Monday Evening, July 2This is the third report of the 12-member VIM Bolivia 2012 Team, having completed our work in Cochabamba and preparing for our "Excursion". Pics first, then the project summary.
Brick Brigade at Luz de Vida
Final Cleanup at Luz de Vida
VBS Finale at Luz de Vida
Local Pastor Daniel Flores and Rev. Bill Pfohl (Jesse Lee, Ridgefield,CT) deliver communion at Luz de Vida
Piedra Viva VBS Class Portrait
Piedra Viva Kids
Summary: the construction project at Iglesia Luz de Vida was finished in great shape, with 4 rooms beautifully painted, many bricks laid and many more stacked for continuing work. The Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) at Iglesia Luz de Vida and Iglesia Pedra Viva finished last Friday with the traditional dessert celebration. We connected with our friends at the Sewing Co-ops at both Iglesia Emanuel and Iglesia Luz de Vida. We shopped on Saturday and worshipped Sunday at both Iglesia El Salvador (downtown) and Iglesia Luz de Vida where we helped christen the communion set gift we had brought AND had our farewell party. Tomorrow we leave for Salar de Uyuni, a huge salt flat at 12,500 feet, underneath which is the largest lithium deposit in the world.
The Construction Team has become a well-oiled machine, with each of us finding the task we like best and becoming good at it. Dennis Angle, Cindy Svensen, and Dianne Hetrick have been trim painters, John Borchert and Rod Wendt have been wall and ceiling paint rollers, Anders Svensen has laid many, many bricks, and Big Boss Bill Pfohl has supervised as well as laying lots of brick and doing some of most jobs. We were joined today by "retired" VBS teachers Rachel Bird, Kathy Silva, Ginny Stevenson, and Mary Thrush since VBS ended last Friday. They helped paint and move bricks, and especially clean all the paint spatters from the tile floors, and the extra hands were indeed welcome.
The result is 3 classrooms and a hallway that have been fully painted to an attractive crème-and-chocolate pattern and are spanking clean; many levels of brick laid for the new parsonage next to the church; and 3 neat stacks of bricks for Bolivian mason Valerio to continue work after we leave.
At both Iglesia Luz de Vida and Iglesia Piedra Viva, Vacation Bible School was a smashing success. The "Fruits of the Spirit" theme was well received, and little students left class each afternoon with prized craft projects in hand. Piedra Viva was the larger of the two, with a peak of 38 students which challenged teachers Rachel Bird, Kathy Silva, and Mary Thrush, aided by Interpreter Priscilla. Highlights of the week were the students teaching the VIMers "Jesus Loves Me" in Spanish in return for their teaching it to the children in English; and making real creamery butter in a churn as an exercise in "patience", one of the "Fruits of the Spirit". Friday was the finale in both locations, with much-loved desserts for the children, which were rapidly consumed!
A day of shopping Saturday was followed by wonderful worship Sunday at both Iglesia El Salvador (downtown) Sunday morning and Iglesia Luz de Vida Sunday night. The latter was very special, as it was the christening of the gift communion set given by the Team to Luz de Vida, and Rev. Bill Pfohl preached and then joined Pastor Daniel Flores in serving communion to over 50 Bolivian members and visiting VIMers. Following the service, we joined our Bolivian friends in a low-key party to celebrate our friendships and the work we have accomplished together. It was a very powerful moment for all of us, with abrazos and tears all around.
Tonight is one of mixed emotions. On the one hand, we feel really good about our work and a very successful connection and re-connection with our Bolivian friends from the past decade of VIMing in Cochabamba. And we are excited about our upcoming adventure to the salt flats of the Alto Plano, visiting yet another part of this amazing country. But we are saddened that, like this time every year, our connection with our amigos y amigas en Cochabamba is coming to an end.
Our final report will be Thursday night, July 5, just after we return from the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, and the night before we head home to North America.