These last few months have been very busy. Steven has been working some at home, but for the last month he has been working pretty much full time on the planes. That has meant that my mornings are busy with getting breakfast and lunches made before they are ready to go to work in the morning. That also happens to be the only time the internet works, so I haven't made much progress in the way of communication. They are working on getting better internet here on the property, and I hope that it will be successful.
Life has been busy but good here in Bolivia. The very cold has passed, although it isn't as hard to handle now that Steven has built a wood heater to warm the house with. We have been making some progress with yard, garden, and orchard work too. Well, I think that the pictures show much of the story better.
We also were working on some house projects. We had barrowed Jeff and Fawna’s table. However, it was often used as the work surface, so the varnish was looking rough. We sanded it all down and refinished it.
Steven, meanwhile was turning the house...
into his workshop. It was cold and raining outside and welding in the rain wasn’t advisable
His project was a wood heater! Now that there were windows on the house, heat from a fire would stay inside. The cold south fronts, and the pyromaniac in him inspired him to turn the scrap metal from the rafters into a heater. I like it very much!
|Steven lighting the first fire.|
The smoke coming out of the chimney. Steven kept running outside to watch the smoke go out of the chimney. He spent more time watching the smoke than warming himself inside. A few days later two kids visited us and the boy did the same as Steven, running out every minute or so to watch the smoke!
The black pipe is our solar hot water system. The sun heats the water in the pipe and it really gets hot in the middle of the day. We just need to figure out how to store the hot water until the evening because the pipe loses its heat very quickly. By the time you want to shower in the evening, the water is cold.
We have been working on our yard some too. Steven has been clearing a lot, chopping back the brush with the machete. We hope that it will keep the mosquitoes farther from the house, and keep the bugs from finding our garden so easily.
This is the view from our yard to Jeff and Fawna’s house. We plan to plant a shrub wall between the houses, but for now the
kids who will live in the houses have a much bigger yard to play in!
Steven thinning out some of the low branches from the trees above the garden.
Our house under construction. You can see the where the laundry sink now is.
We were able to have the inside of the main room of the house stuccoed. Two Bolivian workers came and did it in just a few days. It would have taken Steven and I weeks I am sure. The Bolivians did a very good job.
The kitchen before they started
And while they were working on the walls
The spare room was turned into the kitchen...
It was a little tight, but there was a laundry sink being put up outside, so there was still a place to wash things.
There was no space in the spare room to do anything, so the bread was made in the backyard.
Flying!!!Another highlight was I was finally able to fly with Steven! I have known him since June 2009, he being the mission pilot, I a missionary, but never was able to fly with him. So now after we have been married for over half a year, I finally flew with my husband! It was a stormy flight, but all the more beautiful because of it with the mists rising up out of the jungle and all the colours of the flowering trees more intense because of the lighting and from being wet.
|The three of us in the plane, Steve, the sink, and Helen.|
But I had always imagined my first flight with my own Mr Pilot to be kind of romantic, just the two of us... you know. Hmmm well that may be the case if you are married to a regular pilot, but not the case married to a mission pilot! The cargo we were taking was a big industrial sink, bags of clothes, boxes of books, and a photocopier. In order to get the sink into the plane we had to remove the door from the plane, and then pack everything else in around it. It was so long that it went from the back of the plane right up between the seats almost to the instrument panel. So here we were sitting in the plane with a big sink between us. In order to see each other we had to peak around it! Steven kept joking that now that he was married, he had to take everything along for the Mrs, including the kitchen sink! Very funny.
We were making a flight to Rurrenebaque and then to Guayaramerin. Anne had been in Familia Feliz for awhile, but when we got there they told us that it was her free day and was probably in town. We went to see if we could find her and we did! We shared hugs and were about to continue on, but Anne convinced us to stay the
weekend at Familia Feliz.
The big building at Familia Feliz.
A very sweet little fellow who fell asleep in my arms after church.
We went for a hike with Anne and she showed us her favorite big tree.
There were some beautiful flowers along the way
Anne and I in the banana patch. (Steve was standing on an ant trail when he took this picture.)
Then it was time to help Anne cook supper. They cook over a fire because gas (propane) is too expensive.
The brick oven.
A snake skin just outside the kitchen. It was killed there at the orphanage.
|Making pop corn for supper|
|Popping pop corn.|
There are 80 people on campus to cook for. All the volunteers there have so much to do. They need more help, especially in the cooking department. It is too much of a load for the one cook and Anne. Someone is needed who is up to the challenge of cooking for 80 people over a fire, with few resources, and much nutritional needs. It is a big job, but one that would impact many young lives.
And so our weekend with Anne came to an end. She was encouraged and it was really good to have been able to spend some time with her. We continued on to Guayara where the sink was left, and picked up some friends and returned to Santa Cruz. It was a good trip and now I can say that I have flown with Steven!
In closing I want to share the testimony of one of the new volunteers at the TV station. He is a young man named Gabriel. He is 19 years old, and from Argentina. He became a Christian two years ago, and has been preparing himself, and helping in God’s work since then, and now wanted to work here in Santa Cruz. He has had a rough background, into drugs, stealing, in and out of jail, etc.
He began traveling to Bolivia with another girl, who was going to a school in La Paz. They arrived at the Argentinean, Bolivian border, and there the girl passed with no problem, but Gabriel they wouldn’t let pass. They said that he had been in jail as a youth, and so now he was going to be thrown into prison until they were convinced that it was ok for him to be free. Gabriel didn’t know what was going to happen so he gave all his money to the girl and told her to continue on alone. He would see what God would allow to happen.
The police took him to the prison and took all he had before they were about to put him in a cell. Gabriel was scared, and asked them what the prisoners normally do when a new person enters, what he could do if they start harming him, and why was he being put in prison. The guards just said nothing happens normally, and if anything does, just bang on the door and start yelling. The guards asked him what he wanted to take with him, and he had to decide if he was going to go in as a Christian with his Bible, or as any other criminal. The cell held 10-12 other men. The prisoners from this prison were in there for serious crimes. The worst place is the borders, and these men were very big, rough men. Gabriel is a skinny young man. If he went in with the Bible, he would be instantly known as a Christian, and Christians are not usually welcome in rough circles because they are too weak, too sissy. If he went in as any other criminal, then he would have to defend himself on his own strength. He decided to take his Bible only. With head hung low, Bible in hand, he entered the cell.
“Hey you, border boy from Argentina, what are you in here for? What did you do?” The men were big, muscular, and tall.
“I didn’t do anything. I don’t know why I am here.” Replied Gabriel
“Are you a Christian?” the men asked
“Yes I am.”
“So are we. We have been studying and learning about the things of God. Tell us about what you know.”
And so the Bible study and testimony time began. They talked until the very early hours of the morning. Sometime around 3 or 4 am an ambulance came and took all the men from the cell for medical exams, leaving Gabriel alone. He sat there thinking of all that had just taken place, and wondered if God didn’t want him in jail to start a prison ministry. Just then the prisoners from the cell next door began beating on the wall with pipes to get his attention.
“Hey you, border boy from Argentina. Why don’t you come into our cell?”
“No thank you, I am fine here.” Gabriel responded, thinking that these guys were up to no good.
“But boy, we have heard you talking and we want to hear what you have to say about God too.”
“Ok”, Gabriel said, “but I am locked in here and I don’t know how to get to you.”
“Don’t worry. We will call the guard and tell them to put you in with us.”
When Gabriel was let out of his cell and put in the other cell, he was again met by 10-12 large, muscular men. They were ready to welcome him though, and had a bed and a chair already prepared for him, and all were sitting around ready to hear what he had to share. Again, Gabriel shared about his God and all He had done, studying God’s word with them.
Later, still in the early morning, another young man, a Bolivian, was put in their cell. He was asked why he was there, and he didn’t know. He was just taken and put in prison. So they all continued their discussion.
Mid morning, a guard came and told Gabriel that he was free to go now. Gabriel was surprised and asked why he had been put in prison, and what he was to do. He had no money, he didn’t know the way through Bolivia. The girl he had been traveling with knew the way. The guards replied they didn’t know why he was put in prison, and they didn’t know how to help him beyond setting him free. But then a thought came to them. Hey, the young Bolivian man they had just put in prison, he could go with Gabriel. He was from Santa Cruz, so could show the way. The guards didn’t know why he was in prison either.
The two young men left the prison and began to travel. The Bolivian knew the way, and guided through all the back ways from trufi to trufi (like long distance taxis) since there were blockades on all the main roads. They traveled all day and night until they made it to the bus terminal in Santa Cruz.
Along the way the two young men didn’t talk much. The Bolivian was a quiet guy, and didn’t say much. He had only led the way, paying for all the expenses and keeping Gabriel company. Here they were in Santa Cruz, and Gabriel realized that he didn’t even know the Bolivian’s name. How was he going to thank this man? He didn’t have anything. He asked
“How can I thank you for all you have done for me? Is there anything I can do for you, or anything I can do to show my gratitude?”
The Bolivia replied, ”there is something you can do for me. Can you go to the bathroom with me?”
Gabriel thought this was kind of strange, but couldn’t refuse. They went to the bathrooms, and there in the bus terminal you go up a flight of steps to the bathroom door. At the bottom of the stairs are benches where people can wait. The Bolivian asked Gabriel to wait on the bench while he went into the bathroom. Gabriel did, and sat down to wait. Ten minutes passed, then 15, then 20. This is crazy, how long does a person need in the bathroom? Maybe the Bolivian ate something that gave him diarrhea. So he went up the stairs to ask if he could go in and check on his friend. He didn’t have any money to pay the man at the door, so he asked if he could just go in and check to see if his friend was ok. His friend had just walked past the man without paying. The man said he could go in, but no one had gone in and there was no one in there. Gabriel went in and there was no one. There were no doors or windows that anyone could have exited through. He stood there thinking, and remembered that when the Bolivian had entered the bathroom the man at the door hadn’t noticed him going by, and that was why he wasn’t charged.
Now Gabriel was alone in Santa Cruz, where he was to be and where he was to continue working for God. He is sure he has met his guardian angel, and that God intervened and brought him here. He has been a blessing, and a great help here. We serve a great God.
Well, it is time to sign off for this time. May God bless you all.
Steven and Helen