I was excited for this trip to Colombia because it was a great opportunity to return to a country that is close to my heart and the heart of my family. I knew about the culture, the smells, the sights and these were the driving force behind any effort that I put into fundraising or research. Looking back on the past two weeks, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the richness of this experience has exceeded any expectation that I had for what this trip held for me.
Early on, we received a brief overview of the history of the conflict here between the military, guerilla armies and the paramilitaries. This brief overview gave us a framework and timeline to place in our minds the stories that we would hear from across the country. One of these stories is that of Narcico.
Narcico was targeted by the paramilitary 5 years ago. They broke into his house at 7pm and fired three shots. The last of them went through his mouth and out his neck. His wife cried for help but no one came. With only the clothes on their backs, they and their 5 year old granddaughter fled the farm. With an incredible amount of prayer, Narcico survived. Even with nothing to his name and no land to call his own, he was able to contact an acquaintance in the city of Sincelejo in the district of Sucre. The church of this man helped Narcico to survive and become healthy. In his broken state, he longed for purpose and told us that he felt entrapped by his helplessness.
The department of Sucre has been a dramatic area of the Colombian conflict. The conflict was over the good land so the farmers were abused and displaced. Uribre, the former Colombian president, ended the official conflict in the region but the aftermath is still filled with violence. Narcico was given the opportunity to farm a plot of land that had been deforested for cattle grazing. As a result, it was viewed as undesirable land. It had been mistreated. Narcico made it his goal to do for the land what God had done for him. He started to rejuvenate the farm through “Farming God’s Way,” which I found inspiring. He planted fruit trees and gardens, there where livestock walk around freely, and by the way he talked about the land, it was clear that he cared about it deeply.
I was raised in the city and don’t know the first thing about farming. However, I have always had a love and a close connection with nature. While we walked through the land that Narcico has helped come back to life, I had an awakening to the reality that this non-industrial, non-commercial partnership that Narcico had with the land that God had blessed him with was the most respectable lifestyle that I had ever witnessed. This walk came at a time in my life when every seemingly important question revolves around my “calling” or my “purpose”. As I’ve looked at the lifestyles of those around me, those I respect, I can’t help but see a rebukable sense of ownership over the land and the materials that we claim from it. Walking with Narcico was incredibly reassuring to the effect that I couldn’t find a lie that he was working to prove as truth. His purpose made sense through his suffering.
The inspiration that came from Narcico’s life was inspiring as were the many other stories that we heard along our journey. When people now ask me how fun Colombia was, or to tell them all about it, its staggering to just talk about the sights and the smells, how the food was, or how bad my sunburn is (although that’s a fair topic). I came back with a longing to change our sense of purpose and am so thankful to have met some people and organizations that are building peace through peace.