As I'm writing this, the snow has just stopped falling outside and I will go shovel when I'm done. It's pretty crazy to be in a whole different world and all the good and bad things that go with that. Good thing: my family is close enough to reach out and hug. Bad thing: after-Christmas sales are pretty tempting.

I've been planning on writing this specific blog for quite awhile, but I actually wanted to wait until I was back home so I could see how it all turned out.

Ester is the only full time helper on the boys' side of Talita Cumi who isn't the "mom" of the home. She is amazing with the boys, and they have this unbelievable respect for her that I can barely believe. The mom of that home has the boys afraid of her because her punishments are more extreme than what the boys do, but Ester is so fair and so loving to all of them that they love to do what she says!

Ester also goes to my church, so we knew each other from the last time I was in Bolivia. When I learned that she was working at Talita Cumi I was very excited, and God made it evident that He had brought us both to that place at that time for His purposes.

I feel as though just as much as my ministry at Talita Cumi was to the boys, it was also to Ester. When we came she admitted to Heather and I that she was looking for other work, and as I started visiting the home, probably a quarter of my time there was spent talking with Ester. This was totally a blessing from God, because not only did she get to get off of her chest some of the things that were happening at the home, I got to practice my Spanish A LOT!

It's hard to spend a lot of time with someone in Bolivia for me, because I leave. When I hung out with her for the last time, she told me that she's never had a friend like me, and the same was true for her. She is so open and honest, and she put up with my struggling Spanish, and she just is an amazing woman. It's hard to think that I don't get to see her for at least a year, maybe never. She also told me that she's no longer looking for a new job and that she's going to hang in there at Talita Cumi, which is great, because the boys need someone like her. We're going to keep in touch through email, so yay! You can pray that she will find someone new to talk to at the home, and that I will be faithful in keeping in touch.


Bolivian Christmas

Crazy to think that just four days ago I was giving hugs to my boys at Talita Cumi, wishing them a Merry Christmas, and trying to keep them under control until the visitors came. Heather and I touched down in Minneapolis at 11:55 pm on Christmas Day, and we have been celebrating with family for the last few days. In the midst of all the excitment of the season here, I want to write about my Bolivian Christmas before the details get blurry.

I spent a few hours during the day of Christmas Eve at the home, and I can only remember one other day during my time at the home when the boys were so hard to control. We watched a movie, and the boys' eyes were everywhere but on the TV screen. Juan Carlos has been asking me to bring gum for him since my first week in Bolivia, and I finally did and he thought he didn't want it for a few minutes. Only the craziness of Christmas could have done that for him.

Juan Carlos and Iver-- definitely excited, and with silly looks

I went home to get cleaned up and send my sister off to another home, and when I come back I was back on boy control. They too had cleaned up and were in their nicest clothes and the entire orphanage was just a beautiful place, completely changed for Christmas. I got to help out with the boys and getting little presents ready for the visitors, so that was nice for me to not have to try to visit and be super social, since sometimes I don't like that and since I didn't know some of the people there very well.

The kids put on a great little musical production that they had been working on, we read the Christmas story, and then it was time to eat. I got paired up to eat with Tiburcio, which was great since we get along pretty well and I really wanted to hang out with him one more time before I left, especially since he just accepted Christ. We ate and then the kids opened their presents. Each of the kids got one shoebox with presents in it, which wasn't a lot but was a lot more than some of the homes get. They were mostly pretty happy about their presents, then they were REALLY happy that they got to start shooting off fireworks, which is a Bolivian Christmas tradition. At about 11:45 Ester and I left, since she was spending the night at my house. I hugged the kids and said goodbye, but it was so surreal. I don't think that they really realized that I was leaving leaving, and I kind of liked it more that way. It's so hard for them to have people leave, and I didn't want them to deal with that on Christmas night. I went home, watched a movie with Ester, and went to bed. When I got up in the morning, it was time to leave the country. It's still weird to think that I'm not going back to play tomorrow morning.

One huge blessing is that right when I came for Christmas Eve Toni, one of the tios, was taking pictures of all of the boys, and I got a picture with all them. Hopefully he will send it to me or put it on facebook, because that will be such a nice thing to help me to remember my trip.

I got a few other Christmas pictures, so I added a couple here.
I love how everyone in the picture has a different face. This picture is so precious to me!

More details of my trip are coming; even though it's over, I don't feel like I'm done writing.


I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

Tonight we had a SAM Christmas get together where we sang carols and read the Christmas story, and it totally reminded me of our Christmas Eve service at home. I have to admit that when someone said that there was a snowstorm in Chicago I almost wanted to cry because I really miss snow. In spite of the fact that it's hard to be apart from family and friends, I am so excited to celebrate Christmas here tomorrow night with the boys of Talita Cumi!
Yesterday I went shopping with Holly,an MK here who I know from when the team was here, and God just blew me away with the generosity of some people. She just gave so freely of her time for me. She had no desires but to show me around to whatever shops I wanted to go to, and I was reminded of how selfish I ALWAYS am with my time. She held my hand while I got my ears pierced and walked around the plaza with me, and even though I barely know her I had a really good time!
God works in our lives through every experience that we go through.
I will update on how my Bolivian Christmas went when I get back to the US. Until then, Merry Christmas and may God bless you!


Huge Praise!

One of the boys I worked with, Tiburcio, accepted Christ on Thursday! I have been praying for him since my first month here, because he came from a rough situation and was pretty rough around the edges. He likes to say "Ya tu sabes!" which is like the English equivalent of "You know it!" and thinks he's a pretty cool kid. Recently, though, I have really been seeing God do a work in His life. He has been asking me a lot of questions about God lately, so I just kept praying, and God is faithful!

Let's rejoice for Tiburcio with the angels in heaven!

11 year old Tiburcio


Tis the Season

This has been a season of parties and fun things for me here recently. Just thought I'd share a few.

Monday Heather and I took as a vacation day so that I could do some fun things in Santa Cruz. Heather surprised me in the morning by taking me to get my nails and toenails done, which was super fun, and we also went to my favorite restaurant for lunch and swimming in the afternoon. It was a very fun day!

On Tuesday night we had a Christmas party with some missionaries here who are very special to me because they treat me like I'm family while I'm here. They even gave me Christmas presents, which I totally wasn't expecting, so I was made very happy. :)

Tonight we had a 25th anniversary party for a missionary couple here- the HAuses. Heather and I served, and Heather's mission and our church were there, so it was very cool!

My favorite is that I got to help at Talita Cumi while a fifth grade class came from a private school and gave gifts to the kids and fed them. My highlight was seeing Juan Carlos, who is just learning to speak Spanish (He is from the border with Brazil, so his first language is Portuguese), open his gift. He got a GIJoe guy, and the smile on his face after he opened it was just priceless. He's hyperactive, so a toy like that will be very good to entertain him. Here's a cute picture of him.
I have to say that a huge blessing from my time here has been seeing how God has brought all of these different people in my life while I've been here for me to learn from them and be changed by Him through them. Praise Him for His faithfulness!


Last week

My last week has been full of fun things, so I thought I'd share a few:

1. I got to sing in the worship team for my church here! It has always been something that I've wanted to do, because the worship at my church here is so amazing! Amazing musically and spiritually. So it was like a dream come true.

2. On Friday I baked cookies with two of the older boys at Talita Cumi and one of the tios (helpers) at our house. It was great because they are 12 and 13 years old, and cooking with them anyway is great fun, so cooking with them in my house was a treat for them and me. We made brownie cookies and they turned out very well. :)

3. I went to a graduation party and a graduation ceremony. It was cool because it was such a cultural experience to see how they do things here and to be a part of this culture is just cool. For example, at the ceremony, everyone sits around at tables and chats during the speeches and the diplomas, then after every graduate's family serves their guests a fancy meal right there. They have to bring their food and their chairs and their tables and everything.

4. Today Heather and I went to an art sale, and Mariam ( my foreign exchange sister that we had from Bolivia) and her mom were there. It was so great to see them, and we're going to hang out before I leave, which makes me happy.

So that's just a small taste of my week. I promise I'll add more my last two weeks here than I have been.
This is just a cute face I can't leave out. :)



Here are a few pictures of the monkeys I work with at Talita Cumi. :)



This weekend Heather and I drove over bumpy roads to the campo, or into the country, to work at a youth camp. There were lots of new experiences, some fun and many stretching, and I thought that I better share them before I forget.

Let's start with the program. I got there, and there was a schedule, like, written out! This may sound normal, but you have to remember that we were in Bolivia. This, along with the fact that the kids were all playing soccer and volleyball, reminded me of my camp. For the first two or three hours out at the camp I had to hold back tears because I missed Arrowhead, the camp that I worked at last summer, so much.

The kids at this camp were just great. They were between maybe 8 and 20 something. I fit right in as a camper and went with the flow. God blessed me with begin able to understand almost all of the Spanish that I heard this weekend, so it was pretty easy for me to connect with them. However, once in a while I didn't quite get what was going on, and I would ask one of the girls what we were doing, and then I had a friend for the next two hours. They were so willing to help explain things to me! I loved it! I gave them some English words and expanded my Quechua vocabulary by two phrases.

The kids in the city that I work with are used to having missionaries in and out and have a pretty good idea of what life is like for us in their heads. The kids out in the campo may not have seen more than five gringos in their lives. They kept asking me questions, like, "How many days did it take you to get to Bolivia? (this boy thought that we drove)" "The US is a country, right?" Some of the questions were the same, though, "What is food like in your country?" "What is the climate like there?" I loved getting to see their lives, too. They are all very hard workers and know way more about walking around at night without electricity and taking advantage of running water when you have it than I am.

The food was such a challenge for me. Three out of our four meals there were lamb meat and potato soup. One of them was with noodles, the other two were with rice. The other meal, our breakfast, was bread and corn drink. These may sound good, and the bread and api (corn drink) were, but that soup was hard to stomach. They pile it on your plate, no crackers or sides, and culturally you have to eat it all. The hardest part? They eat almost EVERY part of the animal. My one normal piece of lamb all weekend had hair still attached to it; the rest were pieces of the back with the nerve cords still in it or a chunk of fat with bones and a little meat somewhere in it. Speaking of fat, the soups are just dark yellow with all the grease in them, and that just isn't easy to stomach when you already don't want to eat the food in front of you. God gave me some grace in being able to just eat without thinking about it, but I also did a little feeding of the dogs that hung around.

worship at camp
The speakers at this camp were pretty good, although our full day there, Saturday, we had five meetings! We sat on backless benches, and sometimes I was counting the hours until I could go home. I know that Heather had a hard time too, but I was impressed with how she thought it was worth it to go without comfort for a few days to help the kids. Also, the worship was sooo enthusiastic; I loved it!

Now that I have my feeling down, I have to say that there was more to this camp than hard experiences for me. I was really impressed with the kids' faith and spiritual knowledge and how they were genuinely excited about getting to learn about God for three days. The program did a great job of educating them about things that they just don't hear about, and also the leaders were great at leveling with the kids. I am glad that God had me there at that time, and that He taught me more about serving joyfully even when I don't want to.


Birthday Party!

Tonight was a really fun night for me! I got to go to a birthday party for the Talita Cumi kids who have had birthdays since August (like 9 kids). It was so much fun! I was paired up one of the boys so I could hang out with him for the night, and I was given Jose David. However, when we got to the party, Tiburcio (another boy) had been kicked out of the party because no one had been assigned to hang out with him during the night. I agreed to be his buddy, so he got back in, and I had two little rambuctious boys to entertain. It was great, because they were both turning 11 and their birthdays are 4 days apart, so everyone called them twins and they got matching gifts and they just loved it. I don't even think that they minded having the same madrina (or godmother, the name they use for the hanger-outer person).

We had a yummy supper together and they played lots of fun games and we had cake-- it was everything a birthday party should be. For Tiburcio, it was his first birthday party in the home, and maybe his first birthday party. I was so glad that I could be a part of it.

Here the boys are in their matching jerseys.

Also, today marks my first month in Bolivia. What things God has been doing in my heart! I wish that I could put them all into words, so I'll try, but words will not be enough. God is teaching me about compassion, about trusting in Him to care for my needs, about repairing conflicts quickly, about the dependent independence that I have in Him, and so much more.

My Spanish has also improved a LOT! It is very encouraging to me to have days where I come home and have to retrain my brain to think in English while I read my Bible or check my email. It still lacks a lot, but everyday I am learning more. Thank you to those who have prayed for my Spanish!

Praise God with me for His faithfulness to me and for kids who get birthdays!


Learing Lessons

Remember Rodrigo, the one who was so cute at the park less than a week ago? Tonight when I went to the home just to spend an hour with the boys, Eliana, the "mom" of the boys told me that he and his younger, adorable brother Eliseo went home with their mom today. They probably will never come back, so it's good that they can be with their mom, but my heart just was so sad that I never even got to say goodbye.
I know that God knows best, but I had to ask what lesson He was trying to teach me through this. That I shouldn't love these kids so deeply? Nope, that doesn't sound like a God thing. I think maybe it's more like I have to love them with His love and trust His love to cover me when I'm saddened by things that go on in the homes.
God is good ALL the time.


Heavy Heart

Sometimes I leave the homes with my heart just full of wondering.

Since I've gotten to Bolivia, it's been really hard for me to get to sleep at night. I usually lay in bed for at least a few hours before I finally get to sleep. Most people have at least a few minutes after the light goes out before their brain stops processing like crazy. I started to think about what the kids in the homes think about before they go to sleep. Do they wonder what it would be like to have their mom and dad sleeping in the next room? Do they wish that someone would have tucked them in, that someone would be excited to see them when they wake up in the morning? So many of them have parents who just can't take care of them, do they wonder when they will come to get them? If the kids are adoptable, do they wonder if they loveable enough to be adopted? My heart just breaks when I think of this. The kids are just so open to love, they crave it so much. When I go to Talita Cumi boys and they're watching a movie, if I walk in and sit down on the couch I'm guaranteed to have a mob of 5-11 year-old boys wanting to cuddle with me.

Often I cry out to God in my heart saying, "God, who loves these kids?" and everytime I do, He reminds me that He loves them with a perfect love that no parent could ever hope to measure up to. His sovereign plan for their lives has brought them to where they are today, and it will sustain them as they walk through life. He reminds me that He sent me to Bolivia for this time to be with these kids. He has His body on this earth to care for the poor and suffering in many different ways.

"The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few." Would you pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send more workers?


A few hours in the life

Today I had a great experience! I went to a park with the boys of Talita Cumi, and God worked in my heart through the boys in a way that couldn't have been done through reading anything (except His Word) or talking.

Juan Carlos on the playground
Going to a park is not something totally out of the ordinary for the boys, but today was, because of the way it came about. Due to a nice high school kid, they got to go to a beautiful park in the city with playgrounds (more than one!) and lots of space to run and lots of beautiful trees. I want to give you this experience through the eyes of one of the boys, Rodrigo, who I think is six years old.

First, of all, we went by taxi, which the boys don't get to do very often, and the whole car ride Rodrigo kept talking about all the big trucks we were passing and other taxis that he say and gas stations. He was super excited about it all! For a six year-old who only ever stays at home or goes to school and church, the ride in itself was quite an experience.

When we got to the park, he was just amazed. He loved walking by the sand field, running up the little hill that had bleachers on it, and seeing the playgrounds. We started playing tag, and he played for awhile, but then he came to me and said, "Look, there's my boat!" Suddenly, the swingset-type-thing was his boat. :) He started running away from the sharks that might be around. Then, he became a shark and we had to run from him. Once, he caught me and was preparing to cut off my head before he ate me (as all non-barbaric sharks do), which I escaped! He instantly morphed into a dinosaur and recaptured me. He cut off my hand to punish me, which made me cry a lot. He was preparing to kill me again when, very seriously, as only a six-year old could do, he slowly raised his arms above his head and became...an angel that saved me! How cute! I had to try pretty hard not to laugh while I thanked him for being so gentlemanly.

Rodrigo's dinosaur face. :)

We played soccer for a long time after the shark/dinosaur/angel game, and he got pretty thirsty, so I took him to get some water. On the way he was delighted when he found two matching old empty pop bottles that he could use to store his own drinking water (also only a six-year old could do this) and loved sharing his water with us (we washed our hands with it instead of drinking it). He also played some great futbol and swang on the swings for at least 45 minutes.

When it was finally time to go home, I was looking forward to seeing his reaction on the return taxi. He was curious to see animals in a big truck, but mostly I think he was exhausted. He just sat on Tio Toni's lap and was content to be there.

I wish I could tell you the ways that God blessed me through these boys today, but words will not do it justice. I learned about having enthusiam for whatever you're doing. I learned from the people who work/help with the boys about being a servant and how that sometimes looks like serving coca-cola when you could be eating, or sometimes looks like playing soccer even when you're exhausted from a long week at college. I learned from the boys about being content with what you have. I learned that some of these boys have horrible stories, but God has a plan for this and still allows them to enjoy life in ways that are harder for me. I learned about generosity from the tios and the high school helper, and I learned how great it is just to spend time with these boys.

Praise God for His faithfulness to His children!



I'm a Wisconsin girl, so I guess mosquitoes shouldn't phase me, but that doesn't mean I have to like them! They are having a hayday here! It rained a few days ago and the little buggers sprang up like weeds. They aren't as bad as they were at camp this summer, but the one that's buzzing my ear right now is pretty annoying. I'm not very allergic to mosquito bites, so thankfully I'm not itching a lot or anything, but I have lots of little red spots all over my legs right now. Bolivian mosquito bites look different from Wisconsin ones, so that's interesting for me.

Mosquitoes are nothing new, but I did have one very new experience today. I was the encargada (in charge person) at one of the homes! I cooked lunch at Cristo Viene girls' home today for one of my sister's friends who couldn't do it, and fifteen minutes after I arrived all of the staff told me they were leaving and would be back in a few hours!!!!!

Now, my Spanish is improving, it really is, but it is not good enough to be in charge of a bunch of girls who love getting away with things for two hours. I prayed that it would be a quiet time without major issues. Maybe God had other plans for me, because while I was cooking and answering the phone and wondering if the girls were still punished from TV as they were watching soaps, a girl's mother showed up! These girls are in the home because their parents signed papers to put them there, so I didn't know what the rules were for visits. Thankfully the older girls knew what to do and helped me, but man! I was a little stressed.

Thankfully, lunch turned out very well, and in the end everything went fine. When the staff returned all the girls were in one piece. I made shepherd's pie, which is the girls' favorite meal, and it was on the table only ten minutes late, which is still early in Bolivian time. Here are a few pictures.

Here is one of the pies. yum!

This is Dora eating the pie. What a cutie!


Laundry- Bolivian Style!

Yesterday (Sat.), we cooked for Mi Gumi, a home with 11 girls. We made pizza burgers, salad, rice and snickerdoodles, and they went over great. Then, we got to hang out with the girls for awhile. This is where the fun began...

Many of the girls were still doing their chores, which included washing their clothes. Most people in Bolivia don't have a washing machine, so they wash by hand. The girls decided to wash by foot, which I have never seen before. It was hilarious! They invited me to join them, so I jumped in too! Thankfully Heather got some pictures, so I will put those up here.

What really struck me about the whole situation is that before we started foot washing, we were just doing it by hand, and I was helping, and these girls who were 12 years old were way better at washing than I was! I was almost embarrassed to tell them that at my house we have machines that wash and dry our clothes for us. The only time I've every hand-washed entire loads of clothes is in Bolivia. These girls have so little, but in some ways they have way more skills than I do. I guess it has given me a lot to think about.


Happy Halloween!

For the first Halloween in my life, I don't think that anyone gave me candy today. :) I definitely didn't miss Halloween, probably because I got to play with cute little kids.

The last few days have been really fun for me. I've been spending time doing orphanages with Heather, but also time at the Talita Cumi orphanage by myself. I work almost completely on the boy's side of the orphanage, because they seem to need the most help there. The boys are wild and don't always listen, but they are really cute and usually are quick to help.

One little boy was especially nice to me today. His name is Juan de Dios, but the boys sometimes call him Juan de Diablo because he's so naughty. Today as we were walking to a field to play soccer he told me, "I'm bad! If people don't do what I say, I fight them! I'm bad!" He sounded kind of bad, but you have to see the whole picture: Juan de Dios is the smallest eight year-old I've ever seen, and as we were walking he was holding my hand with one hand, and in his other hand was a water bottle that he brought that he kept asking me to drink out of so I wouldn't be thirsty. I told him I was pretty sure he wasn't bad and that he was quite the gentleman.

I hear these kids trying to be so cool so they can make it on the streets or even just in the home, and my heart breaks in a way. I don't want Juan de Dios to grow up thinking that they have to have the reputation of being "bad, real bad" just to get some attention or to get by. Pray with me that they see what our Savior has planned for them. He wants us to live lives that are so good that others may see our good works and believe (1 Peter 2:12). He gives us attention not because our behavior needs it, but because He loves us with a deep, unconditional love. I'm not sure how to teach this to kids, but I sure hope my actions speak louder than my poor Spanish.

Tomorrow we're going to cook lunch for Mi Gumi, a home for 12 girls. I will try to post pictures later.


Ministry and Mangos

Well, today I had my first Bolivian mango. It was wonderful! It was a lot more stringy than the ones that I've had in the US, but the flavor was so much better. I think that there are a lot of different types of mangos here, so I'm sure I'll get to try a non-stringy one too.

The last few days have been really good for me. I have been trying to decide and pray about what I'm going to do with my time here. It's been a good yet hard thing that there is a lot of need in the orphanages now. At least three of them that Heather is connected with are understaffed, so they could use me to come and take over a shift or two a week. I also found out today that I could teach an English class at one of the orphanages. I spent some time at Talita Cumi, which is an orphanage that houses boys and girls today. I was on the boys' side, and I had so much fun! I am not completely sure what I'm going to do yet, but I am excited for whatever I will do!

Praise God also that my Spanish has been improving! I am so thankful that I can understand a lot of what the kids say to me now, although I'm still really struggling sometimes. It really comes and goes right now. Everyday, though, is a little better


Going to Mi Gumi, a girls' home that houses twelve girls, and having all of them remember me. Ana, the littlest one, said that she cried when Samantha and I left last time.

Singing in church...our worship band is amazing!

Seeing cute faces like these.


What do I do?!?

It is my second day in Bolivia, and there is so much to say! It is really strange to me that I am finally here! The place that I am in in terms of what I can do here and my independence is very strange too.

First of all, I have to say that the situation politically here seems to be pretty calm. The one way that I can tell anything is weird is that there is a gasoline/diesel/natural gas shortage. It is pretty amazing to see all these huge trucks lined up for hundreds of yards to get their diesel, which is in very short supply. There is even less gasoline right now. Heather and I drove around for awhile this morning trying to fill up her car and didn't find any at all, which meant that we had to go to a different home than we had planned to. When gas comes into the city everyone lines up and fills up right away, so we are watching the news to find out which stations they will bring the next shipment to. I'm not sure exactly why there is this shortage. I think it could be blockades somewhere or maybe the government has some plan in all of it.

In spite of the shortage Heather and I have found a lot to do and we've been to two of the homes. Refreshing my Spanish has been soooo interesting so far. I have been really encouraged with how well I can communicate with the kids in the homes, because they are patient and will usually repeat something at least once so that I know what they are talking about. However, at the same time I am disappointed with how little I know. I don't feel confident being put into conversations with adults yet, which I REALLY want, so you can pray that God would expand my vocabulary and ability to understand the accent here quickly.
In my less than 48 hours here, I have learned that the need is great. There are two orphanages relatively close to where we live who are understaffed, so they could use me there. Also, I want to help out at Eben-ezer, the home for mentally disabled boys that I helped at before. I am praying for God's leading in this, and also that I would have the ability to do whatever He calls me to.

That whole ability thing is so frustrating for me. This is my third time in Bolivia and my third year of pretty intense Spanish study. I feel as though I should be able to be pretty independent here and not have to rely on my sister and other missionaries here so much. But so far I feel semi-helpless. I can have tiny conversations on my own but need my sister to translate far more often than I wish I needed. It is very humbling to come to serve and to see how much others have to serve me, and I'm so thankful for them.
You can pray that God would show me where He wants me and help me to be confident to use the gifts that He's given me. He won't give me more than I can handle, so I have to trust that His plan for me will be doable. Also, you can pray that I will be a willing servant in whatever way He wants me to serve. I really want to the least so that Christ can be the greatest.

I will post some pictures once I get the chance to take them, which will happen soon.
Love from Bolivia!



I am in Bolivia! I will write more here later with, hopefully, a detailed update.


Bolivia...Here I come?

I will know whether I will be able to go to Bolivia probably by the 15th and definitely by the 17th. I will let you know when I know! If not, this blog may become Kayleen's adventures in Mexico! :)



Well, my family got a great surprise today! Heather called me on Saturday saying that she might get sent home because of the political rest in Bolivia, and that she wanted to surprise Mom and Dad if she did come home.
So, last night I drove to the airport with Amber Kargus, and we got to spend time with Ellen Warneke on the way! They we picked up Heather, went to spend the night at Ellen's, and drove home in the morning.
Man was my family surprised! She is only home for three weeks hopefully, so we'll see if things blow over down in Bolivia. Please pray that they will so that I can go! I really want to! Also pray that I would seek God's will for my decision if things aren't completely calm.


Bolivia Needs Prayer

The country of Bolivia is in a lot of turmoil right now. The quick background is that some of the states in Bolivia want autonomy from the national government, and in the last three weeks they have started seriously protesting.

About a week ago 8 (I think?) people were killed in a riot. Since then the total number of people killed due to the violence of the protests there has reached 30 if I understand the news right. It's really sad to hear about, and this news makes me worried about the missionaries that I know there.

Fortunately, the city that Heather lives in seems to be pretty calm. She is able to go about her ministry and just doesn't have gas for her car. The US government has pulled all of its non-emergency employees out of Bolivia and yesterday the peace corps left as well. Things may look bad, but i'm praying that it will blow over soon.

The exciting news is that, in faith, I bought my plane tickets yesterday!!!!!! I leave the US on October 21st!

Please pray for things to settle down quickly, and pray that these acts would cause the people of Bolivia to be more open to the gospel as they see the frailty of human life.

Thanks and have a great night!


Why I'm going to Bolivia-- Part Three!!

I'm sorry that this is getting so drawn out! I'm almost to the present, I promise!

Well, I was praying about how to spend my semester, and God laid Bolivia and also my home on my heart immediately. I emailed Heather to see if she could let me follow her around in Bolivia for awhile and maybe even do a language school, and she was pretty excited about that. Through more prayer and communication, I decided to head to Bolivia for the months of November and December and to stay home and help my grandma for the months of September and October. As the time for me to buy plane tickets is drawing near, it's looking more like I will be spending part of October in Bolivia as well because I'm very excited to go there!

I plan to arrive in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and spend a day or two recovering from the plane ride and just getting used to Bolivia again. Then I will take a bus with my sister to a city about 14 bus-ride hours away where I will take two weeks of language school (yay!). Hopefully this will help my Spanish enough that I will be able to confidently find my way around the city of Santa Cruz and have meaningful conversations. I'm a Spanish minor in school, so last time I went to Bolivia I felt like I was right on the brink of having both of these things.

After my language school I will head back to Bolivia and spend six or seven weeks helping out my sister in different orphanages and probably traveling to some orphanages by myself to work with the kids- maybe help older kids with their English homework or hold classes for the mentally disabled boys at Eben-Ezer. I'm so excited about this part of my ministry because I will be having that consistency that I talked about before with the kids and be a part of my sister's church, which is just a really cool thing.

Here I am in Bolivia at an orphanage. The kids love cameras! :)

So that kind of tells you where I'm at right now in terms of Bolivia. Right now I'm living at home, helping out my grandma as my job, spending time with family and friends, and taking some distance education credits through Northwestern.

You can definitely be praying for me as I prepare for Bolivia and while I'm there. I'll post more specific requests later. Have a great evening!



Bolivia- Why Am I Going? Part Two

As a quick review, reason one that I'm going back to Bolivia is to build some consistency with these kids. They have too many people who come into their lives once and then leave, so I'm trying to at least come into their lives two or three times.

How can I go back? I'm in school!
Well, God seems to definitely want me there. I had my Fall 2008 schedule all planned out and went to meet with my advisor last week to finalize the rest of my college schedule. It turned out that some of the classes that I was trying to get out of the way couldn't be taken care of until I took a summer program called SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics). That meant that I had 6-8 credits that I needed to take this fall to be able to graduate on time-- not enough to be a full-time student. I decided to get those credits taken care of by going to Spain to study abroad. I could fulfill my Spanish credits and a few other credits that I needed and experience a new culture and get really good at my Spanish. The plans for Spain came together in a few weeks, and by the time summer came my program was almost ready to be finalized.
I headed to Arrowhead Bible Camp where I was counseling all summer. As people shared their life stories during staff training, God kept bringing the fact that I was going to Spain back to my mind. I really wasn't satisfied with going to a place where I had no church body and where I had no plan for ministry. I kept on thinking of how if I went to Spain I would have a good time, but if I did something else I could be serving. I started praying a lot about whether I really wanted to go to Spain. I realized that I really didn't want to, and I think that God was glorified with my decision.
I was at Arrowhead Bible Camp with two months to plan for my semester, and that will have to be where we pick up next time.
Stay tuned for God moving my heart...


Wesley's baptism

Happy Monday!

I promise to write more about Bolivia very soon, but I just had to get a picture up of my nephew's baptism. I was asked to be the godmother/sponser of my four month-old nephew Wesley Aaron when he was baptized, and that was a really cool thing. I'm not used to babies being baptized, and I'm not sure that I agree with the doctrine behind it, but it was a really cool thing just to dedicate his life to Christ and to promise to bring him up in the Word-- God's truth. Here is a picture of the pastor, Shawn (his other uncle sponser/godfather), and me with Wesley in his shiny white tuxedo. :)

Also, he was smiley the whole church service. He's actually a pretty smiley baby in general. He almost made all of laugh with his goofy-happy expressions up at the baptismal font. What a cute guy.


Bolivia- Why Am I Going Back?

Since the main reason I'm writing in here is to talk about Bolivia, I thought that I'd start sharing some of my motivations for going. I spent the summer of 2007 in Bolivia with my big sister, Heather, who is a missionary there, and one other girl. I had a great time, but more importantly, I really started to connect with a lot of the kids there and especially with some of the young women who were my age in Heather's Bolivian church.

I need to back up a little. My sister works with orphanages in the city of Santa Cruz in Bolivia. She is a chiropractic care and provides care to about 12 orphanages there, and spends intentional relationship-building time with about three of the orphanages. Sam (the other girl who went) and I spent the majority of our time in Bolivia helping out at one of these orphanages which housed 13 mentally disabled boys. We worked with these boys on their regular schooling which was drawing shapes and learning colors for most of them, and one hour two days a week we did a special class with them. We were trying to teach the boys about praying for others and about the church as a body, so we taught them about Israel. They did a great job making crafts, but man were those hours trying times. 13 boys in a small room with only two of us to help with the "projects." These boys had ranges of ability and cognition from about 6 months to about 12 years. You can imagine the craziness. We got to know these boys so well, though, as well as some girls from a different orphanage.

Here is the group picture that we tried to take with the boys. They would not stay in the same place for long enough to take a very good picture. :)

Anyway, something that these kids experience all the time is people leaving them. First of all, they are orphans, so their parents have left them. Then, they constantly have workers and directors coming and going in the orphanges-- it's very hard work so I definitely understand, but it's still sad. On top of all this, there are many short term mission teams who come and make relationships with the kids and then leave. These teams do a lot of good in the homes, and the interaction that they have with the kids is good for them, but also hard. I went to be with them last summer for 10 weeks, which isn't exactly a short time, but neither did I really stay. I want to go back to put some consistency into their lives. Especially because I'm beginning to feel as though God might have some kind of more permanent place for me in Bolivia in missions, I want to form relationships.

This isn't all I want to say about why I'm going to Bolivia, but I need to collect the rest of my thoughts more, so I'm sure you'll see more soon. Thanks!


Yay Blogspot!

Welcome to my blog. I decided to start keeping an online journal of sorts for a few reasons.

1. I have a lot of time on my hands for the next month and a half.

2. I will be traveling to Bolivia and I always have people who like to stay updated on what I am doing. This will hopefully give those who want a more in-depth look at what I'm doing a chance to do that, while those who just want a quick review of my time can just read my email updates.

3. I'm not in school this semester and it actually feels good to write something that isn't for homework and that won't be proofread or critiqued for grammar or style-- although I do love grammar. :)

For those of you who will be reading this, thanks! May what I write be written for the glory of God and the edification of others.