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. :)