Buenas tardes a todos!
To set the scene: I had 4 one-to-one Spanish classes this morning (working on using the subjunctive mode in various tenses), followed by a traditional Bolivian meal called majadito, cooked by my host Mum (rice with mince and peas, served with fried plantain and a fried egg), and I’ve just made myself a nice English brew, as I come to reflect on the past month here in Bolivia.
In some ways, it doesn’t seem to have been the most eventful month, and at times I’ve missed feeling like I’m contributing anything very much, as my focus is still on language learning, rather than directly helping with the work of Novō. At the same time, I realise this is such a valuable time, and it is a privilege to be able to focus on immersing in the language and culture. I’m also working on spreading the word of Novō amongst people I’m meeting here in Cochabamba, as our hope is that once the project is up and running in Santa Cruz, we can begin to consider ‘planting’ more rehabs elsewhere… possibly in Cochabamba, which would be very exciting.
I’m still enjoying volunteering at Cometa, the young offenders’ institute, where I’ve been running craft activities with a group of about 12 teenage girls. I’m hoping to be able to do some mentoring with one of the girls who is due to leave soon (she’s been in there for over 2 years), to help her reintegrate. Our hope is that she will stay at a local girls home, rather than go back to living on the streets. But the latter is the life she is accustomed to unfortunately.
In recent weeks, I have been saddened by the situation of broken relationships here. I have picked up on this through conversations with people I’ve met; my observation of the number of single parent families; last Sunday’s sermon topic on relationships; and statistics on the internet (e.g. 50% of Bolivian women experience physical abuse or intimidation, and violence against Bolivian women aged 15-44 causes more deaths than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war). Unfortunately unfaithfulness and violence, particularly against women, are widespread. It feels a quite overwhelming, because the male chauvinist culture seems to be pretty deeply ingrained. Even though it feels overwhelming, let’s pray that Novō’s work will have a positive impact in this area of broken relationships with the people we’ll be working with – one of addiction’s greatest remedies is the restoration of broken relationships. As Philip Yancey reminded me in a talk I listened to, God is already present in all these dark situations – our job is to make him visible.
On a different theme, that of food (one of my favourite topics), I’ve been enjoying trying out various Bolivian dishes and snacks. I’m realising that they love their carbs here – it wouldn’t be uncommon to find a dish on a menu that is served with rice, chips and cassava (a root veg) – and you may well get served some bread while you wait as well. The other day, I bought an almuerzo completo, which is a 2-course lunch – soup followed by a chicken and rice dish, all for 13 Bolivianos (about £1.30). Probably the 2 most unusual things I’ve tried have been anticucho, which is basically cow’s heart on a barbecued kebab, and api, a hot, gloopy, sweet, maize-based drink. And the yummiest snacks I’ve had so far are cuñapés, which I’ve now learnt to make myself – cheesy, bready, spongy, chewy and yummy. Here are a couple of my photos, but if you’re interested, there are pics of all these things on google images, which give you an idea too!
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks for progress in my Spanish learning and my lovely teachers
- Prayer for the girl who is due to leave Cometa in the next couple of weeks – that she would have a safe place to stay (and wouldn’t run away), and for wisdom as to how we can help her
- Prayer for the wider issue of broken relationships – that we’d be empowered to make a difference, and not be overwhelmed
- For a productive remaining month here in Cochabamba, before I head back to Santa Cruz to live at the end of May
I’ve put a few new pics up in the photo gallery, including of a recent weekend trip into the tropical rainforest (beautiful, but the most humid experience of my life – it was like being trapped in one of those tropical glasshouses at a botanical garden!). To finish, here’s one of my favourites, at the huge market called the Cancha:
Blessings, and love to all,