This has been an exhausting yet fulfilling final full day of ministry in Medellin Colombia. I started the day off by myself having breakfast (which simply consisted of watermelon, cantaloupe, rice and beans, and sausages accompanied by a simple glass of orange juice.

Doug was running late because he was trying to finish with the barrels he is staining for Mi Casa Azul (and he did finish and met us at the theater at 10:30.) Cheri is running late because … well, I don’t know why because, nonetheless, she is running a little late and asks me to bring her a bottle of water and a couple of bread rolls for the journey.

Adam and Pedro meet us on time and Cheri and I head to the theater to present our final messages to the local pastors.

We have been thrilled with the response we have gotten from all of them; this is a fine group of pastors who really seem hungry for God and who seem to want true unity among themselves.

After a brief time of praise and worship, I spoke the first half of my message regarding the rebuilding of the temple by Ezra and Nehemiah … and I related it to stewardship and integrity. (I am not sure how I came up with that other than to say that it was purely the Holy Spirit.) After an hour, I was exhausted and gave everyone a 15 minute break. (The truth is that I had a sinus headache all day long and it just simply did not seem to want to go away. This greatly affected my ability to focus yet I think that the message came across very well [in spite of the pain.]) When we came back, I finished this almost 2 hour long message and was met with great acceptance to the challenges I presented. In fact, there were pastors in this meeting publicly asking other pastors if they could help them by supplying them with teachers and worship leaders. I was overwhelmed by these responses … as well as the ones to commit to one another to trust one another and to continue to recognize the need for one another.

Cheri then wrapped up the meetings with her encouraging words to submit to God’s process(es) so that proper and healthy growth could come according to God’s plan and purpose. It was wonderful that she and I prepared our messages independent of one another and yet our primary focus scriptures were identical. She gave her illustration of a mariposa that comes out of the cocoon too soon and lives out its existence malformed because it had not allowed the development process to come to completion. She then compared this with pastors that want too much too quickly.

When we prayed over the pastors, Pastor Pedro took a few comments from the pastors and they were all overwhelmingly positive and showed signs that the messages had been received and that the challenges would be received as well.

I made sure that Cheri and I got our pictures made with one of the secretaries. She is a beautiful native Amer-Indian woman named Elis who is a prayer warrior. She seemed delighted to have her picture made with us and I am delighted because she is the epitome (in my mind) of what a Colombian looks like.

We then had lunch where I had a grilled cerdo, a pile of brown rice, and an ensalada accompanied by a glass of jugo de lulo. Cheri and I then changed shoes and sent our backpacks to the car with Adam. We then went to a pay toilet. I have to admit that this is somewhat of a novelty to me so I had to go just for the novelty. Of course, the package of individual toilet paper that we were each given was an added bonus. Boy, I must really live a sheltered life to be amused by such.

We then embarked upon the Metra system where we got to see most of Medellin. It was heart breaking to be standing on the staging area and see a homeless man below rifling through the garbage can and taking drinks out of cups that he found there. Then, while riding the Metra beside the Medellin River, we saw shacks that homeless individuals and families had set up from the nearby garbage. (Oh Lord, continue to break my heart.)

I did get to see an iguana sitting on the concrete shoulders of the river bank. Although I was too far away to accurately tell his size, I can imagine that he was 3-4 feet long. That was kind of cool although we have seen iguanas out in the wild in parts of the Caribbean.

As part of our Metra tour, we also took the cable car Metra that goes on the south side of Medellin up through and over the mountains. There were some spectacular and awesome sights on this part of the tour. For instance, we saw the homes of the very rich as well as the shacks of the poor. The mountains are beautiful in and of themselves but the colors that people painted their houses made the tour even more stunning. ( I really can’t imagine how these people got to town and back prior to the Metra cable system.

We then went to the local Exito store (which is like a Colombian Wal-mart) where we bought some candy to take home as well as some pain medicine for our hips and knees.

We then went to Pastor Pedro and Mabel’s home where a beautiful and lovingly prepared supper awaited us. Again, they made us feel “at home.” We have come to love the Hernandez family and even took the time to bless their son, Alejandro, who was in bed battling Dengue Fever. We also blessed them and their home for their Colombian hospitality. Of course, being the gracious hosts they are, they also blessed us.

We then came back to the hotel where we both are sitting with our computers in our laps as we type up notes from the day and answer e-mails.

Then, a knock comes to our door and we open it to find Erika and her husband, Ellery, who are here to tell us “Chao” and to give us “Mi Casa Azul” ornaments to take back home and raise funds for Palabra Pan y Paz.

We love our Colombian families and we are already dreaming of our return trip here. We, in fact, have already been invited to speak in several local churches and in their youth groups. We actually hope to do another pastor’s seminar like the one we have just completed; but this time in Cartagena.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will have time to give some closing thoughts to this trip as we fly back into Chicago.

Until then, know that this has been one awesome time in Medellin, Colombia