This past week I traveled to Villavicencio and worked with the school and the church there. They had been asking me to come down as my work in teaching church leaders had kept me here in BogotÃ¡. They insisted there was much work I could do there as well. So after I finished my last class and graded most of the papers, I scheduled a week to work in the city were we lived for nearly twenty-five years.
The previous week I had been in a teaching and leadership training meeting in the Lucero church in the south end of BogotÃ¡. So I rested up and packed my bags on Monday and then Tuesday morning I said a prayer asking the Lord for safety as I traveled and headed down over the mountains to Villavicencio. I got there in late morning and unpacked and settled in to the room I use in our old house. That afternoon I conferred with and made plans for the rest of the week with Martin Sanders, the missionary who now works with the churches in the Llanos.
The rest of the week, I got up early and headed to the Christian day school by six in the morning. School starts at six-thirty in the morning and I needed to be there before the kids arrived. I led the morning devotional with them and at seven they would all head off for their classes. I spent the rest of each day with students who were having troubles in school and were at risk of failing or being expelled. The students were sent to me by the teachers or administration. Sometimes the student would ask to speak with me.
My job was to work with each student to try to understand the nature of his or her problem. Then I would work with the teachers to help develop an intervention program to help the student recuperate standing in the school. Sometimes I needed to call in the parents and involve them in the process as well. I work with a local church leader who is also a teacher at the school to train him in the program so one day they will be able to carry on in my absence. Since we began this program three years ago, it has been quite successful. We have reduced our attrition rate from about 20% to slightly fewer than 10% today. Many students have not only recuperated their good standing, they are now excelling in school.
In the few hours after school I would have meetings with school and church leaders. My evenings were then taken up with church meeting. A couple of nights there were Bible studies. Friday evening it was the end of year banquet at the school. We had more than three hundred parents there to watch their children perform in choral groups or skits. I was the speaker for the evening. Each evening I would make it back up to the house between ten and eleven. It was a week of frenetic activity with very long and intense days and short nights.
Sunday morning I preached at a packed church service of over three hundred there in Villavicencio. After a lunch meeting with some of the church leaders I headed back up to BogotÃ¡. A college student from Villavicencio who is studying here in BogotÃ¡ needed a ride back up so I had company for the trip. We made it back to BogotÃ¡ in the early evening as dusk was settling over the city. I was extremely exhausted after a very long and arduous week. But we had gotten a lot done and I was content. Praise God with me for safe travel and for the ministry successes of the week.