Unfortunately then came to the last day in Medellín. We spent the morning shopping for presents for our host family so we could show our gratitude for staying there for 7 weeks. In the afternoon we took advantage of Medellín's many salons and went in for haircuts. When we returned we had a bit of emotional evening, sharing food, prayers, goodbyes and tears followed by a quick trip to the hospital for Jordan and Beth after their feet had swollen from mosquito bites. Miraculously, Beth and Jordan were seen quickly, given medicine for free and were back before we had even gone to bed!

Image of Ecuador team retreat buildingThe following morning we rushed off to the airport, after having taken a little too long to get ready, to catch our flight to Bogotá. In Bogotá we met others of the Latin Link team, Pipe, Paola, Fiona, Carmen and Strider Abi before heading off to Melgar for the Latin Link retreat. This was the first time that a Step team coincided with the Latin Link retreat days so we were very excited! We arrived at night, just in time for a midnight swim! It was such a blessing to have such a beautiful house for the retreat, a pool and being able to sleep on real beds!

Image of Step team in swimming poolWe woke up on a beautifully warm morning to a cooked breakfast by Graciela, the housekeeper. It was also Fiona's birthday and throughout the day we sang happy birthday in 6 different languages! Then followed by a devotional on John ch 20, a different passage to normal for considering mission. Abi talked about how God cares about us all individually and about every detail, and then we broke off into pairs and groups of three to pray deeply about the struggles we're going through personally. There was just enough time to have a dip in the pool before lunch in the afternoon. In the evening we had a brilliant cultural night, we played some classic English charades games, followed by some Swiss puzzles, then we learnt a dance to a Brazilian song, and then for the big finale Carmen, Diana and Pipe put on a show of Colombian dancing and some snacks for us all to try.  Of course we finished the evening with another midnight swim, this time tied in with a new version of water polo before heading sleepily to bed.

On the last day of the retreat we headed off for a prayer walk for Colombia. Then unfortunately it was time to say goodbye and head back to Bogotá.  Me (Mel) and Alice ended up on a bus back to Abi’s house alone and when we got to her house we waited for the others. Turned out they had already arrived and were waiting for us inside! Our plan was to head off to Villa de Leyva, our week off resting location that night but by the time we had all reassembled it was too late. We had a cosy night in Abi and Pipe's flat with some takeaway pizza- yum!

Image of Salt Cathedral in BogotaWe decided we'd go to Bogotá salt cathedral and, since it was on the way to Villa de Leyva, we would head there afterwards.  Unfortunately I twisted my ankle on the way down the stairs to the bus before we had even left the area where Abi and Pipe lived. However, we prayed and continued on with our day as it wasn't a serious sprain. The salt cathedral was a former salt mine which the miners had transformed into a cathedral with carvings and sculptures.

Image of lit-up cross in caveFollowing the visit to the salt cathedral we walked to the main street to catch a bus in the direction of Villa de Leyva,  after a confusing set of instructions from a bus driver we ended up taking 4 buses over 5 hours to reach our destination! But thank God that we finally reached our destination healthy and safe, if a bit tired!  

Image of Step team in front of waterfallThe next day we took the opportunity and had a lie in, something none of us had done in a while!  We wondered around the colonial town of Villa de Leyva and enjoyed the cobbled streets and cute cafés. We finished the afternoon by having some time to contact family and having a group devotional on relationships. Our next day was more action-packed, we went to see some nearby waterfalls starting off by zip-wiring into the valley! We wondered around the waterfalls and forest before having a picnic on the hilltop.

Things to give thanks to God for:

  • Again for Arnoldo and Luz, who treated us like their own children and made us feel at home in their family.
  • That my sprained ankle only caused me one day of pain and is basically now fully healed!
  • That we were able to rest and have a good time on our week off.
  • For the Latin Link team who were a pleasure to spend a weekend with and who have given us so much support physically and spiritually. 
  • For Eduardo, Manuel and Jacoba at our hostel who let us change our dates, drove us around and cooked for us.

NB: I haven't done prayer requests as we're a little behind on the reports.