Saturday, February 4, 2012

10 Month Update

  Today (Jan.31) marked our 10 month anniversary of being in Bolivia. One year ago we moved out of our home in League City to stay in a temporary duplex until our date of departure. It is truly hard to imagine that our 1 year anniversary of being here is just around the corner. Time flies when you're having fun, right? Or at least when life is crazy and you've turned your world upside down and started over from scratch in a foreign land and just tried to live moment by moment to survive and thrive. Whooh. Here we are...beginning a new year in our new country and wondering what on earth God has in store for this family of ours here in this place. Why are we here again?! Oh, yes! We did this crazy, insane thing because God told us to! No matter what, we said. No matter how hard. No matter how rough and tough and ugly it gets. And it has - gotten that way, I mean. At times. Otherwise, on the other side of the pesito ( that would be a little tiny coin...) there have been wonderful, beautiful, fun, productive, positive times. Moments when we feel all cheery and good and that things are just "right", you know? I won't lie, this life we have chosen isn't easy, and it's not all rosy and grand. However, we have to know that God is good. God is great! He called us here and He has a purpose for us. He is not going to leave us or forsake us. He is with us. He will lead us and guide us into His perfect plan and will for us. As we lean into starting a new year here in Bolivia, I have asked the Lord, "What do you want with us this year? What shall we do? What things, Lord, can we accomplish for you?" We want to make this time worth it. Worth all of the sadness and heartache and missing home and missing friends and doing without. Worth all of the leaving behind we did.
 I (Shay) feel strongly that the Lord wants me (personally) to build more meaningful relationships with Bolivians and strengthen my Spanish speaking ability. The two really go hand in hand. I have a deep desire to focus on discipleship, specifically with students, considering that is the group of folks here that the Lord has clearly led us to minister to. He just continues to give Lowell and I both opportunities to serve these amazing kids here who need to know Jesus and grow in their faith. We are prayerfully considering ways to develop a leadership team within our youth group at the church. This kind of thing really excites me and pumps me up! I love seeing young people step up and be bold in their faith and become leaders for their generation. Please pray along with us that the Lord would lead us and guide us as we begin this new endeavor. Another incredible opportunity that the Lord has given Lowell is to be the Assistant Coach for Carachipampa's basketball team (! For those of you who know Lowell well, you know that basketball was a huge part of his life as a young student. He was a very talented and skilled player and now he has the chance to pour into these young men in yet another area - teaching them and encouraging them on the basketball court! Our oldest son, Aidan, has decided to join the team, making him the only 7-9th grader out there amongst a team of 10-12th graders! At CCS, high school is 7-12th grades and since the school is so small anyone has a chance to be a part of the team. We are so proud of Aidan, that he didn't shy away from joining, just because the rest of the team was older. Incredibly, he is now just as tall as many of the Senior players.
  We enjoyed a wonderful three week break for the Christmas holiday and we were incredibly blessed to spend the majority of that time with Lowell's parents! It was truly amazing to welcome visitors here, when we still feel like visitors ourselves! I cried tears of joy seeing them step off the plane and walk through the gate to us. It was overall an enjoyable time, besides Lowell's Mother being very ill for a week and having to be admitted to the hospital. Lowell's Dad purely enjoyed every second of his time here in Bolivia, reminiscing of his peace corps days and visiting old friends, speaking to the locals of "the good 'ole days" of Cochabamba in the 60's. Christmas was different, but very, very blessed. The kids discovered that Santa really does make stops in Bolivia. For a few days after Christmas, we were able to travel to Santa Cruz, Bolivia by bus (quite the experience) and enjoy some fun family time at a waterpark called Aqualand and a beautiful butterfly and bird sanctuary called Biocentro Guembe. The climate in SC is very similar to Houston - hot and humid!
  The second semester of school is in full swing and our grueling schedule continues. Olivia has gone back to her school, Rise and Shine, although the Bolivian school year does not officially start until next week (Feb. 6). She will officially be a Kindergartener!! She enjoys her playdates with her friends and will be taking swim lessons with them starting next week as well! Jude is a star student and we are so proud of how well he has done this year in this new environment. Liam and Aidan are still working hard and persevering through the changes as well. The struggles they have faced in the past 10 months have made them stronger and pretty darn tough, I think! They continue to make new friends and use their gift of music to help lead worship for youth group and chapel at school. Liam is excited to celebrate his 12th birthday next week with some of his friends from church and school with paintball and a sleepover. Speaking of's hard for me to believe, but this Monday, the 6th, is my 40th. The "big one". Mid life, right? Ha! I sure hope not. Lord willing, anyway! Looking forward to celebrating in Bolivia!

1) Continued relationship building with our empleada, Miriam. She has lots of good questions related to God and is definitely seeking truth! She is attending church regularly.
2) A memorable visit with Lowell's parents
3) Growth within the youth group! We are averaging 40 students and more Bolivians are coming! Pray that the MK's will reach out to them and make them feel welcome and comfortable.

1) That our Spanish speaking ability would reach a new level.
2) That we will be more intentional about building relationships with Bolivians.
3) That God would lead Lowell and I as we develop the student leadership team.
4) Continued transition and adaptation - it's an ongoing process and symptoms of culture stress and missing home and friends rise frequently. There are still tears and sadness and emotional breakdowns at times.
5) That all kids would do well in school and that they would actually come to really like it and look forward to it! Pray for good, significant friends for all of them.

God's goodness and blessings upon you ALL!!!

Shay, for all of us
Us with Lowell's parents visiting the Simon I. Patino Palace Museum 

Being crazy on Christmas Eve in the pj's my Mom sent

Olivia, la Mariposa muy linda, at the Biocentro Guembe in Santa Cruz