So….back to the Bolivian memories. When I was in 9th grade, I made the switch from going to a school that allowed me to live at home to attending the mission’s boarding school called Tambo. It was hundreds of miles out in the middle of nowhere..in a very desert terrain.
The memories of Tambo often come flooding into my mind. It was difficult being separated from my parents – we’d be away nearly all but 3 months of the year. But, at the same time, you bonded closely to your new boarding school family. The friendships made there will last a lifetime. There are sooooo many things I could talk about. The rules were very strict – a la military style. You had daily room inspection and would be assigned 1/2 hours of work detail for the demerits given to you if you didn’t pass inspection. Couples could “date” but that meant you sat on a wall that was well lit and just “talked”. No physical display of affection (PDA) was allowed. The highlight of the month was when they’d allow us to play couples moonlight soccer…meaning you played regular soccer, but were allowed to hold hands! It was a big deal for the guys to ask the girls to be their partner. The food…well, that’s a whole other post…let me just say that one time “chicken feed” accidentally was cooked up instead of a “hot cereal”. Yummm 😦
Everyone was assigned work detail after school. My favorite work detail was in the kitchen, baking pies….once the staff learned I could bake pies, I was assigned kitchen duty quite often! Every Saturday you had to pass inspection on your room, then work off any 1/2 hours you’d been given for the demerits during the week, then it was free time. My best Saturdays were the ones where you’d manage to be free by 8 or 9 and then you’d grab a bunch of friends and head off to the river to spend the day lounging on the rocks or swimming at “Deep Hole” named because of, you got it, a deep swimming hole! Field Day was especially exciting – sometimes our parents would come…for several days the entire school was divided into 2 teams, red and white, and fierce competition took place. It was sooooo much fun, but then again, that’s probably because there’s nothing I like more than a little competition.
Study hall was required for everyone the first several weeks of school. After that, depending on your GPA you could be out of all of study hall (which was from 7 – 9 every school night) or out of 1/2 of study hall. I made it my goal to never be in study hall. Being out of study hall with only a handful of other students was really fun….it was a great system because you had to pay attention to your studies to maintain your GPA, but once you finished doing your studying, you could mess around with your friends…we’d do all kinds of stuff and it was the best time to play pranks on people because the majority were down in the cafeteria in study hall under strict supervision! 🙂
The memories are too many for one post. We dealt with a lot of creepy critters — there was the time I was on a walk with my boyfriend and he pushed me to the ground, grabbed a big rock and promptly killed a poisonous snake that was on the path in front of me. There were the wonderful scorpions we’d find in our showers. There were little lizards everywhere – the high school boys took great joy in putting the lizards in through a hole in my screen early Saturday mornings…I’d wake up with little beady eyes looking at me – yeah, that was just hilarious! There was the time that a snake got into the dorm and our smart(?) dorm dad yelled, “Everyone stay in your rooms and stay calm” and then proceeded to gleefully shoot at the snake with a BB Gun with BBs ricocheting off the walls of the hall. What in the world! He finally killed the snake underneath a bookshelf where it thought it was safe.
The staff became more than just teachers – they became mentors and influencers in my life that still affect me today. Mr. Lotz’ Old Testament History class taught me so much! His timelines and notes I still have and refer to. Mr. Pittenger’s New Testament History class was great fun – he was a great cartoonist…and always drew the people we were talking about…from evil King Herod, to Paul and Timothy, I have very interesting images imprinted in my brain. I remember feeling completely and utterly alone sometimes at Tambo – away from family, stuck in one place for a very long time – remember, the only place to be was on the school compound..very limited options to go offsite…but that was when I discovered that God and I are enough…I could never be in a place away from his reach. It was the beginning of my complete “I want to follow God with all my heart” journey.
Choir and music was a really big deal…choir tours were taken to the surrounding villages and cities…great memories of all of us students crammed into an old truck, standing up like cattle, singing at the top of our lungs as we careened around the Andes Mountain curves. Again…another post to really explain these trips! One last comment – we had to wear ridiculous looking long purple high wasted skirts with white blouses – guys wore black pants, white shirts, with purple kerchief like things…yeah, that was really fun! I think someone donated or made these choir uniforms in the 60’s and well…why not make sure we get every possible shred of use out of them!