Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thank you God for Teammates!

We are so thankful to be here as part of a team. Sure there are little things about working together that can be difficult, but the variety of gifts and personalities on our team is a wonderful blessing from God. In the midst of a new language and a new culture, it is comforting to find fellowship in the presence of our teammates. Those of us with children are especially grateful for the love shown to our little ones. We greatly appreciate the "baby-sitting services" that everyone cheerfully contributes (although we try not to take advantage of them too much). Those of us with kids are now starting a "date night" rotation, so we can get out with our spouse a little bit. Thank you God for teammates!

A Day in the Life of the Marcums

I wake up about 6, in time to jump rope and shower. About 7:30, we eat breakfast with our host family, consisting usually of a variety of bread and coffee. Then I grab my bag and make the 20 minute walk to our language school. My classes last from 8:00-11:30, with a coffee break in the middle. Meanwhile, Josh gets Michaela up, fed, and plays with her until she’s ready for a nap. By the time she wakes up, it’s time for them to make the walk to Maryknoll (or catch a micro bus if they’re a little late). We trade Michaela off between classes. I check email, and then Michaela and I head home for lunch, an afternoon nap, and some study time. Josh’s classes last from 11:40-3:30. He eats his sack lunch during his break time, and checks email too. He walks home after class. We study some more in the afternoon, or possibly go shopping, or to the gym, or to run errands, or meet with our team. We eat dinner with our host family usually about 7:00, which usually consists of some kind of rice or potatoes with meat. Then it’s time for Michaela’s bath and bedtime! Josh and I steal some more reading time, or just time together, and then it’s time for bed until the next day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Getting to Know Cochabamba

Much of the last week has been spent getting to know the city of Cochabamba a little better. We’ve been figuring out how to ride the bus systems and where the best grocery store is located. Thanks to the orientation at Maryknoll, this has been made a lot easier. They distributed a tour guide displaying the different bus routes, were able to recommend a gym and grocery store, and even hosted a city tour. We visited several historic churches, a Christian bookstore, the post office, and of course the statue of Jesus which is the landmark of Cochabamba. For lunch, they took us to a beautiful Catholic retreat center in Tiquipaya, about a 20 minute drive from the north part of the city. It was a beautiful and peaceful spot with spectacular gardens, a stream, cabins with fireplaces, a swimming pool, and a large meeting hall. It was a lovely escape from the business of the city. I think we will be frequent visitors there.

You Know You're in Cochabamba When....

1)You have to pay for toilet paper in a public bathroom.
2) You can’t flush your toilet paper.
3) You have to leave your purse in a locker before you can enter the grocery store.
4) When you drive, the “right of way” belongs to the first person in the intersection.
5) To find everything you need, you have to walk to 5 different stores within a 10 block radius.
6) You’re clothes are stiff from being line dried.
7) You’ve bought 5 different converters/ power strips because you keep blowing them.
8) Store clerks can’t understand why you would want a lined notebook when they have perfectly good notebooks with graph paper.
9) You’re nose is continually clogged from the dust and fumes, and the tissues smell like methanol.
10) You have to be sure to ask for your water “without gas!”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Meet our Homestay Family!

On Saturday, we moved from our hotel to our temporary home with Rolando and Elli Arcos. They have a pleasant home in a quiet neighborhood near our language school and we will be living with them for the next 6 weeks, learning the culture and practicing our Spanish. They have a beautiful garden filled with fruit trees and flowers, 4 dogs, 4 puppies, and a cat! Right now, we have a room and Michaela has a room (although this may change when their daughter who lives in Italy comes to stay for a few months) and we share the only bathroom in the house.

We have eaten a lot of wonderful Bolivian food since arriving here, including llama meat and papaya soup! Speaking some Spanish has been a great help as we have been able to converse about Bolivian culture. One thing we learned is that Bolivians have no qualms in decorating for Christmas! Our host family has the largest and most elaborate nativity scene that I have ever laid eyes on! It takes up half their living room, took two days to construct, and is complete with a waterfall and twinkling stars!

Welcome to Cochabamba!

Our first few days in Cochabamba were very relaxing. We spent the majority of our time recuperating from our miserable flight, and adjusting to the altitude of 9,000 feet. We stayed in the Hotel Regina, which had comfortable suites complete with kitchenette. We had a beautiful view of the city from the eighth floor.

It is very green here as it has been raining every day! But the temperature is pleasant and we are enjoying walking and being outside so much. Michaela is especially enjoying the fact that she doesn’t have to ride in a carseat anymore, but spends here time riding in her sling, her stroller, or on our laps in buses and taxis. The flowers and the mountains are magnificent, and I enjoyed watching the rain clouds drift down from the hills from our eighth story window. We also enjoyed sampling a variety of different restaurants in the area, including the Cochabambino version of the Olive Garden! MMMM!

Up, Up and Away!

We packed for what seemed like days, probably because that’s what happened. Michaela kept wondering why all of her toys kept disappearing, until even her bed and her feeding seat were packed inside a trunk. She helped (or not!) by hanging out in her Johnny Jump-Up, and even sometimes inside the suitcases themselves!

We left Brownwood on Monday morning and made the long drive to Dallas where we caught our flight to Miami. Unfortunately, Michaela started cutting another tooth the night before we left Brownwood. She had an extremely uncomfortable night, and a miserable day on the airplane. She threw up all over me on our first flight! Luckily, this missionary kid was prepared with extra changes of clothes for both of us!

In Miami, we met our coworkers/friends/mentors, Jim and Kathryn Holway, and their daughter Sarah in the airport. It was good visiting with them. And then we boarded our night flight for Cochabamba. Michaela slept in increments of 30 minutes no matter what we tried! Needless to say, we arrived very tired in Cochabamba the next morning. We collected 5 of our 7 bags (at least it was a majority!), and headed to our hotel (via the wrong hotel first)! When we finally arrived, that bed never felt better.

Send Off Sunday

Our send off Sunday on Jan. 9th was an encouraging and uplifting day, as well as a little sad. We were honored and surprised by a few very special guests that came to show their support. My best friend, Rachel Barnacle, and her mom, Laura Reppart, who were missionaries with my family in Kenya, were able to spend Friday and Saturday nights with us before the send off. Rachel and I had a lot of fun remembering “the good times” and they both helped immensely with the last minute packing of our suitcases.

Van and Mary Ann Harrold from Wichita, KS, came down to see us off as well. Their family has known Josh’s for years and they have been loyal friends and supporters of ours as well. We are so grateful for their friendship, for all the Pampered Chef goodies that Mary Ann has given to us, and for Van’s continual advice and work with our finances.

Our last surprise was the Lopez family, Jenny and their 3 kids, who came from Dallas for the morning service. Jenny and Saul knew Josh in Ecuador and it was wonderful having them there, representing in a way the love and support of Josh’s Ecuadorian family and friends.

Our send-off was complete with vows by us and the church body, prayer and the laying on of hands, and an excellent dinner of brisket along with a power point highlighting the history of our team and elements of our strategy. We are so thankful to have not only the congregations of Austin Ave, and Livonia behind us, but the love, prayers and financial support of so many of our friends and family. We could not be here without you, and we thank God for your lives!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Tearful Goodbyes

We have 3 days until we leave the country. Our last few days have been spent traveling back to Brownwood (a long grueling drive made worse by the fact that both of us got food poisoning and Michaela got her first tooth), wrapping up last minute business transactions, and packing and more packing. A big part of our packing was preparing our stuff for our container. The guys on the team worked hard getting the boxes for all five families to fit!

We said our tearful goodbyes to my family in Michigan. We're so thankful for the time we were able to spend with them. It was really difficult saying goodbye, but God has confirmed us in every step of our decision and so we are at peace in the midst of our sadness, excitement, and nervousness.

Now, we are waiting for our send off Sunday at Austin Ave. We are grateful to have such a supporting church, one that sends us off with all the love and prayers they can muster.

We ask that you remember us in your prayers too! We will do our best to keep up with email and our blog, although our access may be a little bit more sporadic.