Colombia Accompaniment Report: A Thank You Note to Lora and Linda

By Ann Rosewall

I am truly blessed to be with my accompaniment partner, Rev. Ruth Hamilton, of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.  With over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry, Ruth brings to the table a wealth of information, political perspective that is best developed in the heart of the nation, and a heart for the culture and stories of individuals and their communities.

Ann and RuthRuth tells me she is an introvert, but I have witnessed her engage cashiers, police officers, children and professors alike in order to gain more depth of experience.  This morning, for example, we met with a pleasant, but shy businessman from Valledupar where we will be visiting later in the week.  We talked about going to church together, doing a leadership workshop for the congregation and where we might meet.  The logistics seemed to be covered, so I let the silence come.  Ruth shared with the man that she was interested in the Vallenata music (music of the countryside), and might there be a place where we could hear this music when we visit? 

It never occurred to me to ask for something like this.

The man brightened up, and said his nephew sings with a combo and he could invite them to come play for us.  My partner then asked, “What are the themes of the music? What are the instruments that are used?”  He sat up and started acting out the instruments that are used in Vallenatas.

My experience as an accompanier is enriched by the presence of my partner.  Ruth hears and understands where I do not, and is not reticent to ask me if I have understood something she missed.  Her depth of understanding Latin American life is broader than mine, and it pushes me to keep reading (if nothing else, just to keep pace with her!).

When I first met with Lora Burge and Linda Eastwood at the end of our discernment/training weekend at Stony Point to be part of the PPF Accompaniment Program, I asked if I could go alone.  I couldn’t imagine how much more exhausting it would be to be translating every conversation, and having to resist the impulse to take care of someone else.  Oh ye of little faith!  The coordinators heard and responded with the gift of a true partner on this trip – for which I will always be grateful.