Friday, December 20, 2013

Photo Friday

Just a quick reminder this week not to take your church for granted.  We miss songs in English!  We miss sermons we can understand.  We miss being able to talk to those around us.  We miss understanding what is going on when everyone starts greeting each other in the middle of worship.  We miss just hearing the Word of God, and being able to take it to heart.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Photo Friday

This week saw Quinn travel to Santa Cruz for a pastor's conference.

The climate in Santa Cruz in generally hotter and more humid, which is not my favorite.  But then, how often do we get the chance to mix Christmas and fruit smoothies with umbrellas, while in Montana?

On the other hand, it does seem strange to see Nativity Scenes with palm trees and very hot sun.  And Duane also informed me that apparently I wasn't very respectful of this display, but come on...  Can you look closely at these larger than life heads and not laugh...  And that's before you even notice the animals!

 Another cool experience recently was having the opportunity to meet with a representative from Germany who was in Bolivia investigating opportunities for professionals to volunteer and share their expertise.  So in the picture below you see a Bolivian, an Oregonian, and a German all communicating in Spanish to work together for the development of Bolivia, and to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.  Pretty cool!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Photo Friday

November is always a busy family month for us.  Thanksgiving is Dana's favorite holiday (I think it's because of the Pumpkin Pie!) and her birthday is November 23.  But Stori's birthday is November 22, so that week gets a bit crazy.  This year, Dana hosted a birthday party for Stori, on Dana's birthday, so her's kind of got missed.  But when some of the other Moms found out it was her birthday, they insisted on taking her out for dinner that night...  So, here is a brief run-down of November in photos.

We already posted photos of Kellton's kindergarten graduation, but lest you think he's all serious now, here is a photo of them as we tried to have them be presentable for attending the ballet presentation of some of their classmates.

Stori's birthday was quite the event.  Birthday parties are huge events here, and we tried to balance a need to keep it affordable, with a wish to bring others into our home and continue to develop relationships.  But I can't take any credit for this (not that those of you who know me might even begin to think I had anything to do with it!), as Dana pretty much single-handedly pulled this off.

But we can't forget Dana's birthday in all of this.  Thanks to some of her friends here, she actually got to have a little celebration.  In fact, I'd say it was more than she was bargaining for when they took her out.  It's not everyday you have live entertainment while eating at a Pakistani restaurant in South America...

Hopefully you saw our pictures last week, as we also spent some great time in planning and preparation for 2014.  If you haven't seen this yet, I encourage you to revisit that blog post as well.  But we also had a Board Meeting in advance of that retreat, which quietly introduced a very important stepping stone.  Dan Collins, a missionary from Oregon who started EM, resigned from the Board, to move the Board to being 100% Bolivian controlled.  I believe this is a very important step in achieving sustainability and making sure locals are in control.

And finally, Thanksgiving.  We were pretty sure we were going to have to forego to traditional Thanksgiving.  Between the general lack of availability of some foods, no set plans, etc. we were preparing to stay home and eat rice.  But no, not only did we celebrate Thanksgiving, we had Thanksgiving three days in a row!  We started on Thursday with a full turkey dinner at the house of some family friends, then Friday we were invited by our Bolivian neighbors to dinner, where they also cooked a turkey and served a huge meal.  Finally, Saturday, our team got together and celebrated yet again!  (We even let the Canadians participate, although their Thanksgiving was last month.)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from Bolivia!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Photo Friday

This week I spent three days out of town with three other great guys as we spent some dedicated time planning for 2014.  We really honed in on the three highest priorities, and the objectives and activities for getting there.  It was a great time of discussion and excitement for what is coming. 

Oh, and we may have had a little fun too....
This was our home for three days.  A quiet place...  right in the middle of a 9-hole golf course.
Dan Collins is our Team Leader here, but we all really pushed each other in a great way.

We used every method you can imagine to bring everything together.

Including good food...

And even a little physical activity!

Truth be told...  We may not be the best golfers!
I'm proud to be a part of this team, and hope you will join us in praying for Bolivia in 2014, as we work to partner with local churches in new and exciting efforts.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Theology of Work

I'm pretty sure you'll end up hearing more about this from me at some point.  One of the things I have really enjoyed while being here is gaining a better "Theology of Work."  All too often we remember that work was cursed, while we forget that work was pre-fall, and a part of God's perfect plan for our lives.

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, there is a great website with a very comprehensive look at the topic available here:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo Friday

These are from a couple weeks back, but I thought I should still share some photos of our trip to Oruro, where we worked as a team to teach and share with Bolivian youth from all across the country during a national youth conference.

We had to cross some heights in the Andes mountains to get there.  For those of us who are "metrically challenged," that is 14,750 feet in elevation.

And traveling Bolivian roads is not without its hazards!

 But apparently our Bolivian co-worker Jhonny thinks he has the solution.

 Duane Guthrie works for Canadian Baptist Ministries, but also works closely with Emprendimiento Mundial.  Duane has a real passion for sharing and teaching a sound "Theology of Work."

 With my limited Spanish I was able to lead some activities.

 We enjoyed some great conversations with young people from all across the country.

A great time was had by all, and we saw the future of Bolivia stepping out in faith.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Photo Friday

Based on the ceremony alone, Kellton should be ready to go out and get a job now!  Thursday night was Kindergarten graduation, and like any chance for a fiesta, the Bolivians went all out.  The first half consisted of dances from around the world, and the second half was a full-blown graduation ceremony.

Saudi Arabia

New Zealand

Traditional Bolivian with both Quechua and Aymara styles.

And this would be the U.S. entry!  Dana spent weeks working with the kids on the Cha-Cha slide, and she sewed the costumes herself.

Good lookin' pair there.  Too bad the cameraman was a little shaky.

Our kids usually go to bed at 7, and this ceremony finished up at 9 at night!

Congratulations Kellton.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Land locked pirates

With Halloween this week, it felt normal to get in some quick, homemade costumes.  We went to a pirate birthday party for one of Kellton and Astoria's classmates.  Arrrrr!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Photo Friday

Eating out can be a different experience.  First off... What would you choose? Second, yes, there are only 4 options, and they are pretty random.  Never quite know what to expect until you get there.  On a positive note: 25 Bs is less than $4, so soup, salad bar, and a very filling main dish for an affordable price!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A table for 15, please

An update from Dana

When I was living with the McCarten family in the Washington, D. C. area after college, they surprised me for my birthday with a night at the famous Marrakesh Restaurant in the District.  Named for the city in Morocco, this restaurant was simply the most exotic locale and dining experience I’d ever had.  With gorgeous North African tile, Cyrillic writing on the walls, and a belly dancer at our table for dessert, it’s a night I’ll never forget.  We sat on pillows on the floor around the very low tables.  Now whenever I don’t have enough seating for dinner guests, I just say I like to pretend we’re dining in Marrakesh, Morocco, and I put all the kids on the floor around low coffee tables.

Our little tables came in handy when we recently had the pleasure of hosting 15 for lunch.  While the kids didn’t have exotic cushions to sit on, it was fun to host a big group of Bolivians and Australians.  Another lunch at our apartment was with an Argentinean mom and two kids from our school.   A cheery and funny lady, she spoke so fast I barely understood her during the whole visit.  But somehow talking about the kids and school makes a great starting point for a friendship.

Being an avid MSU Bobcat football fan in Bolivia has its disadvantages.  One can’t just go to the sports bar and watch the game.  But in today’s internet age, it is possible to follow some of the action.  While Quinn was recently tracking a game, an opposing player was penalized for “excessive celebration.”   I thought this was funny because that kind of sums up Bolivia’s love for parties.  Almost every weekend here in Cochabamba there’s loads of fireworks around the city and there’s an abundance of holidays sprinkled throughout the year.  
Fun games: the mom caught crossing her legs during the night must  wear a
 "baby" on her back,  in traditional aguayo fabric.
Speaking of celebrations, I was happy to be asked to co-host a baby shower for a friend.  Another ex-pat and I decided to keep the event “low key” and stay away from potentially embarrassing games and the like.  Oh no, this would not do—the women who came to the shower brought their own ideas and supplies for games.  It was a riot, complete with lipstick designs drawn on faces, eating contests while blindfolded, and so on.  The raucous night was a great way to build relationships. 
Kellton and Astoria help out with "Day of the Student" festivities
Kids' party
Kellton and Astoria's class
 learned an elaborate dance for Cochabamba Day
Children here also benefit from the spirit of celebrations.  On back to back Fridays, our kids had an elaborate event for “Cochabamba Day” to commemorate the founding of the city, and then the next Friday had “Day of the Student”—complete with gifts for every child, chocolate dipped marshmallows and 10 kiddie pools set up on the lawn.  And festivities for “Day of the Child” are not far off.  Kind of reminds me of a Savior who is the life of the party and turned water into wine.  Here in Bolivia the celebrations may be excessive, but hey, no penalty.

John 10:10b (NIV) Speaking to some famous party crashers, Jesus said “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (emphasis mine).
Does this look like a baby shower with moms?

Astoria wears traditional braid extensions
 and a hard white hat signifying she's "from Cochabamba"

Some last minute dance instructions from Profesora Nancy

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It All Adds Up, by Quinn

I loved my job at the Legislative Fiscal Division as a Fiscal Analyst.  But to be honest, when I was focusing on the budget of the Health & Human Services Division, I wasn't exactly operating in my areas of passion.  At the time, my bosses knew I was planning for and working toward leaving for Bolivia within the next year.  So working on the development of an Excel model for tracking and forecasting the cost of Medicaid to the State of Montana often felt like an activity with no connection to the rest of my life, but I hoped it would be helpful to my co-workers at least.

So what did I do last night?  Well, I taught a workshop on Excel, in Spanish, here in Bolivia.  But more than that, at the end of our time together, I learned that two Bolivian ladies I was teaching actually work in an HIV clinic here in Cochabamba, and that they have data going back to 1984, which they are interested in learning to use in a very similar manner.  Now they plan to spend the next month or so trying to get the data into a usable format, and then we will meet again to work together to develop a usable model for them, which will help them operate more efficiently in their clinic, allowing them to better assist people with a very real need.

Using Excel to help people with HIV.  Can't say I saw that one coming.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Compassion International in Bolivia

I had the chance to visit a Fair put on by Compassion International recently.  Compassion has invited us to provide them with some feedback on their plans for encouraging entrepreneurship among their youth as a way to break the cycle of poverty.  It's very cool to see what business can do for people who otherwise have few options.

Compassion International does some great work with kids in dire circumstances.  But I was very impressed to see that they were working hard to help these kids find a way to become self-reliant.

My colleague Duane, from Canadian Baptist Ministries talks to some of the Compassion project directors.
Talking to some girls about their marketing plan.

Combining the idea with the understanding of business processes.

Potential business ideas ran from very traditional, to quite innovative.