To begin our first full day of work in Pucarani, we had a typical breakfast of bread and something hot to drink, then devotions together and time by ourselves to read the Bible and pray. Then we went out in groups to pray for the people in the town. After all this, I went through part of the town with my friend Yesmi to evangelize and invite people to our program in the plaza. I find it much easier to talk to people here than in the United States, even though I have a language barrier. I find many people are willing to talk and not driven by schedules. We told the gospel message to a number of people, talked with one woman in Aymara (of which I know about 8 words), and talked with another woman for a long time about her family. Aymara is probably used more than Spanish in Pucarani. Aymara is spoken throughout Bolivia, I believe, but it is slowly being lost as people are only learning Spanish in their homes. It was neat to see two of our students able to speak fluently in Aymara. Also many of the CEC students understand Aymara and were able to translate for us.
At lunch we had fish and rice. This was one of the first times I have eaten whole fish since Africa. These guys were small, so I could eat the side bones without hurting my gums. I think some of my friends tried to take these bones out, but it was way too much work for something I couldn’t taste or feel. At one point I sat with a fish head in my hand and was about to eat that too. I didn’t realize what it was. (You can eat that part, people do it all the time, but I am not ready to do that at this point in my life). When I realized what it was, I gasped out loud and threw the head onto my plate. Oops. I hope no one saw or heard that! I began the meal with four fish on my plate. I ended the meal with only 2.5 fish spines. Oops again! I ate more bones than I had thought!
In the afternoon we had two school programs, one short program at the high school across the street and a longer program in the Compassion-assisted program at the church we are staying at in Pucarani. What a joy to work with the Compassion program and many sponsored children! The CEC students are trained in many things throughout their 10 week course, so were prepared for all kinds of programs with the people of these regions. See more details in “CEC-what is it?” blog.
While the CEC students were preparing for their program with the kids, I entertained myself and the CDI (Compassion program) kids by asking questions about Aymara and answering questions about English. It was a blast. The kids get such a kick out of just hearing their names in English.
After the program that included clowns, songs, inside games, outside games, skits, dances, and puppets, a group of us went out of the pueblo into the countryside to visit a woman who was sick and bedridden. She didn’t speak Spanish, so we listened to her through a translator. It is hard to hear about someone’s struggles and know that you can pray for them in the moment and in the future, but after you leave the area, you can’t do much more. This woman’s name is Florenzia, and she could use your prayers as well. She is bedridden and in constant pain, lonely and stuck in a very small house with only her radio to keep her company.
In the night we had a program in the plaza. Many people came from the pueblo. It was fun to see the variety of talent the students have broadcast very loudly across the large plaza. I had learned the dances, and was asked to dance at the last minute to have more people. It was fun to dance, a growing experience for me as this is not my forte. Little did I know I would dance many more times during the trip! Two of the best things about the plaza program for me were 1) seeing my friends evangelize, talk with, and pray with the people that were there, and 2) seeing the woman that Yesmi and I had talked with for a long time that morning in the plaza.