Thursday, July 26, 2012

Last Post

My experience on the InterVarsity Global Project in Bolivia was incredible. I love Bolivia. I definitely want to go back someday. Thank you to all my donors. You have made an incredible difference for the Kingdom, and I sincerely thank you for your generosity and humility in giving. What was so awesome to see in Bolivia was the way that many people from different ministries worked with each other. We had a friend from the campus ministry group with us at the Ayore girls camp, and we had a woman who worked at the camp to come the following week to a campus ministry event. Watching people go out of their way for the cause of Christ is...awesome! So inspiring and just reminds me of the unity of believers across the world. We visited several churches in poor communities, and in one of the churches we met the pastor. His name was Juan and his house was surrounded by pigs roaming about and mud, and his skin was weathered but his smile was a permanent symbol of joy and the calm of knowing Christ. He told us as we left that he sends his greetings to our churches. He told us to send greetings and to send word of what the ministries in Bolivia were doing, so that we could unite together, be encouraged, and pray for him, his church, the people of Bolivia, and the lost in the world. What a great reminder of what it means to be united in Christ with fellow believers. We all long to change the world through God's help. We long to bring His Kingdom. So, my church and fellow believers, Pastor Juan sends his greetings to you. Please pray that the Ayore people come to know Jesus as their Lord, and that He would change lives and hearts as people discover what the Gospel is and seek to live for Jesus. Pray that poverty and discomfort and sickness and destruction would not reign, but that God's goodness will fix what is broken in Bolivia. Pray for the girls at the camp who cried and hugged us at the end of the week. These girls are eager to learn more about Jesus and to lead a life worthy of Him. Please pray they would be strengthened and encouraged all of their days. Pray for them to be community-changers and world-changers. Pray for Jesus to reach their families and communities, so that they would be open to the healing, love, joy, and peace that He has for them. Pray for the ministries and churches in Bolivia who are serving the Lord, and who are serving the poor. Pray they would be strengthened and that God would supply ALL of their needs. Pray pray pray for these people. Please remember to pray for them. God is a God who listens and cares and ACTS. Pray for Him to work in Bolivia. It is so clear that we have a place in this world as God's hands and feet--literally! We are vessels of change and hope and love. Our fellow Bolivians send their greetings and plead for prayer. Remember to pray. Remember Bolivia. Thank you for reading. Thank you for loving me. I love you all dearly. This trip couldn't have happened without those who prayed and supported me in finances and encouragement. Thank you thank you thank you. God is so good. Thank you for letting me see this even more. Love, Alexis

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Ok so we were just spending some time worshipping and it was really good. While we worshipped we sang the song "Stronger." The song talks about how God is stronger and higher and better than all others. He is stronger. And during this worship time I just had such a clearer sense of the whole story of the bible. Here in Bolivia it's been difficult because the Ayore people are so poor and prostitution is such a huge way to earn money here and their homes are made of garbage and are surrounded by garbage, and we saw some of our Ayore girls begging on the side of the actually. And school costs money and healthcare is nonexistent for those without money and it's just so sad to know all of these facts about girls we care so much about. It's completely clear, and not just in Bolivia, that the world is messed up. So messed up. Terrible things happen and we hate it and at times we contribute and other times we blame God and wonder why He isn't doig anything. Often I feel like prayer doesn't do much since things are still terrible, but during this worship time it came so much clearer to me: the bible tells us why things are the way they are. God is good. He is so good. He created a good world. It was us who messed things up. Sin began with Adam and Eve and has continued and destroyed ever since. God doesn't sin, doesn't cause people to sin. People sin, and sin brings consequences and destruction. Consider adultery. Or lying. Or stealing. Or really anything that's bad. Sin hurts more people than just us. And so it just became so much clearer to me about why things are the way they are, and so it's so much clearer to me HOW MUCH we need a Savior. It's easy to feel overwhelmed about the world's problems and have no idea how to contribute. But God's whole plan is to redeem the world. REDEEM. Change people and groups and relationships and sadness and lonliness for the better. REDEEM. Make things back to the way they should be. Once we know God's plan for redemption, we want part of it. We want to make things better. But clearly we, the ones who messed it all up, cannot fix it all up on our own. We need the Lord. Boy do we need Him. So much clearer. The bible is a history book of things that have actually happened. It's all in there. God is good. We messed up. We need to be redeemed by the only one who can. Had to share this here. I wrote this the other day...sort of poetry...and it relates. Thirsty All are searching. Hunger search for food. Thirst search for water. Empty seeks fullness. To all who feel with stomachs empty or full there must be more. He provides. All broken seek the whole, but brokenness feeds brokenness and carves stomachs into empty vessels. Thirsting. Wanting. One (the Lord) mmade the whole. He created it full. He fills bellies with fullness. Hunger and thirsty for the Whole. Tomorrow is our last day in Bolivia and we head back on Monday. Sad. But happy to return. Love you all. Thank you for your prayers and support. PLease prayer for these Ayore girls, for justice to come to their lives. For hope and peace in their hearts. For God to REDEEM quickly. He will. Lovingly, Alexis

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Buen Dia

Ah finally get to update! There are so many details I want to share. So this past Sunday we got back to the guesthouse, and then left two days later to head to the campo, where we stayed at a home where Gather does a lot of its ministry. Too many things have gone by since I last updated, so let's do one thing at a time. El Campamento This is where the women in our team were at last week. The week was spent running a camp for preteens and teen girls from the Ayore community. Last week and this week it is the girls' winter break from school, and I'm so glad so many of them (48 girls came!) attended the camp. It was such a great time. At first the weather was beautiful and later in the week it got freezing and that was not a fun time. We had no heat and very cold showers and so...I didn't shower for approximately 4 days. Eh that's not that bad. I was sooooo thankful for a warm shower though. ok anyways, every day of the week had pretty much the same schedule: wake up at 6:30, head to morning devotional, then breakfast, then chores (all the leaders and girls had cleaning to do), then alabanza (praise and worship!), then grupos pequenos (small groups), then competitive sports games and crafts, then lunch, then free time, then another session of grupos pequenos, then more free time, then dinner, then more chores, then alabanza and performing bible stories, then bed. I was sooooo tired after the end of this week, but what a great week. The sad part about working with the Ayore people is knowing how they are viewed by their fellow Bolivians. They are not respected or loved, and I just can't imagine why. They are beautiful and I love them so much, so imagine how much greater Jesus loves them! Every leader had a different role during the campamento. We joined some beautiful Bolivian women leaders in running the camp. These women work with the Ayore year-round, and it's so great to see their love for these people as well. We also worked with Ayore women who were leaders in their communities. I apologize for the not-eloquentness of this. Ok anyway, from our team some ladies led the craft time. There were 4 of us who also did the teaching for the small groups. I was one of those! How beautiful it was to care for a group of 7 beautiful young ladies. In my group were Aracely, Marilin, Claudia, Yaquelin, Camila, Andreina, and Yina. During our teaching times we read a story from the bible (we studied the creation story, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the birth of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection), and then retold it in simpler language. After that one of the Ayore girls translated the story into Ayoreo for the younger girls so they could understand easier, since Ayoreo is their first language and Spanish is their second. There were certainly times when these young girls couldn't sit still and just wanted to chat. But there were other times during the lessons when everyone was silent listening to God's Word. And at the end of the day we put our dramatic talents to use by performing skits of the bible stories for the whole campamento. In all there were 8 small groups and 4 colors. I represented the color blue and very much enjoyed saying "Vamos azul!" Oh ok yes and let's talk about the food. So last year the cook of the camp tried making the food more nutritious for the girls, adding veggies and such. But they aren't used to eating these types of foods, and a lot of fresh veg were sadly wasted. That means that this year every meal was what the girls typically eat: chicken feet soup. At times there were noodles, and other times there was rice, to accompany the soup. But typically, there was chicken feet at every meal except breakfast. So, chicken feet. Oh. Chicken feet. So um...I did not enjoy the sight or taste of chicken feet. And what's more I was saddened by the fact that I learned that here in Bolivia only the lowest classes eat chicken feet, because they are the least expensive part of the chicken. One of the employees of Gather, Renato, said that he would never eat chicken feet. His mother used to cook it just for the dogs. Because as a food it's only for the low classes. This makes me sad, because I'm sure there's not much nutritional value in chicken feet. And for you who have never tried chicken feet, someone said that it is similar to very very thick pudding. Very difficult to chew. Hardly any meat. So, yeah that's the whole chicken feet thing. Ok what else. Many things. So let's move to our rest day. We got back from the camp on Sunday, and then rested on Monday. This was fabulous, but we were all exhausted. We also watched Legally Blonde which made me really happy cuz it reminded me of home. Then Tuesday we left to stay in the campo. This is where Gather has a model farm set up, and where there are communitites nearby that Gather works with. AND EVERYTHING I SAW THERE WAS RELATED TO PUBLIC HEALTH. y'all it was so cool. So Gather does this thing called "Community Health Evangelism," or CHE. The idea is to love and care for people by helpin them improve the health of the community--the physical health, while caring for the spiritual health. So Gather has a farm where families come stay for a couple years to learn how to farm and raise chickens and have smaller family gardens and find a way to make a living. We ate fresh peppers and lettuce and beets and gathered fresh eggs and my goodness it was beautiful. And more than that Gather drives hours to visit communities and build relationships, and do health workshops, and teach about sustainable living and health and Jesus. It's incredible to see. It's exactly what I studied in graduate school--community health! Gather's intentions are to teach how to fish and not give fish. It is the responsibilty of the communities to change their own communities, which is how it should be! So cool to see. Ok so then today we came back to Santa Cruz to visit the neighborhoods where some of the girls from the camp live. And oh my goodness y'all how special it is so see how God cares for people. These girls were so excited to see us in their community. And I recieved so many gifts from them--a necklace, two bracelets, two pairs of earrings, and two hand woven bags. Surely one of their love languages is gift-giving--and touch! We had so many hugs and smiles and oh it was lovely. I mean wow surely the poverty of the communities in which these girls live was hard to see. Really hard. But then how mighty it was to see that these people who are unloved by others, who are in the lowest class, are loved so much by the Lord. In the eyes of those who know the Lord, there is so much joy. So much. Impressive in the midst of so much poverty. I mean really these girls do not have much, yet they give gifts generously. What a great great day to see them. One of the girls, Angelica, wrote me a letter about how she appreciated me and thanked me and asked for prayers and said she would miss me. She is beautiful. I will keep her in my heart forever. I really really really want to come back someday to Bolivia, and especially see these girls again. Oh and I forgot! There was a little 3-year-old girl named Sarita at the campamento. She lived with her mother and grandparents nearby and longed for a playmate. And God knows that little children give me so much joy, so He sent this girl every single day to come search for me to play with her. She is so cute! I would be hanging with my Ayore girls and she would come running up with the hugest grin on her face. The other Bolivian women started calling her my hija (my daughter). She didn't want to leave me. And we played with toys and dolls and fed pretend babies and wrapped them in blankets and ran across the field of grass holding hands. Man oh man. How special the bond between me and Sarita. Can't wait to see her again and see who she grows up to be. And every time she did something cute and I laughed her grandparents laughed. They had beautiful smiles and loved that their granddaughter was loved. They had a very small house, with used and dirty clothes, toys, a small tv, a bedroom in the kitchen and just one other small room and ducks and chickens in the front yard. How precious were their smiles to me. Ok so that's a good update. There is so much more to share. But I am exhausted. Shall write more later. I love you all. Please pray God would guide me to whatever my future entails when I return to the states. Love you mucho mucho mucho. Loving Bolivia. Love, Alexis

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dia 3

Tomorrow morning we are headed to the camp where we will be spending the week with the Ayore girls and community leaders. We will not have internet until next Sunday, so I will not be updating this blog until we return to our main guest house in Santa Cruz. Today our team prepared the teaching and craft materials, and we are very excited for this coming week! I am very tired and need to sleep, so I will just write some prayer requests. Please pray! Pray for our week. Pray for safety in travel to and from the camp. Pray for the women who are going to the girls camp and the men who are going to the radio bible congress. Pray for health for our bodies. Pray that we don't get sick. Pray that when we are tired or weary or losing patience or feeling frustrated or anything else, that we would focus on God, because He is all sufficient and grants peace and wisdom to those who seek it. Please please above anything else pray for the girls and women that we will have contact with. Pray for our bible storying lessons, that the Truth about God would be evident and would enter into the hearts of all who listen. Pray that God gives us words to speak when we forget, and that he fixes any mistakes we make, whether they be cultural faux-pas (spelling? too tired to care...) or a mistake about what God's Word says. Please pray that these girls would see the hope and joy in following Jesus. Pray they would know Him. He is the Savior of the world. He is all powerful. He actually heals our brokenness. He created everything and will one day restore the justice that we as humans betrayed in our sinfulness. God is holy and good and can do nothing but good things. He has the power to rescue from death and give eternal life, and to change lives in this world for the better. One of the InterVarsity staff workers tonight asked us to think about how our lives would be different were it not for the Gospel. I almost started crying because I would certainly not be here in Bolivia if I didn't think God had the power to save. HE does. He is good. More good than I know. Please pray for this week, that God would be ever-present, and begin life-changing work in these girls. Thank you very much for reading and praying and caring and supporting me. There are no words to describe the gratitude in my heart for my Jesus and for you. All my love from Bolivia, Alexis.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dia 2

Hola! Today we visited one of the neighborhoods of the Ayore people. Some of these young ladies and community leaders who live here will be attending the camp that we are working at starting Sunday. It was a little difficult walking through the camp because of the povery we saw, the trash on the ground, and the trench that lines every walking space where people go to the bathroom/throw trash/etc. I'm ashamed to say that my initial response to this camp was "when are we leaving?" I didn't like the smell. I didn't like that I'm a white girl in the midst of this and can leave and go to a clean house. While we played volleyball with the kids, twice the ball ran away from us and fell into one of the trenches. As it approached all the kids were yelling, but then afterwards merely rinsed it in unfiltered water and resumed playing with the ball. It made our team sad to see the conditions in which these kids lived. What was so evident to me, however, was that God has so placed in my heart a desire to love children. There was a baby sitting on the ground crying, with snot running out of his nose. An older girl next to him was kicking him in an attempt to make him quiet. I wanted to pick them both up, get them clean, wipe their noses, and just hug them until they knew the hope and joy that Jesus has for them. Later tonight, our team leader discussed Luke 18:1-8, and encouraged us that God is good, and desires justice so much more than we do, and is quick to avenge the injustice we see, however it may not seem "quick" to us. This passage in Luke is about the persistent widow, who was rewarded for her persistence when she kept pleading for justice. God says that he is quick to give justice and desires for us to ALWAYS pray and ALWAYS plead. It can be so easy for us to give up. We want to solve all the problems the Ayore people have, but we can't. But we cannot give up helping or trying or praying or loving. We must do all these things and be faithful in what He has put in front of us to be faithful in. Please, friends, pray for the Ayore community. They can be thought of as similar to gypsies, who face discrimination and who can't get jobs and are true outsiders of the community, both because of their past reputation and their minority status. There are only about 5,000 Ayore people, and what we are doing here in Bolivia is assisting the ministries here helping the people get to know Jesus, and physically loving them and helping them as well. What we are NOT doing is telling them they should stop engaging in prostitutation; for most of them, because of the discrimination and oppression of their people group, have no other way of earning money. It would be highly inappropriate and ineffective to try to change their minds about prostitution as a legitimate occupation. Our team is deeply saddened by the thought that anyone would have to prostitute themselves to survive, and it is our desire that one day the Ayore would be self-sufficient in other occupations. The camp we are working at next week is a Christian camp where we will be telling stories out of the bible in an oral "storying" version, as the Ayore people have an oral history, and learn well when told stories. I cannot wait to get started with this and to interact with the girls and pray continually for them. No one deserves to live next to a trench of urine and feces. No one deserves to experience the oppression and hopelessness these girls feel. Please PLEASE pray for the Ayore community. Pray for open hearts, and open minds,and understanding, and that they would experience love, that one day they would have peace. A doctor who works with them said that high blood pressure is extremely common among the Ayore, and she thinks it's because of the intense stress that they feel everyday. Please pray for peace for them. Thanks for reading and praying. It means so much to me. And now, here are 10 of the beautiful gifts God gave me today: 1) delicious breakfast of potatoes, chorizo, and egggs. 2) the green tablecloths on the tables in our guest house that have llamas on them and remind me of Emperor's New Groove. 3) Psalm 34. 4) Hearing out of the bible about God, and just knowing in my heart that what the bible says is so true. 5) Frosted Flakes in spanish are Zucaritas (i think)...we went to a store to get snackies. 6) trying Bolivian candy. 7) hearing Todd say all the different versions of "I said-a-boom-chicka-boom"....por ejemplo, "I say a broom-sweepa-broom." It's pretty funny. 8) Knowing that there is always hope in Christ. He promises to one day make all things new, to restore justice, to lift up the brokenhearted, to make a new earth with new bodies for us. 9) getting hugs from my new Bolivian friends. 10) meeting some of the Ayore women leaders--they are beautiful! Gracias por escucharme. Pray for these weeks and the Ayore. Gracias a Dios por todo. Love, Alexis

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 1

Hola! I'm loving it here in Bolivia. This morning the team sat down after breakfast for a trip orientation, and talked about ministering across cultures and discussed how we dealt with conflict and difference. Our trip director, Matt Grimm, made an important comment about how when something is different, it is inherent in us to assign "negative" to it. Wherever you are, you can come into conflict with others or just begin to judge because of differences between you and another person. Especially in a country that is foreign to you, you can look at something and think it's not the way things should be done. I'm rambling, but this was an important concept for me to think about, how I react to new thigns. So far things have been great. Can't wait to meet more Bolivians! Also this morning we studied Psalm 67, which is about how God's intent is for "all the nations" to praise Him and know Him. There are so many different people groups in Bolivia, and so far we have been able to meet many Christians, and their love for God and their actions is so beautiful to see. I am very tired ahora, so am not writing prettily, so forgive me. But today was a good day. We exchanged money (tenemos bolivianos ahora!) and visited a market, and did the Lifehouse "Everything" skit with a christian group on campus here at a university. Then we went to dinner and ate delicious bolivian food, with fried cassava which is muy delicioso. After dinner I giggled uncontrorllably in the car with my new friend Christy as we played with the kids sitting in the "back seat." The kids belong to one of the staff workers of the GATHER ministry here in Santa Cruz. They are adorrrrabllle!! Now we are all taking showers and heading to bed. Tomorrow we will be meeting the leaders of the Ayore people group that we will be working with. I am excited! Also, for my personal records and for people who want a shortened version of what happens every day, I'm going to share a list of 10 gifts that filled my heart with joy today: 1. at breakfast, there was a tray of cut up bananas. they were mini and it was cute. 2. giggling with Christy and the kids. soooooooo funnnn...soooo much joy :) 3. the yuca frita that i ate at dinner. sencilla y rica. 4. the weather is gorgeous! it was 70s today i believe? and the sky was a beautiful blue and the clouds were pretty and the wind felt so good. 5. all my new friends that I've met 6. the limonada that we drank during dinner. had ten thousand cups of it... 7. the smell of sunscreen :) 8. having a cozy bed to sleep in (which we wont have next week as we stay in the camp) 9. Bolivians :) 10. THE LORD. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. All for now! Ciao Ciao! Love, Alexis

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Bolivia!

Estamos en Bolivia ahora! We traveled for about 24 hours and got little sleep but we are all so excited for this trip! Our team consists of 10 students and InterVarsity staff. They are all very cool. And we are so very tired. We will be eating a delicious dinner soon and then will probably head to bed early. Gracias a Dios por protegernos. Thank you all for your support and prayers. Can't wait to see what God has in store for this trip :) Love, Alexis