The Feast 2017 Begins

Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
I wake up Wednesday morning and think that I cannot lie around in bed today.  Everyone will be arriving and we need to prepare for the Opening Night service.  We get up and head to breakfast at about 7:30 AM.  Before we are finished, I see that the group from Santa Rosa has arrived.  They have been traveling since 3:30 PM on Tuesday.  Eighteen hours in taxis, boat, and busses.  They are tired, but happy to be here.  They get registered, but they are not able to check in until later in the day when their rooms are ready.  They park their luggage in a safe spot in the lobby under the careful eye of the staff.  They head off to Olympica (grocery store) to have coffee and bread for their breakfast.  Meals at the hotel start with dinner for everyone.
Scott goes to the mall to exercise and I return to the room to practice all my pieces of music for special and offertory music.  I always have special music on the opening night as I have been here and I have had time to prepare where the others have not.  Later in the morning, I spend some time on the terrace talking with some of the brethren and getting caught up with what is happening in their lives.
Scott and I walk to a lavandería (laundry) to drop off a few more items, but we are too early to pick up our clothes from yesterday.  There are taxis everywhere we walk; they always “beep-beep” at us to say they are available to hire.  Scott says, “I need a t-shirt that says, ‘I don’t need a taxi!’” We’ve given up trying to blend in many years ago. Our hearts may be Colombian in part, but our skin color and build is not.
After lunch, I spend time in the room catching up on my blog and being available to the reception if they have any questions.  Fortunately, there are no questions about reservations today.  We would like to take a swim in the sea, but there is not time to swim, shower and be ready for dinner before 6:30 PM. Scott talks with many of the kitchen and restaurant staff to make sure all is in order, and to catch up on how their families are doing.
We eat dinner at 6:30 PM.  The restaurant seems rather empty.  I find out later that it is because so many people have had problems getting here because of the Avianca airlines strike.  There have been multiple delays and many cannot get rescheduled flights until tomorrow.  Also, there is a major fútbol game in Barranquilla tomorrow night (just 45 minutes away), and many people are traveling on the roads to this game.  This also causes traffic delays.
We arrive at the hall early to make sure all is in order.  The hotel has delivered beautiful bouquet of flowers which we purchased from them.  The chairs are ready, and the sound crew has almost everything in order.  Jaime wanted to arrive early this morning, but because of the delays, he did not arrive until 4 PM.  They have had to scramble to get it all set up in a short time. Scott’s been a “gofer” for them.
I do a sound check for special music.  At 8 PM, there are still some last minute details to work out with the sound system, so I play hymns on my flute to give it a little more festive atmosphere.  Our song leader has not arrived.  He is still in the Bogotá airport.  He has been there since 9:30 AM.  His reservation was not with Avianca, but the fallout has caused problems with his flight.  We make a quick change and Oscar M. volunteers to lead songs. 
Opening night is busy for me.  I accompany the hymns.  Then I run back to the sound table to translate for Scott’s opening night announcements; then back to the front for Special Music; then back to translate for his sermon, and finally back to the front for the closing hymn. 
Scott spoke about “God is here!” in his opening sermon.  We are here rejoicing before God, and with God here at His Feast.
We have only 53 in attendance as I write, more trickle in, some just after services are finished.  We were expecting 102.  It is a rather disappointing beginning to the Feast (with so few in attendance), but it is out of our control. More will be arriving tomorrow.  Those that are here are happy and joyful.  Many are tired from long travels, so after services, everyone returns to their rooms for some much needed rest. We’ve learned that we must be flexible serving in this country or we’ll not enjoy the work God has given us to do in His service.

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Judy Averill

What about "Nate"? All is going well here. the Kubik's are heading to Jekyll. Enjoy your blog. Keep up the excellent work!