Monday, December 27, 2010

The New Year in South America!

Thursday's the day I head back to Bolivia. It seems that things are going to be much more complicated this time...I guess the longer you're gone the less familiarity you have with how things are going--both with the missionaries and with the government.
I'm not one to stress out, or worry about this type of things, but knowing that I am helpless to do anything about most of these factors does make me a little...nervous! I'm giving you a heads up so you can (PLEASE) pray for us!!
  • The gas prices rose yesterday by 72%! This could cause strikes, very expensive transportation for us, or the inability to get transportation.
  • We have to get a different visa and we can't get it until the airport (as if 24 hours of travel wasn't overwhelming enough--without not knowing if you'll even be allowed into the country once you arrive!) and it will cost $135.
  • Pray that we will catch all of our flights and not get caught up in all the new airport policies.
  • While in the city for a very brief stay we hope to do many things. Visit people, the cancha, help out with a few ministries there...You can pray for time management there too, so we can get everything done that we need to.
  • Potosi always provides many unexpected situations. We just need to be back in time to catch our flight home. That's my biggest concern for that....
  • Pray that we will stay safe and healthy.
  • Pray for unity among the team. I will introduce them on this page.
  • Pray for the families and children that we will be meeting, serving and sharing our beautiful message of hope with.
  • Pray that God's name will be glorified above all.
Thank you sooo much!! I'll try to get on here to update with stories and pictures. I'm sure I'll have LOTS to share!!

Wishing you God's best this holiday season, He is good!

Monday, November 29, 2010

100 Good Things to make with pumpkin!

Well, the list is not exactly finished but I've thought of plenty! Here's my new favorite:

Pumpkin Scones
2 c. flour
7 T sugar

1 T baking powder (yes that's a Tablespoon)

1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. ginger
6 T. cold butter
mix until crumbly and add
1/2 c. pumpkin
3 T. half and half
*I didn't have half and half, so I used vanilla ice cream instead!
1 egg.

Roll dough to 1" thickness cut into triangles and bake at 425 degrees on greased cookie sheet for 14-16 minutes. Cool and drizzle with pumpkin spice glaze.

Pumpkin spice glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
2 T whole milk
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
pinch of ginger

pinch of cloves

Mix and drizzle over scones. Immediately sprinkle with chopped walnuts and let glaze set (approximately an hour).

Then... ENJOY!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Hats!!


P.s.-if you live far away but want to buy hats--or gloves shipping is relatively inexpensive (around $2-3). Just let me know and I'll be happy to send them off to you or your loved one. :)

From the last post-the red and blue hats (with ear flaps) are now unavailable and the colorful necklace. All others are still available.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just in time for winter!

Dear Friends,
In order to help fund my mission trip I've come up with a few fundraisers that will benefit you too! I had two bake sales here in Michigan with a little help from some room mates...and now a sweet friend has made some really cool hats for me to sell with all proceeds going towards the Bolivia trip. I also have some gloves and necklaces from Bolivia that I brought back last time to sell to help cover costs of my trip.
So let me know if you want to buy any of these things (or if you see anything you like that you want me to bring back let me know that too.)

Hats by Anna

Bolivian Goods
Convertible mitten/fingerless gloves. $15
Fingerless Gloves. $10
Seed/wood star necklace. $8
Beaded seed necklace. $10

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What about them?

I just had a really nice visit with a good friend. While we were catching up over tacos, she was telling me about her younger brother's recent car accident. He smashed his hand up pretty bad and was in the hospital for a few days. When released his hand became infected and they thought he would lose it. After a week of treatments to rid it of infection and frequent doses of painkiller to make it tolerable he finally was able to have surgery and now is healing fine. His doctor remarked to my friend that she would rather die trying to get back to the States than to have to stay in a hospital in another country.
I rejoice with my friend that her brother was able to get good medical care immediately after his accident, and that his doctor was competent and that they were able to pay for his surgery. Then Edwin came to my mind. The little boy that I met in Potosi this spring--the boy with the poorly healed fracture and infected leg. You can scroll down to see another picture of Edwin with me and his mom (June 7 entry.). Story after story of people up in the mountains who needed medical care for things that began as minor medical problems which quickly worsen due to lack of medical attention. Little Edwin might very well be crippled for the rest of his life because he didn't receive the care he needed when he had his accident. If my friends brother would've been there, his accident very well could've been a death sentence. No pain reliever, no antibiotics or sanitary environment to protect from infection, no medical professionals or specialists... It just seems so...well, unfair.
So this is what some kids are doing to help: The children's church at First Baptist in Medina is going to raise money for a scholarship fund for kids like Edwin who can't afford the medical care they need. The hope is that with a scholarship fund, kids will be able to get to the city to get treated promptly and save money, time and pain in the long run.
Maybe we weren't born in the USA just to have the best medical care available to us. Maybe the American dream isn't what we always thought it was...maybe we're blessed with disproportionate wealth (compared to the rest of the world) to help others. Maybe all this is so that God's name will be glorified through our desire to share what we have. I remember one time in high school when my pastor said, "to whom much is given, much is expected". I'm not wanting to be preachy, but feeling convicted of this myself. (Sidenote: I highly recommend The Hole in Our Gospel by Rich Stearns. Trust me, it will revolutionize your relationship with God and perception of the world. ) Maybe it's time for all of us to do something about it. I'm not saying this just to get you to support my cause. Pray about where God would have you to help, and then do it. There are MANY needs all over the world- This one lays heavy on my heart tonight.

'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine,
even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Matt. 25:40

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A few recent accomplishments

So I've been in Michigan for over a month now. Here are some things I've accomplished:

Run a half marathon,
climb a rock wall,
and jump off a ginormous swing. All without injuring myself--and this was just last weekend.
Obtain the best part time job! (Babysitting for 2 boys, 9 and 6).
Take a few trips back to Ohio.
Begun planning for a mission trip over Christmas break.
Lots of homework--and with consistently good grades!
Joined inter-mural Volleyball and Basketball.
And been recruited to run a 10K for the field day competition against the other campus.
Acquired some new friends/room-mates who make life much more interesting!
Attended a Baptist Church here a couple times and really enjoyed it. I've also been able to visit my church in Ohio a few weekends which always makes me incredibly happy! :)

I'm enjoying all that I've been learning. It makes me wonder how different my time at college would've been had I had the opportunity to learn what I'm learning now along with all the different worldviews that were presented to me. It makes me even more thankful for the friends and mentors I met through Campus Crusade for Christ at LCCC and Cleveland State that helped me grow more in my faith while there. I'm confident that what I'm learning now will revolutionize my Bible Study habits, worldview...not to mention my LIFE!

Well, tomorrow's Friday and we have a fun weekend planned. Taking three of my roomates back to Ohio for some good country fall fun! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

To the ends of the earth

I realize this may be repeat information for many of you who read your emails, but if you don't or if you don't receive them, here's some basic info for the mission trip over Christmas break:

The plan is tentatively to go from December 20-30 (But I need you to let me know if you can't do those dates. The only feedback I've gotten is that those dates work well). It looks like this will be the cheapest time to go, and date-wise it would include that week between Christmas and New Years for all the folks that get time off for that...), plus this will be a Christmas to remember! ;)
We will be delivering Samaritan's Purse shoe boxes in some very rural communities. Doctor Jorge has been traveling to these communities for years, we've gone with him twice and he asked if I would bring a team this year also. This really won't be the end of life as you know it, but I would be lying to tell you that it will be easy. It's pretty rugged, you'll most likely go a few days without showering, eat some strange things, and spend a lot of time in the car. On the bright side, though: the scenery is amazing, the kids are always glad to have company (and presents--which they rarely receive), and God will stretch you in so many ways if you let Him. Here's a link to a video from the last trip like this that we took

The cost will be around $2200, depending on how soon we can get tickets. (If anyone has experience with a good travel agent, feel free to pass along that info). This should include airfare, food, and lodging.
I need to know within the next TWO WEEKS (By September 15) if you are planning on going. We can't get visas until we have plane tickets, and if we wait to long the prices will go way up. So pray about it, find your passports, and start spreading the word (feel free to invite a friend...or two!) and raising support (if you need to go that route).
Let me know if you have more questions. I have plenty of pictures, stories and fun facts if you want to know more. ;) As you pray about if God would have you participate I highly encourage you to read "The Hole in the Gospel" by Richard Stearns, or "Radical" by David Platt. Both very good reads on God's heart for the world and the role we get to play in sharing with others.
Que Dios les guarde!

P.s. We are also looking for lots of donations of hygiene items, money and school supplies, so if you can't go, but would like to contribute in this way, that would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

moving right along

So this info isn't confidential, I just haven't gotten around to writing an update. Brace yourselves:

I'm Michigan...for Bible School...this Sunday!!
My last day of work is this Thursday and I am so grateful for the lessons learned there. I've learned a lot, grown a lot and enjoyed it-even though there were bad days too! We've settled into a normalcy of sorts. I think with good limits. We have fun together and I learn a lot from them. I've really enjoyed watching them learn and grow.
We've been having lots of fun as a family. (All of my siblings live here, minus my sister Bizzy who lives in Ohio.) We got a pool pass and have been out having fun at a friends house with a four wheeler and dad's dirtbike. I joked that I'll be a better missionary someday for being able to drive a dirtbike!! (They use them a lot overseas).
I just celebrated my 25th birthday. So needless to say I feel a little funny starting all over again at school, but God's faithful and sometimes He tells us to do things that don't seem to make sense.
Here's the plan:
Lord willing, I'll leave Seguin, Texas on Sunday night (Yes...this Sunday). My sisters Katie, Bek and Jen will ride up to Ohio with me. we'll be in Ohio a few days then they will fly back to Texas and I will drive up to Michigan move in, get orientated and start school the 23rd of August.
I'll be attending New Tribes Bible Institute ( I actually visited this school many years ago (2004?), and at that time it didn't work out to go there. It's in Jackson Michigan and I know NO ONE who goes there, but I do know a lot of really neat missionaries (overseas and stateside) who went there.
Leaving is bittersweet. I guess I was starting to settle in here! It's never easy to leave family. And MICHIGAN...?! Haha! I would have to go to the rival state! ;) I feel a peace though that this is what God wants for me right now. It is so easy for me to make up excuses as to why I can't go, why I should do something else, or why maybe I should wait...but I know that God's been calling me to do something else, and I've known for a long time that missions was something that I felt especially drawn to. So I think I need to be preparing myself to follow Him and serve Him in a fuller capacity that I'm currently prepared for. So I'm going to go study the Bible, hopefully find some good friends on a similiar journey, and follow God to the end of the earth should He call me there...
You can continue to follow my blog, or facebook and I will try to keep you updated as I settle in. I'm also hoping to continue plans to take a team to Bolivia over Christmas break. Let me know if you're interested!!
Thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement.

Lessons learned as a surrogate soccer mom

I guess working with kids helps you understand your relationship with God a little bit better. Example, I usually know what's going to happen throughout the day and what needs to happen when and coordinate for everything to flow smoothly. Sometimes the boys don't really get that and have a hard time following directions for that very reason. (Translation: God sees the big picture and we don't, that's why sometimes what He calls us to do doesn't make sense.)

Second, I hear a LOT of whining. About everything! Consequences for bad decisions, having to go outside, having to stay inside, what's on the menu, having to wake up early, being bored, etc. (the list goes on and on...and on...!). When I was reading in my Bible about the Israelites it reminded me a lot of my kids. Then when I thought about it I realized that I do the same thing to God way more often than I would like to admit.

Lesson Three:
Even though it's happens to be that I get paid for spending time with these kids, trying to teach manners, character and social skills, I also deeply care about each one of them and want them to succeed. That's why I put so much effort into it. I want to protect them from evil people, and poor decisions. I pray that they become Men of God and give back to their people and communities. Last week I gathered a few siblings and friends and we went to see they boys play in their first league soccer game ( I toldmy co-workers that we are kind of like "soccer Moms" now!). They were surprised that I came out (since I wasn't working), but I tried to explain to them that it meant a lot to me to see them finally getting to do what they had worked so hard for. It's because I'm not about making their lives harder or giving them rules just to make my life easier. I do what I do because I want to help them grow and learn and do well. That's kind of an earthly summary of God's deep love for us--except He is perfect, so it's even better for us!

I really like it when these boys are happy. I laugh when they're crazy, we goof around when appropriate, and it just makes me really happy when they are doing well and feel good. On the other hand, when they're upset I feel for them. I try to empathize even though we don't have a whole lot in common. That's who Jesus is for us. A high priest who CAN feel what we feel because he went through what we go through. God sent him as a comforter for us to be with us.

Monday, June 21, 2010

All good things must come to an end

I'm back to Texas and back to work. I mostly just run around like a crazy person these days. I've been working crazy hours and am a little bummed out about it. The good news is that I can build my savings back up a little bit with all the overtime I will have. ;)

Bolivia was wonderful. It wasn't really as revealing as I anticipated. I kinda hoped to come back and have my future all figured out. Ah, but life isn't really like it now is it? Not for me at least. I have a few other things to think and pray about but I remain here in Texas with a lot to pray about and figure out.

I flew through Chicago and had an overnight layover there. Fortunately a bunch of former co-workers live there. WE had a little reunion and it was so nice to reminisce about memories from my year in Bolivia with my dear friends. They also enjoyed hearing stories and looking through pictures on my camera. :)
I got to Cleveland on Friday afternoon. Katie and Bizzy picked me up at the airport. I was sooo happy to see everyone! We had good family time but we were also so excited to see a bunch of friends too.
Jon graduated from University of Northwestern Ohio with a degree in Diesel Technology. He even graduated Cum Laude! I was so proud of him! I expected my mom to cry, but then I did--just a little bit! ;)
Katie and I went canoing with our aunt Debbie, cousin Bethany and Bethany's boyfriend Chris. We tipped--my fault--but it was super fun still! Aunt Debbie lost her flip flops, but other than that we came out all together (just wet!) Then we went to Amish country. For all the years we lived in Ohio and my grandparents who live in Amish country I've never actually been there to see things--besides one brief stop about 10 years ago or so. We visited a cheese factory. I LOVE cheese!
It was fun to reminisce and make new memories while in Ohio. It just felt so different, so familiar and comfortable. It's always nice to be with people who allow you (and make you feel free) to be yourself.

What I learned in Ohio:
How to make sushi and egg rolls
How to play hobo (hillbilly?) golf
How to get the water out of a tipped canoe

I've been to the airport NINE times in the last six weeks!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Potatoes anyone?

That pretty much sums up our week in Potosi. Let's just say that mission trips with Dr. Jorge are not for the faint at heart! I can't imagine living like the strong, hardworking Quechua people who live up in the mountains with nothing. Adobe houses, dirt floors, no beds, or electricity with virtually nothing to eat except Potatoes and llama meat.

We took a bus overnight to Potosi (9 hours), and then continued another 5-6 hours up the mountain to finally arrive in the first community. The team consisted of Dr. Jorge, Dr. Waldo (dentist), Nidia and myself. I was so glad that Nidia was able to come along, we weren't sure until shortly before we left Potosi that she would be accompanying us.

We did activities with the kids, Bible stories and Flouride treatments. There were multitudes of people lined up to receive medical care from the doctor and/or dentist. Nidia and I were enlisted to help with teeth care (prevention). I also got roped into helping the dentist (then I nearly fainted!! haha!), and cleaning out an infected leg of a little boy (which surprisingly didn't even make me squeamish. Afterwards he give me a big kiss on each cheek!) The patients rarely cried out while having teeth pulled our wounds cleaned.

We were given hundreds upon hundreds of papas (potatoes). LAdies would come in with packs on their backs, or hats overflowing with potatoes, after trying to ask them to wait outside until the Doctor could see them they would pour the papas on the floor and point to them. Then it happened over and over again. What generosity.
The children were so curious. They were always staring at us, and thought it was hilarious when we would demonstrate the games. Very few understood Spanish well, sometimes we had an interpreter, and sometimes one of the older children, or adults would help out. They all participated in the dental health lessons that we had.

All of the villages had schools--although some only went up to third grade. The older kids would walk up to two hours (one way) to go to school. Impressive, eh?! The two lady teachers in the first village each had older children who lived alone in the city of Potosi to go to school there. The ladies lived in the village with their youngest two children (Jorge said that their husbands lived and worked outside of the country). It was quite sad. They lacked many educational resources not to mention that only two of the villages had church--one of which is less than a year old. The children had no idea who Adam and Eve or Jesus were. We had our work cut out for us just trying to tell the Bible story!

We slept on llama skins, desks and straw mattresses. There was only electricity in one of the four villages, and a rigged up light in another. The truck got stuck on two ocassions in the middle of the freezing night, we had to break into the school (with the mayor--I guess that's what you would call him in English), there was a rat running around on the floor by our "bed" and we took one shower for the whole week (although they did warm up water for us to wash our hair midweek).

My little patient (Edwin) came back to the city with us along with his older sister Margareta, and father to have surgery on his leg (it had been fractured a few months back and was never set). Margareta also needed serious dental work done. The father brought along four big sacks of potatoes to sell in order to pay for the surgery (they only had 200 Bs--about $30 which will probably not even pay for their bus tickets home). Nidia estimated that each bag was probably worth about $40. The kids really enjoyed the journey. They were apprehensive to enter the hot springs, but me and Nidia helped Margareta to wash and condition her hair, she loosened up and enjoyed playing in the water. They were so curious and I've never seen such big eyes and smiles before! They perched over the front seat to see everything, they were so polite and well mannered. As I tucked them into bed on Friday night I was so thankful to God for these precious little ones. How they've had such a rough life by our standards, but don't complain. They were grateful for the little things and always had a smile on their face.

It was an incredible experience. If you get the chance (which you just might...!) you should go--I can almost promise you that you will not regret it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I finally got to go visit Joel, Brandon, Samuel and Erland. (The four brothers who lived in the orphanage when I lived here who have since moved to another house). They live about 45 minutes from the city, and I had to go in public transportation and switch busses about 30 minutes in. I didn't really have any idea where I was going, I had hoped to meet up with a guy from Ireland who works there with Latin Link, but we didn't find each other. So I was asking lots of questions, and kept my phone numbers handy. I eventually made it and was so proud of myself! The boys now live in a home called Pequeno David (Little David) which is a transitional house which works with the parents (education) to help them get their kids back. The boys are doing very well and the plan is to help them get back with their mother my the end of the year. As soon as the two younger ones (Samuel and Erland) saw me they ran to me and gave me the best hugs! It was so good to see them! I spent the whole afternoon there, we played checkers and legos, they made cards for their mom, and seemed to get along very well with their peers. I hope to make it back before I leave also.

Yesterday we had Bible Study with the kids from Frutillar. So there we were marching up to the hacienda 7 kiddos, two sheep, one dog, carrying two bottles of pop and an empty cake pan. Did you ever have a moment where you stop and try to capture a specific moment in your mind? I have lots, but this was definitely one of them. Bible studies are generally short, as keeping the attention of seven kids between 6 and 13 is pretty difficult. The kids seem to enjoy it though, and all volunteer to read out loud, or close in prayer. We also celebrated Dalia's birthday this week.

Annie left yesterday morning and the kids were so cute as they prayed thanking God for sending her, and giving her safety in her travels. We miss her already!!

This week was Sydney's graduation week. We had three celebrations for her (family, school, and ceremony.) She was valedictorian and gave a speech last night. So proud of her! Emily also graduated from 6th grade. She's grown up so much since I've been here (although she hates when people always say that!), but she's become quite a young lady. :)

I had a really interesting talk last night with a young Bolivian lady at the graduation ceremony. She asked me if I was a Christian, which gave us a chance to talk about God which always causes me to reflect on my relationship with God and how I'm doing.

We attended the International Teams monthly prayer meeting/Bible study on Friday also. The Spies have been heading this up, as an opportunity for the I-Teams missionaries to share, fellowship and eat together! (Kate made an awesome cake for Nate's birthday). We actually kept the taxi waiting so we could get a piece to go, since I knew it would be fantastic.

The Spies also had us over for dinner on Wednesday night. It was a really nice time visiting, and Kate and I spent hours talking about missions, family and everything else. They are so gracious, and I hope to be just like Kate when I grow up!

On Wednesday Sam and I went out to the Villa Israel home (which is currently empty). It's only been a month since Annie cleaned it last, but since no one is living in there it was super dusty. WE spent hours cleaning, since a potential house parent couple was interviewing on Friday. It was really weird to go back when there were no kids there! :( On the way back the trufi (bus) was stuck in the market forever. There was lots of traffic so I decided to try to take pictures and capture some of the real Bolivian culture for you guys (once I can finally post pictures). Well, I took a few fotos, then a hand reached into the window and grabbed my camera in my lap. I firmly grasped it with my other hand and just held on to it. The trufi was moving and the man had slight momentum too as he was on a bike. In the end I won, but I got an ugly cut on my hand. Apparently he had been watching the taxi and ridden by one way, but returned to see if he could swipe my camera. The ladies sitting next to me became so angry! I felt really bad, just seeing the ugliness of sin, and although a camera is just a material possession-which if lost wouldn't have been the end of the world-it's the root issue of sin. (which if we're honest, exists in each one of us too). Anyway, I still have my camera--Thank God! As I still have two more weeks, and I haven't been able to upload any pictures, though some are on Sam's laptop.

Soo...that's the week in brief. I have no idea what's going on back in the States at all--or anywhere else for that matter, so feel free to let me know anything important that I should know. I almost forget that there's a whole world out there too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 2.5

"Bolivia makes me so tired", That is a quote from the missionary's daughter. It really kinda does, but maybe that's because we are so busy all of the time. But it is definitely worth it.

This week: (as of Monday)

The Brazilian team who was staying at the hacienda left Friday afternoon. I had a nice talk with one of the men from the team. He was a professional soccer player and gave his life to Christ five years ago. Now he and his wife are going to Chad to be missionaries. They are training here in Cochabamba at one of the seminaries.

We spent a morning at the nutrition center. It is clean and well run. The children are on specific meal plans, as the goal is renourish them. However, there are only a few nurses, so we went and held the babies, played with them, and fed them lunch. It was really neat, but kind of sad at the same time. Some mothers were there and an Aunt came to visit her niece too, but in general there were a lot of babies and not a lot of people to hold them. So we enjoyed helping out with that. The center is way at the top of the hill in a really neat neighborhood. The taxi/trufi driver nearly got in a fight with a motorcyclist on our way back. That was interesting...

At babywashing on Saturday afternoon, we once again combed lots of heads of thick tangled hair. We played with the kids and painted their nails too. The Timmers are in charge of babywashing now. We brought down a lot of clothes from the donations brought by teams. Two tents are set up and the babies are washed and then given clean clothes. Their hair is combed and braided and sometimes they receive bracelets, or get their nails painted or color pictures. It's quite neat.

This weekend I'm headed off to Potosi for a week. I always get a little nervous for these trips. It's very rural, dirty, and you never quite know what to expect... But I love going there too, because it forces me to rely on God to take care of all the details. And the kids are wonderful; the people gracious; and the scenery beautiful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The week that flew by

It's very hard to believe that I've only been here one week! We've been very busy, and it feels very good to be back in Bolivia.

Let me try to summarize this in a way that will hold your attention.
I've gotten to see a lot of old friends, kiddos that have grown up a lot, and experience a bunch of new things too. That's the short version.

And THIS is the long version:
I went to the center (which is a lot more structured and seems to be meeting the needs of the kids even better as they build up their team and experience), the kids at the orphanage are doing well. We celebrated Viviana's ninth birthday yesterday, and visitor Sam F. taught piano lessons to the older 4 on Saturday; the Timmers are in charge of Babywashing now. I combed an braided a lot of heads of long tangled hair on Saturday. :)

There are currently two interns here; Annie and Sam. They both came from England, but Sam grew up in Spain; This week there is a group of Brazilians staying at the hacienda, I will spend the afternoon with some bolivian children and an Irish missionary, and have dinner with an Australian family. Talk about multi-cultural!! I love it!
On Monday (our "day off"), we went up the mountain to a place called Parque Tunari. The missionary that drove us up there had heard that there was a lake somewhere and we were determined to find it. We drove through the winding roads, turned around a few times and after a little over two hours we found it!! It was deserted, we saw only a couple of shepherds and a fisherman the whole day. It was beautiful! We took a picnic lunch, because we were higher than the tree line, after searching in vain for enough wood to build a fire, we decided to go back down to the woods. We built a big fire and cooked some pork ribs which were delicious. The day was amazing and a really good time to get away from the bustle and get lost (almost literally) in God's creation.
The missionary family I've been staying with has had loads of Bolivian friends over all weekend. It was really neat to talk with them. We played volleyball for five hours on Sunday night, We had a campfire and Bible study on one night, and on Sunday afternoon they made coffee and brought traditional bolivian appetizers. Delicious!

I've been staying all over the place here in Cochabamba. I've been here seven nights and stayed at three different places. Everyone is so kind, and I've had lots of good meals and I've only had to cook like once!

My big project has been organizing the ministry room. This is where all donations are dropped, and let me just say that God's people have been very generous! I've already spent hours in there, and probably have a few more.

We've had a lot of fun with "Flat Stan", this is a project of my little brother (Tim) for school. He gave me a little paper doll called Flat Stanley and my job is to take pictures of him all around Bolivia so Tim can experience South America via Flat Stanley. We've had a blast with this, and will probably have a rather large album of Flat Stan pictures. WE had to get him Laminated the other day due to the "harsh conditions", though maybe it was just due to him being handled so much!

Annie and I attended the missionary women's bible study on Tuesday morning. They were finishing up a study by Beth Moore and it was so good. I learned a lot, and I think I will try to do the rest of it when I return to the States.

Coming up this week:
Visit with Samuel and his brothers (who are at a different home now)
Spelling Bee (for missionary's daughter)
Feed kids at the nutrition center
A trip to Chapare (Jungle) ...potentially
Graduation celebration (for missionary's other daughter)
Annie leaves! :(

Thanks for all your prayers!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

6 a.m. in La Paz

I arrived in La Paz at 5:11 a.m. The city was still asleep but the airport is bustling. I feel sleepy and short of breath (from the altitude) but so glad to be this far. I just purchased my plane ticket to Cochabamba but it doesn´t leave until 11:40 a.m. For my overweight luggage it cost me a grand total of $4.50. Not too shabby.
Yesterday went so smoothly. All of my flights were virtually on time and I met some cool people on the plane (ironically both were involved in the cattle industry. Coincidence? I think not...!) Anyway, I was able to sleep a little this time. I planned better and got window seats so I had somewhere to rest my head and I slept on and off the whole overnight flight. Now...well I could sleep but don´t really trust my belongings to stay put.
I anticipate a busy week, but I´ll try to write often. I can´t find my card reader so I can´t post any pictures... Sorry!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Control Freak?

This week, some things went down, that I was not expecting. Through some misunderstandings and miscommunications I kind of thought I was not going to be at my job any longer. No one's fault, but I'm sure glad I took the time to go talk with the person about it.

It was stressful, let me tell you. I thought of how much I've learned and grown at my work. I thought of all the kids I care so much about, I didn't even think I was going to get to say goodbye and it HURT. I cried, and struggled with what the right thing to do was. I had a few family members and a close friend pray for me, but since I was uncertain as to what was going to happen, or what was really going on with communication about the situation, I didn't feel that I could really talk about it to others. Anyway, I finally came to the point where I surrendered it to God. I knew I could probably never find such a cool job (though maybe not even true), I knew it would be hard to lose so many friends, mentors and all my kids. And what would I do with myself?! But I finally realized and admitted that it was out of my hands, and I would be okay with however it turned out.

THEN, I went and spoke with my boss about everything. It turned out some bad timing, a bad situation and bad communication all contributed to this chaos. They decided that I could move to the girls house (which I'm currently very excited about...because after all, "Girls are better than boys"!! Lol, I'm just kidding. I like them both;).

Then I came home and thought, "Did I like majorly overreact?!" I don't think I did. I think we worked some things out in the process. I realized that even in the bad times, that I like what I do. I think it was good to get some feedback, and give some too (and they were really nice!)

Most of all, I think this dramatic situation reminds me of Abraham and Isaac. God gave Abraham something really cool (A son in his old age), something that was promised to him, something that seemed so impossible, and something that he loved very much. Then God asked him to surrender it. He asked him to kill that dream. Maybe God wanted to know if Abraham loved that gift more than The Giver.

That's how I felt about my job. Okay, fine. Sometimes I might brush off God, and say that I'm already doing ministry. I don't need to worry about anything else. After all, "I have a mission field right where I'm at"--sometimes we do say that. (In the USA, I mean). Anyway, I realized that if God calls me somewhere else--which He very well may--I'm gonna have to give up some really important things. Things that I'm selfish about, when it may be an inconvenient time.

I experienced the same test of surrender about my family about two weeks ago. I really felt like God wanted me to think about what it would be like if I lived thousands of miles away on another continent. It scared me. That's where I feel safe. But I knew that sometimes we don't get to stay where we feel safe. And He broke me, I finally gave up trying to hold on to them so tightly, and surrendered. Gosh, it was HARD. I cried for two days (not when they could see me of course! ;)

Through both of these experiences I've found a peace. I can't really explain it, it's like when I finally let go of the two things that I really wanted, I found a peace. And I look at both things in a completely different perspective. I really want to make the most of my time here, because I know that one day I might be somewhere far away, and I'll miss them and only have my memories that I make now to cherish. But when God calls us, He will be faithful to take care of us (and the ones we care about).

Hmm, that's my 2 cents for now...

Keep posted for some Bolivia news!!! I'm leaving next Wednesday! Praying to get a visa tomorrow!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On following your passion

When I was growing up my dad always led mission teams to Mexico. You could tell that he loved it because he could talk forever about all the funny experiences and lessons learned on those trips. He used to say that sometimes he felt guilty, like it was selfish of him to go because he actually loved doing it. But he came to the conclusion that a calling from God doesn't mean that you have to do something that makes you miserable. Maybe God gives you a passion for something and lets you enjoy it. After all, we'd be a lot better testimonies if we had a passion to serve and were using our gifts and abilities to give glory back to Him. And it would make sense for Him to give us gifts that would be used for us to serve Him more effectively.
I kinda feel like that about Bolivia. I cannot even communicate to you that way the people there have stolen my heart. I think it's impossible to go and see the beautiful people, the magnificent scenery and the unique culture and come back the same as you were when you left. It just changes you.
I met a cool missionary last week at a little baptist church close by. He was the sweetest man, he and his wife were missionaries in South and Central America for 33 (?) years. We shared stories, and came to the same conclusion: we are profoundly changed because of what we've experienced...and we are so glad we followed God.
I am so grateful for the opportunities to go and give what little I have to offer to the Bolivian people. I know it's not much, and I kind of feel guilty because I feel like I'm the one who gets the most out of the trips I've made there. I know God is doing something good. In them and in me. And I can't get it out of my mind.
I'm going back, you know, in May--for a month (this time). So if you could say a little prayer for me...for us, I will thank you in advance. Thanks! You guys are the best! :)
So here's my advice: if you ever get the chance to go to Bolivia, or South America, or some country overseas; GO. I'm serious, you will see God in a different way, and have a completely different perspective of the World.

Okay, you wanna see them?
Here are some of the most precious kids in the world:(That's just a tiny sample).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

For such a time as this

Raised by her cousin and drafted into a national beauty pageant a young Jewish girl was chosen to be queen. Warned by her cousin to not disclose her heritage, Esther had access to all the money, luxuries and status one can only dream of. However, when the lives of her people are threatened, Esther is reminded by her cousin that if she doesn't speak up for her people, that her life will not be spared, though God would send deliverance through someone else. He then challenged her saying: "who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
In the end, Esther risks her life by coming before the king and then pleading for the lives of her people--which are spared.

There are so many character lessons in this story. The one I cannot get out of my head is this:
We are blessed. We also have the choice every day to build up our own "kingdoms", or to use our blessings to benefit our people.
I fail...every day. But this is something I am so convicted by.

Even if Esther had said no, maybe she didn't want to be sentenced to death by her husband--the king. Maybe she was afraid of the humiliation, or lacked the courage to speak up. Or maybe she could just pretend she though someone else would do something. But had she not done anything, and had God spared her life, she still would have had to live with that regret her whole life.

Soo...that's my 2 cents.

I highly encourage you to read the book of Esther (it's in the Old Testament of the Bible--between Nehemiah and Job). You will learn a lot. I promise.

Here's a video with a pretty song:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Call me crazy but...

i need a vacation!! (Or maybe I should say, "I want a vacation". )
It's my first semester back to school--grad school--and I'm bombarded with tons of homework. I only see my family like three days a week. I'm currently working full time in a helping profession (which also means: not very flexible to just pick up and take off whenever the mood strikes--compared to my previous jobs). Don't get me wrong, I believe God's led me here, and I'm trying to give it my best. And I like it for the most part. Some days I just get tired of the routine. Tired of seeing the same scenery all the time. Anxious to travel, see some sights and try something different for a change.
maybe all the teenagers I work with are rubbing off on me, in that I complain a lot! Or maybe I need to go back and read my own blog on contentment...
Either way. God is faithful, and the Bible does say: Hope deffered makes the heart sick. Prov. 13:12 (that kinda expresses how I feel right now) But David writes: Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4.
So maybe not in my timing. And maybe not even exactly what I think I want or need, but God's so good. I trust Him most.

I vote: Europe or Latin America!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Word

On the radio a few weeks back the DJs were talking about picking just one word to summarize your new year. So I took a few days to think about one thing that would really revolutionize my year and I'm finally getting around to writing about it. So here it is...


This is applicable to all areas of life, and a healthy dose of it will do us all some good. I promise. Be it exercise, eating habits, spending time with God, loving others, keeping commitments, doing our best at our jobs, or time management...well actually the list goes on and on... and on. But you get the point.

Paul repeatedly urged the church throughout the New Testament to "Walk in a manner worthy of the LORD". This is our responsibility as Christians. Erwin McManus, in his book called "Soul Cravings", said "To be good Christians, we cannot live thoughtless lives". There are a lot of us who are easily convinced that we can live just like everyone else, and still be a follower of Christ. I beg to differ. We are called to be different, to be set apart. Our culture is one that glorifies instant gratification, and doing what's easy and fun. Discipline is not fun, it's not easy, and it's not for the self-sufficient--because we cannot do it alone. But God promises to be our strength when we are weak. Let's live differently. Let's be intentional about our days and how we choose to spend our time. Forget about what those around us dictate, we have one person to please, and He's the one we will answer to someday for how we treated those around us, what we allowed into our lives, and how we used the time we were given.

I'm struggling through this myself, however the bottom line is this: I really want to be a woman who strove to give this life the best she had.

So think about it. And make this year count.