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Barranca Visiting

I asked the eye glasses vendor, "Are you a Christian?" after I saw his New Testament. He humbly said, "I am trying to be." He then went on to tell me "I left my first wife and children five years ago for a woman of the street, who I learned was into a lot of bad stuff including Satan worship."
The vendor continued, "I was only able to leave this bad relationship and the influence of this woman, after I got the help of the prayers of some friends a month ago. I am now praying and working to straighten myself out with the help of the Lord and a church. I hope to be able to go back to my children. I am a trained psychologist and here I am on the street selling glasses."

I showed him my CPT photos and told him and his two friends about our CPT work. I ask him, "Would you like a copy this Peace Pilgrim pamphlet that has been a help to me in my journey?" He answered, "Sure I'll look at it." He then after reading a few pages remarked, "This is good." We just really connected in our 20 minute conversation such that he and his friends insisted that I have three banuelos [fried dough with cheese] and a pop on them. We agreed to be praying for each other. Say a prayer for Alfonso, Leon, and Jon.

Ten days later I went back to visit Alfonso, Leon, and Jon again, and just as I was saying, "I'll see you," Leon said, "Wait a minute Jon is getting you a pop and some banuelos, have a seat." Sitting down I remarked, "It has been really hot these days and I see you don't have a fan." Leon replied "You're right; I can't use a fan because a fan would cool the frying oil, but I have a hole in the roof tarp that lets the heat out. Actually its not there on purpose, one of the buses caught it and torn up my booth the other day, that is why it is that way."

That made me feel sorry for him as I ate, to the point; I decided to give him 10 pesos (US$5.00) toward repairing his booth. So I said, "Here are 10 pesos -- use it to help fix your booth." I expected him to say oh thanks so much, but he said, "No, I really don't need that, you don't have to do that." But I insisted, "Just see it as a gift from the Lord" He kind of said, "Ok if you insist." And I went on eating.

A few minutes later he said, "You know I have this small business and it makes me some income, God will provide to get my booth repaired. There are many people, especially children whose parents who are often drunk, here in the port who are much needier than me, give it to them."

I said, "But I don't know how to find them and get it to them." Leon replied, "Well, if you want I can get it to them."

I went on to ask Leon, "Are you married and how many children do you have?" He said, "I have three children (which means he surely could use the money) here to my present wife and one child in MedellĂ­n to another woman. I am really sorry for fathering a child and then abandoning him and his mother. That common occurrence in Colombia is really bad." He waved his finger to emphasize how bad it was.

These two incidences really challenged my stereotypes of Colombian men as sleeping around and than abandoning those involved and as willing to take advantage of North American money for self any time they can. And I sense it is Leon and Alfonso's relationship to God and the Church that have implemented these good changes in their lives. This all confirms my belief that establishing good family values and personal integrity in this society are part of God's work to bring peace to Colombia.

My stereotypes were further challenged that same day when I ask about my missing sleeping mat in the port. I was asking people I strongly suspected had stolen it. But to my surprise they said, "Oh we have been keeping it for you, right here it is." Also, again when three other street vendors expressed their disgust to me at one of their buddies who was sleeping around, waving their fingers to say how bad it was.

These were all good examples of the light becoming flesh and blood here in Barranca and through it God is overcoming the darkness of assassinations, violence and corruption that seems to envelop life here. Not all is darkness. Alleluia!

Peace,
Jim

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