Last week, Susie and I enjoyed a long weekend in Virginia. We spent that time with some friends (the Grizzles) that we have known for over 30 years. They invited us and a number of other people to their retreat home called the Bellfry. Even with seventeen of us, there was plenty of room at the Bellfry. The home and its rustic setting were perfect. It is nestled in the foothills outside of Lexington, Virginia with beautiful views, hiking trails, a labyrinth, and more. The home itself had plenty of bedrooms for everyone, a dining room table large enough to accommodate everyone, and food that made us want to gather around the table frequently.
The group consisted of people who are involved in one way or another with the Amistad Mission. Other than the Grizzles and the director of the Amistad Mission (Chris), I had met none of them before the weekend. Generally, I am not great at warming up to new people. This group, however, was easy to become friends with. That may have been due to where we were (the Bellfry and its environs), the special people in the group (such as Father William, the founder of Amistad), and the common cause we all cared about (Amistad, which is Spanish for Friendship). I came away, however, feeling that there was more to it than that. This week’s sermon at church may have provided me with the answer. Pastor Doug spoke on John 15 which includes the parable of the vine and the branches as well as Jesus’ exhortation for Christians to be known by their love for one another. Christians are called to “abide” in Christ as branches rely on the vine for nourishment. That abiding should then lead to us loving one another. While that has sadly often not been the case, that is very much what I felt during this weekend. It was a group of fellow Christians, trying to better abide in Christ and in so doing being able to love one another. Most of us left talking about ways to get together again in the future, whether in the cities we are from, a reunion at the Bellfry, or in Bolivia. I am looking forward to it.
I came away from the weekend with one other thing I wanted to do--tell about my trip to Bolivia. A year ago, I spent two weeks of my company’s seven-week sabbatical program in Cochabamba, Bolivia with the Amistad Mission. The time I spent in Bolivia at the orphanage that Amistad runs had a real impact on me. As much of the trip was outside my comfort zone and outside my control, I really had to rely on God rather than my skills, my resources, and my technology. I also learned to relax (at least a little bit) and just enjoy simple pleasures like playing basketball with the children.
I’ve included a couple of pictures here from my trip. The picture above left is of Zulma on her favorite perch. The one on the right is of one of the girls from the orphanage dressed up for one of the Stations of the Cross performed by the children on Good Friday.
I put my journal entries from that trip into blog format. Since I can’t figure out a way to list the entries with the oldest first, start from this entry and then use the links on the right to navigate the entries in chronological order. While it may be more than you want to read, it will hopefully give you a bit of an idea about my trip. Maybe it will even encourage you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and control.