Sunday, October 2, 2016

Feliz Cumple, B. y D.!

Today was an exciting day at Sunshine House as we celebrated not one, but TWO birthdays! Both B. and D. will be turning another year older later this week, so we had a joint Ninja Turtles party for them this afternoon!

B., especially, was so excited for the party! He was the one who requested the theme, and Sarah was in charge of putting it together... She and Lindsey made a Ninja Turtle cake and cupcakes and Sarah made masks for everyone. The kids loved them! I took tons of cute pictures but unfortunately can't post any of them as they show the kids' faces... Here are a few that we can post... :)

 D. taking a couple phone calls before the party began as after he was too busy to be bothered with phone calls ;)

 B. opening up his presents- a Ninja Turtle figurine and costume

Their cake and cupcakes were so cute!
 B. was happy to partake in the Bolivian tradition of biting the cake and his siblings were happy to help him take that bite!

 D. sneaking some cake after everyone finished eating!

Saturday, September 24, 2016


My lack of updates is embarrassing (compared to how it used to be...) but here's your once-a-month update on life in Bolivia...

September started out with one of our favorite days- Pedestrian Day! No cars or motorized vehicles are allowed on the streets and everyone goes out to walk or ride bikes... Miel and I went for a walk in the afternoon!

 We've all been busy with Sunshine House activities this month! We've been working on some ways to raise support (both in Bolivia and abroad) and have some big things planned for next month... Let us know if you'd like to become involved in our work!

At the end of August, Sunshine House welcomed our first new arrivals... Twin boys! Their mom is going through some hard times and needs help with her babies. I don't want to share too much until we know for sure what will happen, but please keep her in your prayers! I will tell you, however, she loves her kids and wants to care for them.

 I love going outside on my balcony at night to look at the city... It's not the best picture but it's the only one I've taken at night!

 As if the twins weren't enough, we received another new baby- this time a girl! While we know parts of her story, some of it is still a mystery. It looks like she will probably go back to family, but we're enjoying her for now!

 Sarah and I had a day off from school a few weeks ago and spent the morning cleaning out the babies' clothes... There were way too many things that don't fit anyone and were just taking up space. It was quite the project but their cabinets look so much better! I forgot to take an after picture...

 September 14th was Cochabamba's anniversary... We celebrated at school the day before (all the kinder classes danced traditional dances and we ate charque) and then had the day off. I love this city!

 I could go on and on about how much we love our church! If it wasn't for them, Sunshine House wouldn't be around and our kids would have been sent away to other homes a long time ago... Several of our church friends now work at Sunshine House and others come to help out whenever there's a need... Last week our friends Boris and Berenice came over to cut our kids' hair!

 Only in Bolivia do you actually need a sign telling people they aren't allowed to pee in the park... 

 Last weekend, Sarah, Lindsey and I were craving our favorite chicken restaurants near the old baby house... Pollo Sabroso was just as sabroso as I remembered and Sarah said the same about the alcohol shop chicken...

 Sarah and I were wandering around Quillacollo last weekend and decided to get manicures. It was a pretty sketchy place but for $2 you can't really complain! 

Last Sunday, Sarah and I took 8 kids out to lunch after church. While eating, a lady at the table next to us kept watching us. After a little while, she asked where the kids were from and then gave us a donation and asked us to buy the kids a treat... Ice cream for all! I think it's really important that our kids see generosity and kindness from Bolivians and have role models who look like them, so it was a great thing for our kids to see!

 Miel got her first haircut yesterday! She really needed one as last week I attempted to cut it myself and really butchered her fur... Dog grooming is clearly not in my future! Some friends from church have a vet and dog groomers, so they groomed her. Of course she received a glowing report on her behavior! And also, see what I mean about our church friends helping us with everything?!

I have to psych myself up for days to go to La Cancha (big open-air market in Cochabamba), but I'd say these baby costumes made the trip worth it... Have you seen a cuter mouse?! The little bear is pretty cute too and his brother has a monkey costume... Pictures of both to come another day!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Two of our oldest girls, who also happen to be sisters, were baptized today after church! Just over a year ago (I think... I could be way off), younger sister B. was with Danyelle and said she accepted Jesus into her heart. She hadn't been baptized yet and recently started asking about it quite a bit. She went to church with us for awhile, but over the past couple months had been going with the tía and some of the other kids to a different church. We hoped we could have her baptized one day at our church (she'd previously told us she wanted baptized there too), but to be honest, we never really looked into it much. 

A few weeks ago, Savannah arrived back to Cochabamba and Belinda talked to her about being baptized, too. Shyrlen had never told me she wanted to be baptized too, but after talking with Savannah and Pastor Fernando, it was decided that both girls would be baptized at Belén! 

Today was the much-awaited baptism. Most of the current tías (even a couple not working today) wanted to come as well as a few former tías who knew the girls when they were younger and all of the kids came to church with us today. It was quite the crowd for such a special event!

After church we invited a few of our friends over for lunch and to celebrate a little more. Sarah made a cake and we bought Bibles to give the girls. Everyone signed them and they received some really sweet, encouraging messages. I'm so happy we were able to be a part of such an important day for them!

Happy Baptism!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August Happenings!

While school and tutoring basically consume my week, a lot has been happening on the weekends... I take pictures and then don't blog about it until the pictures start to pile up! Wish I could post all the cute pics we take of the kids, but these will have to do for now :)

As many of you have already heard, Casa de Amor changed names and administration over the past couple months. We're now known as the Sunshine House! Click here to visit our website and here to "like" us on Facebook... I've taken over child sponsorship, so please let me know if that's something you would like to be a part of... and send us your email so we can keep in touch!

 At the beginning of August, I fostered a dog for a week, thinking I would adopt her at the end of the week. Sofi was the sweetest little dog when I was home, but when left alone, she had severe separation anxiety. She tried to claw and chew through doors and I was so worried leaving her home alone every day. She was physically hurting herself in attempting to not be alone. One day I came home and she had clawed the wall trying to escape. It was at that point I could no longer ignore what was going on. It was getting worse by the day. Unfortunately I had to return her to the rescue group. She needs a family that has someone home during the day.

 Just a couple days after returning Sofi, I got a call by the director of the rescue group asking if I wanted to foster Princesa (left) and then adopt her if I wanted. I agreed and brought her home. She was such a great little dog! A couple days later, I received a call from another volunteer with the rescue group telling me about Miel (right). I ended up bringing her home for a test week too. Right now, I have both dogs. Princesa is no longer the nice, easy dog she once was (she isn't a huge fan of having Miel around), and Miel is a puppy in every sense of the word. She's super sweet and I'm planning on adopting her this coming week!

 J. turned two a couple weeks ago so we had to celebrate! I wish I could post pictures of a video I took of him and his big sister A... He "bit" his cake (really we just smeared some frosting on his face after helping him bite it) and A. couldn't stop laughing when she saw him! She was almost in tears she was laughing so hard!

 One Sunday afternoon consisted of organizing almost 3 full houses of furniture. Some of it was being taken away that night so we had to decide what needed to stay and what needed to go. It was quite the task! Big thanks to Savannah and the tías who did most of the work :)

 One of my students came over to me the other morning and handed me an envelope. When I opened it, I saw this note he had made me! It says "I love you Miss Hannah" and I'm assuming he wrote "Mm" because that's the letter we were practicing... My kids are too sweet!

 I've started tutoring four days a week after school. I brought these letter tiles back from the States with me, and they've become a big hit with my little student... One day before leaving, he asked if he could write a word "in English" that I could translate for him. He used every tile to write this massive jumble of letters... Any guesses on that translation?!

 It's always a good night when our "old" friends get together!

Tía Silvia will never fully trust us in the kitchen, no matter how long we've been here. The other night after dinner, Savannah washed the dishes. Tía Silvia hung out in the kitchen with us, but insisted she wasn't going to work as she had already finished her work for the day. Not long after Savannah left the kitchen, Silvia went over to the sink and rewashed some of the dishes!

This picture isn't mine and I wasn't even there to take my own pictures, but this one is too cute not to post... Savannah set up a Sunshine House Olympics this week! Each child and tía got a shirt with their own country on it and she set up all sorts of fun games for them to play outside!

***Make sure you come back tomorrow to read about a very special event happening at the Sunshine House this weekend!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

First Week of School!

This week we finished our first week of kindergarten! 

Although I taught last semester, I was a little nervous about starting with a group from the beginning of the school year. I have to say, my class this year is great! This is the first year we have 3 kinder classes, and I have 20 kids on my roll (two have never come though). After 30 kids in my class last year, the room feels a bit empty as we've had 16-18 kids each day.

The other kinder teachers are also enjoying their classes this year. We've all noticed how nice these kids are! We haven't had any name-calling or not wanting to be friends with certain kids, and they have been listening pretty well, too. 

Other than the 5:30am wakeup, it's been nice getting back into a routine every day. I remember being tired when I started teaching but I definitely wasn't this exhausted every day... I used to laugh at Sarah last year when she went to bed at 9pm, but I totally get it now! I've been in bed by about 8:30pm and asleep not longer after every night this week!

These aren't the best pictures but I wanted to show a few of my classroom...

Front of the room

Back corner has our owl word wall and the kids' cubbies and some materials. I bought the paper globes when I was in the States and planned on hanging them from the ceiling. We need to borrow a ladder from maintenance before we can hang them and just haven't gotten around to it yet!

 Other back corner... "My Family and I" is one of the first social studies themes we'll be doing and the kids will bring in pictures of their families. I'm hoping to use the half-table for small groups once we're able to start centers.

 View from the door

The disaster that was organizing their school supplies! We still have several who haven't brought their supplies yet but as I had no supplies for us to use (another teacher had to give me pencils... seriously, I had nothing), it was pretty important that we sorted out the stuff we did have!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Moving Day!

Today was the much anticipated moving day! Ever since Sarah, Lindsey and I arrived back in Cochabamba, number 1 on the priority list was find apartments. Mine and Sarah's contract ends at the end of July and with school starting back on Monday (so not looking forward to that alarm!), I knew I needed to get moved in before then. 

I spent my first week back mostly at the hogar and looked up apartments online. My friend Danitza, her husband and I drove around one night too looking for apartments. Finally last Sunday in the classifieds Lindsey and I spent the day calling about possibilities for both of us. I drug Sarah and Lindsey with me to visit the apartment below and we all agreed it was the one!

I signed the contract Monday and then during the week Lindsey helped me move most of my stuff over. This morning was the day to move furniture. I have the most wonderful, helpful friends who didn't mind (well, if they did they didn't show it!) sitting outside for 2 hours waiting on the transporte to arrive and then carry all that furniture up four flights of stairs... They truly are the best!

I'll write another blog with pictures when everything is organized and decorated... I still have so much to do!

My apartment is on the top floor.

 For now this may just be the living room as I don't have a kitchen table and chairs.

 My bedroom... Love all those cabinets!

 Our apartment building has two patios. One is shared by everyone, and this one is just for me!

 Waiting on our transport truck to arrive... I'd been given the name of someone to call and had spoken with him multiple times throughout the week. I couldn't imagine there would be any issues this morning. When I called to tell him we were ready, he said that he hadn't actually written down where I told him to go and since he couldn't remember, he sent the guys with the truck to a random corner in downtown Cochabamba to wait on me, and I could call them if I wanted to tell them where to come. Seriously. After multiple phone calls, I finally got in touch with them and it seemed that they finally knew where to go. There were also blockades today which getting around a little trickier as well. After TWO HOURS of them not showing up, we gave up. Ana Rita, my co-teacher and also the most helpful friend ever, flagged down another transporte. We thought he was going to help us, but then he drove away. Right after that, the first truck arrived but she sent them away, saying we'd been waiting hours and they were too late. She then went out in search of another one and he followed her back to my house. He ended up helping me move and then went back to our other apartment and helped Sarah move into her new apartment too. 

 Sarah and I always go to the "puppy market" (an area in front of the stadium where people can sell puppies) on Sunday mornings to see all the dogs for sale. We really want one, and she wants to name it Thor. This dog came up to our door and was hanging out with us while we waited to move, and she thought he might be a Thor. It did seem like a good name for him!

 All loaded up and ready to go!

As it's my apartment, I should have probably been down there helping them move up furniture instead of taking pictures of them doing all the work! ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A visit to the USA!

Ever since we were told we aren't allowed to post pictures of our kids on the internet (new Bolivian law), blogging has been a lot more sporadic. I miss being able to show off our cute kids and all the silly things they do! We still take lots of pictures, but I guess they're just for us to enjoy... 

A lot happened in the month I was in the States. CDA is going through some big transitions, and I'll update you on that when I'm able to do so. Just know that for now, it's been so great to be back!

Hope you enjoy a random assortment of pictures... !

 I tried out a few Spanish churches while home... I drug my mother along to the first one I went to, and they gave her a print-out of the sermon in English so she was able to follow along. The people were super welcoming and friendly- almost to Belén's (our church in Cochabamba) level, but not quite!

 Amy and her children, Tommy and Cherry.

 Donuts every Sunday morning!

After 11 years at FUMCB, Bro. David retired. I was happy I was able to be there on his last Sunday!

 I had to get some documents legalized for school... I quickly received them back after the first step and was feeling pretty good about getting them done so quickly, and then realized I'd messed them up after sending them off for the next step... Legalizing documents is such a pain! 

I'm always most excited about the food when I go home... There are plenty of Bolivian foods I really like and many I've acquired a taste for, but desserts in Bolivia just don't compare to desserts in the States... Had to fill up on as much chocolate as I could!

 She's such a good hairstylist... Check her out!

 I want a dog SO BAD. My mom and sister help at the Humane Society and they recently got the most adorable little chihuahua named Lily. I really wanted to adopt her and bring her back to Bolivia with me, but I didn't have time to do all the necessary paperwork I needed to be able to bring her... I did go visit her though! Once I get settled in a new apartment, adopting a dog is number one on my list of priorities!

 Firecracker 5k on the 4th of July

Hanging out with my niece, Meatball

Our neighborhood has a new "Little Free Library" courtesy of my mother!

 We love visiting the St. Jude Dream Home every summer! Hoping we win the house... I can think of a few uses for that money ;)

My mom made this little fairy garden for Hilary's birthday... It was so cute!

 Picking up Mardi Gras float supplies for the Humane Society... Only Madre got a comfortable ride home that day!

Back in Dallas and ready to head back to La Llajta... This was the first time I came back with three suitcases and two super heavy carry-ons and it will NEVER happen again, I assure you. Walking through the Miami airport with all my stuff was the worst.

Friends from church picked me up at the airport on Sunday morning. I wanted to go to church but also wanted to go to the hogar to see the kids, but knew we'd arrive late to church if I went to pick them up. Our friends suggested we come anyway as there was a lunch after the service. I took 5 of the big girls with me and they were THRILLED to be back at Belén... as was I! It was great to see everyone again, and they were welcomed back by almost everyone in attendance... We've accepted the fact that they love our kids more than they love us, and that's okay! :)