I will attempt to record bits and pieces of our mission trip and post as frequent I can.
Day 1 – March 20th
- Travel day! Team arrived ready to go. Security lines were loooonnnggg. Probably about 500 people, but we made it through. However, our Compassion Representative got stuck in traffic due to a very serious car pile-up on her way from Colorado Springs. Flight for life and ambulances were on the scene. We were thankful she wasn’t in the accident, but we were saddened for those families who that accident affected and prayed for them. She wasn’t able to make it to DIA to leave with us, but caught up to us on Monday in LaPaz.
- We left DIA a bit late, around 1:30 pm instead of 1, but everything still looked ok…until…Dallas. The flight in Dallas was delayed several hours which meant our Miami connection was looking impossible. However, God is faithful, and we arrived in Miami at 10:55 and literally had to sprint through the airport to the connecting LaPaz gate and made it just in the nick of time. We all tried to get some sleep on the overnight flight to LaPaz, tried being the important word here!
Day 2 – March 21st
- Arriving in LaPaz at 6 am, we were tired, but super excited to be in Bolivia. Our gracious Compassion host, Maria, who works with Compassion in Bolivia, met us at the airport. We drove through El Alto, the HUGE sprawling very poverty stricken city just outside of LaPaz where we would be staying and working for the week. Our hotel, El Mirador, is on a corner, six stories, definitely not a 5-Star hotel, but we are very thankful for the Bolivian hospitality. Beds are not the mattress with springs kind, but more of the stuffed with wool, very “firm” mattresses with tons of wool blankets as there is no heating system in the hotel. Letting the team know that when they use the toilets in Bolivia they don’t flush toilet paper was a fun little announcement to make. The toilet paper is thrown into the wastebaskets placed next to the toilets. Wish I had taken a picture of a few faces as they heard this news. J For me, it was a flashback to my childhood – growing up in Cochabamba, Bolivia, that’s just part of life!
- We had breakfast, were given the amazing Coca Tea which helps tremendously with altitude symptoms, and then were on our way to church service at the project site where we will spend our time working this week.
- There are no words to tell you how I truly felt being back in Bolivia after 28 years of time in the US. (I left Bolivia in 1982.) Sitting in the church service, singing Demos Gracias al Señor, demos gracias, demos gracias por su amor…. hearing hermano Emilio preach the word and being in the same room with these beautiful Bolivian faces…tears rolled down my cheeks and I think I would have embarrassed everyone if I’d allowed myself to fall apart. It was beautiful. God is so awesome to have given me this opportunity! An added blessing, being here with Rob and the other wonderful 13 team members from Northern Hills. Wow. Seriously no words can really explain the depth of my heart and the emotions flooding over me. I am really home in Bolivia after all these years!!!
- After the service we were given a tour of the site where we saw the project needs of where we will be working – building classrooms, painting, playing with the project children and more. We will not return to Colorado the same. This week will definitely change each one of us as we see God using us in ways we never imagined and we are blessed beyond measure by the wonderful people of Bolivia. Before returning to the hotel (remember we flew in at 6 and were basically blind staggering by now, but God helped us have the energy we needed) we spent time with the congregation who gave us an amazing feast spread out on Bolivian quechua blankets of potatoes, whole little dried fish, cheese, eggs, noodles and chuño (a very interesting dried black rotten looking little potato that is actually quite good). My husband (Rob) and Jen Jaquish ate the whole little fish, said the eyes were squishy.
- We went back to the hotel for our “second lunch” which had more normal food for everyone and then after lunch…..SIESTA TIME! Oh yeah! I don’t think anyone cared that the mattresses were rock hard or that there was no heat…we just piled under the blankets and were asleep in no time. Waking up after a 3 hourish siesta, we felt refreshed and headed to supper. We had vegetable pureed soup, with llahua (don’t know how to spell it, but it’s a GREAT hot salsa in Bolivia), potatoes and sausage. Potatoes are a staple for the Bolivian people. I’m sure we’ll be eating a lot of them! We may have a cookbook in the future “The 700 Ways to Serve a Potato” Bolivian style.
- After dinner we had a debrief time – many emotions and great stories of God at work and all around the incredible awareness of what a blessing it is for us to be here to be doing God’s work here in Bolivia. A million thanks to all who are praying and helped us financially to get here!
- After a fun game of telephone Pictionary …. “And He said ‘huh’? and I said ‘what”? Kaela Green, seriously! (Sorry readers, guess you had to be there!) …we were off to dreamland once again.
Day 3 – March 22nd
- Overwhelming! The majority of the team got to meet their Compassion children. Those of us who don’t have a sponsored child or will meet them on another day watched and were moved to tears at these beautiful children who were so overjoyed to meet their sponsors. After a time of giving gifts, tons of hugs, meeting their families…we all piled in to vans and headed to the zoo in LaPaz. Amazing views of the famous Mount Illimani – breathtakingly beautiful!
- We spent the day at the zoo with the children, had a delicious Pollo Copacabana lunch with the kids (reminded me of the Pio Pio restaurant I used to eat at – this last little tidbit is for my mom’s benefit). Then in the afternoon there was more zoo-time and those of us meeting our children on another day headed to hike around the Valle de la Luna. Spectacular! We had a great time. I told our guide (the Director of 13 Compassion Sites here in LaPaz, Don Herman) that if I said, “this is a great place to take a picture” that really meant “we are terribly out of shape gringos experiencing the altitude and need to rest a bit!” We did pretty well…hmmmm…well, just so you know we took a TON of pictures. LOL
- Fun moment of the afternoon – I introduced Rob to SUBLIMEs! A chocolate bar from Bolivia with peanuts in it. Cody Bohall had the nerve to suggest it was like a Mr. Goodbar. Ahem, Cody, what in the world!? We photo documented the moment…pics to be shared later. After the Sublime I had to buy some Galletas de Agua, and some Merenguitas cookies. I LOVE BEING BACK IN BOLIVIA!
- We returned to the hotel to say goodbye to the children. No one can be prepared for this. One day with these children and your heart is gone forever. It was hard to see them leave. Many hugs, lots of tears and promises of “I’ll write soon” or “I’m coming back!” were made.
- After another great dinner (chicken, rice with cheese in it that I thought was arroz con leche – ooops, cabbage, carrots, beef and gravy) and SUBLIMES for dessert (courtesy of our wonderful Compassion Representative, Yvonne, who finally caught up with us!) we had a wonderful time of debriefing. Rob reminded us that just as the children were so excited to meet us and we experienced their overwhelming joy and exuberance and how we were so anxious to bless them and spend time with them, God desires that from us and also to be with us. We were challenged to come to God expectant, excited and genuinely ready to receive all He desires to give us. Really hit home after seeing this example in these beautiful little children.
Now it’s bedtime! Don’t know if I will get to blog every night. Sorry this is so long, but it’s the best I can do. I’ll post a few pics on Facebook. Will try to keep up, but at least this shows you that GOD IS AT WORK IN US, THROUGH US, AROUND US in Bolivia. We give Him all the glory and are so thrilled to be used by Him this week!