Friday, October 31, 2008

Pidgeons landing on my head...and more

We are still in La Paz, and there is definitely a lot to see, do, and think about. We ventured out today and yesterday. Yesterday I took the kids on a little walk downtown and we came across a plaza surrounded by governmental buildings, I think. The plaza held all the entertainment though, as there were thousands of pidgeons waiting to be fed. So, of course, we bought corn and fed them! Before I even opened the package, one landed right on my head! We were covered in pidgeons, the plaza had thousands of them! T.J. had at least four on each arm at one point! And to think in Sucre two years ago I spent so much time trying to catch one!
I am really enjoying all of the kids. I love the Bolivians, too, but it is frustrating not to be able to understand very much of what they are saying. They have been SO kind and welcoming. We are relearning the customs here. Bolivians are much more polite in their greetings than I ever have been. Today we had lunch at a lovely family's house. We went swimming and played in their amazing gardens. Before that we played at a skate park! I never would have guessed. It was a lot of fun to be with the four Kraft kids and the four Bolivian children that we have been with. Two of those kids will live at the school with us in Caranavi. I am so glad. I love that family already.
I have seen so much beauty here. There is of course the beauty of La Paz. I can't describe it better than to say that it is like living inside the Grand Canyon. The colors are beautiful, red and white cliffs dotted with homes. If you look up, you see homes where in the Midwest you would simply see sky. Then there is the beauty of the people. Life is so busy here. But it isn't exactly life that's busy, it is more that people are out experiencing it together. The familiarity of this place comes not just from having been in La Paz before, but from the familiar touch of cheeks as we greet each other, familiar smells (though I can't prove this, I will argue that La Paz has a smell and I haven't smelled it for a year and a half. I KNOW this smell!), familiar sounds of Spanish greetings, and familiar sights of colorful buildings, typical dress of the Bolivian women. I am glad to be here. I have so much to learn.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We made it! I have officially been in Bolivia for 15 hours. I have had many thoughts and many blessings. It has been wonderful to be with the Krafts again, to get to know each of them a little better. I can't wait to see how the relationships evolve. We are staying with a family in La Paz for a few days. The family has been amazing. I have enjoyed just being with them. We are well fed and well cared for. We are currently in the same time zone as the US' eastern time zone. After the US' time change, we will be two hours ahead of central time instead of just one.
I am so glad to finally be here. I was so blessed by small interactions throughout the whole trip. Everything went smoothly except that I don't have my luggage yet. I am hoping to get it tomorrow or within the week.
In some ways it feels like I am setting out on a grand adventure, but in some ways it feels like I am returning home. I simply got out of my parents' car and left my cell phone behind. I got on a plane and left my parents behind. I got on another plane and left my country behind. I fell asleep and woke up in Bolivia. Crazy. And yet, just one foot after another. My Spanish skills still need a lot of work, but it has been easier than I expected. No one at the house seems to mind that I only understand part of what they are saying and don't have much to say in response! However, the family we are staying with is one I would love to get to know better. Each one has a beautiful story. We will be in La Paz for a few days and then we are headed to Caranavi. We will be there indefinitely. I can't wait to get started with the schoolwork, to be in Caranavi and start getting familiar with the area, the people, the life.
As I was leaving, I was super nervous. I couldn't explain why, and I couldn't reason it away. On the plane, I opened my Bible to Psalm 23, but my eyes jumped right over to Psalm 27. The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? (v1) It continues, and I was so blessed by that chapter. My stomach stopped churning and there was peace. What do I have to fear? Nothing and no one! God is in control, and that is beyond my understanding. I know that I have much to learn this year, and it promises to be challenging, sure, but oh, what a blessing.
God's peace. Whom shall we fear?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Square One

So here it is. Finally. The much anticipated and much procrastinated blog. I have created this for a number of reasons. First, as a way for people to keep up with me. Many people have expressed interest, and for that, I thank you. I also hope that it will be a chance for me to get into the routine of writing again. Most importantly, I hope that as you read it, you will be praying for God’s will to be done, his love to be shared, for each individual person that we come into contact with, for the Kraft family, and for me.

I am realizing that not everyone knows what I am doing, so I want to explain what I can. When I was in Bolivia with Kindred in March and April of 2007, we worked with the Kraft family for three weeks in their mission in Caranavi, Bolivia. I really enjoyed my time in Bolivia, and felt called to be there working among the wonderful Bolivian people. As we were leaving Bolivia, I knew that I wanted to come back as soon as I could. I emailed the Kraft family, and they were looking to go a new route in their ministry. This new route would be much more mobile, and they would need a teacher to work with their four children. So we prayed about this partnership, and we continued to pray, and some months passed and we were still praying. God gave me great peace about doing this ministry, working with the kids as their teacher and also working alongside the parents with their ministry. So I said yes!

So who is this Kraft family and what is their ministry?

Nick and Shannon are the parents, and they have done ministry with World Mission Prayer League (WMPL) for a long time, serving first in Chiclayo, Peru, and then in Caranavi, Bolivia. Madison is their oldest, at 12. Then comes T.J. at 11. Moises is 8, and Tucker is 5. (The kids are the same ages as four of the five kids I lived with this last year…crazy…) I will be guiding them through a home school curriculum that addresses all of the subjects they need to be learning at their various school levels. Everyone in the family is bilingual, and we will be doing much of the schooling in English at first, since I don’t really know Spanish, but hopefully I will soon be able to use both Spanish and English.

As far as the ministry goes, there is so much potential. I am eager to see what God does through the availability and eagerness of the Krafts. They are going to be teaching at a school for part of the year. This school is somewhat like a seminary, geared at helping Christians become more trained in their faith and in sharing their faith, but when the students leave they aren’t pastors. We will be at this school in Caranavi for 2.5 months, twice a year. For the other parts of the year, we will be traveling and working with churches and communities that invite the Krafts to come and partner with them or help them in specific areas. In some places, that might mean working with the church to reach out to the family unit, it could be leading retreats, it might be training missionaries, it could be a lot of things. We have been invited to a number of places, and are open to whatever it is that God may want to be doing.

Answers to other questions that have been asked:
I don't know if I will have an address. Probably. I will let you know it if you need it. Facebook and email are the best ways to get ahold of me. I also hope to have a Skype account soon.

I don't know exactly what my living arrangements will be, but I do know that they will change as we move around. I am not worried about it. I will have a pack and a guitar. Maybe sometimes I will have my own room, and maybe sometimes I will sleep out under the stars.

My needs will be taken care of by the Kraft family. They are under World Mission Prayer League, and that is our safety net of sorts. I am not worried about it!

Yes, Bolivia has had some rough political issues with the United States in the past few months. I don't know all the details, but I do know that WMPL has staff there right now keeping us updated, and the Krafts also have many friends there that are keeping them updated. God is in control, and we are trusting him.

Our flights to Bolivia are scheduled for October 28. I will be meeting the Krafts in Miami and we are flying together. They have been in the United States since March doing various home assignments.

In addition to teaching, I hope to work with the community children in whatever capacity God provides. Please pray for opportunities to arise!

Other prayer requests:
Spanish! I don’t know much, and I anticipate that I might be pretty overwhelmed at first! Please pray that I learn quickly and have a great attitude about it!

Teaching! I have been in the classroom with kids, and I have worked one on one with kids, but I have never worked with home school curriculums and I am not yet familiar with the specific strengths and weaknesses of the Kraft kids. Please pray for wisdom, insight, and sensitivity as I jump into the picture and we work without a net (while that is a common cliché, I also won’t have the internet readily available for learning more about subjects, teaching tricks, etc.).

A strong team! I have worked with teams before, but not in the family sense. I have worked with families before, but not in the team sense. Please pray that God allows a smooth transition, open and good communication, and that his will is our main priority.