NOTE: We apologize for not updating our blog throughout the transition process we have walked through during 2018 but we would like to copy our recent email update that explains a little bit about the last few months. We have officially turned over the reins of Proyecto Libertad to the local YWAM Cartagena base. From now on they will not be using this website or blog and this site will eventually be discontinued.
We’re writing to let you know how everything has been going since our last email in June and to give you a final update on the transition process that we have been walking through. It has been a whirlwind of activity and emotions!
In regards to the transition, the YWAM Cartagena base leaders decided to send the staff and students of their current “School of Biblical Counseling” to finish up the lecture phase of their training in Bocachica, and to dedicate the final two months of their outreach phase taking on the reins of Proyecto Libertad while ministering in the community.
It was a gradual process at first, but then the momentum increased as each week went by. We had to go through all of the “stuff” that we had accumulated over the last 21 years: filing cabinets, bookshelves, storage rooms, desk drawers, and computer files; cleaning out and throwing away anything that was no longer relevant or useful to the new team. It was a very surreal experience for Jorge, Erika and me. It was hard, but also cathartic and encouraging, to relive so many amazing experiences, and to be reminded of all the special people that the Lord had sent to us over the years to help make it all possible.
The new team of 25 people joined us for the first week of July, and over the following two months, we turned over the different areas of the mission, little by little. First, the grocery shopping, then menu planning and running the kitchen, the staff living quarters and general operations of the mission, the office, the clinic, medical equipment and supplies, our apartment, etc…
On July 20th we invited 50 Bocachica friends and leaders to a farewell dinner to make our official announcement to the community, and introduce them to the new team. It was a special evening that gave us the opportunity to express our appreciation and affection for 21 years of living, growing and serving together in Bocachica.
Once things were squared away in Bocachica, we still had a lot of administrative legalities and loose ends to tie up in Cartagena. It has been an ongoing process involving things like closing the accounting books, filing with the DIAN (Colombian version of the IRS), closing with the Health Department and turning over our patient files to them, closing bank accounts, transferring the titles for our Bocachica properties to the YWAM base in Cartagena, and other administrative and required legal processes. It has been a bit overwhelming; however, slowly but surely we were able to check off the boxes on our “to-do” list.
We have also had to go through the same process on the home front. Selling some of our furniture and giving away our appliances and the rest of our personal belongings. We initially thought that we would be able to take our time with the whole process and stay in Colombia until the end of the year while we gradually said our goodbyes, and, hopefully, be able to sell our house by then. However, we had an unexpected change in plans when we got a call that my mom had fallen and badly broken her ankle. My sister-in-law was able to go to NC from Colorado to help my mom for the first 2 ½ weeks, which gave me time to speed up the process of packing and closing up loose ends as much as possible. So, by mid-August, I had to go ahead and say my goodbyes and return to NC to help my mom. Jorge stayed behind to finish the administrative duties with Erika and he just joined me here in NC on September 22. Regarding our house, the Lord led us in a different direction and opened the doors to rent to some friends for a while until we are able to sell the house at a later date.
So, it is the end of an era for us! Jorge and I were both already with YWAM when we met over 28 years ago. For the last 3 decades (28 years for me and 31 years for Jorge), our lives have been immersed in this mission organization which has served as a second family for us. It is surreal to imagine not being a part of that anymore. We are hopeful and expectant about what the future might hold, but we also want to be careful not to rush into making any major decisions or commitments until we have had time to process and receive clear direction from the Lord. At this point, we aren’t sure if we will continue with YWAM in some capacity or perhaps consider some other ministry setting, but we trust that the Lord will guide us one step at a time. This is the first time in our married life that we have been at a crossroads such as this; it feels a little bit unsettling, but also exciting and refreshing, to begin to entertain new dreams and possibilities.
For now, our immediate plans are to spend the next few weeks looking after my mom while she continues to recover her ability to walk (she is doing really well so far!). In mid-October, we have been invited to Germany to attend the 10th-anniversary event of Worldwide Volunteers, the organization that sent volunteers to work with us in Bocachica for many years. Proyecto Libertad was the first ministry to ever receive their volunteers 10 years ago so it is an honor that they have invited us to be a part of their anniversary celebration. After we get back from Germany, I have medical check-ups in November and then, in December, we plan on heading to Mexico to spend the holidays with Jorge’s family. Erika and a former staff member, Astrid, who was a major part of the clinic construction, will also be joining us there for the holidays; Astrid for 1 month and Erika for 3 months. We are really looking forward to that!!
In regards to our missionary support, the YWAM base in Tyler, TX, who processes our donations, have said that they will continue to process offerings and donations for us for up to 6 months (through the end of March) after our departure from Colombia in order to help us during this transition phase. We have no expectations for our missions support to continue; however, if anyone feels particularly led in that direction, it will continue to be an option for a few more months while we transition off the mission field.
We so want to express our hearts of gratitude and appreciation for each person that has traveled this road with us! It truly amazes us to look back and see God’s faithfulness in so many details, and to see how He brought together such a variety of people to play different roles on this team. We have always been keenly aware of the fact that mission work is a “team sport”. There are no star players. Like in the body of Christ and in our own physical bodies, we need each member working together in order for the body to function as a whole. That’s how it has been for us all these years and we are so grateful to the Lord for putting us on such a great team! Thank you for taking this journey with us.
We have had the incredible blessing and privilege of being a small part of what God wanted to do in the history of the small island community of Bocachica, just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. In the process, He molded us, taught us, challenged and changed us. And now we are hopefully expectant about the future because God is doing something new. He is doing a new thing in Bocachica and in Proyecto Libertad, and He is doing a new thing in our lives as well.
Much love, Jorge & Karen