Colossians 3:17- “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
3/27- Thankful to have arrived in one piece…what a long drive, but we are here in beautiful Apolo, and are more than ready to pass out. Thank you for safety.
3/28- We were able to discover our town a little today…it has a great vibe of peace and kind people. Lydia owns the local hotel with amazing coffee and we met an English speaker in the Internet café. We had a great lunch that began with soup and ended with an unknown meat dish. Thankful for God’s provision and rest.
3/29- Thankful for an unplanned rest day…the pastor is sick and told us to continue resting until tomorrow. That was an absolutely answered prayer. We are so exhausted. A second prayer was answered today! The man who places us in different churches in Apolo left his son here with us to translate. Thank you, Lord. He has a kind heart, adores the Lord, loves traveling, adventuring, and showing us new things.
3/30- Today we went into the bush to visit an elderly woman named Felicidad. I saw more stars there than I ever have in my life. We brought the church to her home and were her first visitors in over a year (since the last World Race team came here). What a blessing to share God’s love with this woman and to hear how faithful God has been to her during her life. Thankful for the stars, a beautiful woman, and being able to go where most don’t.
3/31- This afternoon we walked to the local river and went swimming. It’s so fun to explore your own town. It’s incredible to swim in between all of these fake-looking mountains. Today we were apart of a “youth meeting” AKA all of the congregation. We had a blast getting to know each other and playing games. There was a cute kid there that is now known as “pantalones” because he was wearing awesome, blue pants. Thankful for new friendships that are beginning to bud.
4/1- Today I was thankful for another opportunity to teach! We began English classes this afternoon and had 8 children show up. We began with the alphabet, vowels, and how to say, “hello, how are you?” They are a promising little group of learners.
4/2- Today we used all of our gear like I had been hoping to throughout this whole Race! We hiked to a man’s home, set up tents, and had church with their small community in the mountains. It was pitch black throughout most of the “service,” but the presence of God was so tangible. This night has to be one of my favorite memories. We shared “tamales,” sang endless praises, and woke up to coffee on the fire.
4/3- Early this morning we hiked back in time for service at our church. We arrived sweaty and out of breath, but we received a welcome from the congregation like never before. Every single person there walked up to us, shook each of our hands, and genuinely thanked us for coming to Bolivia. No one has ever said thank you like that at the beginning of a month. Today I am challenged by this word, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto you Lord.”
4/4- Today we went to a man’s field from church and helped him harvest coca leaves. We got to sit in the sun for 3 hours chatting, picking, and having a good time. The morning felt beautifully slow. After English class tonight, we sang the “shark song” for some of the kids. It was such a silly moment, but all of us just went crazy singing this camp song from our youth. Thankful for moments to act half our age and have no shame.
4/5- Yay for an off day. Today I am thankful for a moment to ask God for joy in sports again. I believe He’s going to redeem what has been lost in college athletics.
4/6- Today we went back to the coca field, but it was much, much hotter. Thankful for hard work and a time to sweat. During our third English class, Hannah and I got to leave with Guido (church worker) to visit a family from the church. We talked about our lives, sang praises, shared the Word, and sang some more. Man, Bolivians love to sing their praises! We sang my new favorite song—it says “En el tiempo de gozo, en el tiempo de dolor, clama a mí, dice el Señor, y yo to responderé,” which means, “In the time of joy, in the time of pain, cry out to me, says the Lord, and I will respond to you."
4/7- This morning we went on an adventure to hunt for yucca seeds on a man’s farm a few hours away. We had to get out of the truck a number of times as we crossed rivers and sketchy plywood bridges. We got to the man’s farm, chopped down yucca trees, and pulled up the harvest. On the whole way home, Katie and I rode on the top of the truck with our harvest of yucca, seeds, plantains, and oranges.
4/8- Today we went on a “field trip” to a park with the local pre-k class. We played fútbol, slid down the slides, sea-sawed, and only one kid had a real wipe out. Later, I got to catch up with Jill and Hannah who began to plant the yucca seeds we harvested yesterday. Giving back to the earth one-hundred fold feels so good. We also got to eat the huge yucca that we picked yesterday. Yummy! Thankful for this earth and the beautiful way that it provides life for us.
4/9- Today was such a day of adventure! We left early to head to a “near-by” neighborhood that was having a one-year anniversary celebration. Our truck got stuck in the mud a number of times and we all had to work to get the truck moving again! I got to hold a cow head and ate some super fresh beef :) We played soccer against a women’s Bolivian team and I scored a goal to tie the game (def a bragging right)! Service lasted for hours, but it was awesome to be with a room full of believers who love God so much.
4/10- I woke up in the middle of the night with some bad stomach pains. The scary part is that there are no doctors or hospitals within hours of where we were. This night I felt extremely loved –Hannah stayed up with me while rubbing peppermint on my belly, Katie rubbed my back, and Odel (translator of the year) rubbed my feet. They were all praying over me and loving on me for hours and sacrificing their own need for sleep. Thankful for good friends and a touch from God.
4/11- Today the sweetest woman, Irené, who lives at the church, decided to throw a BBQ for us. We told her we weren’t leaving for another week and a half, but she had to do it today! I tried cow small intestine and it was shockingly yummy! Tasted like bacon! Back to teaching English; two young boys are really beginning to pick it up. Thankful for the love of this community and time spent in communion together.
4/12- Thankful for the sweetest woman named Lydia who owns a nearby hotel. She opens up her place to us for coffee and juice as often as we visit and bakes us pizza once a week. Onion pizza, olive pizza, egg pizza, greens pizza…all SO good! Thankful for a place that feels like family. Plus, she has the cutest, fluffy cat that we named Billy.
4/13- During the night, I woke up with the same, bad stomach pains and eventually had to see a doctor. Thankful for teammates who take care of me and want to see me well. The bad news is they have to do some tests. Including carrying poop to the hospital for the next few days to come, ugh. Not a fan. Thankful for church members who are constantly praying for me.
4/14- The tests began today. Church members have begun doing “house visits” to see me and ask how I am doing. A girl brought me flowers to make tea with. Such love! Such sweet, generous, loving people.
4/15- Today I am thankful for Katie M! Happy birthday to a great person, friend, and leader. Today I had a lot of time to reflect back on the year; I’m so thankful for all of the lessons that God has taught me throughout this year away. I also learned that God has an awesome sense of humor—I’ve been praying for direction concerning the future, but God is only staying silent. Gotta trust and wait.
4/16- What a great day spent at the local river with girls from church! We played games, picked fruits, swam, and jumped off of a cliff with some local boys. Also, we got to attend a wedding! So cool to see the beauty and simplicity in a Bolivian wedding. There were no bridesmaids, no photographers, just love.
4/17- This morning at church, Kirsti preached on the joy of the Lord. So awesome to be reminded of the story of David dancing in his underwear while praising the Lord. After church, we had a game time at the park to play soccer, tag, and other games. So fun bonding with the kids and impressing the little boys that girls can play sports too :) Dropped off my last “offering” to be tested at the hospital today. Hopefully, I’ll get an answer soon as to what’s up with my stomach.
4/18- Today was one of my absolutely favorite days on the World Race. We packed up lunch and took a taxi to the “local waterfall.” As soon as we arrived, the presence of God was so tangible and Jill remembered her desire to be baptized. We prayed, worshiped, and got our butts into the water. Our translator Odel did the honors as we dunked her—it was such a powerful moment and a day full of the presence and joy of the Lord. We had the whole waterfall and river to ourselves all day to discover, be free, cliff jump, and relax. Thank you, Lord, for days full of your sweet goodness.
4/19- Today I finally got my results at the hospital! I have amoeba parasite that I named Felicity. I just need to drink some pink, chalky thing twice a day for five days and she’ll be gone. Praise God for an answer, after all, that time! Today we got to paint shapes and lines for the preschoolers at the center. We went on another house visit to a family a few hours away. We sang praises, shared the Word together, and chatted for a bit. Their three kids sang to God like I’ve never heard before. They shouted with all of their might for Him. So beautiful. Then we danced in the moonlight!
4/20- Today we visited the home of the retired general of Bolivia; he had pictures in his house of him and their president. He used his position in such a cool way to share Christ with those in the military and now, they’ve begun a home church! They shared their story with us, and cake, and empanadas—yum! After dinner, I sat with Yola (our lovely cook all month), her daughter, and a few other girls from our English class. We talked for hours about our families, hopes, dreams, schooling, marriage, everything. No translators, no help, just us chatting for hours and acting things out when necessary. The hardest thing was trying to describe the sport of lacrosse in Spanish to someone who has never heard of it before haha.
4/21- One month from today we will be landing in the States. WOW, reality check. We walked to a woman’s house who invited us over for coffee at the beginning of the month, so we came without warning, and she invited us in with such warmth. Her house was full of flowers and fun sayings. Later, I went to a “futsol” game (like soccer, but a smaller field) to support some of the girls we’ve gotten to know this month. It was like “show and tell” the gringas. They loved showing us around to their friends and it was a lot of fun to experience.
4/22- Our last full day in Apolo. Such much to do, so little time. So many sad goodbyes. This is one of the first times we told people that we would come back. Thankful for such a heartbreaking goodbye. Our amazing cook for the month had us over to her house for a final meal together. She made chicharron, corn, and plantains because those were our favorites and I’ve been talking about wanting to try chicharron. So kind.
4/23- Our official leaving day. We left in the car with one of our favorite people –Guido; a man from the church, who drove us 18 hours from Apolo to La Paz. It was a beautiful ride full of waterfalls at every turn. We stopped at a hot spring, where people literally boil their eggs. Thankful for Odel’s family taking us in for the night. It’s so cold that they gave us bottles filled with warm water to sleep with in our sleeping bags.
4/24- This morning I woke up to my bottle –still warm! Then we had a pancake breakfast feast. It was incredible. One of the hardest goodbye’s was saying goodbye to Odel, who had lived with us and translated for us all month. Such a sweet man of God. We prayed over him and then shared tears as a team. Once again, thankful for these people and places being so hard to say goodbye to.
When I began writing this at the beginning of the month, I had no clue how much there was going to be thankful for. Our time in Bolivia was quite special for many reasons. We made many lifetime friends, enjoyed the beauty of Apolo, and every day of "ministry" felt so natural. As Winnie the Pooh so eloquently put it, "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." We will be back Bolivia!