Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas Break

I've been on Christmas break for the past 3 weeks. We go back to work tomorrow, and I'm not sure that I'm ready... I've spent almost every day at the hogar which hasn't happened in far too long. When I'm there I'm always reminded how much I miss it. It was fun spending so much time with the kids, and as you can see in the pictures, we really stayed busy!

Sarah bought these alphabet/number puzzles for our pre-schoolers. They did well putting the letters into their places, but we still need to work on the order of the alphabet.

Just another reason that Tío Edwin will always be the favorite... Before Christmas, S.'s Sunday School class had to practice for the Christmas program at church. Each time, B. tagged along and finally got herself a part in S.'s class's play. One day we got to practice early, and Tío Edwin was there too. He offered to take the girls around the block on his motorcycle while we waited. I think I've heard about their motorcycle ride every single time I've seen them since that day!

We did our big Christmas celebration with the kids on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas Day, we just went to church with them in the morning. That evening, Sarah and I went out to dinner (no way were we cooking after the massive feast we cooked just the night before!) and on our walk to get a trufi, we saw this polar bear on the Recoleta!

E. got his finger shut in a door outside and it started swelling up. It got infected and he was put in the hospital for a few days between Christmas and New Years. Luckily his "mother" Sarah stayed with him, but I did go visit one morning. This picture of his finger was taken his first morning in the hospital. They drained it later in the week... I know, disgusting. It still has a little healing to do, but overall, it looks pretty good now!

 A. is such a diva! The other day she was keeping me company while I organized her clothes. She found that little purse and then put on my boots... She thought she was hot stuff!

 It's a tradition here to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Years Eve. We pretended that 11pm was actually midnight and let the kids go outside to play with sparklers and then come in for grapes!

New Years Eve with some of our favorite tías!

 On New Years Day, our church was celebrating their anniversary (20 years, maybe?). They had a dinner that night, and Sarah and I had planned on taking our older kids. She ended up sick that day, so I took the oldest 3. They had a great time! While the whole celebration began at 7:30pm, dinner didn't actually start until 10pm and we didn't make it home until midnight. All 3 fell asleep on the way home!

Some afternoons we tried to do some educational activities with the kids... A. is 4 years old and will be starting pre-school in February. She joined our soon-to-be kindergarteners in some math activities.

 I. can now smile when you ask him too, and it's so cute!

 B. (middle) has been begging me for months to take her to our church's evangelism in the park. Out of pure laziness, I never took her. When she heard there was evangelism the day after New Years, she said I had no excuse because I wasn't working... Couldn't argue with that! 

 Evangelism basically consists of a group from our church putting on 6-7 dramas about different themes (relying on God, relationships, drugs/AIDS, etc.) for a wide variety of audiences. When the dramas are over, everyone who was watching is given a snack and then people from our church pass out some Christian literature and talk to them about Christianity/invite them to our church. It was my first time to go, and it was an interesting experience for sure. That kind of evangelism doesn't work well in the States, but it works SO well here. As you can see, that is just part of the crowd.

 While most days I was at Sunshine House for lunch, some days I was running around the city... and that always meant ice cream for lunch :)

 My 2 year visa ends in March which means it's time to start paperwork all over again... I would say trámites (paperwork) is never-ending in Bolivia, but the end may finally be in sight- I want to get Bolivian citizenship!

 S. and B. have been working on making lots of earrings and bracelets with one of their tías. One afternoon, B. sat with me for hours and taught me how to make earrings. She was a bit bossy when explaining how they had to be made and didn't like my final product on many occasions, but mine did actually make it up onto their display board. Cochabamba friends- they're selling earrings for 2-3bs/pair... Let me know if you'd like to buy any!

 Just now realizing I didn't post a picture of Miel, but this is her favorite toy. My mom sent it to her for Christmas... It squeaked and she was scared of it. When she finally got over her fear, she tore it apart. Now she just carries around the ripped up toy.

 These girls were in desperate need of haircuts. One of our tías is also a hair stylist and has a friend who has been wanting to help Sunshine House. He offered to give us a discount if we took the kids to him. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, so yesterday, I took B. and S. for haircuts. This outing also involved piercing B.'s ears, but I forgot to take a picture.

 Poor A. had her head shaved last March. Her hair has grown back so, so, so slowly. Yesterday when I was taking the girls to get haircuts, Tía Milenka gave our toddlers haircuts. When she finished, we decided to see what she could do with A.'s hair. It was starting to look a little bit like a mullet. She wanted to give her a haircut called a "mushroom" that sounded a lot like a bowl cut. I was not going to let that happen and talked her into cutting A.'s hair to her ears. Her hair still has a ways to grow, but at least it's almost all one length...

 Taking the kids out for haircuts used to be the worst form of torture... Now that Tía Milenka cuts their hair in the kitchen, everyone is happy! They sit by themselves, no crying and they sit still enough to actually let her cut it.

 B. is quite the character! The babies were given these play mats for Christmas, and she decided to test it out first. 
This very same day, I overheard the following conversation between her and a volunteer (background: B. was baptized this past August and loves to talk about God/her beliefs):
B.: Why are you Catholic?
Volunteer: Because everyone in my family is Catholic.
B. Well, that's not a very good reason. You don't have to be Catholic just because your family is. I'm Christian because I believe in God and I love Him. I didn't choose to be a Christian just because my tías are Christians."
She spent many afternoons over these past few weeks talking about God to all of us... She really thinks about Him a lot and asks us our opinion on different things and also what the Bible says in relation to different issues. She looks for opportunities to share her faith (that's why she so badly wanted to go to evangelism) with others. She's been maturing so much lately, and although she still very much has her moments (she can be a little too sassy sometimes!), she's a lot of fun to be around!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas at Sunshine House!

This marks my 3rd Christmas in Bolivia (the first Christmas I was back in the States), and also probably the best Christmas yet! We've developed some of our own traditions and now the big kids are starting to remember them and look forward to the Christmas season as much as we do. As you can see, we've been busy!

One evening, we loaded up all the older children and went to the Christmas carols service at the International Church. When it was over, we walked to a plaza just a couple blocks away to look at their Christmas lights. Our kids LOVE looking at Christmas lights!

Another night, we went to a Christmas party put on by a board member's family. It was rainy and cool outside but our kids were super excited to go out!

One of our favorite traditions is going to the Prado to see the Christmas lights and ride in Santa's sleigh. As we only have 14 kids at Sunshine House (as opposed to 30-ish in years past), we decided to take all of the kids and the tías who were working that night. 

As we were walking down the street, E. and A. (both 4 years old) started screaming "Cockroach! Cockroach!" upon seeing Pikachu. Can you tell they don't watch much tv?! It was too funny!

Mine and Sarah's project now that we're both on Christmas break has been to organize the storage closet. It's been quite a job so far, and we still have a long way to go! This is just one wall of the bags of clothes.

Two days ago we celebrated M.'s 5th birthday! He was just 1.5 years old when I arrived and it's hard to believe how much he's grown.

The night of M.'s birthday, a church group came over and threw a Christmas party for the staff. It's rare that everyone is together at once, and it's always a fun time! Tía Patty (green shirt on the right) did a great job on the food!

In Bolivia, big Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. Sarah and I decided that we would cook a Christmas dinner for the kids and tías who were working that night. Now, anyone who knows Sarah and I probably also knows that we don't cook much. After buying all the ingredients and setting them out on the counter we worried it was a bit of a lofty goal...

We bought 3 chickens which unfortunately meant we had to prepare them to be cooked. We didn't know how, so Tía Laura taught us. This picture was before Sarah had to chop off the chicken's head...

My poor chicken had a bit of a rough time. Instead of slicing straight down the middle, I accidentally sliced through its ribs which is why it looks a little lopsided. Luckily they all tasted the same!

We put several of the kids to work, making lemonade, cutting up veggies, etc. Eleven year old S. really wanted to help so we put her in charge of making a salad. She was so proud of herself when she finished!

 Miel likes going to the hogar to spend time with the kids, but she got car sick on the way there yesterday so her trips may be very limited nowadays!

 Are you as shocked as I am that Sarah and I actually pulled all this off?! We're missing beets, bread, and salad in the picture and we didn't take pics of the dessert. On the menu: chicken, stuffing (half eaten before dinner even started), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, boiled veggies, roasted veggies with honey, yorkshire pudding, bread, beets, and salad. It was like a real Christmas dinner! We're so proud of ourselves and think that maybe we can handle doing it again next Christmas! Also, after cooking such a feast, the tías have officially approved us for marriage... What an honor!

 So. Much. Food.

 Tía Laura and Tía Milenka... We love these two!

Our kids have received many toys over the last few days, so we decided to give them each a pair of Christmas pjs... They looked too cute!

They finally put up the Christmas tree yesterday afternoon, and within the first hour of it being up, the toddlers had knocked it over at least 5 times. Sarah took this picture before bedtime last night... Her 2 "hijos" in their matching pjs!

 Christmas is also O.'s birthday- Today he turns 2! His dad always visits on Sundays and after church, we celebrated with this fancy cake!

These three celebrated their first Christmas today! How cute did they look for church?! 

Luke 2:10-11, But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

We hope your Christmas has been as merry as ours has been! From all of us to you, Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


These are all out of order but at least I've blogged... ;)

 This month our school had a Walk-a-Thon. Everyone finds sponsors to pay for each kilometer they walk, and this year the money will be donated to a nearby orphanage (where some of our former Sunshine House kids were transferred over the summer!) and the Bolivian equivalent of a Title 1 school nearby our school. We had a poster contest and my class won 2nd place in the pre-school division... I've been told our win gives us a popcorn party! (The blurry parts are where I blurred out my kids' names next to their footprints.)

The school year is coming to an end for the Bolivian public schools, and our pre-schoolers at Sunshine House had an end-of-the-year exam. Sarah and I were in charge of helping them study one Saturday morning and it was a bit of a disaster. They don't know how to count to 10, barely know shapes, colors and body parts and can't identify the vowels (well, except maybe E. who sings a catchy tune when he names the vowels...). I never heard how they did but I can't imagine they did well. Students aren't allowed to fail here, so even though they'll be moved up to kindergarten, they've got their work cut out for them during vacation... We've got to study!

 A few weeks ago we took our older kids to Aldea SOS to visit our kids who were transferred there. We always enjoy our visits and so do the kids!

 Los traviesos taking part in their favorite hobby- turning on the sink and playing with water/flooding the bathroom!

 For several Sundays in a row, S.'s Sunday School teacher asked me if she could stay a little longer and practice a song her class was learning. I always stayed behind with her and no one could ever really tell me why they were learning this song... Come to find out, they were participating in our church's talent show! As several of our tías go to our church, when they found out that S. would be in the talent show, they decided that we ALL needed to go to the talent show (I'd assumed that for ease, I'd just take S. and her sister, B.)! After getting permission to take all the babies with us, we got them all ready for bed (it didn't start until 7:30pm) and headed over to church... Apparently no one told the tías that O.'s tiger "pajamas" is actually supposed to be worn as a costume?!

 B. used to be SO scared of going to church but now he loves it! He always raises his hand in the air or claps along to the music and he's even started going to his Sunday School class!

 We celebrated 2 birthdays this month! S. (not pictured) turned 11 years old, and A. turned 4 years old.

Miel had her first real vet check-up since I got her... She got a shot and has been told she needs to fatten up!

I don't know that this actually counts as "decorating for Christmas" if it's all I've done so far, but I put up my little tree the other day...  Now I need to psyche myself up to go to La Cancha to get a big tree for the living room!

 S. LOVES the babies and this morning offered to help me bathe the "triplets" before church.

We can't say it enough- our church loves our kids so well! This morning, Pastor Fernando held both his own grandson (on his other knee... you can't see him in the picture) and our O. during the children's worship time. Both boys were smiling so big! All of our church friends don't hesitate to grab a toddler and love them like their own :)