6:40am - My beeping watch alerts me it´s time to get up! I wish I could stay in bed longer, but quickly get dressed (I wear the exact same thing every M & W because I get kind of yucky at Missionaries of Charity.)
7:00am - Tea and bread for breakfast (although this morning I had an egg for breakfast for the first time since being here. It was fabulous.)
7:30am - Meet my team at the corner a few blocks down, and hop on a bus to the Mercaderia district - definitely the poorest part of El Alto that I´ve seen so far. Sometimes we have to wait 30 minutes in the rain to find a bus that still has seats available. We paved road turns into mud and pot holes, and we bounce our way along...
7:45am (depending on the bus availability) - we ask the bus driver to stop the bus, and we walk another 15 minutes to the Missionarities of Charity compound - wondering about the unfinished adobe walls we pass, counting the dogs in our path, and stepping over trash piles and mud puddles.
8:00am - 12:00pm - volunteer as needed. The past couple days I´ve spent all 4 hours in the day care center w/ 25 kids ages 5 and under. People who live in this part of El Alto can drop off their kids on their way to work. By the end of my time there, I am covered in spit, urine, mud, food.... and hugs. I am out of breath by picking kids up, offering piggyback rides, spoon-feeding, etc.. The altitude really makes this difficult! But then again, I think this work is difficult no matter where you live.
12:00pm - I unwrap tiny fingers from mine, coax little girls to stop pulling on my hair, and close the door behind me. I hike to the bus with my teammates, and ride back ¨home¨.
12:30pm - Lunch is waiting for me... often a bowl of soup followed by a heaping plate full of potatoes, meat, rice, and tomatoes.
1:30pm - book study at Cara´s with my team. Right now we´re studying a unit on prostitution.
3:30pm - I´m back home... I debate taking a shower. If it´s sunny, it´s a possibility, if it´s not, I hide in my room for some silence and maybe a much needed nap.
6:30pm - Dinner with my B-fam. Often cold cooked vegetables, a hunk of meat (hopefully chicken), more rice or potatoes, and homemade apple juice or occasionally Coke. Sometimes dinner is accompanied by The Simpsons and then a soap opera on TV, all dubbed in Spanish. I help wash and put away dishes, and then sit in the living room/family room/dining room/homework room and play cards, listen to music, attempt to converse as best as I can, and laugh a LOT.
8:30pm - I drink hot chocolate, say my good nights, and then brush my teeth (accompanied by Silvia or Shiley) and head to bed...
9:15pm - I put on my headphones to drown out the night sounds, read, and journal....... and then sleep!!!
7:45am - Wake up - same routine as Monday.
8:30am - Join the others (depending on which of my family members are still around when I get up) for tea and bread.
8:55am- walk to Cara´s, only 1 block away.
9:00am - 12:00pm - we work on the Advocacy Campaign together. I´ll be putting together a photo album of the last two years, with pictures from all the activities that the women have been a part of at La Casa de Esperanza. We´re also developing a DVD to send out to various sponsors to raise money for the purchase of the building.
12:30pm - Lunch with my B-family
1:30pm - Spanish lessons for 1 1/2 hours with a wonderful Bolivian Christian woman who is short, lively, and full of excitement about our time in Bolivia.
6:30pm - dinner, and an enjoyable evening with my B-fam. More laughter, cards, help with English homework, etc..
9:30pm - bedtime!
My day starts at 6:45am, same as Monday with a full morning at Missionaries of Charity. When I get back, I may or may not take a shower.... depending on the weather. : ) It´s just so cold, otherwise!!
I have the afternoon free.
7:30pm - Bible Study at Cara´s. More hot tea accompanied by a ´new fruit of the week.´ Cactus fruit, pomegranetes, yum!!! We´re studying each of the WMF celebrations by reading through Luke. It´s always thought-provoking, challenging, and refreshing.
8:30 - more tea and bread
9:30 - laundry (if it´s sunny) and shower (if I still haven´t had one all week)
Spanish homework and book-study reading...
1:30 - Spanish lessons
Later in the afternoon, I may visit the internet cafe and buy some chocolate for 12 cents since I rarely eat anything sweet here, especially because I prefer my tea without sugar!! My B-family must think I´m weird for that reason alone, although I´m sure there are others. For example, I don´t eat the skin of the chicken or gnaw on the bone of other meat... I also don´t enjoy eating chunos (they assure me they are just potatoes that have turned black by the sun.... but I promise you, they taste like feet rather than potatoes)
10:30 - catch a minibus to La Casa de Esperanza. I can catch the bus anywhere - any corner, any sidewalk, even the middle of the street if I so desired.
11:00am - devotions with the Word Made Flesh staff and volunteers.
12:00pm - serve lunch to the women who visit La Casa... some are still in prositution and have finally accepted the invitation to lunch. Others are women who have since escaped prostitution and still come for lunch because they are our friends. I get to bring them their food and clear their plates - I like to think my previous job of waitressing prepared me for this. My team is impressed with the amount of plates and cups I can carry at one time.
6:30 - dinner
7:30 - movie night at Cara´s. Every other Friday night is ¨depressing movie night¨ where we watch a movie filmed from each of the WMF fields. ¨Born into Brothels¨from India, ´´Underground Children¨from Romania.... these movies make me angry because of their harsh reality. Sad because of the desitution and depression. I cry... a lot - a way for me to grieve and to allow the Holy Spirit to move inside of me.
11:00 - back home, and to bed.
9:00 - one on one with Cara over breakfast.... she made omelets and I loved it!! We talk about life, our passions, our struggles, and our hopes. I feel safe in Cara´s apartment...
Today is either an ´´event/excursion´´ day or a free day with a movie night.
8:30 - breakfast
10:00am - church. Often a 3 hour service on a somewhat depressing topic (as best I can understand, anyway.) Last week we took communion and I don´t even know what I drank. It smelled nasty, and even the pastor made a face as he drank it from the pulpit. There are about 15 adults who attend, and at least twice as many children. It is colder inside the church than outside. I wear my thermals and heavy jacket...
Every other Sunday evening is ¨gringo¨dinner and game night with the ¨white¨part of Word Made Flesh. Really, this is just my Servant Team, Erika (who is interning) and Heather and Wes - the other full time staff members.
In my ¨free time¨ - I´m studying English, the Bible, catching up with friends and family via the internet cafe (it costs 50 cents/hour), missing my family in the states, writing letters, trying to stay warm under my covers, and wondering when I´ll take my next shower.
I´m happy to say I´ve received several letters (thanks mom, and Violet!) and have a letter to read every week, thanks to my HAC staff from the summer. Each letter I open gets taped to my wall above my bed. All of them are timely and appreciated.
I´ll send out another prayer letter within a couple days. I have lots of thoughts to organize, and more specific requests are forming as a result of my experiences here.