Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bolivia (parte uno)

Getting tear-gassed at a Bolivian protest… Free.
Sucking air from an oxygen tank due to altitude sickness… Free.
Black Tongue Fungus… Free.
Serving God in South America's poorest country… A Priceless Blessing.

Bolivia was outrageous this year. I know I always say that every year is better than the last, and this year was no exception. Even though I've been so many times, and you'd think it would become routine, God manages to make the experience richer and more powerful each year. A huge realization for me this time around was that returning to work in the same country with the same people is much more effective than spreading one's mission efforts all around the world. When the Bolivians from Aposento Alto church see the same faces year after year, they know how much we care about them specifically… not just as random people, but as family.

I should start off first by thanking all of you who prayed for the team - we experienced obstacle after obstacle, much more than in the past. In 10 days, we:
-were nearly thrown off the plane in Miami for threatening a flight attendant (a gross overexaggeration)
-got altitude sickness during our one-hour layover in La Paz and had to get oxygen from a tank
-none of our bags made it to Bolivia with the plane
-a woman staying at the hotel accused us of stealing her jump drive and threatened to call the press to report us
-hit a guy with our bus (he was okay, but wow)
-drove through a protest with our bus, inhaling tear gas that had been fired earlier
-got all sorts of maladies, colds, sinus infections, major stomach bugs

Plus, I cried twice! I never cry… but this year, I was just overwhelmed with the street kids… more about that later. Without your prayers, I'd probably be in Bolivian jail or something - so thanks! I also would be crazy not to thank the folks who supported me on the trip... I don't know if you'll ever comprehend how far your money goes or how many people it reaches, but trust me, you helped make the trip a rousing success!

Even with the unusual obstacles and the uncharacteristic crying, I was overwhelmed with joy while I was there. I admit, it took a couple of days to de-freeze my New York heart, but once it was warm again, I was really happy to be there in the presence of Miriam, our missionary, The Vaca family including my Compassion child Issett, the congregation of Aposento Alto church and my mission team in general.

Anyways, I can't write everything in one sitting, so stay tuned for stories!

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