Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Bolivia...

In Bolivia, when it rains, it pours. The water pours. The mud pours. And the sweat pours, even though  in the month on May it's technically winter weather. It's a steamy kind of rain that is refreshing as long as you are actually standing in the rain, but when you step out of it and attempt to dry off you realize the perpetual sticky and damp feeling you have isn't leaving anytime soon. 
And the beautiful red dirt is a permanent souvenir: on your shoes, under your toe nails, on your pant cuffs, you name it. It magically appears even when you do your best to avoid puddles
In Bolivia, kitchens are organized a tad different than here in the States. Who needs drawers for knives and utensils when a thatched roof will do the trick?
And what's the point of granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances when packed clay works just as well, maybe even better?
In Bolivia, it's possible to stir dinner over the fire, hang laundry to dry, and pick fruits and vegetables from the garden without making more than five or six steps. How's that for multitasking? There is something to be said for simple living.
In Bolivia, you can catch, kill, and prepare your dinner right in the kitchen. No shipping and handling charges, no overhead charges, and no sales tax. Just you, your knife, and a not-fast-enough chicken: voila - dinner!
In Bolivia, you don't panic about choosing the right color of paint or back splash tile, and there is no discussion over wood or carpet or vinyl floors. You aren't picky about HOAs, school systems, or area attractions and conveniences. 
Your house hunting priorities center on flat land, farmable land, and location of the village water well. You recognize that a thatched roof is sufficient, but that saving money for a tile roof is an important game-changer in terms of managing weather and bugs.
In Bolivia, parents don't expect cafeteria breakfast and lunch and after school care for their kids. They don't change schools if computer resources and exposure to the arts and a program for the gifted isn't front and center. The distraction of wandering chickens and buzzing flies is par for the course and isn't an excuse for poor performance or skipping school altogether.
So while the schools lack resources and kids aren't measuring in the top academic percentile on a global scale, they are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And in addition to schoolwork, they're learning how to care for younger siblings, how to garden and cook, how to wash laundry in the local pond, and how to contribute to the necessary good of enabling a family to work.
In Bolivia, the roads are a mess. Always. There is no organized highway system and even in cities, it's unusual to have managed and paved roads. Potholes are commonplace and it is a given that you need to always be prepared for a flat tire.
It's not unusual to come to a sudden stop while you wait for a group of cows or donkeys to move off the road. It's not unusual to come to a portion of the road that is fully flooded and you have to make a risk-it-or-turn-back-around decision. It's not unusual to see three or four people piled on a dirt bike, including a child sitting up front on the handlebars.
In Bolivia, there's not much by way of safety protocol or environmental concern when it comes to construction. And if you run out of money in the process of building, it's okay to pack up and leave. Workmans Comp isn't an option, so be careful while dangling from a rustic ladder while you plaster walls or lay bricks.
In Bolivia, there is beauty in the simplicity of life. Family togetherness matters. Hard work is important. Community is relevant. Nature is clean.
Making daily life happen with structure and routine is difficult because there aren't the conveniences of running water and electricity. A grocery store and a medical clinic aren't helpful options when you need them most. Simple tasks take significant time because the main machine you have to use is nothing more than yourself. 
But in Bolivia, God is there. He sees each face. He knows each heart. He is aware of each struggle and difficulty and inconvenience. He cares for the poor and the hurting and he longs for relationship with each one. 

In Bolivia, God's church is established and growing. It's small, still, and in many ways, weak and vulnerable. But anywhere on this planet where people are devoted to God, they are safe and untouchable until His purposes are met. Even in Bolivia. And that's reason enough to worship and rejoice.


  1. I love this post....isn't it crazy that our lives can be SO different yet, all being human, have the same need for God.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for this glimpse into a different culture on a different continent with all of the same basic needs. It makes me stop and evaluate why there is any discontent in my life for sure. I am glad for the seeds you planted and for the difference you make!

  3. thanks for this inside look into real life in Bolivia. it is always a good thing to have my eyes opened that the mile radius of my daily life is not the entire world.

  4. Loved this post!!! God is so big...He is so much bigger than we will ever know!