Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From Bolivia with Love

Hello all!
It has been a while! Sorry about that. We didn't have internet access in Santa Cruz and when we came home to Sucre the internet in our apartment wasn't working either. Life has been busy!!!

First I will tell you about the Zone Visit and then I will update you on our new congregation (YAY!!!)
Over the weekend literally thousands visited Bethel for the special tour.
This is the line inside the gates of Bethel, it went outside the gates and around the corner. 
You had to stand in line for a very long time. 
 This is Edward and Joyce Howard. They've been in Bolivia for around 20 years now.  They know Ross and Debbie Miller (and say 'Hi' when you guys read this) and also the Bokers. They used to serve at Bethel but she had chemical sensitivity so they moved to the middle of nowhere. He said they helped build the Bethel branch and could give us an amazing inside tour ;) They were so cute and encouraging. We were standing in line and he tapped our shoulders and started interviewing us. He kept telling us about how we should move here. They serve in the Yungas and told us how amazing their territory was. He made sure we exchanged phone numbers and offered to email us a Quechua presentation. The cutest ever.

 A lot of displays about the website

 Cartoon about Lot's family
 (Paradise and New World)

This was a picture on the board for the dining hall-- its the couple that hosted us at Bethel! 
We sat next to her at morning worship. (Bob and Kathy Golden)

The next day we had the Zone Visit at an outdoor soccer staduim. It is super hot and humid in Santa Cruz (glad we aren't there for 3 months- I'd die!). Elise was mad because while in Santa Cruz she was never sick and I was whereas in Sucre I'm always healthy and shes always sick. Can't win.
 They had a talk specifically encouraging brothers to reach out for privileges. They said the average congregation should have 5 elders and 7 ministerial servants. Based on that- Bolivia is short 600 elders and 800 ministerial servants. Crazy!!!

 Giant screens to show the speaker
 The brother on the left is translating for the Australian brother on the right
We sat on the edge in the sun but we all had umbrellas.
 I got a wee bit of heat exhaustion because I'm talented like that

The Zone Overseer was a Branch Committee Member from the Australia Branch. His name was Winston Payne. His talk was 'Find Happiness in the Peace of God.' From what we can tell it was very similar to the talk by the Bethelite back home! He used Psalm 102:1-6 which uses a pelican to illustrate a depressed person. He used this theme throughout his talk because he was very familiar with pelicans. It was cute, he would say 'When you feel like a pelican..." when talking about when we are sad. He had many illustrations and stories. Here are some highlights from his talk
  • 3 things are necessary for a person to come into the truth: to be searching, to have the right disposition, and Jehovah has to open your heart. Personal study and family keeps our hearts open so that we stay in the truth. 
  • Spirituals goals are special because they are between you and Jehovah alone. Plus they will never come to an end. 
  • An older sister was walking with a 5 year old in service. The little girl asked her 'Are you one of the 144,000??' The sister smiled and said 'No I am going to live on earth forever with you!' And the little girl got sad and quietly said 'I wont be there.' The older sister asked 'Why do you say that?' The little girl said 'I am too naughty.' 'Well you do you pray to Jehovah to forgive you and ask that he help you not be naughty?' 'Yes I do!' 'If you continue to do that you will make it.' The little girl was thrilled and thanked her for telling her that. The Brother said the moral was 'Don't tell your children that if they're naughty they wont get into Paradise-- it will give them anxiety!' 
  • A Servant of a wealthy man was on his death bed. His master came to visit him. He asked his loyal servant 'What can I do for you?' and the dying man said 'Give me one more day of life.' The master was shocked and said 'I can't do that, only God can.' The dying man said 'I have made a huge mistake- all of my life I have served you instead of God and now, here I am dying and you can't do anything for me. I should've been serving him instead'
  • In Singapore our work in banned. All men have to serve 3 years and 3 months in the military. One man served 3 years and then was offered a scholarship to go to university in Australia. He took it. There he learned and was baptized. He still had 3 months left to serve back in Singapore. He went home, explained to them why he couldn't finish this service because of his Bible based conscience. For the next year he had to sit in the commander's office from 8am-5pm every single day. Then they decided he was to spend the next 3 years and 3 months in prison. Which he did. So total it was 3 years in the army, 1 year in an office, and 3 years prison. Now our faithful brother is happily serving in a Bethel Branch with a clean conscience.
  • There was a young couple studying in Australia. They had a baby and moved to another city where they never continued their study. One day the baby got sick and they took it to the hospital where soon after it died. They nurse asked where they they wanted the funeral. The parents were sad and said they had no religion and no family. So the nurse gave them a brochure with a list of Ministers who preform funerals. The mother asked why Jehovah's witnesses weren't on the list. The nurse got upset, threw the brochure on the ground, and left. The couple then left the hospital, went to a phone box, and found the phone number for the Kingdom Hall. They called the brothers and explained their situation. The brother told them to stay put and they would then come meet them. They made all the arrangements for the baby's funeral. Because there are so many funerals in the cemeteries in Australia, each funeral is only allotted 20 minutes in the facility. The day of the funeral the couple showed up early. The mother saw the facility packed with people because of a funeral. She began to cry saying 'That person was so loved. My baby won't have anyone mourning it. I have no family.' Just then the brother walked up to her and asked why she wasn't going inside. 'Because there is already another funeral going on inside there.' And the brother said 'No, that is your baby's funeral. Those are all Jehovah's Witnesses, you are a part of our family now'
We realized after spending days in Santa Cruz that we are so blessed with Sucre. We were so happy to be home! Although the airport in Santa Cruz has a Cinnabon (I had 2 I was so excited--- really miss food)

The story: Last week Congregation America had meeting on Friday and we were going to miss it because of the Zone Visit so we visited one of the other congregations- the Congregation Sur. It is the congregation that has the special pioneer from Britain that helped us get to Sucre back when we were in the States. To our surprise there were NO other foreigners/need greaters in that hall besides him! Congregation America has around 18 need greaters. So many that we rarely work with anyone who is actually Bolivian. So before we left for the visit, we emailed Karl Mitchell (special pioneer for 20 years in Bolivia) and asked what he thought. The title of his email was 'Join Congregation Sur?-- Absolutely!' He said they have a bigger territory and less people out in service, and just a greater need in general. Since then its been a whirlwind. We found out that this week was their CO visit so we had to study and run to meeting yesterday. Including us there were only 5 white people at meeting- the CO and his wife and Karl. We met the CO and his wife (German couple) and told them we switched congregations and the CO told us it was a great idea because the congregation really had a need. We felt so validated!! We do feel bad that we are leaving behind the other congregation but we will see them around a lot- memorial, pioneer meeting, and assembly are all coming up next month. We went out in service this morning and had a great time! They have service meetings every day (even one Monday night which is unheard of here) and a great response in the territory. Tonight we have the Pioneer Meeting with the CO. We will take pictures because all of the auxiliary pioneers get to sit in for the whole thing!
Stats: 16 pioneers. (some are in an isolated group out in Villa Serrano which is 5 hours away)
2 Elders in Sucre (2 in isolated areas)
75 publishers
(Total of 10 out in isolated areas that are technically part of our congregation)

Well that was a long post. Sorry.

We've been here for a month now!! 2 months to go. Crazy, no?

Hope everyone back home is excited for memorial campaign and has signed their slips for auxiliary pioneering! Last night at meeting they had a big stack of applications to announce :)

Elena y Elisa

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chicas de Jehova

This was our first try at getting the kids to say 'Jehovah.' Diego is always quick to speak up and his response to 'Who is God?' was 'ME!!!!!'
So we tried again (and I meant 'cual' not 'que' for those who speak spanish =P)
They did do really well today. They watched the videos off the website and really understood that Jehovah feels sad when we don't listen and obey. They were thrilled so much by the airplane at the beginning of the movie that when we asked them later who lives in heaven they said 'Jehovah, angels, and airplanes.' The owner of daycare came in at one point and asked one of the children why the man in the picture was being eaten by a fish (Jonah) and one little boy answered 'because he didn't listen to Jehovah.' We talk about how we need to listen and obey at every single study. The owner also told us that earlier that day one child asked her 'When are the Chicas de Jehova coming?'

We had a crazy experience today. We were waiting in a plaza (same one where we got sprayed with shaving cream) for a service meeting to begin. We were with two brothers who were speaking in French about territories. An older Bolivian man approached us with a bunch of Bolivian bags that he was selling. This happens to us all the time because we are white. Usually it is another man who we have run into 4 times. The man showed us each and every bag he had (all identical) and we had to say 'No thank you' to each of them. Finally I showed him that I already had a bag like those and all I have in it is my Bible and Bible literature. I gave him a tract and told him it was all I had to offer him. It was the tract about suffering. He looked at the picture and was amazed by it. I started to tell him about the future that God promises and he interrupted me to ask me what the animal on the tract is. I have no clue how to say 'Moose' in Spanish so I told him it was a giant animal like a horse but from Canada. He accepted this as an answer and then decided to have a problem with the woman on the tract and wanted to know her story as well. I told him I don't know. He figured out that we were witnesses and asked us 'Are you sisters?' (Which we have learned just because a person calls you sisters doesn't mean you he is a witness) and we said yes. Then he shook my hand like crazy. Unappreciative of the attention I said 'Have you met Elise?' and directed his attention to her. He then told her 'You are so beautiful I am going to kiss you' and then his face just went colliding at hers. He kissed her cheek multiple times and it was wet and he was slowly moving closer to her mouth. She was able to turn her head enough that he failed. He then came after me and did the same. Then he decided to leave and we were there shocked. We asked the brothers next to us why they didnt save us. They were cracking up and said it looked like we had it all covered. A toothless, possibly homeless old man was eating our faces. Yes we had it under control.
(You thought we were ganna start a Bible study with him, huh? NOPE)
 Kissable, no? hahahahahahha!!! 
 These are a couple of our brothers doing early morning witnessing and spending the whole time starting a study here because they're amazing.
These are some stairs we have to climb for service on Thursdays. It kills us (elevation... sure...)
 In the Barrio America (part of our territory) there are always tons of pigs. 
We also often have to scale muddy hillsides because it is a really poor area.

Elise mentioned letter writing in another post. They do it differently here! No one really has mail boxes. The witnesses write letters and slide them under the doors of not-at-homes (they don't keep not at homes here). It is a really cute idea and we hope to try to find a way to use this idea in the states. Here is our letter that we came up with all on our own! We copied a lot from the Reasoning book and teach book... ok all of it is from the Reasoning Book and Teach Book

These last two pictures are food related (in the future we will do an actual post about Bolivian food). First is a picture of a bakery we found across town. I ate one of those cone thingies that was filled with dulce de leche and whipped cream, it made my day. The second is a picture that only people who aren't squeamish should look at  (JOHN HARRIS DON'T LOOK!!!!). It is a picture of just one stand at the Mercado where they sell meat (we've been lost here before and it is terrifying). There are dozens of these all in a row- no refrigeration, plenty of flies and dogs around, and the smell is sooooooo bad. We aren't buying this meat- I promise. We would die. While we were taking this picture a man walked by with a skinned pig carcass on his back. They'd already cleaned some of the inside. Elise about passed out.
Can you see the front part of a cow's face on the left and many tails on the right? 
I think literally everything else is in between.

We leave for the zone visit in the morning so I thought I'd get all our random information shared before we have stuff to relate that is actually interesting and has a theme.

Enjoy the Special Talk tomorrow!!!!
Ciao Ciao =)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sisters in South America

Hola! The brothers and sisters here have told us a lot cute stories and experiences while we've been here so we decided to pass on a few favorites.
     The sister I worked with this morning told me about how her family came in to the truth. Her fleshly sister was the first one to begin studying. She studied with a foreigner who had moved here to help out but who, of course, spoke very limited Spanish so the entire study was done through a little hand held translator. They would read in their respective languages then the foreign sister would type in the translator and pass it to the Bolivian sister who would type back her answer in Spanish and translate it back to the sister's language.
That's how they conducted the entire study and the woman ended up coming in to the truth and bringing lots of her family in to the truth as well. She jokes that their family came into the truth through a machine. The sister was so sweet and encouraged us that even if we don't speak the language very well (we're working on it!) earnest hearted people can still learn the truth and we can still be useful to Jehovah regardless of how well we speak!
     Another experience was about a blind sister who was never missing from the meetings. She had a seeing eye dog who came with her everywhere and when this sister died, her dog (because it was government supplied) was given to another blind woman. Well, when Tuesday night came the dog was frantic to go but this woman had no clue why. She decided to follow the dog wherever it led and, sure enough, he took her to the Kingdom Hall. This woman, being blind, had no clue where she was but the dog led her inside and then sat and refused to go. When the meeting started the woman finally realized where she was. The dog brought her to meetings every Sunday and Tuesday and now she is one of our sisters. Isn't that a cool experience?!
       We also learned that our congregation has only three elders currently (normally four but one is on vacation for a while), and all of them are foreign (French speaking to be exact-either from Canada or France). They give so many talks since there are only three! (They told us that the lack of Bolivian elders is because many of them are afraid of having so much responsibility but we have a lot of Bolivian servants so hopefully that will change). Our congregation isn't small though. We have 16 pioneers and two missionaries and the meeting attendance is around 80 for Tuesday and 120 on Sundays (a lot of the difference is all the studies that come on Sunday).  The two missionaries are two fleshly sisters from Mexico, the Acuna sisters*(with a tilde over the N, I couldn't find it). They have been here 30 years, look almost identical (but aren't twins) and they are a hoot! They are loud and zealous and break in to places to witness and yell things they've picked up in French.  There is also a couple that's been here for two years that sold everything thing they had and just moved to Bolivia. There is also a blind man who comes to the meetings. He can't read anything but he listens and comments on what he hears. (All of the above was related to us in Spanish and translated to English so we can't vouch for the accuracy of everything but we did our best)
        Here is a picture of some of our congregation's territory:

And a bumper sticker I saw today (if you can't tell it says "Me and my house will serve Jehovah"). Lots of non-witness people here know and use Jehovah's name.

       As for us, we've done pretty well this week too. We have studied with the daycare a few more times and we even were able to print off activities for the children off the website (which helped to hold their attention better). One exciting thing is Elena placed a Teach book with the aide who sits in to help with the kids and we are going to schedule a day to meet her to study. She was so grateful for the book and seemed really interested! We are hoping it turns out well. Also, we've done almost every type of service you can think of! We  have done door-to-door, studies, return visits, business territory, street and plaza witnessing, informal, we observed phone witnessing (there's no way our Spanish skills were up to that much of a challenge yet-maybe later), and letter writing-Whew! Bolivia is definitely forcing us to be adventurous and try    everything.  This weekend is the Zone Visit and we are really excited so hopefully we have more stories to share after that!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Hello all. So, we've been told by a few people that they've tried to leave comments on the blog but were unable (sorry about that guys). We don't really know what the problem is so we've tried to change the settings in the hope that it will fix the problem. If you still can't leave a comment let us know and we will try to figure how to fix it because we really enjoy hearing from everyone. Thanks!

This post looked really empty so here is a bonus picture of the market. I was pretty thrilled by the variety and number of potatoes available.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Out of the Mouth of Babes"

 We've finally made it past carnival and can leave our house. Now that we have our  freedom we can finally try to establish a good schedule of service. We have one Bible study so far with the daycare we mentioned earlier. So far its going really well. The kids are all three or four years old on average. We were prepared to do the Bible story book and Learn from the Great Teacher but the Bible Story book seemed to be more their level so we've been sticking to that. We hope to get the Learn from God brochure (once they get more at the Hall) because everyone uses it here with kids and also to find a way to use the videos or the activities from the website. We've only been twice but the owner wants us to come four times a week! There is an aide who sits in to help manage the kids and she adores the stories; She even follows along and helps the children to answer our questions or helps us with our Spanish. We reward them with stickers and candy when they answer questions to try and help prolong their attention spans. 

When we read the story about the Garden of Eden we had all the kids act like animals so "Adam" could name them.

 Santiago (there are two) just wanted to be in a picture but wasn't very good at being an animal. Your guess is as good as ours as to what he is being here besides adorable (he was super tired and fell asleep halfway through).
This is Monica being an elephant. She was super eager to answer all of the questions.

 This is the other Santiago, Elena's new boyfriend, being a giraffe. He is such a sweetheart, he would just stare until he couldn't contain himself and had to kiss her.
We usually have around eight kids per class but it was the end of the lesson and lots of them had run off by this point.

Our new goal is commenting at meetings, its so hard in another language. It really makes us appreciate the efforts of ones in our hall like Rosa, Gosia, and Hyon-Ju (sorry if we spelled their names wrong we just had meeting and we are a little brain dead). I also got my first talk assignment tonight. In a month I have a talk (not a householder! AHH!) about the Memorial emblems. Yikes! We have early morning service tomorrow so we better head to bed. Talk to you all later.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Holy S

Bienvenidos to our lives. All week bands have been making their circuit through the town because of Carnival. Tonight there are two 'dueling'- This is a video of the little band that is going around. The bigger one has set up camp across the street in the plaza. We feel like we are in Jericho. They drink, dance, and set off fireworks (amazing how even in a third world country someone has a stockpile of fireworks..). You can see some are in plastic ponchos because they throw various liquids on one another. The drums set off all the car alarms (which are the kind with 10 different types of alarms that it cycles through) and upset the neighborhood dogs.

We were really excited that we finally got a video of it to show you guys- but you can see we weren't brave enough to actually stand outside and film it (we did try once but were noticed immediately so we ran back inside).

Feel free to laugh at our situation :)

PS Elise co-authors everything with me (AKA Elise says hi!), she's just got a cold right now so I do all the typing. BTW she has the best timing ever for getting a cold because we cant go anywhere for days.

Hasta Luego or Ciao!
(the first one is the formal goodbye here and the second is informal<---- you learned something!!)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

007 License to Preach

Pretty sure that title was by Jake, but it fits our service themed entry.

We have to hide out for 4 days because of Carnival. It's nuts in town. People are in wigs and masks and weird costumes and they have water balloons, water guns, and shaving cream. The other day we were sitting on a bench waiting for service meeting (in the rain all pathetic like) and 4 teenagers doused us in shaving cream. And that wasn't even actually Carnival- they were just getting warmed up. They do some pretty nasty stuff during this time and we were told that it would be safest if we hid. So that is what we are doing.

We thought it would be fun to fill you in about what service is like here. We aren't saying anything on this list is good or bad, just a list of things that are different than what we are used it.

1. Service Meetings
The service meeting is usually at 8:30am in someone's house or in a Plaza. Lots of people walk in super late because everyone has to literally walk there (30 people met yesterday for service!). The service meeting is a brother who talks about a scriptural subject (so far they've all been super original and we were impressed) and then he asks someone to pray. THEN he assigns people to work together- but just pairs. Then the pairs are organized into groups of 8 who are under the direction of a brother in the group (only brothers have territories). Your group then walks to the territory. It feels like all of this lasts 30 minutes. Everyone does door to door during this time. No one has studies in the mornings

2. The amount of service time you get (or really that you don't get...)
The other day I got 4 hours of service and had to work my booty off for it. The days we can go out we average about 2 hours.
Sundays there are service meetings at 3pm. No service Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday there are service meetings at 8:30. Those groups usually work straight door to door until sometime between 10:30-11:30 (remember you don't get to the actual territory until 9). Then they are done for the day unless they have prearranged studies or return visits.
Thursdays are special and have 3 service meetings. They have the regular one at 8:30pm, then another at 2:30pm (only a couple hours) and another at 6pm.
We really like the idea of Thursdays for long days but remember- Sucre is all hills and high elevation and you are constantly walking. So after a couple hours of service you are tired. For instance yesterday from the house to the territory was over a mile all uphill (of course we leave Pullman for a place with steeper hills). You get a bit of a break in between service meetings on Thursdays but it requires a lot of stamina.
Eventually we'll have Studies that will help us to stretch our time. Plus we were told that February is the worst month weather wise so it can only go up!

3. You only place one magazine at a door- not sets. Not sure why, possibly a shortage and because everyone who you talk to will accept something.

4. We haven't really seen how return visits work yet; right now it looks like they just do regular return visits when they are in the territory the next time around because its not like they can drive all around town to their spread out rvs. One sister had her own magazine route and was super cute. She had stacks of this months magazines with sticky notes on each set with a person's name on them. Probably dozens.

5. No one takes coffee breaks- that's pretty nice.

6. I actually like business territory here a lot more than compared to the States. Shop owners generally don't care of other customers walk in while you are talking and they are willing to sit and have a conversation with you about what you are sharing. It's not awkward and they aren't pretending to smile because they don't want to lose your business. We can share a scripture and have real life return visits with them. We've seen shop owners that have their bible study in their shop regularly. (Made me think of Christine Virtue)

7. People witness to and have return visits and Bible studies with young children- like elementary school age kids. In the states parents generally freak out if you talk to their kids when they aren't home. Here they ask if the parents are home, if they say no they just go into their presentation! It is the cutest. There are 2 presentations I have regularly heard for kids and I'll do the English version for you:
Sister: Do you know what God's name is?
Kid: Ummm Jesus?
Sister: Read this scripture in Isaiah 42:8 What is God's name?
Kid: Jehovah!
Sister: So do you pray regularly?
Kid: Yes
Sister: Do you pray or do you recite the Lord's prayer?
Kid: The Lord's Prayer
Sister: The difference between reciting something and praying to God is that praying implies you are conversing with God- and if you use his name in your prayers do you know what benefit there is?
Kid: No
Sister: Read Romans 10:13.. Do you want to be destroyed or to be saved? (things in spanish are a lot bolder but kids aren't scared by it)
Kid: Saved! hahahaha
Sister: Good!

Or this one
Sister: What does God command of children?
Kid: I don't know..
Sister: Read Ephesians 6:1-3... So what does God want you to be?
Kid: Obedient
Sister: And how are you supposed to treat your parents?
(Then they go into a cute discussion about what it means to honor your parents- Respect, don't lie or deceive, do your homework when they tell you to etc. It is super adorable.)
 Sister: And what does it mean for you?
Kid: Live a long life on the earth!
Then the sister give the kid the magazines and makes them promise not to beat them up or rip them.

8. When 2 witnesses are at the door- the one not talking doesn't pay attention AT ALL!! They will read their magazine, look at their phone, or even (once) walk off to use the bathroom in an empty lot.

9. You see people peeing regularly. Young and old.

10. Dogs are everywhere and not neutered or spayed. They are people's pets that they just let run around the streets while they are at work. They look super pathetic after the rain. Depending on who you talk to, you should either be terrified of them or you are perfectly safe. There's no happy middle.

11. We found out a good reason people don't go out when it is raining is because of the mud.

12. There is no discretion. It is all spectacle here. Sometimes there will be 2 people at a door and the rest of the group (8 people) just chatting just a few feet away- laughing and having a great time. OR sometimes 2 groups will collide at a door (they work house over house) and 4 people will just be waiting at a door and talking to each other.

13. No one keeps not at homes. Sometimes if there isnt anyone home they will slide a letter with a tract under the door.

14. Everyone asks for a donation after the presentation and they usually get lots even though most of the householders are poor.

15. Nearly all of the Need Greaters in our hall speak French... We almost need to learn a third language to communicate to everyone

 This section of town is called 'America'
 At the edge

We went shopping today and we would like your ideas for what food to make. We only have an oven, a microwave, and a stove. No pans for the oven- just a flat sheet that is really a shelf in it. No mixing or measuring tools. Just a couple of pots and pans and dishes for eating.
Put on your thinking caps!
Ingredients: dinner rolls, green beans, eggs, lime, tomato, broccoli, carrots, green peppers, milk (it comes in weird bags here... ), peach yogurt, soy sauce, evaporated milk, ketchup, strawberry jelly, butter, tomato sauce, garlic, spaghetti noodles (cook weird here...), white rice, and some mozzerella and cheddar (that was expensive and tastes super funky and doesnt melt like normal cheese...), potatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt, ground pepper (tasteless), ground oregano (also tasteless), oil (pretty sure its some sort of soy oil, its what they had), and balsalmic vinegar.

So far we've figured out garlic bread (eat it regularly with cheese melted on top), spaghetti (not great- noodles cook mushy), breakfast sandwiches (not big fans of eggs), and stir fry (dinner tonight)

BTW our stove somehow doesnt know how to simmer things- makes rice really difficult.

Suggestions?! We will be stuck in the house for days and need to eat something with flavor-- everything here is super bland.
Every night we have cookies and tea. Our only splurge in life

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baptizing Buddies in Bolivia

I can't remember if that title was submitted by Jake or Garland but either way it makes me laugh.

We FINALLY went out in service!!! As Elise mentioned earlier, they do not go out on Mondays or when it is raining. So our attempts for service have been squashed up to today. We almost didn't make it today even. Really pathetic story: We got locked in our apartment. The service group was meeting at 8:30 at a plaza that is 9 blocks away. We are ready to live the house at 8:10-8:15 and we cant get the key to unlock our door. We tried and tried and tried. We ran to my room and moved a giant bookcase out of the way of the other door but it was locked too! That door has a different key and we aren't sure where it is because we never use it (giant bookcase in front of it). So we run back to the other door and try the key over and over again. Finally we bang on the door until a worker passes by and sees us. She then runs to get the spare key and gets us out. She can't make our key work either but we didn't have time to figure out why. It was 8:20 so we told them that we'd deal with it later because we were very late. So we walked as fast as we could the 9 blocks to the meeting. Sucre is all hills and the elevation is 9,000ft so we couldn't run like we wanted to without dying. We texted an elder that we were coming but coming late (turns out he wasn't even out). We finally got to the plaza at 8:40 and didn't see a group. So we sat on the stairs exhausted and called a sweet sister from California and asked where the group was. She said she had a dentist appointment that morning so she wasn't out but would call around for us. So while we waited we gave Spanish tracts to whoever passed us. Eventually we got a text that said the 2 groups were just a few blocks away and we barely missed them.
We caught up with them and were assigned to work with 2 fleshly sisters (they almost sent us just by ourselves but one of the brothers realized that we have no idea what we are doing and they rearranged things for us). I worked with Monica who has been pioneering for 11 years now and is 26. She speaks a little English here or there so she was able to help me when I was at a loss for words. Elise worked with her younger sister Tatiana who is 24 and married to Erick- a brother from Santa Cruz who knows English and has helped us often with translation. We mostly observed their presentations but tried it ourselves a few times. Many people were busy but accepted tracts. The witnesses here are so patient at doors! They knock, no one comes. Knock again. Still no one. Then again and again and wait forever in between knocks. Then someone actually comes! It surprised us so much!
My best experience was one that I wasn't expecting to go well. We knocked on the door of a daycare. A woman came to the door and I introduced ourselves and told her that I understood she was working so I would just leave her a small tract. She then said (in Spanish but I will retell in English) "Watchtower right? I love reading those, do you have any?" Shocked I said yes and gave her the February issues. She then asked me to come another day and speak to the children about God and the Bible. She would like me to come once a week and do a Bible study with the morning group and then later that day with the afternoon group. I said sure! The sister with me explained to the woman the different books we have and videos for children and how I will bring them. We tried to schedule it for Monday but it is a holiday because of Carnival so we are going to go on either Wednesday or Thursday next week which will give us plenty of time to get a lesson plan together. There are children of all ages so we will have to mix it up so that all of them can get something out of it. I am hoping that once the holiday is over we can schedule it for Mondays so that when no one else goes out Elise and I still can. Too cool huh??
 Monica and Tatiana

The groups stopped at 11:30 for the day (short right?) and a sister from the other group ran up to us and asked if she could feed us lunch. Of course we said yes. We ran around, picked up the food, and went to their apartment that is actually 2 blocks away from us! They are the sweetest couple ever. I think they came here in October from Switzerland and will be here until July when they will go home for a little, work, and then return. He is from Spain originally and is an elder in the hall (I think..). They speak french to each other constantly and it is hilarious. Her English is better than his so she has so much fun listening to him when he tries to speak English to us. They have great humor and we laughed constantly. They gave us a lot of advice about how to adjust here, especially after they found out that Elise has had problems with altitude sickness (she is a lot better now).
Melanie and Samuel

We were also warned A LOT about Carnival. It lasts Saturday through Tuesday. We were told not to leave the house unless it is for meeting on Sunday. Our congregation normally has meetings on Tuesdays but they moved it next week to Friday because it wouldn't be safe. They do a lot of crazy and disgusting things here for those 4 days. The sisters that we worked with invited us to come with them outside of the city for Monday and Tuesday. I think it is to Yotala but I am not sure. We said yes.
Did we tell you we have a place to stay for the Zone Visit?! Yay!!! We just need to book our flights now. The people we are staying with have already made our itinerary and along with the visit we will see the special tours at Bethel and go out for food at places that 'Gringos' apparently really like.We're just so happy we get to go :)
Love you all!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mi Casa es Su Casa

We live on the Calle Beni. It is super short and for some reason it doesnt show up on Google Maps
The view down the street- we walk this direction to get to the hall

This is the front of our building- our windows are the two on the bottom

 We put our key in the door to the building and enter this corridor. The manager lady lives on the left and we live on the right so we can just ring her bell if we need anything- we always have questions for her
The door on the left is the kitchen and the door straight ahead is my room,
 but that door is blocked by a sofa
(I was serious about a step by step tour)

Our manager's dog and the cute courtyard that we can use whenever

Up the stairs of the adjacent building is where our laundry is and it has quite the view

Our window looks out onto the courtyard and then we have a dining/living room area 
where Elise usually gets her wifi the strongest

Elise's bedroom and the bathroom
(it has a funny smell and small shower so Elise only uses it to brush her teeth in)

My bedroom and bathroom. Elise has a similar giant dresser thing in her room too, 
just didn't get a good picture of it

And here is a little poorly made map that shows places that we go!