Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We're home!

This is the weather that we left behind in Bolivia...

And this is what we came home to! (Well, this is a picture from last year but you get the idea. A little more snow in this picture than right now.)

We have been home in Chicago for about a week now. We had a wonderful Christmas and it was so great to spend it with our family here in Chicago. Now we look forward to going out to Washington soon to see our family and friends out there.

In one way it feels like Bolivia was one long dream and in another way it was very real. While at church at Christmastime I found myself praying for all those sweet little children we know in Bolivia. My hope is that their families will be a loving refuge for each one of them during this Christmastime and always. Also, I often find myself thinking about or talking about our friends in Bolivia and recounting the many good times we had with them. We made such close friendships there that we will continue to miss them as long as we are apart from them. And now that we are home I realize just how much we learned from people in Bolivia. Our lives are forever changed in many ways after living there.

While there are things we miss about Bolivia it feels really good to be here in Chicago. There is a peace about it that is hard to describe. I can't put my finger on what it is but probably has to do with finally being with family and Chicago friends again and enjoying all those little familiar things that we had been missing while in Bolivia. We really didn't know what we had here til it was gone and it feels good to have it back. I feel like a more whole version of myself. So now we are looking for jobs and will be looking for a new place. Life will inevitably get busier and more hectic but we will always try to integrate the lessons we learned in Bolivia into our lives here and never ever forget the people in Bolivia that loved us so well.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We have spent this week, our last week in Bolivia, rushing around and getting things done and having some dinners and going away parties. One was on Tuesday at Nate and Kate's house and it was an IT going away party for us slash IT Christmas party. It was fun but also hard and very emotional having everyone tell us what we mean to them and having to say good-bye to a few ITers.

Here Norma is explaining that Christmas gift game where you choose a gift then you can steal other people's. Notice the Christmas tree in the background. Our friends Nate and Kate are from Australia so they put up a eucalyptus branch for a Christmas tree to remind them of all the eucalyptus trees they have at home. Except they call them gum trees.

Matt is super excited to open his gift...a Bolivia shirt.


Kate, Norma and Lily. Lily got glasses, so cute.

And last night we had a dinner with our team from the Center. They all have been so incredibly encouraging to us over the past two years but especially now. They have been like family to us here in Bolivia and they want to say thank you to our families for letting them have us for a little bit. It seems like every conversation we all have lately ends with "tienen que volver a visitar con hijos!" (you have to come back to visit with kids!) Which is fitting since we have been asked about 100 or more times why we don't have kids since being in Bolivia.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well there are tons of Christmas decorations now all around Cochabamba in parks, stores, houses and lining the streets but my favorite is all the decorated palm trees...

Here's one

And here's a whole line of palm trees with all their lights

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Congratulations Greta and Scott!

Our two new nieces were born yesterday!

Addison Marie and Caroline Sere

Caroline is on the left, Addison is on the right

As you can see, Caroline is bigger (by about a pound) so they don't look very identical right now. I talked to Greta yesterday and she was doing well, just very tired. We can't wait to get home and see them!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yesterday we had a feria or fair for the kids at the Center and it was our last one:( The whole point of the feria is to reward the kids for the number of times they come to the Center. So the attendance record is counted and then the kids get points according to how many times they have come in the last few months. With their points they can play games, buy food, toys and clothes. The kids have tons of fun and some of their parents come too and also have fun. I was helping with the food part and Matt with the games. Since we hadn't been to the Center all this week it was really fun to see all the kids again and the girls in my class were telling me "Don't go home! Why are you going home? We want you to stay". It was sweet.

Anyway, here are some pictures from yesterday...

On one side is the toys section and the other is clothes.

Me at the food section with Natasha and Judith. Natasha is the daughter of one of the couples we work with and Judith is one of their friends. Judith is a missionary in the jungle in Bolivia but was visiting Cochabamba. She said from Cochabamba it takes two days (mostly by river) to get to the village where she works.

Matt at the games

Me helping out Cristian who is one of the cutest little kids at the Center

On another note...we are now having to kick it into gear for preparing to come home. We only have about two weeks left and the time is going so fast. All of the stuff we are leaving behind is spoken for which is really great. Now we just have a bunch of little things to get done and people to see before we leave. We are also trying to get into the Christmas spirit but it's hard when it's almost 90 degrees out and you're soaking up the sun. It just feels fake like trying to celebrate Christmas in the summer. I guess we just have to appreciate this wonderful weather for now and then appreciate the Christmas season once we get home. And I guess there is always "Mele Kalikimaka" to listen to (which I am right now). Man, I love Christmas music!

Oh, I guess I should also say that today is a pretty big day in Bolivia...presidential elections. There are all these weird rules to prevent demonstrations or riots like no one is allowed to drive, including public transportation, walk or be in groups so we have no church today and are just hanging out at the house. It seems like Evo Morales will win for a second term and that nothing major or surprising will happen but I guess we'll see.
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