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December 1979 Newsletter
COLOMBIAN CHRISTIAN MISSION
Dale and Jeanie Meade
In the jungle and prairie of Southeastern Colombia
Volume 7, Issue 12 December, 1979
Susy, Alexander, and Wendy pose for the photographer.
Down here it is our rainy season. The kids are in school and it is business as usual in most places. It hardly seems like a proper time to be holding church camps. Yet since we have no regular camp ground or full time staff, we have to hold our camps and retreats when the facilities and people are available. We often use the facilities of one of the churches located in the country. This involves transportation problems, etc. but has the advantage in that it is cheap. Since no one in the church has a car we rely on the local bus transportation. At other times we rent a camp that belongs to the Pentecostal churches. In this case we have the option only when it is not occupied by their churches. The facilities are nice and they let us pay the rent with work. So all of our church camps and retires are held at off times. It is less convenient for the people, but it is better than not having anything.
In July we held a women's retreat at the Paratebueno church. About forty women attended. My wife served as one of the speakers (and drivers) when one of the scheduled people did not show up. It was a big hit and the women are already talking about the next one. This past week it was our turn. We were fortunate to get the camp facilities which are much closer and much better. (Can you imagine 40 women, with only one bathroom?) We took advantage of a long weekend and had a four day men's retreat. I had a Bible study and several of the elders in the local churches brought lessons. We also had a preacher come down from Bogota and lead a couple of studies. There were about twenty men present. I was the only missionary. It was truly a Colombian project from start to finish.
The idea and date had come from one of the elders. A lawyer who is a member of the church then took over the planning. The rest of us pitched in when asked. There were time slots for teaching interlaced with recreation. Since there was no swimming pool or river nearby, we opted for volleyball and soccer. There was also plenty of time for round table discussion. Soccer turned out to be impossible for me. I kept trying to play it like football, and so soon racked up a million fouls. Some notable differences from American church camps were evident. Each person had to take his own dishes and hammock. There was a cook to cook, but we did our own KP. But the spiritual atmosphere was on par with any camp anywhere. The camp ended with a prayer and testimony circle that lasted until midnight. We closed the next morning and headed for town. We participated in morning worship service at the biggest church here in town. Again everyone was already talking about how to make the next one better.
As it all terminated, I had a feeling of satisfaction. I had done very little. My main co-operation had been with my presence. I was willing to do anything on last minute notice in order to make the camp a success. But it was precisely that, because I didn't have to intervene. The Colombian church goes forward as a result of the missionary philosophy which dictates that we interfere as little as possible. We are here to start projects and to train leaders. But we are not here to do everything for them. We want to see a strong national church that can stand on its own two feet. We continually try to work ourselves out of a job. These camps, had they been held in the USA would have hardly been worth writing about. But the fact that they indicate real progress in the maturity and sophistication of the local leaders, makes them a tremendous victory for the work of the Lord here in Colombia. The leaders are seriously considering the purchase of land for campground development. But whatever happens in that respect, the church camp program will go forward. It is not dependent on foreign funds or leadership for its existence. It depends on elders of local churches who have reached a high degree of spiritual maturity.
Our family has increased! Our newest addition is Alexander. He is a 16 month old baby boy. We are in the process of adopting him now. He has been living with us for about a month while the paperwork goes through. If all goes well, the final adoption proceedings should be through the juvenile courts in about a month.
As all newly married couples, we had talked about the size of the family we wanted. From the very beginning we have had the idea of adopting a child or two. After having two girls in a row, we decided that it would be an opportune time to adopt. That way we would be sure that the next one would be a boy! Besides, after eight years of marriage, we still like the idea of adopting. Down here the adoption differs from the States in that there are plenty of children given over to the local welfare office. We went in and made out our application. Within one month they had completed all of the home and family studies. We were then allowed to pick out our new son. After picking him, it took only three days for the juvenile courts to put him in our care. Now the adoption papers are in the final stages of processing. Assuming that there are no unusual holdups, they should be completed within a month. We are really pleased with him and are anxious to finalize the paperwork. So rejoice with us for this new blessing from the Lord!