Exciting and Fun Days in Cartagena

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Monday morning, Scott and I were at breakfast and I was told that “the translator who was scheduled for the first morning message had left for another appointment.”  I hoped that the translator had found a replacement, but just in case, I pulled up the message to be given on my computer, as to be prepared.  When church started, neither the translator nor a replacement had shown up.  I did the first message, then Janet did the announcements, and I followed up by doing Scott’s message.  Oscar M. spoke about us being pilgrims on this earth looking for a better kingdom. Scott spoke about Viviendo el Reino de Dios (living our life now in preparation for the coming future Kingdom of God).
After the announcements, the children’s choir sang.  Rodolfo is a music teacher with elementary children, and it shows.  The children did an excellent job. 
After services, we had arranged to baptize two brethren who had finished their baptism counseling.  We went up to the pool on the eleventh floor.  Jaime and Scott first baptize Doris, which was easy and a normal baptism procedure.   After Doris, it was time to baptize Miguel.  Miguel is handicapped so he needed the assistance of several men from Cucuta to get down the eight stairs to the pool, then also help getting into the pool, and then assistance standing in the pool. Thanks to Oscar S., Ronaldo, and Cristian who did all the heavy lifting which made it possible.  It was a group effort, but Miguel was baptized and very happy when it was done.
After lunch, Scott needed a bit of time away from the hotel…to walk more leisurely and relax.  We walked to McDonald’s and he got a cheeseburger and I got a small ice cream cone.  We seldom eat here, and Scott’s trying to introduce carbs back into his diet to see how his body handles things. Then we went to Juan Valdez for an iced latte.  As we were walking home, it looked like it could storm at any moment.  The beach party was scheduled for 3:30 PM, and I wondered if it would get rained out.  When we returned to our room, I saw from our window that brethren were already out on the beach enjoying some fun.   I saw them doing a “tug-of-war.”  I quickly changed by clothes to join in on the fun.  Scott had some work to catch up on in the room…and a couple brethren who needed to talk with him.
A sand volleyball game was just being organized.  I joined in on the fun.  I soon realized that playing in the sand caused different muscles in my toes to be used.  We played two games to 20 and the score was very close both times, so we had pretty much equal teams.  We all looked like we had taken a “sand bath” when we were done. 
Then Oscar S. organized a game of water balloon volleyball with a large sack.  We had to toss the water balloon over the net and the other side had to try catch it and to avoid breaking it.  I thought it would be nearly impossible to catch it, but it proved to not be as difficult.  Maybe it was just that Rodolfo and I made a great team!
Then we went in the water for a while.   Janet and I took Emira in connected by linked elbows.  She was a little bit afraid of the waves, but once we got passed the breaking waves, she had a great time.   After a while, it started to thunder and lightning. We all got out of the water, and we sat and talked.  Orlando brought out the snacks of chips and soda.  That was a hit.  There was one package of lime-flavored “Frito-like” chips left after everyone had something, so I ate those.  Yum! Delicious!
Soon I decided that it was time for me to go in so that I could shower before dinner.  I showered and had a few minutes to lie down before the evening activities.  After dinner we had the annual Summer Camp video.  Valeria had taken videos at camp, and I provided the photos.  She and her dad put together the video which was very entertaining and brought back great memories from this past summer in San Gil.
After the 20 minute video, we had an evening of Karaoke.  Zuli organized the event.  She provided tiny kazoos for everyone.  Various people sang songs, and we were able to show our approval with our kazoos.  Scott sang “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett.  Then later on he sang “Sweet Caroline” and asked me to join him.   Everyone had a great time.
We returned to our room and sat and enjoyed the window view for a few minutes; then we went to bed.
Tuesday, we ate breakfast and Scott went to walk afterwards.  There were threatening storm clouds, but he hoped he could get back before it rained.  He only got about half his walk done, and it poured—unlike the usual rains we have been having.  He came back drenched; even his shoes were soaking wet.
Tuesday morning, we had the video of church services including the sermon from the church president, Victor Kubik, which was given on Sabbath at the North Carolina Feast site. It takes a lot of coordination for the sound crew to get the English video, along with the Spanish translation to be synced, but they were able to do it. Vic Kubik spoke about Understanding Suffering in Order to Rejoice.  There is a lot of suffering in this world, and Christ suffered for us.  By suffering ourselves, we can better understand why we need Christ to return and bring God’s Kingdom.
We had lunch, and it was more of the same food. We have received comments from several others that they are a bit tired of the food.  I think we will have to comment to the hotel that the food has been rather repetitive.  After lunch, Scott and I stayed and talked with Owen, Nadine, and Robert for a long time in the restaurant.  Then we took a walk.  The Talent show was planned for the evening, so the afternoon was left open for practice time.  I took some time to rest in the afternoon as I was tired.  Scott felt like he was coming down with a cold, which is not surprising as many have had sore throats and colds and had been coughing a lot.  It is so easy to spread when we are in close proximity to each other over a long period of time.
I was surprised when I showed up for dinner and they had a new soup—Cream of Spinach and Mushroom.  Along with a bit of lime juice (customary practice here in Colombia) the soup tasted great.  We also had meatballs with a light tomato sauce.  This tasted great too.   I ate rather quickly as I was told that I would be the first act for the Talent Show.  I had to give them my accompaniment music, warm up, and do a sound check. 
Jesus R. was our emcee for the evening.  He shared the responsibility with Ronaldo, and they did an excellent job. I started off the Talent show by playing Hallelujah. Then we had a vocal solo by Derrick, then a dance done by 16 youth (Colombian and two from the United States). This dance was a dance of many types of dances that was 11 minutes long. They did an excellent job! After this, we had a cumbia dance and also a dance from the area of Cali. Robert did a short skit incorporating juggling. Jesus and Uriel each sang a song, and then Jaime S. presented a much requested Mr. Bean skit with the help of about six others.  We all had a great time. A snack of soda, chips and guacamole was given by Robert for all to enjoy.
We then called it a night and returned to our rooms.