Friday, December 12, 2008

The Long Goodbye.


This will most likely be my last blog entry from Bolivia. I cannot believe it is already time to leave here. While I do feel like I have been gone for a long time, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for almost a year.
This past week has been incredibly busy, with the normal ministry things, as well as all the last things I need to do before leaving.
On Tuesday Jen, Mike and I went to the malnutrition center to see little Franz. He was standing at the top of the stairs with a huge grin on his face when we walked in. He gave hugs and sat contentedly in our laps while we gave him warm milk and a cracker. He has gained one kilo and the change is incredible. He looks bigger, has more color and is happier…until we left that is. Then he cried and cried. It was very hard to leave, but I was so grateful to see him before I left and know for myself that he is doing so much better! He’ll have to stay there for a few more weeks, but I know he’s in good hands…the malnutrition center staff is pretty good too!
I finally got my passport with a new visa in it. I was at immigration four times this week (within three days!). I was then able to help one of my roommates navigate her way around immigration to do some minor paperwork. I joked to her that I would miss all of those people, after all I see them almost as much as the kids!
My former roommate Michelle returned to Cochabamba this weekend. She’s back in Bolivia exploring the possibility of returning for long-term work. It was very good to see her again. She’s staying with me at the hacienda, participating in our weekly duties as well as some of her own with her prospective new ministry. It’s such a good feeling, being here when friends return. It makes me feel more permanent here.
On Sunday I went to mass with my Spanish teacher. She goes to one of the biggest catholic churches in Cochabamba. It wasn’t all that different than I expected it to be. It was about an hour, nearly the entire service consisted of liturgies that were written out for everyone to follow along and participate, there were also some very short songs (liturgies and psalms set to music), and of course, the eucharist. I had wanted to go to mass since arriving since this is a predominately catholic culture.
After mass I had tea with my professor and then made my way to my own church. I get a bit nervous walking up there after the last time…but all was well. I arrived, and it just so happened to be the closing program for OANSA (AWANA). I was thrilled! I think AWANA is a fantastic program, and it was very cool to see all of the kids that come to participate (as well as hear the well known songs, pledge and themes in Spanish!)
This week we are having Christmas parties with the two homes. We invested in some Christmas cookie cutters, and are going to read some stories and give some gifts. I think it’s gonna be great! We still haven’t any news on Ana, so you can keep praying with us to find her.
I have been saying a lot of sad goodbyes this week. I wish I could tell you all about my friends, mentors and coworkers here, but that would take way too long. Maybe I can do a blog on some of them so you can see how great they are…
Next week I’ll try to give you a brief summary of my future plans. For right now I’ll go to spend Christmas with my family in Texas, then go to Ohio right after the new year to see my friends, family and supporters there.
Thanks for all you’ve done.
Love.
Kristen

Friday, December 5, 2008

Greetings Friends!
Happy late Thanksgiving!! Hope you enjoyed your day of food, family and fun! Although Thanksgiving is a North American holiday, we did stop to celebrate here in Cochabamba as well. I spent Wednesday night at my adopted family’s house. We made a big breakfast the next day, then I went home made some pies, called my family, and went to the Timmers for dinner.


We had home made dressing, a big turkey, delicious applesauce, and lots of pies. Amazing! Adrian joined us so this was his first Thanksgiving (he’s Australian). Then we took Thanksgiving to my adopted family’s house (they didn’t celebrate due to other circumstances) and watched a movie on their projector.
We’ve been preparing for Friday morning for awhile, not just because we were going to overeat the day before, but because Friday was the day when we switched house parents for the Villa Israel home. We took the kids to the park to tell them the news while Mike stayed to tell the former house parents that they were no longer going to be living there with the kids. While it was a very emotional day, we are positive that it was the best thing for everyone. Everyone is settling in well with the changes. Incidentally, the night before this change took place Ana ran away. We still do not know where she is so you can be praying with us that we find her soon.
Friday morning also happened to be the day that Samuel graduated from Kindergarten. So I got to be his “Madrina” (Godmother). I walked him down the aisle, in his little cap and gown. You can imagine how excited I was!!

Saturday we went to a parade that was put on by one of the biggest local universities. All of the groups had traditional outfits from various departments of Bolivia. Our friend Kattia danced in the parade. The parade was from 11:30 to 6, but we left around 2.




In the afternoon we had a Feria (fair) at the center where the kids could come spend their points that they earn for good behavior, attendance at the center and at church. I did face painting again. My artistic skills are not necessarily getting any better as I “mature”. But the kids seemed to believe that it was well worth 5 bonos (points).
Sunday morning I set off for church, I walked alone, but I didn’t really mind. Happy to be taking advantage of the beautiful weather, with my ipod providing an agreeable soundtrack. As I neared the church a white unmarked taxi roared up beside me and someone reached out the window and ripped my purse out of my hand. I screamed, and then just stood there and watched them speed away. I felt so helpless and violated at the same time. I immediately told myself that those are just things. I can replace them, but still felt incredibly sad to have lost it all at once. I felt so emotional which made me feel so materialistic to be so upset about the whole experience. After church I told two of my friends. They then told me that they will walk with me to church in the future so I don’t have to walk alone, and then loaned me some money so I didn’t have to then make the one and a half hour walk home, and waited with me for the trufi (public transportation here). How incredibly grateful I am for those two friends!!!
Last night we had a bunch of friends over for a bonfire, and kind of as one last hoorah before everyone leaves. Katie T., Matt and Elsa, and Katie S. all leave this week.
Well, I guess I’ve stolen enough of your life away with this long update!! Hope you’re enjoying this season of advent!
Love.
Kristen

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samuel and Vivi update...

For this child I prayed,
and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.
1 Sam 1:27 (NKJV)


Dear Readers,
I have good news to report to you…
Samuel is doing well! He came home from the hospital on Friday night. He was very relieved to go home. I went to see him during the visiting hour on Friday and read, looked at at pictures, and talked with him. Poor guy! He was so bored. He can only have visitors for an hour a day!

On Friday morning I had the opportunity to go out to Tiquipaya (a “suburb” of Cochabamba), where Adrian works at Bolivian Children’s Mission. It’s a home for about 30 kids. It’s a great setup, the kids are sweet, and I was a little jealous that Adrian actually gets to live with his kids! This home, along with our two homes (Frutillar and Villa Israel) are all part of our Navidad en Bolivia program, where the kids can be sponsored for Christmas gifts. In total there are 50 kids between the three homes that can be sponsored. If you are interested you can check out this site: http://fixmypix.com.au/blog/?page_id=258. Money can be sent to me (through my mom) and I can pull it out through my bank here and together we can make this a memorable Christmas for the kids here.

On Friday a new intern also arrived. Craig from New Hampshire. Craig came once before on a short term mission trip, his church has a very strong relationship with the ministry here and sends teams about twice a year. I had the pleasure of working with a group from his church this spring. I guess it’s gonna take getting used to having a guy around again…’though I guess it’ll probably be a bigger adjustment for him getting used to living with five crazy girls!

Friday afternoon we also (Friday was a big day) took the Frutillar kids to Sydney Timmer’s Championship soccer game. They got bored soon after our arrival so we went to a nearby field and they played all afternoon. It was a great activity.
Saturday we went to babywashing, we didn’t wash kids because of some personal things going on in the leader’s family, (pray for them please! The mother in law has cancer…can’t remember her name, I think she goes by Tía).
Anyway, so we gave out bread and warm milk. A lady came up to me, and told me that one of the men that we were giving food to was a thief. “He doesn’t deserve any”, she said, “…well, aren’t you going to do anything about it?” I informed her that we feed everybody. Then a little girl wanted to play with my hair so we went to find a seat, I saw the lady interrogating everyone that tried to walk by too…and I was re-thinking the entire, relatively strange, conversation out in my head. We don’t feed those who somehow “deserve” our free gifts. It’s called grace. It’s like God with us, none of us deserve His gift of His son, and then salvation to us, He freely gives it to us because He loves us. Too bad I couldn’t think of that when I was talking to the lady…

Sunday we went out to Villa Israel bright and early to take the kids to church. It was kind a yucky, rainy, soggy day. But it didn’t seem to dampen the kids’ spirits. They were super excited to see us and go with us to church. We went to a U.C.E. church (Union Cristiana Evangelica). Not where they usually go, but we were going to visit and decided it would be cool to take them with us. The house parents couldn’t go to church that day. The service was a mix of Quechua and Spanish. Good thing I quizzed Katie on her Quechua vocabulary on the way there! I however only remembered one or two words… The kids went to kids’ church and made a bunch of new friends. I’m so proud of all of those kids! I also got to see Samuel. He’s doing much better. He sat in my arms for a while and told me about the book that I had taken him in the hospital to look at while he laid in bed all day. I warned him as I was leaving to not climb on any more roofs.

Viviana’s still in the hospital. Pray for her recovery to go quickly. She’s already been there for two weeks. I visited her this past week. She is, as always, in good spirits. She teases the doctors, is able to leave her room to go to the playroom, go outside if there is a nurse to accompany her, and she has a whole drawer full of snacks, toys and games.

So that’s my week in a nutshell. Thanks SO MUCH for all of your prayers. For Samuel and Viviana… And me!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Samuel



I’d like to share with you all something that’s very heavy on my heart. Samuel, the little guy I’ve been working with since February has been maybe the biggest joy to me in the entire time I’ve been here. I look forward to working with him every week. He continually catches my off guard by how fast he soaks things up. He’s a very active boy, though slightly clumsy (maybe that’s another reason I like him so much). He’s always climbing trees, playing on the monkey bars, or wrestling with his brothers. So it was no surprise to me when I heard that he had taken a tumble late Tuesday night. (We found out yesterday.) He climbed out his window on to the roof, fell off onto the cement patio, hit his head and was unconscious for about 24 hours. He recently woke up, praise Jesus, and I was able to go see him at the hospital today. All the tests (x-rays) have come back okay, and he is able to move his arms and legs.

So if you could be praying for this precious little boy as he recovers that there will be no long term damage. I know that God has great things in store for this little guy. I think of Samuel in the bible and how his mother prayed for him for a long time and God granted her request for a son, and then used him to bring glory to God, and I believe that God can do great things through this Samuel too.


For this child I prayed,

and the Lord has granted me my petition

which I asked of Him.

1 Sam 1:27 (NKJV)



An added praise was that we also got to see Viviana, who is in the same hospital, she seems to be well recovered. She was in good spirits as always and was teasing the doctors and helping them find who they were looking for. We are hoping that she can come home today. Or very soon!



Thanks so much for your prayers!

Kristen

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Día de Los Muertos. bolivia.

Dear Readers,
Saturday was Día de los muertos here in Bolivia. We didn’t see too much action on Saturday, but on SUNDAY our friend Hermano Jorge (who was also the leader of our trip to Potosí) took us to the cemetery so we could see how the Bolivian people honor their dead. We arrived at the cemetery, it was a beautiful day-reminded me of autumn up north. We followed the pathway down to the cemetery to the sound of Taps. The cemetery was indeed full; it maybe looked a little bit more like a park, with grassy fields, bronze statutes, and lots of flowers. There were also some tombs
and most of the graves were in tall white walls with a bunch of openings with windows covering it. Behind each window sat a plaque, some flowers, and a glass of water, and behind that is where they put the caskets. Interesting fact: Adrian told me that the spots on the walls are rented out, and once people stop paying rent, the body is taken out and cremated. That space is then rented to someone else. The wealthier families have their own larger private tombs.

The whole tradition was not nearly as somber as I expected. There were children walking around in groups that would say prayers for the dead, for a fee of course; a few music groups-both traditional Bolivian music, some Arabic music, as well as a few mariachi bands. Entire families were setting up displays of the deceased relative’s favorite foods, kids playing tag, and then us gringos wandering around…no one seemed to be bothered by us, though.

Umm...I don´t really know what was going on here...!
The common belief is that on this day, (or weekend) the spirits of the deceased come back to visit. The families, therefore, want to make the visiting spirit welcome by pleasing it with favorite music, food, and familiar faces.
So…that was my experience at the cemetery. I read a verse at bible study last week that was so very encouraging to me, He (Christ) died for us so that, whether awake (alive) or asleep (dead), we may live together with Him. I Thessalonians 5:10. For us death is not the end!
Just wanted to share my cultural experience with you all…
Have a great weekend!
Kristen

COUNTDOWN: 43 days.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jungle Trip!



This was my first entire week in Cochabamba in 4 weeks!!
We were not able to locate my passport, so I had to apply for a new one. It should arrive in about a month. But if you could be praying for my visa to be restamped for minimal fees, I’d greatly appreciate it! I know that there’s no need to worry since, God’s bigger and has proved Himself faithful time after time, but I’ll still feel very relieved to have everything in order.
Last Friday we went to Chapare (the jungle). We had a meeting with a camp and church that together want to give us land for FIVE new homes!! We also saw the work in progress at Remberto’s new project and went to the other home that Remberto recently finished where I’ve spent some time helping with construction. The finished home is now just waiting on Sedeges (The child services agency here in Cochabamba) to approve all the paperwork. Remberto, Vick, Mickey, and Judith are staying there until a family is ready to move in. We also played with the neighborhood kids down by the river. They did their best to make sure that we “bathed” and even though we didn’t strip down to our underwear like they did, they succeeded in drenching us. It was really great to go back to the jungle to see the homes, and people that I’ve grown to love there. It was really neat, too, that we got to see very different stages of the homes in one day. Obtaining the land, constructing the house, and finishing it!
This week we’ve been catching up on blog stuff, getting our computers fixed, saying goodbye to dear friends, working at the center, tutoring at Frutillar, and twisting ankles…well, just me mostly of the latter. I was completely on couch-rest for a day, because I couldn’t move or put any weight on my foot. I was quite nervous that I had done some pretty serious damage, and began to lament all the activities I would miss because I couldn’t be as mobile. Bolivia is a very bad place to break a foot. But it’s doing a lot better now-Thank God!! I’m still hobbling around, but I imagine that in a few days it’ll be as good as new. I knew my clumsiness would catch up with me one of these days!!
The countdown is on, in a little less than 2 months I will be back to the states. It’s a very bittersweet feeling, and the only reason that I remind myself of it often, is so that it doesn’t sneak up on me. I don’t want to all of a sudden realize I only have three days left and have a bunch of things that I’ve forgotten to do. So if you all can be praying for me for direction as I make plans to return.
This week Jeff (Matt’s brother) who was an honorary IT intern, lived at the hacienda, and helped out all over the place, left. He was here for almost three months and was a huge encouragement to all of us. Mrs. Hedvall, my surrogate mother, my mentor and good friend left. She’ll be in Japan with her daughter until the beginning of December.
Soo, that’s what’s new here. I’ve made a video of our trip to Potosi. I’ll try to get it up on my photo blog soon(which I’ve also recently updated with PICTURES!!!).
Enjoy your weekend!!
Kristen

Monday, October 13, 2008

I spy something brown...


Two days after we returned from Chile we took off for Potosí, which is up by Oruro and La Paz (more north). We left Saturday morningi and are currently on the drive back. Sooo much happened, I’m afraid to write all of it, because I think you might be a little bored…but I’m going to anyways. So grab a cup of tea (or rice milk!!) and settle down for a long one…!
We left around lunch time. We spent a big part of our week in the car traveling. The roads were dusty and sandy, (our narrow windy mountain roads) but we only got stuck once. There were several ocasions where there were bulldozers cleaning off the mountain roads. But we had a Chevy!!
We spent our first night in Oruro (unexpected stop). We had a bit of car trouble so we had to have it fixed there. We were pleasantly surprised to have a bathroom and warm room to sleep in. However, this was only the beginning of the bolivian hospitality that we experienced during our short-term mission trip.
Our team consists of Dr. Jorge (Potosino, Dr. Jorge has a huge heart for his fellow potosinos, he consistently travels out to the campo to offer medical assistance as well. He directs Red Vida de Esperanza, the group that we went with). Javier, a missionary with Mission Unida Mundial. He lives in Vinto (right by Nate’s workshop where I go about twice a week), but works in a village in the mountains. He speaks Portugues, Spanish, and Quechua. Waldo, is a dentist and also part of the leadership of Red Vida de Esperanza. He’s a clown, and sometimes even got in costume for it, and enjoyed entertaining the kids and us. He’s also from Potosí. Hermana Vickie, is our cook, she’s a very sweet lady and make’s sure we’re all behaving! Rosi, is also a dentist and just finished her practicum in Chapare. This is her first mission trip and she was very excited to participate. Also my roommates Jen, Katie S, and Bethany came along.
We went to seven communities, very rural and poor communities. They were all very different, but most of them were cold. The first village we went to, we made a late arrival, but there were still townspeople up waiting for us. They then proceeded to bring us mattresses, blankets, tea, and bread. We realized pretty early after our arrival that this was probably the poorest community we had ever seen in Bolivia, or elsewhere for that matter. I felt guilty when I realized that because they had given us a bunch of blankets, it probably meant that someone had to go without. What sacrifice! We stayed in the school, both windows were broken but the boys taped them up with cardboard before we went to bed.
Almost all of the schools had a special ceremony welcoming us, complete with the bolivian national anthem (I have a few lines memorized and a cheat sheet that I can use to memorize the rest of it!), interpretive poetry, songs and traditional dance. In most of the villages the older generations spoke mostly, if not only quechua. I have a long ways to go to be fluent in quechua, but I have learned a few helpful phrases. (Ama wakaychu—don’t cry!)
For our program we did puppets (a skit about dental health, as most of the parents and grandparents have rotten or no teeth.), a clown drama, games, bible memory verse--Juan 3:16, coloring pictures, and distributing Samaritan’s Purse boxes. It was so neat to see the kids that receive the boxes, and get to tell them how and why they came here. (Helpful hint, to those of you who do boxes for samaritan’s purse or busses international I strongly suggest that you don’t include playing cards. In the rural communities that we have visited, cards are associated with gambling, casinos and other destructive addictions that the churches are fighting against. Soo….go with some cool sunglasses or gloves or something…)
We also participated in a few church services where I had to give my testimony twice—talk about being put on the spot…however it was really neat to hear it translated from Spanish into quechua!!
The biggest thing that God has been teaching me is to give my best every day…there’s a song by Jesus Adrian Romero (one of my most favorite artists), called Te Daré lo Mejor (I’ll put on a video of it, even though I don’t expect that many of you will understand it…), it basically talks about giving God our best every day, because that’s what he deserves. There were probably about 5 other verses, messages, or comments that convicted me even more. I just want to be able to stand before God with as few regrets as possible.
I have so much confidence in this organization that we have come with. Dr. Jorge, is the founder, and I feel like he has a really well balanced view of ministry. During our time in the campos, he was always meeting with the church and community leaders. We had tea with the teachers from one of the villages, and three of the teachers, openly mentioned that they were looking for a meaningful religion. Not worried about what others might thing, Dr. Jorge took the opportunity to share with them how meaningful his relationship with God is and how he offers that to all of us. He also encouraged and challenged them to keep on investing in the kids of the community. He preached at church a few times, did health exams in communities where there is no doctor, played games with the kids, and made sure all the needs of our team were met.
I give credit to all you short-term-teamers out there. I feel like this trip has been the most draining week in my eight months of missionary work here in Bolivia. ‘Though I wouldn’t trade it for the WORLD!! I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see more of Bolivia, hang out with kids, learn from my teammates, get out of my comfort zone.
Umm…there’s so much more I could write right now…but I imagine I’ll add some more by the time I post this. I’ll also try to post some PICTURES on my foto blog!!
Thanks for hanging in there!!
Kristen

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

CHILE.


Well, Katie and I left on Monday morning for Chile. The busride was almost 12 hours. Exhausting in and of itself, however the scenery was way worth it! We arrived in Arica Chile around 9 p.m. We got a taxi to our Arica Surfhouse Hostel. It was a great place, my first experience in a hostel, and I loved it! We shared the house with some Spaniards, Australians, French, English, Peruvian, and Chileans. There was a warm family atmosphere, shared living spaces and friendly hosts (the owner even drove us to the bus station when we left, for FREE!). On our first morning there, I decided that a hostel would be a great ministry…maybe in the future!
Arica is a beach town, therefore we took advantage of the beaches, since Bolivia obviously does not have any. We ran there one morning, and another morning climbed the cliff that sat right beside the city.
Incredible trip! We enjoyed the time off, change of scenery and the flexibility of the short, unexpected vacation. Katie got her visa renewed for 30 more days with the promise of getting another 60 added to it when we returned to Cochabamba. My visawork at the borders was a piece of cake, thanks to our great lawyer who helped us get everything worked out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Buen Viaje!

With less than 90 days left in my Bolivia experience, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of, well, loss. This is my life now. What will I ever do when I have to start all over AGAIN?! But I guess change has become the only constant in my life over the last two years, so I’ll adjust. But that’s enough of that, why worry about three months away, when there’s plenty to fill up that space in my brain right now.

So the political situation has taken a bit of a turn for the worst since I last wrote. No need to worry, though. Cochabamba is safe and not involved in the “unrest”, and we hope it stays that way! I must admit that in politics (of any country I’ve ever lived in), I’ve been a bit more ignorant than I should be…so you might just want to look it up yourself if you’re curious.

Last Friday I went out to help Nate H. build bunkbeds. He told me that we were getting metal for the addition on his workshop. I didn’t realize that WE were tearing it off his old workshop and hauling it back. But we did! Nate, Edgar (owner of Nate’s new workshop) and I. Edgar drove me back to get my stuff before I went home. On the way, we talked about his family, his church, how it’s building a home for street boys, etc. It was so neat to hear how involved his entire family is in the church and its’ ministries. So he took me to show me the boys home, which is HUGE. He’s an architect and designed it himself. It will hold about 80 boys. There will be a workshop out back so they can learn carpentry, and a big garden so they can help sustain the home. Then he showed me the Christian school that their church runs. His wife is the administrator and she gave me a tour. The school is bi-lingual and has almost 300 kids from the area. I left feeling so encouraged, it’s always great to see the nationals passionate and involved in ministries here. Today when we showed up to do bunkbeds Edgar was working on cabinets for the school! What an inspiration!

On Sunday there was a baptism at the center church (Iglesia Yo Soy) of a man named Victor. Victor gave his life to Jesus about three months ago. Nate + Kate met Victor, because he worked at their mechanics (their car spends a lot of time there!). They started a relationship and Victor started coming to church and soon after, became a Christian. As he was giving his testimony on Sunday he talked about how God had changed his life, even though he had made some bad decisions in the past. Then he started crying. It was so striking to me to realize that even though God has the power to change our lives and make something beautiful out of something that we manage to make into a horrible mess, there are still painful consequences to our actions. Sooo….let’s not use God’s grace as an excuse to do whatever we want. We will indeed reap what we sow.

This week has been really good at the center. There’s this one little guy named Francisco. I’ve known Francisco for about 7 months now. I’m pretty sure he was the first kid I met at the center, because he was so mischievous, dirty and mean. He must be about 4 or 5. So these past few weeks Francisco has been changing. For the better. He’s a lot calmer, actually likes to give us hugs, listens to instruction a little better. I guess all those “talks” from Toty, must have worked!
A new intern arrived on Friday. Bethany has lived in Bolivia once before. She taught here for a year at a bilingual Christian school three years ago. She’s from Detroit area, has 8 siblings and was homeschooled. So we have a lot in common.

Yesterday we had a “surprise” baby shower for Nate and Kate. Their baby is due in about 2 months. They go back to Australia this weekend with their other baby Lily, and will be there for four months. Therefore, I may not EVER see them again, or at least not for a really long time!  They are great people. They do so much for the ministry here, genuinely care about us, and are just really nice! (They’ve also done so much to help me Katie T. and me with our legal work. And now we have our visas and carnets that are good for one year!)

New development: I’ll be going to Chile for 3 days with Katie S. She has to go to get her tourist visa renewed. And since I’m LEGAL, I get to accompany her. You know, “protect” her…in the sense that there’s power in numbers!!

We also are going on a mission trip to Potosí this week with a group from CIC. We’ll be delivering Samaritan’s Purse boxes. I’m really excited about that; first off, because I’m excited to see more of Bolivia. Apparently Potosí is the highest city in the world. It’s also very cold and poor. Secondly, I’m excited because my family makes several Samaritan’s Purse boxes every year, and so I get to represent them and show them who gets their boxes, how they are distributed and what the reaction is.

I know that was a VERY long blog, sorry! I’ll try to write shorter entries more often…
Signing off for now,
Keep on keeping on Y´all!
Kristen

Some girls from my bible study.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fast Asleep


Happy Spring--or fall depending on where you happen to be in the world! Here, it’s spring. All of the trees are in bud, flowers are blooming and we are hoping that our fruit trees start producing lots of fruit!! Today I was out running and enjoying the landscape and was overwhelmed with the smell of flowers! What a way to start out the day!
I love spring it reminds me of a new start. Not that we necessarily get a totally new start every spring, but we are often presented with opportunities for a new start in all seasons, even if it just starts in our hearts, our attitudes, or our behaviors.
I personally have decided that seeing as I only have a little over three months left (100 days to be exact!), it is crucial that I finish strong. I don’t want to leave any relationships unfinished. I realize that at this point it would be easy to throw myself into a variety of different activities, but I want to remember why I’m here and make the most of my time. I want to give myself more fully to fewer things, rather than getting kind of involved in a lot of things. After all, this might be my only opportunity here! 
Last Sunday we had a bunch of friends and co-workers over for a potluck. It was a great time of fun, food and friends! The hacienda is a perfect spot to have a party so we decided we should let other people enjoy it too! (Plus we have a new volleyball “court”-I use that term loosely since the ground isn’t exactly regulation turf!)
This week we decided to put some effort into making our community a friendlier place so Nate, Matt, Elsa and I went and picked up garbage at the local park where we often take the kids to play. Trash cans are almost non-existent in public places. We gathered 19 bags of garbage and only made a dent in the project, however, by the time we finished a crowd of kids had congregated to watch us. It was good, though, hopefully inspiring them to also want to make their neighborhood cleaner. I think next time we’ll take the kids from the orphanage to help!
Bryan arrived on Tuesday, he was working in Peru doing discipleship with some guys in the jungle. Before he returns home he is traveling around South America visiting a bunch of other types of ministries. He will be here until Thursday.
At Villa Israel last week, we arrived, visited for a little bit, and as we were talking and introducing the kids to Bryan, Samuel climbed into my lap and fell asleep. He probably slept there for a good two hours. It was really cute, there’s a song by Tree 63 that says
“if I fall fast asleep it’s just because I feel so safe in you”,
they were talking about God and to me Samuel sleeping so deeply in my lap was just a really sweet picture of that. I really love Samuel, and I know that God’s love for us is even DEEPER than the love I feel for Samuel or any of the other kids here, and that he’s our secure place whether we’ve had a bad day, or screwed up, or just need to sit and be quiet with Him.


Once a week we take the Frutillar kids to the park to play, (on the other day we help with homework and tutor) but this week we decided to bring them up to the hacienda to have a little party. We played some board games, foosball, volleyball and had a snack with them. They were so excited, we had a pretty swell time too!
On Friday we got a new girl for the Villa Israel home! I haven’t actually met her yet, but am definitely looking forward to Thursday when I will get to meet her! Her name is Neydi, and she is supposedly six, ‘though our bosses think she is more like 8.
Yesterday was Día de Peatón here in Cochabamba (Day of the Pedestrian). No one was allowed to drive until evening. It was so relaxed, people were all out in the streets visiting, playing futbol (soccer), and riding bikes. We walked to church and around the city. It was a really great day, one of my favorites…I kind of wish it was like that every Sunday!!
Today I found a to-do list from last year around this same time (probably the same week, since I had written a note about my sister-in-law’s birthday which is on Saturday). And I smiled just thinking about how different my life is at this point. I live in a different country, work with kids, never see my family, hang out with all new people, speak a different language, use a different type of money, shop in an outdoor market, haven’t driven in 7 months, etc…. What a fantastic opportunity—I highly suggest it!!
Anyway, I think that’s it for now!
Love you guys!
Kristen

Monday, September 8, 2008

Return to me.

I can´t get this computer to recognize my flash drive...so mark this page and come back to it tomorrow! I really have an extensive update plus pictures that I want you to see!!! So you can add this page to your favorites, or I think there´s a link to "follow" this blog...
See you tomorrow!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lots of birthday parties!!

Dear Amigos, 29, agosto 2008
Hard to believe August is already almost over. What a month! I´ll be celebrating my seven month anniversary on Monday.

We’ve celebrated three birthdays so far this week and will celebrate two more on Friday. It’s so great to get to spend time with the kids just to have fun. No tutoring, babysitting, or points. Basically, no responsibilities--just fun!

So we girls of the hacienda have been continuing to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities. On Sunday night we went to the church that meets at the orphanage. It was our first time ever going, but it was really nice. It was a vibrant group of people, and the family of the house was so excited that we were there. It felt great! We’ve also been exploring a lot of neighborhoods around our house. We’ve found some really neat places, and it helps me feel like I have a much better feel of the neighborhood I live in. It’s a very diverse area, three blocks to one side there’s a very poor neighborhood of unfinished houses, dirt roads, and lots of scrawny dogs. Three blocks in the other direction, there are really big, fancy houses, with few dogs--though healthy, and paved roads. What a contrast!
It’s been a very busy two weeks. We’ve been going all the time. We helped Nate move his workshop to another bigger location about twenty minutes farther from here yesterday. I’ve been going out to help do bunkbeds for our orphanages in Chapare plus some desks for a FH (Food for the Hungry) project twice a week.
We’ve also been having birthday parties, there’s a fair at the center this Saturday for all of the kids who come, and Sunday we are having some co-workers + friends over to the Hacienda for a potluck plus volleyball. But I like staying busy. It keeps me from missing home as much.
I’m reading a book called “It Came From Within” (by Andy Stanley.) It addresses the condition of our hearts and underlying issues that cause us to not love God and each other the way we should… It’s a VERY good book. I highly recommend it. I am, in fact, learning so much about myself and finding underlying things that are happening in my heart towards those that I should be loving, that I never paid attention too. But the good thing is that the book also explores ways to CHANGE. And boy do I ever plan on it!!
The Timmers returned on Monday, and the Hedvalls returned last Wednesday. It’s so good to have them back!! It’s weird that I was here when they left, and could tell them that I’d still be here when they got back. It feels kinda nice to wait, anticipating the return of those you care about. I guess, that might be how God feels about the day that we get to join Him. Not wishing our time over any faster, but knowing that the day will come when we get to come be with Him.
The biggest prayer point that I have for you at the moment, is to ask God to keep discouragement away. Things sometimes get monotonous, people sometimes are difficult, situations sometimes tricky and accommodations often inconvenient. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, and what we are doing here.
Thanks for reading, praying and encouraging me!!
Love.
Kristen

Monday, August 18, 2008

Return of the boss.


Soo we said a bunch more goodbyes this week… Rach left Wednesday night, Adrian left Thursday night and Tiffany moved out on Thursday. The house is so empty it almost echoes… Why does everything have to happen at the same time?!!
Adrian is off to language school in Peru, then to Quito to work with a youth ministry there with IT, then off to explore a million other countries. He was a fantastic brother, we were all very grateful for his kindness, and super funny sense of humor. He was also a good baker, he enjoyed treating us girls to dinner and dessert often. In fact the day after he left Jen, Katie S. and I decided to go on a sweets fast since we have gotten so used to having sweets around all the time. I feel healthier already!!
I got my plane ticket to come home--December 16th is the lucky day!! (That day also happens to be my Mom’s birthday, I hope I’m a good present!  ) That gives me four more months here. Whew! That doesn’t sound like very much, but there are days when it feels like an eternity!
On Saturday we did a “Hygiene Day” with the kids at Villa Israel. A bunch of the kids have not been there very long, and usually come from poorer neighborhoods or the Campo (countryside), therefore cleanliness is not something they’ve grown up with. Kim did a puppet show and Aldo the psychologist talked about the importance of being clean outside, but also inside—having a clean conscience, asking forgiveness for wrongs, etc. We also brought some liquid soap (Aldo told Roberto that when he got a bit older the girls would like that he had clean, good smelling hands!), stools for the littler ones to reach the sink and toothpaste and toothbrushes. I was shocked by how excited the kids were!! Brandon ran up behind Kim and gave her a really big hug and thanked her, sometimes it’s the littlest things that get kids excited! It’s really sweet to see the older kids there interact with the little ones. They’re so protective and gentle. It makes me really happy, and kinda proud too, not that I taught them that, but that I get to work with such sweethearts!!
The Timmers come back next week. From what I’ve heard they’ve had a good time visiting supporters, hanging out as a family, and reuniting with old friends. They did get to go see a bunch of people from Bedford (you may recall that we had an AMAZING team from Bedford a few months back, they’re also sending another team this fall…can’t wait!).
Well, that’s about it for now…have a fantastic day! I hope to put up some more pictures this week…so keep checking the foto site (go to my complete profile and there will be a link to it.)
God bless!
Kristen

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Birthdays!


Dear Readers,
Rach arrived two weeks ago, she pretty much just blended right in as an intern! I think that’s the best way to experience what we do here…
Last week we had lunch with the IT Latin-American directors. It was really great to hear their insights; they also are good friends with Darryl, my former boss who was a missionary in Costa Rica with IT for three years.
On our visit out to Villa Israel last week, as we were greeting all the kids and Charlie (house dad) I noticed that Charlie had a bandage on his head as well as scratches all over his face. I, obviously, was curious and asked what had happened. He told me that he was assaulted and robbed on Sunday night at the Terminal, and roughed up a bit… when things like that happen you are obviously glad to be alive still, but feel very shaky and in a way… violated. Knowing that you’re not even safe in your own hometown is really unsettling.
This last week we started a new schedule so it was nice to have things mixed up a bit… here’s a typical schedule of our week:

lunes (Monday) Meeting with the bosses
Communication day (updates, blogs, etc).
Babysit.

martes (Tuesday) Spanish class.
Center.
Girls’ Bible Study (Spanish)

miercoles (Wednesday) Build bunkbeds.
Center.

jueves (Thursday) Villa Israel.
Dinner with Matt + Elsa
Intern Bible Study.

viernes (Friday) Frutillar tutoring.

sabado (Saturday) Frutillar tutoring.
Young Professionals (Spanish).

domingo (Sunday) Church.
Babywashing

Rachel got her wisdom teeth out this weekend-on her BIRTHDAY! But she needed to get them out in enough time that she can travel, but soon enough so she can do things the day or two before she leaves too…Surgery was a bit roughter than they expected, so they gave her some extra sedative so she slept a lot. But she’s doing a lot better now, and I’ve been getting some nursing practice! The Olympics also started this weekend—also on Rachel’s birthday so we’ve been camping out at Matt and Elsa’s (so Rachel could recover, also for a break from our house since this weekend was a big vote all over the country and we were encouraged to just be careful to keep a low profile). I LOVE the summer Olympics!!
Wednesday was my birthday and the whole country celebrated…’though they didn’t exactly know that was what they were celebrating, you see it was also Bolivia’s Independence Day. I got to talk to my parents and my twin!!
Monday was Katie S.'s birthday...what a crazy week for birthdays. Katie S., Me, Bolivia and Rachel!
Well, I guess that’s about it…
Have a GREAT week everybody!
Love.
Kristen

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yay for concerts!

Hey Folks,
Greetings once again from the lovely city of Cochabamba Bolivia.
There are now 7 of us living at the hacienda. My bedroom looks so much homier when it’s fuller, and there’s four of us chicas living in there now. I like it!
Jen is the newest roomate. She arrived on Wednesday from Chicago. Jen was my other roommate at training, so it’s been so exciting as Tiffany and I have been anticipating reuniting with this sweet girl! She’ll be here until May of 2009.
The Colorado kids left on Friday night, as our last big shebang we went to a Christian concert (A band called Rescate, plus a drum corps, and a Reggea Rock band—needless to say it was very entertaining!), and dinner on Thursday night. As we were eating dinner and getting ready to head to the concert we got a phone call that a team of ten people was on the way to stay the night at our house…I of course switched into survival mode trying to figure out where they would stay, what they would need and how I needed to prepare for them. Adrian was a saint, and as he was the only one not planning on going to the concert he got the whole house ready for them. There ended up being 14 of them, and they just spent one night at our house. They came down from the states to do worship for some conferences around Bolivia. Talk about last minute notice!! But that’s the life of an intern, and fortunately I work better under pressure! 
On Friday we went out to lunch with the Colorado kids, they went with us to Frutillar to play with the kids and say goodbye. We then had a big dinner and said goodbye. We’ll miss them sooo much. Dinner time will just not be as exciting! They were so much fun to have around, I loved watching them pour themselves into the ministry here, they were so flexible and excited about being involved with the kids, church, and other missionaries here.
Saturday morning my big sister Rachel arrived!!! It was sooo good to see a family member. It’s been about six months that I haven’t seen them, and that was by far the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing any of them. So it’s been fun showing her around town and introducing her to my friends, the kiddos, and Bolivia.
I decided that I really want to get more involved at my church so I went to the young adults group on Saturday. I had to talk myself into it, because I was kinda nervous, but it was really good. Aaand, I met some really great people!
This week we have a schedule change so it’ll be interesting. Also the IT Latin American director is coming into town so we’ll get to meet him. I’m pretty excited about that! 
Okie doke! Have a great week!
Kristen

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When will I know enough?


Soo this week contained so many learning experiences. Literally every day has brought to light a new perspective or paradigm shift. How does this all happen at once. So as you might imagine my mind is running like a million miles an hour!
The Colorado interns returned from Chapare last Monday (Adam, Sage, Hallie and Lauren). They were out there for four weeks and really enjoyed their time working with Remberto and fam. I also really enjoyed sharing common experiences in Chapare and hearing about all they learned and experienced while there. Remberto actually came back from Chapare with Vick, Mickey and baby Judith Bonnie (Yes! She finally has a name! She’s definitely grown since last time I saw here!) last weekend so we got to see them a few times. It was really nice to be able to sit and visit with them. They’ve begun another orphanage about 20 minutes from the one in Nueva Jerusalen.
Saturday was Lily’s birthday. Nate and Kate had a nice party for her. It was so sweet to see them thanking everyone for being a part of their lives and for being like family to Lily. I guess it would be really hard to raise a family so far from your own. But it’s a sacrifice they have made to follow God, and in that I believe they will never be sorry.
Friday was Adrian’s birthday, and Sage’s birthday was on Saturday too. So there was a lot of celebrating going on!
On Monday night at our intern bible study it was my turn to lead. Well, in fact I volunteered to lead because we were on Philippians 2. So I went on line found some good commentaries and spent hours reading and rereading the passage and then reading this commentary. I LOVE doing that. The bible is amazingly always so incredibly relevant. I’m actually going to do another entry for the things I learned as I studied about becoming more like Christ and what that meant to me and for me. It’s a chapter on community and like it or not, we all live in one. Enough said, I'll try to write up a blog about my new insights...check out Philippians 2 for yourself,though, when you get a chance!
Monday and Wednesday afternoons we spend at the Centro de Amistad. I help Toti prepare the refreshments for the kiddos and sometimes I get to help some kiddos put together a puzzle or play pick up sticks or volleyball, but most of the time I just work in the kitchen and wash area. But I really enjoy talking with Toti. She’s an amazing woman, who encourages me to trust God in everything. Basically I just hope that her, loving, caring, serving heart will rub off on me!
Tiffany and I were talking this weekend, and evaluating the ministry here, and our personal ministries. We decided that a big part of why we feel we are here is to encourage the long-termers. So we decided to help out some young missionary families by babysitting for their little ones so they can enjoy a date night. So tomorrow night is our first night, and I am really looking forward to it! I used to love babysitting!
Oh, by the way Ismael’s (The youngest, newest at Villa Israel) real name is Franz. And Maria’s (the youngest Frutillar kid) is Maribel. Gosh, as if it isn’t hard enough keeping track of 20 kids names without changing them!!
Well, I guess that’s about it for now.
God bless you all!
Kristen

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

[Halftime.]



So five months has past, since I first arrived in Cochabamba. Unbelievable!! Even though they say that time flies, I still can’t believe it’s gone already!
Some really cool things happened this week…
We had VBS at Villa Israel Wednesday-Friday. The theme was obedience. We did games, a bible story, a puppet show, crafts, etc. It was a good time with the kids.
On Wednesday night we got two new boys for the villa Israel home. They’re brothers, Ismael (2 ½) and Elian (4). They’re both small for their ages. Ismael has a rash up his arm and side. Their mother just passed away and their father is an alcoholic and not interested in them. They understand Spanish (I think) and Elian speaks a little bit, but their heart language is Quechua. I speak about 5 words in Quechua, so I guess we’ll all be learning together…though I can bet you that they’ll learn Spanish way faster than we’ll learn Quechua. Katie S. speaks a little bit of Quechua, so that helps a lot.
Tiffany unfortunately caught Jirardia (don’t know how to spell that…) at the camp she was at last week…so she spent a few days in bed. But fortunately after a three day cycle of medication she was as good as new!
On Thursday the Harlem Globetrotters were here in Cochabamba!! So of course, we went and saw them! It was super fun!!!
On Friday, Independence Day, a family from the International Church here threw a 4th of July party! It was fantastic! There were nearly a hundred people, and a few orphanages (Jennifer’s Casas de Amor-see one of the March Blogs for more info) also came with their little ones to enjoy the enormous inflatable slide. It was a great night!
The Frutillar home also welcomed two more sheep into their family! Gosh, we have enough problems with the Negrita eating crayons, homework, people’s hair, etc! Hopefully these two will keep her occupied!
I’ve been in and out of immigration all week. We had some “problems” with the last lawyer so now I have to start the process all over again, plus some fines that I have unknowingly incurred… But I should hopefully be able to get my visa in a month or so…
Saturdays we go to babywashing. It’s always really neat to meet other volunteers, and my faves-the little girls that come. Last week one of the girls named Brenda gave me a bracelet that she had made. There’s another little girl named Claudia that always seeks me out and gives me the best hugs. I personally prefer to comb and braid hair of the older girls, as opposed to bathing the littler ones that always scream! I haven’t gotten lice yet so that’s a HUGE praise!!
Well, until next week…chao!!
Love.
Kristen

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How we roll at the Hacienda… [Update.]



I realize that I haven’t done an update in awhile…so here ya go!
I had surgery last Monday to get the rest of my wisdom teeth out. It was so much better than last time. I slept through almost the whole thing. I was SO swollen for a few days. I pretty much laid in bed for the first three days. Read. Slept. Watched movies. Listened to podcasts. I was really excited when I finally got out of the house on Thursday night! Recovery is going a bit slower than expected…so I’m enjoying oatmeal, yogurt and applesauce for the time being. But I really can’t complain, life’s good!! I expect a full recovery by next week!
Monday was the holiday San Juan, so we celebrated by setting off fireworks. We later found out that that’s illegal in the city! Oops! San Juan is a cultural celebration when the locals set fires to warm up the earth. This week contained the shortest day, and the “coldest” day of the year, and my grandma, my cousins, and two of my brothers’ birthdays + my grandparents 53rd anniversary!
This week we have been having Vacation Bible School at the Center. There have been a LOT of kiddos! Yesterday there were nearly 50!!! On Monday a little girl named Sarah came with her brother Elias. They walked in holding hands and as they were walking by I said “Hola!”, Sarah turned around smiled really big and ran over to me and gave me a hug! It was so cute! I had never even seen her before, but apparently that simple greeting was all she needed to warm up to me! It made my day!! (hopefully hers too!)
Yesterday we went out to Villa Israel to tutor. All the kids were there because they are on “vacation” from school. We had a really good day tutoring and playing with them. They are just SO CUTE I can hardly handle it!!
On the intern end of things here, Andrea left on Friday, we all went to take her to the airport, and what do you know, there was a blockade! So we parked on the street and walked. I met some girls from Florida. They were here with their youth group on a missions trip and were on their way home when we saw them at the airport. It was really encouraging talking to them and hearing their hearts for helping others.  I know my own sisters (who are in Jr. and Sr. high) just got back from a local mission trip and were also super excited about how God blessed, provided, and empowered specifically during that week. I think missions is something every kid should have an opportunity to do before graduating from High School…but that’s just my personal opinion…!
Stephanie left on Saturday morning…she will go see a doctor once she gets home just to make sure everything is okay, but she’s doing so much better!! God is so amazing! I actually got to see her without sunglasses a few times before she left!
Katie #2 arrived late Saturday night. Two weeks after scheduled arrival time. They are not messing around when they say that you need a yellow fever shot before coming… and apparently there’s a shortage of the vaccine in the US. We’re very glad to finally have her here! She was here two years back helping with the kids at Frutillar and building the Villa Israel home. So it’s really cool for her to see it now with kids, and I think it’s really cool to hear how her internship was then, and to hear how she learned from it and what she wants to do differently this time around…
Katie #1 has been here for two weeks, though I’m not sure if I’ve officially written about her yet. She’s interning at the Center, but hangs out with us in her spare time. (Incident-ally Katie’s middle name is Joy…the same as my twin, Katie Joy!!)
Tiffany is gone for the week helping with a Youth Camp for the teens from the Inter-national Church. She’s been really involved helping to lead the camp.
So, it’s just Adrian, Katie, Katie and me here in the hacienda this week…and Pop Tart!

Say Yes to the Best…

[sequel to ´the struggle against mediocrity´]

Soo, I’ve been thinking for a long time about what I wrote about last week...and I was still thinking about it this week and thought that I should maybe clarify a few things…I still think it is discouraging how easy WE settle for mediocrity…

I’ve been reading a book by Brother Andrew, “The Calling”. He talks about how we waste time when we try to figure out what God’s will for the rest of our life is, or when we spend so long trying to make sure that we’ve heard a definite call from God. He points out that all God wants from us is obedience today. As we daily obey Him then He will lead us to where He wants us. And I thought about that, and I think it’s true…we spend so long sitting around waiting for an audible voice, or something to just drop in our laps, or we get so worried about what we are going to do with the rest of our lives to make a big difference and don’t worry enough about what we are doing today.

I don’t want to knock a 9-5 job. God leads us to different things at different points in our lives, and we need to obey Him before any fancy ideas that we can only make a difference if we have a job with a good salary, or a high profile job in the community, or if we are a pastor or missionary.

Being a stay-at-home mom can affect the lives of not only your children, but your friends, babysitter (believe me I know from personal experience!), doctors, etc. Being an employee of a non-christian boss can have a lasting impact of his ideas of integrity, work ethic, and God. The possibilities are endless, I just want to challenge all of us, to follow God. If He calls us to a lower profile job, then go for it and make that your missionfield. If He calls you to do something that seems impossible, trust Him when He says that when we are weak THEN He is strong…

He’s good. He’s faithful…no matter what. And all He expects is obedience…no matter what. My pastor said that God expects obedience no matter what. He won’t sit back and say, “Okay, you’re right, I understand that you couldn’t do what I told you to that one time…but next time…”

I know that sometimes we don’t know where God is calling us. I personally fear that I’ll get to the end of my life, and feel like I never did anything because I didn’t know what He wanted me to do. But my friend Karen, encouraged me that sometimes we have to go with what we know. We know generalities about God, like that we are supposed to be sharing Him with others, we are supposed to help the poor, orphans and widows, we are supposed to be people of integrity, we are supposed to marry other Christ-followers, etc. So that kind of gives us something to go on…and we have to just pray that He will guide us and sometimes we have to just go for things and pray that He will stop us if that’s not of Him… We can’t just expect things to fall in our laps, we have to do our part too.

Umm….I guess that’s all for now. Who knows, I may have a follow-up blog next week too, as I explore more what this means…

However, I would like to leave you all with a verse that caught my attention this week…

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

As always, feel free to comment…

Monday, June 16, 2008

The struggle against Mediocrity

Soo... this week I've been reflecting on my life, and also thinking about some friends--who shall remain unnamed. I see this recurring pattern of maybe when you're little having dreams of being a doctor, or teacher, or missionary or fireman and then growing up and either getting a decent job at a factory, or daycare, or retail store and settling. Just like that, done. How does that happen so easy? What happened to those dreams of wanting to help change the world? What happened to going for something big without worrying about "failure". What is "failure"?
I don't have a huge speech about following your dreams, but I think to some extent we should follow our "dreams". We have God on our side.
So what's the worst that can happen? Say we try teaching and then decide that we like working in a daycare better? At least we know that we tried, right?
I was reading Ephesians 4 and in verse one it says: "Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called". And I just think of a lady from my church. When I was in high school she asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I responded that I wanted to do missions work, she then replied, "I used to feel like God was calling me to do that. Then I got married." And I thought to myself, I never want to have to say that! Even if I try it and God says he wants me to do something totally different I don't want to have to live with regrets. I want to make the most of every opportunity. Whether it's whitewater rafting in the jungle, or taking a few minutes to talk to a lonely old woman, or letting little kids paint my nails (or knuckles) 5 different colors. I'm here because God led me here, and I want to walk worthy of that calling. If I have to humble myself and apologize to my roomates for not being a thoughtful sister, then I will.
Maybe your calling is to be a youth worker, or a fireman, or a stay-at-home mom, I just want to challenge you, first of all to go for it!! Second of all to hold me and those around you to follow the dreams God has given them. Let's not settle for mediocrity when the sky's the limit. because God's on our side. Right?
So feel free to comment, good or bad on this blog...
Love you guys!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Escalators, Dances, and Stairs. Lots of Stairs.

Jaclyn left on Saturday. One of the hardest goodbye’s I’ve ever said…at least over the last few months. It was my last thread of familiarity as far as housemates go. First it was Michelle with whom I was also very close and then Jaclyn. She and Michelle were both so great at making me feel included and helping me to feel like I belonged. They are both dear friends and I hope to stay in touch with them FOREVER!!!
We took the kids from the Frutillar orphanage to the airport too (Along with Popi, Sofia and Vicenta-the houseparents and helper). It was the first time they had ever been there, and were so fascinated by the escalator. They just wanted to ride up and down all day long. It was really neat, I thing, although hard for them to be there. I reminded Jaclyn that the last thing she would see in Cochabamba would be the very reason she came here. I hope she thought that too.

Sunday we climbed up to the Cristo-an incredible workout since you have to climb like a MILLION steps to get up to it! There was a cultural dance performance thing that we watched it was cute and somewhat amusing, the band who set up there for what I thought would be a concert, were only lip-syncing the whole time!!

Tuesday Kim, Elaina and I went out to the Food for the Hungry office (Fundacion Contra el Hambre) to help Nate work on the bunkbeds for the new orphanages in the Chapare. It was fun. I even got to use some of the big tools!! Then he and his wife Cindy along with his mom and grandpa who are visiting from the states took us out for pasta. They were really encouraging!
Tuesday night was Mallory Timmer’s graduation party. Remberto and Vick were there with their baby. It was SOOO good to see them again!! They will probably forever be some of my favorite Bolivians!!

Wednesday at the Center I was talking with Toti (David’s wife. They run the ministry at the center.). There’s this one boy in particular at the center named René who for some reason every time I see him, I just feel for him. He comes very faithfully and he’s one of those kids I just want to see him come to know Jesus. I want everyone to come to know Jesus, but for some reason this kid has a special place in my heart. Don’t know why, but he does. I was asking Toti about René today, and she talked about him and a few of the other kids and about some who had accepted Christ and never come back, some who had accepted Christ whom she could see a change in, and some who haven’t--yet. Then she told me that she prays for them everyday. She said she made a commitment to God to pray for all of the kids every day. And I felt somewhat convicted. I pray for them. But not NEAR as faithfully as I should. Or want to. So I’m going to start. Last night.

That’s all for now I think.
Keep on keeping on, ya’ll!!
Kristen

Friday, May 30, 2008

Vacation Day


[Blog 14.]

Hmm. Today is Friday and I am using Nate and Kate’s wireless internet. That makes me really happy!! J

It was another good week here in Bolivia!

On Sunday I went to my Spanish church and used my new Spanish bible. Then we interns had dinner with the Timmers and enjoyed our last dinner with them and Jaclyn.

I spent Sunday afternoon with my “family” here. The Hedvalls. I am so incredibly grateful for them. The New Tribes missionaries here had a special service to celebrate their kids who are graduating. It was so cool to hear each of the dads talk about how much they appreciate their graduate. It made me miss my dad a whole lot!

We went over Ephesians 2 at bible study on Monday night. It was such good stuff. I so enjoy just diving into a chapter at a time and getting out everything I can, and then getting to share with others and hear what they got out of it too.

Tuesday was mother’s day here in Bolivia. We went out to Villa Israel (all of the kids got off of school for mother’s day). We made cards with them for Lizeth and they wrote really sweet notes of how much they love and appreciate her. I was inspired and made a note for…Jaclyn! (Don’t worry I already sent a card to my mom!)

Wednesday Mike gave us a gift of a day off in Chapare to go White water rafting. I guess it was for our hard work hosting teams and such. It was so much fun…I LOVED it!! The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as well!

However, the not so fun part was that Adrian and Jaclyn both caught parasites. I don’t doubt the fact that we probably swallowed like a gallon of water when we were jumping overboard, diving off of the concrete barrier (that we also crashed into) or having waves crash over top of us. They spent the better part of the morning in the clinic. Adrian actually had to be on an IV drip. Poor kids. They’ve both actually been pretty sick over the last few weeks/months. Pray that they get better FAST!!

This weekend we’ll be seeing Jaclyn off, washing some babies, tutoring and playing with some kids, climbing up to the Cristo, and who knows what else! (That’s how life as an intern goes…!)

Mallory graduates next week so I imagine that we will be seeing quite a bit of the Timmer family. Their older two daughters will be flying in from the states to celebrate with us!

I think we’ll also have 4 more interns coming on Sunday for like 2 months to do construction type stuff. The paperwork is supposed to be completed soon so we can start construction on the 5th home which is also in Villa Israel, they’ll also most likely be working on Home 4 in the Chapare.

Pray for Jaclyn as she gets ready to go home tomorrow. So sad!! She’ll be in Texas and visiting family for the first part of the summer, then she’ll be relocating to Denver Colorado to attend Seminary. I’m so proud of her!! We’ll definitely miss her lighthearted fun attitude around here.

Okie doke. I guess that’s about it. Thanks for your prayers, support, and correspondence!

Love.

Kristen

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What a week!!




[Blog 13.]
Well today’s Saturday. Can’t believe a whole week has gone by already. Or for that matter I can’t believe that nearly four months have passed already. So far I can honestly say that’s it’s been a huge learning experience for me. God’s been so faithful even in the little things and I hope that I am conveying that through my updates…because sometimes I feel as though I’m just rambling.
Michelle left exactly one week ago. The team went out to Chapare for the day and there wasn’t room for interns in the car, which was fine with us since it meant that we got to spend the day with Michelle!! Jaclyn and I made breakfast and we sat around and reminisced with Michelle about her experiences here and her hopes and fears about returning to the US of A. We interns, along with Nate and Kate and Lily, as well as Elsa took Michelle to the airport. A few friends also met us at the airport. Ironically enough, the plane that our newest interns Kim and Elaina got off of was the same one Michelle got on to leave! We all stood on the observation deck to see Michelle off. You can bet that we were a little bit loud as we wanted to make sure that she heard our last goodbyes.
Kim and Elaina just finished their sophomore years at Liberty University. They’re from New Hampshire (Kim attends Bedford Church, which is the sending church of our last team before this North Park Team). They’ll be here until June 9th.
This week we went with the team to Sipe Sipe to do a bread run, we also went back to the Malnutrition Center. (Two of the little boys that were there last time I was there were still there.) We also took the team to the Cancha to see some more bolivian culture as well as to get some souvenirs. The team left on Wednesday evening.
Thursday was a national holiday, which we mostly just celebrated by cleaning the hacienda. It’s amazing how much faster the work gets done with 3 more sets of hands!
Mallory and Sidney Timmer came over and we hung out and made Cowboy Cookies! (It’s a Polcyn family classic!). We had such a nice time. I love those girls!!!
We did get some time with the kids this week. We did our regular tutoring times, as well as babysitting for an afternoon for the Villa Israel kids so the parents could have some time to themselves. All the new interns plus Jaclyn went out and had a great time with the kids! But don’t worry I got some time with them yesterday too!
One of the most frustrating things that’s happened was that two of the interns got pickpocketed--within 24 hours of each other!! Kim lost her brand new camera, and Jaclyn lost her wallet with 300 bolivianos and her drivers license in it! (That’s about $43 USD, more or less). I was pretty angry. I can only figure that 4-7 gringos just is a really promising target for a pickpocket, because we try to be really careful about that stuff.
This morning we took the girls to the Saturday market. I love the Saturday market. It’s an open air market where they block of two streets and set up shop with fresh produce, household goods, and almost anything else you might need. We got some new flowers to plant around the hacienda. I wish I knew more about plants so I could actually keep them alive indefinitely!!
Only one more week until Jaclyn leaves!!! Argh. So keep her in your prayers. Michelle made it back safe and sound, but you can continue praying for her too as she continues to process what she’s experienced here. Also keep praying for the teams that have come and gone that God will continue showing them His bigger plan for the world.
Okie doke…that’s it for today…
Keep on keeping on.
Love.
Kristen

PS I´ll try to post more pictures later this week...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lots of New Interns!!

Greetings Friends!

We are currently hosting our last team until October. That makes me kinda said because I love having teams so much!! But, on the other hand it will be interesting to see how ministry changes when we’re not always preparing for the next team.

This team is from North Park University, there are 16 kids. They’re pretty cool; I love how they’re so willing to help wherever they’re needed…and so faithful to provide comic relief, as well!

On Saturday I went to the prison with some kids from the young adults group and youth group at the International Church. We went to do a program for all of the kids who end up living in the prison with their parents because they have nowhere else to go. It was so interesting to see the inside of a men’s prison in Bolivia. It was a three story building with a courtyard in the middle. There were clotheslines with laundry on them strung all over the place and ladders leading up into the wall with drop down doors where the cells were. When we arrived there was tons of guys just standing around watching a few men play basketball. We paraded (that’s what it felt like, at least, with fifteen or so girls and only three guys in our group) through the middle of the courtyard to get to the stairs and narrow passage ways to get to the third floor game room/chapel/gym. It was obviously not a high security prison, as I only saw one guard standing on top of the roof, and when we had the kids coloring pictures with dull colored pencils one of the men went and got a knife to sharpen the pencils! Apparently a lot of them are in jail for petty crimes or debt. They make beds and doghouses to sell to pay cell rent. There were probably around thirty kids that came to the program. We talked about Jonah, which may have been a good story for them (and their dads) to hear about God’s forgiveness and His desire to use us in spite of our mistakes. I know that it was good for ME to hear at least!! I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. Jonah 2:2

Two of our new interns arrived on Monday. Tiffany and Andrea!! We’re very happy to have them here. Tiffany celebrated her birthday only 2 days after arriving! She graduated from college, moved to Bolivia and turned 22 all within like 4 days! Nothing like cramming everything into one week!! Kim and Elaina arrive today from Bedford NH. (They’re from the same church as the last team!)

Well the countdown begins until my roomies leave. L It just makes me so sad to know that I probably won’t see them for at least 7 months. *sigh*. But apparently goodbyes are a very important part of life…even though I really don’t like them.

Okie doke… have a great birthday week…even if it isn’t yours it’s a lot of other peoples, and you should help them celebrate!!

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)

Kristen

Friday, May 9, 2008

Surgery, Autonomia, and Parties

Greetings Readers,
Well, it’s Friday now. I had my surgery exactly one week ago… but only one wisdom tooth was removed. They didn’t put me to sleep, they just numbed my mouth, but I could still feel everything. After only a few minutes of her cutting, I began to feel really woozy, I tried to tell the dentist that I was going to pass out but the numbing in my mouth made it nearly impossible to annunciate. Next thing I heard was the dentist and assistant calling my name. I woke up and had no idea where I was or what I was doing there in the dentist’s office. Oh how embarrassing!! I have a history of passing out relatively easily, just ask my mom! So as soon as I recovered I told her to keep going then almost passed out a second time. So as soon as I recovered the second time she hurried and got the tooth out and stitched me up and told me she’d do the rest another day after they sedated me. Yeah, I can’t even describe to you how embarrassed I was. On the bright side, recovery was much faster only having one done, though! I got my stitches out today and she said that it was a good recovery. Yay!
Last weekend there was an election in Santa Cruz for Autonomy, about which there was some concern for demonstrations, violence, and in worse case scenarios Civil War… But everything has actually been relatively peaceful. Soo that´s a huge praise!
We´ll have another team from North Park University arrive on Monday. We´ll also be getting FOUR new interns. All girls!! That will make 7 girls and one guy. Poor Adrian! Where are all the men?!
This weekend will mostly be in honor of Michelle. She´ll be leaving next Saturday and we´ll have a team then, so this weekend we´ll be getting together with folks and having parties and stuff like that to let her know how much we love her. So be praying for her as she heads back to the States. (That´s me and Michelle enjoying the Cristo´s view of the city).

Okie doke…have a fantastic week!!
Kristen

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maybe NEXT week will be normal!

The Interns.


Adrian, Me and Jaclyn.

Michelle, Me and Jaclyn.


Greetings Folks,
Hope you are all enjoying the spring weather wherever you are. (Or fall if you’re in South America). The seasons don’t really change that much from one to the next except it rains less now. So enjoy the change!!
This week has not really been normal either. We spent the weekend hanging low. None of us were really feeling well so just took it easy. I did however get to go running a few times this weekend which made me oh-so-happy!! (and sore!)
On Saturday we had a meeting with a missionary here with Food for the Hungry. His name is Nate and he works with some pig farmers here trying to help them get the stock healthier and bring in new stock through Artificial Insemination (AI). I was so energized to see how someone with experience in that field (no pun intended!) is able to transfer it here to help these farmers and in return help the economy. He also said that he’s seen how helping people in this grassroots way gives him opportunities to share about Christ. Yeah!! He also told me that I can come see the pig farms sometime!! He is building bunkbeds for the new orphanages, so we are going to help him look for grants to get this program up and going. (A pig from the Chapare).
On Tuesday we went out to the school where the Timmer girls attend (Carachipampa Christian School) for their annual field days. It’s a great family time at the end of the year where the kids all compete in track and field activities. We interns were recruited to help time the races. Today Jaclyn and I participated in the adult relay. Our team got first place too!!
On Friday I am having my wisdom teeth taken out. I’m a little nervous, just because I don’t really like feeling like I am not in control of my body…and I hear that the anesthesia kinda takes over… Sooo hopefully no videos of my out of mind experience will surface on the net…! The dentist that is doing the surgery did the Timmer’s older daughters surgery, and she goes to the Young Professionals group that we attend at the international church here, so it should be safe.
On Tuesday afternoon we went to see the orphanages that my friend Jennifer runs here. (Hogares de Amor). She has two homes one for 0-3 year olds, and one for 3-11 year olds. Each home has about 17 kids. It was so neat to see. Each home was so orderly, the kids were so happy (mainly because they were napping when we got there). She has like 15 Bolivians on staff split between the two homes and they also periodically have volunteers that come to help. The older kids even take violin lessons!! As I saw the pictures on the wall of Jennifer with all of the kids, I couldn’t help thinking of the amazing difference she is making in these kids lives. She’s been here for almost 4 years, and has seen 6 kids from here homes be adopted. She has pictures of all of them on the walls, and pictures of the adopted ones with their newfound families. One picture in particular was of a family from Spain. They had twins and then adopted a little girl and the picture on the wall had them all looking so happy and one of the twins with his hands raised in victory! Apparently it was a long hard process, but they had won and received a beautiful girl into their family. It was adorable!
Soo…that’s my week in a nutshell. Thursday is a national holiday so we will be having some people from the young adults group over. Should be fun.
Happy May!!
Kristen
By the way...check out my FOTO blog to see new updates. www.kristen-fotos.blogspot.com