Saturday, February 27, 2010

My first Carnaval...

...and I loved it!
First of all, we started this Bolivian holiday with a water-themed team day.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking my awesome Blue team to all of their various stations, which seemed to make them progressively more and more was GREAT!
But, for some reason, I wasn't all about the culminating event where we teachers stationed ourselves in the middle of the field, surrounded by our students, and attempted in vain to dodge the 90-mile-an-hour bullets that were hurled at us from all sides!!!! It's a Bolivian tradition to throw water balloons during Carnaval at anyone and everyone who seems too dry whether they're walking on the sidewalk or riding in a car. Therefore, this grand finale was a quick way for me to determine which students had grown up in Bolivia and had a more accurate and rapid throw than I. Were it not for my, rather awesome if I do say so myself, wellies and swim cap, I might not have made it out alive!!! Sorry there aren't any pictures to document this wasn't safe to bring a camera out.

After celebrating this holiday in a typical Bolivian way, we were ready to leave the festivities of La Paz and spend this crazy holiday surrounded by the serenity of the BEACH!!!

Have I ever mentioned how much I really love the beach??!!
It was a nice time to enjoy..
.... the sound of waves crashing right outside our windows,
...a t.v. complete with a news station that actually broadcast the beloved WINTER OLYMPICS, friends from school who also appreciate my above "likes,"
...and deli meat:)! For those of you who have lived in a place with less than appetizing lunch meat, you understand how AWESOME it is to have real, right out of the oven, sliced turkey breast.

Even though the mountains of La Paz are "breath-taking", I truly enjoyed the "breath-of-fresh-air" I felt as I relaxed at sea-level in Arica, Chile. This small but cute city has made it's way up to "one of my favorite vacation spots" for me and I'm sure/hope you'll read about it again in the near future!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Serving...and more!

Life has been busy.
Are you surprised?
About a week and a half ago our school did our first of four "service Fridays" where the middle schoolers and high schoolers went to 4 different non-profit organizations around the area and served in some capacity.
My group went to La Casa de Esperanza up in the city of El Alto (the poorest area of La Paz). It is connected to the organization Word Made Flesh and works with the prostitues in the area.
They are in the middle of building rooms for a new sewing program they are offering to the women so they can learn a new skill. Therefore, our job was to "paint" the rooms with primer...
and clear out some of the trash that piled up from their remodeling!
We didn't completely clear the pile, but I was so proud of each student and the creative ways they decided to transport the rubble from the pile to the truck. Filling less-than-sturdy cardboard boxes, dustpans, and our own manos (hands) are a few of the many different ways the work was done!

After coming home (tired) and packing up a few of my belongings, I headed out in the rain to spend the weekend in the "country" of Bolivia making a house for a family.
Un Techo Para Mi Pais is a non-christian, college-studen targeted organization that buses up students/25+ year-olds into a community to build, basically, as many houses as possible in one weekend (or more if needed..).
As you can probably gather, it was a crazy weekend filled with lots of spanish, youngins (high schoolers and even college students seem sooo young to me!), and sore muscles! But, it was an awesome way to see a different side of Bolivia and to work (and I mean, WORK) alongside young people who are choosing to serve the poor of their country!
My 3 teammates....2 Bolivians and 1 Taiwanese who spoke English but practiced his spanish alongside me (with a pretty hilarious accent that made me feel better, if I do say so!).

65 and 75 year-old Marcelina and Benito were the thankful beneficiaries of the new house. They were both very sweet and while Benito worked alonside us, Marcelina cooked us tasty and very typical Bolivian almuerzos (lunch). Even though I was a little worried about the reoccurence of typhoid in my body, I thoroughly enjoyed trying, mostly for the first time, these homemade Bolivian dishes. I only wish they hadn't fed us so much....working after eating was that much harder!

Some of my friends who helped me make it through the cement-floor-beds and the long days of carrying wooden strutctures that wieghed more than me!
To end this post, I would like to leave you with a few of the "ooops" pictures that were taken on our last "night"(we didn't arrive back in La Paz until sometime Sunday night after midnight!) working on the house. Because, even though my camera did a pretty good job acting as a flashlight, sometimes it reverted to it's ORIGINAL PURPOSE, and took a few pictures... or 30 (literally!!).
As you can probably guess by these pictures, we were NOT able to finish the house :( !
But, the house will be finished this month by more volunteers and I was just thankful that I could help and see a new, richer side of this country I'm starting to call "home"!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Prayer and Praise

We'll start with the....

I am happy to say that my typhoid is gone and I feel like normal Megan again! I started working last week and even though it wasn't a peice of cake to go from sleeping all day to waking up early and working, my body adjusted well and I have recovered from the crazy disease of typhoid!

Sadly my roommate, Steph, has not recovered so quickly! She went to see a doctor yesterday and found out that her body has definitely not fully recovered and is in danger of worse symptoms. Therefore, she's had to go back to not working and eating only "white" things....the white diet is no fun! Please pray for her body and a full recovery from the typhoid fever AND ameoba combo....not a the best combination, we're coming to find out!

Also, there was a bad muslide about a week ago in an area called Bella Vista, further up from my house. This devastating effect of La Paz's rainy season has left 70 houses collapsed/covered in mud and about 140 people displaced, without any of their earthly belongings! Therefore, on Sunday a group of my friends, mainly from choir and school, brought donated clothes, food and toiletries to the people of Bella Vista.

After sorting the clothes into bags for women, men and children...

....we took the bags into the tents where many families are living for now.
It was definitely a humbling experience to be surrounded by so many who had lost so much. But I know that God is still present in this tragedy and I'm thankful to be in a country where so many people came from all over the city to share of their abundance with those in need.

God is good....and so we thank Him for what He's done and we pray for what He will do!