Sunday, August 31, 2014

Going to the Palace

In the middle of the first week of school we had a miracle! A Bolivian Snow Day! Just kidding, it was just a day when public transportation went on strike, but it still meant there was no school. It was a huge blessing because it gave me time to plan for school, and time to spend at the orphanage with the girls!

Then Thursday afternoon, I got a call asking if I could take one of the girls (I’ll call her Maria) from the orphanage to court (also known as the Palace of Justice). She is in the process of being adopted, but because it is not certain yet, she does not know. The process to get everything approved is very long and tedious, and the social worker at the orphanage has been working on her case for the last 2 years. As of now, the court has assigned a family for Maria, but in order for the family to adopt her, many other things have to be in place. (I am learning a lot, but I won’t bore you with the details unless you want to know. :))
Palacio de Justicia
(Sorry, there are no actual pictures!)
So Thursday afternoon I picked Maria up in her best clothes to take her to the court building. She was excited to be leaving the house, but immediately had more questions about what exactly we were doing. I did my best to give her honest answers without telling her that her whole life was about to change. At four years old, she is very smart and observant. At the girl’s house she acts like she is about 15 years old, but as soon as we got to the city she immediately returned to a four year old.

When we finally met up with the social worker at the courthouse, Maria had a hundred more questions. She wanted to know where we were, and so I told her we were at the Palace of Justice. Her eyes lit up and she said, “I can’t wait to tell all of the girls we went to the palace!” :) I didn’t bother to explain it was a different type of palace, but I think she figured it out pretty quickly. She became very shy, and hid behind me as we found the courtroom we needed to be in. We waited outside the room for about an hour and a half, and I was very glad I had colors with me to distract her, and myself as well.

 As excited as I am for Maria to have a family of her own, there is another part of me that is nervous for her. I have seen her grow from a toddler to a smart little girl over the last two years. She has so much personality for a four year old, and makes me laugh all the time. Being adopted has always been my prayer for her, but I will definitely miss her when she goes.

After an hour and a half, the judge told us that the court date had been suspended, and that we would have to come back on September 2nd. On the way home, Maria fell asleep on the crowded bus, and a lady asked me if she was my daughter. I smiled and told her she was my niece, which is what the girls call themselves. I couldn’t help but think about the way God has chosen to adopt us as His children.  He cares for us, even when we don’t understand what is happening. Before we knew He existed, He loved us.

Please pray for Maria this week as we go back to court. Please pray that the Lord would give her peace, and help her in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Please pray for wisdom for adults that will be working with Maria to prepare her for this process. Please pray that legal issues would be taken care of quickly, and that this adoption would be a picture of our adoption into God’s family!

Thank you all!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Teaching, Birthday Parties, and TACOS!!!!

What do those things have in common? Nothing really, except that they all happened this week!

The first week of teaching went much better than I expected, thanks to God’s goodness and provision, and so many people around me offering their time, wisdom, and prayers. Short of asking someone else to teach for me, I couldn’t have asked for more help this week. :P

On Wednesday morning we were learning about God creating the world, and I had planned to sing the song, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”  We started to sing, and we got to the part where we sing “There’s nothing my God cannot do.” As an echo I asked “For who?!”  The next thing I knew 20 students screamed “For you!” God has been so faithful all week to remind me that there is nothing He cannot do.

In addition to teaching this week has also been full of birthdays! On Tuesday night we celebrated one of the Tia’s birthdays! I made a cake, and the girls managed to get her to follow Bolivian tradition and “bite the cake” (push her face in the cake). Tia Anita has worked with Casa de Amor for years, and the girls see her as their mother. I am so thankful for her friendship, and her love for Jesus and the girls of Casa de Amor!

On Saturday, we also were able to celebrate one of our older girls - Jhosi’s birthday. Thanks to the extreme generosity of a local organization, Jhosi had a Frozen themed birthday party, complete with a piƱata and semi-creepy clowns. All of the kids wore their best dresses, and I spent the morning playing hair dresser. The excitement of the girls made it seem almost like Christmas. (Several of the girls were also skipping around singing Jingle Bells in Spanish, so that might have had something to do with it. :) )

Immediately after this birthday party, we made our way downtown to Quillacollo to celebrate another volunteer’s birthday! Lindsey is from South Carolina, and came to Bolivia shortly before I left last year. She has stayed in Bolivia this year, spending time with the kids, loving on them, and serving in whatever ways she can. I am so thankful for her friendship also! When we got to Quillacollo, we met up with some of the ladies that work at the orphanage, and their children, and went to eat Chicharron (a type of fried pork) up in the mountains. It is always nice to spend time with the tias outside of the homes, and to see them with their own families without the pressures of watching 8 other children.

After our trip into the mountains for Lindsey’s birthday, I was able to make it for the end of a Bible club our kids go to called Horita Feliz. ( Don’t worry, the name means Happy Hour, but it is not what you’re probably thinking…) Several of the people that help run the Horita Feliz also go to the young people’s group at the church, so I headed back into the city with them. I have loved getting to know more people my age at this group, and it is a great opportunity to practice Spanish as well! All through the meeting I could smell something delicious, and was trying to remember if there was a restaurant nearby that the smell might be coming from.  Then, as the meeting ended a guy got up and announced that they had a special surprise for us….. TACOS!! This was the first time I have EVER been served tacos in Bolivia, and I am still excited about it. If I wasn’t already convinced that I needed to be involved in the young people group at the church, I am now!

Thank you for your prayers and support this week. I am hoping to send out an email with more specific prayer updates this week. Love you all!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Welcome to 1st Grade!

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

It is always interesting to see how God works. I have a tendency to plan out the way I think things should go, and then – most of the time – the Lord has different plans.

When I originally applied to come to Bolivia with SIM, I applied to come as the librarian at the school, Carachipampa Christian School (CCS). I knew God was leading back to Cochabamba, and this position was an open door. I studied Social Work, but I love to read, and God has used books over and over again in my life, so I thought, “Hey, I might be able to do that!” After praying and talking with many people, I applied and was accepted as the librarian!

Then about a month before I left to come to Bolivia, I received an email saying that during the past school year, a TRAINED librarian had come to the school and was planning to stay for the next school year as well! I was excited that the school would have a trained librarian, but unsure of what that meant for me. The email said we would explore other ministry opportunities, and I felt at peace about whatever that might mean.

This last week teacher orientation started at CCS, and I started the week planning on teaching a few Bible classes, and being on call as a substitute, or whatever other need might arise. Throughout the week, we had been praying for God to provide a 1st grade teacher during our devotion time each morning. Several teachers had fallen through, and school starts on Monday. On Wednesday morning, we gathered to pray again for the teacher needs of the school, and as we were praying for a teacher, someone prayed for God to touch the heart of the person that would teach. I started to think about a teaching internship I had done in High School in a 1st grade class, and once again, I felt this peace. And then something close to a panic attic. And then peace again.  After devotion time, I talked with my mentor teacher, and mentioned the internship in 1st grade. Before I knew it, I was standing in the 1st grade classroom looking at rows of empty desks.

It has been a very different week than I planned, but I can see God’s hand in it. All of the staff at the school has been beyond supportive, and as unsure as I am, I know that God is at work, and am excited to see how He will work.

If you all could be praying, I would be so thankful. Please pray for wisdom for me as I plan lessons, and get to know the children in my class. Please pray for relationships with the students and their parents, that God would be working in their minds and hearts. Please pray for the parent meeting on Monday night, that relationships would be formed. Please pray for language learning, as most of the children in the class are Bolivian, and first grade is still technically a bilingual class. Most importantly, please pray that this school year people would come to know God, and that He would be glorified! J

Thank you all! I will keep you updated!