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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cabanas a Tolavi

This past weekend, Josh took me to some cabins about half an hour from Cochabamba in celebration of Valentine's Day. The grounds are beautiful and it is a very quiet and relaxing place. We enjoyed the time alone (well, alone with Michaela) immensely. It was a much needed get-away from our homestay.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On the Move

Michaela’s favorite new past time is burning rubber with her walker. The Arcos have a beautiful shaded patio outside, and Michaela loves running around in her walker, chasing the dogs and cat. She is definitely on the move, as she can now pull up and cruise along furniture. We hope she’ll be crawling before too long!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

“Parte de la Familia”

We had only been with them a day, and yet at the market the father of our home-stay family introduced me as his “hijo” (son). Within a day we had gone from complete strangers to a part of the family. This simple phrase completely describes our relationship. We have been adopted into a Bolivian family and have experienced love, service, concern (and sometimes even invasion of privacy) just like any other member of the family.

In our family, the father does most of the cooking. Yes, this is abnormal for South America, but for Rolando, it is part of his nature. In his mind, meal time is for the whole family to be together, and it is his way to maintain connection with his loved ones. You could say “cooking for” is his love language and our family is loved every day with mostly agreeable meals. One special thing he does for me is to save a bowl of the noon-meal soup (which I’m unable to eat because I’m in class) for me to have with my dinner.

Our Bolivian mother helps Rolando in the kitchen, washes our clothes by hand, and somehow finds time to work in their leather shop as well. She has a sweet disposition and loves to engage in meaningful conversations. She and her daughter have especially fallen in love with Michaela. It is nice to have two who are so willing to take her at any moment: to sing to, dance with, or take outside.

We have been blessed to be welcomed into this family. Of course, we had our concerns at the beginning. Were we going to get along with them? Were they even trustworthy? Both of these anxieties have proved to be empty worries. Time after time they have tried to protect us “gringos” from getting taken advantage of. Just the other day, Eli returned 1000 Bs. to us (around $120) that I had hidden in a sock. Julie didn’t know about it and had thrown it in the wash. Though I was trying to be careful and avert temptation, our Bolivian mom assured us we have nothing to fear.

Lest I paint a picture too perfect, there have been definite challenges to our new family situation. The American side of us feels that we’ve been stripped of some of our personal independence and privacy. We might even go so far to say that these people are “overly enmeshed.” Julie and I have been given ample unsolicited parenting advice and financial suggestions (if they think we’ve spent to much on something). We have to lovingly bend with some things and set boundaries with others.

I don’t believe our experience is unique to just our family. As I’ve talked with the rest of the team, it basically typifies what all four of the families in home-stays have experienced. The very people, to whom we’ve come to give God’s love, have first shown us an incredible love and acceptance. We pray daily that our 24/7 witness and communication, though it often be in broken Spanish, will only further strengthen these bonds until they are founded in Christ.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Last weekend, our host family dad took us on an outing to a little town called Tarata, about 45 minutes away from Cochabamba. It was our first taste of the countryside around Cochabamba, and a myriad of images struck me as we traveled in a crowded micro (little bus): tall, slender eucalyptus trees; usually arid rolling hills turned green by the rain; small adobe villages; Quechua women in their full pleated skirts, braided hair, and broad-brimmed straw hats; babies tied on their backs in brightly colored mantas. Tarata itself is a historic colonial town that received its name from the multitude of tara trees found there. The fruit of the tara tree is used to cure leather. Tarata is best known for being the home of mad president Melgarejo in the 1800’s. It also has an ancient neoclassical church, and a Franciscan convent. We walked the narrow cobbled streets, visited the churches, and ate fried chorizo (pork sausage) at a little cafĂ©.

House Hunting

Lately, we have been in the throes of house hunting. This can be one of the most fun, and at the same time the most frustrating, experiences. I think that we have looked at close to 40 houses in the last 2 weeks, and have only found 3 that have been ones we have seriously considered. A pretty depressing percentage actually! But it’s fun finding the parts we like about each house. It’s getting the qualities all together that is sometimes a little difficult. Some of our wants include the following: in an area of town closer to our language school, a nice yard (i.e. larger than postcard size, hopefully with some nice vegetation), a hot water heater (none of these electric duchas – the typical way of heating water in Latin Amercia is to have water heated by running it through an electric heater, not the safest or most effective way to heat water in my opinion!), 4 rooms with closets (2 bedrooms, a guest room, and a study), a nice kitchen (i.c. clean and with cabinets), a living room and dining room that is big enough for small groups, a space for a washer/dryer, and hopefully a fireplace and a view (not to mention this house has to be within our budget). Needless to say, we’ve been hard customers to please. We’ve seen it all, from brand new with no yard, to a run down bizarrely painted house with a nicely shaded yard, and everything in between. We’ve been to about 5 different real estate agencies (one agency 6 times to see the same house, and we’ve never been able to see it), and been treated royally at some, and snubbed at others. We’ve driven all over the city in various taxis looking for these houses, scoured the paper every day to see if there are any new bargains out there, and prayed hard for wisdom. We even were shown one house by a real estate agent, and the renters returned while we were looking at the house and hadn’t even been informed that their house was up for rent! That was a pretty embarrassing situation. Regardless of all of the headache involved, our prayers have finally been answered. Praise God! We found a house that fits the bill! Below are some pictures of our new home, although we won’t be able to move in until the middle of March because of some painting and repair work that needs to be done.

The kitchen: The house was previously rented by American missionaries with the New Tribes missions. Because of that, it even has a built in spot for a microwave, a gas hook up for a dryer, and extra security.

Living room/dining room: The area is spacious enough for small groups, but not overwhelmingly big – and it has a fireplace!

Yard: The yard has several fruit trees including fig and lemon. It also has a great spot to put a swing. Not to mention a wonderful storage shed for Josh’s tools!

Patio and garage: The garage door has even been put on an electric remote, thanks to the previous renters as well.

A bedroom: The bedrooms all have wonderful built in closets. One of the things we like about this house is the amount of storage space.

A bathroom: Some of the houses we looked at didn’t have a bathtub, but this one does!

A view of the upper level overlooking the living room: This “balcony” gives the house a very open, spacious feel.

From the outside: Right outside our gate is a beautiful jacaranda tree. The wall is tall and reinforced with electric wiring. The house itself is situated in a very quiet neighborhood, with all types of housing. It is right near a university and directly across from a park containing a basketball court, a soccer field, and a playground. Our neighborhood is situated between 2 major streets which means that finding buses into the center of town will be very easy. In addition, several little tiendas (stores) are close by and we are only 6 blocks away from IC Norte, a nice supermarket.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Lift Up my Eyes to the Hills

Every day on our walk to and from school, we are surrounded by the incredible beauty of the mountains. Lately, Psalm 121 has been on my heart. With all the many changes in our lives, it is comforting to remember our omniscient God. We may lift up our eyes to the hills to find a moments repose from the business of life, but our true help comes from our God. This eternal rest is what we hope to bring, with the Spirit’s help, to the people of Cochabamba. Rather than lifting their eyes to the hill with the statue of Christ, they will be able to seek their true salvation in the everlasting presence of our Lord.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Funny Language Blooopers Made by our Team

1. Someone was talking about their sandalias (sandals) that were too big, and said sandias (watermelons) instead.
2. Someone asked for viruela (measles) instead of a ciruela (plum).
3. Someone was looking for a little clay owl for a birthday gift, and when trying to locate it in the market, asked if anyone had a bird with big hijos (sons) rather than ojos (eyes).
4. When talking about a payment made every mes (month), someone kept saying mesa (table) instead.
5. We were working with direct objects in class and someone was trying to say “I taste it [the fruit]” (Lo pruebo), but instead managed to say “Me pruebo” (I taste myself.)
**I’m sure more bloopers will be forthcoming.

More Ways You Know You’re in Cochabamba

1. You pass an average of 20 stray dogs on your 20 minute walk to school.
2. You go in for a pedicure, and they use a cheese grater to remove dead skin from your feet.
3. Almost every local plate has some form of egg included on it.
4. You find a house that interests you in the paper and go to the real estate agency 5 times – but still haven’t seen the house.
5. You get hit by a water balloon on your walk to the gym as a part of the Carnaval celebration.
**By the way, I really am LOVING Cochabamba. These are just funny cross cultural differences that I've noticed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I'm 9 months old!

January 30th marked Michaela’s 9 month birthday! We enjoy being her parents so much! She now has 2 teeth, is cruising, waving bye, talking a lot, and laughing even more. She loves the 4 dogs and 1 cat that share our homestay house with us. I think they will be her motivation to crawl. And I think she will be bilingual from her first words. She definitely is being exposed to a lot of Spanish! She is such a blessing from our Father. Having her has given me a greater insight into His great love for us!

Little People

Michaela has a fascination with little things. She loves little animals and most of all, other children. It has been so fun watching her and Jubilee Forbess play together and become friends. They slobber all over each others toys, grab each other, talk to each other, and lately try to play tag together (although Michaela can’t go anywhere even though she tries really hard). I can’t wait to see how their friendship will change in the years to come. I’m thankful for both Jubilee and Nathan, and pray that their friendships will be ones they cherish always – the way I cherish the friends I had on the mission field.

A Bolivian Baby Shower

The daughter of our host family is expecting a baby boy in March, which is exciting for me because that is the time my sister is due as well. It has been fun for me to watch her in the last stages of her pregnancy and imagine my sister going through those stages as well. We had a baby shower for Wendi, the daughter, last weekend. It is exciting being a part of family happenings like this – part of the advantage of being in a home stay program. We are able to participate in family events from the very beginning of our time here in Cochabamba – things like baby showers, weddings, baptisms etc. The baby shower was a lot of fun. It was a lot longer than in the States (from 4-8:30), but they had a sit down tea, games, and time to open gifts. We hope to participate in many more family events just like this, and learn more about the Cochabambino culture in the process.