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!

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!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Return to me.

I can´t get this computer to recognize my flash 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!!