Showing posts from 2015

Discovering the Christmas Tree

Last weekend was Pedestrian day in Cochabamba! Pedestrian day comes three times a year, and is an effort to reduce pollution in the city. On this day, no cars are allowed on the roads, which can make it difficult for the women who work at the orphanage to get to work.
When it is possible, the volunteers like to help the tias by taking children home for the weekend. This past weekend, 7 of the volunteers took children home, and we were able to spend some much needed one-on one time with the kids!

I got to spend the weekend with “A”, a little girl who is relatively new to Casa de Amor. You can read her story here.

Although A has a heartbreaking story, she is one of the sweetest (and sassiest) little girls I know.
Friday night we got to my house about dinner time, and she was amazed by my Christmas tree. She had never seen a Christmas tree before, and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. By the end of the weekend she was much more comfortable with the idea of a tree with lights, and it…


When I was preparing to come to Bolivia, many people asked me about marriage. Don’t you want to get married first? Would you ever get married to a Bolivian? Aren’t you afraid you’ll never get married? I usually responded with a joke of some kind. My sister often joked about how there are a lot of “fish in the sea”, but because Bolivia is a land-locked country, there’s not a lot of sea. I have always wanted to get married someday, but I also knew that God was clearly leading to Bolivia. I didn’t know what that meant for my marital status, but I knew that God was good, and in His time and His will, he would provide. Or not. And that was okay.

When I arrived in July of last year to serve at the orphanage and school, I also had the opportunity to be involved in a neighborhood Bible club (Happy Hour) that meets every Saturday. The Happy Hour is run by members of my church in Bolivia, and the kids from the orphanage have gone every Saturday for the last 4 years. As I began to get more invol…


As many of you know, the last few months have been very busy for Casa de Amor. We have moved all of the children into two homes closer to each other, and it has been a time of transition for everyone. The kids and tias are adjusting very well, but there have been many logisitical repairs and changes that needed to be made.
Thank you so much to all of you that have prayed during this time of transition, and also to those of you have given SO generously. I am especially thankful for Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church, and The Village Church Denton for your consistency in prayer, encouragement, and generosity.
We have been able to paint a few rooms in the volunteer home, replace the cement floor in the baby room, and make other general repairs to the homes. Thank you again for your love for the children at Casa de Amor! Here are a few pictures:

Orphan Day!

One of my favorite places in Bolivia is called Globo’s (Balloons). While I am not a huge fan of the food, the ice cream is delicious! (And half price every Tuesday!) Every year, the restaurant invites all of the orphanages of the city for a special day of free food and fun.

The line started to form early this morning, about 7:30. The kids from orphanages around the city lined up to be greeted by Polar Bears, and other unidentifiable creatures in costumes. The animals made the line bearable for the kids, and soon we were at the front of the line. For breakfast we were served cake and ice cream – this is why I love Bolivia. The kids also thought it was a good idea.

After “breakfast”, we were served Coca-Cola, and released to play on the playground. Students from Carachipampa, the school I taught at last year, came to paint faces, and were a huge hit! The kids were also allowed to play in the arcade, and volunteers walked around inserting money into the machines. More than 500 children r…

Latest News at Casa de Amor

He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah17:8

In June, a wonderful team of volunteers from Orphan World Relief came to Bolivia and painted the dining room of our Boy’s Home. The bright yellow color has given life to the dining room, and makes the room feel like a home. Several of our current volunteers are very artistic, and worked together to paint a tree with hundreds of leaves. The children watched as the volunteers painted, and begged to join in painting.

As the leaves were painted, we spent time praying, and thinking about all of the people that have been involved in the children’s lives. Between mission teams, previous volunteers, child sponsors, and the many people that have prayed for the children – hundreds of people play a role in the children’s lives. An analogy began to form about the leav…

Summer.... AKA Winter

When school ended the beginning of June, I had high hopes for how often I was going to blog. However, with friends visiting, teams coming to serve in the orphanage, new volunteers arriving, moving across town, Vacation Bible School at church, and babies in the hospital, there hasn't been nearly as much time as I planned. 
I would love to update you on the past two months, but instead I will post pictures from the last two months with a summary of what has been going on! :)

Courtney and Elizabeth Visit Visiting Orphans Team Tourists Gina and Michelle Isabelle Vacation Bible School  Hospital Duty


It has been too long since I have blogged! Since starting to teach 1st grade again, I keep thinking – "Oh, that would make a good blog...." and then never writing the blog.

I had to write this one though, because it is such good news!!!!!

Some of you may have read a blog from March about a little girl named “B”. If not you can read that blog here. From the day I arrived in Cochabamba July 5, 2012 – B has been one of the more difficult children for me. She can be one of the sweetest and most fun girls, but when she is angry or feeling rebellious she feels those things very strongly. There have been more than a few situations this year where physical harm to others or myself was a real concern. There have been days I’ve walked home from the orphanage in tears because I just didn’t know what else to do.

In my prayer journal on October 16, I wrote, asking the Lord to draw B to himself, and to give all those around her wisdom. This has been my prayer since then. I have been at a …

Father's Day! Feliz dia del padre!!

Father’s Day! This post is about two weeks late – I had it all typed up and ready to go, but my computer charger died, and this blog was tucked away until I had time to go buy a charger.
Father’s day in Bolivia is always the 19th of March. This year that happened to fall on a Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon. I was at the girls house ironing uniforms, and one of the girls, S, asked me if I could come to a special program at her school as her dad. All of the kids go to the same school this year, so all of the volunteers and staff were invited to go as “honorary dads”.
It worked out that I had a three hour break in-between teaching classes at Carachipampa, so in between substituting for 2nd grade and teaching PE I got on a trufi (bus), and went to the school. All of the littlest kids were dressed up in their father’s oversized clothes, and did a little dance performance. Two of our youngest kids were in this class, and had rented men’s clothes from a costume shop down the street.


Pijamada! (Sleepover!)

Last Saturday, I was invited to a Quinceanera (The birthday party girls have when they turn 15) by one of the women who works at the orphanage.  Tia Anita has worked with Casa de Amor for over 5 years, and has become like a mother to the girls that she works with (and often to me!). The oldest girls got to spend Friday night with Tia Anita to help prepare for the party a day in advance and they were thrilled!
On Saturday morning I went to the girls house and found “B” dutifully washing her clothes. At seven years old she falls right in between the older girls and the little girls. Although she is very smart and capable for her age, her desire for attention often leads her to behave in a way that puts her in the “little girl” group.
As soon as she heard me talking with the other Tia on duty about the Quineanera, she lit up and asked if she could come with me. Usually the girls earn outings with good behavior, and sadly, “B” normally doesn’t earn an outing. I told B that I would have …


If you know me well, you know I’m a cheapskate. I nicer word might be frugal, but regardless of how you word it – I don’t like to spend money. 
In college (and lets be honest, after as well), my goal when going to the grocery store was always to see how little I could spend on groceries. That usually meant buying Great Value brand at Wal-Mart. Fruits and vegetables (unless they were in a Great Value can) were too expensive, so I didn’t buy them.

In Bolivia, the tables have turned. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cheapest things you can buy!

Now, as summer comes to an end in Bolivia, I have made an exciting discovery. The girls house has a grape vine, an orange tree, and two fig trees! I knew about the orange tree, but almost every day for 7 months I have walked past these trees without really looking at them. (And to be honest, even if I had looked at them I don’t know anything about trees.)

The girls have spent hours climbing up into the trees to find the ripest fruit. Every tim…

There's a first time for everything!

When I first came to Bolivia, everything was new.  Every food I ate was new. Every place I went was new. Every cultural experience was new. Everything was new.

Over time, the newness of Bolivia has worn off. It is still exciting, and there is still a TON to learn and experience, but everything is not new anymore. In some ways this is comforting. While I enjoy the adventure of new things, I also enjoy the feeling of being “at home”.

That being said, this week has been full of “firsts”. I held my first baby in an Aguayo ( a tablecloth type fabric that Bolivian women use to carry their babies. )
I took a baby on his first escalator ride. And then, several weeks ago I realized I haven’t had my hair cut since I left the U.S. Since that was almost six months ago, I decided I should probably at least get a trim. It took 3 weeks, but finally yesterday afternoon I went with two friends to find a hair dresser.

In Bolivia, most shops are located together. On one street there might be 15 eye doct…

New Year, New Job!

On New Year’s Eve, I normally try to take some time, and look over the last year. I try to keep a prayer journal, and so it is always encouraging to see how God has answered prayers…. Usually in a very different way than I expected.

As I looked back over this year, I was so encouraged to see God’s faithfulness. And sense of humor.

When I was looking back over a prayer from January, I found this, “So one of the options was  to just send Bolivia my application/ resume, and let them say what they would like me to do. And on one hand, that sounds great. It takes the decision making off of me, and allows them to say where they think I would fit, and also allows me to fill the need they have. BUT, it also terrifies me, in that they can say what they want me to do. If they give me a job and I cant do it, then what?”

I was so afraid I would be given a job I wasn’t qualified for/ able to do. So I sent my application in for the Librarian position, and God worked how he wanted anyway. :)

Last s…

Christmas with the Graves

When I was in middle school, my family watched the movie “Christmas with the Kranks”. If you haven’t seen it, the family decides to not have Christmas, and instead go on a cruise. For the last ten years, my dad has joked about doing “Christmas with the Graves”, and just not celebrating Christmas.
This year was as close as he is going to get. J My family was in Bolivia for almost two weeks, and it was so neat to be able to show them this place that has become my home. They were able to spend time at the orphanage with the kids, meet the kids in my class at Carachipampa, meet friends from church, and explore the city.
As I thought about Christmas this year, I began to realize how crazy it is that Jesus came to earth. My parents came to Bolivia, and it was a big deal. They traveled over 4,000 miles. They sacrificed their comfort and their health. They basically became like children in a new country… not knowing how to do basic tasks. (My mom said that she had heard roles reversed from…

Christmas in Kara Kara

Several weeks ago I wrote about the opportunity I had to go visit a neighborhood close to the city dump in order to give out Christmas gifts, as well as share the Gospel.

Thank you so much to those of you who prayed and gave generously!!

My parents arrived on a Wednesday, and I almost immediately put them to work. We went over to the chapel were Horita Feliz (The Bible Club) is held every Saturday, and started to prepare the gift bags to take with us. Thanks to your donations, we were also able to purchase sugar to give to the mothers!!

On Saturday morning around 8:00, we met at the chapel to pray, load up the cars, and head to Kara Kara. Of course, we were running on Bolivian time, so we arrived about an hour after the scheduled time. As we pulled into the neighborhood, I could see that they had set up a tent, and made little wooden benches . There were already close to 100 children ready and waiting for us! I found Noelia and Lucero, some of the girls I had already met, and was than…