March 28, 2014
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry here. My apologies. I went home for a visit for a few weeks in February and early March, so I wasn’t here in Bolivia. I had a great time and it was a wonderful blessing to see and spend time with my dear family, very special church family, good friends and awesome former students! :) Please keep my grandmother and grandfather in your prayers, as both are very sick. Thank you. It also felt really good to eat my favorite foods, take hot showers, drive on nicely-paved roads and not have to pay to use a public bathroom. :) But at the same time, a big part of me really missed Bolivia and the staff and children at Familia Feliz. It’s amazing to see how quickly things can form part of your life.
I traveled back to Bolivia on March 16th and arrived in La Paz early on March 17th. When I arrived, I learned that there were no flights to Rurre for two more days, as there had been some bad weather and flights were cancelled. The roads were not safe due to the rain and mudslides, so I booked a flight for Wednesday morning (March 19th) and headed to a hotel. I spent a good bit of the next two days resting, as I hadn’t slept at all on Sunday night and most of Monday. Then, on Tuesday night, the airlines called me and said that my flight for the next morning had been rescheduled to 3:30 in the afternoon. Then, Wednesday morning, they changed it again to 5:30 pm. I was wondering if I’d really get back home on Wednesday at all. But God is Good and I arrived safely in Rurre around 6:15 pm on Wednesday. Jodi and Oriel were there to pick me up. We got supper and got caught up on things before heading back home. I’ve been asked to be the Director of the orphanage and school this year, so there was a lot I needed to know (and ask! :) ).
A couple of pics of the airplane we flew in to Rurre. Obviously no concern about terrorism or security threats on this plane (open cockpit, etc.) :)
It was around 8:15 pm when we finally reached FF. I figured most of the kids would be in bed. When I got out of the truck and went into the Big House, however, I was attacked by about 15 kids! The hugged me, jumped on me, shook my hand and said how happy they were to see me. Absolutely one of the best feelings in the world! It felt really good to be home.
The next morning, I got to see the rest of the kids that had already gone to bed the night before. I also got to meet our new students (Sabina, Angelica and Joel). It was great to see the kids again. I really did miss them during their summer break. I also got to catch up with the staff and meet a couple of new faces there too. David and Yancy came from Venezuela. David was only here for two weeks (and left two days after I arrived), but Yancy will be here long-term. And boy am I glad! He’s a great guy, hard worker, very knowledgable and works great with the kids. He’s already been a big help.
Amber, Yancy and Hunter making bread. They did a great job!
Our delicious pizzas!
On a sadder note, Manuel (our volunteer from Colombia) left with David to go and do other volunteer work in Peru. He will be missed. He, also, was a great help, especially with our agriculture program. But I know that God will use him wherever he goes.
Okay…so let me just go ahead and issue this disclaimer. If the past week and a half has been an indicator of how the rest of the year is going to be, then my entries will probably be shorter and fewer than last year. (I apologize in advance, but promise to do my best to update you all as much as possible). It has been extremely busy for me! We have fewer missionaries here now (10), and three of those will be leaving in two weeks. A new female volunteer (Dorca) should be arriving next week, so that will give us 8 staff…which is a little under half of what we had last year. So we are all having to “pick up the slack” and wear several hats. As such, I’m currently the science teacher for grades 1-9. When the student missionaries leave, I’ll be teaching English. I’ve already had meetings with the Ministry of Education and Social Services. I have a meeting with the local disabilities office next week to see about getting some services for a few of our students that have disabilities. One of our students broke his arm a couple of months ago and had another incident that caused some more damage, so he has to go into town for physical therapy at the hospital every week day (so someone has to take him). Two volunteers and another student also had to go to the doctor this week. We’ve been given a donation to start an orchard on campus (Praise God!!), so we’ve been working on clearing the land for that project and shopping for trees. We’ve also started our garden again (clearing, tilling, adding fertilizer and planting), as well as cleared more land near the Big House to plant another garden there. Ori has been working to repair one of our water tanks that has a leak and we’ve ordered the wood and metal roof to replace the roof on my house, thanks to a donation (Praise God again! :) ). Our washing machine broke, so trying to get that fixed. Also working on our budget and on our work program. So, as you can see, there hasn’t been a dull moment yet! But no complaints here…I think this is the first job I’ve ever had that I absolutely LOVE so much! It truly is a wonderful, wonderful blessing!
We LOVE our coconuts! :)
Starfruit is very common here as well. Here's one we enjoyed this week.
Last Sabbath, we went to church in town. It was nice to see the brethren again. A few minutes after arriving, the head elder came and asked me if we (Familia Feliz) would lead the entire service! We hadn’t prepared anything, but agreed and prayed for the Lord to help us. Sam, Yancy and I went up front. Sam and Yancy did the hymns, Bible reading, prayer and special music and I had the sermon. It turned out nice, I think. God also comes through!
Heading home from church.
This past Sunday was my day to stay on campus with the kids (along with Sam and Amber). We had a great time. We made a delicious lunch (Pesto pasta) and then took the kids swimming in a nearby creek. It was a hot day, so they were really excited about that. We had a really good time. Then, after that, we went to get some coconuts…and ended up with 125 of them! That made for a great day indeed! :) One of the students, Jose Carlos, just shimmied up that coconut tree like it was nothing and cut them all down for us. He definitely earned his extra coconuts!
Even Janet enjoyed the water! :)
We all also got free clay treatment while we were there. :)
Here's Juan Carlos in the coconut tree.
The new pastor in town and I catch up over a coconut.
We also cut ALL of the boys’ hair this week. Some were excited to have a shorter cut, but some were not so thrilled. However, head lice is common here and we want to do our best to avoid them and having shorter hair definitely helps. Plus, I think the guys look better with the shorter cuts. What do you think??
Sam and Kevin
Moises and I
My little buddy Rodrigo
One thing I really missed while I was gone was worships with the kids. I don’t know how to describe it, but they make it so much more enjoyable…especially when we sing. They absolutely love to sing and do so with a sincerity and enthusiasm that is contagious and you can’t help but be blessed. Wednesday and Friday evening worships were no exception.
Part of the AY program
Some pics with the kids after worship:
I also met with the Coronel from the army base this week. He was very excited to see me, as was I him. We’ve become very good friends. He is anxious for us to start meeting with the new soldiers. He specifically asked me to encourage them to study the Bible and to be baptized, because he saw such a difference in the soldiers last year! He told me that anytime we wanted to stop by and talk with them was fine…he would have all the soldiers stop what they were doing to participate because (and I quote) “We are all members of God’s army and His work comes first. I am not so interested in my soldiers learning how to shoot guns and march. Those are skills they will only use during their year in the service. But my priority is their spiritual life, their values and morals because that is something that they will use throughout all of their life.” Isn’t God simply Amazing?!?! So, we are set to start Bible studies two weeks from today. He also wants us to give a presentation on drug prevention, as well as sex, as he said these were issues they faced with a few soldiers last year. So please continue to pray for us as we meet with these new soldiers. We are also going to be heading to talk to the Navy base in the near future to see about starting studies there as well, so please keep that in your prayers.
One of the many beautiful butterflies we have here in Bolivia. God is such a wonderful Artist, isn't He??
And please pray for each of us as we continue to work with our kids here at Familia Feliz. Our goal is to lead them closer to Christ everyday and to teach them how to be more Christ-like at all times and in all ways. That can be quite a challenge at times! But I know God will work in mighty ways if we seek Him and are willing to serve Him with our whole hearts. Pray for our new students as they acclimate to our environment and rules. Thank you all for everything!!
God bless you all!
P.S. Several of you have asked about the flooding. Thankfully, the town is no longer flooded and water and power have been restored. However, there still are hundreds of people in town without homes, living in make-do shelters. Continue to pray for them. But we thank God, in a very special way, for using us in a small way to help our neighbors. Just yesterday, we picked up a family walking to Rurre and they recognized us from distributing water and thanked us for our efforts. Another wonderful feeling!
P.S. 1 - A few of you have asked me about Janet as well. She is doing fantastic! Today, when we were having her walk with her walker, she didn’t cry at all and even pushed it walking by herself for a good bit, which was a first! So she is advancing quite nicely and we are so thankful for God’s care and blessing in her improvements. Thank you all for your prayers and concern for her. I’ll post some updated pics below of her.