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Tuesday, my friend Anna and I went to the hospital with the sole intention of ministering to the patients.  First we went to a room with a few women in it.  We attempted to talk to the two who were awake, but both only spoke Quechewan (probably butchered that word).  This was discouraging, but we simply listened for a few minutes and then left.  However, God gave us another idea.  We returned to the guesthouse and found coloring supplies.  Then we set them up at a little table in the waiting room.  The hospital’s pastor was preparing to preach, so we sat and listened.  At the end, he invited all the children to our coloring table.  It was so much fun to just sit and color with the kids.  Some were sick and others were just accompanying there mothers, but all were bored in the waiting area.  The pictures were of Jesus, so we also had an opportunity to reaffirm what the pastor had taught.  We also got to make friends, which was so much fun.  I think the mothers appreciated the distraction as well, and I even got to talk to one of them while her daughter colored.  Who knew something so simple could be such a great ministry.  During the afternoon, God answered my prayers once again.  We went into the city and were able to get our visas stamped for 90 days for free after a mix up at the airport that gave us only 30 days.  God is always in control!  Tuesday night we attended a wallyball game ( yes, I spelled that right) and an indoor soccer game at the local university.  The soccer game was nuts!!  There was tons of screaming and even drums and a trumpet!  When the theology majors beat the physical education majors, there was even some crowd surfing going on!

Yesterday, our group went to two orphanages.  In the morning, we went to a house for teenage girls and painted nails, shared a devotion, and played uno.  The girls loved the attention and it was great to build relationships in spite of my terrible nail painting skills.  The girls are really receptive and love just hanging out with us.  In the afternoon, we returned to the baby orphanage.  I fed and played with a little girl named Maria, who was precious.  She was happy the whole time and loved all the attention.  It was so much fun and great to give the orphanage workers a break. 

This morning I went to a hospital in the city and hung out with the physical therapist again.  She let me help this time.  It was awesome!  She was alone and had way too many patients so was very grateful.  I interviewed a new patient (which was rough with my lack of language skills), did ultra sound on a woman’s back, gave a massage, applied hot packs, and put hot packs away.  I really enjoyed having an opportunity to help out and learned a lot too.  The physical therapist is a really sweet lady and speaks English very well.  Then me and the two girls with me were invited to eat lunch with some of the workers and a student from Duke who is working at the clinic.  It was delicious food and a great opportunity to chat.  Recently a quote was put up on the board at the guesthouse that says it is often more difficult to receive than give, but receiving allows others gifts to shine and is often a greater ministry.  I am definitely learning how to receive without the instant reaction to want to do something to repay the gift.  It has been a struggle at times, but God is showing me so many new ways to spread His love.  Thanks again for all the prayers!  God is definitely listening!

Kid washing was such a great experience to witness.  This missionary family brings water, tubs, soap, tents, clothes, and hair supplies and sets up in the main plaza in Cochabamba.  Then mothers who live on the street bring their children and line up to be bathed.  They immediately begin stripping their children and shove them into the tent to be bathed.  Volunteers bathe them and send them to another tent to be clothed in new clothes.  Then others brush their hair and put it in braids or pony tails for girls.  Bread and other snacks are also handed out to the mothers and children.  Moms can also wash their hair with water provided.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to raise children on the street.  The moms are so grateful, and most of the kids love all the attention.  There is also a sense of desperation to get food and be bathed.  I helped hand out bread and hair things and got mobbed!  It breaks my heart to see how poor and needy these people are.  They need to be shown God’s love so much!!  It is a really humbling experience.  I am so blessed and so often take it for granted.  I don’t know how these people live each day, especially without God’s companionship.  I feel blessed to have been a part of such a great ministry.  Afterwards, we went out to eat and then headed back to the guest house.  Sunday morning, we got to go to Cochabamba International Church.  It was really cool because we got to worship in both English and Spanish!  The sermon was in English, which was really refreshing.  I enjoyed hearing God’s Word preached without struggling to understand the language.  After church, we went out for empanadas and then went grocery shopping.  Today, I got to go to a little village about a thirty minute walk from the guest house.  We went to a church and put flouride on children’s teeth.  It was really fun and a simple way to help protect them from future pain.  I also got to practice my Spanish and even play with the little boys.  I love ministering to children!  God is really opening my eyes and teaching me so much about myself and His children.  Thanks again for all the prayers!

Casa de Amor II

Yesterday, I got to shadow the gastro doctor in the morning, where I saw lots of ultrasounds being done.  I also got to hang out with a couple of the med students from Bolivia.  They were really nice, and we taught each other English and Spanish words and phrases.  Then, in the afternoon, we went to Casa de Amor II, another orphanage for 4-7 year olds.  I helped wash stuffed animals and then held a little boy named Brandon on my lap for an hour while he took pictures with my camera.  He loved it!  Today we are going shopping and then get to wash kids who live on the street in downtown Cochabamba.

More Adventures

Yesterday afternoon, the baby orphanage we went to was so much fun!  We got to help feed the kids, play with the older ones, and hold the babies.  There was one baby there who wore this covering on his head to protect the burns he has all over his head.  His mother was killed when her gas stove exploded while she was cooking.  Another baby’s legs were crooked because she had been abused.  I got to hold one baby the whole time.  His name was Cristofer, and he was precious!  It was such an awesome opportunity just to show these kids some love and give the orphanage workers a break.  We also set off fireworks at the guest house last night.  It was a great show! 

This morning I had the opportunity to go to a different hospital in the city of Cochabamba.  We met the American man who started the hospital 25 years ago.  He shared with us how much it has grown.  It began with just him and his wife, and now 50 doctors work there!  We watched him do ultrasounds on several patients, and then one of the other volunteers and I went to shadow the physical therapist.  She spoke great English and was really sweet.  Her son actually goes to the school I went to when I lived here.  It was great to watch her help people get rid of their pain and regain mobility.  We also got to speak with a couple patients.  One of them was a Christian, and she was so excited to talk to us.  I even understood most of what she said.  The other volunteer speaks great Spanish, so she helped carry the conversation.  Well, we are learning how to scrub in for surgery soon, so I better go.  Thanks again for all the prayers!

Hospitals of Hope!

So I am a fail of a blogger:)  I apologize once again for my lack of blogging.  I have been experiencing some technical difficulties.  I arrived at Hospitals of Hope late Monday afternoon.  I am staying at a guest house with lots of other college students and even some who are already in medical school or currently nurses.  Yesterday, I shadowed the pediatrician at the hospital during the morning.  She was really nice and great at trying to overcome the language barrier.  She probably treated around ten children while I was there.  It was neat to see how much the mothers care for their children despite their lack of resources. 

Yesterday afternoon most of the volunteers at the hospital and I went to see the Cristo and hiked up what seemed like a million stairs to get to the top!  I was definitely feeling the burn and struggling to breathe as well.  I am definitely out of shape and the altitude didn’t help either.  But it was worth it when we finally reached the top!  The view of the city of Cochabamba was awesome!  And the Cristo was really cool too!  The last time I went to it, I believe I was five, and the Cristo wasn’t even finished.  It has been neat to re-experience some of my scattered memories.  For example, I vaguely remember climbing to the Cristo.  I also remember different tastes and smells, as well as the faces of many old friends. 

Last Saturday, I had a blast at kids club.  I took my camera out to take pictures and soon had a mob of kids surrounding me.  They all wanted their picture taken over and over again and of course wanted to see it as well.  Con cuidado (with care) became my new favorite phrase!  But they loved it and my camera and I survived.  I even let some of the older children borrow my camera to take pictures.  It is amazing to think that most of these kids have probably never even owned a picture of themselves.  I’m trying to figure out some way to fix that.  I know it would  be such a blessing, so please pray that it works out. 

Sunday we had church (or discipleship group) at the Vargases again.  It is a struggle to understand all the Spanish being spoken.  It actually makes me mentally tired, but I love worshipping in Spanish.  It is an awesome reminder that God hears everyone.  No matter what language, we are all praising the same amazing God!  The Vargases also took me out to supper for my last night with them until I went to the hospital.  It was delicious!  I really love the food down here!

Today all the female volunteers went to an orphanage for teenage girls.  We shared a devotion, got to know them a little, and taught them lots of new games.  It was so much fun!  They were all really sweet!  They were shy at first, but it was neat to see how they opened up to us after awhile.  Some of the volunteers know Spanish really well, so that helped a lot.  I am understanding more each day.  Now I just need to get over my fears and start speaking it! 

Oh, I almost forgot, we went to a intermural volleyball game at a university last night.  It was really neat, pretty much the same as volleyball in the States.  I also got to meet some new Bolivian friends that one of the volunteers had met.  One of them was actually playing in the game.  It was neat to cheer her on and get lots of stares from the Bolivians:)  They seemed to whistle instead of clap and cheer like us, so we started whistling too!  We still got some weird looks.  I’m sure they were all talking about the crazy gringos, but we had a blast! 

Thanks for all the prayers!  I’m really enjoying myself and learning a lot!

Different World

It’s been a great week so far!  Last Monday when I was at Carachipampa, my old school, I had the opportunity to tape the edges of old books in the library to make them stronger.  I know this was something really small, but I’m so thankful God gave me an opportunity to give back in someway to my old school.  Tuesday morning we awoke to go to school and discovered that the radio taxies were blocking all the bridges in protest of some new law.  We weren’t able to go to school until the roads cleared around noon.  Now that’s something that doesn’t happen in the United States!  Wednesday, the Vargases  had a big end of the school year party at their house.  We played volleyball and ate some delicious food.  It was neat to meet some of the other missionaries serving here as well as many Carachi students.  Some of the Vargas kids took me on an adventure to see the aquaducts on Thursday.  I also got yet another view of the poverty here.  The houses we passed were tiny and dirty.  Bolivians desperately need to see God’s love.  On Friday, I got to go to the closing elementary school program at Carachi, go to class with my friend, Laura, at her college, and go to graduation at Carachi.  At my friend’s college, I got to meet her only Christian friend at school.  It is a Catholic college, so Christians are hard to find.  This seems to be true in all of Cochabamba.  These people need to hear the true Gospel. 

So I’ve been pretty busy, but at the same time, I’ve had a lot of time to just relax.  Bolivian culture is totally different than the United States.  Even those working, take a 2 hour lunch break.  Rest hours are normal.  There is a huge emphasis that you don’t have to earn your keep by how much you can do in a day.  The Vargases have to keep reminding me of this since I’m so used to the American culture of going, going, going!  It reminds me how God doesn’t love us any more because of how much we do.  I think all we try to do for God often gets in the way of what He really wants from us, and that is simply a friendship.  He wants us, not all the work we can do.

Hola amigos!

I´m so sorry I haven´t written in awhile.  I´ve been pretty busy.  Last Thursday I went shopping at the supermarket and then went out with Megan, whom I am staying with, and one of her friends, who is also visiting.  We walked around Cochabamba, went to a museum, went to a tea house, and did a little shopping.  The most interesting thing that happened was my proposal.  A Bolivian hippie selling stuff on the street made me a ring out of wire and asked me to marry him.  The funny thing is I think he was serious!  He even offered to talk to my parents when they arrive.  Thankfully, Megan helped me escape.  Friday I went to my old school and worked on my Spanish most of the day with a Spanish teacher I know.  Friday was mother´s day in Bolivia, which is a really big deal here.  That night we celebrated with lots of delicious food!  Saturday I watched one of my friends, Laura, play her last soccer game of the season, helped with kids club at the Vargas´s house, and played a little soccer myself with the family.  Kids club was crazy, 550 kids, what a great ministry!!  Sunday I attended the church at the Vargas´s house, and then we had a barbecue for mother´s day afterward.  It was really fun, but also extremely challenging trying to understand the Spanish.  Luckily, the Vargas´s speak English to give me a break.  My favorite part was playing with all the cute little kids!  God is already teaching me so much, especially to depend on Him when I get frustrated at myself for not understanding the language.  Continue to pray I have an open heart to accept what God has to teach me and also that I will learn Spanish quickly!  I am understanding more and more everyday.  Thanks for all the prayers!!