Friday, December 21, 2012

There's a light at the end of the tunnel!

We'd like to give a big THANK YOU to all of you who prayed for us yesterday! 

The day didn't start like we'd planned: I got a 6am phone call from our immigration lawyer and ended up spending a couple hours at the ID office (still working on visa paperwork, another request for prayer!) which pushed Kaylee's evaluation back to later in the morning.

In spite of a rough start to the day, Kaylee did a good job on her evaluation and advanced a level!  She is now at Intermediate High (6 of 10) and just one level short of her goal.

I also went up a level, to my surprise!  Mauge, the director of the language school, said I am DEFINITELY in Advanced Mid (8 of 10), which was my final goal for Spanish study!  It's kind of surreal, but that means I am technically done!  Talk about an unexpected Christmas present. :)

Our focus now is to get Kaylee finished: as I mentioned, she would like to advance one more level, to Advanced Low.  This will most likely include me taking over the lion's share of household duties (aka Mr. Mom) so that she can devote more time to study and class.  We will be doing lots of thinking, praying, and talking with our overseers about how I can make the most of my time.

The most exciting part about this is that the light is finally showing at the end of the tunnel on our journey to the Guarayos!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Meet the Patrol!

This afternoon, we finally took possession of our new vehicle, a 1997 Nissan Patrol Y60.

I know, I know.  It's not a Land Cruiser.  I told you that you'd be surprised.

From the very beginning of our vehicle search, the Nissan Patrol has been on our short list, along with 4 Toyota models.  In the past six months, I had narrowed our search to the 80-series Land Cruisers, mostly based on personal preference.  They are fantastic vehicles and I would still love to own one.  However, I just haven't been able to find one with what we want for less than $20,000!  That's a lot of money to spend on a 15 year old vehicle, even though it is one of the stoutest in the world.

This Patrol belonged to friends and coworkers of ours here in Cochabamba.  They recently decided to get a newer, smaller vehicle that was more suited to their needs.  They offered up the Patrol for a price that we would be crazy to refuse!  The remaining money in our vehicle fund will be used for upgrades and future repairs.

Besides not being a Toyota, it's also not a diesel.  It has a 4.2 liter TB42 straight-6 gasoline engine that has been converted to use vehicular natural gas!

Natural gas is incredibly cheap to run here.  The problem is that it lacks the power of gasoline or diesel and eventually starts to eat the engine.  We're not quite sure what we're going to do about that down the road (diesel swap, maybe?), but for now, we'll enjoy the benefit of cheap fuel!

The tank does take up a large chunk of the trunk:

The girls love it.  Addi's big thought for the day was, "We don't have to ride in taxis anymore!"  She and Lydia love having car seats, something Lydia doesn't even remember.  Kaylee is glad to be able to go places without (average) a child and 2 bags on her lap.  I think Anne appreciates the freedom of riding by the window, by herself.  I'm just glad for something to drive!

We just want to say a huge THANK YOU!! to everyone who made this possible.  Because of your prayer and financial gifts over the past year, we now have the ability to get around much easier.  Our kids are safer.  We will waste less time (waiting for taxis).  We can be more flexible.  After almost 2 years without our own transportation, it is truly a blessing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vehicle Update: Good News!

After talking about it for over a year, we finally have some good news to share about a vehicle purchase!

 However, we're still in the midst of doing paperwork and transitions and things, so we aren't going to spill the beans just yet.

I will tell you one thing: I'm as surprised as you will be at what we're actually buying! :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stitches out!

Lydia's doctor had an emergency surgery to perform Thursday night, so our appointment was changed to last night. Lydia and I went by ourselves; Kaylee stayed home with Anne and Addi.

I prepped her throughout the day, so she knew what to expect.  She was talking all about it earlier, but got shy once I turned on the camera. :)

(And no, it wasn't a good time for Addi to play in the dirt!)

When it was our turn, the doctor looked at the stitches, then sent us down the street to the pharmacy to pick up a disposable scalpel blade.  It cost us 1 Boliviano (about 14 cents).  We then returned to his office.

I should mention that his office is downtown and is just that: an office.  It does have a small examination bed in it, but other than that it is all desk and bookshelves.

He had me lay Lydia down on the bed, then called in the receptionist.  She held his smartphone for light (!) and I held her hands while he removed 6 of the 7 stitches.  He left the one closest to her eye and said it will come out on its own within a few days.

Lydia did fantastic through it all!  She didn't wiggle at all and kept her eyes open, looking straight ahead the whole time.  The only thing she said was, "I don't like the knife." :)

This is how it looks today:

Pretty good!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Update on Lydia

It's been a week since Lydia's accident and she's doing great!

I took this photo the morning after; having a bad eye definitely didn't steal her joy!

The swelling was so bad she couldn't see anything out of it the first day, but it has progressively gone down and is almost completely gone now.  We took her to the doctor on Monday for a follow-up and he said it looks great.  We then took her out for a treat:

I'm taking her back to the doctor tonight, hopefully to get the stitches out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jungle Fishing Adventure!

Over the weekend, I went on a men's retreat with 7 other guys from church.  We went to the Chapare region for 3 days of camping, fishing, and fellowship.  You can read about it on my personal blog, here: The Thinker Tinker.

Lydia and the Emergency Room

Today started out like a normal day. I had class in the morning, an appointment after class and then returned home. Nathan and the girls spent the morning working in the yard, cleaning things up and prepping for a mission get together we're having here tomorrow night. 

Caution: It gets bloody.

Then around 11:45 I heard a huge crash. I immediately ran, knowing that a large glass corner shelf (that belongs with the house) had fallen, praying that no one was hurt. All I could see was Lydia's hand extending out and hear her crying. I picked up the shelf and immediately started screaming for Nathan. Her face was covered in blood and I couldn't even see one eye. Not knowing the extent of the injury or the amount of broken glass I chose to stay with her until Nathan came with a towel. We immediately called friends to see if they were available to take us to the ER. They were unavailable so Nathan called a taxi. I'm not sure how long we waited but it felt like forever.

We are both so thankful for our taxi driver. He was young but serious and obviously understood our stress. He drove quickly (no speed limits around here) but safely in and out of traffic and got us to our destination (on the opposite side of town) in good time. She was admitted to the ER (which is also currently under construction with workers passing through continually) and they started cleaning her up. At that point only Nathan was with her since only one of us could be. After a bit of time I switched places with him and he sat with the other two girls. We are also so thankful for our coworker, Dwight, who met us at the hospital and who was able to help watch the other two girls while Nathan did paperwork.

Lydia and I were then escorted to another part of the hospital. We ended up in one of the female workers' changing rooms where they had me put Lydia in scrubs. I asked one of the nurses what was going to happen and she said the doctor would come talk to me. They also said they would bring me scrubs and I would be able to stay with Lydia. But then was told the doctor only wanted Lydia and she was taken from me. At this point I didn't know whether she was having surgery or stitches. I really had no clue what was happening and I can promise it wasn't from a lack of understanding! They just weren't communicating nor answering questions!

After sitting patiently for a while in this "changing room" I finally asked a passing nurse if she knew anything. She told me Lydia was "in process" and I could see her in recovery when she was done. Thankfully that did happen. I was given scrubs, waited a bit more and then finally saw the doctor. He told me that she was doing fine. She was okay and that she would be out in a few moments. I asked a few questions and then a bit later saw Lydia. Thankfully we weren't separated again. We hung out in the recovery "room" for quite some time (another Bolivian style room that felt a bit more like a corner storage area).  Then they moved us to a second women's changing room where we waited and waited and waited some more.

Nathan, Dwight and the other two girls were waiting this whole time with less information than I had. Sadly I forgot my cell phone so I couldn't text to let him know what I knew or to know what they were doing. I was then told to wait a bit longer as we couldn't leave until things were paid for. The second time the nurse came around to let me know we were still waiting on money I asked if we could join Nathan and thankfully she let me.

The doctor's recommendations included a pain/anti-inflammatory prescription, nothing but Coca Cola or Fanta until 5:00pm (!), and an easy schedule for the next couple of days. We'll be seeing him again on Monday.

We are so thankful that Lydia is walking away with 7 stitches and a swollen black eye. She really could have been hurt so badly, lost an eye, puncture to the skull, etc. We thank God for His protection of her! And we are also so thankful for the many prayers that were being said while this was happening. (We really do appreciate Facebook!) 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Survival Mode

Getting out of Survival Mode and back into routine
 Twice since coming to Bolivia we have found ourselves in "Survival Mode." Many of you may have your own understanding of what that means when life gets crazy and you're barely hanging on. Today I would like to share with you what that looks like for us.

When we first arrived in country we were overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with a new language and a different culture, but it went much deeper than that. Every time we stepped out our door we didn't know how to conduct ourselves. We didn't know how to buy the food and supplies we needed. We didn't know what to expect for price and had the pressure of "don't spend too much. You're gringos, they'll try to scalp you!" We didn't know how to cook with the food we did obtain, especially at this altitude of 9,000ft (I'm pretty sure Nathan was worried we would be eating soup packets for the rest of our lives). We didn't know where to buy anything. And quite honestly, neither Nathan, nor I had ever lived in a city of 800,000, compacting the insecurities and anxieties we had. We were required to use public transportation, giving directions with minimal knowledge of the language and how to give directions (I handed my cell phone to a taxi driver once so Nathan could give him the directions!). Let's just say, life was hard. We were surviving, barely making it from one day to the next.

This feeling of survival mode definitely hit again the day that our land lady showed up and told us rather strongly that we needed to move out of her apartment. Once again we were in new territory. How do you look for a house in this country? What should we expect? What kind of contract do we sign? Nathan spent many days walking the streets looking for signs on the exterior of homes and asking at the tiendas for homes for rent (that's the way it's done here). He also jumped online and checked the newspaper every morning. He was stretched, incredibly stretched, as he made phone call after phone call. (Do you realize how hard it can be to make phone calls in your own language? Try doing it when there are not only Spanish speakers at the other end of the line, but also Quechua speakers trying to speak Spanish!) I found myself, sadly, in a fit of anxiety. I felt as if our lives as we know them here had been pulled out from under us and every day we were struggling to get food on the table, shop, think through all of the necessities for our children and accomplish the task of finding a house. I realize now that a great part of that survival mode for me this time was succumbing to my anxiety instead of trusting our great God for the provider He is and always has been for us. But this mode of survival is still a reality of this lifestyle and something we must be prepared for as drastic changes hit us in the future. I can imagine the survival mode we'll go through as we move into the tribe will be much larger.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Birthday UVPC!

Yes, that's right: is celebrating one year of "life!"

 As you support us in prayer, correspondence, and finances, we believe that we have a responsibility to keep you informed of just what exactly you are supporting! We thank God for this incredible technology that allows us to keep you up to date with our craziness, share photos, and give you insight into this amazing, complicated country.

 Over the past year:
-UVPC has been visited 1725 times by 816 computers in 58 countries!
-People in the United States contributed 1107 of those visits, from 40 states
-Montanans visited the site 599 times
-Our busiest day was Feb 1, with 50 visits
-348 people also looked at our photos

At the same time, we also launched a YouTube channel that currently has 38 videos that have been watched a total of 5320 times. The majority of those views are from Bolivians that watch videos we've taken of local events.

Thank you for visiting!  We hope that UVPC is an encouragement to you as you see what God is doing in, to, and through us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hurray For A New House!

There's still a lot to do, obviously, but it feels so good just to have a contract and keys!  I took care of the business side of things at noon today, then took a ton of photos.  After the girls' naps, we went over as a family, plus our friend Suellen, who spent over 2 hours helping Kaylee clean.

The big plan is to move everything over there tomorrow.

Follow the girls on a video tour of the house, then click on the photo below to check out a few of the photos!

New House!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cultural Recap: An Andean Act of Faith

As Kaylee was looking out over the very smokey Cochabamba valley, she thought of this post that I wrote on our old blog, a year ago.  Yep, it's time again for Urkupiña:
The 14th through 16th of August  is one of the biggest local events of the year:  the festival of the Virgin of Urkupiña, which occurs just a few miles west of our house.  Tens of thousands come from all over to celebrate and make petitions to the Virgin.  There are three or four days’ worth of major activities and the events continue on throughout the rest of the month.  Yesterday was the finale.

Rather than rewrite the entire story of the event, I will provide this link to a very well-written article.  It’s not very long and I encourage you to read it if you have time.  I have included captions on all of the photos below to explain the process as I saw it.

Essentially, this festival is a combination of the old Andean religion centered on Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the veneration of Mary, a central theme in all areas of life here.

My brother volunteered to act as my tour guide on the 16th, the “high day,” known as Calvario.  It was a defining experience for me, as it was the first time since coming here that I have truly felt like an outsider. The most remarkable thing about the whole experience is that all ages and social classes were represented.  I saw old men and women, children, and youth.  There were city folks, country folks, rich, and poor.  This is deeply embedded in the culture of the people and the way they think.

There are three main rituals:
1.  Break a piece of bedrock out of a “mine.”  Have it blessed by an andean shaman (involving charcoal fire and beer), along with miniature items representing things you would like to own in real life.
2.  Rent a miniature lot that represents the land you wish to possess.  Populate the lot with the miniature items, blessed by the shaman.  Sit and enjoy your lot for awhile, drinking beer (pouring some on the ground, of course, for Pachamama/Mary), and lighting off firecrackers occasionally.
3.  Get your things blessed by the parish priest at the chapel on the hill (I did not see this part. . .will visit later!)

The photos and their captions do a much better job of communicating what I saw.  Click the picture below to see them all:

Video of the beer blessing and brass band:

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Photos Of The New House!

Because I forgot to take photos of the house we will be moving into, I took Kaylee and the girls over to have a look at it, and took a couple of pictures to share with you!

This is what it looks like from the street:
Kaylee and I were talking about covering the security bars with tin for privacy (most houses have that or a brick/rock/concrete wall), so I asked the landlord today if I could do it.  He said, "Oh yeah, I'll go pick some up and we'll paint it up and install it!  Whatever you want to do, just let me know."  They seem like really nice people to work with.

Here's a better shot of the front:

The main part of the humongous kitchen:
I'm looking forward to being able to BBQ right outside the kitchen for the first time ever!

Kaylee went to the trouble of drawing up the floorplan, to help her visualize how we will use the space:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Dream of. . .Houses?

In last Sunday's paper, there was an ad for a house for rent about 1.5 miles from us, toward the city.  The description was just what we were looking for.  I called the number, and found out that there were still renters in it, so I wouldn't be able to see it until later in the week.  He did confirm that it was the size and layout that we needed.  I left my name and number and was told to expect a call.

Because we had an in-town vacation planned, I decided to call him again on Tuesday, just to keep the ball rolling.  He recognized me immediately and told me that I could see it on Thursday morning.  The problem was that the family there wasn't planning to leave until the end of the month.

We left for our vacation as planned on Wednesday afternoon, but I was feeling anxious about the house.  As you can see from our last housing update, there is a tremendous variation in quality for a similar price.  Everything that I knew about the house so far told me that it would be perfect for us, but I had no idea what condition it was in.  I was struggling with letting go and trusting God -- what if it was a rat hole?  What if the landlord was kicking out the renters and they were hanging on as long as possible?  What if we couldn't move out of our house in time?  What if. . .?

That night I had a dream.  Ever since I was small, I've had very lucid dreams.  However, I have never had a dream like this one.  Experientially, it was no different than any other, but the content!  It was short and to the point -- the house was perfect and the renters were packing up, on their way out.

I woke up in the morning and I can't say the dream helped much -- I was still anxious and had to take a few minutes to sit and pray with Kaylee before I left to go see the place.  By the time I arrived, I was calm, but that changed quickly.

I was greeted at the gate by the landlord and it was obvious from the start that he had a very good relationship with his renters.  I was in shock as he showed me around the place.  It really was perfect!  And even better, the renters had things pulled out of cupboards, getting them boxed up, and cleaning to leave!  They have until the first week of August, but appear to be on their way.

I was so overwhelmed by it all that I completely forgot to take any photos to show Kaylee!  She still hasn't seen the place!  Lord willing, we'll be able to see it this week, so she can start strategizing our 26th move.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ladies Retreat

Over the weekend I, Kaylee, attended our church's Ladies Retreat. Three nights and three days of almost pure Spanish! I survived! It was such a good experience and really stretched me in the language. I skipped one session halfway through to take a break but other than that I participated the whole time. This is a huge step and was very encouraging for me!

Our time was spent listening to two speakers, devotions, crafts, conversations, a bit of time in a frigid pool, eating and generally having a good time. The two ladies that shared with us both work with Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) and both had great topics that I believe were really good for all of us to hear. One of the women is from Argentina and I struggled a bit with her accent but otherwise understood pretty well the majority of the teaching.

My roommates were my good friend Suellen and another older single lady in the church, Vicky. We were spoiled by only having three in our room (some had 11!). Each day we did the devotions together and I could tell that Vicky was trying to stretch me in the language, having me read and share my thoughts instead of just being silent. It was good for me.

I had the opportunity to have several one on one or small group conversations that allowed many of the women to see how much I have progressed in my Spanish. Many of them haven't had the opportunity to talk with me (and I have to say I'm pretty shy about using it on Sundays) so that too was very encouraging. I had many say, "You can talk now! And you understand!"

Another area that I was stretched a bit was teaching a craft. Upon arriving in Bolivia I quickly received the reputation of being a crafter so when there is an opportunity to craft in the ladies group I am often asked for ideas. Over the weekend I taught one of the four crafts. It was a little crazy but it worked and several accomplished what they had set out to do so I was pleased.

We ate very Bolivian foods over the weekend. To give you an idea: every morning we had some bread with tea, coffee or drinkable oatmeal. The last morning we were also served a drink that is pretty common here: cornstarch thickened water with a bit of orange juice mixed in for flavor! For lunch we had a full almuerzo: soup and seconds. The bowl of soup would be a complete meal for me usually but then we were also served meat, rice or noodles and always boiled potatoes as our seconds. For dinner (at 8:00pm) we were served more rice or potatoes and a very small amount of meat. They do not consume a lot of vegetables and we were given a piece fruit (banana or mandarin) as dessert or for refreshment between sessions.

Our pastor's wife and daughter with their crazy hair!
On Saturday we had some special events. First, I got my hair cut! One of the ladies took classes to be a beautician, although her job is cleaning, so she took the time to cut hair for several ladies. Then they had a competition that night that included crazy and original hairstyles. We all had a good laugh. I was one of the two judges. After the hair competition there was a long night of games. I was unable to participate due to a foot injury but had a great time watching them. I also retired early after too many late nights, early mornings!

All in all it was a great weekend. My pastor's wife's comment when we were leaving was, "You're tired but you're not stressed." That sums it up for me. It was really encouraging to walk away not stressed. That means that I am understanding the language and culture much more and communicating much more. I am no longer an island in the group, unable to participate. It's awesome to see how far I've come. God is good!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Housing Update

Over the last few days, I've looked at 3 different houses in our area.  Three very different houses!

The first was a home in a gated community near us.  Frankly, we knew it was out of our budget, but wanted to see all the options.  It was a phenomenal home, but it would separate us even farther from our friends, economically speaking.  Besides, I wouldn't even be comfortable there:  there was NO man space!

The next place I saw was more our speed.  It doesn't have everything we'd like, but it would be doable.  And the price is right!  It has a good-sized kitchen, and a huge living room.  With its 3 bedrooms, I figure it's in the neighborhood of about 1200 sq ft.

The third house was grossly overpriced, at $15/month less than the one above.  It was cute, but at only ~300 sq ft, it wouldn't serve our needs very well.  The first photo below is looking from one bedroom door through the living room to an identical bedroom on the other side.  The bathroom and kitchen are accessible only from the outside, a common feature of low-budget homes here.
It does have a nice big yard, though!

We continue to look and talk to people about housing options, and recently expanded our search into the city.  Please continue to pray for us as we look, especially that God will give us wisdom as we sort through very few, but quite varied, options.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Home is. . .where?

Life can be so ironic, can't it?  I think God likes to keep us on our toes. :)

June was a tough month for us.  As I mentioned in our last post, we've been stressed and sick.  We were trying to process the reality of moving out to the jungle, based on what I saw on my trip to Urubichá.  Kaylee was really feeling the pressure of living here and learning language.

In the midst of those problems, we were thankful for a blessing:  our home.  Kaylee was counting how many times we've moved in our 7.5 year marriage.  Care to hazard a guess?  25.  That's right, 25 different "homes."  We stayed in some of those places only a week, but literally had no where else to go at the time.

In contrast, we've lived here 17 months, longer than anywhere else in our life together! (Previous record: 11 months)

All that joyous stability changed this week.

I don't really want to get into all of the details, but we had a major run-in with our landlady on Monday.  Basically, there was a misunderstanding of her (according to friends and neighbors) unreasonable expectations of our use of the space for which we are paying.  The result was that we have been falsely accused, insulted, and asked to leave ASAP or pay more rent.

Under the circumstances, we are going to leave. 

This house has been a blessing!  It's large.  We love the view.  We're settled and comfortable.  But it's not worth dealing with unreasonable people, and we're already paying more than fair market value for the place.

Last month, we realized that we needed a vacation:  time to get away from the stress and pressure and just be together as a family for a few days.  We had to put it off a few weeks, because our church's 15th anniversary celebration is this week (more on that later!), and next week is the ladies' retreat.  It was going to be 2 weeks of grinding through our responsibilities until we could take a breath.

I think our perspective is a little different now.  It's such a joy to see with new eyes the value of the relationships we have here, in the church and in the neighborhood -- people that know us, appreciate us, and care about us.  We all went to the first night of the celebration last night and even though I was up front playing with the worship team most of the time, Kaylee and the girls stayed the whole time, until 10pm!

Please pray for us in the following ways:
-That we would be able to get through this added stress without breaking -- that we would look to God for strength and help.

-That we would find a house quickly.  We would prefer something in this neighborhood, so that we're close to the church.  We'd also like something with a yard (which this place lacks) so the girls can spend more time outside, and also a spare room for visitors!!

-That in all of this, we would be a good testimony to our landlady and to the neighbors, in the way we talk about the situation.

-That we can reschedule that vacation!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Date Night!

June was a month full of stress and sickness.  We started the month out with a cycle of stomach flu - I got hit hard right on Kaylee's birthday.  At the same time, we all got colds, and are still coughing.  Of course, my friends attribute it to the fact that I wear shorts and a t-shirt at 65*F. :)

We realized that we desperately needed a break from the pressure of language study and started planning a short vacation, here in the city.  Unfortunately, due to a slew of church events that we want to participate in, we've had to put it off a few more weeks.

In the meantime, however, Kaylee did an excellent job planning a date for my birthday!  She found out through our language institute that Kjarkas, Bolivia's most well-known folkloric band, was going to be in Cochabamba for a concert the day after my birthday.  She bought us tickets and got a reference for a nearby coffee shop.

Because my brother and his family are temporarily living in our downstairs apartment, babysitters are easy to come by!  We put the girls to bed like usual, and headed into the city.  The coffee shop was busy, but pleasant - Kaylee said that the cheesecake was the closest she's had to the "real thing" here.

At 8:30, we walked to the event center where the concert was going to be.  Along the way, we stopped for a picture by a fountain, and ran into some friends.

The listed concert time was 9pm, but of course it didn't get started until well after 10.  We spent most of the time chatting with other students from the institute that had also come.  The atmosphere was MUCH different than the Kala Marka concert we went to 6 years ago, which was at a theater, filled with good-natured hooligans.  This was a high-class, sit-at-a-table-and-sip-rum (we refrained) kind of concert.

Kjarkas is celebrating 41 years of existence.  They tour internationally and are a cultural phenomenon.  It was fun to see them in concert, in their hometown (they actually originated in the Capinota province of Cochabamba).

Here's a sampling of the photos we took (more here!)

Bootlegging isn't a problem here - it's an accepted way of life.  I shot video of several of the songs and have uploaded 5 of them to our YouTube account.  The following is one of my favorite songs in the Tinku style, featuring traditional dance and costumes:

This one is by far their best-known song.  As a friend told me, it ranks right up there with the national anthem:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anniversary of Sacaba

As a part of our church's music team, I have opportunities to get involved in fun cultural events!

All of the instruments that we use at the church are owned by the musicians themselves.  As they work to improve their music and equipment, one of the desires has been to start purchasing instruments for the church.

Because the church budget is tight and there are lots of projects, the worship team took it upon themselves to put in a little elbow grease and raise the money themselves.  Like last year, we went to the anniversary of the town of Sacaba to sell api and pasteles.

To see the rest of the photos of the event, parade, and fairway (with captioned explanations!), click here.

Pasteles, a cheese-filled pastry:

Api, a hot, thick corn drink:

 Pastor Gustavo and I enjoyed a tall, hot glass of api:

Over the course of two nights, they pulled in about $250!  Because the capital was donated by the members of the team, it was all profit.  On Friday morning, I went to town with 3 friends and we bought a guitar!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Kaylee and I both had language evaluations this week, to determine where we are at in the process of learning Spanish.  We are excited to let you know that we both advanced a level! 

Here's where we are at:
The language-learning process requires constant adjustment of expectations.  The higher you get on the scale, the more time it takes to reach the next level.

I also just uploaded a 4th video from my trip to Urubichá.  Even if you've seen the photos (in our last post), this may give you a better feel for the town:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Trip to Urubichá

Here's the link to the photos from the trip!  Click the gecko to go to the album and view the high-resolution photos, or just look at the slideshow below! 

Guarayos Trip, May 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I just noticed that it's been a month since we've posted.  It's not that we're being delinquent, it's that we're busy with other things!!

For a period of almost 8 weeks, there was a significant amount of unrest here in Bolivia.  The first 2 weeks of May, we were not able to get into the city normally, due to people blockading the roads in an attempt to force the government to reverse new legislation.  I spent a lot of time watching the news, trying to keep tabs on the situation.  While it was a "break" from our normal routine, it was more stressful than usual, and we still maintained our language study time.

During that time, we did celebrate Lydia's 2nd birthday!

Thankfully, things got worked out between the people and the government just in time for me to take a trip!  I finally got the opportunity to visit the Guarayo region of Bolivia to learn more about our future involvement there.  I'll be sharing more details about that in the future.

Here are a couple videos I took while on my trip:

Two days before my trip, my pocket was picked and I lost my Bolivian ID card (among other things).  Because we're in the process of getting a new visa, my passport is in the capital.  Thankfully, we got things squared away before I left and I was able to fly halfway across the country with just a photocopy of my ID!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Feliz Cumpleaños Sarita!

On Saturday we had an invitation to celebrate the first birthday of Sara Carolina. This little one is set apart in our congregation because of her story. She not only belongs to her adoptive family but also to the entire church body. At less than two weeks old she was brought to the church by an elderly woman and left with the ladies at the weekly ladies meeting. Over the past year she has been adopted by one of the women in the church and has become a regular on Sunday morning. It has been fun to watch her grow and share a bit in her story.

Saturday we attended Sara's first birthday party. The invitation said the party would begin at 1:30 pm. When we arrived no one else appeared to be around so we headed back home. Around 1:50 we headed back down and joined the decorating crew! After much preparation and waiting, the party started at 3:15 pm. We were thankful for the delay so that Nathan and Lydia could join us "right on time" after her nap!

Part of the decorating committee

We celebrated in traditional Bolivian style including: lots of balloons, a couple of clowns, jello, cake, games and fellowship. Over all we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was a slight melt down when our girls couldn't get in the crowd to grab goodies that fell from the piñata. But after some tears, and the generosity of some of the older kids, all was right in the world again.

Jello: a party "must have"

With the birthday girl