December 9, 2002
COLOMBIA: “Butterflies, Babies, Birds, Bananas, and
The following is a letter written by Lena Siegers to
her family and friends. It has been shortened for
Dear Family and Friends,
My days here in Colombia are coming to an end. These
last few months have moved along quickly with much joy
and sadness. As I leave here, there is no one to
replace me. Not because there are no volunteers but
because this war-torn country is not granting visas to
CPTers. We have folks in Canada and the U.S. waiting
for visas. It is with mixed feelings that I leave
If no more human rights workers are allowed into this
country, there will be thousands more displaced
people. The team says “no” many times to requests for
accompanying folks who are on death lists.
Amidst so much uncertainty, the butterflies, bananas,
and birds are prolific, and babies are born to enjoy
the colors and flavors. I have never seen so many
different kinds of butterflies and birds, and always
the tiny ones have the most intricate colors and
designs. The smaller bananas are sweeter and more
flavorful. The babies too, come in many shades of
chocolate, milk chocolate, and creamy complexions. . .
. All absolutely adorable. All born into the horrible
setting of a stinking war.
I wonder about these as I listen to the bombs, and as
I listen to the planes, and then the helicopters. Who
is being bombed now? They say they are ridding the
land of rebels and violators. Innocent civilians are
the necessary casualties in this flushing. Fear is
turned to laughter in order to cope. How soon will
those bombs come closer? Have they killed my brother
and sister who live over there?
. . . Young people in fear accept the available job of
carrying a huge assault rifle, with lots of shells
plus a pistol in their belt. Some have grenades and
launchers, some even rockets. Schools are not an
option since many are closed and cost money. Innocence
is lost at the murder of a fellow citizen they were
ordered to kill. They would die if they disobeyed.
Parents keep planting, harvesting, and worrying about
children and grandparents.
War stinks. War sucks. War destroys. We must protect
the innocence, the intricacies, the intensities of the
smallness of butterflies, babies, birds, and bananas.
Bigness destroys the flavor of being. When smallness
is protected, bigness benefits from realization. May
God help us attain realization. . . .