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.