Friday, February 29, 2008

One month down and still going strong

Hello to one and all!
It’s been a great week, and I’m finally starting to feel like I know my way around…at least a little bit! I made it to Spanish class solo and didn’t even get lost!
The week was full of doing kid stuff, as well as a few other random things thrown in there. I met some new friends, got to play with a lot of kids, chaperone a youth event, etc, etc.
Saturday for lunch our Spanish teacher had us all over for an authentic Bolivian meal. Michelle was commenting that there is no way that she can be making money off of us when she feeds us so well!! It was very sweet, she is a great lady as is her family. Very hospitable.
We played soccer with the kids from Muyurina (the orphanage close to our house). Received custom flower crowns from the kids at the plaza principal (where we do baby washing. It was canceled this week due to roadblocks so we played with the kids instead). Went to a birthday party for Miguel (from Villa Israel orphanage-the one that’s really far away from our house) he turned seven and reminds me of my little brother Tim, except he’s Bolivian. Jaclyn made a really yummy cake for the party. I had my first tutoring session at Villa Israel on Tuesday. My little guy is named Samuel. He’s in Kindergarten and I’m pretty sure he has a longer attention span than me!! (This is us!)I think tutoring is one of the most rewarding things ever! It was so exciting when he would figure out how to make his 2s right, or when he got the hang of adding 0 to numbers. And we are doing a Spanish memory verse together. That’s good for me too! Friday morning we’ll go back there to tutor the other 4 kids who are in school on Tuesday afternoons.
Oh, yeah. The youth event. We had a scavenger hunt type of thing, last week. (the youth group from the Timmers, and the interns’ church). They asked me to come be an “adult chaperone”. It rained all day and I was wearing flip flops-horrible combination for running around town. I was sliding around like Michelle Kwan!! (Well maybe not quite that graceful!). Anyway, I fell once, then broke my flip flop, so here I was running around Cochabamba barefoot! I’m so thankful that I didn’t step on any broken glass! I had a group of 7 (GREAT) girls, missionary kids and a couple cochabambinas. It was great fun. I also met a few college girls, who are Bolivians. Twins, and their older sister by one year. (Just like me, Kate and Rach!!) They are from a family of 10 kids! It’s no wonder we hit it off so well!!
Tuesday night I went to a ladies bible study with Jaclyn and Michelle. I was so excited that I understood basically everything!! Obviously it’s so much better to go to a Spanish church when you understand what’s going on. …Speaking of…the search continues for a church. L I think I may have another one or two leads, though.
We have a lot of work to do this week getting the hacienda ready for teams coming in March, as well as helping Mike out with research.
FYI, if anyone is interested in helping out with the organization let me know. We are always looking for partners to get new orphanages built, or furnished, or school clothes bought, etc.
At the bible study the other night we were talking about Romans, and we read:
For one will hardly die for a righteous man;
though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8-emphasis mine).
Now I memorized that verse when I was probably in like first grade, and I knew what it was talking about. I have read it probably 40 times since then, it’s even highlighted in my bible, But for some reason last night I was hit with the reality of it. That I might die for a good person, IF they were a good friend, but I would most definitely not be surrendering my life for a bad person, or probably even a good person if I didn’t know them. But Jesus died for us, and we are hopelessly bad people, He died for all of those (us) people who sentenced him to death, spit on Him, beat Him, kicked Him out of their cities, only wanted to see Him so that He would heal them, etc. Why? I just can’t fathom that great of love. So, yeah, just thought I’d share that.
Hope all of you are doing well. I miss you like CRAZY! I’m still going to put up pictures one of these days. I think that computers here don’t really like to upload pix...because it takes FOREVER!!
Fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith… (~2 Tim 4:6-8)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Survivor Chapare

It wasn´t really THAT bad! I actually liked the jungle!
Last Tuesday we left bright and early for the Chapare (jungle). It took around 4 hours crowded in the back of the infamous IOU jeep.
Mike dropped us off showed us the orphanage and left. I didn’t realize at the time exactly how rural it really was. Umm, there was no bathroom. A hole in the ground in the jungle was their definition of a baño. I guess you just get used to it after awhile. Thankfully, though after about 4 days, Remberto installed a toilet in the bathroom of the orphanage.
Remberto + Vick, and their son Mickey, Vick’s 12 year old sister Angela, and another worker named Grover were our source of entertainment, teaching, and motivation. I brushed up on my Spanish skills there, we also played games in the evenings, and we got to hear Remberto’s testimony. One thing that really motivated me from his testimony was that Mike (Timmer-the missionary) prayed for Remberto for TWO YEARS before he was ready to accept Christ. But Mike-and Bonnie- never gave up on him and eventually he accepted Christ, and now he’s super active in his church and is investing in the lives of his 2 younger brothers and another young employee. So cool.
Vick and Angela cooked for us. Basically from when we woke up in the morning until we went to bed at night they were either cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry. What a labor of love. Vick is even 8 ½ months pregnant! What a trooper. We ate every meal with a spoon. (Sometimes there were knives, but usually just spoons). Even when we had chicken or beef. I guess they probably didn’t have any forks.
Church was a very neat experience. It was in Spanish and Quechua. It was so simple. Singing was off key, but wholehearted. Music consisted of a very off key guitar, strummed just to add to the noise, someone pounding on a drum, and three or four girls playing tambourines. No auditions required, just a willing heart. Services lasted for two hours and some people walk very far to get there. I think for a lot of them, it’s what they look forward to all week long. They are so genuine and sincere. It was very inspiring. We had to do special music. (We weren’t really prepared… I guess now I know for next time, though!)
Apparently the Chapare is one of the hot spots for drug activity. Coca plants thrive in the jungle and people make “decent” money off of it. So the people of Chapare are very suspicious of gringos because they think that we are drug smugglers, or whatever.
The puebla we were in is actually Evo Morales’ hometown. I saw his old house. (Evo’s the president of Bolivia).

Remberto made sure to tell us about all of the wild and dangerous animals that live in the jungle. Anacondas, Crocodiles, Tigers, Panthers, Tarantulas, Bats, as well as a variety of other creepy animals. However, he assured me, most of them live further in the jungle. Later on he took us on a motorcycle tour of that part of the jungle and said, “now the tigers will eat you, I brought them a very special dinner!!” But I wasn’t scared.
So I journaled a lot in the Chapare. I was super homesick, mostly the first day. It was crazy! It was probably because while I was gone my parents celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary and my oldest brother Peter celebrated his 25th birthday (but I got home that day, and I did get to talk to him). I think this will be my biggest struggle. Yeah, it probably will.
One thing that I was super thankful for was that we didn’t get sick the whole time we were there!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, yeah, so we did work really hard there in the orphanage. We scrubbed plaster off of bricks, the floor and the “ceiling”. We got really dirty, so the shower was also a huge blessing. I also hand washed some clothes so it was all good.
Hmmm….what else…Oh, yeah. Mosquitos in the jungle are vicious. I literally look like I have chicken pox on my legs!! The bananas were GREAT. To say that there are “thunderstorms” in the jungle is kind of an understatement…it rained REALLY hard!
It took about five hours to get back by public transportation. A bolivian man fell asleep on my shoulder on the three hour stretch of the trip. I found it rather amusing, though slightly uncomfortable...!
Alright, I guess that’s probably all you care to know about the jungle for now. I’ll try to put some pictures up soon…
Dios le bendiga!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

At last...

Today is February something…I lost track. I arrived on Thursday night, the plane ride was about 35 minutes (it takes between 8-10 hours to drive if that tells you anything about the roads here!!). Mike Timmer met me at the airport. I was so happy to finally be here!! There are three other interns here; Jaclyn, Michelle and Justin.

Yesterday I had orientation in the morning just learning about the culture, how not to get sick, and how to keep from getting ripped off or pick-pocketed. I realized first thing in the morning that I was missing my camera and I felt so sick to my stomach. The only place I could have lost it, I reasoned was in the airplane, or in Mike’s truck. Fortunately, it WAS in Mike’s truck. Whew.

In the late morning we went grocery shopping for snacks for the kids’ outing, then we went to the Timmers so I could meet Bonnie. We met Nate, who has a very cool accent, who drove us to get the kids from Villa Israel (orphanage 2). There are 7 kids there plus the baby of the house parents. Then we took the kids to the park. They rode the bumper cars, climbed everything in sight, ate and ran around. There is one girl who’s 11 and the baby is a girl, and 6 boys. I still don’t know all of their names. Erlan was the youngest boy. He’s three and oh so cute!

Then we wandered around town while Nate took the kids to the doctors, and went to have tea at Michelle and Jaclyn’s Spanish teacher’s house. I still feel like even with a Spanish degree I have a lot of learning to do. I’ll probably try to take one or two language lessons a week. I hope.

The kids from the other orphanage went to the doctor the day before and all of them were malnourished, and have to take de-worming treatments. I asked if that was common here, and I was told that it’s almost normal. The water is really not good, but people drink it. We don’t.

Today we tutored in the morning at Muyurina orphanage. (That´s Jaclyn reading to the kids). The house also has 7 kids plus two that belong to the house parents and one that belongs to the maid who also lives there, the kids were very affectionate and welcoming. The interns each tutor two kids and Maria the youngest just wanders around. I tutored Johnny and I felt so accomplished when he figured out how to add big numbers and spell “igual” (equals). Smart kid. Then Maria sat on my lap and just wanted to play with my sunglasses. After lunch we went with Mike to roast coffee (“Bolivia’s Best Coffee” is a business to support the orphanages), It was a very educational experience. Mike dropped us off at the “Young Professionals” bible study that the interns are involved with.

Oh, and just to clear things up there are 4 orphanages. Only 2 are open, the other two should be finished by spring. One’s in the rainforest and rains have slowed down the building process. Mike says that they turn kids away every day because they do not have room for them. They can’t accept kids until they have room for them. The kids are able to be adopted but there is a lot of paperwork involved and because most of them are older it’s not likely that they will be (says Jaclyn). Plus there are two sets of siblings who should be placed together and most parents don’t want 4 boys all at one time!

Sooo….anyway. We´re going out to the jungle next week for 7-10 days to work on one of the unfinished orphanages. So there might not be an update for awhile. But I´m sure I´ll have lots of good stories when I get back!

Sunday I’ll go to the International Church with the interns and Timmers, but I really want to go to a Spanish church. So next week, (or the next time when I’m not in the jungle) I’m going to try to find a church. I met a girl who works at the Centro de Amistad who goes to a Spanish church. So I’ll probably tag along with her at least once.

Okie doke, Folks. Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement. I really do appreciate it!



One of these days I will probably try to post pictures…so keep an eye out…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Here we go

I'm having issues with my blog, so I hope this works. We might have to stick to e-mail updates if not. Grr.
Anyways, I MADE IT TO BOLIVIA!! Wohoo! Thank you so much for your prayers, I made it to Santa Cruz Bolivia after an exhausting day of travel. However, the good news is that I was so happy and relieved to be here that I didn't even care (that it was such a long day)! It was a day of miracles. I think so at least...There were approximately 500 flights canceled out of O'Hare that day that I left. But mine wasn't!! The lady who took me to the airport kept saying, "if this flight goes out I'll be blown away!" (because we had so much snow the day and night before), but I just said, "yeah... BUT there are a lot of people out there praying for this flight to go out today". And it DID! I knew God would come through for us. Then I almost missed my flight out of Miami due to delays, but a lady let me cut in line and then they pulled me up to the front of the security line (there were like hundreds of people in line).
I arrived in Santa Cruz a little after 11. Immigration, customs and baggage claim went so much more smoothly then I feared. Karen and Neal and their 5 kids, Carl, Abi, Nathan, Tomas and Tessa met me at the airport. I'll be staying with them for about a week then I'll go on to Cochabamba to meet up with the Timmers and the ministry that I'll be helping with there. Karen's been a good friend for years, incidentally she used to babysit for me and my siblings, so I would say she knows me pretty well. She's kind of been one of my mentors ever since I started praying about doing missions work. She and her family have been in Bolivia for almost 6 years, I think. It's been very nice to be here with them, and they've been able to give me a pretty good briefing of's a good foundation to work with at least.

Oh, and let me just say that the week of missionary training was GREAT! I learned a lot more about the organization International Teams- more in-depth of their core values and also about a lot of the ministries that they are doing around the world. It was so cool to see what God is doing through this organization. I also met a bunch of other people training to serve around the world. I had three great roommates, 2 of whom will join me in Bolivia during the summer. You can pray for them too as they fund-raise, apply for visas and all that fun stuff.Never had I met people who from the very beginning cared about me so much. I was very encouraged. One of the girls had been to Coch last summer so I even got to see pictures and hear stories about what we'll probably be doing.

Happy Superbowl Sunday! (We will be celebrating here, just in case you wondered!)