Friday, May 30, 2008

Well, it finally caught up with me

After a very proud 7 months of being free from any serious stomach bugs, I came down with terrible stomach pains at the beginning of this week. After a sleepless night with frequent trips to the bathroom, my house mom called in a doctor to see me. Yes, they do that here for only about $20 US. Oddly enough, by that time I was feeling much better, just tired and weak. He didn´t do any tests but made sure I was ok, assigned some meds for pain and what not and left. That night I started feeling bad again so my house mom decided we needed to go for blood and stool tests. 8AM the next morning I had blood drawn for 3 or 4 tests. By 5pm we had results. Again, costing only about $13. Really a waste of money to have insurance down here! But anyway, the tests showed no stomach bugs, THANK GOD, but a high white blood cell count. Meaning that I had an infection in my intestines.

So basically I laid around and slept for 2 days, didn´t eat a whole lot and by Wednesday I was back to life as normal. But it has been a very odd week! I am very happy to be eating normally (after having a somewhat restricted diet for the week), feeling strong, and alert.

This week also contained a ¨surprise¨ party for my spanish tutor and a going away dinner for another one of my teams interns. This morning I took two of our newer interns to Viviana´s physical therapy as they are psychology majors and were curious as to what kind of therapy she had.

This afternoon I began a log that I will continue to update every month on our kids. Simply put, its a height and weight chart. But I am trying to make it as fun as I can by using fun stickers, asking questions about what they want to do when they are grown up, and possibly building on those answers in the future. What did you want to be when you were 9 years old? I think I wanted to be a nurse! The chart will be used for when the kids go to the doctors so we can give a month by month history of their growth. I believe it will also help us to see if they are having a stomach issue if they are not growing and gaining each month. Many of our kids came for very malnurished situations and are still on the mend. I look forward to getting to know our kids more personally in this way as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

ok, so my actual birthday was a week ago today, I´ve not had a chance to post since then as my birthday was actually a birthday week! On May 20th I gave myself a break and took the day off of Spanish tutoring :) I slept in and relaxed during the day. I was able to talk to my family at home during the day as well.
I was very happy to find out that Viviana and I share the same birthday! She turned 7 and I turned 27! Here we are, the birthday girls :)

Birthday night I met up with some of my Bolivian friends for dinner at an Italian place. There was much talk, laughter, and good food. Thankfully they didn´t sing, but then again, the whole youth group did that on Friday night. So here are some pictures from that night.

The next day, I met up with some of my teammate for cake and coffee and one of my favorite resturants cause they make a killer frozen cappachino. More pics of us.

And of course my house mom had a cake for me too.

And over this last weekend, I had two meals out with friends who couldn´t make any of the other get-togethers. All in all, it was a wonderfully exhausting week. I can´t tell you how many phone calls, text messages, ecards, facebook messages, cards, and gifts I recieved. It was a very good birthday!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

¨walmart shopping¨ in Cochabamba

I´ve been putting off a trip into La Cancha for some time. So I made a great big list of stuff I have been needing to get and some things I needed for a ministry project I am doing. Knowing a had a lot of ground to cover I left pretty early, risking the fact that some shops aren´t open till after 10AM. All was going pretty well until I had to buy some office type supplies. There are easier (but more expensive) ways of buying office supplies. La Cancha is a mad house, esp on Saturdays, but it the cheapest place in town to buy anything. And since I´ve learned a few of the main areas of the mad house I can normally do my shopping by myself. Anyway, I got stuck on two rather simple items... I forget sometimes that I´m in Bolivia, not Chicago. I needed rubberbands (how would you describe a ruberband, even in english?) and a folder for papers. I was so frustrated I was nearly in tears, I just don´t have the spanish vocabulary to describe what I was looking for. And my spanish dictionary gave me words they didn´t understand so that was of no help to me whatsoever. The folder I was able to describe well enough and someone finally had what I was looking for, the rubberbands I just happened to see sitting in a window case of a store on my way out of the area. Just a reminder that I still have a LONG way to go on Spanish, but it also reminded me just how far I´ve come in 6 months as well.

The other problem I encounter in La Concha on a fairly regular basis and that I can´t find the same ¨aisle¨ twice. I swear they move them around! Try as I might to remember street corners or other good landmarks I still find myself walking in circles, getting lost, getting found, and accidentally finding what it was I was looking for. All this, mind you, when I´m weaving inbetween thousands of people, stores, carts, and merchandise. Its something you´d really have to see to understand. But I don´t dare take a camera into La Concha (though I did on my vision trip), thats like asking for it to be stolen. I don´t even bring a purse there for fear of theft. So after I whoppping 3 hours, I finally got on a Mirco and headed home. What an exhuasting day!

And now I will head over to the main plaza for Babywashing and then go to my young adults group for worship, teaching, and fellowship with my friends. ´Til next time...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Food, glorious food

As I begin my countdown to furlough (5 months), I´ve begun thinking about the questions ya´ll will ask me about Bolivia when I get there. One of them will definetly be about the food. If you think that all Latin American countries eat Mexican style food you are very very wrong! And I´ve recently realized that I probably have experienced more Bolivan food then anyone else on my team as I am the only one that lives with a Bolivian family. So here we go!

Bolivian food is dry! I´ve never had anything with gravy on it. They have all the normal types of meat. Lots of beef, chicken, and pork. Ocasionally, cow heart, duck, or otherwise really foreign meats to me. As it is with most Latin American countries, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It almost always included rice and potatos, meat and veggies, and always fresh homemade soup. There is potato in everything possible. Nearly always in the soup, in the salad, and as a side to your main plate. There is one meal, I can never remember its name, but the beef or chicken is pounded out into a thin circle and then lightly breaded and fried, then served with rice and potato. Another is a vegitarian dish and its an egg or two fried, served over rice with tomato and/or onion. In a dish on the table is a very hot sauce that most bolivians add to their soup and main dish. I was tricked into trying it once, never again! They are also very fond of fried foods. Potatos are either fried to make a kind of french fry or are just boiled. Rice is either served white or it may be mixed with veggies, they don´t use soy sauce. Pasta shows up in the table every so often as well but with varying types of sauces. Salad dressing is oil and vinegar (in most houses). I could go on and on! But I won´t just cause this might be boring to some people. I have no complaints about the food! I will be buying a Bolivian cookbook soon and might bring it home with me for show and tell. But mostly I want it so that I can continue to make some of these dishes when I´m out on my own, given I have the time. Our house cook starts making lunch at 8AM, we eat at 12:30. A lot of normal north american food is available here, for a price. Anything imported costs more then it would in the states. And they don´t exactly have weekly sales here. A jar of Planters dry roasted peanuts costs $5.

Food they like to buy on the street: empanadas (a type of pastry, normally with cheese), chachas (breaded with chicken and stuff in the middle), salteƱas (similar and more popular then chachas, with beef and potato), cow heart, and some others. Thre are plenty of places to buy hamburgers, tacos, burritos, pastas, and other fairly normal north american foods. They even have a Burger King, haven´t been there yet, don´t want to.

They have endless types of potato and many more fruits then they have in the states. Some favorites are Ego (not sure of the spelling), tuna (not a fish, but the fruit of the cactus), different types of bananas (I esp like the fried ones, yum!), and many more.

Things I miss from home (hint, hint): bagels, starbucks, dad´s hambugers, speghetti with Prego, Taco Bell, salad with iceburg lettuce and italian dressing, good quality chicken, pancakes with bacon and sausage and syrup, buiscuts and gravy, eggs and toast, flavored oatmeal, frozen pizza, mashed potatos, Arizona flavored teas, stir fry, honey dew melon, and the list goes on.

My lactose intolerance continues to worsen if thats even possible. Thankfully soy milk cost less here then normal milk and I can have that without a problem. ok, there is your food lesson for the time being!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

La Feria

The International Fair 2008 arrived in Cochabamba 2 weeks ago. On this, its final weekend, my church Comunidad Cristiana Cochabamba (CCC), partnered with 3 other area churches to do an amazing evangelical outreach. My friends have been praying, practicing, and otherwise preparing for this one day event for many months now. I helped with the preparation as much as I could, which really was not much. The day before all the churches came together to run through their programs. I was able to help count out groups of handouts and such. The day of (Friday) the group started arriving at the ¨fest¨ at about 4pm. There was many times when someone just hollered at me ¨ayudame¨, ¨help me¨ in english. And thats just what I did, I helped in whatever little way I could. We all had wonderful matching t-shirts :)

And then the sun went down and it just got really stinkin cold! May and June are amoung the coldest in Coch and I came dressed for it. Guess what? I was still cold! Not like the cold in the midwest (I could still feel my fingers and toes, couldn´t see my breath) but I was cold and tense from trying to stay warm. That aside, I decided to take pictures. Here is a sampling from the program, only a few of them are my church people.

When all was said and done, it was after 1am! We tore everything down, packed it all away, packed ourselves (rather tightly) into a couple of cars and headed for home. After being cold for hours, no one minded being a little cozy in the car, thats how Bolivians ¨roll¨ around here anyway :)

I shall find out tonight, I think, the number of contacts that were made, the number of people who excepted Christ last night, and other information. So that was La Feria!