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!