The routine has become this – breakfast at 7:30 a.m., leave for the site at 8:30 a.m., return around 4:30 p.m.
Our wonderful new friend and Compassion Representative Yvonne received many cheers from the team for providing some new items for breakfast: oatmeal fresh bread, PIL yogurt (hooray for PIL – PIL was the dairy that provided all of our dairy products in Cochabamba growing up – as a recuerdo my mom gave me a PIL milk bottle that I have at home) and lots of Coca Tea and Nescafe Coffee. It was a little step up from the 2 pieces of cold toast and tea the days before. We very much appreciate the hospitality of the hotel staff, but we all needed a little more sustenance for the extreme physical labor we are doing at the site every day.
Arriving at the site starts our hearts a churnin’ with love. The children run up to the van yelling, “Hermana! Hermano!” as they run up to hug us. It’s a beautiful sight. One that we’ll carry with us for years to come.
The projects that we are working on include the building of classrooms, painting all the existing classrooms and serving the children by helping them with lunch and providing craft centers, activity centers, coloring centers, and whatever else we could think of…as in the “beauty shop” center which now happens daily and has not only been those little girls who were able to shower at the center that day, but also every single other little girl at the project! After lunch little chairs are set in front of big ones and 4 or so of our ladies go to town combing out the tangles (these little girls have the thickest, most beautiful, shiny black hair ever!) and then French braiding galore! We were able to buy some inexpensive cute little barrets, and hair ties…the little girls get to pick them out and you should see the smiles on their faces!
The building is going up slowly but surely! Rob and Tom Pelletier learned how to tie rebar Bolivian style. I was their interpreter and helper-outer for a while. Fun times! They finally got the hang of it. The big hole the ladies (who by the way were not Quechua, but Aymara I found out) dug out was amazing. The three little ladies could have outworked any one of us – amazing!
We returned to the hotel tired, dusty, sore, coughing up dust, but with overwhelming emotion in our hearts. It is a beautiful thing to show Jesus to others by coming alongside to help them in their work. We were able to purchase a bunch of tools to use and then leave behind and when the Project Director found out that we were going to do this she wept. She has been praying for more supplies but has not had the means to get them. God is good! Thanks to all of you who helped send us to impact this community.
So, for those of you who ever played the game Frogger…Cody, myself and Yvonne were the human froggers this morning. We went with Yvonne to help bring back the fresh bread and yogurt for breakfast. Here in El Alto, traffic is tricky. If you were a car horn manufacturer, you would definitely make the big Bolivianos here! And, lanes are just suggestions, that basically are disregarded. We went down one side of the street, stopped at a little corner store and bought some bread, but then, we realized that the best place to buy the yogurt was on the other side of the street. Let the game of Frogger begin! We darted between traffic – when in Bolivia, do as the Bolivianos do, right? It was very entertaining for the locals, I’m sure, to watch Cody (who is super tall anywhere, but especially in Bolivia) with two other fair skinned women darting in and out of traffic, probably looking pale with fright at the prospect of ending up like the not so fortunate dogs we’ve seen along the roads! We made it across with a few “beep beeps” at us to get out of the way. Whew! We bought the yogurt and then had to go across. There was a pedestrian bridge which apparently the dogs use more than humans, but we decided we made it once, we’d give it another shot. This time we were relieved, having made it half way across the avenida, we saw that there was actually a traffic light. We waited patiently for the light to turn red so we could cross the rest of the way. Well, apparently the traffic lights are suggestions, too. We waited for the largest looking gap and then the game of Frogger began again! I have a whole new appreciation for the wonderful additions we have been having to our breakfast. Thanks, Yvonne, for risking your life every morning. LOL
After a hearty breakfast, we headed to the project site. We divided into the appropriate groups – one to work on the building, one to paint two additional classrooms that we were able to add to our project list since the other classroom was finished so quickly – woot, woot, Northern Hills crew – you rock! – and one group to hang out with the children. More children arrived today than the previous days. It was awesome to be greeted by them and to have them come up and hug you all afternoon.
More girls than ever had the chance to get their hair done. And little boys seemed to come out of the woodwork! To help the girls stop being antagonized by all the little boys…boys will be boys…I grabbed the 4 soccer balls and headed out to the open dirt space and kicked the ball as high in the air as I could and they’d run after the ball, laughing and wrestling each other to get the ball. It was a lot of fun. Eric came and helped out and soon we were having a contest. (Those who know me well, know I’m a tad competitive.) We tried to see who could kick the ball the highest and farthest. We were tied for a while…our little point maker guy was assigning us points for each kick. We both reached 300 and when I asked how to break the tie he said that whoever went even higher would win. Apparently Eric won. He finally ended up with 310 points to my 300. It was so much fun, I know tomorrow I will feel like I’m 202 years old – these bones aren’t as young as they used to be, but hey, it was worth it!
The building is coming along well. Today the tied rebar post thing went into the huge hole that was dug yesterday and Rob, Cody, Tom and John became the cement mixer on site and they poured the cement into the hole to secure it. They were awesome!
The painters also were amazing. They painted like crazy and finished the 2 added rooms to our projects. Tomorrow they will paint a mural on the first classroom we painted and we’ll all have the chance to leave a handprint on one wall and sign it. That way the kids can keep giving us “high fives” after we’re gone!
Late morning, Tiffany had a huge blessing. Her sponsored child’s family came to the center to ask Tiffany to go with them to see their house. Tiffany, myself, Kaela and our Bolivian Compassion Representative, Maria all went. It was such a blessing for Tiffany to meet her child’s family and to see the conditions they live in. It gives her great insight on how to pray for Erica and how to really bless her family.
The day ended at the site with a Birthday party. Every three months the children celebrate the birthdays that took place that quarter. About 100 kids and project workers, along with our team crammed into the little room that the church currently meets in and the festivities began. Kids singing at the top of their lungs, a clown, (one of the leaders at the project dressed up as a clown), Mickey Mouse, (Yvonne donned this costume – it was a hit!), and some crazy games later and it was time for cake.
We went back to the hotel, tired, dusty, and happy. We all were praying that the showers would cooperate and be nice and hot. For the most part, they were. Hooray! Dinner followed – delicious, and then a wonderful time of debriefing together. God is moving! We all will return with a portion of our hearts remaining in Bolivia!
More to come…
P.S. 2 more children from the project were sponsored today by a couple of people in our group. We got to see them meet their kiddos…again, such an amazing time! Rob and I get to meet Rob’s kiddo, Isaias , tomorrow. Looking forward to that, big time!
Here’s a couple pics…takes FOREVER to load, so more, lots more to come when we are Stateside. Slow dial-up, best I could do with images.