it was like I had a preview of paradise. Coming from the states, you can definitely live like a queen, with a modest income, and the preaching work is just amazing there.  It is just gorgeous! In that one week I felt like I was in a dream. Walking through the places our huge group went, I would stop, look at the beach, and just be in awe that I was there. Life there is very calming and simple. The feeling was so surreal that it is hard for me to explain in this blog. I truly felt like I got a taste of paradise. I went with a group of brothers and sisters from Colombia. We made the trip there because, at the time, it was the only English convention in the area, so the English group from CTG was zoned to go there. We were able to visit Guayaquil, Puerto Lopez, and Puerto Cayo. So we pretty much stayed around the coast. After the weekend of spiritual food we enjoyed what it seemed like a week long party! With many gatherings in these different cities and some adventurous bus rides, it was all just so much fun! Many compare this time to a mini international convention because there are so many there from around the world. Overall, this trip was a real gem in the sense, practically all of the brothers and sisters that I had met are truly serving with their whole heart, whole mind, and whole self for Jehovah. You hear of  the experiences, the sacrifices, and of course the blessings. I saw in many ways how Jehovah truly takes care of those who put him and his Kingdom first. This opened my heart so much and pushed me to be even more motivated in his service. Seeing many examples of missionaries, special pioneers, regular pioneers and even other publishers with a zeal that is very hard to find in other places. There are many many many "need-greaters", so you just feel the high spirit constantly. They are so focused but yet know how to have fun. Most of all, I got to see how much a person can truly sacrifice for greater things. That no sacrifice is truly too great compared to all the blessings that are received in return.

Arrival in Guayaquil

English Assembly

Group from Cartgena, Colombia

Enjoying the night after the convention

Visiting Bethel

Service with beautiful scenery

Whale watching!!! Awesome experience!

Our mode of transportation? Why not!

We learned the hard way what are the best bags to
 use when traveling :P

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Emerald- The First Adventure

Colombia was the first country, the first jewel, of my adventure. As of right now, it is the place where I spent the most time during one stay. I was in Cartagena, Colombia for about 5 months. Cartagena is on the coast, on the side of the Caribbean sea. Many people probably hear of this city as one of the most beautiful to visit. Well, it is beautiful, not just for the scenery and the people, but for the spiritual treasures that I was able to experience as well. One thing that I have learned, is that there is need everywhere, but how amazing it is to be in a country where almost everyone loves and respects the Bible. Where you can take one step outside of your house and start a conversation with your neighbor, or the person sitting next to you on the bus, the people in the market when you buy your groceries. Anywhere and everywhere they will listen. I can tell you now, I took advantage of every opportunity and had more Bible studies than I thought possible. Every day I felt I was on an adventure. This was when I really started to see how a lot of effort can go a long way. Cartagena was the first place I was able to live this dream, a pioneers dream.  The congregation that I assisted is called Manga, which also has an English group. I was able to participate in both Spanish and English activities. Cartagena is truly an amazing place to sharpen  up your service skills, since it can be very diverse. I was able to speak to the rich, the poor, the Colombians and the foreigners. Being adaptable is a must, especially when your dealing with different cultures (mainly American, European and Hispanic).
Cartagena View from Castillo San Felipe
Service in the center of the city. Where we find the foreigners ;)
On top of the Cartagena Walls
Service by the ocean
Some of the girls in the English Group at the time
One of the many studies started in CTG.
 I would always have to catch her bright and early!! 
At an assembly with some of the friends.
Manga Congregation
I was able to visit the only Chinese group in CTG while I was there as well.
This was before I even knew how to say Ni Hao! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jewels that are a part of me

I may not have traveled the whole world.... yet, but with every place I have been able to visit, it seems that I leave with something special, a treasure, a jewel, so to speak. I'm not talking about anything material, because for sure, after every trip I take, when I return, I'm even more broke than before. No, I leave with a jewel that stays in my heart forever. From meeting new friends, working as hard as ever in service, experiencing different cultures, to just having fun, I have learned so much! My view of my life, my service, and my world, expands and helps me to see how I can do even more. I hope to share some of these jewels, that have become a part of me, with all of you.