Coming Home

The following is semi-stream-of-consciousness writing about my transition.  It's written more for me than for people who read my blog, but posted for posterity.  

It's 11:17 p.m.  My nieces are spending a few days with us and want to sleep with Auntie Kayleen, but I was watching movies with friends and didn't get home until 10:45.  I just lay between them holding their hands until they fell asleep, but I won't let myself sleep until I set aside some time to process being back here.  Process having two little seven year-olds always wanting to play with me and hold my hand.  Process shopping malls and English-speaking friends and dishwashers.  My world in Bolivia was not living in a mud hut with no outside communication.  I had friends who spoke English, I could shop at supermarkets, I even ate Pringles.  But life is different here.  There are different expectations, different priorities.  

Today at church was hard.  As I walked up to the door with my mom, she greeted the girl holding the door for us, but only by saying hi.  I was actually startled by the fact that there was no hug and kiss like is traditional in Bolivian culture.  Lots of people gave me hugs when I came in  because I was home for the first time in ten months, but it was different from hugs in Bolivia, which are all about finding out how you are and just letting you know you're loved.  Hugs in Fall Creek are wonderful, because they say "You've been gone a long time and we've missed you," but they are different.

Also, tonight I hung out for the first time with non-missionary, non-Bolivian friends.  I was a  little nervous on the way there.  They are friends that I haven't known for a long time, and I worried that I wouldn't be aware enough of pop culture or even of how to be a friend in a North American setting to fit in.  Things were fine in our meal and movie, but I was very quiet, observing a lot more than I talked.  

There is no doubt that I miss Bolivia.  I miss my friends there, the work I had there, the tranquila culture, but I am glad to be here, too.  I start my exciting new adventure soon, and I'm ready to start looking for jobs and a place to live.  I'm ready to renew some friendships here.  I'm ready to serve Christ in a new way again.  I just pray for strength for the task and trust in God's faithfulness.

Song I've been loving my Matt Redman- Never Once

Kneeling on this battle ground 
Seeing just how much You've done 
Knowing every victory 
Is Your power in us 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful


Highlights- Week 6

Ok, so this post is a little late, too, but after getting back on Saturday, I have had nonstop goodbyes until last night when I climbed the stairs of Viru-Viru and said goodbye to very dear friends.  One year since I left (with one quick trip in-between), I set foot on US soil this morning and heard, "Welcome back," from the customs officer in Miami.  

However, in between helping host a team of 21 and saying goodbyes I escaped to the city of La Paz to be a tourist in Bolivia and see the beauty that this country that stole my heart has to offer.  It was SO good for me to take a step away from the city where I've lived for a year before flying back to my home country.  I think some of my pictures should show why it was healing in some ways.

This is the only picture of all of us that we took.  From left: Andy, Esther, Yenny, me, and Daniel in Los Yungas biking down the road of death.  Yenny and Daniel left after two days.
Here we are in front of the presidential buildling in La Paz.  Evo really is in the building behind us!
Beautiful Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon)

Shadows in the valley


Highlights- Week 5 (one week late)

I arrived safely home from La Paz this morning, and just as promised, I will fill you in on the second half of the Arrowhead team's time here. 

I went for a goodbye meal with Samantha, who has served here with me for five months.

The team finished working and debriefed with ice cream.  Yum!

I will miss my big sister!

Orange chaco picture that I really liked and had to include.


Huge highlight!  Abby (who has sent me care packages before) sent me one in March that I just got now.  Hello crasins!  Hello deliciousness!  She also sent the shirt that I'm wearing in various pictures.

Then I had to say goodbye to friends I have grown close to.

:(  Had to go back to dentist's office for work on my root canal.  :(


Wait for me

I am leaving for LaPaz in a few minutes!  No time to post pictures, so wait for next week for highlights of two weeks.  Think on this: Proverbs 4:25-27


Highlights- Week 4

It really is crazy to think that I only have two more weeks of Bolivia goodness to post after this update.  I don't think that I will really be able to sit down and put into words all that God has been doing here in the last four weeks until I have some time to sit and think.  For now, life is going at full speed.  The Arrowhead team is doing a great job here, and I have taken a morning off to quickly get many errands run and tasks done.  Here are a few pictures of the last week to keep you updated, along with a few highlights I don't want to forget.

The team arrived late Sunday night, so while they were sleeping Monday morning I sneaked out to have coffee with my church friends.  I will miss them so much!  They have let me be one of them even though I'm not, and their love has helped me make it through this year.  I will miss them!

I will get to go to La Paz with these wonderful ladies.

Since the team came, we've been plunging toilets...

...playing with cute kids...

....saying goodbyes to kids I've gotten close to

...being goofy...

...and working REALLY hard to give them a better place to live (these pictures were taken at two different orphanages, even though we're mainly working at Cristo Viene)
Other highlights of the last week:
- Running errands for the team often, which I love.    
- Running errands with Ellen, who I love.
- Watching and helping high school boys dig a giant trench with joy and a heart of worship
- Having good talks with so many of the team members here. I am emotionally exhausted and restored at the same time.
- Serving mate, a traditional drink, for the first time to team members.

Look forward to highlights with the team this Saturday and a trip to La Paz with North Americans and Bolivians the week after.  

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
-Psalm 86:11-13


Highlights- Week 3

Ok, so it's Wednesday and I haven't updated yet.  This will probably be my only post this week because having teams is CRAZY!  So, here are pictures with labels:

I stayed in my first hostel in a mountain town not far from my city.  It was very cute!

View of the city from a beautiful garden!

Tea that was part of a delicious meal at same garden

Cute and FREEZING breakfast at cute hostel.

We went to a refuge for abandoned animals and had monkeys sit on us!

I took a picture with a pig because the monkeys weren't behaving.  :)

For the US Independence Day we had a North American celebration with brats!

Then I tried my hand at making Bolivian food for a special goodbye service that the church had for me and one other boy who was leaving.  This is the beginning of Sonzo, which is a Bolivian appetizer with yuca and cheese.

This is the worship team I have been a part of all year!  I will miss these wonderful people!

People came up front and said words of encouragement (the way I am most loved!) to Steven and I.  I was very blessed by this time.
So, overall, last week was the calm in-between the storms.  I rested, I enjoyed time with friends, and I was able to begin ending my time here well.  

This week things are crazy, but God is being very good to me.