Monday, April 22, 2013

We'll be back... back from Bolivia

A rather sad, truthful title from Garland.

We're are in route to home now, and very sad about it. Instead of talking a lot about the experience in general, we'll do an update on the studies we started and show pictures.

1. The daycare.
Our babies. We've handed them over to a British sister who lived in our building. The study was in her territory anyway and she always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. The owner had us come back one extra time so we could say goodbye to the kids and then sit down for tucumanas and juice. They also gave us 2 cds of Bolivian folk music (probably could've lived the rest of our lives without that music...). I think this was the study that was the most difficult to say goodbye to.

2. Liselda
She is far more pregnant than I originally was told. She's about 5 months and showing. She is very excited. I have been able to meet more and more of her family, she lives with her elderly mother who works at one of the mercados in town. A French sister is taking her over.

3. Miream
She is doing well in the teach book. The studies have gotten shorter but she is always good about answering in her own words and working through scriptures to find meaning. After talking about what the title 'Creator' means she felt comfortable asking about the theory of evolution and what the Bible has to say about it. I gave her the brochures on the subject. She is excited to continue her study and I look forward to hearing about how she is doing from the French sister who is taking her over.

4. Naida
In the Teach Book currently and is learning a lot better out of it (probably because I am speaking less Spanish and reading more...). Her mom doesn't oppose her studying in any way and often tells us when is the best time to come (we can't understand her very clearly so we probably frustrate her when we come when we shouldn't). I also handed her over to the French sister.

5. Senovia
We only consider one question at a time in the Good News brochure. She isn't a strong reader (neither am I in Spanish) so it goes pretty slow. She had a question about the end of the world and what the Bible said about it and I happened to be with the French sister who will take her over so they made plans to come back and talk about it when I am gone.

6. Lydia
Lydia has been frustrated with her job and on her last study said she was going to quit right after I leave the country. She is pregnant (I have two studies that are with child) and very stressed about it. I was able to give her to a Bolivian pioneer sister and they were able to exchange phone numbers. It will be difficult for them to get together because Lydia lives so far away but I will pray it works out.

7. Daniella
She did turn into an official study and a lovely one at that. We have switched from the brochure to the teach book. Very bright, pretty young lady. I gave her to a young auxiliary pioneer sister in the congregation who isn't far from the same age.

8. Carolina
A cute little girl who lives relatively close to us who is studying in the Listen to God brochure. Really sweet and has obviously been taught a lot about religion from her parents. She even knows (generally) how to find scriptures on her own! I gave her to a pioneer in the congregation to go back to.

9. Layla
All of the houses in Sucre are white and brown except for hers which is lilac. She is younger than Carolina but equally sweet. When we come to the door she calls us 'Tias' and always works hard to read the paragraphs in the Listen to God brochure. She is just one block over from Carolina so I handed her over to the same pioneer sister.

Random pictures of anyone ever.
Cleo, Marco, and Juan Jose
 My Nathalie
 Nilsen
 Mimi and Berta 
 Daisy

Elvira and Veronica
Alex
Carmen
Prima 
 Elena and Elvira
 Marcos and Brian
 Libertad, Natalia, and Katarine
 Carlos and Adrian
 The missionaries Carmen and Sonia Acunas

 Eloy
 Girls
Julio, Keko, David, and Wilson
 Diego and Emiliano


 Our Nicolas with a llama hat :)

There wont be any more entries until we return....



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You're doing it wrong... Part 2

 Everything on the buses is in Japanese. Why? No clue.
 They don't believe in dumpsters
 Thank God you put Pablo because for a second I didn't know which 'Juan' you loved
 Keep that to yourself 
 Horse Victory!!! We walk past this buggy daily
 Personally I think Tic Tacs would be the worst gift ever
 Micros are often terrifyingly gross
 Galdfish??? This was decoration at a restaurant (No fish sold there...)

 The signs across from the Kingdom Hall. Just a man bleeding to death, no big deal

 Darling Karaoke Discotheque.. The weirdest.
Pacman is the sponsor? 
 Danger! Millions of babies on board 
 Candied grapes--- soooo bad
 One day while we were out they swapped our pictures for these horse portraits. I didn't notice it at first...
The wine brand name is 'Conception'... Conception in a bottle? Eww.



And now Elise's favorite pigeon ever. 
Sassy Pigeon is feeling fabulous!!! 



Sorry we haven't been updating the blog lately, we are getting to our final days and really don't enjoy being reminded of it. We have been going out in service daily and are getting to the point where we need to hand over our studies to other people. Tomorrow is our last study with the little kids and we know we are going to bawl. We really really really don't want to leave. The congregation had a little party for us over the weekend. The brothers and sisters are having us over for meals constantly. We have bought everyone's presents and souvenirs. We would really like to bring everyone from back home to here instead of leaving. 

That's all we are going to write for now because we really don't want to talk about leaving, we are super sad whenever the subject is brought up. We fly out of Sucre on Sunday and are dreading it. 

Love to all! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Advice for being a Need Greater in Sucre Bolivia

Before coming to Bolivia, we looked at tons of other Need Greater blogs and that helped us so much. So we thought we would pass on the torch and try to help others with what we've learned with our little bit of experience. We are constantly walking around talking about what we would tell other need greaters that we knew were coming to serve in Sucre. So here are some of the things we came up with.

Advice for before you come:

  • Write the Bolivian Branch (obviously) and do it as early as possible. It took us about 6 weeks to hear back from them the first time. BUT they won't give you specific information (at least in our experience). They will give you a lot of homework and research to do to see if you are really ready for it. You can write back and ask more information about where to go if you would like. What worked best for us was to ask around for people who knew people down here and then to get in touch with them. We contacted a sister who used to be here for a year and she gave us an elder's information and that's how we chose Sucre. So word of mouth might work better after you get in touch with the branch. 
  • Choosing which city to serve in... There really is a need just about anywhere. Know what you can handle before choosing a city. Can you do really high altitudes without getting sick? Then Oruro (12k ft), Potosi (13.4k ft), and La Paz (12k ft) are probably where you want to start out. As far as safety goes, La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba are known as the more dangerous cities. In general it is just drug related things and robberies. One need greater that lives in our building started out in Santa Cruz and on her first day of wandering the city she saw a young man shot dead in the plaza. She then decided to pack up and move. Not saying that will happen to you, but if you are a single sister alone in Bolivia like her, take it into consideration. Santa Cruz is also ungodly hot, humid, and lots of mosquitoes. Sucre is known for being more 'tranquilo' in that you feel relatively safe wandering around alone in most parts. The only danger is if they catch you stealing something- then they bury you alive. Pretty mild climate-not humid and the temperature averages in the 60-70s. (Keep in mind our experience is being here February-April) The whole Chuquisaca departamento (state) has a highest ratio of publishers to population. If you want to serve in the middle of no where with an isolated group of like 6 people, they are probably under the territory of a bigger city. So you probably want to visit the big city first (stay with witnesses or a hostel) and that congregation and then you can buy your bus ticket out there. Most congregations average about 2 Elders and many of them are need greaters. 
  • Don't worry too much about the tourist visa. They were super relaxed and not by the book when we came and got one in the airport. They barely even looked at our papers. Just make sure you have your stuff together and they'll stamp your passport and let you in. (It also helps if they think you are pretty)
    • If getting a visa for longer- have fun with that. We have seen a few other need greaters stressing out about it and running around a lot. When you do go to the offices to get it taken care of- bring a Bolivian brother or sister. They will really mess around with you if you are just a foreigner all alone but will be much more helpful if an actual Bolivian is there with you
  • Get the rabies vaccine. We talked with a doctor for a long time before we came about all the vaccines we were going to get. She skipped rabies because she couldn't see any scenario where we would need it. WRONG. Your congregation will have many barrios in it and the farther you get from the center of the city the meaner the dogs get. People are bit by dogs in the ministry all the time. They may not be rabid but I am sure that after you get bit by a dog here you would like to feel safe in knowing you already had the shot to protect yourself. Plus there is always the nasty rumor that here the horse version of the vaccine is way cheaper so they often give it instead. 
  • Things to pack... Think like you are going camping. 
    • Clothing: A warm jacket, a scarf, and boots. If you are lucky to go out in service in the barrios in the rain or after the rain, it will be very muddy and probably smell like urine (everything smells like that after the rain). Do you really want that on your uncovered feet?? No. Also a reason to not bring super long skirts. Service for us starts at 7:30am because the 'salida' or service meeting is about a mile away. It is cold here at that time. It is usually kinda chilly at any time that the sun isn't out. So some warmer layers are a good idea. Before coming we pictured ourselves doing our laundry by hand so we didn't pack anything that would stretch. But we stayed in town and we don't have a private place to do laundry so we just take it down the street to have it cleaned. Here there are lavandarias everywhere. For us they will way it, say it weighs 2 kilos, they will charge 20 bolivianos (usually less because we go there regularly) and it can be back to you by the time you are done with service. Bring a few good pair of walking shoes for service that you aren't attached to. We will not be bringing ours back to the states with us, they are trashed. Also when selecting your shoes remember that very rarely the surface you are walking on will be flat- even if it is a sidewalk. Buying shoes here is like $25-$30 (for the cheap ones) and they really aren't good quality and are sometimes used. Buying clothes here is possible but keep in mind that these Bolivian women are perfectly tiny and that describes their clothes as well. Bring a hat because your head will burn in the sun even if the temperature isn't that hot. 
    • Umbrella or umbrellas. The sister's here use them any time the sun comes out. It will make a difference in the heat. It also does rain periodically and you have to walk everywhere you go so having an umbrella then helps to. You can also use it to knock on doors (they rarely use their hands to knock on a door). And to beat away dogs- if the dog starts charging you can open it up and use it as a shield  Not only does it scare the dog but you can also keep a couple feet between you and it. Also the quality of the umbrellas aren't that great so if you leave it behind with a brother or sister they will love you forever.
    • Spices for cooking. The store isn't always consistent with the spices it provides, and even if it has it, it may be the powdered version. The food is pretty bland here because they like it that way. They also say things are 'picante' and they really aren't. If you cook yourself (safer) you may want to bring little ingredients that you doubt are here. (even their salt and pepper are a little different). We have a pressure cooker to cook with and we LOVE it. Because of the elevation here it is really hard to cook rice and pasta without them turning out burnt or mushy. If you like coffee, bring your own and also a french press. Also we haven't seen baking powder in the stores so if you like to bake, take it along just in case. 
    • Sunscreen. You will burn on the cold days when the sun peeks its head out for just a little while.  Don't forget to put it on your feet!!
    • Any girly beauty product that you use regularly. Makeup, makeup remover, shaving cream, chapstick, tampons, moisturizer, etc. They do have some things occasionally but they will be faaaaar more expensive, especially if it is a safe brand you recognize. Also if you paint your nails don't bring red. We were told any other color is fine  but red is associated with women with "bad lifestyles."
    • A water bottle. You can't drink the water here. But it is super rude if someone offers you something at a door and you say no. They don't care if you are a gringo and can possibly get seriously ill from whatever liquid they want to give you. A water bottle is a way to avoid that awkardness 'Oh I am so sorry I already have something to drink right here!!' 
    • Scissors, a lighter, a candle, can opener, bottle opener, tape, one really good cooking knife. Random little things that even if your house does come furnished, it wont have those things. And those little things really put you in a pickle when you figure out you dont have it.  If you are from the States-- they use metric! So maybe a little set of plastic measuring cups or else get good at converting after you go shopping for whatever they measure their food with (still dont know)
    • Mosquito repelent and something to put on the mosquito bites. 
Advice for while you are here:
  • Spend as much time as possible with the Bolivian brothers and sisters. There will no doubt be other need greaters who are amazing people and will possibly speak your language. This will be good for you for a while but either you will speak any language other than Spanish or whatever Spanish you do learn from them may have an accent or just be phrased differently than what the Bolivians would use. The brothers and sisters from Sucre speak a very clear, accent-less Spanish. (Santa Cruz Spanish is super hard to understand BTW) Give them permission early on to correct you when you misspeak. This will help you sooo much. They will also teach you the little phrases they use that householders will understand. Sometimes other need greaters can be a little critical of one another, especially when it comes to the language but the Bolivian brothers and sisters will be thrilled that you came here in general and are trying your hardest. 
  • Be in charge of your own ministry. When you get calls make sure you are positive of how to get back (often there are no numbers on houses or street names) and come back to do it. There will not be a special group that goes out and does calls. Here they often wait until the next time they work the territory to do their calls. If you are a need greater you don't have that kind of time. Plus the people here will read what you left them relatively quickly after receiving it. We like to try to get to our studies twice a week- once on Mondays when no one else in the country goes out in the morning and again when we are doing door to door in a territory that is relatively close. 
  • Have a cute presentation for children and use it. Get familiar with the Listen to God brochures and always have one on your person. 
  • Talk to everyone you come across. For us it takes ages to get to the service meeting (we always walk because the micros are super packed in the morning because everyone is going to work and school) so we hand out tracts as we go along. To get to some barrios you take micros out (coming into town they are packed but going out is fine) and while you are sitting there talk to the people on the bus. They are always super nice and were probably already staring at you wondering why you are going out to the barrio- so tell them! We have been able to witness to people in shops, stands on the street, people sitting in the park, waitresses, nail technicians, taxi drivers, security guards, and everybody else. 
  • Do you like dogs? We've mentioned this a little already but let's talk about it more. They are EVERYWHERE. Some are nice, some are not. If a dog is really giving you trouble, you can bang your Bible like a drum and try to yell at it (like an angry 'Shooo!'). If that doesnt work, reach down to the ground like you are grabbing a rock and pretend to throw it at them. Usually that works the best, the locals hit dogs with rocks constantly so they are spooked by it. If the dog persists, get a rock and throw it in it's general direction. Have your umbrella ready if the dog isn't afraid. At this point we usually hide behind brothers and make them take the door. The brothers and sisters generally know best and try to follow their lead. If you are too scared they will totally take it for you. We have seen brothers and sisters bit, so continue to use common sense. 
  • Try to figure out the bus system. It can cost 1 boliviano if you are student age and 1.5 for everyone else. They do not make circuits! And not all buses with the same letter or number go to the same place! When you need to get somewhere too far to walk, ask around. People always know what bus goes where. Be sure to ask where to catch it and what direction it should be going in. If you really aren't sure, when about to get on the bus ask the driver if he is going to your destination. Some buses that go way out only come around every hour or so (but not on an actual time schedule, that would make too much sense) so you may have to wait. Once you get on, hold on to something, they don't really come to complete stops and will continue to move while you are walking on. When you are on the bus there aren't stops so to get off you have to scream at the driver ( things like "parada" "pare aqui" "a la esquina" "bajamos" etc.).
  • There are a good number of beggers around the city center. It is really up to you what you want to do about it. The worst ones are the ones with small children who come up to you and grab you and they wont let go until you give them something. We try to have little candies on us to give to those children. They are thrilled by it and run away. 
  • Say goodbye to good cheese, sour cream, and berries. They just don't have them. 
  • If you go to a restaurant it is cheaper to ask for whatever the lunch special is. It is a ton of food for not very much money. 
  • Everyone will tell you to not drink the water and don't eat off the streets (they mean street vendors but it makes me happy to make it sound like they are implying you are a dog). But especially don't eat the pizzas they sell on the corner. Although they are adorable we've seen the places where they put them together and it is scary.
  • If you get sick (don't worry you will) just hop over to one of the zillion pharmacies, tell them your symptoms, and they will sell you some pills. Super easy. No doctor needed. (there are actual doctors too and to visit them is relatively cheap, but for the small stuff just see the pharmacist.)
  • Try to take notes at meeting- it will help keep your mind from drifting which happens a lot if Spanish isn't your first language. Also work on answering, it is a good example to everyone else if you are working so hard to answer like a 6 year old whereas they can speak the language and could easily comment too. 
  • Get used to feeling like a 6 year old. Mostly with the language but the feeling pops up at other times too. 
  • This is a third world country and get things done they insist on protesting everything and anything. You'll definitely run across protests and should probably turn around and avoid them. Don't worry the loud noises are just fireworks but steer clear nonetheless.
  • Bring personal study items in your language. Most of the time you are so focused on the language you could skip focusing on your spirituality 
  • If you are planning to do touristy stuff around the country, do it as early as possible. Eventually you will have lots of studies and won't want to leave them earlier than necessary. 
  • These people love to dance 
  • Be prepared to be very disappointed by the food. I can't talk about this enough. Don't think 'it will be like Mexican food all the time!' like I did because. They do not use much rice, beans, tortillas, or cheese. 
    • Their corn/maiz is crazy and I haven't met many need greaters who like it. 
    • Everyone will tell you not to eat the 'red sauce' that they have on the table at all restaurants. It is basically a tomato salsa but depending on the restaurant they dont wash the tomatoes first so you can get food poisoning. If you really trust the restaurant, go for it. 
  •  Wander around the city. Go to the parks and the center and the market. You will have fun wandering and may even come across something you want. 
  • Buy jewelry off the street. Earrings for 5 Bolivianos? Yes please
  • Get some Bolivianita. It will be the cheapest you will ever find it here in Bolivia
  • Go up to the Recoleta when it is time to buy souvenirs. It is generally cheaper compared to the shops by the Mercado Central. 
  • Speaking of the markets, unless you are looking for some really specific fruit, it is really the same price as the supermercados. And they will usually up the price because of your skin color. 
  • Ladies you will be whistled at every time you leave the house. The creepiest is when men pass you and whisper in your ear. There really isn't much you can do about it. 
  • Don't forget to disinfect your dishes, fruits, and veggies. We use bleach or vinegar. 
  • Try to buy glass bottles of soda in little tiendas. They usually require you to drink it there and give back the bottle but it is only 1.2 Bolivianos whereas a plastic bottle is 5. 
  • Public urination is everywhere. As is breastfeeding. Not a lot of shame in that department.
  • Just because your apartment says it comes with hot water doesn't mean it does. It will be like someone is brushing their teeth and then washing their hands, constantly. 
  • Learn the phrase 'it's good for Bolivia', it will help a lot 
Places to Go in Sucre aka restaurants that didn't kill us
  • El Paso de los Abuelos- on Bustillos. Good empanadas with chicken or beef. They even have them to go if you want (not super common)
  • Damasco- not far from the cener on Bolivar. Has good burgers for Bolivia (actually serves BBQ sauce which is rare as well) and also has a frozen yogurt place associated with it next door. 
  • Concord Trekkers- Just up the street from Damasco on Bolivar. Great strong cappuccinos. 
  • Cafe Amsterdam- Bolivar as well. Really nice lady owns it and speaks English if you need. Their food is good and they have good drinks too. They play movies some nights or a soccer game during the day
  • Napoli Pizzeria- on Anciento Arce a block from the center. Surprisingly good fire oven pizza. 
  • KulturCafe- on Avaroa. Run by Germans and decently priced. 
  • Vieja Bodega-off the center. Has a four course Bolivian meal for 25 Bs and it's pretty safe and delicious if you want a Bolivian style lunch.
  • Abis Cafe- in the center has decent coffee, treats, and crepes. 
  • Joy Ride Cafe- just off the center. It is pretty pricey for us, but they do have good regular coffee, hashbrowns, and actually make pancakes if you get desperate for an american breakfast. 
  • Eat Saltenas! The Patio by the mercado central is good, about 6 bolivianos each though. There is a cute hole in the wall up above the Surena factory on Uyuni. It is painted red and has an add for coca cola on it. Super tiny but sure yummy and safe. Usually it is a family of 3 working and they are super nice. About 4 bolivianos each. 
  • Florin- on Boliviar is good and has a lot of internatial choices. Good drink choices too. 
  • La Patisserie- right off the center on Audencia. Run by a frenchman and has AMAZING desserts. There is a round strawberry cheesecake thing (you are welcome for the description) that is so amazing. Overall cheesecake is terrible in Bolivia but this guy is brilliant. 
  • There is a pastelria right where Colon and Uyuni meet past the Facultad de Medicina (or by the Plaza Deisel) that is super good. One lady is working there all the time. Good apple pie and doughnuts.
  • Frozz- on Junin by the post office. A little pricey but they have a coffee/ice cream/soft-serve thing that is so amazing. 
  • Above the supermercado SAS there is a food court and a movie theater. Also a little expensive for a food court but a lot of choices in one place. 

Feel free to ask us questions! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bible Studies (part 1)

I just wanted to do a little post about the studies I have going on right now. Hopefully this will be a two-parter and on our journey back to the states we will fill you guys in on how they're doing, show pictures, and give experiences about the new studies we started after this post.

1. Our Daycare
This is the study I started the first day we went out in service in Bolivia. These kids are still going good. Some of the shyest kids aren't afraid of us anymore and immediately scream 'Jehovah' when we asked questions-even if it isn't always the right answer. We have them relatively trained, so much so that one day the helper man who worked there got up to do something while I was reading and one kid started yelling at him 'Sit down and listen!!!' 

February 27th we switched congregations so we had to restart with new calls in a new territory that we weren't that familiar with. And remember that from March 1st-26 was the invitation work for the Memorial. However, when our congregation ordered their Memorial invites they were still united with another congregation. So when Memorial time came, they had two congregations and only enough invites for one. Obviously we ran out of invitations rather quickly- especially with all the extra auxiliary pioneers. We switched to giving people a verbal invitation and if the call went super well we could place magazines if we wanted. Accumulating calls has been a little slow- but it is definitely happening. We do think that the time with the invitations helped our Spanish a ton because we could spend more time talking to the brothers and sisters.

On our first day of service in the new congregation I talked to 3 people who all live on the same street and they are all studying now: Liselda, Miriam, and Naida. 

2. Liselda is in her mid-twenties. On the initial visit I asked her if she thought we would ever see a day without suffering. She said yes but didn't know how. Then shared the hope in Psalms 37. Then ask what we need to do in order to obtain that future- shared John 17:3. I left with her a little tract about suffering (didn't have much else on me) but also showed her the Good New's brochure and asked her which question she would like to find the answer to. She chose 'What hope is there for the dead?' We have already finished that section and moved on to God's purpose for the earth. I also found out recently that she is 3 months pregnant! She is the one who sells 'tucumanas' out of her house (Elise put up a picture of her house on a previous post). She is pretty shy but always gets the point of what we discuss. We stand at her doorstep and study on Sundays because that is when she isn't working. 

3. Miriam is a young girl in her teens. Her study began the same way as Liselda except she didn't think we would see a day without suffering. So far we have gone over the purpose for the earth in the good news brochure and now have switched to the Bible Teach Book. She usually can study for about an hour while sitting in front of her door (this will make more sense in the future when we have pictures). She is usually more willing to speak up about what she thinks and is usually in her pajamas (she has class in the afternoon so we always study in the morning). She calls me out every time there is a long scripture that I don't want to read in Spanish and makes one of us read it because we need the practice. She also has a kitten that Elise loves to look at. 

4. Naida is probably around 13. On the initial call we taught her God's name. Since then we have been going through the truth tract because she doesn't have much time to spare. For being as young as she is she is willing to speak up about spiritual subject. Last time on the study we got stuck on what happens after death, so next time we are going into the Teach Book where it breaks it down a lot more so hopefully she can grasp it. 

5. Senovia is in her early 30s (I think). I met her in the invitation work. We were out of invites so I was giving her all the information verbally and she seemed interested in what I had to say. I then asked her why Jesus died. She said 'For our sins.' And I asked her what that meant- are we perfect and sinless now? She said 'Of course not.' I asked her again what his death meant for us. She said she didn't know. Since then we've gone over the section about Jesus in the Good News brochure and turns out she has a Teach Book (and a song book-- not sure how that happened) in Quechua already. We only answer a question or two at a time because she is always cooking or something. 

6. Lydia works in a pharmacy. Here they don't split up houses and businesses into separate territories, you just do it all at once. I caught her one day when she was working and her daughter was with her. I showed her the truth tract and asked which question interested her the most. She chose 'How can I find real happiness' and we went over it together. Her comments were very sweet and heartfelt. I showed her the good news brochure and how it doesn't take much time to consider together. In response she told me her complete work schedule and told me to come whenever. I have been trying to visit her twice a week because we don't have much time left in the country. In the Good News brochure she chose the subject about how we can draw close to God. We study together right there at the counter and pause when customers come in- unashamed she helps them quickly so she can get back to the study. She shocked us today with her definition of faith- it was right on and beautiful. You can really tell she is very conscious of her spiritual need and she is ALWAYS right with her answers. Next time she asked if we can talk about a hope for the dead 

7. Daniella isn't an official study yet but hopefully by tomorrow afternoon she will be. I think she is in high school. I knocked on her door one day and she popped her head out of the second story window and asked how she could help us. We told her we wanted to share a thought for the Bible with her and she said 'Just a minute!!' and ran downstairs to talk to us. I was able to place magazines with her and promised to come back to talk about what hope for the future Jesus' ransom and resurrection provide. I asked what day I could return and she said 2 days later. 2 days later Elise and I ventured alone to the territory to find her house. Her house doesn't have a number so I wrote down the number of the house next door. When we got to the street I recognized the door but it had a different number next to it. I figured I was wrong and knocked- nobody. Tried next door- nobody. Went away defeated. We decided to try another day and this time I got people home at both doors- neither knew of a Daniella. At Elise's suggesting we walked down the street to the number I had written down initially and we knocked on a door (that looked identical to the one up the street in my defense) and a girl on the second story popped her head out to see us and then came running down stairs. I asked her if she had a few minutes to talk and she told me 'I only have an hour.' We went over some of the good news brochure about a hope for earth and after each question I would ask her if she wanted to stop or continue. She always wanted to continue. We finished the whole section together. I asked her at one point if she thought we were living in the last days and she said yes. I asked her why and she proceeded to tell me all the aspects of the sign that Jesus gave in Matthew 24. I was shocked and relieved that we didn't have to read that whole passage in Spanish. Her answers shock us often- very right on and it is obvious the truth makes a lot of sense to her. Like 'Why do you think the people in Micah 4 don't participate in war?' her answer 'Because they follow the Bible' (as if it were a stupid question). And my favorite was 'Do you think Armageddon is a good thing?' (after not talking about it at allllll) and quickly she said 'It's good! God will definitely win in the end.' 

This last one isn't my study but it was a fun experience. It was 7pm on Monday and Elise and I were working in the group for evening witnessing. We were working door to door and we went into an internet cafe. The man was very busy but he said I could share my thought from the Bible. I shared Mark 12 about the greatest commandment- to love God and neighbor. Then I showed him the magazines for March (Watchtower article about draw closes to God and #5 in the Bible principles for Dad's in the Awake) and he said he already had the Watchtower- someone had visited his house on Sunday- but he did want the Awake. Then he explained how frustrating it was that we just visit and leave him things to read when what he really wants is someone to regularly visit him and talk about the Bible. I told him we do that too and showed him the Good News brochure and how it is designed. He liked the idea of answering a Bible question in 10 or 15 minutes and we scheduled a time for the following Monday. (I told him we were leaving the country but we have a friend who can come). We then ran to the closest brother and handed it over to him. 

Elise had a funny experience last night. We were walking home from meeting and were a block from our house when we heard a man screaming 'Jehovah's Witnesses!!!' We turned and answered 'Yes?' The man went up to Elise and said 'I want the magazines. I am drunk. But I still want the magazines.' That night we had just had the part about the magazines so Elise had them out ready to hand over. Then we ran away from the man drenched in alcohol. :)


That is about it for studies. Right now. We are still accumulating calls (which we do on our own, groups don't meet to do them) so hopefully more good will come from it. Jehovah is definitely blessing with us with the opportunity to be used down here in Bolivia.



PS-- we changed the layout a little to make it easier to read-- Did it work?
If not, do you have a suggestion?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"We're lost in the Andes"


 The title is a song that we came up with in light of our situation this afternoon. It started off much happier with lyrics like "we are hiking in the Andes" and escalated into "we're in a ravine"
"I don't think this is the path"
"we're running from the bulls"
"Apparently that snake CAN swim!!"
or "jumping over a river"
to the inevitable "we are lost in the Andes!"
If you haven't discovered it yet, we decided that we were fully capable of taking a bus to the middle of nowhere and hiking 3 km to some waterfalls. We discovered we aren't anywhere near that level of adventure and we probably should have used a tour guide.



After finally finding the right bus, it dropped us off in a barrio called Alegria where a little boy told us "just follow the path" which appeared easy enough
It was pretty and we still had a sense of adventure at this point.
We stayed on this side of the path since there were bulls fighting on the other.
 Then once we found the river there were people doing laundry and a bunch of dogs barking so we stayed on this side still. ( In retrospect this was a bad decision, we wanted to go up the river to find waterfalls but we ignorantly continued down river).

We felt pretty intrepid leaping over rocks like mountain goats.
This was the "path" we took to get to the river, straight down. At this point I think Elena started to doubt my leadership abilities.
This is the closest thing to a waterfall we actually found. 



After a while the river combined with another and it turned really muddy and gross and we stopped taking pictures and started panicking a little. But, we continued to follow it as opposed to climbing back up the ravine.
Eventually we stopped for lunch and then continued walking until we spotted people. We asked them where we were (now sure we were lost) and they didn't know. They told us it didn't have a name-uh-oh. We walked forever up a hill and past scary dogs to a hacienda which looked great. It was adorable and had a pool but of course there was no one there so we continued to walk. A little girl told us we were really far way from Alegria (the little town we started off in) and we needed to follow the uphill road, in the sun. We finally stopped to rest in the only shade on the entire road. To the right is the ravine we were down in.
Us after five hours of hiking, adventuring, and sun.

Fortunately some men passing by in a truck let us hop in the back for a ride back to Sucre. We were falling all over ourselves trying to stay upright much to the amusement of the random Bolivian man with us (you can see him in the reflection).
Over all our whole adventure cost us 3 bolivianos each (less than 50 cents) and we survived ( a little burnt, scraped by some thorn bushes (aka bushes of death) and Elena got stung by a bee). I think we fulfilled our sense of adventure for a while and now can go back to staying in the city.