internet is terrible in the amazon
(We wrote this blog 14 days ago, but internet wasn’t good enough to post it. Welcome to life in rural Bolivia.)
Here in Bolivia, we’re getting comfortable with the unexpected. Your order of coffee came with forty live ants? An alligator showed up at your front door? Nothing quite makes sense here, but you get used to it. From the frog in our shower to bleaching our vegetables to getting stuck in a rural town for an extra night because of a washed out dirt road—we’ve learned to laugh and take it all in stride. Accidentally stepping in one of the open sewers that line Trinidad’s streets can still catch us off guard, though.
Last weekend, we got to practice more Bolivian fishing, but this time for piranhas. I (Emily) think I found my calling in life—I caught thirteen. Angela and Katlyn weren’t quite so lucky. (It’s still a sore subject.) In keeping with tradition, another tire popped on the way home—but we’ve gotten pretty good at changing tires now. Our friend Donna Blanca fried up the piranhas for us that night and we ate them straight off the bones. They’re delicious with lime. Alligator is, too.
We’ve been keeping ourselves busy here working at Fundacion Totai, coaching football, helping with Oansa and youth group, and volunteering at the local pediatric hospital. Two weeks ago, we helped run a week-long VBS, where we taught kids Bible verses, led small group discussions, and played a lot of games. It was really encouraging to see the way the kids opened up to the Gospel, and to be greeted by smiles and hugs and our mispronounced names every morning. Katlyn is especially hard—she’s gotten everything from Kat-leen to Kitty. It’s been fun to build relationships with not only the kids here, but the adults too. Fundacion Totai is kind of its own little community within the town of Trinidad, and it feels like we’ve been welcomed into one big family. A lot of different families have invited us over for lunch, and it’s been sweet (and humbling) to see what everyday life is like for the locals here.
It’s been incredible to see glimpses of what God is teaching us already. We have been learning a lot about what it means to live and serve selflessly. It can be exhausting living and working in a foreign culture—sometimes nothing makes sense and you’re frustrated and it’s hard to see the point of organizing every single medical record since 1918. But in those moments, God has spoken one phrase distinctly—and repeatedly—to the three of us. “THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.” It’s been insane to see how that idea has changed our attitudes and humbled us, showing what it means to actually put others before ourselves. Although if we see another manila folder, we might puke.
We’ve also been learning a lot about patience (…posting this blog). Bolivian time is stretchier than it is at home. If a birthday party starts at 8, showing up at 9:30 means you’ll be the first ones there. If a concert starts at 8, the main act probably won’t show up until 12:30. A lot of patience comes with the language barrier, too. It was struggle for all of us at first, but we’ve learned to let go of what we don’t understand, and to embrace what we do. Friendships are deeper than language, and it’s amazing how far you can get with only a handful of nouns and verbs.
We’ve loved being more independent and learning how to take“taxis” around town. Basically, you just wave your arms at any random man in a hat on a motorcycle and hope that he’s a taxi driver. If he’s not, he still might offer to take you (yikes). Trinidad is the motorcycle capital of Bolivia—it’s not uncommon to see a family of five all piled onto one motorcycle, babies in arms and all. We’re contemplating ditching our plane tickets and just taking motos back to the States.
I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. The fact that we have less than three weeks left (now less than one week) is blowing my mind—but at the same time, so much has happened and it feels like we’ve been here forever. We’re looking forward to seeing what new adventures and lessons God still has in store for us here. Pray that He will keep speaking to us, teaching us, and protecting us. And pray for health—Katlyn & Angela are currently down for the count with stomach problems. (They got better.)
Sending our love and some of the golden pink Bolivian sunshine to all of you back home. Nos cheque!
Emily, Angela, & Katlyn