BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Within days of her arrival in Bogotá last August, Rut Arsari knew it would be difficult to leave. The people she would meet and the relationships she would develop would make it hard to say goodbye.
Rut, from the congregation GITJ Kelet, part of Mennonite World Conference member church Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa in Indonesia, is serving in the MWC and Mennonite Central Committee Young Anabaptist Exchange (YAMEN!) program for 11 months with MWC member church Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia.
Rut assists in three programs managed by Teusaquillo Mennonite Church in Bogotá.
During the week she assists at two food programs for children in the marginalized neighborhoods of Los Pinos and San Nicolás.
Both have many families forcibly displaced by violence. On Saturdays, Rut works with a program that provides food for street people in a low-income neighborhood of Bogotá.
What has impacted Rut most are the relationships she has built. She attends Teusaquillo Mennonite Church with her host family, Peter and Leticia Stucky. They have welcomed Rut like a member of their family, and she feels blessed to live with them.
She has been blessed to see and hear how the members openly share about their faith, struggles and joys. Hearing people acknowledge the presence of God in their lives has caused her to recognize the work of God in her own life in a new way.
She is connecting not only with church members and volunteers of these programs, but also many children who attend daily.
Through serving meals and teaching English classes, Rut has gotten to know, and learn from, children who come from a different background. She has learned new ways to teach and interact with children, to play with and discipline them when needed.
These children taught her new ways of understanding and viewing the world around her: to appreciate what she has, to have a humbler attitude and to find joy and hope in unexpected places.
For several years Rut has had a passion and a vision for helping children. She dreams of one day opening a home in Indonesia to welcome children who do not have family to care for them. For Rut, her assignment in Colombia is the first step to this dream.