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Showing posts from October, 2006

Two Days on the Opon (continued)

Hello friends,
The next morning Lisa and I ate breakfast with the Los Neques family. Henry, the man of the house, told us, "Last week from Monday to Wednesday soldiers were stationed just across the river. They didn't do us any harm; they just bought some cheese from us. At night we can hear the helicopters which watch the pipeline." We had a long discussion about snake bites and their pet squirrel.

Next we stopped at Mary and Steve's. Mary made us fresco de guanabana. Ummmm! Lisa and I had a long talk with Mary. She was concerned about the fact that they did not have gas for the community boat, which kept her and others from attending a meeting on getting electricity into the community. Ten years ago they had cleared a path for the electrical poles but nothing further ever came of it. If the project does not get going this year it will cost them more next year. At 11 am a military helicopter was heard nearby. Mary said, "It is looking for the cartel"…

Two Days on the Opon

Hello friends,

As we entered the Opon region, one of the first things Lisa and I noticed was the gas cartel getting empty barrels from areas of high grass on the river bank, along where we accompany the farm families. We did not mention this to the army we were about to meet because this could cause a firefight and that would increase the violence rather than work toward our goal of reducing violence.

As we approached the center of La Florida, we could see a large group of soldiers under a tree on the bank. We pulled up to talk to them. Sergeant G came right up to us and said, "We are just passing through." We started by explaining that we were members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, and that we accompany the farm communities here to help enable them to stay on the land and reduce the violence. They were new to the area and did not know us.

The sergeant seemed very interested in talking to us, and very sincere. They eventually found us chairs and we had a 2 and1/2 hour talk…

Breaking the Silence

Hello friends,

The armed men pulled up to our house, and without any explanation took our 28-year-old Johnnie down to where the army was in the soccer field. I went a number of times to try to find out what was happening to him. And they just kept telling us everything would be OK, and that Johnnie would soon be released. Then two days later we found Johnnie's body amongst a pile of bodies in a ravine outside of Grande.

"What was Johnnie like? How would you like to remember him? What work did he do?" asked Chico. Betty responded, "He was such a hard worker. Johnnie bought and sold fish on the street. He loved having his own little business. He liked to tease and joke around the house. He really made our family life happy. We really miss him. He was just a good person. He didn't even smoke. Why did they kill him? I do not understand."

"Do you have any idea who these men were that took him away? Who did people in Grande say these men were? "

Neighbors s…

Light in the Opon

Hello friends,

"Have you heard what happened last night?" Jorge, the pastor, and Lucy, his wife, asked us. Duane and I answered, "No we haven't." This was right after worship at the church in the Opon.

"Two persons were drunk. The one, Felipe, hit the other, Manuel, three times with a machete, one of those times on the head. Manuel was bleeding profusely, was bandaged at the local health post, and then taken the1½ hour boat trip to a clinic in Barranca."

The tension in the town was very high over this, and there was fear that more violence could erupt if family and friends sought revenge. So we thought we should do whatever we could to keep more violence from happening. The church leaders asked us to visit Felipe. In the past Felipe had been a leader in a small church there. He was very glad for our visit.

Duane explained CPT's interest in avoiding violence and offered to help communicate anything Felipe might have to say to anyone that could ma…
Hello Friends,

What a warm welcome I received in returning to Colombia!

"Oh, I am so glad to see you; I thought maybe you were never coming back. I have to tell you how much help your suggestions were to me last year. I found some persons to pray with me who have been so helpful. The Peace Pilgrim pamphlet helped me see the mistakes I have made in not giving my husband and children the time I should have. This store has occupied me too much. Your short prayer for me just before you left a year ago was helpful too. My husband has stopped seeing the other women."

Other friends did not have such positive news. Al shared, "Leo has separated from his wife, and has lost his spot on the street to be able to sell "banuelos'. So it has been tough for him without any work for the last 5 months. However, Leo and I are part of a Catholic prayer group that has been a very good and a big help to us. And his wife and children go to the Protestant church we all used to attend.…