Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lessons learned while hiking the treacherous mountains of Huay'ku Mayu at sunset

Last Thursday is the day I arrived in Cochabamba.  I cannot believe I LIVE in Bolivia now.  It's been a hectic two weeks filled with visa paperwork, a trip to Potosi, and a few work projects and visits.  It's been fantastic!
Potosi felt longer than usual because we visited fewer communities and spent more time in each, and we took more day hikes than usual.  Abby and I talked about all the analogies/lessons we learned from our afternoon-late evening hike to see a woman sick with bronchitis and her grandbaby sick with an infection.  This is what we came up with:
1. Sometimes you have the luxury of stopping to take a break---and sometimes you don't.
2. Sometimes you can't see the bigger picture and just must keep taking baby steps-one foot at a time.
3. There is great value and peace in having an experienced and trustworthy guide.
4. Sometimes you CAN see the bigger picture-and when you can, you should soak it in and then remember it when you can't see the end goal.
5. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
We were thankful for hermano Vicente who led the way.  He is a single man who walks all around the community to visit people there because he believes it is so important that they hear the message of love and hope of God's word. (He also provided us with fresh mandarins from his Shakira shoulder bag).  Overall though, I loved the hikes! It's a great opportunity to take in the scenery, and seeing the homes of the people and meeting the older generations provides a more realistic look into normal every day life there.

Friday, July 11, 2014

8 Things I Forgot.

I just got back to Bolivia yesterday for the 8th time.  Yes, that’s right.  And it turns out that the combination of my lack of observance and selective memories have meant lots of good, funny, and embarrassing experiences already!

Here’s a 8 of the things that I have forgotten.
  1. That Cochabamba Bolivia does actually get cold!  I always would say that Cochabamba is about 70 degrees every day, the winter just means it’s a little cooler at night.  Well, it’s a lot cooler at night.  When I landed in La Paz to 40 degree weather I remembered at one point when I lived in Cochabamba when I had EIGHT blankets on my bed-and used all of them at once!
  2. How friendly people are here.  I knew it was cultural to greet friends and acquaintances, but I forgot that it was cultural to greet complete strangers too! Walking down the street, getting into a trufi (public transportation mini-van), in places of business, etc.
  3. You need your passport for all visa application meetings.  (*that was the embarrassing one).
  4. I need a pillow and vest/jacket with a hood to sleep on planes.  (Hence the one hour of sleep). All of a sudden I’ve become some sort of rookie traveller!  
  5. How pretty Bolivian Spanish is!
  6. How much we walk!  I thought that not running=no exercise.  Boy was I wrong!  Not having a car means you must walk to catch the bus or trufi that happens to go where you need to go.   
  7. That plans will change at least 10X in one day.  Flexibility is so necessary to live as a sane person.  You decide to laugh or cry. 
  8. That I don’t look like everyone else here!  (Sometimes I forget and think that I really look hispanic, or sound bolivian...but I quickly am reminded by my accent or a mirror, or others’ responses that I don’t).  But I still pretend...
I'm sure there will be many more in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.  And I know I have so many new things to learn and I can't wait!  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Last days in the USA...for now!

And they included:
A roadtrip with stops in North Carolina to meet cousins and Georgia to meet my cousin's baby.
Welcoming Bekah back to the USA!
A wedding for another cousin, also in Georgia.

Relaxing with friends...also in Georgia.

Visiting family in Houston.
Meeting my newest (TINY) foster-nephew.
Celebrating Independence Day with my family and friends.
Tubing down the Comal river with siblings, friends and my oldest niece-it's so fun that she's old enough to go do stuff with us now-and enjoy it!
Celebrating Grandma's birthday, and Her & Grandpa's anniversary. Sweet examples of unconditional love.
Reunion with college friends!

Visiting my friends from work-they've changed me forever!
Lots of eating, running, sleeping, packing, laughing, playing, crying, etc.  I'm so thankful to all of you who have chosen to be a part of this journey with me--and have allowed me to be a part of your journeys with God, your families, and careers too.  It's quite a ride, and I can't imagine doing what I do, without the joy, peace and hope that God gives so generously.

In case you wonder what's next:
I will fly to Bolivia tomorrow.  I will do paperwork for my one year visa which will take a couple of weeks, and a few hundred bolivianos.  Then I will go with a team of about 6 or so people to Potosi.  There we will have a kids camp--sort of like intense VBS.  Then when I get back to the city hopefully my visa stuff will be almost done and I will head to ETNOS in Santa Cruz where I will jump back into classes for literacy, teaching, medical training, translation, learning language and culture, rugged living skills, etc.  Other than that, I'm starting from scratch.  I know that the facilities are a little more rugged than in Missouri, and I know I will have some chores to keep up the grounds, and will find some friends and a church there (*soon, I hope!).

The hardest thing is saying goodbye-because even as confident as I am that I am going where God is leading me, I will MISS people here like crazy, especially my familia, friends who have become like family, and the little ones who hopefully will not forget me while I'm gone.
 This is my second niece.  She and her sister's said they won't grow up while I'm gone.  The oldest suggested putting something really heavy on her head-to which they all agreed! ;)