Well, once again I find myself apologizing for my lack of blogging. Turns out blogging is not one of my hidden talents. I was busy trying to enjoy every last minute in Bolivia and then travelling, but now I will try to catch you up on everything I’ve failed to blog about. I believe I must start with a week ago Friday. Friday morning I began the day with a very interesting experience. For some reason I had volunteered to varnish the climbing wall at the Vargas’ house. The bottom wasn’t too difficult, and I enjoyed working with my friends. However, I soon discovered that it is very difficult to climb the wall and hang on while trying to paint it. At the end of the task, I only fell once and ended up with more varnish on myself than on the climbing wall. I guess my monkey skills are not quite as good as I thought, but it was fun and challenging trying. The climbing wall did look a little better after I finished as well. Afterwards, I showered to try to clean up a little with no success. Turns out varnish doesn’t come off easily. Then I went with my family to Carachipampa Christian School, where my dad used to work and I used to attend. The school was out for the summer, so only a few workers were there. But it was awesome to see the joy on their faces as they immediately recognized my parents. There deep gratitude really reconfirmed what I already know as true: I have wonderful, godly parents. They were all so excited to see my parents once again. God has truly blessed me with amazing parents who have always put the needs of others first. After my parents and sister toured the school and saw all the changes, I took them to Simon Patino’s mansion. We road a trufi there and tried to get out when we saw the back of the mansion, but he said he knew a better place to drop us off. He ended up taking us to the place where the workers go into the mansion. Four gringos with a camera, and he thought we were workers? We ended up having to walk about half a mile in the cold and rain, but we made some great memories in the process! By the way, it is dry season in Bolivia, so it is not even supposed to rain, but it was good for the country since it is so dry this time of year. We enjoyed the mansion as best we could in the rain and then headed towards the guesthouse I lived at while serving at the hospital. It was neat to show my family all around where I had served, and I got to catch up with a few of the volunteers as well. Then we trufied back to town and went shopping at some little shops behind the post office. The first thing Becca and I bought were alpaca sweaters since we were freezing! We made it back to the Vargas’ just in time for supper.
Saturday morning, I began practicing with the team from Ohio to get ready for a drama we were doing that afternoon at kid’s club. Somehow, I got volunteered to play the lead role. Thankfully, I have been in dramas at my church most of my life, so atleast had some experience. After as much practice as we could get in, kids club began. I tried to pass out some pictures I had developed of the kids. My dad and I split up the pictures and headed out. I didn’t even make it a foot outside the gate and was completely mobbed by kids! I literally could hardly move. They all wanted to see my pictures and wanted a picture of themselves. Even moms came looking for pictures of their kids. It was made chaos and disappointment when I didn’t have a picture of a kid. I hope to send more pictures down sometime to be passed out. Then it was time for the drama. We did it five times and I think there were still kids who didn’t get to see it. The line to get into where we were doing it was crazy long! All the kids were so excited and loved it! One of the Vargas’ explained it to them afterwards, and I think we were able to get a great message across. After the skit, I went out with my camera and got mobbed once again. This time I had to be rescued by Jonathan Vargas because I could literally not escape the kids encircling me. It still amazes me how excited they get over something as simple as a picture. It is another reminder of how much I take for granted. Saturday night, my family and I got to go to dinner at the house of some Bolivian friends. It was great to catch up and they were very hospitable. The food was delicious! Becca had been feeling sick all day, so we left a little early and headed home (to the Vargas’). We watched a movie and headed to bed. Becca had a fever of 103 during the night, so it was a rough night for both her and my mom.
Becca stayed in bed Sunday morning while the rest of us went to church. To our surprise, the whole service consisted of singing and sharing of testimonies by the whole team from Ohio and myself. The congregation was very receptive and so thankful to all of us. After lunch, we ate a snack provided by the church and headed to the Christo! Becca still wasn’t feeling great but was thankfully able to join us. The more ambitious of us walked up the over 2,00o steps while the rest rode up in a bus. It was still tough but much easier than the first time I went up. This time, the actual statue was open, so we got to go inside up to the arms and look out little windows. It was very crowded, but fun! We took lots of great pictures. Then I attempted to run down the steps which was tough when they all began running together. Becca was even feeling well enough to walk down. We enjoyed a late meal when we finally got home and then the partying began since it was the Ohio team’s last night there. We had a blast and eventually got some sleep.
Monday morning we said our goodbyes and my family headed out to run some errands and then meet some missionary friends. We went out to the son of one of our missionary friend’s house way out in the country. It was gorgeous out there, and we enjoyed a delicious picnic. We then had a tour of the farm. They had llamas, ducks, cows, bunnies, and guniea pigs. It was really fascinating to learn how things were run on the farm. It was definitely a side of Bolivia I hadn’t witnessed first hand yet. On the way home, the missionary my dad and I were riding with stopped in a town just outside of Cochabamba to let us look for fireworks since it was the 4th of July. He was very kind, and I think his curiousity got the best of him because he took us several places to look. Fireworks have been outlawed by the government in Bolivia, so they were very difficult to find. Finally, after much questioning, we found some at a little store. They were hidden in the back, but my dad and I bought some anyway to surprise the Vargas’. They were excited. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on a fire and then began the firework show. It was probably the most interesting firework show I have ever seen on the 4th of July. It was certainly the first time I have ever been cold watching fireworks on the 4th (it’s winter in Bolivia). And one of the dogs really enjoyed the fireworks. He was chasing them and trying to eat them. I think he was more entertaining than the fireworks. At one point, he was even breathing smoke!
Tuesday, my family and I visited a missionary friend named Crystal in the morning, and she took us to some of the old places we used to live. My mom loved that and took lots of pictures! Our old house is actually being used as a language school now. That afternoon, Crystal went with us back to the Vargas’ and we ate lunch and then went on a little adventure walk out behind their house. That night we enjoyed a movie night with the family.
Wednesday, we went shopping in the morning to get a few more souvenirs. Somehow, Laura and Sharleen convinced me to get my ears pierced while we were out, so I got to add that to my list of crazy things I did in Bolivia. We then went out to lunch and said goodbye to Crystal. We shopped some more and headed home. That afternoon, we played some softball! Becca and I taught them all how. Then my dad took both Vargas families out for a steak supper at a nice restaurant that was one of my parent’s favorites. There were 17 of us and it only cost 135 dollars! Gotta love Bolivian prices! We followed it up with some ice cream and then headed home to spend our last night together. Laura slept over and all us kids stayed up until around 2 in the morning. We had to get up again at 6 since our flight left at 8. They all took us to the airport, and we said a tough goodbye. It was very difficult to leave such great friends! Our family enjoyed our time in La Paz the rest of the day after our flight. We toured the Valley of the Moon, which was an amazing site, another awesome display of God’s creation. We also saw our old apartment, ate at one of my parents favorite restaurants, and even saw an old friend. Then we had an adventurous trip to the airport since our taxi got a flat tire and then got stuck in a crazy traffic jam. We were literally partially under a bus a few times, but eventually made it safely! We met back up with Anna, Kevin, and Sarah that night and had a safe but tiring trip back to the States without any complications.