Saturday 13 April 2013

So far...

Things I have learnt so far while in Trinidad....
  • A little more Spanish - I am definitely not fluent but my guesses at what people are saying are more likely to be correct now!
  • To not just say yes to everything a child asks me when I have no idea what they are saying - generally I realise that I should have said no when I see what they go and do
  • That tarmac is a genius invention - on Good Friday we had the day off so we took a trip to the countryside and drove to San Loreto, about an hour away. Unfortunately the road there was mainly just stones and holes so it was a very bumpy journey! Definitely flew off our seats a few times and when we got there it felt good to be on unmoving ground. Crazily Caleb (KC and Maicol's 3 month old son) managed to sleep for most of the journey despite the bumps! San Loreto was very peaceful and tranquil - the Catholic church had loud speakers and was playing music and there were not many people around so it gave it a very calm atmosphere. I could not imagine living there though - way too isolated!
  • I should be grateful that when I went to school it started at 8.45am. Here, if you go to school in the morning, it can start at 7.30am! (Kids either go to school in the morning or afternoon). The school that I help teach at is not far from the Foundation, thankfully we take the last lesson of the morning at 11am. There is no way I would be awake enough if we had the earliest lesson of the day! Craig teaches 3 different classes a week, ages 12-15. At the moment we are going through a study book on the general message of the Bible and salvation through Jesus. I have taught Noah escaping the judgement of man by the flood and the story of Moses leading the people out of Egypt and the Passover being a symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God. It seemed to go well with all the classes, though trying to understand the kids when they answer a question does not always work - I just make a noncommittal response and repeat my own answer!
  • You cannot escape the bugs! Grasshoppers are always there to leap out at me and get stuck in my hair, mosquitos still love my blood and I am left with scars from the bites, and I think I ate a few ants that got into the biscuits at kids club last week!
  • Alligator tastes a bit like pork - I know my family will be shocked to know that I eat here! Gone are the days when I only ate chicken and chocolate! But yes I have missed Easter Eggs, I am sure Cadburys have noticed a drop in sales as I was not there to buy one every few days like usual - I will just have to make up for it next year!
  • I chose a great time to come somewhere hot. I have been told that I have missed the coldest March for 50 years! Unlucky for everyone at home in the cold! Here is gets down to 25C and I feel cold, putting on jeans and long sleeves and the kids are layered up with woolly hats and everything!
  • How awkward the English language is. In some ways it is simple but it is not consistent - helping at the English class has made me realise that! Also as Craig is from Scotland he pronounces some words different to me so that adds to the students confusion! Obv as I am from London I have the neutral non accent, but it has been strange to not be around anyone with an English accent
  • Our life is a witness of what we believe - and so my faith should be evident in every part of my life, not just the church parts
  • God does not change, but maybe sometimes our own change in perspective of him makes us think that he has

Thursday 7 March 2013

Life in Trinidad

I now have some kind of routine, when I first got to Trinidad the kids were still on their summer holiday so a lot of things had not yet started - a nice easy way to get used to everything here! I am volunteering at Fundacion Totai, a Christian organisation that runs a healthcare clinic with a dentist, audiology specialty and have surgical campaigns several times a year for ENT surgery. They also have a sports ministry (football and basketball) and education ministry which includes teaching Bible stories in a local school, kids after school club and English classes. Then the church has a youth group, kids Bible club, womens craft group as well as their usual services, so there is a lot going on! I have been helping with the Education activities and admin in the clinic, as well as trying to learn more Spanish!
It has been great getting to know people and the kids here, everyone is so friendly! My Spanish is still not great, so be praying that I put more effort into learning more, especially as next week I am teaching in the school as well as helping to lead the kids after school club!

New Journeys

Sorry for the major delay! I was supposed to post this 6 weeks ago, I don't understand how 6 weeks has gone so quickly!
I left Cochabamba mid Jan and road tripped with Kenny, Claudia and their kids to Trinidad via Santa Cruz. The bus to Santa Cruz was a 10 hour overnight journey - luckily I slept on and off through most of it and the seat stretched out into a mini bed to make it more comfortable! We stayed in the centre of Santa Cruz for a few days, not much to see as its pretty built up and commercial, but I was warned that it would be the last I would see of supermarkets, big shops, cinemas etc for a while so to enjoy while I could! The drive to Trinidad was about 7 hours down one main road passing through small villages and not much else. The vast emptiness was bizarre when comparing it to home. Apparently Bolivia has the same population as London but is three times as big as the UK!
Trinidad is very different to Cochabamba; no more mountains, everywhere is flat here. The temperature is an average 30 degrees, really hot in the sun, but its rainy season so every few days there is a craze amount of rain. Now that my hair is no longer straight I'm not as afraid of being in the rain as I am at home! One of the strangest things to get used to was the background noise of all the animals and insects: birds, dogs, chickens, cockerels, frogs, insects....they kept waking me up every morning! And as most of you know me and animals are not the best of friends so its been funny trying to avoid them all. I have been told about the tarantulas and snakes that are around but thankfully I haven't really seen any yet - otherwise I'm sure you would have heard my scream in England!
Over the past 6 months every few weeks I have been moving on to something new or different, constantly changing people I am with, what I am doing, where I am living. Through the continual adjustment God has been a constant, a reassurance and support when things are unfamiliar. He has provided people who have been so welcoming and supportive which I am very thankful for!
Joshua 1:9 Remember that I commanded you to be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.

Tuesday 15 January 2013


Helen (who I have been staying with) does a Bible study in the women's prison every week, so I went with her on Friday. The prison is very different to how I imagined it to be - we walk into a courtyard that is crammed full of people! There are lines of clothes hanging above, across from either side of the courtyard, women cooking/washing/ironing in different areas, a few stores for food, and kids playing everywhere! It is so busy! 
Helen does the Bible study in what used to be the day care room for the kids that live with their mothers in the prison. About 50 women go regularly and on Friday the room was full! Helen did a talk about the holiness of God, we sang some songs and this week Helen gave out clothes to the women. It's great to see so many going and on Friday 3 women became Christians!
Two women that used to be in the prison go with Helen to help out, they are an amazing encouragement of how God can change and use lives. Going to the prison was a reminder of how our hope can be found in Jesus, and through him all can be forgiven. Some women are in the prison due to injustice, others have committed horrible crimes but they can all find hope in Jesus as well as acceptance and love.

Psalm 130:1-8 TNIV

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 

 Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

to my cry for mercy.

 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,

Lord, who could stand?

 But with you there is forgiveness,

so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

and in his word I put my hope.

 I wait for the Lord

more than watchmen wait for the morning,

more than watchmen wait for the morning.

 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, 

for with the Lord is unfailing love

and with him is full redemption.

 He himself will redeem Israel

from all their sins.

Monday 14 January 2013

450 plates

I spent the first week of January helping at a Christian camp in the south of Cochabamba. It was run by 'Palabra de Vida' (Word of Life), an international mission organisation and had around 400 people going that first week. I helped in the kitchen with washing/drying all the plates, cutlery, bowls, cups, kitchen stuff etc for all 450 people there - so there was a lot to do! I was working with a great team and we had a lot of fun while trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, though some days it felt like the plates were never ending! We had a lot of free time and I met some great people - some from other parts of Bolivia and some from other countries in South America. Quite a few people knew some English which was good as unfortunately my Spanish is still slow, so chatting with people in Spanish became a game of charades with a lot of guessing!
There was a main meeting in the mornings with games, worship and a Bible message and then different activities in the evenings. One night they had team games - Bolivian style, another night we had a campfire on the top of a mountain with a full band and drama performance, another night was 'The Banquet' everyone got dressed up and the guys were inviting girls to go with them with promises of flowers and ice cream!
Despite having to get up at 6.15 am every morning I had a great time, came back really tired though! The second week they had 700 going - about 50 teenagers went from the church I've been at and invited their friends, so altogether nearly 100 went from church! They will also have a week for students, then a shorter camp for children, so please be praying that they go well and those that are working there do not get too tired and exhausted!

Monday 31 December 2012

Feliz Navidad

I know this is a bit late but:
Happy Christmas to you all! Hope you had  a great time and are looking forward to 2013!

I've been in Bolivia over 2 weeks now, home seems like so long ago already!
My journey here was long, missed a flight so had to wait around for a while. Casually fainted at La Paz airport due to altitude sickness but thankfully people were nice and helped me out!
So what have I been doing the last few weeks? Mostly prep for different Christmas activities; at a kids club, women's church meeting, women's prison, church, Carol service. Though I have been at so many Christmas things and there are trees and lights everywhere it did not feel like Christmas as it is so warm compared to December at home. I love Christmas so it has been fun to see what it's like somewhere different!

Saturday 8 December 2012

Hello People!

After being told by many people to write a blog I have finally started one! A few months later than planned but that’s life! Hopefully now I have started I will update it regularly and let you know what I am up to in life....
Briefly summing up the past few months: I am currently partway through a gap year programme called FirstServe which has involved 2 weeks at a Bible college near Glasgow, working with Saltisford Church in Warwick for 5 weeks and in a few days time I am going to Bolivia for 6 months! 
I had a great time at Saltisford with some amazing people. Generally I spent my time helping with the different activities that were going on at the church and chatting with a lot of people. It gave me the chance to see what makes up the different parts of 'church' and experience the varied ways we try to share who Jesus is with many different people.
In between being in Warwick and going away very soon I have been volunteering with The Hunger Project - a charity working with people in developing countries to get themselves out of poverty through training and development programmes . This was separate to FirstServe but as I had the time at home I wanted to use it to do something useful! I was researching about a new initiative called 1000 days ( and helping to promote the Hunger Projects 2013 events. So if anyone is looking for a new challenge and want to fundraise for a great charity take part in an event! -
The last few weeks have been crazy busy trying to fit things in before I go to Bolivia. Time has gone too quickly! I am definitely looking forward to being somewhere completely new and experiencing life in a different culture. Though adjusting to the change may not be an easy as I'm hoping - I'll let you know how it goes....