My time here feels like a springboard into my Novō work back in Santa Cruz, a 45 minute flight away (costing about £30… and you get free food, so it’s a step up from EasyJet!). I’m a quarter of the way through my 3 months here, and my focus is on learning Spanish, which will be essential for building relationships and working effectively. I’m very impressed with the school. The teachers are so encouraging and patient, and I’m enjoying my four daily one-to-one classes. It’s challenging too, and at times I’ve felt disheartened at my lack of understanding, especially in group situations, where I’ve found it difficult to join in. Yesterday’s opening sentence to my Bible reading encouraged me: ‘There is a time for everything … a time to be silent and a time to speak’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b). When have you sensed this in your own experience? Maybe this is my time to keep quiet!
I’ve started volunteering at a young offenders institute called ‘Cometa’, one of the language school’s volunteering opportunities. There are about 10 teenage girls and 100 guys there. So far, I’ve spent a couple of afternoons doing craft activities with the girls – it’s up to the volunteers to prepare activities/games and bring in the materials, so any simple creative ideas would be gratefully received – thank you! I don’t know the stories of most of them, but know that one of the girls has been there over 2 years, and her family don’t know she’s there. I believe she was previously living on the streets and using drugs. One of the girls is pregnant and has been granted release, but she is still there 3 weeks later because her Mum hasn’t collected her. So sad. They’re so young. They’re very warm and affectionate, and appreciate us being there, so I’m looking forward to getting to know them more.
HOST FAMILY and life around Cochabamba
I’m living with a lovely Bolivian family, where I’m enjoying freshly prepared fruit juices every morning, traditional meals with the family, and where I’m learning that greetings (with a kiss on the cheek) are very important whenever we say hello or goodbye. I’ve enjoyed sharing a few home comforts with them too – making apple crumble and shortbread, and drinking afternoon tea together. Unfortunately I’m down to my last 3 English teabags… but there are more on their way, as I’m seeing friends from the UK at a university friend’s wedding in Chile soon!
In my free time, I’ve enjoyed exploring the surrounding mountains, attending a couple of open air Zumba classes, experiencing the enormous and wonderful market called ‘La Cancha’, and visiting Cochabamba’s ‘Cristo’ (higher than Rio’s famous Cristo). I miss being able to run from my Wargrave house into the fields and along the Thames, but I’m pleased to have acclimatised to the higher altitude here (about 2,500m), and have managed a couple of runs, which felt good! I wasn’t finding it easy to settle on a regular church, so have decided to take the opportunity to visit a few different churches while I’m here, but will be keen to settle at one when back in Santa Cruz.
I’m rather removed from my direct involvement with Novō at the moment, while I’m away from Santa Cruz. However, as we’re currently working on building our support network, I’d like to mention two things:
- If you’re on Facebook, and haven’t ‘liked’ our new FB page already, please feel free to ‘like’ and ‘share’ it here: Novō Facebook page
- And if I haven’t signed you up already, it would be great if you’d like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, to hear about the development of Novō as a charity and our first project in Santa Cruz. Follow the link: Novō Newsletter
SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOLIVIA AND THE UK… just for interest
- You have to put your loo paper in a bin next to the loo rather than down the toilet
- You can’t buy cartons or bottles of milk – it only comes in bags, which you have to carefully sit in a jug and from which you cut a tiny corner so you can pour it
- Eggs from the market also come loose in a bag, rather than in an egg box
- Motorbikes often have no functioning headlights, and riders wear their helmets round their wrist rather than on their heads. I think the most I’ve seen on one motorbike was a family of 5
- In order to take a bus, you have to flag it down, get on and pay your 2 Bolivianos (equivalent 20p), and shout to the bus driver when you want to get off
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks for a welcoming host family and great Spanish teachers
- Thanks for the birth of my new niece (26th Feb), Elsa May, and her successful heart operation – pray for ongoing recovery and adjustment for Lindsay, Daniel and Lorna
- Ongoing progression in my Spanish learning and building good friendships here
- For Novō: building our support network; trust fund applications we’ve submitted; setting up charity status in Bolivia (already have charity status in UK)
Follow the link if you’d like to see a few more photos… Photo Gallery
Thank you as always for your support in enabling me to be here. You’re a huge blessing.
With love, or as they say here, “besos y abrazos” (kisses and hugs),