Friday, April 24, 2015

Adios, Shana and Hillary

Wednesday night we had a "going away" party for two of our volunteers. Shana is from Texas and has been touring Latin America for the past eight months. She spent the past four weeks working with the babies of Casa de Amor and also studying Spanish. We are sure going to miss having her at the baby home each evening! Hurry back, Shana!
Hillary is from New Brunswick, Canada. She has visited Cochabamba with various teams several times before. This time she stayed for two months and was able to help out at the girls' home (House 3) for Casa de Amor. The girls loved having her come and would pester her like crazy, "fixing" her hair and dragging her around showing her things. When I asked Hillary if the girls drove her nuts, she sweetly replied that she actually loved it. A perfect match! Hillary is going to be greatly missed, also. We hope that she will be able to come again next year and stay longer!

Dinner with our amazing volunteers!
 Emily made Enchiladas that were AMAZING! For dessert we had chocolate cake and cupcakes that Hannah and Danyelle had so generously brought to share with us! After dinner many rousing games of Dutch Blitz were played (Thanks to U. Tim and A. Diane!).

For a thank you gift, my mother and I picked out scarves and a pair of earrings for each of them: a heavier one for Hillary to wear in Canada, where it was 30 below when she left to come down to Bolivia, and a lighter one for Shana to wear in Texas or La Paz where she is headed next! They both look stunning in the scarves we got them. These gals are beautiful inside and out. We are so thankful our paths have crossed for a short time and that we have been able to get to know them. Que Dios las bendiga y que les vaya bien, amigas!
Shana and Hillary
Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Parents Visit Bolivia-2015-Week 1

Waiting for the 6:30 a.m. flight!
 We have been super blessed to be enjoying a visit from my parents, Burnell and Paula Johnson, otherwise known as Grandpa and Grams! We all got up really early to get to the airport for the early morning flight from Santa Cruz to Coch, but it was worth it! We asked permission to have S. and A. stay overnight so they could go with us to the airport to meet their new "abuelos" for the first time. S. especially enjoyed seeing the airplanes on the ground and taking off. They fly over the baby home all the time, so he is familiar with "aviones"!
Everyone watching the airplane land!

Almost here!
It was great to see my parents safe and sound in Bolivia! They had good flights, but the one from Panama to Bolivia was an all night flight, so they were ready for some real sleep in a real bed!
They're Here!
 We quickly loaded into our white van. (Please notice our spiffy new seat covers!) Last time my parents came, two years ago, we had our "happy mobile."  It was not nearly as comfortable as our little truffi people hauler!

Heading home from the airport.

We got them home just in time for breakfast! We had fried potatoes, eggs, yummy bread, and fruit salad! 

First Breakfast with Grandpa and Grams!
After breakfast they broke open the three suitcases they had brought for us. We had ordered lots of things from Amazon and Ebay and had them sent to them to bring down here for us. They also brought gifts for us all. Once again a "Christmas" in April, just like last time!
S. enjoying his gifts from Grandpa and Grams.
Ruth with her Polly Pockets!
Among the things they brought were a tent for the boys, balls for S., a doll with "chocolate" color skin for A., another doll with "vanilla" skin for Paula, new schoolbooks for the kids, a refill of the amazing soap my brother makes, letters from some of our relatives, material for Clara to sew with, "How to Juggle" for Myles, and MUCH more!
A. getting a doll from Grams. 
Their first day was very restful with lots of napping, eating, and just chilling! The next day also was tranquilo, the "big event" of the day being having the volunteers over for dinner.  Mama and Daddy shared their love story and told some of the ways that God has blessed their lives. It was a good time!

Thursday morning we went with them to our local market to buy groceries.  After naps, Rudi and I took Daddy and Mama by the CDA baby house to see our kiddos, S. and A.! Daddy was able to show one of the volunteers some of the baby exercises he used on us when we were babies!

S. was pretty upset when we left. He didn't want to let go of me and kept saying, "I want to go home with you."  It was like the time we had to leave him at the baby house almost a year ago. It is very hard to walk away when he is crying out for us... Please pray for him as he waits for our adoption to be completed. We all are super ready for him to be permanently at home with us, and he is especially ready.
Daddy showing Shana some baby exercises on baby B.!
After  leaving the baby home, we went by the Home Center to find a curling iron for Mama. It was fun to stroll around and show them our "U.S." style shopping here in Cochabamba! For dinner we went to La Estancia. It was a good choice! We all enjoyed the salad bar and our choices of meat. I was the only one to have chicken. Rudi had trout and Mama and Daddy had salmon! Yumm! After dinner we went by Yogen Fruz for strawberry frozen yogurts. Double Yumm!
On our way home from dinner Daddy commented that he was enjoying Bolivia much more this time around! I think it is because our house is a lot more comfortable, and since we know the city so much better now we can take him where we know he will enjoy himself! We had only been here six months the last time they came...

Dinner at the La Estancia.
Friday afternoon, Emily went  with her friends to help clean the capilla (where the Saturday Horita Feliz is held). She ended up going to dinner with them afterward and then helping grade first grade papers at the English speaking school where our friend, Danyelle, teaches.  The rest of us took Daddy and Mama to the Botanical Gardens for a walk! It was a lovely afternoon and evening to be out and about in the city.
Enjoying the Botanical Garden.

The kids with Grandparents, sin Emily!
Just some random trivia for you: My parents are celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary this week, have 8 children (all are married), and they currently have 40 grandchildren--with four more "expected" this year! Pretty amazing! Everyone keeps commenting to me about how young they  seem. What can I say?  Having lots of children keeps you young!
Such lovely couples!!
After the walk in the park we all had "Aragatza" ice creams!
Waiting for ice cream!
The Botanical Garden closes early, so we took in another park. I can never remember the name of this park, but it is near the Cine Center! They have a train that Grams took with Paula and Ruth. As they were driving away, I wished that I had gotten on with them,  Silly me!
Grams with Ruth and Paula on the train.

Happy Girls!

"Hanging Out with My Parents"
At this park there is a whole section that has work out equipment. Some of the pieces use your own body weight for the workout. We spent quite a lot of time "working out."  It was lots of fun for everyone!
Grams and Clancy

Grampa, with Paula in the picture behind.

Saturday we, of course, had Horita Feliz. It was fun to have Daddy and Mama there with us. Clara translated my message for Mama, but I think Daddy was pretty bored not being able to understand much of anything being shared. We will get Clancy to translate for him next week so that he can get something out of it!

Sunday we went to our church at Km. 0. A team was visiting from upstate New York. Some of the folks in the team had grown up in Argentina. I got a real kick out of hearing their Argentinian accent that makes all their "y" sounds have a "sh" sound instead! So they were from Nueva Shork. The message was about hearing the truth, speaking the truth, and living the truth. It was a timely message for all of us. Rudi translated for Daddy, and I translated for Mama. We got it into our hearts double! It has been great to have a better command of the language this time and to be able to host Daddy and Mama better because of this.

After church we went out to Tia Techy's for Chicharron. My mother had requested that we eat this sometime when she was here. Tia Techy makes the best Chicharron, so of course we had to go! My parents are really sporty, because it is not fancy where Tia lives. You also eat the whole Chicharron meal with your greasy fingers. Not the most elegant of circumstances!
Chicharron in Tia's front yard!

Tia Techy serving Chicharron

What everyone wants to eat the MOST! Seriously!
Would someone tell that pig it has something in its nose!!

My parents with our Tia Techy!
We were so close to Pairumani at Tia's that we decided to drive up to the park and show my parents the house we lived in up there. The dog that came with the house, "Maget," was SUPER happy to see us. I fed her very well while we lived there. It was good to see her and the place. No regrets about moving though!

 My parents enjoyed the park and the short hike we took.
The lovely couples, once again! This time at the Pairumani Park!

My sweet family... only missing my three "chocolate" kiddos:(
Paula hiking down to the car!

My parents enjoying the great outdoors!

Snitching Figs!
 For dinner, Clara and Ruth fixed us leftovers, and they did such a pretty job that I took a picture of them and the table they had prepared!
My budding chefs, Ruth and Clara.

Yesterday, we went to the orphanage where the sibling of S. and A. lives. We are, Lord willing, adopting this little guy as well. For various reasons they have not moved him to live with his older siblings at Casa de Amor. This is the first time that our whole family has gotten to see/meet him! Rudi and Emily had met him once before. We wanted my parents to meet him, also. The people at this orphanage do not know that we are adopting this little boy. It was so good to see our little "Peter." I am as madly in love with him as I am with his older siblings. It makes it very hard to wait when you have a face with the name! Even though he had a cold and looked quite sick, Peter seemed more in personality like his sister A., easy going and peaceful! He looks a lot like his brother S.!

We had a good time loving on the kids here at this orphanage and sharing some music with them. Hannah went with us. It was great having her along! I know we'll be going back soon to this orphanage...
Our family in front of the orphanage's sign! Thanks, Hannah!

Clara with Peter before his bath. 

Emily letting one of the little boys play her ukelele.

Enjoying holding my little boy, Peter! He eventually fell asleep in
my arms!!

The girls and Grams enjoying Peter!

Playing music for the kids!

Ruth and Peter
After leaving the orphanage we went by our favorite Bible bookstore. Next, we dropped Hannah off to catch a truffi back to Casa 1, while we went on to lunch at the home of one of the elders of our church. Mario and Helen are good friends of ours, and we wanted our parents to get to know them while they were here this time! Helen is from Scotland and Mario is Bolivian, but speaks English with a wee Scottish accent! My parents really enjoyed their time with this lovely couple. Not only was the food delicious, but the company was wonderful as well! 
Lunch with Mario and Helen!

That sums up the highlights of the first week of my parents' visit! Of course, there have been lots of games played and laundry done and all of that everyday stuff, too! I will try to give you a weekly update of their time here... At least I have gotten around to doing the first week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Creation Cantatón~

Lunch break on the way to Oruro... 
Last week we were able to take a short trip to Oruro and La Paz. We went with the purpose of sharing another "Cantaton" at three different churches, one in Oruro and two in La Paz. (A "Cantatón is a Singspiration, a gospel sing along. You will not find this word on Google translate. It was invented by  Mark Mattix, all rights reserved!) We knew that our friend, Mark Mattix, wanted to do this with us sometime in April, so we squeezed in this quick trip before my parents arrived from Oregon to visit us. Our theme this trip was "Creation and God the Creator ."I have to say it was my favorite tour, so far, as far as the song choices went. Loads of very fun songs to sing and the content of them really made you think. Mark also had selected verses for us to read out loud together, between songs, that had to  do with creation and the Creator. It was really great!!

Carol, Mark's wife who usually runs the power point and is a cheerful road mate, opted to not travel what would have been 50 hours of driving to La Paz and back from Camiri. I don't blame her one bit! She is a trooper to travel as much as she does. We missed having you along, Carol! Instead Mark brought a young man from Washington state, named Joseph Lawrence. Joseph arrived in Camiri to go to the Facultad Biblica at the end of March. He will be in Bolivia for about five months, studying Spanish and the Bible at the Facultad. He was a great addition, not only because he is just an all around great guy, but he also has a great bass voice and plays the violin really well. Our family has found a good new friend in Joseph!

We started the trip on Thursday around 11 a.m. We had packed a lunch, so we were able to just pull over and eat it! Tuna sandwiches, anyone?

Putting our cooler chest to good use!
We arrived in Oruro at around 4 p.m. We had just enough time to find a hotel for Rudi and me and the girls to stay in, before going the church where our first Cantaton was held. Our boys, along with Mark and Joseph, stayed at a gracious Bolivian couple's house. Oruro is A LOT cooler than Cochabamba. We were all thankful for the warm clothes we had packed!

Clara at our hotel in Oruro.

Emily and Paula in one of the common areas at the hotel.

Native Bolivian Costume. 

Packing up in the street!
We had a great sing in Oruro. The people at the church fed us dinner and were very hospitable. As we were leaving a friend that we actually know from our church in Cochabamba asked if we could have lunch with her the next day. She has a house in Oruro where she works all week and a house in Cochabamba where she goes on the weekends. Friday found us at her house for lunch, after we had done some serious clothes shopping at a huge outdoor clothes market that Oruro is famous for!
Side note: I don't mention much about our adoption on our blog, because everything is supposed to stay very confidential. At least that is how our lawyer has made us feel! However, it does look like we may get our Bolivian babies in the next month or so! I feel the "nesting" urge coming on and am buying up kids clothes like a mad woman!! The are all just soo cute!!
Lunch at a friend's house.
After a delicious lunch, it was on the road again to La Paz. On the three hour drive between the two cities we passed the factory where most (if not all) of the bricks for all the building in Bolivia comes from. It was in the middle of nowhere. Judging by the large pit where the sand/rock for building the bricks comes from, a LOT of bricks have come from this spot!
A large brick factory!
Rudi in front of the Incerpaz brick factory.

"Selfie" of me with my lover boy!

Clara and Paula enjoying a roadside break!
The "large pit" where the material for making bricks
comes from, is behind them!

Clancy, Joseph, and Rudi: "On the road again"!
The road to between Oruro and La Paz was the BEST (by far) road we have seen in Bolivia. We took pictures of it because it was so unbelievably good! After all, I have put enough of the bad roads that I should give a little credit to the one good one, don't you think?! I mean it had overpasses, two lanes each side, and everything. It could have been the I-5 at home, a well paved stretch of it; it was sooo nice!
Beautiful Hwy!!
Another amazing surprise was how wonderful the city of La Paz is. It is actually a breathtaking city. I had no idea how beautiful it would be. As we were driving in from El Alto, the city above on the altiplano, you could catch a glimpse of the drop off into La Paz below and it reminded me of a city built into a "small"(as in not as deep or grand) Grand Canyon. I don't know how else to describe it. It was truly amazing.

Paula started throwing up when we got to our hotel Friday night, so I opted to stay at the hotel with her while the others went to the first Cantaton in La Paz. This church also provided dinner for everyone, but Paula and I snacked on PBJ's and yogurt from our cooler! She didn't have much appetite anyway and was asleep by 7:30 p.m. She slept straight through till 7:30 the next morning. I am pretty sure that it was just the altitude effecting her, as she was fine the rest of our time there. Everyone came back from the sing enthused and Clara declared it to be the "best one ever"!

We spent most of Saturday walking around the city and taking the gondolas that are hung throughout the city. So much fun.

A La Paz Woman in Native Dress!
The main plaza is lovely with government buildings surrounding it! The only strange thing is the clock that is "backwards."  Can you tell what time it is? This was the President's idea of "turning back" the clock... Huh????
The Boohers in La Paz!

What time is it anyway? I think it was 9:15 a.m. for reals!

I would love to say we fed the birds, but I'm afraid our kids liked
chasing them more!

The President's personal guards! I think the one in front is over 13
years old, but I am not sure! Tan chiquito!

The group catching a trufi on the Prado!

Rudi, Paula, and I at the base of the Teleferico Amarillo!
Check out the cute jacket we got for Paula in Oruro. I told
you that everything was super cute!!

"No, Myles, you are not short enough to ride free!"

Serious business loading onto the moving gondola!
The group on one side, L to R:  Ruth, Myles, Tio Mark, Clara,
and Emily

The group on the other side, L to R:  Joe, Paula, Carla, Rudi,
and Clancy

Up we go!
A bird's eye view!

Of course the city has a nice big futball field for practices!
The weather was overcast, so some of our pictures didn't show how truly spectacular it was looking down from El Alto, where the yellow gondola line stops. The gondolas were put in mostly for people commuting from one part of the city to another. It is only 3b.s (approx 40 cents) to ride one way. They are not just a tourist attraction, but they are a really cool way to get around!!
On top of the world. The view from El Alto to below of
La Paz...

Another view of the city.

Some of the more modern road structures we have seen.
A more southern view of the city.
All together, we spent over an hour in the gondolas. We didn't take the red line, but did take the yellow and the green. It was a super fun way to spend the day and see the city. We had lunch at a food court in the mall. We knew we were truly in Bolivia, because our super nice restaurant didn't have napkins. For awhile there we thought we were back in the U.S.!!
Shopping mall built right up to one of the many
"small mountains". Amazing landscape in La Paz!
A "just because" picture. La Paz Style Wedding!
I love weddings in any culture! 
 There are some amazingly beautiful homes on the little hills in La Paz. In the picture below you can see the contrast of the huge beautiful homes on the hill and the "middle class" homes below!
After a nice nap in the hotel, we headed to our last Cantaton. It was within walking distance, so we hiked a couple blocks with our instruments to the church.

Walking to the church in La Paz.
We got there early, so there was plenty of time to practice and tune up the parts of the Cantaton that needed it! We had a great time singing with this church. Afterward, some of us walked to a chicken place for a late night dinner to fill in the cracks before bed!
Fine tuning!
And now for the real thing! I promise there was an audience!
Queen Paula on her guitar case bed!
 We headed for home early the next morning, because Rudi needed to play his violin at our church in Cochabamba that evening. Mark and Joseph stayed on a couple extra days. We had a good trip home and arrived without mishap! We passed three different accidents on our way home, all involving trucks with trailers. You really have to keep your eyes open as you travel, because you will come around a corner and boom there will be a trailer jackknifed right in front of you, without warning. It makes for tedious and slow driving. However, it was very worth it to venture out of our little valley in Coch! We were very blessed by the many new people we met and the way they reached out to us.
Altiplano farm!
 Our drive home was COLD. With no heater in the car, our feet were blocks of ice. Our motor is under us instead of being in front, so there is no generated heat on our feet from the motor! I felt a lot warmer when I saw this couple on their motorcycle. Brrr.....
And we thought we were cold!

Rudi with his "lap robe" trying to stay warm while
First trailer we passed that was on its side!
Of course, no blog that included the altiplano of Bolivia would be complete without at least one picture of a field of quinoa...
Another beautiful field of quinoa on the altiplano!
We had a great trip. Thank you, Mark for pushing us out to a new area of Bolivia, once again. We are always blessed every time we go.

 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: Colossians 1:16