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!