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Five Years Ago
by Rachael Ferguson
February 18, 2021

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Looking back

In February of 2016, I endeavored to Colombia for the first time. I wrote the below words when I returned home from my original experience to Brisas del Mar. That experience was the spark to the passion I now carry for the country of Colombia.

February 18, 2016….

As I sit in the comforts of my living room this afternoon, taking a few hours to recoup from a beautiful trip, my heart and thoughts are drawn to the moments from the last 10 days. The comforts of our every day life were not so easily- or honestly at all- available. And really, I didn’t even miss those “comforts.” I am trying to find the right words to capture the emotions and thoughts which now are engrained in my head and heart.

Words and pictures are not going to do justice for the experience. However, I want so much to share with you all what I have learned.

New perspective

It is a bit strange to come back to a world where everyone’s life has gone on in the same fashion, and I come home with a completely new perspective. When others haven’t shared in that, explaining it is difficult. My hope is that my new perspectives will bleed out through my words, my actions and my love and they can then have a little piece of my newfound perspective.

There were new foods experienced, the heartbeat for speaking the Spanish language reignited, exhausting construction work being accomplished in unique ways, muscles strained, sweat dripped, laughter had, tears shared, love expressed in levels unexplainable, comfort zones broken, service in ways I’ve never known, and bonds of friendship made.

I went into this experience not knowing anyone on my team . I have left the trip with a few of them becoming some of the closest friends I have ever had. Yes, in part that comes with experiencing something so unique together. It comes from the bond of love and servanthood and vulnerability. We rarely find those qualities in the every day normalcy of our competitive world. I never worried about traveling with people I didn’t know. However, I had no idea though how much I would bond with them. I never felt not good enough or bottom of the barrel, as is my experience in the normal routine of life. We were all there to accomplish the same task, we were all there serving a purpose, and I felt embraced.

Part of the culture

While my skin was so white you could probably see me shining, and the kids loved when I compared my skin to their blanco (white) beads on the craft they made with us, I felt part of their culture and their home from the get-go. I never felt out of place. I worried about recalling all my Spanish, but I LOVED speaking with them in conversations. They taught me words I didn’t know, and I would swap English words with them. I used extra-long sentences a lot, but they understood me in the end. I had (almost) forgotten my passion for their culture. Rediscovering this was wonderful.

Our leaders emphasized to us that flexibility was the key. We had to exercise this countless times! In fact, to be quite honest, I gave up trying to figure out what was happening the next day (which is so contrary to the planner in me!) I learned to just enjoy whatever was going on in the moment. We had to change things nearly every day because of one reason or another.

 If I had to pick one word to sum up the overview, it would be LOVE. I have never seen such love given and expressed. I have never felt so much love. They have nothing, but they really have everything because they know love.

February 16, 2021

Five years have passed since that first trip. That moment in time changed me forever. I had no idea then that my experience there would turn into running a non-profit foundation to benefit those very communities , going back to school to study Spanish, and traveling across the country of Colombia. We all have gifts and skills, I am no one special. I simply desire to serve those lesser than myself, to help be their voice, and to keep learning through it all. The people of Colombia teach me about life constantly. I’ve now returned eight times since that first trip, and I will be returning once again in March to see the launch of the Luchadora program.

Dreams are a crazy world in which we can live them out by taking them one step, one day at a time. Never say never. And when you think it might be the craziest idea you’ve ever thought- then it probably is a good one to go for and dive into head first. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know, and I just want to keep learning.

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