Monday, May 28, 2007

Cow Curiosity

I tried cow heart last week, and it wasn´t that bad.
As a result, however, I have recently become quite curious about cows, specifically relating to their stomachs...
  • Why is cow stomach considered a delicacy when each cow has 4?
  • Do people eat all 4 stomachs?
  • Why would anyone ever choose to eat cow stomach?

It´s true. A special Mother´s Day meal: cow stomach. When the announcement was made regarding what we would be eating, my B-family started salivating while my stomach started churning. While the food was being prepared, I prepared myself for the food.

Without the stomach, the plate would have been fine: 4 potatoes with a large side of lettuce, tomatoes and onion. All one one plate, covered with cow stomach and cow stomach juice. The stomach was thinly sliced, white with goose-bumps. The first bite was okay, though extremely chewy. Judi told me to be sure to chew it really well... I´m still not sure why, though I followed her advice because I didn´t want to have any cow stomach stuck in my stomach, or anywhere else, for that matter. The more I ate, the more it tasted like stomach. I tried to mix the stomach with potatoes and salad to disguise the chewiness, but it was all covered in the stomach sauce.

I helped with the dishes after the meal, and was nauseated with the lingering scent of stomach in the kitchen. It´s just not good, and no one should eat it. Whatever is in your stomach or is IN your stomach should stay where it is - always.

The ¨Missionary´s Prayer¨ has new meaning to me now:

¨Where you lead me, I will follow. What you feed me, I will swallow.¨

Cake Overload

The damage
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
After having 3 surprise parties, and eating cake 8 or 9 times since Friday, I´m 23! I feel like I should be older... maybe it´s because of all these incredible experiences I´m having, mixed with the response from the Nuns at Missionaries of Charity and staff at La Casa who often remark, ¨oh, you are so young!¨

Surprise *1: An eventful day at La Casa for 100 of our friends from the streets. We showed a slideshow, had a cake eating contest, and gave away candy roses tied to verses and warm, fuzzy blankets. After the party, I was distracted downstairs while the rest of the staff congregated upstairs to surprise me with singing and a cake. It´s Bolivian tradition to chant ¨mate a la torta¨ which literally means ¨kill the cake!¨ I had to take a bite out of the cake, in which Humberto snuck up behind me and gave my head a shove, which made a beautiful dent in the cake (see picture).

Surprise *2:
My B-family surprised me by inviting all the Gringas over for dinner. We ate mashed potatoes, ¨hamburgers,¨ and tomato slices, all arranged in a smiley face, to which I observed, ¨hey, the face is white like mine!¨ Unfortunately, the Gringas didn´t get the memo that my B-family was serving dinner, so they had already eaten, not to mention, it is incredibly rude not to finish your plate. ugh. Poor girls... Then we ate more cake followed by jello. I found out later that my family waited until I had gone to bed Thursday night to start the cake, which meant they were up until at least midnight - all to surprise me. Their generosity still keeps me speechless. (I´m still the first one to be served dinner.)

Surprise *3:
The Gringo staff gathered for community dinner last night. We were supposed to show up at 6:30, but when I got there, they were all waiting for me with the lights off and posters on the wall that read ¨Happy Birthday - eat more cake!¨

Needless to say, I have eaten too much cake. And, Bolivian cake just isn´t tasty - like cardboard topped with whipped cream, but it always manages to look pretty.

I feel lively. I feel loved. I feel full of laughter.
Thank you!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
Another art project I´m working on for La Casa

My version of El Alto

A little artwork I created... a rough sketch of where I am

Up my nose

Up my nose
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
More about my surprise birthday party later... but yes, I really did get cake up my nose - twice.

Also, I have stories about eating cow heart and cow stomach...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Up, Up, UP!

Cara and I
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
Despite the fact that my clothes and skin are covered in a perpetual film of dust from the atrocious wind we´ve been having, my toothpaste has been freezing because of the cold, and I´ve seen a few very large spiders, I´ve been feeling pretty ¨up¨ as of late.

It´s been in the 20s at night, which feels even colder without heaters, carpet, and an enclosed house.

I still think about the women in the brothels and my experience there, hoping for another visit to the streets before I leave. I´m also processing the recent announcement one of my teammates who has chosen to leave Bolivia early. I´m trying to find a balance of my feelings of disappointment and support.

Yesterday, I spent the morning in La Paz by myself. I developed some pictures for the photo album of La Casa de Esperanza that I´m putting together for my Servant Team project. I sent my parents another postcard. I wandered around in several shops with beautiful homemade handicrafts. I bought myself a birthday present. The fresh air and time to myself was invigorating after some especially difficult days last week.

When I arrived at the La Casa for lunch, I was immediately greeted by my little friend April, who is 3 years old. Since I had arrived late, she had been asking the other Gringos, ¨where is the ´other?´ I´ve befriended her many times at the center with gifts of stickers and questions about favorite colors. Her laughter is contagious, which could be another reason we´ve bonded. When she had to leave, she ran up to me to say ¨chao¨ and kiss me on the cheek, calling me her ¨Amigita¨ - ¨Little Friend.¨ I melted.

Chris Tomlin has donated $10,000 to WMF Bolivia for the purchase of a new building. We are thrilled by his generosity and excited to continue our search for another building that will be even more perfect than the one we currently have.

I cut Cara´s hair, which I must say, looks beautiful. We set up a beauty parlor in her hallway where a patch of sunlight was streaming through, while Jodi practiced the guitar and Jenna made the most delicious oatmeal chocolate chip M&M cookies. She has definitely perfected the art of high-altitude cooking. None of us wanted to leave when we were all finished with our various tasks, so I plugged in my iPod to Cara´s speakers and sang along to my favorite songs. I laid on her hardwood floor in a ray of sunlight, occasionally busting out with some awkward dance moves from my position on the floor.

We laughed. We rejoiced. We worshiped.

We ate delicious cookies... and Wheat Thins w/ Cheeze Whiz - the combined goodness of Jodi and Cara´s recent packages. I´m still not sure how I feel about cheese in a can, and it felt very non-Bolivian snack, which was a nice change.

I had my last Spanish class today... which begins the end of my time here. Tomorrow, I turn 23 (although I feel like I should be much older for some reason) and we´ll host our last party at La Casa de Esperanza to celebrate Bolivia´s Mother´s Day.

Good emails from incredible friends continue to lift me UP, as does my wall which is almost full of cards.

3 more weeks from today...

Monday, May 21, 2007

...and more brokenness

Not more than 24 hours after my visit to the brothels, a tragedy occurs.
One of our friends was murdered in her room in a brothel Friday evening. The same brothel I visited the night before.
She was beaten, then suffocated. Maybe it was an ex-boyfriend or an unhappy client, which isn´t uncommon, though no one knows for sure who ended her life. Justice is slim...

Her funeral was last night, which Cara described as one of the most depressing moments she´s ever experienced. It was a private function, so just a few staff from WMF attended, as well as the woman´s family, and her co-workers in the brothel. It was held in the back of a church -- lacking hope, lacking light.

Her name doesn´t ring a bell, though I may have recognized her face. I didn´t attend the funeral, and Humberto said it was probably a good thing, since I would have recognized her from my street visit, and also from her visits to La Casa for lunch.

We are sad, we are affected, we are moved to compassion.

I´ve been meditating on Psalm 86:1-7
Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you for you will answer me. Teach me your way, O Lord and I will walk in your truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

My salvation brings me great HOPE, and another reminder that this is NOT the earth God had in mind. He is still sovereign and worthy of my praise when I just feel like crying. He knows my pain, and is pained even more. His compassion is greater; His love is deeper.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
My eyes are tired and somewhat swollen; my headache hasn´t let up yet. I´m sad today, reflecting on last night´s sights and sounds, grieving for my friends in the brothels, aching because of the reality.

I was asked to look as androgynous as possible, as to avoid any attention from the men. I wore bulky, baggy clothes and a black baseball cap. My mittens protected my hands from the freezing cold outside and the burning hot chocolate that I poured and handed out.

I expected to smell alcohol, cigarette smoke, and urine. I expected it to be scarier and darker. What I experienced was even more disturbing... a mural of a naked woman just inside the red doors. Black lights, strobe lights, Christmas lights. Loud music, a dance floor, a bar area. It was all too normal and club-like, except the dance floor was empty and the bar was vacant. At first, I was confused. I felt frustrated that I wasn´t sick to my stomach.

Realization set in and I became angry. Satan disguises the ugliness. He masks oppression and injustice with things the world says are normal and acceptable.

The red, swinging doors announced the arrival of men...streams of men. The main, open area narrowed into a hallway, barely wide enough for two people to pass each other. Small rooms with tiny doorways reveal women in various types of clothing. Some in lingerie, others in traditional Chulita costumes with bowler hats. Jeans and tanktops or completely naked. Others with their faces covered, only their eyes revealed.

We followed the men down the hallway with our jug of hot chocolate and plastic cups. We greeted the women with smiles and hugs. I recognized some of them from La Casa, though their various disguises made it somewhat difficult. Most of the women dress differently at night - maybe so they´re not recognized during the day?

Most women readily accepted our hot chocolate once we assured them it was free. I didn´t say much, except to invite them to lunch and the upcoming Mother´s Day party. I observed the men observe the women. Some leaned in to smell her neck. Some lingered to check her out. Some immediately handed her money. Their movements were quick and the hallways were full... men milling about. Doors were constantly opening and closing, men coming and going. I didn´t want their attention, so when I wasn´t interacting with a woman, I looked down at the floor.

I gave hot chocolate to a young girl in another doorway - she couldn´t have been more than 15. I caught her gaze and could have cried right there. She was scared, uncomfortable, and innocent. Humberto told her she was much too young to be working, and if she wanted help, to find us at La Casa. I asked him about her later, and he said they´d probably never see her again since the brothel owners will most likely circulate her through various brothels - controlling her and keeping her from escaping. I can still see her eyes and her small frame. I want to go back, embrace her, take her by the hand, take her to a real home, offer her a bath, treat her like a beautiful 15-year old girl should be treated, erase the nightmares of her brothel life, tell her how much Jesus loves her.

We avoided a few of the worst brothels where minors work. One of them is a lottery system similar to Bingo.

We walked down a street and saw some of our friends leaning against buildings in the bitter cold. Three of them were laughing together, yet they were still ¨working.¨ These women aren´t ¨protected¨ by brothel owners, but can usually make more money by working on the streets because they don´t have to pay rent. This was once the most dangerous street...two years ago, over the span of 5 months, a murder was reported weekly. Now, less women work independently because it is so dangerous. Hotel rooms can be rented hourly. Gaps in the street revealed a parking garage of sorts... a dark, eery, concrete room which had doors attached. From the street, I could hear loud music and could see the pink glow from various rooms, where lightbulbs have been wrapped with toilet paper.

I made it through our rounds, though I was on the verge of tears. My servant team was waiting for me when I returned - they were praying while I was gone. I was welcomed with a hug which released my tears. I cried before I fell asleep last night - so hurt for the 15 year old girl, discouraged by the amount of men I saw, frustrated by the disguise and power satan has in the brothels.

I had asked God to show me His heart for His daughters, to be broken like He is night after night, to understand how far off this is from His intention for this world...

This morning we had devotions at La Casa with the WMF staff and volunteers. We sang about how big and holy God is, and then studied Psalm 139 -- Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

I couldn´t stop thinking about last night, (and still can´t) and cried for an hour or so. Some of the Bolivian women told me about their first time on the streets and said ¨I understand.¨ They hugged me and kissed me. We have so much more in common, now, with this shared experience. Humberto hugged me and said ¨you have a very sensitive heart.¨

These verses popped out to me and I think of my sisters in the brothels...

Isaiah 35:4 Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.

Isaiah 45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth (El Alto) for I am God, and there is no other.

Isaiah 59:15 The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.

Isaiah 60:2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over his peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 61 ...the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...

And finally, a reminder that things are NOT the way they are supposed to be...
Isaiah 65:17 Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered.

I am exhausted... physically and emotionally. Spiritually, I understand more of God´s heart for this earth, more about the things that grieve the Holy Spirit, and more about my purpose here.

Wall o´ cards

Wall o´ cards
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
Every card and letter that has been sent my way is up on my wall... can you locate the one you sent?

Thanks so much for thinking of me, for praying for me, for loving me, for not forgetting about me. You are apart of the Lord´s work in El Alto.

I am SO blessed to have such special, thoughtful, faithful friends.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My thoughts about tonight

It would be so much easier to stay at home tonight, to soak up the heat from all my family members as they celebrate Judi´s birthday. It´s especially cold today, and I´ll be spending an hour on the streets visiting our friends in the brothels. (5:30 West Coast Time)

I´ll be joining 2 other WMF staff members. Hopefully, we´ll be able to encourage the women with our presence and free hot chocolate, being Christ´s light in Satan´s dwelling place.

Please pray for:
  • My physical response: I don´t know how my body will respond to the ugliness inside and I don´t want to be physically shocked by any of it, especially when I see some of the women I´ve come to recognize and love at the lunches. Satan dwells inside the brothels. He loves oppression, lies, and darkness. Pray that I will have confidence in the Protector, Redeemer, & Father.
  • My eyes: That I will see the women as Jesus sees them. That I will see the men as Jesus sees them. That the images won´t haunt my thoughts or my dreams...
  • My limits: If I decide I´ve seen enough before we finish our rounds, please pray I will have the guts and humility to be honest with what I´m experiencing. Pray I´ll know when enough is enough. Pray that I won´t feel discouraged if I need to bow out early.
  • My attentiveness to the Holy Spirit: If I´m prompted to approach a woman, pray I´ll have boldness to do so, and my nervous Spanish will come out coherent. If I just need to ´be´, pray I´ll just be content to observe. Pray that I´ll pray as the Holy Spirit leads.
  • The LIGHT: Evidence of Jesus´ presence in these places, unmistakeable peace in the midst of the horrors...

I´ll share about my experience as soon as I get the chance. Thanks for interceding on my behalf.

Frank Sinatra

I stayed up late to wrap Judi´s birthday present and make her a card.
I got up early to join my B-fam for a birthday breakfast - cake and hot chocolate at 7:30am - a delicious way to start the morning!
A few days ago, she was humming her favorite Frank Sinatra song. She told me she first heard the song on a movie when she was 7 years old and it brings back very special memories for her. So, when she opened the cd that my mom sent for her, she cried and thanked me over and over and over again.

For lunch, my little sisters and I made a birthday ¨flag¨ by taping a piece of paper to a matchstick which we stuck in her potato. For dessert, we created a smiley face out of sliced bananas on a yellow plate.

Green Grapes vs. Brown Grapes

A story about speaking Spanish:

Everyone knows green grapes are better than brown grapes, even white girls who shop in the open-air market in Bolivia. I asked for a bunch of grapes, and the woman filled my bag with a few plump, green ones, but mostly brown, mushy ones. My friend Jenna looked at me and whispered ¨can you believe what she´s doing?¨

I refused to be mistaken for an oblivious English-speaker, so I confidently (and politely) asked her in Spanish to replace the brown ones with the green ones. She consented. I thanked her. We went on our way and enjoyed green grapes.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Love, Wallyball, Birthdays, and The Streets

I was recently asked, ¨Are you loving it there?¨

I have to admit I was a bit speechless at first when she asked me. It´s been challenging, difficult, and discouraging. I´ve been stretched, broken, sick, sad, lonely, and frustrated.

Yet, my answer remains the same: Yes, I am loving it here.

I love what I´m learning about God:
  • God´s heart for the poor and the commands for us to assist
  • God´s intention for this world, in that things are not how they were meant to be.
  • God´s sovereignty over all the oppression in El Alto
  • God grants peace when we follow Him, even to the far corners of the world where breathing, living, and eating are difficult.

I love what I´m learning about myself:

  • I have family in Bolivia.
  • It´s not hard for me to worship God here. Before I left home, I imagined how various worship songs would mean different things to me... ¨you are good in all the earth...Lord of all creation...every tribe, tongue and nation...¨ I found myself wondering, ¨Will I still believe God is good in a place like El Alto?¨ Yes! God is greater than I ever imagined. He loves His daughters in the brothels, He loves the men who buy sex from them, He loves the women at Missionaries of Charity who are incapable of helping themselves.
  • I will not return home the same person.
  • My presence is more important than formulating profound sentences in Spanish to share with the women at lunch.

I love what I´m learning about the poor:

  • They are generous.
  • They like to be smiled at, hugged, and kissed on the cheek.
  • Theirs is the Kingdom of God.
  • Simplicity is rich.

I love how I´m changing as a result of my struggling. I love the state of tension I always find myself in, though sometimes it makes me want to yank out my hair.

Yesterday, I played a riveting game of Wallyball with a few of my teammates as well as Judi and Felix. Who knew El Alto had a Wallyball court?? I finally got to use my height as an advantage next to the net. I didn´t really run, yet I was breathing hard... this altitude!

My sister Judi´s birthday is this Thursday. I´m so excited to give her a Frank Sinatra cd with the song ¨Fly Me To The Moon¨- her favorite song. She has been singing that one line of the song ever since I arrived, so I had mom send it to me to give to her. :) Judi also received a marriage proposal while I was in Peru, from a guy in Chile that she used to date for 8 years. He came to Bolivia (as a complete surprise!) to ask for her hand in marriage. She has until September to decide. We stayed up really late one night talking...I asked her if she loved him, and she said yes, but it´s much more complicated than just loving him... it would mean relocating to Chile without her family, and apparantly Bolivians aren´t readily welcomed into Chile. I told her I´d be praying for her and thanked me and gave me a huge smile.

Speaking of birthdays... I missed my real sister´s 21st birthday because I´m here and she´s in India...(I love you, Chrislyn!!) and I get to celebrate Bolivia´s Mother´s Day on my birthday (the 25th)! We´ll be putting on a party for the mom´s that come to the center. I also have a strange suspicion that my B-family is up to something, considering my B-mom was immediately shushed when she brought up my birthday. Hmmm...? The following day, we´re headed to Copacabana for a one night stay. I´m excited to return to this amazing town on Lake Titicaca, and it´s only a 3 hour drive from El Alto. I have no idea where we´ll stay or what we´ll eat or how often my family goes on ´vacations´ so I´m sure it will be quite an enjoyable experience. I hope they´ll let me pay for myself this time... I´ll be insisting, that´s for sure.

The last note: I´m headed to the streets this Thursday, the 17th. It´ll be my first time visiting our friends in the brothels. I´ll send out a prayer letter before I go with specific requests since I´ll be entering a very dark place where spiritual warfare is especially present. I´m nervous... and ready.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Communion & Holy Clothes

I sat on the hard, wooden pew in church (with the 11 other attendees), and realized it was the first Sunday of the month, which meant we´d be taking Communion. I immediately remembered my first Communion experience and the bitter taste of whatever represented Jesus´ blood. So, I dreaded the moment when it was time to drink. The assistant pastor passed down the outside of my row with a tray of juice glasses. Yes, juice glasses - filled a third of the way, equivalent to 10 or 11 communion cups. He wasn´t able to squeeze inside my row, so I took two glasses and passed them down. When I reached for one for myself, he had already moved on. I couldn´t believe my luck! Jodi was watching me from her pew on the other side of the church and thought I was trying to get out of drinking the nasty stuff. I caught her eye with a guilty look on my face. We both held in our giggles, and just when I thought I had escaped, the pastor appeared on the other side of the pew and noticed my hand was still empty. Naturally, I reached for a glass and braced myself for the taste. The pastor said a few words, then downed his glass. I watched his face as I chugged my ¨blood¨... he made a disgusted face, his lips contorted, then promptly went on with his sermon. I could have laughed out loud. I don´t know what I drank, but it was syrupy, bitter, dark-colored with a bit of fizz, and coated my throat. Yuck!
There are always multitudes of clothes to fold at Missionaries of Charity. Jenna and I have been longing to hold a retirement party for many of them, since several have huge holes in them. Finally, one of the Sisters said ¨Please! If you find clothes that are holy, please throw them from the trash and put them on.¨ Jenna and I rejoiced at this news and spent the next 3 1/2 hours examining each article of clothing in the large wardrobe, discarding the ones with this criteria ¨hole that a hand could fit through, several holes, broken zipper, etc.¨ We were finding found so many gems from so many eras, that we started making up stories about the women who previously owned them.

Imagine: a grayish/blue silky dress with pleats near the shoulders, giant shoulder pads, and nautical, silver buttons. She had wavy, dark brown hair. Her husband owned a boat and named it after her. She wore a flowy scarf in her hair and owned a Cadillac. She never had children.

Imagine: a seafoam green sleeveless dress. She bought it for a cruise, accompanied with a wide-brimmed, floppy straw hat and white sandals. She loved it so much, she also wore it to summer BBQs and even when she gardened.

Imagine: a black skirt with pink sparkles. She wore it with black high heels and a sparkly pink top. She had big, curly hair which she made even bigger by back-combing it. She went out dancing, and when the dance was over, she and her friends drank some Coke at a 50´s diner where she repeatedly gave some hair flips, hoping to draw attention to her marvelous outfit.

The laughter was healing for me.


Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
Her bed was already neatly made when I arrived at Missionaries of Charity, but Coco, her well-loved teddy bear which rarely left its perch on her pillow, was missing.

Usually, I find her seated quietly on her bed and I greet her with a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of her hands. She is seated because her limbs have long-since failed her. She is quiet because she is patient. Her arms are limp, her legs tiny and immobile. If she could stand, she might reach my ribcage. She gently calls the name of one of the other women to pick her up and put her in her wheelchair. When she isn´t immediately attended to, she gently calls again, and again - always soft, always gentle. She can´t eat until someone places her in her chair, wheels her to the dining room, and then spoon-feeds her. Her sheets are usually soaked and stained since she can´t control her bladder during the night.

I once got to lift her in her chair, surprised that her tiny frame was so difficult for me to maneuver. I remember whispering a prayer that I wouldn´t drop her. She would get wheeled in for breakfast while I gave her fresh sheets and placed Coco back on her pillow.

Lunch, which was often my most dreaded time at M of C, became one of my favorite. I happened to walk by her one day, and she requested that I be the one to feed her. I was honored! I pulled up a chair next to her and ¨cut¨ her food with a spoon so it was more manageable for her small mouth. She would motion with her eyes when she was ready for another bite. She ate so neatly and gracefully, rarely allowing food to escape and spill down the front of her sweater. She let me know when she couldn´t eat anymore and always thanked me for feeding her.

She was elderly, physically disabled, and very ´with it.´ Her sharp mind trapped in an earthly body. She spoke to me in Spanish about how much she loved her ¨gringitas¨ (little white girls) and remembered the two girls from the previous servant team. She always acknowledged me when I passed by her, and she smiled with her eyes.

As I looked at her neatly-made bed, I learned that she passed away last Tuesday, the day I returned from Peru. My eyes watered in disbelief and my breath quickened. I am sad for the loss of my friend, yet I imagine her in a new body, cautiously testing out her perfect arms and legs, walking, eating...rejoicing.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

I Am...

  • ...Missing Amy and Kevin´s wedding today, wishing a quick weekend flight home was possible....then again, I´d be tempted to stay home.
  • ...Just plain not hungry. My appetite is lacking these days; something is ¨off.¨
  • ...Wondering where the 2 little boys are.
  • ...Tired and so thankful it´s a day of rest.
  • ...Anticipating my first visit to the brothels in a couple weeks. I´m excited, and I also feel sick to my stomach when I think about it.
  • ...Sick of having stomach issues.
  • ...Writing as many postcards as possible in these last several weeks.
  • ...Headed to Copacabana (again!) with my B-family in a couple weeks.
  • ...Feeling lonely in more ways than one.
  • ...Planning a sleepover in my room with Silvia and Shirley.
  • ...Fighting the urge to speak only English for a day.
  • ...Loving Spanish.
  • ...Job searching & wondering about possibilities with AmeriCorps. ???
  • ...Making a list of all the things I won´t miss about El Alto. (the sidewalks used as toilets, lack of any airflow in any moving vehicle, the mountain-like portions of food)
  • ...Making a list of all the things I will miss about El Alto. (My B-family is numero uno.)
  • ...Day dreaming about the moment I´ll step off the plane at the Medford airport.
  • ...Saddened that mashed potatoes might not still be my favorite food when I come home since I continue to eat potatoes everyday. :(
  • ...Hoping for a nap.
  • ...Refreshing my view of compassion by reading Henri Nouwen´s book: Compassion.
  • ...Laughing everyday with my B-family.
  • ...Loving this sun!
  • ...Thinking about fantastic inventions like dishwashers, washing mashines, and microwaves.
  • ...Longing, peaceful, and ....

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Funny Food

Carrots in my taco?
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
I had high hopes for the food in the restaurant. While it tasted pretty good, there was always something a little bit ¨off¨ about the whole dish.

I ordered: Tacos with guacamole and tomatoes.
I received: Tacos without tomatoes, but with lots of carrots inside.

I ordered: Trout with garlic sauce.
I received: Trout with a strange alfredo sauce.

I ordered: Nachos
I received: A plate of Doritos with melted cheese.

I ordered: Beef Burrito
I received: A burritto with huge chunks of ¨Choclo¨ (corn) inside.

I ordered: Hawaiian Pizza
I received: Pizza with florescent pink cherries

my B-mom and I

my B-mom and I
Originally uploaded by Elizabeth in Bolivia.
There was some drama at my house yesterday... Silvia lost her new pair of glasses which were quite an expense for the family. Please pray they will turn up! I think she`s also struggling with school work which causes a lot of grief for Patricia and a lot of tears for Silvia. I hid in my room from the major confrontation that was taking place, though I heard lots of yelling and sobbing... :( Makes me sad, and also aware of how REAL and NORMAL this family is.

Back to my regular schedule...

...back to El Alto, that is. Another 6 weeks and I`ll be back HOME.

Many of you received my latest prayer letter in which I shared some of my raw, honest thoughts about returning to this city. I was hoping my next visit to the Internet would be a chance for me to be a little more upbeat, but I´m afraid I`m still not feeling too enthusiastic. I didn`t sleep well last night and woke up with nausea and the ¨D-train,¨ which quickly lowered my spirits about being back.

The first part of our retreat was with the WMF Peru staff. Their community offered us much refreshment and rest - almost too much, I´m afraid. I could see myself returning to Lima over El Alto. It felt so...normal. Comfortable. Liveable. El Alto, in comparison, is so drab, difficult, and dull, leaving much to be desired. The more I saw in Lima, the more I dreaded returning to El Alto. It doesn´t help that as I told people where I was living, they wrinkled their nose. I`m hoping my experiences will be a stepping-stone for me as I consider more intense culture shock as I re-enter the USA.

26 hours on a bus:
A dirty diaper change in the seat behind me during the middle of the night, so the air lingered with the scent of baby poo. The family got off at their stop and conveniently stashed the nasty diaper behind the curtain, so it continued on the journey with me.
Intense heater action which left me dripping with sweat as I tried to sleep.
Several movies played at incredible volume from the speaker above my head with a good mix of English-Spanish subtitles (Flika, School for Scoundrels, Night at the Museum... quite the variety)
Frat boys at the front of the bus - I declined a beer but did enjoy some of their Oreos.
My iPod made things bearable... :)

About Peru: trees, sea level, shorts & flip-flops, beach, normal restaurants, daily HOT showers in which to shave my legs, dreamy mattress, relief, culture shock, even an episode of ¨The Office¨ on tv - (in English and a break from The Simpsons that my B-family is obsessed with)

The lovely Copacabana: hippies, beautiful jewlery, world travelers, altitude, live music, good food, hotel room with a view, Passion Fruit juice, a couple games of ¨Truth or Dare Jenga¨with creamy hot chocolate, bartering at the shops with my improved Spanish. Our time here was what I had been craving...quality time with the girls on my team, an awesome group devotion, laughter.

I did my laundry today in the bright, beautiful sun - I couldn`t possibly go another day without washing my clothes. Patricia kept telling me I needed to add more water and more soap. I watched the dark clouds roll in from my view at La Casa, and when I returned had rained. I may be wearing the same outfit tomorrow...what`s new?

My stomach hurts, so I`m off for now...
I miiiiissssss yooooouuuuu