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!