Friday, September 28, 2007

Beanie Babies Galore

Well for those of you with Ty Beanie Babies socked away in your basement or attic waiting for them to make a come back and make your fortune for you or put your kids through college, I've got some bad news. There is a glut of them in Bolivia. When I was shopping for Hopey's birthday present in La Cancha I saw hundreds. I saw even the rarest ones in mint condition with tag protectors. You remember Ty Beanie Babies don’t you? First we had to buy the Beanies and they had to be ‘real’ Ty Beanies not the imitation ones, but the kids didn’t want to play with them, they wanted to ‘collect’ them. They had to be kept in perfect condition. The company played into this and had limited releases and limited numbers of prized Beanies. They even sold ‘tag protectors’ these plastic covers that kept the tags (that you HAD to leave on the Beanie) in pristine condition so that their resale value would be greater. I remember the days of waiting in line for stores to open with anxious kiddies so we could purchase certain new releases of Beanies. I remember waiting in long lines at McDonald's to collect all 4 Teeny Beanie Bears available ‘for a limited time only’ in Happy Meals for each of our kiddos because they "had" to have them all and they were going to be worth lots of money. (Yeah, right.) Evidentially there were plenty of other kids (and parents) who got caught up in the Beanie Baby frenzy because the remains of the fad have made their way to South America. I suppose they were garage sale items that had too high of a price and so made their way to Good Will where they again had too high of a price so they were shipped off to Bolivia to be sold in the North American thrift store rejects part of La Cancha. Here's the kicker: I can buy the rarest of Beanies in mint condition with a tag protector for only 50 cents! So, I guess if you're waiting on their comeback to make your fortune, perhaps you should think of something else like figure out how to reconfigure the new iphone...oh, that's been done. Better think of something else. Maybe you can find a chip that looks like the Virgin Mary and sell it for thousands of dollars on e-bay. Oh, that’s been done too. Or better yet maybe you'll spill your hot coffee on you or find a severed finger in your Happy Meal and sue McD's for millions. After all they owe you for all the money you spent there buying all those Teeny Beanies. There's more than one way to get rich there in the USA. :>) Oh yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. I'm not taking any orders for certain Beanies to complete to your collection ‘just in case’. But, I promise if you come here to visit I'll take you shopping for them. I bought one for Hopey for her birthday. We have a new generation of Beanie Baby kids at our house. This generation actually plays with them. :>)

It's Like They Have a Different Word for Everything!

I feel like I've hit one of the walls that people with experience have told me would happen in language school. Even though we've been going for less than 2 months I'm feeling a bit burned out. I'm overwhelmed by the daunting task of it all. It's like they have a different word for everything and I don't know what those words are. I feel like a baby. I talk like a baby. Actually that's probably overstating it....a baby is much better at language than I am at Spanish. At least their 'mamamama' sounds CLOSE to what they are trying to say and they get their point across to smiling faces. All I get is confused looks. In fact all the babies here speak Spanish much better than I do. When we arrived in Bolivia on a Thursday in May, the following Saturday there was a yard sale at the SIM Guest House compound where we were staying. Hope met some little Bolivian friends and she came back all excited to tell me about it. She said she just met some kids and they were speaking Spanish and I quote here "like a big dog" so it must not be too hard. Boy, was she wrong. Those must have just been some awfully bright kids. :>) At my age it's hard enough to remember the word I wanted to say in ENGLISH, my native tongue that I've been speaking for over forty years! Our language teachers try to engage us in conversation by asking us questions. Often (I suppose because we are missionaries and a former a pastor and wife--not a former wife, just a former pastor) those end up being questions about how to deal with different sorts of counseling questions. Often I sit there dumbfounded and can't think on my feet of what I'd like to say....not in Spanish, but in English....I don't know how I would answer to the situation in English much less Spanish. I'd like to ask my teacher for time to pray about the situation and get wisdom from God, but I don't think this is the answer she's looking for. :>) Of course Joe has just the perfect words of wisdom along with Bible verses to back it up and he says it all in SPANISH! I’d like to just reach over and bop him on the head in a loving and supportive wife sort of way. :>) Just kidding I’m as proud of him as always. It’s a burden I’ve had to bear knowing he was smarter than me. But it’s even harder when faced with it day after day. As I said we were warned by those ahead of us on this path of language acquisition that we would hit many walls so I should’ve been prepared. Today I was just telling Joe today that I feel like I'm on the verge of wanting to work hard and put in the necessary study, but I'm just not quite there. Right now I just feel like I'm muddling through. Learning a new language (especially at my age and brain cell level) is hard work and it takes a lot of motivation and I've hit the "lack of motivation wall". At my stage of life it takes all the motivation and concentration I have just to get out of bed and get through another day with out saying the wrong English word like "Please pass the sofa...I mean veggies" or "Please be quiet I'm trying to shower...I mean type" of the ever popular "Please come here Josh, I mean David, I mean Joy, I mean Faith, I mean Caleb or whoever you are!" It's overwhelming and frustrating to not be able to speak to people we came here to serve, and I wonder if I'll ever be able to truly communicate. Language is such a huge barrier to overcome. I believe down deep in my heart that I will get past this, that learning Spanish will happen, that I will turn the corner and pour my heart into it, but right now I still feel stuck. :>) It probably doesn't help that Joe has already turned this corner; he's a bit ahead of me on the road and past his wall, now he's ready to start pouring over the books. Actually that does help because I know I'll get back on track too. Keep on praying for that gift of language for me!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More About Sending Packages

Several people have asked me to share more about sending packages again. So I'm going to take this space to do that. We are in no way asking anyone to send us parcels, just giving info to those who have asked. Here's a little background: We live in a city of almost a million people and there is no home delivery of mail and there is only one post office. I'm not sure if this is the cause or the effect of only a few people getting mail. Think of it. We don't get any junk mail. Now before you get too jealous let me tell you about our last trip to the post office. We needed to mail a letter to the SIM office in the States. We walked to the post office and realized that we needed an envelope to mail the papers in. So of course the post office doesn't have envelopes. What were we thinking? We walked out of the post office to a little tienda on the street that sold envelopes. Then we trekked back to the PO. Inside there are about 15 teller windows but akin to the North American DMV only two were open. At one of the windows someone was actually writing their letter while we waited. This is not uncommon. When they were finished it was our turn. We purchased a first class stamp to the States and the teller put it on our envelope then she cancelled it and gave it back to us. We then walked it across the post office and found the wooden box that says "North America" and put it in. That's a bit of the way the postal system works here. I guess government agencies all over the world have the same kind of efficiency training. :>) For those who receive packages the postal employees put them in these cubbies that are labeled something like this: A-C, D-F, G-I, etc. So, in order to get pick up a package at the post office, you must know that you have a package coming. When we were at the post office the other day I looked behind the counter where these cubbies are. There were only 20-30 parcels there at the most. Remember, this is a city of about 900,000 people. Thankfully, our mission agency has a post office box where we can get mail. I'll give that address at the bottom of this post.

Okay now to the nitty gritty of getting packages. There is a page on the USPS website about sending packages to Bolivia that you can check out. Here's the link: I do know that it is expensive to mail packages to here. I believe that there is a discounted flat rate if you can fit your stuff into the supplied size of box or envelope. The info for this is one that same web page but I'll copy and paste some of it here:

Priority Mail International Flat RateFlat-Rate Envelope (9.5" x 12.5"): $11.00 The maximum weight is 4 lbs.
Flat-Rate Box: $37.00 Merchandise is permitted, but written communications having the nature of current and personal correspondence are not permitted. The maximum weight is 20 lbs. or the limit set by the individual country.

Here's one more thing to consider before you mail. It is a possibility that we will not receive the parcels you mail. (The following is pasted from a previous blog entry). Remember that sending mail to us is not like sending it to military personnel or to government employees. They are much more likely to actually receive their packages and in much shorter time. So, keeping that in mind, it probably wouldn't be wise to send anything too expensive. Again, our fellow missionaries have said that anything less than 2 kilos (about 4.4 pounds) we don't have to pay customs duty on which is about 50% of the value of the item. Also they have told us that the easiest packages to get are ones in padded envelopes that weigh less than 2 kilos. However, having said that, please feel free to send anything you desire. When you are mailing, you must list the contents, but please don't place a value on it. Also, it's best if are able to write the descriptions in words that people that don't have English as their first language can understand. For example: instead of saying "books" you might say "reading materials". Instead of "towels" you might say "drying apparatus". This could give you vocabulary and creative writing practice as well as blessing us with mail. :) If you choose to mail a larger box that we must pay duty on, please open any new items and take tags off of them. This way they are considered 'used'. Please write 'used' on the description. So, then we only have to pay duty on 'garage sale' prices. For example: a new CD would cost maybe $15, but a used (opened) one would only be $1 or so. Therefore we would only pay 50 cents duty instead of $7.50. If you must place a value on your items please remember this and write extremely low values.

I had a list on my blog before of some things we had wanted, but since I posted it we've found some of the food items here (but not the elusive but much desired Star Bucks coffee). Granted the imported items from the States are much more expensive to buy here, but it's also expensive to mail things.

So far the only packages we've received have been a couple of padded envelopes of books from our friends the Donelly's mailed by our home group in Virginia and a couple of padded envelopes of candy (and toothbrushes) mailed from our friends the Lindsey's in Kansas City (that's the one we're opening on the video). My parents have mailed a box (almost 2 months ago now) as have a few others. We haven't received these yet although we are praying that they will arrive. So, I guess that actually means that so far the only packages we've received are the 9 x 12 padded envelope kind. I'm sure we can and will get other ones, we just haven't yet.

If you'd like to guarantee that the package will arrive here you can mail via Fed-Ex or DHL but these are very expensive. They didn't build Fed-Ex Field without getting money from somewhere. :>)

I know this is a long entry and I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. If you have more, please let me know and I’ll try to answer those.

Here's where to mail the packages:

Mision Andina Evangelica
Joe and Denise Holman
Cajon 736
Cochabamba, Bolivia
South America

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dead Man Walking....or at Least Awakening

How many of you saw the news story this past week about a guy that woke up in the middle of his autopsy? The medical examiners knew something was wrong when he started bleeding and quickly stitched him up. YIKES! It happened here in South America. In developing countries, it's not as uncommon as you would think for someone who everyone thought was dead to suddenly wake up. Here in Bolivia it's the law that a dead body must stay in the house of the deceased at least 24 hours and at least over one entire night. This is for several reasons one of which is to ensure that they are indeed dead. A Bolivian friend told us that she was at a funeral when the 'deceased' man sat up in the coffin! That would wake everyone else up for sure!! Joe asked me to do him a favor. If he dies here in Bolivia he wants me to drive a wooden stake through his heart. He says the last thing he wants to do is to wake up in his coffin buried underground. Maybe I should attempt something less drastic just in case he isn't quite dead or maybe I could even auction off the chance to drive the stake through his heart. Then at least I'd be financially set for the rest of my life. Any takers?

You all know that I am only kidding. I love my honey and I know you all do too. I showed this entry to Joe and he thought it was hilarious and wanted me to include that last part.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Man Loves Me

Look at what he bought me!!! We made a special trip on Saturday to find a new market that we heard had a small supply of these. Our trip gave new light to the verse that says "Knock (and keep on knocking) and it shall be opened unto you, seek (and keep on seeking) and you will find. Ask (and keep on asking) and it shall be given unto you". I love my man!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Here is our family's new favorite pizza. Look how HUGE it is!! The box is about 3 feet by 3 feet and the pizza fills up the box! I think it's 40 large slices of pizza. It's called "Interminable" which means 'unfinishable', however our family can finish it no problem.

As many of you have read on our family's website ( we have a new hot water heater. It is the tankless kind so we now have endless hot water. However, we are having trouble explaning to our teens that endless hot water doesn't mean endless water.

Speaking of water, the other day I over heard David talking to the girls. He told them that when we moved here he figured out what the unfamiliar letters on the faucets meant. As many of you Spanish-speakers know, 'F' stands for frio (cold) and 'C' is for calente (hot). But I like David's explanation better. He says 'C' is for cool and 'F' is for freezing.

Here's a fun, short video of the kiddos receiving a package of some goodies from some friends in the States.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Patience is Three: And still growing into her name!

We are right in the thick of our birthday season. Our family has a birthday a week for the next three weeks and Patience's birthday was last Thursday. She turned three and so now she thinks she's one of the 'big kids'. As Joe says she was named in faith and is still growing into her name. She has however started using the potty which is wonderful. So far at least a while we will have a break from diapers. (That's not an announcement, just a hope.) She had a Dora the Explorer party. When we were moving the little girls wanted to know if in Bolivia Dora would teach them English. :>) The other day one of them asked me if Patience would be able to understand people when we go back to the States to visit. You have to understand that we know and speak VERY LITTLE Spanish yet, so this was extremely funny to us all.

Yesterday at the market I met a fellow missionary gal. She is a homeschool grad who is homeschooling her kiddos. She and her hubby have a church here in our neighborhood. They also run an orphanage on the same property. It's just one street down from our house, so we went there this morning and were blessed. We enjoying worshipping with them.

Prayer requests

I emailed a dear friend at BRBC a prayer request list the other day and as I looked back over it I decided to post it here as well so that you can join in praying for my requests as well. Thank you all in advance for your prayers. I know that it is God's direct answers to the prayers of people like you that enables us to be here and will enable us to accomplish the ministry God has planned for us in Cochabamba. We don't take your prayers lightly.

Here are the requests:

  • That Seth will fall more and more in love with Jesus and seek to serve God with his whole life as he is now on his own...well not fully on his own, but out from under our roof.
  • That I will be able to work in plenty of study time for language with all that I still have to do (schooling the kids, running the house, etc.). It seems that everything here is more of a chore than in the states and it takes more time to accomplish tasks....buying groceries, buying needed clothes and shoes, cooking (definitely takes much longer), etc. I've been looking for three days for math flash cards for the kiddos. I'm about to make them myself. This is the kind of thing that takes up lots of my time.
  • For our health.
  • For the kids as they adjust to not having Seth here with us...especially Jake as they were good buddies.
  • That we all would learn Spanish well and as quickly as possible.
  • That we will 'seize the day' with the kids and enjoy each moment and also take advantage of the time we have with them to teach them about the Lord....not Biblical facts but truly being open with them and teaching them what God is doing in our lives and encouraging them to let Him work in theirs.
  • That our kids would find friends who love the Lord and that they would encourage our children to love him more too.
  • For continuing adjustment to all the differences of culture and the feelings of loneliness.
  • For ongoing adjustments to all the changes here like limited water, limited transportation (it's hard getting all 12 of us to church or anywhere for that matter in taxis), and lack of friendships.
  • For Joshua in his schooling. We believe he definitely has learning disabilities and are struggling with how best to teach him. Many times his schooling frustrates both him and me. He's had some really hard days this last week or so. We both have. Pray that I will have wisdom to discern his problem with learning and that I will be able to come up with a solution that we all can live with. :>)
  • That we will keep our priorities straight and let go of the things that we must in order to do that which we should most.
  • That we would find a way to get 'fed' spiritually. We are going to a Bolivian church and none of us even understand the language fully so we aren't getting good Bible teaching. We are able to feed ourselves from the Word, but long to have someone else teach us as well. The internet and pod casts are an option, but we find it's difficult to make this happen.
  • For my back: I don't know what happened, but my back has started 'acting up' again. As many of you know I pulled some muscles in my back at the Sandy Cove Homeschool Week Talent Show in July 2006. It's been bothering me again lately. It's not nearly as bad as it was then, but still is a nuisance and I would like for it to get better.
  • Most of all that we would bring honor to the name of Christ and shine our lights for Him.

I have more, but I'm sure this will keep you busy for now. Thanks so much for lifting these up before our Father. May God bless you for your service to Him, You, through your labor of prayer, will be a part of the harvest of God's work here in Bolivia.

Another week gone by...

It seems as if time is flying by now that we are in language school. I spent all day yesterday trying to catch up on emails. I always have good intentions to get so much done during the week, but it just doesn't seem to happen. So, then I think "I'll do it this weekend". Of course, it doesn't get done then either. Here it is Sunday night about 9:00 and I still haven't done a lick of homework....just kidding, professoras, if you're reading this. :>) It seems like everything here takes more time and energy than it did in the States. Even now, my family is waiting on me to watch a pod cast sermon so I must go now but I hope tonight to add several blog entries that I've started, but never finished.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Day of Many Tears and One Amazing Encounter

Saturday was one of the saddest days of our lives so far. We said goodbye to our eldest son Seth and put him on an airplane to the United States. We had hoped that he might stay here with us for a year. We know that letting go of a young adult is a normal and healthy thing to do, but as all who've done it know, it's also incredibly hard. It's especially difficult when you won't even be living on the same continent. Thankfully Seth is going to be living with my parents. That fact eases the pain a bit. We know he will be well looked after and well loved there. We all cried many tears the day he left. I've never seen Joe cry so much. We thought it would be better if Seth told the rest of the kids goodbye here at home and just Joe and I took him to the airport since we knew it would be such an emotional time for everyone. Before he walked through the gate to board the plane Joe and I each gave him one final hug. I was last. As I held him and cried I thought of the very first time I held him in my arms as they handed him to me in the hospital more than 18 years ago. I gave him one last tight squeeze and let him go. Then I stood there and cried and cried. Joe held me and we cried together. Then we had an amazing encounter. A small Spanish lady came over to us and held onto me. She told me (in Spanish) that it would be okay. She repeated this three of four times then she said the most incredible thing. She said God would be going with Him. Joe and I stood there amazed. As she started to walk away I grabbed her arm and pulled her back and told her gracias one more time. As she walked off Joe said what I was thinking....that this was truly a word from the Lord for us. We went back to look for her and tell her that but she was gone. Whether or not she was a real angel or not we don't know, but we do know that she certainly was God's messenger to us. We are thankful to serve a God who loves us so much to send us such a kindness in the midst of a difficult moment.

Caleb's Birthday

Last Monday was Caleb's 15th birthday. Unfortunately he was very ill on his birthday. A couple of days after the shooting and the robbery Caleb contracted an amoeba. He missed one day of language school, then went the next. The following morning he made it out of the gate, but turned around and came home before he made it to school. By the time I got home from school that day he said he felt sicker than he ever had before. He looked it too. He was pasty white and had lost a good 7-10 pound that he couldn't afford to loose. We called our friend Allen over to interpret for us and called a doc. The doctor made a house call. I love that they still do that here. He told us that Caleb needed to have a blood test and also a fecal test (yea! that again) and might have to spend the night in the hospital. So we went to the clinic and he had his tests done. Thankfully the doctor let us come home to wait for the results. I was especially glad since although it was a decent clinic there were lots plenty of sick people there including one guy who was vomiting in a bucket in a side room who then tracked it across the floor leaving yucky footprints. Being the germ freak that I am I could feel germs crawling all over me. I told Joe he would really do me a favor if he would please stay the night at the clinic with Caleb if he had to be admitted. He agreed that he would. Here's a funny side story: Our friend Allen has been here in Bolivia pushing 20 years. In addition to his native English language he also speaks Spanish and Quechua. Consequently often he thinks in Spanish and sometimes has a hard time thinking of the English word. When he was telling us that Caleb might have to be admitted to the hospital, he said Caleb might have to be interred which as you know means to be buried after you die. OOPS! I have one more funny story to tell about mistakes Joe and I made in language school, but I'll finish my Caleb story first. Well, a few hours later the doctor called and said he was coming back over to give us Caleb's results. He didn't have typhoid which was great. He did have a heavy quantity of amoeba. God answered our unspoken prayers and the doc said that Caleb didn't have to be admitted (or interred for that matter). He gave him some meds that have seemed to work. He's still not totally back to his old self, but he did feel good enough to sprain his ankle in an American football game. It's all swollen and bruised as well. Never a dull moment. We are thankful to God for protecting Caleb through these last two week and we are even more thankful for the 15 years that we've shared with him. He's a great guy!

Okay, here's the funny story that happened in language school. I was supposed to describe in Spanish my class, classmates, etc. As I was nearing the end of my description I thought I would give Joe a compliment in front of the teacher and I tried to say that my classmate (Joe) was handsome. Instead I said he was fat!!! OOPS!!! I was so embarrassed as Joe and Angelica (the teacher) laughed and laughed. Well, then Joe tried to say in Spanish that he wanted a new classmate. But instead he said that he wanted a new bed-mate. OOPS for him. Angelica said she didn't want to hear anymore. We all had a good laugh that day.