Sunday, November 25, 2007

Don´t blink

The title of the popular country music song certainly rings true for me. Life passes too quickly, blink and you´ll miss it. I´ve been busy this week and haven´t even found the time to blog until now.

It is hard for me to believe that I have already been in Bolivia for 1 month! I have met so many people, seen so many things, and learned so much that I hardly know where to begin anymore. This last week seems to have just flown by. Last Saturday I attended my first Babywashing since I arrived (it had been cancelled the weeks before). I´ve now gone twice and each time is different. Different volunteers, different number of kids, ect. Its fun getting to know people as we chat while washing these little ones. My Bolivian sister Natalia has taken to calling it a ¨baby shower¨. The kids are so different from one another, some splish & splash in the water, others scream bloody murder, some actually help us wash them. Ever Saturday feels like a brand new experience. My schedule should nearly always allow for 2 hours or so for babywashing.

As much as possible I have been trying to run my errands by myself. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I want to cry because I can´t communicate well in this language or I just can´t find the store that I am looking for. My pride has taken quite a hit this week. I have finally managed to: make photocopies, mail something to the states, drop off money for my one year visa, and buy a half a dozen donuts. That last one I just returned from. It took an hour round-trip on foot. Speaking of these donuts... they are the closest thing to Dunkin Donuts that they have in Cochabamba. and there is only ONE store. My sister here bought me one a few nights and I fell in love with it! Not bad for 50 cents US!

One night I attend a free piano and cello concert with my sister and was treated some amazing music. It was associated with the music college here. The woman was born in Cochabamba and the man was from the states. Both with musical resumes a mile long. I am so glad that I am friends with my sisters here, I am never lonely for friends. If I ever get to feeling lonely or bored, all I need to do is walk out of my bedroom and find my family. Problem solved.

Along with Thanksgiving this week I was also celebrating the birthdays of 2 of my friends. So I´ve been introduced to two more restaurants with good food. I don´t eat out a lot normally since I have 3 meals a day at home. But a birthday is a birthday and it calls for a change in schedule! And something else I have noticed... it is important for me to have a life here in Coch. It doesn´t mean I have to spend a lot of money, but it does mean that I have to spend time with friends outside of ministry and just build relationships with them. I miss all my family and friends at home dearly. The friendships I have here are just in the beginning stages and will take some time. But I´ve realized that it means I have to actively pursue them. Yeah, so I can have a somewhat normal life here with ministry and social life.

OK, Thanksgiving! I was so happy to answer my Bolivian families questions about this North American holiday. They wanted to know the history, the food, the traditions, ect. But mostly the food, I had a heck of a time trying to describe stuffing! So the day finally came we headed over to Earl and Rosie Adams house. We had an amazing meal of turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry stuff, melt-in-your-mouth rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and chocolate cake. I ate soooo much food! I still can´t believe I actually ate desert :)

Following dinner Earl read a passage from Psalms about praise and thanksgiving. Then came a time of just sweet fellowship as Earl (they call him Carlos) told about his church-planting ministry among the Quechua people, as my family recounted my many mis-adventures here in Bolivia, and the rest of the family talked a lot in Spanish so I didn´t always know what was being said. But talking about huge dragon flies and the spider in my bathroom that my sister kindly killed for me, I got the gist of those!

Here is a picture of my family, minus Jaime who didn´t come to dinner

And here we all are at the dinner table

One last thing! Rainy season is on full swing here in Coch. Coch doesn´t nearly have it has bad as some areas in Bolivia. This last week we had 2 solid days of the dreariest weather I´ve ever experienced in this city. Cold, about 40-50´s I think, which is a big big change from the strong strong sunshine and 80-90 degree days. I´ve also learn that my shower is solar heated. No sun, no heat. After 2 cold showers I started showing upstairs where they have electric heated showers. As long as it was sunny the day before I am A-OK though. The cold weather has also sent me on a shopping trip. I came down ill-prepared for rainy season and have been borrowing warmer clothes from my sisters. My family worries about me constantly, more so when its cold. I try to tell them I´m from Chicago and I´m USED to this kind of weather. But they worry anyway. So now I have proper clothing, its only took nearly 4 hours in La Concha!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Week in Review

So the week didn´t exactly go as planned. Things here rarely do. If you can´t be flexible, you´ll be miserable. So you just have to learn to roll with it. I still had a full week though!

Monday morning began with meetings with my team leader. It was good to just sit down with my ministry goals in front of me. Quite thankfully, we are on the same page and will be working towards those goals together. It will take time to learn all that I need to know. Unbelievably, Spanish is only a small part of it. But sometime in the near future I will be able to be a big help to my team. There are some ways that I can start to help immediately. For example: responding to email inquiry´s regarding the ministry to the orphans, the culture, money issues, fundraising helps, ect. We will have weekly communication meetings so we are always in touch.

Monday night was Natalia´s Ballet at the biggest theatre in town. It was so fun to see the family all dressed up for this important event. In most of the cultural dances there are 6 couples on stage so we can always pick out which one is Natalia. Mamá made all of Natalia´s dresses and that helped to pick her out to. We had a front row seat in the balcony. The dancing was amazing, I´ve never seen anything like it. I got a very short video clip with my camera and will try to post it to this entry from an Internet café later. It was such a wonderful night! The next day at lunch they told me that there was a young man that was watching ME the whole night and not the dancing! I was, of course, totally oblivious to it! Papá said he almost went to tell him to knock it off. That was hilarious to me!

Tuesday I went with my team leader to drop off the needed paperwork to get my one year visa in progress. That was the first step. Next comes a drug test, a criminal background check, and one more thing but I forgot what it was. Pretty normal stuff I guess. I meant to go to Villa Isreal orphanage that afternoon but was feeling ill after lunch and needed to stay in and rest instead.

Wednesday the country was on strike. Yes the whole country of Bolivia was on transportation strike. There were some blockades set up in Coch but nothing that you couldn´t get around. But all the trufies were not running, though I´m told some taxi´s and mini buses were. I still had tutoring that day as well as studying but I took the time to get the photo´s posted from the Internet café.

Thursday I went with my team leader to the Sedeges office (which is kind of like a DCFS branch office). 4 brothers from the Villa Isreal home had to meet with their mom for the first time in 4 months. The children were reported to Sedeges because the mother would leave the 4 boys to beg for food in the community while she took off for days at a time. She has another son that she has been taking ok care of, he´s now 2 years old. She is also 5 months pregnant. She is saying she will abandon the 2 year old when her child is born. This is the sad, sad reality in Bolivia. If she does abandon him, he will come to live in the orphanage with his brothers. It was a very emotional morning and I found myself fighting tears as the children cried and even when one of children led the group in prayer for his mother. Yes we certainly do tell the children about Jesus and teach them to pray!

Today, after my Spanish lesson I spent that afternoon with another missionary with International Teams checking out a new area of the city for me. Prado is where a lot of American tourists go and there are a lot of restaurants and such there with good safe food to eat. I hardly ever eat out as the house food is excellent but its nice to know I can go out somewhere good when I want to. And believe it or not, at the plaza (park) at the end of that road there was a huge craft fair. A lot of tourist type stuff that can be bought in Concha for a little cheaper, but it reminded me a lot of the community craft fairs back home. Then we went to her apt and drew some maps and talked about how to get different places ect. She has an open door policy, I can always go there to get away if I need to. She´s not on the orphanage team so I won´t see her unless I intentionally make time to see her.

And now I am exhausted from my long afternoon walk and looking forward to dinner with my family. Tomorrow afternoon is Babywashing, I just need to figure out which bus will take me there. Check back soon!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Photo Tour

Finally, here are pictures of my home.

This is the living room that is not used.

This is the dining room that is used for company.

This is where the family eats all their meals.

This is the sitting room, kinda of like a waiting room.

This is the backyard and back of the house.

And most importantly (not!) is the dogs of the house. This one is Tina´s dog Clara.

And this is Toffé (but say it in spanish!)
That just about covers it. My family pictures I put in the newsletter. I took pictures at the ballet but they didn´t come out. I will describe that another day. More later!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


It has come to my attention that I have been a little to general in my statements on this blog. I can only hope that this entry can clear up any confusion and apologize to those whom I have offended.

When I speak of my family here in Bolivia I really do intend to speak of them in the highest regard possible. In a very short period of time I have come to love each and every one of them dearly. And I want them, more then anything, to have hope for eternal life in heaven with Jesus that I do. Many of you know that I am a born-again Christian. I use the words ¨born again¨ because Jesus used it in John 3:3. In many ways, my Bolivian family has loved and accepted me better then some born-again Christians have. In this way, my Catholic family puts many born-again Christians to shame.

¨Christian¨is a very broad term and many many religions use it. Christian literally means ¨follower of Christ or little Christ.¨ Catholics to Evangelicals and everything in between claim this name. And that is OK but I wanted to clarify what I believe. And what I believe is very much different from Roman Catholicism which is why I differentiate between myself and my host family (and catholics in general).

I believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to have eternal life in heaven (John 14:6). I believe that all our good works on earth are ¨as filthy rags.¨(Isaiah 64:6.)Not to say that they are not important and there are rewards in heaven for how we lived on earth, but I believe the only way to get to heaven is through accepting Jesus´ sacrifice for my sins on the cross. I can never be good enough. Period. And that is what makes me a ¨born-again Christian.¨

I apologize for not clarifying before now, but I do not apologize for my faith. And I will never be ¨politically correct¨ in this life :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This and That

Crossing the Street. Crossing the street is like trying to enter the jump rope game ¨Double Dutch¨. You see many intersections here are what they call ´rotundas´´ meaning the traffic is circular with 4 streets going off in different directions. If you don´t time it just right, well, I think you get the picture! Also, important to note, pedestrians do not have ANY rights in Bolivia. Bolivians don´t walk across the street, they run! Oddly enough, the street I travel most frequently is called America Ave. I live ¨a Bolivian walk¨ away from my team leaders, about 20-25 mins. Yes I could take a bus or taxi for very very cheap but why waste money when I can enjoy a walk? It is good for my health and is helping to build my endurance and build up my muscles. Also helping me to work on my tan :)

´Tis the Season. Christmas season is in full swing back in the states. Everywhere you go you see Christmas. Bolivians do celebrate Christmas but you are hard pressed to find a store carrying anything for Christmas. Yesterday I was at La Concha (Quechua for The Market) with my Bolivian sister Natalia and I saw just 1 store with Christmas decor in it. They say no one decorates because they don´t have any money. Sometimes you just get used to seeing the poverty and you forget that these people literally live hand to mouth... everyday. It makes me sad to think about how much money we spend on such superficial things in the states. We do so because we have A LOT of money compared to the rest of the world. And its the American culture and that's fine. But it sure helps me to put all those things in perspective now that I see how a poor country does the holidays. Sorry, I hope I didn´t offend anyone with that.

Family Funnies. I was helping Natalia cut up some confetti for her upcoming ballet (cultural dance). Raffita said something, I have no idea what, to me in Spanish. She does that A LOT. So I said to Natalia (who speaks English)¨It will be a happy day for me when I can understand what she is saying to me.¨ Just a few mins later Raffita is whispering in Natalia´s ear and Natalia laughs and she tells me that Raffita says that she can never understand what I (Kim) am saying!

I impressed the whole family when I asked a question in perfect spanish. I said ¨¿Dónde están las niñas?¨ Where are the children in English. But it was the first grammatically correct thing I´ve said in a week of living here. I got very many ¨muy biens´in response, then they answered the questions :)

Stopping to smell the roses. If there is one thing I´ve been extremely surprise by is the flowers in this city! We have 3 rose bushes in our back yard and they are always in bloom (so it seems). Everyday I check to see what new ones have opened up. Everyday when I walk to where ever I´m going I am amazed at the many bold colors in the flowers, flowers that just grow wild. I like to pause a moment and just appreciate their beauty.

Opposites. Lunch and dinner are opposite here in everything but name. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and dinner is very small, more like a snack before bed. All the children come home from school in the middle of the day and have lunch with the family. Lunch in my house is @ 1 and dinner is served at 7:30.
You have to peel most fruits before you can eat it. Apples, peaches, pears, ect. Its just too hard to get them clean enough to eat the peel.
You can´t eat oranges at night, they will make you very very sick. Something about the altitude???
There are more... just can´t think of them right now!

The Five Day Forecast.
Monday will begin with a meeting at my Team Leaders house followed by Spanish class (everyday for 2 hours) and studying and attending Natalia´s ballet (I will take pictures if I can).
Tuesday will again be Spanish class and in the afternoon I hope to take a Trufie ride out to Villa Isreal to play with the orphans.
Wed- Fri is unscheduled at this point. I have a list of things to do that I need my team leaders assistance on. But at least 2 hours everyday is set apart for Spanish.

Prayer Requests.
1. I have been semi-sick this week. I hope I am just adjusting to the food because they don´t give me anything ¨iffy¨ for a gingo.
2. I´ve only cried through 1 spanish class so far! Pray that I would be able to control my frustrations better and be able to learn quickly (which they say I am anyway.)
3. Pray that I may be able to build up my relationships with my Bolivian family in such I way that I may be able to share with them the Love of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Photo Tour postponed

This is the view from the back balcony :)
Sorry folks, even the public computer is taking too long to post all my pictures. I will try again from another computer another day. Check back soon!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My new home

This house in NICE! I have my own room, juest big enough for me. It came with a desk, a wardrobe, a nighstand with drawers and even MY OWN BATHROOM! Minus a shower curtian. Bolivians don´t use them, go figure. So the bathroom gets really wet but there is a sqweegy thing that you use on the floor when you are done. Its a good hot shower too. The family consists of Tina (my tutor), Jime is Tina´s brother, Astralla is Tina´s sister in law. Jime and Astralla´s two daughters Natalia is 23 and Patty is 29. Patty is divorced and has 2 daughters Raffia who is 4 and Belén is 7. Both insist on talking to me in spanish, they are sooo cute! Tina, Natalia, and Patty all speak a good deal of Engish and that is helping me out a lot right now. I use as much spanish as I know and they use both when talking to me too. mama and papa of the house don´t speak english at all but we are getting along just fine. They are the nicest, most welcoming family you´ll ever meet. I immediatley became daughter and sister and aunt to them, I nearly cried! They are not born-again Christians but Catholics. But I can see they are not just Catholic by culture. Patty told me, in english, that she knows that God is present in their house everyday. They know that I am a missionary and that I am here to serve Jesus in this country. Pray for them, they would make awesome Christians!

They are intent on fattening me up! Seriously, they feed me until I feel like I´m going to burst. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day (like the US dinner). Lunch starts with soup of some kind, the a main dish (pasta, chicken and rice, ect) and then dessert. And bread too. Breakfast is pretty basic, eggs, bread, tea or coffee, fruit. Pretty much whatever you want. Everyone leaves at different times so its no big deal. Dinner is very small and more like a snack then a meal. Yet I feel full all day long! Sickness comes and goes, nothing major but keep praying!

The house is very large. They have a ´nice´dining rooom and sitting area that they rarely use. Then the sitting area they do use, 4 bedrooms upstairs (awesome winding staircase), balcony, in ground pool (that they say has freezing water since they have no heater for it) and then 2 more bedroom type rooms not connect to the main house and a sewing and ironing room and the very top part is where they do the laundry. They have some beautiful rose bushes too.

I began my ´formal´ spanish lessons this week. But I feel like I´m in a constant spanish lesson!I am learning and that is what is important! Monday Natalia is in a ballet, not like the US though. They say its a cultural dance and the whole family (including me) is going to watch her perform. I can´t wait! I´ve also been invited with the family to have Thanksgiving dinner with some missionaries from another organization. It´s so cool to me that they immediatly include me in everything.

Ok, that was a pretty long description! Pictures will be coming soon, I promise!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I´m Here!

Wow, this has been a crazy week! And this is only the second time since I got here on Saturday that I´ve been able to get on the Internet. As most of you know, I did lose my luggage on the way down here but it came in on a plane the very next day, praise the Lord. I´ve been staying this week at the Hacienda or guest house with the teams interns. I just found out that my host family will be ready for me to move in on Monday. I can´t wait to meet them and see my new home! I have had a really good time with the interns this week (there are 3 of them). They have been teaching me some Spanish and teaching me how to get around town on the Trufies (Bolivian buses). I spend A LOT of time riding around in Trufies. They are either mini-buses (all very colorful) or vans. Always hot, always crowded, but always always cheap. And very dependable. The exchange rate on money is approximately 8 Bolivianos to the US $1. It costs 1 1/2 B´s to ride a Trufie. It is a hot bumpy ride but it beats trying to find my way around the streets on my own. I won´t have a vehicle for quite some time so this is the cheapest and most dependable way of getting around town.

I have been doing some clean-up work at orphanage #2 with the interns. A short term team was here last week and they were painting. Well, when you mix highschoolers with paint, what do you get? A mess! So we´ve been on our hands and knees cleaning up as much as we can so the floors look nice again. We´ve also been running some errands for the team leader as well. We´ve gone twice this week to work at the Center (the after school program) and have helped with lessons and crafts. In both the orphanage and the Center we just love to play with kids! Many of these kids come for abusive homes or just plain don´t get a lot of love and attention from their family. I am more then willing to shower them with love!

Next week will likely look very different. I will be moving into my semi-permanent home and will begin language tutoring. I have a list of things I need to get done in the coming weeks including getting my Bolivian ID card, applying for my year visa, setting up a PO box, and setting up my room in my new house. And I´m sure there is more to do then I even know at this point.

What I do know is that everyday is different from the one before. I don´t think there is such a thing as ´normal´ down here and thats ok. It just takes some getting used to. I am so far sickness free (though my allergies are having a hayday) and I have adjusted to the high altitude. It is rainy season so we get rain about every other day and it is making all the flowers bloom. They are beautiful! And making me sneeze :) I am on a public computer so I can´t post any pictures but look for a formal update in your email by the end of next week. There will be a good number of pictures there.

This weekend is Day of the Dead, it is a Catholic holiday that nearly all of Latin America observes. It is their was of honoring their dead ancestors. It should be a very cultural experience! There is so much more to say but my time is running out. I´ll be sure to update again sometimes next week!