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!