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Mission team from Barton spends two weeks working abroad at school, foster home in Pereira, Colombia

COURTESY PHOTO: BARTON CHURCH - Members of the Barton Church mission team enjoyed connecting with local youths during their time in Colombia.

Members of Barton Church recently stepped into a classroom in Colombia, South America, to help students learn English.

"By the time we left the schools, they were high fiving us and asking questions. It warms your heart to see kids open up and respond like that," said Floyd Bates.

Bates was one of seven parishioners of Barton Church to participate in a recent mission to Pereira, Colombia. During their two-and-a-half week stay in the South American country last month, the mission team volunteered at a school and a foster home.

At the school, volunteers played language exercises and games like hangman and Pictionary and drills focused on the alphabet and counting.

Students easily made connections with those on the Barton mission trip.

"On the last day we taught, they invited us to their science fair. The day I left to say goodbye, I had a big lump in my throat," Jeff Gonzalez said. "I've been on several different mission trips before, and no matter where you go, the kids are pretty much the same. The only difference is the language."

At the foster home, "it was pretty much loving on (the kids)," said Barton Church Pastor Ben Erickson, noting that their main focus was bonding and spending time with the children. One day at the foster home, a palm tree fell and an owl flew out of the tree.

"The kids were really eager to show us the owl," Bates said. "A lot of delightful things happened each day."

The mission team also performed a variety of maintenance tasks, including building a chicken coop.

COURTESY PHOTO: BARTON CHURCH - Members of the Barton Church mission team completed a variety of construction projects during their time in Colombia.

"We might not think much of it, but for them, it's a good project," Bates said, also noting that they bartered for their building materials. "You have to work with what you have. It's not exactly like going to a lumber yard."

During their time in Colombia, the Barton mission team stayed with host families.

"When you're living with a host family, you see the real Colombia," Gonzales said.

Reflecting on their mission trip, they noted that they particularly appreciated the people they met.

"They were amazingly nice. They were out of their way nice," Bates said.

Next year, Barton Church will participate in mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, and another project in the U.S. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact the church at 503-637-3258.

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