Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Bolivian Babies

Howdy, all. It's October already. Smack in the middle of springtime here in Bo. As long as we are here, I will never get used to the backwards seasons. Oh, how I miss fall. You know, REAL Autumn? Like you all are experiencing back home. Orange, and brown, and gold, and deep dark hues of red. Pumpkins, and squash, and gourds, and hay. Scarecrows, and costumes, and candy corn...not to mention caramel apples. Cool breezes, a nip in the air, chilly nights, and sweaters. Spiced tea, pumpkin spice lattes, carrot cake muffins, and cinnamon candles. Oh, gosh, I really, really miss this time of year back home. Enjoy it all for me, friends! It will be a very long while until I can experience it again. Springtime in Coch means heavy winds, warmer weather, bright sunshine, and the impending, coming rainy season. Yes! This is all good. How can I ever complain about the amazing weather here? The climate is incomparable. So lovely to be cool in the shade, and warm in the sun. And when the rains come, all of the dust and dirt will be washed away and the air will be clear!
I hope I never grow tired of the amazing sunsets we get to enjoy this time of year from our dining room window!

We have been in the throngs of school now for just over 6 weeks and of course it has not been without it's challenges. The boys are doing a good job of taking more responsibility getting their schoolwork done in their "PACES" (Ace Homeschool Curriculum....a new path for us), and really only need us to help when they get stuck or don't understand instructions. Olivia is in need of one on one attention right now since she is learning to read and cannot read any of the instructions in her workbooks. She is learning how to take instruction from Mommy and Daddy as her teachers and working really hard on sitting still and staying focused!
It's nice to be able to have "homeschooling lessons" like this with Olivia. She helped me put together some "bags of blessings" to hand out to street kids who beg for money on the streets.

We have been able to help out with a ministry here called "Baby Washing" in the main plaza a couple of times this past month. This takes place every Sat. and tents are set up along with many bins of water to wash, rinse, dry, and clothe babies, ages newborn to 5, with a new set of clothes. Most of the folks who take advantage of this amazing ministry are indigenous peoples who likely have no home or at least no running water in their "home". I have a feeling that most of these moms who come are single and desperate, with no jobs or skills, including reading or writing. They come to have their babies washed once a week. I mostly helped out with dressing the children and Livi helped me with that. Lowell and the boys help with set up and tear down and playing with some of the older kids who have their hair washed. Please pray for these mamas, not only for their physical needs, but of course that the love of Jesus would be so evident in the volunteers that it change lives!
Here Olivia and I are helping transfer the babies back to their mamas after they bathe and dress them.

Last week we took a fun day trip along with two other families to a part of the Chapare jungle region called Inca Chaca (which means bridge of the Incans). It is a beautiful place with typical jungle vegetation, rivers, waterfalls, and swimming holes. It was life-giving to get out of the city and get into nature and enjoy God's amazing creation! The kids had a blast swimming and hiking and exploring and I had a blast watching them come alive in their element! We are trying to regularly get together with some of the other missionary families that homeschool for our kids to have social time and build friendships here.

We made some exciting changes in the auditorium at our church, at Lowell's leading and suggestion. The direction of the stage and seating arrangement was reconfigured and it looks awesome! This may sound trivial, but simple things like this really do make a huge difference in how a service is conducted, how things are perceived by newcomers, how the music sounds, how easy (or not) it is for people to find seats when they walk in, etc...Lowell was given the permission to make these changes and to invest in some lighting and possible new sound equipment for the music ministry. These are all wonderful advances in this growing ministry and I believe God is using Lowell and his knowledge to do some exciting things for the Music and Worship Ministry of CIC! I was also able to do my very first stage design, which was fun and brought back great memories of serving in that area at CCCC. I look forward to doing more of that and discovering creative people in the congregation that can help.
This is the new set up, although now the projector screen is centered. Here is Shay teaching the students at youth group.

Lowell and I have been able to get back involved with the young couple's bible study now that we are homeschooling again. Right now we are doing a book study of the book Powerful Promises for Every Couple by Jim and Elizabeth George. Each week one couple hosts and leads the discussion of a chapter. Well, Lowell and I are hosting and leading this Monday night!!! THIS GROUP IS ENTIRELY IN SPANISH! Please pray for us as this will be our first time leading anything in Spanish. We feel very inadequate to do this, but we also know that this is a very loving, forgiving group and it's a great place to start and practice! I have been working on translating the chapter into English first, so I can understand it well before leading a discussion on it!
Shay at a retreat for the wives of the young couple's bible study

We are looking forward to another visit from Lowell's parents in December! Our year end newsletter will be coming out via their snail mail before they head down to visit us again for Christmas. We truly do hope that until then you will be blessed and thoroughly enjoy all that this season has to offer. Again, we are so humbled by your support, love, and encouragement of all that we are doing here. God is so good!!

Shay, for the family!

Prayer and Praise:
1} We have our two year visas and our passports back in our possession!! This feels so great! Also, we were able to begin the process to obtain our new carnets, which are Bolivian i.d. cards, and should have them within 30-45 days. After we get them, we can renew our Bolivian driver's licenses!

2} Continue to lift us up concerning homeschooling. It is not the easy road, but is what we feel God led us to do this year. Pray that the kids would be highly motivated, independent learners and would be cooperative and diligent and maintain positive attitudes (not only about school, but Bolivia in general)

3} Pray for private Spanish tutors for us all, or at least good Bolivian friends to practice with :o)

4} Growth for the music and youth ministries that we lead. Ministry opportunities for us to serve in as a family.