Mission in the middle

Posted on October 22, 2012 by VMMissions Staff

Always remember what you have been taught. Don’t let go of it. Keep safe all that you have learned. It is the most important thing in your life. Proverbs 4:13

If I were to tell you a story of Colombia, would you choose to hear about our runaway kitten that was secretly replaced by a concerned neighbor, or about the time we went swimming in the Amazon River and fled the water when something bit our friend’s leg and drew blood? Would you like to know how the sunset and moonrise look in the llanos (plains) when your back relaxes into warm pavement in the middle of a deserted highway, or how it feels to hear someone whisper into your ear through a hug, “I came to know the Lord because of you?”

Two years ago my husband, sons and I were preparing to leave our community and farm in Virginia to serve in La Mesa, Colombia, with VMM’s tranSend program and Mennonite Mission Network. It was an exciting and frightening time for us. In my journal two weeks before our departure I wrote, “When will this cease to feel surreal?” Oddly enough, now that we have been back in the States just over a month, I am asking myself the same thing. What seemed so intimidating and unfamiliar two years ago now brings feelings of love and longing. Colombia.

When people ask me how our time in Colombia was, I tell them we got to know small town life in a way that would be hard to do in the U.S.

While we learned what Colombians did for safety in the midst of a political context of ongoing violence in remote regions and high levels of internal displacement, we, like most other La Mesa residents, had a relatively peaceful life in a community where people know who you are no matter where you go. We walked to school, church, and the grocery store, and stopped to talk to neighbors along the way. We played group games in the streets at night without fear. We formed deep friendships, explored diverse regions of the country, and were challenged and grew into new ministries and new ways of being. From our Colombian sisters and brothers we learned the high value of relationships and how to maintain them with intentionality.

Finally, we came to understand mission as living God’s love in relationship, wherever we are. In that light, we know that we continue in God’s mission even as we resume life on our dairy farm. For where God’s love and human relationships intersect, we have learned to want to be in the middle of it.

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The Witmer family and their Colombian friends say goodbye in the airport.The Witmer family and their Colombian friends say goodbye in the airport.
Photo courtesy of author

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