Satan had some very interesting lies for me this morning. He first presented them through three drunken men still in the streets at 6:30 in the morning. Another marriage insinuation (not an outright proposal) made me feel more like a piece of meat than a human being (although I suppose as a human being, I am actually physically a piece of meat!). I arrived back at the church and received a nice comment from a friend, but this morning I received it like an animal in a cage. A question from another friend sent me reeling again, and a laugh from a different friend sent me to tears. All this before 9 am! In Sunday School two kids didn’t stop staring at me for 30 minutes. I know they don’t see many white people, I know kids have a tendency to stare anyway, and I know I can use my rare looks as a huge ministry tool, but come on, on a day like today? I went into church asking God for some kind of encouragement. What I received was the repetition of an incredible song about receiving God’s healing. Thank you God, I needed that.
After church we were presented with plates of food. It wasn’t too much food, and I was surprised and pleased by that, as I wasn’t very hungry, but in this setting it is important to finish all the food you are given. As we were about halfway into our meal, some people from the town brought out huge amounts of food to set on the table. Chunyo (freeze-dried potatoes), corn, cheese, meat, and more. Incredible amounts of food. I did my best, and then ran through the freezing rain and hail upstairs to pack my things.
We left Pucarani soon after lunch and went to our second church, where we would spend the next 9 days. Church of the Nazarene in Avaroa, a region of El Alto. This church is home of the largest Compassion project in all of Bolivia, they tell me. They have four groups of kids throughout the week, each group comes three times a week either in the morning or afternoon. It was good to arrive in a new place with another warm greeting. Our lodging was similar. A fence enclosed a church and large building. The four story building housed many classrooms and a large office. Underneath the church are more classrooms and a large kitchen. We all stayed in the little kids’ classroom. The space was even tighter than in Pucarani, and I must admit I loved watching the arrangements being made. We laid out the hay mattresses once again, completely covering the floor, surrounded by our bags and friends. This first night I slept cuddling between a friend and a toy shelf. (The next night I slept between the feet of some friends and the elbows of another, and was completely comfortable!)
As I walked through town, I saw a boy carrying a sheep in a blanket on his back! So cool! Yes, the sheep was still alive. We went out to buy a cake to surprise Marcia on her birthday. I quickly ruined the surprise when we got back. Shoot.
They congregation welcomed us with a huge worship service and the announcements of how we would be eating the whole week. People from the congregation would be providing everything. We are so blessed.