Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bolivia the Beautiful

In Bolivia, I hear two sides of one coin:  wonderful pride in the country's history, but and also what I'll call a collective down-troddeness in regards to their country's reputation.  I can easily see reasons for both sentiments.  First of all, there's the amazing and colorful celebrations:  Oruro's Carnival, the music and dance of Caporales, the City of Cochabamba's anniversary celebrations, and the list goes on. Pride in Bolivia is also regional.  When I make a new friend, they are quick to tell me which region of Bolivia they are from, because each region is distinct and proud.  The languages and accents, known traditional meals, and climate all vary greatly.  The bio diversity alone of Bolivia is mind-boggling.
Kellton and classmates' dance "Caporales"
Dancers in the park near our apartment
Dances representing jungle tribes

However, Bolivia is also known for its problems.   It's frequently called the poorest country in South America, and human trafficking, poor access to clean water, and high infant death rates are commonly cited.  In regards to international trade, Bolivia struggles mightily because it is land-locked.  Every week I am heart broken over the concerns of the poor.  They are not just "out there". Many are dear friends.

Often with strangers, I am asked about the US:  its riches, freedom and beauty.  But I always try to steer the conversation back to Bolivia the beautiful.  I want to clearly communicate my amazement at this country;  it defies my best attempts to describe it's physical wonder and lovely, hard working people.

One small way I've tried to capture my love for Bolivia, is in a small t shirt venture with my friend Joana Acebey.  A "Cochamabina", Joana is a first year university student with a big heart.  Ever since she was 13 years old, she has been on mission trips in to the north of Bolivia where there is high poverty and illiteracy.  Joana has aided local efforts to teach Spanish there (a second language), reading, and she has helped with small Sunday school classes for the children while their parents are in class.

Our t shirts are called, "Calles de Cochabama" and each of our designs celebrate Bolivia, from the iconic llama silhouette, to large downtown murals and street graffiti.  Initially, I thought that our designs would mostly appeal to visiting foreigners, but I am thrilled that some of our first sales were to Bolivians.




Joana and Dana selling "Calles de Cochbamba" shirts 

My hope and prayer is that Joana will be able to earn a good profit from the sale of these shirts. She has plans to expand the designs with some newly sited graffiti of Cholitas on swings.  We have had loads of help and cheer leading to launch:  Mishell Forbes and Elizabeth Flynn of Life Covenant Church, Daniel Hespen of Oregon, family Kathy and Jane Holzer & Joyce and Michelle McCarten, Bolivian friends Poala Rowden and the Connexiones Entre Mundos language school to name a few.

While we currently have lots of interest and growing sales, there's quite a few obstacles as well; rising prices of plain tee shirts, and printing costs of such a small endeavor.  However in the spirit of Business as Mission, Joana and I are learning tons about small ventures and that all endeavors, in and out of the church, can be for God's glory.

Check our more photos celebrating Bolivia on our Facebook page, "Calles de Cochabamba", and "like" our page, because we love Bolivia!



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