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 Hello Friends,                                                                             Sick with Chikunguya Virus
  I told the doctor, “I am achy all over one day and then the next day I feel better. This has happened now for the last 4 days. I am worried that it might be Dengue, Malaria, or Yellow Fever.” “No, for sure it is neither of those. Don’t worry.  You have a virus called Chikunguya which has been in an epidemic here for the last year. Take these meds; if it persists after a month go to a clinic. You can do whatever you feel up to, no restrictions on what you can do.
Up date 9/25 a week later, well I thought the above settled things, but it did not, I am still struggling with achy muscles and just feeling sick every other day. So I ask you to pray for restoration of my health. Fortunately I have been with a family who has been very supportive and helpful, rather than in a hotel which had been the plan. Despite it I have been doing 2-3 talks most days.
 “Where did you get those nice shoes?” The nurse asked as I sat up on the exam table. I answered, “Like all my clothes I bought them 2nd hand.” “Do you do this because of your religion?”  “Well, I guess you could say it that way. To live a simple life has been a part of the teaching in the Mennonite church. And I just prefer to live this way. It makes sense to me.”

Here is the maid Shirley Marina in the good but cheap hotel where I am staying. I asked her if there is discrimination in Choco.  She just shook her head yes. I added, “I noticed in the soap operas everyone is white,.”  Again she shook her head “yes.” She shared, “I believe central to the gospel is following what Jesus taught. Living for yourself just does not work.” She explained this in several ways.
 All taxis are 3 wheeled, powered and operated like a motorcycle. They can do a 360 with them.  Here is one that gave me a ride to the bus.
 A change I noticed: several years ago few of the taxi drivers were Black. Today most of them are Black.  Shirley remarked, “The change is because people are working hard and saving their money so they can buy their moto taxi.”  Her husband makes his living driving a taxi and they own it.
That is real progress in the state of Choco where 90% of the people are black. They were brought here as slaves to use for mining gold. Some nonblack’s here say blacks are lazy. But the way I see some blacks work that surely isn’t true for many of them. I wonder how slavery has long term similarly affected descendants of former slave owners and former slaves here as in the USA?
 Reflecting on this brings to mind my friend Phoebe Kilby whose ancestors were slave owners.  She is working on reconciliation with their former slave ancestors. She has started an organization to help others  do this too. Shirley says this is happening in Bogota and Cali  but not in Choco. It is good peace work.
The Colombian  Mennonite Brethren Church began in Choco 70 years ago. I got started giving talks here several years ago on the invitation of my host Rutillo Rivas, leader of the Choco MB church. Tomorrow I will talk 2 times in a public school, thanks to Nelly, a MB teacher. I am always moved by Nelly's soft-spoken and caring manner, a real example to me.  She has been especially so during my illness. She is in an interacial marriage. Fernando her husband is a MB pastor.Here she is with her son.
 Saturday 9/19 I head for La mesa till 9/30, then to Cali , then on 10/12 on to Bogotá, then home on 10/15. It’s been a good long trip despite its bumps.
 Thanks for your support. Keep praying for Cuban peace talks. Despite the imperfections, it is good to remember it is much better to talk than to try to settle things with a gun. Not much is in the news about talks these days, yet some reports are hopeful. Also Colombian news has been dominated by Venezuela’s forced expulsion of Colombians.
Shalom to you,  Jim









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