Walk Like a Lutheran

By walking and working together, we seek to accompany our sisters and brothers in Colombia. Accompaniment is the process of walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. Mount Olive aims to live out accompaniment in relationships with our Colombian companions in a manner that is mutual, inclusive, vulnerable, empowering, and sustainable.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; (Luke 24:15).

Above: Mount Olive travelers display hats and gloves, school supplies, tote bags, and quilts that will be distributed in Colombia.


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Mt. Olive members, you are so blessed!!

By  Holly Dalager


Not only do you have a wonderful new Pastor, and amazing adult members, but do you realize how remarkable your youth are??  I say this very objectively as a non-member of your church!

Let me introduce myself — I am a resident of Austin and long-time friend of Glenn and Ruth Monson.  I worked behind the scenes to secure flights and set up an itinerary that would be appealing to all.  During the trip, I served as interpreter and guide.  It has been my absolute joy to work with this group!

   The adults who came on the trip were so easy-going and eager to meet people and experience new things.  But I was continually impressed with the five young people who were with us.  Not only did they sacrifice a week of school (homework was done on the bus, in the hospitality house, and on airplanes) but they put up with things like bathrooms without toilet seats, toilet paper, or soap; new foods that weren’t always very appealing; and being in the midst of extreme poverty.  They sat respectfully and listened while we learned about different programs and sad, personal stories.  They danced with elderly and school kids with big smiles on their faces.  They tolerated long hours in the van as we drove through the congested streets of Bogota and Sogamoso.  They responded with profound insights when we shared our “highs and lows” each evening.

These kids did not know what to expect from this mission trip, but each day was a new adventure which they faced with enthusiasm.  I never heard a single complaint!   Many lives were touched by meeting and spending time with Sonja, Nels, Joey, Mardoche and Daniel!

We have all been changed because of the beautiful people of Colombia.  God’s blessings to you as you go forward from here and establish plans to continue this relationship.


Holly Dalager

Our Last Day in Bogota

Today, our final day in beautiful Colombia, began in the best possible way – worshipping God with the Vida Nueva (New Life) Lutheran Church in Bogota.
As always, we were warmly welcomed with handshakes, hugs and kisses and provided with interpreters for the worship service. It was a lovely surprise to find that several of the contemporary hymns were not only familiar, but we sang them in both Spanish and English.
Pastor Glenn preached a sermon (also with a translator) on the John 4 text about the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well.
Jesus gives the woman (who remains nameless in the story) the best gift of all – forgiveness, new life (the living water).
So today we are posting pictures of some of the men, women and children whom we have encountered this past week. We know the names of some and others are nameless to us. But one thing we know for sure: Christ has called all of them and us his own and gives us all his living water, the gift of his grace.

Girls Club-Learning for a brighter future

On a steep path in Caracoli, a neighborhood of Bogotá, is the IELCO Women’s Center, established 20 years ago to teach women in their 40s and 50s the skills to make hand crafts they can sell to family members, friends, and sponsors of the ELCA. But our focus today was on a group of teenage girls participating in a three-year program called, Proyectándome a un Futuro (Projecting My Life For the Future), which uses the same  facilities. We arrived around 9 am and were met by 15-20 shy young women, ages 10-18. The small room filled up quickly with the thirteen of us, three IELCO leaders, and the young women. We learned that the purpose of the group is to educate the girls on healthy and safe ways to live. Though the neighborhood they live in has its dangers, many of the girls have an even more dangerous situation at home. Drugs, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse are just some of the issues these girls are trying to overcome. Many of them hung their heads without making eye contact and seemed very self conscious. This group  meets Saturday mornings and is led by Lutheran women trained in psychology. Not only are these girls trained in life skills, they are counseled to help them overcome the hardships they have experienced, giving them hope for a better future. As part of the morning’s activities, the girls provided manicures for the women in our group (and Mardoche). This is just one of the skills these girls have learned in the program. We shared a snack and then distributed the hats and mittens collected last winter at Mount Olive. You should have seen the smiles on their faces. They appreciated them so much. It was so touching being able to spend the morning with them.

A Day with Children in Bogota

Today we explored the peace process as it affects and applies to the youth of Colombia. Our stop at the public school of Colegio Distrital brought us up close with an art exhibition focused on the history and future of Colombia through the lens of the conflict.

Our midday and afternoon were a changing experience for many as we spent a meal and play time with the children of Oratorio Salesiano. This Catholic-funded program was well worth the trip as we witnessed God’s hand in giving underprivileged kids food for their bodies as well as their souls. We could feel the happiness and purpose in their words and actions.

Our hearts were a bit heavy leaving these special kids, who were so grateful just to have us there, to share their food, to give us hope.


Sogamoso to Bogota

On our way back from Sogamoso today, we made stops in Nobsa, where we could shop for locally handcrafted products; Duitama, where we visited Pueblito Boyacense (a village with a sampling of typical houses of the Boyaca region); and Zipaquira, where we visited the Salt Cathedral and experienced a traditional dinner with live music.

Visiting a Lutheran School

Today we took a long trip (4+ hrs.) north of Bogota to the city of Sogamoso. There is a large Lutheran school there (400+ students, grades K-11). On the way we saw beautiful, steep, green mountainsides and many people working hard. When we arrived at Colegio CELCO de Sogamoso we were first served a delicious snack of empanadas (meat pies) and then led to a large courtyard where the entire student body had gathered to welcome us and perform for us. They told traditional stories, sang, and danced for us. Some of us even were invited to dance with them. After that we split up: our youth played soccer and basketball with their youth, and the adults visited students in classrooms. Everywhere we went we were treated like celebrities. 

After leaving for a few hours to get lunch and take some time off we walked back to the school where we met the faculty, got acquainted, sang songs, and Pastor Glenn led a Bible study. We made new friends. It was a great day!

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