Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Dream

I've always said that I should be known as the patron saint of Wal-mart after the countless hours and dollars that I've spent there. I guess I was right after all. Thursday night I dreamt of Wal-mart. I had a dream that it was Joy's birthday and I needed to get her a gift, make her a cake and organize her a party. This is our family's 'birthday season'. In the next six weeks or so we have 5 birthdays in our family. Caleb, Patience, Joe, David and Hope all have birthdays coming up, but Joy's is not until March, so I don't know why I dreamed it was her birthday. But on with the story. I dreamed I was at my Aunt Dee's house and her house happened to be connected to Six Flags and also connected to Wal-mart. I suppose these are things I've been missing without even realizing it. In my dream I went in to Wal-mart to look for things for Joy. I couldn't believe all that was there: party decorations, balloons, toys, gifts, purses, even a cake all in one location!! I was amazed. Dumfounded even. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Not literally, but it was a feeling of sheer wonder at all that could be in one store. I could find anything I needed. It's amusing the things one misses.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shots Fired

What a morning!! Yesterday our puppy got our under the gate while Joe and I were at language school and went for an adventure. We didn't realize she was gone until we were home for an hour or so and by then some one had likely picked her up and taken her home either to keep as a pet or to sell at the stadium on Sunday. That's a common occurrence here in Coch. Just the other day we saw someone downtown stop a taxi and pick up a whole litter of puppies on the street...most likely to sell. Ours was a very energetic and friendly puppy so she would've gone to anyone. It was a sad night around our house. Joe and I were just commenting yesterday morning what a great puppy she was. So this morning Joe took Faith and Hope to hang up signs with the puppy's picture offering a reward for her return. As they were hanging the first sign on a pole on the corner they heard a car zooming around the corner with tires squealing one block up. Joe said he thought "Come on, dude, this is a neighborhood!!" and he reached out and took the girls' hands to pull them away from the street. Just then three guys rounded the corner where the car came from and were yelling after the driver of car. When the car got right beside Joe and the girls one of the three angry yelling guys pulled a gun out of his pocket and shot towards the car which also happened to be right by MY HUSBAND AND GIRLS!!!! They were right in the line of fire. Joe yelled "RUN!" at Faith and she ran down a side street perpendicular to the incident toward our house. Meanwhile he picked up Hope and started running behind Faith. They ran the couple of blocks home as people were coming out of their houses to see what the excitement was. Even though today is one of the myriad of holidays in Cochabamba and there were lots of fireworks and fiestas last night and this morning I guess the Cochabambinos can tell the difference between real gunfire and the loud fireworks. We don't yet have this skill. Often they use dynamite in the blockades here as a deterrent for people going through. So it's kind of a joke between me and Joe that whenever we heard loud bangs we say, "I hope that's dynamite!" because that would be better than the alternative of gun fire. When Joe and the girls got home and blurted out the story to the rest of us, we prayed and thanked God for keeping them safe. I suppose it hasn't traumatized them too badly as Hope's assessment of the situation is "It was AWESOME!". She's had quite the last few hours, first her puppy ran away, then last night there was a very loud fiesta next door until the wee hours of the morning, and at 3:40 a.m. she fell out of her top bunk. Now you all know that Joe and I are very laid back and don't often get overly concerned with accidents, bumps, and falls. However, Hope has the dubious honor of having the largest goose egg on her forehead that we have ever seen in 40 some-odd years of life and over 18 years of parenting. She also had a scraped face and bloody nose. We seriously considered taking her to whatever equivalent of the ER that they have here, but decided against it after we checked her for coherency and eye dilation and those appeared fine. We put ice on her head and had her sleep in our bed. Today she has a bit of a headache and still a rather large goose egg, but is doing fine. Good enough to run from gunfire in fact.

Post Script to this story: YEAH!!!!! We got our puppy back. Our security guard went looking for her and found her in someone's yard. We gave both the guard and the person who brought her back a reward. Of course they were rewarded by 12 happy faces as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Old Wine in New Wineskins

Last Sunday we had a different experience at church. It was our first communion at our new Bolivian home church. First we listened to a sermon (in Spanish of course) by Pastor Pepe and tried to decipher what he was preaching about. The title his sermon was Por Que Vino la Sequia? (Why the Wine of Drought/Suffering). I didn't recognize the word sequia and thought that since it was communion Sunday he was going to speak on the wine of the Lord's Supper, but not surprisingly I was wrong and this wasn't his topic. He bravely spoke of how we are called to serve only the One True God and worshipping or serving other gods including the indigenous gods will lead to suffering and spiritual drought in the country. I thought this was particularly courageous during these days in Bolivia when there is a push to go back and worship ancestors and ancient false gods.

After the sermon it was time to share our first communion in Bolivia. First they passed the bread. It tasted a bit stale or perhaps even a tiny bit mildewed, but it was so great to be taking the Lord's Supper with our brothers and sisters here that it didn't even matter. Next, we were to take the juice....or so we thought. When the 'juice' tray was about 3 or 4 rows in front of us, Joe and I simultaneously caught a scent in the air and discerned it wasn't grape juice. Well, I suppose at one time it had been grape juice, but now it was full blown fermented wine. We began to prepare the kiddos. We told them that this church uses real wine and to just slam it down, try not to cough or spit it out. Jake sat next to me and passed me a cup. I told him next time we take communion to look for the emptiest cup for me. :>) Joe poured some of Hope's into his cup so she wouldn't have to drink so much. (At least this is the story he told me.) When it was time to share the cup together, we all slammed it down like you see cowboys in old westerns slamming whiskey shots. You can guess what the topic of our lunch conversation was. It went something like this: Josh said, "It tasted like cough syrup." Hope said, "I thought it was real blood." and so on. Joe said that it was the first alcohol that has crossed his lips in 25 years. I said at least it killed any bad bacteria that was in the bread. Needless to say I don't think any of us will forget our first communion in a Bolivian church.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Here's a pic of our weekly haul from the Saturday least some of it. There's more in the fridge. Note the eggs: they aren't refrigerated. It was a bit strange at first to us, but no one has contracted salmonella yet so I guess we're okay leaving them out. On a normal Saturday we buy about $40 worth of fruits, veggies, eggs and cheese at the Saturday Ferria. Here you see about $60 worth. The cheese is a large part of the cost at about $4 a pound. In the picture are 75 tangerines, 25 apples, 5 pounds of potatoes, 2.2 pounds of carrots, 1/4 bushel of onions, bunches of garlic, 2.2 pounds of kiwi, 4.4 pounds of plums, 2 watermelons, 1/4 bushel of tomatoes, 100 bananas, a couple of large avocados, 2.2 pounds of limes, and 3 flats of eggs (90). In the fridge we have 4 pounds of cheese, 3 quarts of strawberries, a large stem of broccoli, and a bag of lettuce. I also bought a bouquet of freesia and a dozen roses. This amount usually lasts us until about Thursday when we need to go to a smaller everyday market to fill in what we need. It's amazing how much our family can eat. I think we're eating more healthy foods though. At the market there are these little 'wheel barrow kids'. They are mostly (but not all) boys that range in age from about 6 years old to maybe 11 or 12. They follow you around with a wheel barrow and carry your groceries. Then they will even wheel them to your house. We live a few blocks away from the Saturday market. So, imagine a young boy (or girl) carrying all the groceries you see in the picture above plus the things in our fridge in a wheel barrow over cobblestones streets because the street is better than the broken up sidewalk. Since we have more than the usual amount of groceries we pay a bit more than the normal rate. We usually pay 8 bolivianos (a bit more than $1) and buy him a drink. Last week I was not feeling well and Joe went alone and bought the boy a Dr. Pepper. The boy was ecstatic! The cost of a Dr. Pepper is 12 times what a juice that he would normally get costs.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Language School Jitters

Well, it's official. We visited the language school on Monday to arrange for starting our classes. We will begin on August 13....a week from next Monday. Seth, Jake and Caleb will also be going. They will take a 4-6 month course while Joe and I will be in for a minimum of a year. When I say it that way it kinda sounds like a prison sentence, doesn't it? I have lots of good reasons for being excited about language school, yet I find myself dreading it a tad. It's been a long time since I've been a student. So many pregnancies have killed thousands, perhaps even millions, of my formerly useful brain cells.
Now I feel as though my brain is:

one part Jello (or more likely Coca Cola Zero),

(b) a bit of Scripture,

(3) a spotty memory center for recipes, chores, and schedules

(d) my kids' names on a good day and

(5) from time to time there are nagging reminders of things I once knew.

These moments are most clear when trying to help my teens with their math. I once was a math major. Now it all escapes me. I hate ellipses, hyperbolas, distance formulas and everything related to them. (Can you tell what Jake is learning in his math?) Everything escapes me...where I put my money, keys, and sunglasses. The key thing can be maddening here in Bolivia since we must keep our gate padlocked. Therefore, when someone rings the gate bell I must go out and tell them to wait uno momento while I search frantically for my key to let them in. Here’s a scenario that happens to me on a regular basis: I send one of my children to carry out some needed task. They come back and tell me why they couldn't accomplish the goal and I can't even remember what I had told them to do. Many times I also send one of them to do something, then later ask "Where is (fill in the blank with the sent child's name)? I forget that I was the one that sent them on a task!! Often I will call a child and by the time they come to me, I've forgotten why I called them. They say all of our memories are filed neatly in our brains, well evidently I've lost the, the, the....what do you call that? Oh yeah, index. I've lost the keys that unlock the intelligent part of my brain. Sure, on most days I can carry on a conversation with one of my preschoolers, but beyond that I seem to struggle.

I know I wasn't always this way. I remember meditating on complex and deep things. I also believe that I used to be able to communicate multi-syllabically. But of course I can't know for sure since I can't really remember what or when. I also have the attention span of a flea. I flitter from one thing to another. I embark on typing an entry to my blog and remember that I must put in some laundry. (Hey, at least I remembered before we were all out of socks and undies!) Then I begin sorting laundry and decide I must start something for lunch. I go to the kitchen and see dishes that need to be put away, do this, clean the kitchen and then go back to my computer forgetting the lunch and the half sorted laundry. I get distracted more easily than a kindergartener. This is part of growing older I know. I am over 40 now. However, I could definitely use some of those long-gone brain cells as I begin to learn Spanish.

I suppose this could be considered a plea for help. A plea for prayer. Please pray that I will be able to learn what I need to and won't be too overwhelmed in language school. We will be going for 3 hours a day 5 days a week. That's like 15 college credit hours of all Spanish. Plus, there is an additional 3-5 hours a day of homework, work with a tutor and going out into the community to practice my Spanish. My brain feels like mush just thinking of it. So, would you please commit to praying for me as I begin learning Spanish. It is of utmost importance. I must give it my best shot as feeble as I might be. I have been praying for the gift of languages. Actually only the gift of language (singular)...Spanish. I know that God is able to give me this gift and I so desire it. Yet I know that if He withholds it from me it is because He will give me the capability to learn it without His supernatural input. I'm still hoping though. Either way I need His help for this gargantuan task set before me. I can not do it on my own. Thanks for your prayers and even fasting for me on this if you feel led. I would fast as well, but I always forget and eat. :>)