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.

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!