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

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