Monday, June 21, 2010

Bolivia's Gifts To Me

It's getting close to 100 degrees out there this afternoon, so I decided to pack it in and come back to the hotel.  Everyone is feeling the heat today - there is no breeze, and the humidity is very high.  I am amazed at how those guys can work in this heat, and Crystal and Heather too!  Lorne's shorts and shirt are so soaked he looks like he jumped in the river.  One of my duties is to make sure everyone is drinking lots of water on a regular basis - hopefully they will remember to do that this afternoon.

I wanted to give an update on the weekend before I forget all of the details - we decided to only work until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, and then Gustavo was going to take the team across the river to visit the market in Brazil.  I decided to stay behind because it was so hot, and the pool was calling my name.  I'm so glad I did because when they got over there everything was closed and they had to turn around and come back! 

In the evening Gustavo took us to an Eco resort which is just outside of town for supper. He told us to wear our bathing suits because we could swim in the lake if we wanted to, but upon inspecting the murky brown water with little fish jumping out of it, suddenly no one felt the urge to cool off anymore...not sure why.  We sat outside and took tons of pictures of the sunset, as well as of the beautiful red, blue and green parrots that were posing for us just a few feet away.  We asked Gus if these parrots had been tamed, but he said no, that the man who built the resort planted a lot of mango trees there and the parrots stay because they love them so much. It was amazing to be so close to them.  We enjoyed a delicious meal (again) of fish and chicken, and fought off the bugs, who came out in droves once the sun went down.  There were two little kitty cats there who were meowing forlornly at my end of the table - the rest of the team didn't know it, but I was feeding them chicken left right and center because they were so thin.  Everything is thin down here, and I find it very depressing.

We went to church on Sunday morning, and Mark did a great job at speaking.  The longer we sat in the service the more we felt like we were in a sauna - obviously no air conditioning in this church!  The service was over around 11:00 and we walked to the main square and waited for an hour and a half while the people from the church prepared a meal for us consisting of fresh local fish baked in an outdoor oven.  The fish was some of the best that I have ever tasted, and was so tender and mouthwatering.  The food has been absolutely delicious here - and they serve us so much of it; we eat about six times a day here!  We actually had to ask the church people to cut back on the amount of food they were bringing us at the boat because we couldn't possibly eat it all!

We then returned to the hotel to relax for the afternoon before going to a Bolivian family's house for supper, and then to the evening church service.  I was feeling a bit homesick because Sunday was my birthday, and I was thinking about my family back home.  My mum and I share the same birthday so that makes it even more special.  I had decided not to tell anyone on the team because that's just not my thing - the less attention I have the better.  I called home and my mum got after me for not telling anyone, so I told her that I would announce it at church that night when I sang. 

Gus took us to the home of a family from the church who prepared the evening meal for us - it was a dish that reminded me of chicken cacciatore, and it was so delicious there wasn't a scrap left!  Some of the guys even ate the chicken's feet that were in there too!  It is so humbling to be loved and served by these people the way we are - I know that they do not have an abundance of anything, and it is very humbling to be lavished on in this way.  And I felt so sorry for those ladies working so hard in the kitchen in all of this heat, especially after just preparing the huge meal at the church.  They assured me that it was no trouble at all for them.  Right... 

I enjoyed the evening service much more than the morning - you could feel the people warming up to us, and I could feel God's presence there with us very strongly.  I told the people (in Spanish) before I sang that it was my birthday, and that I was very happy to be sharing it with my family in Bolivia.  I sang two songs, and the whole time it kept going through my head "How awesome is this, to be singing in a church in Bolivia for your birthday?"  At the end of the service I heard them say my name and they asked me to come up to the front of the church.  At first I thought that they were asking me to sing another song and I panicked for a second because I didn't have anything prepared.  Then I realized that they were asking me to come to the front of the church because it was my birthday and they were going to sing to me!  While they did, everyone from the church came up and wished me a happy birthday.  I felt their love for me, and as those beautiful Bolivian ladies embraced me and kissed me on the cheek I felt absolutely overwhelmed, and knew that I could not have been given a greater gift.  I was beyond words and beyond tears.

It seems though, that someone else had let the cat out of the bag, because when I walked into the pastor's house afterwards everyone started singing Happy Birthday to me, and they presented me with a chocolate cake that the pastor's wife had baked for me that afternoon...again, in the incredible heat, and after preparing that huge meal for us.  I still can't quite believe that the Lord did that for me - I felt so loved, by Him, and by these beautiful people.

I love it when that feeling of connection comes with the people, and you feel so loved and honored.  It humbles me beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life, and is one of the greatest feelings in the world.  I think it's part of why I take these crazy trips, and go on adventures that I could never have dreamed up on my own.  The Lord can take care of us and watch over us from any place in the world, and let us know that we are special to Him in ways that are beyond our imagination.  He is the love of my life.


Bren said...

after I got this onto your blog, I called Mum to share the update, between tears I managed to get it read and she and I felt that much closer to you and what God is doing for you and through you.

Lov you lots sis

Anonymous said...

Awesome story,Kelly. God is so good. I am loving it, just to be able to read your adventure with God, brings me peace.... patricia