President’s Blog: 13th February 2023
This week I have been trying to catch up with the backlog of emails and jobs which have accumulated whilst I was in Colombia and have also been trying to process what we have learnt from the many different experiences. Many things were planned but there were the unexpected items that added colour to our trip. I am going to tell you about two of those.
We were hosted by Yassid, from CEPALC:
‘an Ecumenical NGO which works exclusively for the impoverished sectors of Colombia in defence of their rights and dignity, training them in the management and appropriation of means of communication and in the construction of values of peace and justice, following the message of active compassion that Jesus taught us’.
Yassid took us up a rutted track to visit a Zenu (Indigenous) Community Radio Station. The BBC it was not – it was no bigger than half a garden shed! They had been given a grant to build the radio station to serve the Community of San Andres and had a transmission figure of 70,000, transmitting from 5am to 7pm. They recorded items about striving for peace and justice as well as items about climate change and gender issues and through our interpreter, Sandra Lopez, was able to have a conversation about the work. Suddenly a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was ‘on air’ with no indication of what I was to say. I was totally unprepared. Somehow Sandra and I muddled through, telling them about my project and the Sustainable Development goals which linked with their aims.
The second took place in the town of Sincelejo, on the Caribbean Coast. Bishop Luis Andres Caicedo Guayara, Sandra, Michael and I were looking for a restaurant to have our evening meal. We entered a restaurant which looked empty. The tables were not laid but someone came to take our order. As we looked round we noticed that there was one table with birthday decorations and as we waited for our meal, the guests began to arrive. It was a young lady’s birthday and we watched as they celebrated. Suddenly the door of the restaurant was flung open and four men who formed a brass Quartet, dressed in their traditional band costumes burst in playing ‘Happy Birthday’. We were then treated to a concert of traditional songs and music. As if this were not enough for an unexpected night’s entertainment, a young man rose to his feet and proposed to the Birthday Girl! We waited with bated breath until she recovered herself and finally said ‘Yes,’ to thunderous applause! It was an evening to remember.
God of surprises, be with us in the challenges of the unexpected and help us to delight in those situations in which we find ourselves sharing in the happiness of others. Amen