Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sleeping in a Landslide

Lesson Learned: sometimes when you wish for guard rails, they appear in ways you don't expect.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, celebrated with almost all of the missionaries in Caranavi. Some are from the United States, some are from other parts of Bolivia, and many are children that know both cultures. We had some Bolivian dishes and a lot of my favorite dishes from the States. It was a great time of fellowship.

On Friday morning, we woke up early, but not to join the masses that were shopping (that doesn't happen here except on market day once or twice a week). We woke up at 3:30 am to go to La Paz. The Krafts are leading a retreat here in La Paz and I needed to add pages to my passport so my visa would fit. There was a huge storm in the night, that ended just as we were waking up. The huge storm wasn't so kind to the landscape, though, and before we drove even a quarter of the way to La Paz, we encountered a landslide. Well, we encountered a line of cars, actually, not the landslide itself. We were waiting for the tractor to come and clear the road, and what else do you do at 5 in the morning but fall asleep while you wait? We were all sleeping, and all of a sudden a group of men came running at our car. My first thought (I was sleeping, remember) was that they were a soccer team exercising. My next thought was, "what is that noise in the grass?" That noise in the grass is a huge rock falling at us! When I say huge, I only mean the size of my head, don't worry mom. Our driver was sleeping with his head on the window near the seat belt, and the rock hit the car just under the side mirror. God was really watching us, as the rock didn't break anything, it just dented the door. If it had broken the window, the driver's head would have been pretty hurt. After we got over the shock of waking up to a rock, we moved the car and started watching the situation. What bothered me was that we weren't doing anything about the situation. Daylight had broken, and all we are doing is watching a pile of rocks! As I had never been in this situation, I was waiting to see what would happen. Finally, some men started throwing rocks over the side of the hill toward the river and a man went to work on the mud with his shovel (we should always have a shovel in our car, I guess!). The tractor around the corner was broken, so we were waiting for a different one. The man with the shovel wanted to hurry on with his day, though, so he took his four wheel drive car and went through the mud and over the rocks. Two things dawned on me as I watched a few more rocks fall: 1) that wasn't a soccer team, they were running from more falling rocks, and 2) we, too, were going to have to drive over this spot eventually. So as car number 5 or 6 charges through and over the landslide, I see the tractor charging through! Here they come to save the day! The tractor had things cleared up in about a half hour, and as he pushed the rocks around, he ended up creating that coveted guardrail! Yes!

We made it safely to La Paz, we added pages into my passport with no problems (thanks nice embassy people!) and I have can stay in Bolivia!

It has already been a month that we have been here, two weeks in La Paz and more than two weeks in Caranavi. I am getting used to the life here. It is a bit different than the States, but life goes on and new normals are found. La Paz, I'll be back in two weeks to sing in a concert for the Casa de Esperanza. I can't wait to see you again!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pictures from Caranavi

This is Caranavi, a zoomed in view from our house. The green patch you can kind of see in the middle of the town is the big soccer field. The blur of white is a cloud that our house sits way above. It is cool to see clouds and birds so far below us.
Sunsets here are almost always great.

The view from the other side of our property.

Caranavi closer.

This is one of my favorite pics.

Home in Caranavi

Here are some pictures from our house in Caranavi. This is my room. The sink doesn't work, but I do have a working bathroom that you can kind of see!
Notice the electrical plugs up high on the wall.

Yes, this is my view. A wall of red dirt and grassy plants. I am glad to be able to see the light of day. Behind my room is a walkway to the laundry sink.

These are stairs up to some other buildings on the property. I think they are cool.

This is the back side of our house. Or rather, our house is on the backside of this building. The room you can see is the schoolroom, and in between are at least three other rooms.

Pictures from Death Road

If this is what death looks like, bring it on! Actually, I was taking these pictures on the safe part of Death Road, and the less safe part really didn't seem so bad in the car we were in. Don't worry mom! There is a part of the drive that Moises calls "the white part" where the clouds surround you, even more than in the picture you see. They come up from the canyon and it is so cool because on the times I have been there, the road is completely clear, so you don't feel like you are in danger, but you can only see cloud! There are also a number of waterfalls that come down the crevices of the mountains. It is really gorgeous.

Pictures from La Paz


This is La Paz, home sweet home for the first two weeks. The house you see is the house where we lived for two weeks. We are living with Mauricio and Andrea here in Caranavi. This is Mauricio's mother's house in La Paz. My room is the window on the left, kind of behind the pole. There is a cool garden right behind the wall.

The other pictures are La Paz. I took the two city scapes pictures from a great park near downtown. I love the town, and the way that it is set up, you often have this view or a similar one as you wind around the streets that lead you into downtown. Notice, however, in the vertical picture, how different the landscape is in the bottom of the picture. It seems there is a mixture, the wealthy living among the poor, the poor living among the wealthy. That happens in many cities, I know.
The mountain picture shows Illimani, the mountain that sits above La Paz. You can't often see it due to clouds.
The people you see are Mauricio's mother, whom we stayed with, and Marielle's family. Marielle is Mauricio's sister. They came over to the house almost every day. They were wonderful friends.
Here ends my pictures from La Paz. Stay tuned for Caranavi!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Declaration of Appreciation

Guard rails: I appreciate you. In fact, I appreciate you so much that I think EVERY road should have you. You are good and I want you close to me on any mountainside. But not TOO close. I prefer to see you from a safe distance.

Taxi drivers: I appreciate you. I am so glad I don't have to navigate these roads. Please keep up the good work.

Sinks with washboards built in: I appreciate you. You make doing laundry by hand a little bit easier.

Katie's Ipod": I appreciate you. You sing to me in English. You have almost all of my favorite songs. You block out unwanted sound and fill my ears with happy music. I think you might be my favorite possession.

Skype: I love you almost as though you were a real person. Thank you for existing.
Two lane roads: I think there should be more of you. You are a good thing in a world of one lane roads on the sides of hills.

Banana trees: I think it is cool that your leaves are bigger than my entire body. I can't wait until you are in season.

Facebook: I appreciate you. You let me see my friends from all over the world. Maybe you should even be available offline!

Rainforest birds: I appreciate you. I spent my whole life listening to you only through sound machines and nature CDs. Now you live right outside my house. Don't be scared of stupid dogs barking. Chachi the dog can't hurt you when you are in the trees.

Runners: I appreciate you. It has been a long time since I have seen one of you, but I know you are out there. Keep up the good work.

El, La, Lo, Los, Las, Les: I appreciate you even though I never use you correctly. You serve a good purpose, and one day I hope we can be friends.

Friday, November 14, 2008


All it took was three cars, five hours, and a lot of dust to move from the desert of La Paz to the jungle of Caranavi. We ended up coming down on Wednesday. The view from the “death road” is amazing. It used to be the most dangerous road in the world, but they have fixed the worst parts. It is amazing to see the clouds rising up from underneath you as they (the clouds) move rapidly through the mountain canyons. We ended up having two taxi drivers that we knew (Well, I didn’t know either one, but I knew our driver’s daughter, Cindy).
Since we got back to Caranavi we have been settling in and meeting with people. Yesterday we saw our friends Paul and Jay, who were so amazing to Kindred in 2007. They have a bird I really like, who says things like “hola,” and “wowowow,” and also has a funny laugh. I got him talking and he almost seemed to remember me. Do birds have a good memory? I think I just wanted him to remember me.
Today we had school in our new classroom and then I went to the neighbor’s property. The neighbors are called Casa De Esperanza, one part of a large orphanage in Caranavi. The kids came up to me as soon as we got out of the car. What’s my name, where am I from, have I been there before, etc. Some of them remembered Kindred and even one of our songs. Yes, trompetas-may it live on forever. I hope to spend some time each week there at the orphanage, but we shall see. I need to talk to the directors before I know anything for certain. We went there to deliver some stuff and then take them down the hill to school. I rode in the back of the big truck surrounded by about twenty girls (we were in the girls’ truck). The girls were singing and laughing and chatting. They told me everything they knew in English, which is always really cute. I was completely surrounded by kids as we were jostled down our “driveway” which is a 15 minute ride on a dirt and rock road down switchbacks on a steep hill. We have a great view of the mountains and jungle, but it’s a long and hot drive or walk down to the town.
As we had school today I kept looking out the windows of the classroom. It seems surreal to be here amidst the green vegetation, the beautiful hills, the hot climate while I should be in the midst of another cold winter…I love it.
As we are getting settled into our house, which will be ours for awhile, it is good to be living more simply. It took me about an hour to unpack, which included a lot more cleaning than unpacking. It is a blessing not to be burdened with stuff. It is more of a blessing to be surrounded by Bolivian children from the Casa de Esperanza. It is also a blessing to be teaching again. Moses has improved drastically in his reading in just the last week. It is beautiful to watch a child learn. It is also pretty fun to learn from the kids.
Though it is a challenge to be here, I am glad for it, and am so thankful for the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


There is a different face on the problem of hunger here. It isn't the Omar of Feed My Starving Children nor the dirty African child that we might see on TV. Hunger isn't just distended bellies and eating dirt, though it definitely and sadly includes such things. Hunger isn't something deserved, nor is it reserved for the dumb, lazy, colored, or pagan. A child who has only eaten dirt today may not be hungry, but she is malnourished. The same concept occurs here. In La Paz, potatoes, rice, and bread are fairly easy to come by and fairly inexpensive. So why are most of the women who are begging on the streets rather large? They don't look like they are wasting away. Hunger is deceiving. These women may only be eating carbohydrates, which bloat their bodies but offer no protein. Lack of protein causes all kinds of problems, including water retention, which may be part of the reason the women here don't look hungry. Hunger here affects men differently. It is an interesting pattern. The men on the streets look thin, the women look heavier. However, both genders are affected in height. I have seen some women who don't even come up to my chin! And we all walk together on the same streets, the rich, the poor, the hungry, the fed, the gringos, the Bolivians. Not all Bolivians are hungry. But it isn't hard to spot one who could be blessed by a meal. Perhaps when we see a hungry person we should not see them as hungry, but as a person. Such a stigma. How can we be so petty? They are people. Let's treat them as such. Perhaps we should follow Christ's lead and prepare a banquet feast for them and love them as Jesus does. Not to validate our wealth by offering a handout. Not to look compassionate, but to be compassionate. Not to appear pious, but to honor Christ. A face may be hungry, but hunger isn't a face. Hunger doesn't have a face. A person has a face.

Friday, November 7, 2008

La Paz. The name of the city we have been in for ten days means "Peace," or "The Peace." I love it here. Though I wouldn't say "Peace" is necessarily the best all-encompassing word to describe this city, I am at peace here in ways that are very different than in the States. I love waking up here to peaceful mountain mornings. There is peace in knowing that there is a reality outside of the quest for wealth, power, popularity, or at least the ability to pay bills. I feel so bogged down in the United States. How can I afford this or that and am I in the right vocation? Should I live here or there and what should I look like and who should I know or at least know about? None of that seems to matter to me here. I walk around in the city and there are not only new places to discover, there are dreams forming. The things that God could do here seem limitless. I sometimes want to stay here forever. Who knows? Maybe I will!
We started school on Wednesday. We had been waiting to see if we would be going to Caranavi anytime soon, but things are still up in the air with that. I don't mind. I love it here. So we pulled out all of the books and jumped right in. The kids were already familiar with the homeschool curriculum. They spent a couple weeks with it in the States. I hope we can have fun with it.
Meanwhile, the afternoons and evenings have been full of dinners here and there, exploring the town, or just relaxing to movies. I love the family we are lving with here in La Paz. Today the two year old finally started talking to me. Before that he just looked at me silently or walked away or would ruun away screaming and crying. His mother Marielle has been so kind. She will talk to me about all kinds of stuff even though I barely know Spanish. She doesn't treat me like I am dumb just because I can't say very much. Sometimes it feels like a stab at my intelligence not to be able to say basic sentences, but I am learning a lot and getting verb tenses and all that jazz. When we come back to La Paz I hope to be able to actually talk with Marielle.
Last weekend we ran into a bunch of my friends from when I was here the first time. I have seen the band Suma Qhana, my friends from El Redentor, and even a friend from northern Peru who is here with YWAM. I have also made new friends and gotten to know a family from Maryland.
We have great thunder storms here. I love hearing the rain hit the roof. It usually doesn't rain for long, and then life resumes. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.