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!!

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!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


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.