Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bethel


Today we learned that there are about 120 full time Bethelites. The zone visit is in a few weeks so they also have an extra 20 volunteers working hard to spruce up the place. We were told the zone visit is open invitation so we're going to buy our plane tickets for it when we get to Sucre. There will be only one English talk- it is given by a brother from Australia. The rest will be in Spanish which will be fun for us.

(Click on the pictures to see them up close!)
We did our tour of the Sucural de Bolivia (Bethel Branch)
Palm trees line the road inside. The far left is reception and many offices of the branch comittee members. We dont have many pictures of the tour but we'll show you some highlights
Because Bolivia is still a developing country the society isn't able to ship their literature from Brazil through the mail system. This chart is all the ways they get around the mail system and get the literature to all the congregations.
This is what you see when you walk out from the dining hall. These are two of the three residence buildings. We are staying in the one on the left and the Goldens live in the one straight ahead. The tree is right outside our window and has birds in it all the time. The fountain is very tempting when it is so hot and humid...
A cute birdy!! Just hanging out in the park area for the Bethelites

A neat tree out side of the Dining hall

Down the street is the assembly hall. There are some offices conected to it which is where they take care of translating into the different languages of Bolivia

There was a cute board about the campaigns to work the unassigned territory and these are some of recent pictures of the various groups that have gotten together. They said Sucre does their unassigned territorry this time of year so hopefully we can be a part of the next one!
Bolivia is divided into Departments (what we would call States). Sucre is in the Department of Chuquisaca. It has the highest publisher per inhabitant ratio of 1,006 whereas the a good number of the other Departments were around 300.
This is the Kingdom Hall where we went to meeting tonight. It has open doors and window the whole time with lots of fans going. Yet it still feels like a sauna even at 8pm. We were told to wear our bug spray and we sure did see a lot of bugs. 
The congregation always have an attendance of well over 100 people. Very sweet and welcoming hall. Everyone shook our hands and gave us kisses on our cheeks. During meeting however we could hear dog fights and nobody seemed to care at all so we just went along with it.

This is Misael (?) who is 13 and these are his two Bible studies. The one on the left has been attending for a while now and tonight was the one on the right's first meeting. Our young brother helped them make comments all night.

This is Fabio. He is young and very hyper. He grabbed my hand and walked me around everywhere he could. He also loved having his picture taken and for good reason, he's so stinking cute!






I have a feeling we're not in Pullman anymore


During our layover in Chicago we made Jacob Bergman and Garland come up with names for our blog. All of their rejected ideas (which were all of their ideas) will be the titles of  our entries. Enjoy and feel free to mock the boys.

This is the sunset over South America from our plane
The final leg of Panama to Bolivia was probably our least favorite. It started with Elise and I being separated on the plane so we sat with strangers who mostly stared at us for 5 hours. We also had to fill out a lot of paperwork on the plane separately which was also difficult. Getting our visas was relatively easy, we were ready with all the required paperwork and ended up not needing most of it. The fellow passengers and airport staff enjoyed staring at us while we got everything worked out. Customs in Bolivia is a lottery system. When it is your turn, you push a green button on what looks like a metal detector and if it flashes red the officers go through all your stuff. We were the only two white girls on the plane- of course we were chosen to have our bags looked through. 3 customs officers had a fun time going through all our bags, giggling at what they saw as they went along. They weren't happy to see the camera I was carrying for Bethel but eventually they let us go.

Bob and Kathy Golden were waiting for us outside of the airport and helped us get all of our bags into the van and drove us to Bethel. By this time it was after 11pm so they hesitantly invited us to Morning Worship but understood we couldn’t make it-after all we were going on 50 hours total of travel- but of course we said yes. So we rushed into our room, unpacked what we needed for the next day and slept. The temperature at night was still 70 degrees and humid but thankfully we have an air conditioner in our room.
Our room! The towels were wrapped in the shape of flowers. We had a welcome letter and folder filled with info we need to know like rules and passwords. There were Atalayas and Yearbooks on the table for us. They just got their Yearbooks this week so everyone is excited about it.
We have cute kitchenette and a stocked fridge with snacks! We were tempted to try a Bolivian beer but not enough that we actually opened it
Our cute bathroom. Faucets says F and C instead of H and C. A little confusing at first because you dont want 'caliente' when you are expecting 'cold'.. There are also directions everywhere of how to clean it.

We woke up around 6am which is 2am back home <--- be impressed!! Morning worship was very sweet. There were more people there than we expected (we'll give you an actual number of how many volunteers serve at the branch after our tour in a little while but we guessed around 100). Everything was in Spanish so we followed along in our Spanish daily texts and Bibles. We ate a corn and cheese pudding casserole thing. A couple at our table was learning English so they enjoyed practicing on us. Everyone told us that the weather in Sucre is very nice and the town is very colonial.

Tours start after 8:30 so with this free time we are taking turns using the internet (no wifi) and updating this blog because we didn't have time back in Panama (that is why we uploaded our Panama entry this morning). Panama is beautiful by the way, we hope on the way back we can see more of it. We also assume our blog entrees will get less and less the farther into our trip we get so we might as well do what we can now so expect another one later today.
This is the little friend Elise found while I was writing this. After taking a picture neither of us had the guts to kill it or get near it. We had a maid come kill it and she laughed at us in spanish.
 
Toodles!!!

Greetings from Panama!



Our trip started earlier than expected because of the six inches of snow Pullman was expecting. We had big nights planned with our families and last meals planned but ended up having to leave Monday afternoon instead of Tuesday morning as expected. We quickly shoved our stuff into bags; We still don't know if we have everything or where it is. At noon we made a desperate call to Trisha Lohr to see if her offer to let us stay was still available and she instantly said yes. We're so thankful for the hospitality of her and her husband, Ryan. We will fast forward through Spokane and the delays in Seattle, navigating Chicago's airport-shuttle-hotel-restuarant-shuttle again-airport, flying over a lot of ocean, And now, finally, in Panama waiting for the flight to Bolivia.
We no longer have cell service and this is the last leg of today's journey. When we land in Bolivia the Goldens from Bethel will be picking us up. First we have to get our visas so pray for us! We will start taking pictures once we get to Bethel but none yet since we're not fit to be seen. We can't wait to unload all the stuff we are transporting for Bethelites, our bags are so heavy!!
So far, the plan is to stay at the Branch for the first three days, successfully attend morning worship (once we figure out what time it is-there's a four hour time difference, we've been up since 3:00am our time), find a meeting, find track phones, book tickets and head to Sucre. Then find an apartment in Sucre. Pretty much whenever we are awake we are praying to Jehovah because we know that's the only way all this is going to happen.
Pray for us and we'll return the favor!