Saturday, October 5, 2013

Being still.

So even though I am not in Bolivia right now, God has been showing more and more that He is still making beautiful things. There are no pictures of cute kids, but I did want to share what God has been teaching me, because it has been so encouraging!
I have been back from Bolivia for about a month and a half, and finally feel like things are starting to get into a routine. I have had the opportunity to spend this semester taking classes to prepare to go somewhere long term. I am hoping it will be Bolivia, but for now I am waiting to see where God will lead!:)  Anyway, all that to say that in the course of this semester God has really been working on my heart, and convicting me of attitudes I didn’t even know where there. So I told my small group of girls that I was praying for God to make me miserable in the things I looked to other than Him for satisfaction/love/acceptance. One of the girls, Hannah, laughed and told me to watch out, but I continued to pray it – because I thought I knew how God would answer it.
I expected to be miserable as I looked to my friends rather than Jesus to make me feel loved and accepted, and although I did, there was something else too. For a couple of weeks, I just felt this weird discontentment, and tried to explain it away and fix it. I thought that I was missing the kids in Bolivia, or maybe that I wasn’t where I needed to be. I tried to figure out this feeling, and couldn’t. Then one night last week I was talking with a friend, Miriam, and told her about the feeling. I told her I had this awful feeling, and couldn’t figure out what it was. I dropped her off at home, and the feeling wouldn’t go away. I drove home asking the Lord to show me, and a song came on the radio that I didn’t like. I almost changed it, but didn’t. The chorus of the song just repeats “Jesus is the answer…” over and over. I had to laugh, because I knew Jesus was the answer, but I had been hoping for something a little more specific. I got out of my car, went inside, and started to write out a prayer. I started to complain to Jesus about how miserable I had been, and then stopped. Until that point I hadn’t described the way I was feeling as miserable, but when I did I laughed. I had been praying for the past two weeks for God to make me miserable in the things I looked to other than Him, and He had. But I had been too blind to see it. I kept thinking that the answer to getting rid of this feeling was to do more. To make myself busier, to build more friendships, or work harder. And as I looked to those things, God made me miserable (like I prayed) so that I could see that that’s not what He wants. He wants us to rest in Him, and His love. He is more than enough to satisfy us, and yet it is so tempting to try to prove ourselves or find our identity in the things He has created, rather than Him.
God brought the verse that says “Be still and know that I am God” to my mind, and so I looked it up. I thought that WAS the whole verse, but saw that there was more. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted among the earth.” I had heard this verse so many times, but only the first part. And the second part is the good part! God does have a heart for all the nations, and He calls us to join Him in what He’s doing, but it’s not in our own strength! He tells us to be still, and to know Him – then he will be exalted!

I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to make you miserable when you look to other things besides Him to make you feel fulfilled. But be smarter than me, and don’t take two weeks to listen. J Be still and know, that He is God. Stop feeling like you need to do more, and remember that Jesus already did more than enough. We can rest in that, and be filled with who He is, so that the whole earth knows! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our Father´s Love


I can´t believe that it is less than two weeks before my flight home! Time has gone by so fast, and I love Bolivia and the children and people here more and more every day. I have also gotten to experience lots of different things, and the social worker and director have been very gracious to allow me to tag along on lots of outings!

Last week I came home from the store after getting some sweets for the kids, and found some new clothes for one of our girls. People occasionally bring new clothes for the kids, but usually they go into storage until the child needs new clothes. I asked the Tia where the clothes were from, and she told me they were from her father. I was so surprised. Some of the girls have parents that come and visit, but I thought J was completely abandoned. The tia didn’t know very much about what had happened, but told me that J´s father had shown up out of the blue with the clothes. 

J is one of our girls with the most extreme needs. She is blind, and goes to a special school across town. I have gotten to spend lots of quality time with her on the public transportation system going to and from school. The school is about an hour away on a Trufie (a 15 passenger type van with a specific route), and is always an adventure. Although she is able to do many things on her own, getting on and off of a trufie is always an experience. The drivers are in a hurry, and she is not. When we manage to get on the Trufie, they are usually crowded, and J has no concept of being in a crowded van. She likes to sing, feel the people around us, and announce all of the things she does. This morning I smelt a horrible smell, and thought it was coming from sewage outside. A few seconds later she loudly announced that  she was responsible for the smell, and a lady in front of us turned around and gave me a not-so-nice look. I smiled, apologized, and tried to keep from laughing.

Anyway, all that to say she is precious, and has a special place in many people´s hearts.  So when I happened to be in the office and the social worker asked me if I wanted to go with J to the bank to meet her father, I accepted quickly. I didn’t really know what to expect, but we dressed J in her new clothes, re-brushed her hair, and set off for the bank. We met her father outside, and he looked just like her. She was very timid, which is pretty unusual for her. She usually takes to new people pretty quickly, feeling them, and asking for kisses. She didn’t do that with her father, and he seemed to be at a lost for what to do with her as well. It broke my heart to see her cling to us rather than her dad, but at the same time, it made sense.
I soon found out that we met at the bank to open an account for J, so that she can save the money the government gives for being blind, and the money her dad is supposed to pay each month until she turns 18. The bank had never seen a case like this, and I can only imagine what they thought of Jennifer (the director) and I, two white women, a Bolivian woman (the social worker), and man (her father) with this girl. After 3 hours of waiting we were able to open the account and deposit the money. Although it was a long time, it gave me plenty of time to observe J and her father. She never really warmed up to her dad, and was very cautious when she did. I was close to tears as I watched, thinking about how much he was missing in her life, and thinking about the things he must have experienced to make this seem like an okay way to care for his daughter.

I had gone to the bank expecting to not like this man, and I definitely don’t like a lot of the decisions that he has made, or the way he has handled things for his daughter. But at the same time God softened my heart, and reminded me of a verse where Jesus is healing a blind man. The Pharisees ask him who sinned, was it the man, or his parents that sinned and caused him to be blind. Jesus responds, ¨Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.¨ John 9:3

J is a constant reminder of childlike faith, and her joy is such a great example and encouragement to me. God´s glory is displayed through her, and I am so thankful for the chance to see Jesus in her, and for the ways God has used her to show his glory.

Please be praying for her, as she continues to grow, that the staff and volunteers would have wisdom and resources to work with her well. Please pray also for her father. As much as it scares me for him to be in her life, God is a God of love and mercy, and he has the power to turn the hearts of father to their children. Please pray that God would be working in his life, and that he would come to know Jesus through his daughter!

“Now to [the Father] who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vacation


This last week was vacation for the kids, and so one of the tias asked me to come up with a schedule for the week. I decided to just list all of the things we could possibly do, in the hopes that some of them would be approved. I will put some pictures here, but there are more on Facebook!

Monday’s activity was to make a store with the girls, and have the boys come over to shop. As we were setting up the Tienda, I got a phone call from Hannah (one of the other volunteers) asking if I could come and give blood for Adrianna who was in the hospital. It’s kind of like a bartering system I guess, you can either pay in blood or in Bolivianos, but no one is leaving the hospital until you pay. Haha, they are all vampires. So I went to give my blood to get her out of the hospital with Carlee, and they told me I would need my passport for ID. We went back to get it, and barely made it before they closed. They were very thorough. They checked my info, tested my blood, and asked me a ton of questions. When they were satisfied I wasn’t going to kill anyone, they took me back and took my blood. I have to say I’m glad I have never had it taken in the U.S, because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. After I was done they gave me a ticket so I could get a snack in the cafeteria, and it was great! After a cheese empanada, and papaya smoothie, nothing else will compare! It was definitely an experience I won’t forget.




Some of the merchandise in the store

Tuesday we went to Lake Angostura which is about an hour away. We rode on a boat called the Banana, and I think the kids enjoyed it, and I know I did! Then we ate lunch at a little park, and played lots of Bolivian games. Then we went to this little town called Tarata where there was a beautiful plaza and a museum. A man a long time ago, Melgarejo? Sold all of Bolivia to Chile for a white horse. Now the Chilleans have the Bolivians sea, and it’s all this man’s fault. His head is on display in the church, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see it.;)The plaza itself was beautiful though!







Wednesday morning I woke up sick and stayed in bed until 11! It was a record for me here. We had planned to go see Despicable Me 2 at 3:00, and so I thought I had plenty of time to go get tickets and come back. BUT, I got to the theater and the line wrapped around the building. I waited for about 45 mminutes in the line, and then felt like I was about to faint. I asked the girls behind me to save my spot, and then went to find a bathrrom, I learned that if you look like you’re about to faint you don’t have to pay! After it passed, I was determined to get the tickets and not let all of the kids down. I got back in line, only to find out that they were sold out for the rest of the day. Still determined, I went to another movie theater across town, only to find out that they were sold out too. At this point, I was exhausted, and by God’s strength made it home. I then slept from 2:00 in the afternoon until 7 the next morning!

Thursday, I woke up feeling much better, and was then sent back to my room to rest. At 9:30 we went to a park called Bicentenario, that was huge! The first area was a cruel joke, where it looked like a playground, but was actually an exercise area with different gym equipment. Luckily, the farther we walked, the better it got. There were several actual playgrounds, and a huge pool. We spent the morning on the playgrounds, and then had a picnic lunch that the tias had made. Chicken, salad, potatoes, and cooked bananas, which is a pretty typical meal. After lunch we got the kids ready to go to the pool, and bought the tickets. Only six kids were supposed to swim, but once we were inside it was hard to say no. I wanted to go in too until I felt the water! It was freezing, but the kids had fun. 


Sunday we took the older kids to see the Cristo de la Concordia statue. Most of them had been before, but it was good for them to get out of the house! We headed out with 8 kids and 4 volunteers, and stopped the first taxi we saw. When the kids started to get in, the man must have changed his mind, because he told me that we couldn’t all come because we would get his taxi dirty. I tried hard not to laugh, but I think it might have been impossible to get his taxi more dirty. We eventually made it, and waited for about 2 hours to go in the cable cars up the mountain. Just as we were getting to the top it started to storm, and we found a restaurant inside of the mountain to wait in. I think the kids probably enjoyed the restaurant more than the statue, but overall it was a good trip! 



Thank you all for making this week possible! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Answered Prayers!

I have learned that God is always faithful to answer prayers, just not always in the way that I might have asked. Usually His way involves more work than I would like, but His way is always more beautiful than anything I could have thought of.

God has been showing me lately the verses in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 that talk about how everything is useless if we do it without love. The verses give examples of great things Paul could do, but then say that if he does them without love they are worthless. I have been thinking about the things I do every day, and whether I do them with love. When I am sweeping, mopping, folding clothes, or doing dishes, am I doing it with love? And can the girls see that I do these things because Jesus loves them? Or do they see me doing them because it is my job?

At my church there is a program called the Sending Program that trains and sends missionaries. I am currently in this program, and am extremely blessed to have a mentor, Beth, who is walking with me through the process of figuring out where God is leading. Yesterday I was talking with her through Skype, and she asked how she could be praying for me. I immediately thought of this, and asked her to pray that I would do the small things with love, and that I would be able to have conversations with the girls about this love that Jesus has for us.

This morning after breakfast, we split up the chores we had for the morning to clean the house, and one of the older girls and I got to clean the patio outside. The patio is huge, and is swept and mopped every other day. I’d like to say I love doing this, but to be honest, there are other chores I would chose over this one. (All of them. Haha) Anyway, we went to work, and things were going pretty well, until the puppy decided to join us. For those of you who know me, you know how much I like dogs in general. (Not a lot!)At first he was just digging in the trash can, but then he decided to roll around in the mud and run around the patio. The floor was so dirty, that both of us were frustrated, but we had to laugh also. After an hour of sweeping and mopping the patio, it was even more dirty than when we started.  And I wanted to send Choco, our dog, to live with all of the other dogs on the street.

Instead, we locked him in the bathroom, and started over again. And then as I was mopping the floor again and talking with the girls, God reminded me that trying to clean my heart by myself was like mopping with a dirty dog running around. It’s pointless, and will probably just make everything dirtier. But God, in his goodness sent Jesus to clean us so that we didn’t have to do it on our own. He locked up the dirtiness, and cleaned us himself. And we just had to ask him to do it. I was able to talk with girls and share with them what God was teaching me through mopping the patio, and the older girls got it. They understood the frustration of cleaning in vain, and are that much more thankful for their savior, Jesus.


Within 24 hours, God answered our prayers, and showed himself to be a faithful and loving God. He opened doors for conversations, and made himself known through the small things that I don’t consider important a lot of the time. Praise God, who made a way for us to be clean, and is faithful to show Himself to His children! Please pray for the girls, that God would continue to open doors for conversations, but more importantly that He would open their hearts to understand this great love! J
 Finally clean!
Group photo!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hospitals

Before Saturday  I had never been to a Bolivian hospital. Since last Saturday I have been to two different hospitals and a doctor for myself. I have learned lots of new words, and have lots of memories I won’t forget soon.

This last week when I didn’t have a shift at the girls house, I had the opportunity to stay with the children of the Booher family. The Booher family is a missionary family working with Casa de Amor, and they have six of their own children, and four Casa de Amor children. Rudi and Carla, the parents had several deaths in the family and went back to the States for a week, and so the other volunteers and I got to spend a lot of time with their kids. (It’s amazing to see the difference in kids who have loving parents that can give them the attention they need!)

As great as the week was, it wasn’t without accidents. Saturday morning I was at the girl’s house doing laundry and got a call from the oldest girl saying that we needed to take one of the younger girls to the hospital because she had fallen off of her bike. I made it in record time to their house, and realized that it wasn’t as serious as I had thought. One of the tias who wasn’t on duty offered to come with us to the hospital, so we met her and went from there. I prayed the whole way to the hospital, and we were able to walk right inside and they gave her a bed. The nurses were very nice and helpful, and did a great job. R ended up getting five stitches, and didn’t cry at all. After the 3rd stitch, the electricity went out. That isn’t unusual for Cochabamba, but I wondered why  they didn’t have a back-up generator or something for emergencies. It turned out that a flashlight was the back-up and it worked just fine. R did a great job, and I was thankful it was not a serious injury. All in all it cost about $10, so I guess you get what you pay for. I think I would be willing to go without lights in the U.S!

Then yesterday I was doing the dishes at the girl’s house after lunch and talking with one of the girls, when I heard one of our girls crying. She is one of the most dramatic six year olds I have met, and so I didn’t think anything was really wrong. But I was wrong. She had been sliding down the banister and fallen the rest of the way down. We couldn’t tell how seriously she was hurt, so we decided to take her to the emergency room. The emergency room we went to on Saturday was nice, clean, and not very busy, but also one of the more expensive ones according to the tias. One of the tias daughters works at the hospital in Quillacollo, and so she said we could bring B there. The daughter was very helpful, and saved us probably an hour of waiting. The doctors were very friendly again, and decided to do an X-Ray to figure out if any bones were broken. I felt like I had gone back in time. The machine was very old, and the X-Rays were developed and then held up to the light to see “clearly”. The doctor was very  talkative, (maybe too talkative) and had lots of questions about the U.S and how long I planned to stay in Bolivia. There were also lots of interesting pictures of Jesus on the wall that helped distract B from the huge machines.  After seeing no less than 4 doctors they told us that she was just bruised and that she needed to rest.


The whole trip including X-Rays was less than $10, but the Tia’s daughter told me that there are many people who come in that can’t afford to pay that. She works as the receptionist and considers it her ministry to help these people whenever she can afford to. (And sometimes when she can’t.) It was a humbling experience to be reminded that what I consider inexpensive is out of the question for so many people. Not only that, but to see someone my age who is doing her job with a purpose, as an opportunity to show people God’s  in a real way made me ask myself how faithful I have been with the things the Lord has put in front of me. And the answer was not very. The story in Luke 12:35-48 talks about servants that are waiting for their master. One takes good care of what he has been entrusted with and one does not.  I wanted to encourage you all also to be using the opportunities God has given you to serve and share God’s love, however that might look. We have been given so much, and I believe that God expects us to use that for his Kingdom. The story ends by saying, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." How good is our God in the ways he cares for His people, and lets us be part of it!

Mostly trying to distract her, but I might have really made the face if it had been appropriate.:)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Babies!

The other day I was talking with another volunteer Carlee, and we were talking about how we have yet to experience a normal week here. Everytime we think the week will be normal, something else comes up. This week lots of things have come up, but it has been an interesting week to say the least!

Last Thursday I had an opportuity to go with the social worker for Casa de Amor to do an investigation for one of our smallest babies. The baby was found in late February in a corn field out in the country, and in order for her to be adopted, we needed to be sure her mother was not in the picture. 

We started out meeting up with the woman who found her, and she showed us around from there. We met in a plaza in downtown Quillacollo, which is the next city over from Cochabamba. The plaza is one of the busiest ones I´ve been too, and there are vendors all over the street selling food, and other random things. This plaza is also the main destination for public transportation, so you have to wind your way through the vans and busses. I had to keep reminding myself that this was real, and not a scene from a movie. How often do you get to meet a stranger in a plaza to look for a missing mother? Pretty often, it seems, if you are a social worker in Bolivia! Tia Rosa, the social worker was very patient and answered all of my questions about the Social Services system in Bolivia. 
The woman we were meeting was definitely running on Bolivian time, but it was a great opportunity to talk with Tia Rosa, and read the initial reports. The woman came after about 30 minutes, and brought her 4 year old daughter with her as well. Both were very dissapopinted that we had not brought the baby, and the woman teared up as she asked when she could see her. Tia Rosa assured her that she was doing well, and after paperwork was done she could see her. We then followed the woman and her daughter to another Trufie that would take us up farther iup the mountain where the baby had been found. After about 30 minutes I felt like we were in a totally different place. The city is fairly modern, and has become familiar, but I had never been up into the country before. Cows lived on the side of the road, and the trufie was so loud I couldn´t hear any of the conversation. The houses became much simpler, and poverty was much more apparent. We finally got off, and walked for about 20 minutes to the place the woman lived with her family. And extended family. Our plan had been to ask the neighbors if they knew anything about the baby girl, but there really were no neighbors to ask. We passed the house where the woman lived, and she took us out to the corn fields where she works. The farther out we went, the harder it was to believe that someone had delivered a baby in this place. We finally made it to a place with some bushes and cactus, and the woman told us that she had found the baby underneath the bushes covered in ants, and without any clothes. She had been collecting the last of the corn, and heard a baby crying. She immediately took the baby to the hospital, and hadn´t known if she would survive. 

I have heard stories like this often, but this was a new experience for me. I knew this baby. I had held her, changed her diapers, and fed her bottles. I had prayed for her, and watched her sleep. To realize that she could have died here was hard to grasp. And my first response was to question how it could have happened. I wanted to be angry at the person who left her here, and question everyone around until we found out who it was. 

And then God reminded me that He cares for her. He didn´t leave her there, and it really is a miracle that she was found. He formed her in her mother´s womb, and He knows her story. More than that, he also knows her mother and father, and loves them, just like I love her. And to think that God loves us in that same way is crazy. He loves us when we do horrible things, and He gives grace. What a great God we have! 

After we left, we went to the Defonsoria, (which is kind of like CPS in the United States) to see if anyone had come to ask about the baby. No one had come, but everyone remembered her, and was happy to hear that she was doing well. Please continue to be in prayer for this baby, as well as her parents. Our God is a God of healing, and love, and my prayer is that this baby girl would have a loving family, and know the love of God that saved her from the corn field, and saves us all from oursleves. Not only for her, but for all of the children in the homes here, that they would have families of their own, but more importantly, know the love of their Father that cares for them more than I do. 

Love you all! If you would like to know more about what you can do to help, please email me or send me a message!
The baby on the right in pink is the baby girl found in the corn field!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So Many Celebrations!

It´s hard to believe it has been three weeks in Bolivia so far. Time is going by so fast! These are a few of the things that have been happening:

At the beginning of last week on Monday, we celebrated Mother´s Day in Bolivia. Mother´s Day is celebrated on May 27th every year, in remembrance of a battle that women in Cochabamba fought in 1812. While all of the men were fighting in the war, the women were home, and the army came to invade the city. The women fought with sticks and rocks, and obviously lost, but they are remembered for their effort. :) I was able to attend  Mother´s Day celebrations with two of our girls who go to different schools because of special needs that they have. At J´s school, they celebrated with an all day picnic, complete with straw huts, llamas, ducks, turkeys, and traditional dances.And there was even a scheduled time for a siesta during the day. :) J´s class performed a special dance, and all of the mothers recieved a lunch and special gift from their son or daughter. It was my first time to celebrate Mother´s Day as an honorary mother!

The next day I went with another of our girls S, to celebrate at her school. To celebrate, the mothers participated in contests, and thankfully, I was never picked to participate! The contests included potato pealing, braiding hair, and lots of other things. It was definitely a different sort of celebration than anything I had done before. It was also a great opportunity to talk with the other mothers, and learn more about life in Bolivia.

J in her traditional Bolivian outfit at the Mother´s Day Picnic.

That same day, I drove for the first time in Bolivia! Out of all of the staff, only one of the Tias is able to drive, and they begged me to drive their van to help out when Tia Luz isn¨t working. It was not nearly as bad as I thought, but the rules (or lack of rules) are much different here. There are also lots of speedbumps on the road that are not clearly marked. On my second trip out with the kids, we were going to take a group picture, and I had 15 kids, and 5 tias in the van. They all offered their help in finding speedbumps, and notifying me ahead of time! We did make it  safely, and ended up with a beautiful picture of all of the kids at Casa de Amor.
All of the kids from Houses 1-4.

This week I was also blessed to celebrate my birthday in Bolivia!On Saturday I went with several other girls, Emily, Hannah, and Carlee to the big market, La Cancha, the girls took me to eat Enchiladas, and then Emily even took us to get Frappuccinos! I was so thankful! Sunday for the day of my birthday, the Tias gave me a cake, and all of the girls sang to me before going to church. They tried to convinve me to keep Bolivian tradition and bite the cake with my face, but I was lucky to have the excuse of going to church! :) Hannah and I took some of the youngest babies to church, and they didnt cry at all- which was a great present! 
When I got home from church, they had made lunch with chicken (Which is not common!) And had finished a scarf that I was trying to learn to knit. I think they realized it would probably be next year if I had to finish it myself. After lunch, we had a nail painting party, and my mom had sent tattoos for the girls in my birthday card. I think the kids might have liked the singing card better than the tattoos. They had never seen one before, and were so confused.haha Then Tia Annita asked me to drive across town and I had a suprise birthday party at a pizza place in town. My mom had asked Jennifer, the director, if we could do something, and the kids had a blast! On top of all of that, I was able to Skype with friends from home who were having a birthday party for another friend. I even got to pretend to blow out a candle on the birthday cake in Denton! Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate! I am so thankful for this life God has given, and thankful for where He has me now. 
   
Enjoying her Pineapple drink at dinner.
Yes, that is Mustard AM is putting on her pizza.
O and AM playing at the pizza place.

Love you all, thank you for your prayer and support!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oftalmologia: Optometry


This has been a busy week of adjusting to life in Bolivia, living with 7 girls, and remembering all of the Spanish I’ve forgotten in the last 9 months. A busy week, but full of things and people I love!
While I'm here, I will be living with the girls in what is called House III of Casa de Amor.  There are seven girls, from the age of 3-9. I will be helping the tias (the women who work with the children) with basic things like getting ready for school, cooking, and cleaning. I will also be spending time with the children at the baby home, and the boys home when I can. I will also be helping take the kids to appointments, and other places they need to be. One of the little girls attends a special school  that is about 45 minutes away because she is blind, so I will be taking her to school three times a week.  I have loved spending time with the girls, and getting to know the other volunteers!
The view from my window at House III
Some of the boys at House II
On Tuesday I got a nice mixture of all of these things. After getting the girls ready for school, I went to the baby house. Three of the babies were sick, and I spent most of my time with them, but snuck away a few times to hold the littlest ones. As I was leaving the baby house, one of the tias in charge of taking kids to their appointments took me aside and asked if I could take one of our older girls to the eye doctor. I said yes before I could really think about what that entailed, and ended up with some vague directions and money for a trufie. (One form of public transportation here is a trufie, which is a van with a specific route.)

Since we had a little bit of extra time, another volunteer, Carlee and I went to a plaza downtown called Plaza de Colon and found delicious ice cream. (And it was two for one day!) I am so thankful for the friend God has provided in Carlee, and for her love of chocolate and ice cream as well! After that we picked up the little girl that needed to go to the eye doctor and got the trufie that was going where we needed to go. We managed to find the building, and I had my first experience taking a child to the doctor. I feel fairly confident with my Spanish around the house, but optometry vocabulary isn’t something I had worked on.  Somehow we managed, and it was definitely a new experience, and a great chance to spend some quality time with J. God is so faithful to provide opportunities to show His love to the people around me. In Bolivia it is even easier, because the color of my hair makes people wonder why I’m there. Every time I go somewhere with the kids someone wants to know what I’m doing, and I get to tell them why I’m here.
J, after our trip to the doctor
Thank you for your prayers and support, God is doing great things in Cochabamba and I am so thankful to be a part of it! J

Monday, April 22, 2013

Go, tell it on the mountain!


Last August as I was preparing to leave House II where I had been living with the kids at Casa de Amor, they started to ask when I would be back. I didn't have an answer for them, mostly because I had no idea if I even would be back. Even after I got home, I missed the kids, but didn't know that I would ever return. Then in December, I was singing in church one Sunday, and we began to sing “Go Tell it on the Mountain”. About halfway through the song I felt like the lyrics became a command, “Go, tell it on the mountain.” I opened my eyes, as if I that would make the command clearer, and sure enough the background of the screen was a picture of a statue of Jesus, similar to the Cristo de la Concordia statue in Cochabamba. At that point, I knew God was leading, but it took me awhile to agree.
On Christmas night I was lying in bed thinking about God’s command to go tell it on the mountain, and realized that I was wrestling with the idea of going to back to Bolivia because I was afraid. I was afraid because I partially knew what to expect. I knew what that the trip was long, and the layover in La Paz is cold. Then once I get there I can be lonely, the kids don’t always listen, and I feel like I’m not making a difference sometimes. But here is what else I know. It’s beautiful. The days are warm, and the kids make me laugh so hard. The tias are so helpful, and appreciative, and I get to laugh and drink tea and eat popcorn with them at night. We can talk about a lot of things, and I get to speak in Spanish. I love getting to sing to the kids, and put them to bed. I love kissing them goodnight, and folding their clothes during the afternoon. I love hanging their clothes on the lines, especially when it is sunny, and I love the feeling of knowing who everything belongs to. I love pushing the kids in the swing and pretending to fly, and I love putting on concerts in the yard with whatever material we find. I love hearing of the kids faith in Jesus, and seeing them worship Him with everything that they are. I love getting to spend time with them one on one, and curling up with them on the couch at the end of the day to watch a pirated movie that will probably skip. I even kind of love helping kids change out of pants when they’ve had an accident. I love helping cook, and learning new things, even when it involves sardines. I love putting mayonnaise on everything the kids eat, and politely refusing. I love hearing the kids pray, and the fact that they trust God to provide for them.  I love washing the dishes, knowing that in four hours there will be more, and the whole process will start over again. I could keep going for so long, about all of the moments when I felt like I could spend the rest of my life in that spot. Walking around Cochabamba and Quillacollo with a Bolivian baby on my hip were some of the most peaceful moments of my life.
So as much as the plane ride, the loneliness, my ability, or my own motivations scare me, God is faithful to remind me that He is bigger than all of those things, and it is in my weakness that His strength is made perfect. That as much as I value my comfort, He values the hearts and the lives of His children. I have found Jesus to be big enough to provide for the needs of these kids, and that means that He is also big enough to meet my needs, and ease my fears. And He uses His children to provide for each other, just as you all have done for me. May He receive all of the glory!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Preparations!!!


Preparations….43 Days Left!!

God has been so faithful to provide in every way!

My core (small group) sponsors a little boy at Casa de Amor, and wanted to do something special for him. Something special for him turned into something special for all of the older kids, and we ended up with a Tie-Dye party! The girls donated time, T-shirts, tie-dye supplies, and creativity, and we ended up with a beautiful stack of T-shirts for the kids. Each shirt was prayed over, and will be worn shortly by kids who are very loved- by people they don’t even know.


My family also has donated their spare change, which ended up being quite a bit! It was not, however, meant to be carried in a shoe box.
In two weeks, we will have a Bolivian Taco night to raise funds as well. There are unfortunately no such thing as Bolivian Tacos, but I pray that God will use this night to show his love for all of His children, here in Denton, and in Cochabamba as well. Please pray with me in this! I am so thankful to be surrounded by friends and family that not only love me, but love Jesus, and His children. Thank you all for your obedience, encouragement, and support!
If you would like to support  Casa de Amor  or come to Bolivian Taco Night on April 19th, you can visit their website at www.casadeamor.org , like them on Facebook  at https://www.facebook.com/casadeamorbolivia?fref=ts, or email me at danyellegraves@my.unt.edu







Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'll Explain....


As most of you probably know, I have felt the Lord leading me to work with His children for a long time. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, but God has been faithful in providing opportunities to follow Him down that road.

As you may or may not know, it is almost mandatory for missionaries to have blogs. Haha, not really but I have been reading different blogs over the last few months, and have really enjoyed getting to see how God is working in other people’s lives and ministries through these blogs The goal of this blog is just to keep you all updated, and hopefully to encourage you by sharing what the Lord is doing, and the beautiful things He has made! (If  anyone reads it :))

This summer I have the opportunity to spend the summer in Cochabamba Bolivia working with Casa de Amor, and the beautiful children that live there. I had the opportunity this last summer to spend time working in an orphanage in Bolivia called Casa de Amor (House of Love). Casa de Amor is really made up of four homes, a baby home, girls home, boys home, and a family home, made up of an American family and Bolivian children. While I was there last summer, I had the opportunity to live with the older kids at what was called Casa 2. For a month and a half I was able to live with 13 kids, ranging in age from 3-9.!

The children are cared for by wonderful Bolivian women who the kids call Tia (Aunt), and receive the best care possible. However, while all of their physical needs are met, these children can always use more people in their lives to care about them and give them the attention they desire. While I was there I helped with household chores), and just spending time with the kids, sharing the love of their Father with them.

I would like to ask for your support, not only financially, but in prayer. We serve a powerful God, who is able and willing to provide for His children. I pray that you all also, as children of God, would know His love in a real way.

Thanks for reading!