A letter from Mamie Broadhurst in Colombia
A Time of Miracle and Wonder
Though we are nearing the end of the liturgical calendar’s designation of “ordinary time,” we must say that these times do not feel “ordinary” to us! After September 22, the world shifted for the Broadhurst/Williams household with the entrance of Nora Elena to our world. Since then I think it is safe to say we have been overwhelmed ... overwhelmed by parenthood, overwhelmed by love (and exhaustion), but perhaps most of all we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from so many people and places.
Packages came in the mail. Gifts came down with groups. People in Barranquilla gave us a baby shower. Gloria and Fanny came to the hospital to help out the day Nora was born. Phone calls from Bogotá came to congratulate us. The folks in Urabá cannot wait to meet her. There are a thousand tales to tell, but I will pick one:
Roberto* is displaced, and we have worked on and off with him all year. He has had to move at least three times, most recently when he was threatened again a few months ago. As a leader of displaced people, he has been targeted because he stands up for his rights and is showing others how to do so as well. He is a campesino, a small farmer, but he has been forced to live in the city; he’s had a hard time finding work and making ends meet.
From the start Roberto was thrilled to find out we were going to have a baby. Commenting that I would never be mistaken for a Colombian (shocking, I know), he was just as adamant that if I had a daughter who looked just like me he would tell everyone she was a Colombianita. At a meeting one day while I was pregnant a snack was shared. I devoured mine (as I was wont to do with everything); he ate much more slowly. A few minutes later I looked over and more of the snack had been placed on the napkin in front of me. Roberto had “finished” his. A man who is unsure of where his next meal will come from made sure that the soon-to-be-Colombianita would not want, even for a moment.
After the last threat to his life, which included threats to many organizations and individuals — even the U.S.-based Washington Office on Latin America — Roberto moved out of the city to a small parcel of land he was able to get someone to lend to him. In an odd way the threat has been at least a partial blessing because he has been able to farm again — a little yucca, some black-eyed peas, squashes ... the basics. Last week we went to visit for the first time, and we took Nora Elena. The smile that lit up his face is not to be forgotten.
Here is a short video of Nora with the Rev. Gloria Ulloa, the executive secretary of the North Coast Presbytery as we visited Roberto’s place. She seems to be as pleased at the turkeys and chickens as we are.
Still, the hard part of all of this is knowing that, for Roberto, fulfilling a dream means feeling safe at night and getting back to the struggles of subsistence farming. When was the last time you encouraged someone to “dream big” and that is the most they could hope for? Still, Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. By faith Roberto is putting one foot in front of the other, planting one seed at a time. We do not know how his story will turn out, but we are grateful to be a part of it, as is his favorite Colombianita.
We have been a little slow at putting new things up on the blog lately (wonder why ... ), but we are trying to get back into the swing of things. Please check us out.
We appreciate your support, prayers, actions and blessings during this not-so-ordinary time, and remember that we’re always up for a visit! We are looking forward to seeing folks from Winnebago Presbytery next week and the Colombia Mission Network this coming February!
*Name changed for safety
Mamie and Richard, and of course, Nora Elena)
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 293