This week, Opportunity International supporters are traveling on the Family Week Insight Trip to Colombia. The following travel blog post was written by Katherine Gardner, teenage daughter of David and Margaret, reflecting on Day 1 of her family’s Colombian journey with Opportunity.
Today was the first day of our Colombia Insight Trip. As we boarded our bus, gleaming in the fresh sun, I remember quite clearly a brilliant blue sky. Over the next hour, our bus wound through sloping countrysides of verdant green trees and brick buildings. I surveyed the gentle hills and the mountaintops above neighborhoods of concrete and corrugated metal. The puffy clouds hovered closely above Bogotá, a cuidad at an elevated altitude. As I reflect after a long, fulfilling day, I think that the lay of the land parallels quite well our adventure. I had an idea of the general schedule — the various visits to clients and the discovery of Opportunity’s work. Similarly, I could’ve told you from the weather forecast that it would be a partly cloudy day with temperatures in the mid ’60s. But what I hadn’t prepared for were the stories we would discover tucked into the rolling hills of lush Colombia.
Before my family had travelled on an Insight trip, I had the chance to attend an Opportunity conference where various members of staff explained the process of microfinance and what it was like out in the field. The conference was engaging and informative, but there is something so special about exploring the process for yourself. What I found is that the best thing behind the microfinance process is the people and their stories. It was interviewing young Colombian Daniel, the son of an Opportunity loan officer, in my broken Spanish, and watching his face light up when we both knew about Barcelona futbol. It was hugging a teary elderly woman who was receiving a loan for her chocolate business, as she spoke blessings over us and confessed her deep desire to move her business into a better neighborhood. It was the discovery that a Trust Group leader had bought a cake for us out of her own money, and seeing the sincere gratitude on her face for what Opportunity has done in her life. Before the trip, it had been easy to picture the events of the days ahead. But walking around the Colombian countryside, breathing fresh air and watching beautiful shades of blue dance in the sky above me was something I could not expect. And on a much grander level, I hadn’t imagined the ways the Lord would be working through the hugs, tears, smiles, laughs, and hearts of the people of Colombia. The clients were such wonderful examples of the faith, and truly evidence of Christ working in the world.
So yes, our day went according to schedule. We left on time, ate lunch, met clients, and headed back. But with a celestial sky of memories behind me, I can see now it wasn’t the things we did that made our trip special. It was the experience of a beautiful country, a sincere and welcoming people, and the impact that both impress upon your heart.
Stay tuned to the Opportunity Blog for more updates from the Family Week Trip to Colombia in the coming days ahead.