Thursday, February 20, 2014

Little Relief for Flooding

I'm writing this from my desk, watching a heavy rain fall outside, and I can't help but think about the people downstream.  Some are saying that these are the worst floods in recent memory and this rain certainly isn't going to help.

This incredible video from Cochabamba's main newspaper mentions:
     -56 dead
     -11 missing
     -58,000 families affected
     -worst flooding in at least 18 years (according to the man in the canoe)

The footage is from an air force helicopter on relief missions based out of Trinidad, the center of operations.  According to today's paper, Trinidad itself is now under water, as the rivers overflowed the levies this morning.

On Friday, we left the Etnos campus at just before 3pm.  We had an uneventful drive to Puerto Villarroel, located on the Rio Ichilo, arriving around 10pm.

Dinner by the side of the road:

In the morning, we were able to wander around and see some of the damage right there in town.  Although the river was still high, it had returned to its banks.  This area drains very quickly; downstream it will take weeks to recede.  You can see the watermark on this house, which had about 2 feet of water on the floor:

Many people had pulled everything out of their homes, to dry:

A few homes were very wisely built on stilts, like this one:

Our task was mostly just to deliver the supplies and be an encouragement to the pastor and the church, who will continue the process by distributing everything downstream by boat, to affected families. 
Breakfast was masaco (fried banana, mashed) and fried wild pork
 That job done, we took the opportunity to take a boat ride on the river:

On the way, we went by a community of ethnic Yuracar√© which was under water.  It is just across the river, so they were able to get assistance from the port.

Please continue to pray with us for the affected as well as those that are actively helping.  We have one pilot friend here who, although he is unable to land on the flooded airstrips is doing food drops in communities where he has contacts.  Please pray for his safety and that through him, these churches, and our small efforts, people would get the food, clothes, and medicine they need, as well as take the opportunity to hear about the Bread of Life and take spiritual shelter in the Rock of Salvation.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Classes and Floods

Classes started this week here at Etnos with five returning students.  After three days of orientation, classes officially started yesterday.  I taught my first class, a two-hour introduction to the Culture and Language Acquisition course that I am teaching this semester.  I had fun!

You may have seen in the news that Bolivia is facing massive flooding again this rainy season.  According to official estimates, more than 52,000 families are affected in 110 municipalities (each with several towns/villages).

The government has declared a state of emergency and is diverting resources to help provide evacuations, medical services, and food where needed, but it is a big job.  

One of our coworkers began pursuing the possibility of getting involved a couple days ago and started making purchases.  Staff and students have been working together to get things ready. 

Supplies were purchased in bulk and divided for distribution

Students filling bags for distribution
Each bag contains flour, rice, noodles, salt, sugar, oil, coffee, dry milk, and sardines

We currently have about 1000 pounds of food and medicine in the Patrol and trailer, ready for delivery.  I will be going with seven other staff and students to hand the supplies over to a local church in the affected region that will be able to distribute them by boat.

We had hoped to leave early this morning but have been waiting to get permission to transport gasoline into the area, for the boats.  We've been unable to get it, but we're going to leave at 2:00 this afternoon and will see what we can do about getting fuel along the way.  It is about 6 hours' worth of driving.

Please pray for all of those affected by flooding and that the churches will be faithful representatives of our good God.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Settling In

To say the last several months have been a little crazy and stressful is an understatement but we are so thankful for the many ways God has shown us His faithfulness. We have had a good opportunity to slow down and start accepting the huge change that has come about in our lives.

School days
The big house on campus has become our own and feels like home now. The girls are very comfortable here and love playing outside with the freedom to roam and not too many dangers. We're even hearing them greet our Bolivian coworkers in Spanish as they pass by (a new and very encouraging development). We have recently acquired five chickens and the girls love going with Nathan or me to feed them and check for eggs twice a day. We have also gotten back into the rhythm of school five days a week.
Our chickens: Producing 4-5 eggs a day!
Nathan is actively preparing for his classes. He'll be teaching five hours of class a week: three hours of Language and Culture Acquisition and two hours of Spanish Grammar (to give the students a basis for learning the grammar of an indigenous language). He is a busy man and getting excited for the work ahead of him. Pray for him as he teaches this year. The school year starts on Monday, February 10th.

I, Kaylee, am enjoying making our house a home and teaching the girls. I am thankful for the women I am surrounded by on this campus. Pray for me as I build relationships with them. There is a wealth of wisdom and experience to glean from and I desire to know them better. Pray that I would have confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities. It's easy to stay inside despite the desire to get to know people.

We recently attended a local church. It is small and the people were very friendly. Many of them are familiar with Etnos and were happy to have us join them. Pray that we would have wisdom as we decide whether or not this should be where we fellowship locally.

As I close I want to share just a bit of what God is teaching me right now. Many of the changes we have gone through recently have been directly linked to my contentment in Bolivia. God has been so gracious with me (as has Nathan). I am so thankful that He opened the door for us to do ministry here at Etnos. I believe it will be a very good fit for our family.

As I process all that we've gone through and the decisions made it has become quite obvious that as my mind dwells on earthly things (comfort, family, friends, food, language, etc.) my heart has become increasingly discontent here in Bolivia. Thankfully we have seen a change in this contentment, especially during the last month, as I have refocused my mind and heart on our goal. My heart's desire is to build up treasures in Heaven but I am so easily distracted. It has been so helpful to read a few books by Randy Alcorn (50 Days of Heaven, Seeing the Unseen) and Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart. Most importantly reading the Bible consistently has been so encouraging.  I know that we are fighting spiritually and it's so easy to give in. So please pray for us, me especially, as we fight to keep our eyes on the goal: eternity.

We were also blessed with a short but wonderful get away in January as we joined Kaylee's family for a reunion, an amazing gift with memories that will be treasured.