Chacho En Bogota: Cows That Are Super

Today was Day 1 of, as Jorge would say, ¡¡¡SUPERVACAS!!!! It’s basically an AWANA-type day camp hosted by the church from 9am-12 every day this week. About 60 kids showed up today in total, so it was a lot of controlled chaos. It definitely brought me back to my days as a counselor at Lake Waubesa Bible Camp, but in the best way possible.

After a few worship songs and then a short teaching time (the theme for this week is “Jars of Clay”, or parrijas de barro), the kids got to actually work with some clay, resulting in many creative constructions and a lot of amorphous clay globs.

After a snack, game time. Out in the adjacent patio, the kids were divided into four teams and played racing games. The Red Team, captained by Jorge, eventually prevailed. I look forward to more craziness this week.


P.S. Tonight, Jorge brought back Cinnabons for everyone, in his words, “for a taste of home.” I replied that anything that clogged by arteries tasted like home to me. I don’t have to go over how it feels to eat a Cinnabon, but I will say this: God bless sugar.


Chacho En Bogota: Flea Market

I played drums this morning for church – the first time I’ve done so while I’ve been here. It’s been a while since I’ve played and it felt pretty good.

After church, a couple of people from the singles group, plus the Encisos and the adopting family, visited a flea market not far from our neighborhood for lunch and craft browsing. Lots of local artisans with booths. I’m glad I’m not into jewelry because there was way too much of it to buy. I did, though, get a gift or two and a wallet for myself.

The wallet was made by a dredlocked, Madison-type hippie not much older than me. His stated price was 20,000 pesos (about $11), but I’m lucky I had my Colombian friends with me because they balked and the vendor bumped it down to 15,000 pesos. He also threw in a friendship bracelet he quickly made on the spot and tied it on my hand, after I pledged to, in essence, keep love, peace, joy, happiness, etc., in my heart always.


— Chacho


Chacho En Bogota: Adorable Babies

It’s quite humbling to get schooled in a pick-up soccer game by a kid more than half your age. That happened to me yesterday when I brought a soccer ball out to the kids who live in the orphanage around the corner from the Encisos. I was doing pretty well, but this one kid – I forget his name – about 10 years old just comes in and makes me pay for my Gringoness. I still scored a few, but he put things into perspective.

Some friends of the Encisos arrived in country a few days ago to pick up the little 9-month-old girl they adopted. They were over at the house today for lunch so we got to see her. All kinds of adorable. She did the stare-for-awhile-until-I-decide-what-to-think thing that most babies do when they first see me, but I think I won her over. The process for the adoption started three years ago and won’t end for at least a couple more weeks until they get the final nod from the courts.

Rest of today: practice for worship tomorrow (first time I’m playing drums) and for SuperVacas, which is happening next week. More info to come. Until then, estén bien.

– Chacho


Chacho En Bogota: Arm Wrestling

Last night, I’m doing laundry, getting ready for bed, when Jorge tells me to get my “party clothes” on because we’re going to a surprise birthday party.


We get there, gather with the other party attendees, climb silently up the stairs to his apartment and sing him Happy Birthday, en español, claro. We eat cake and drink soda and proceed, somehow, to have arm-wrestling contests. I duel with Francisco and emerge victorious and lead my own chant of “USA! USA!” No one else joins in, strangely.

We sing a few songs, have a prayer, and return home having participated in the most spontaneous party I’ve been a part of in a long time.

¡Viva Bogotá!

— Chacho


Chacho En Bogota

Hola amigos cerca y lejos.

I’ve officially been here for a month now, which means I’m almost a third through my time here. It’s a strange thought because it means eventually I’ll have to start thinking about what I’m doing to do when I get back to the States. I, like many people, will need a job. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Friday we hosted the teens and single 20s and 30s again. Because the groups meet back to back, there’s always some overlap time for everyone to play games and sing together. A favorite game to play is called Olla (pot). Everyone stands in a circle with one person sitting in the middle. Someone serves a volleyball to another and the third people to get it has to hit the person in the middle with the ball. If they miss, or if the person in the middle catches it, the hitter is in the middle. And so it goes until someone wins. It can get violent at times, but it’s a great stress-reliever and community builder.

After a few rounds of Olla, we went inside and sang some songs. Most of the songs we played had Spanish and English versions, so we switched languages back and forth during the songs. One was “Cambiaré Mi Tristeza” (“Trading My Sorrows”). I’ve been playing the Spanish version for so long that I actually forgot how to sing it in English. Ditto with “Shout to the Lord” (“Mi Cristo Mi Rey”). I guess that’s a good sign…

Saturday, after the drum lessons, the church hosted a wedding. I played guitar for a few songs in the ceremony, which I didn’t know I was doing until the night before. It was great, though. Really low-key. Probably 50 people, tops. Needless to say, a strong contrast with American weddings. Afterward, I got to relax at home and catch up on Modern Family and Mad Men – two shows I would highly recommend.

Which brings us to today. After church, the 20s and 30s group got together and we went to a nearby park and played soccer, dodgeball, and a version of basketball for a couple hours. The rain mostly held off, so it was a great time. I’m always happy to play soccer – I scored two or three goals I think. Contrary to popular belief, some Gringos can play soccer. Then we came back to the Encisos’ and had dinner, after which I saw the Packers (barely) beat the Lions. Overall, a great day.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all of your prayers. ¡Hasta luego!