Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I want to introduce you all to some of my peoples here in Colombia. I would love to introduce you to every single person because they are all absolutely incredible, but i'm going to stick to those that have impacted me the most. :) This is going to be hard though... Ok, the sisters first. :) Liliana is the one on the left. She is absolutely beautiful, inside and out. She has a quiet spirit and has been incredible in helping me through some rough moments. Next to her is Mildred. Love that girl! She's crazy and sooo much fun. She's a drummer and loves music with a passion. She's the best at telling stories and if you're having a down day, she's the one to show up with a joke and a fist pound. :) Adrienne is the other girl working with GO International. She is awesome. I love her to death. She's been a solid rock in the midst of turbulent storms and has been an encouragement in the midst of a culture seriously lacking in appreciation and affirmation. Me, obviously (wearing my newly purchased and proudly worn Colombian soccer jersey hehe). Next is Cata, she's the youngest of the family. A sweetheart. Very quiet but she has quite a fun streak going through her. She is one of the strongest people i've met... nothing holds her back. Paola - the oldest. She's a pastora in the church and works with the youth, while attending the university and studying and keeping up with her friends. She's basically intireable. I really don't know if that's a word, but it works.
Daniel Parra. synonym: CRAZY!
But i abolutely love him and he's been here for me whenever i've needed someone. He enters the room and you can't help but smile, but I've had some incredible one on one conversations with him that I can guarentee you I will never ever forget.
He's like a musical genius. He's studying guitar but plays drums, piano, bass... if he can get it in his hands, he can play it. I admire him so much, not only for what he has been through but his determination to always see the bright side of things. This kid could honestly be on his death bed and his last wish would be to make you laugh. He's a talented musician, an awesome actor, and is determined to make his way in the world. Trust me, nothing is going to stop this guy.
Pastor Alirio... if I could adopt anyone from Colombia to be a part of my family, it would be him. There aren't enough words to say how much I admire him, how much i trust him... he's basically just awesome. I love him so much... not to mention he has two of the most adorable children that you will ever see in your life. Nicolas and Sara, they're sweet and I've basically adopted them as my own. I spoil them... as much as i can. I bought them crackers the other day when we went to the grocery store and they were as thrilled as thrilled could be. :) It was great!
Michael and Oscar. Oh my word. For those of you who know my brother nathan... picture two of him and make them best friends. That's the best description i can give of them. :) They are the life of every party and it is never a dull moment when they are around. My first night in Colombia was spent making videos of Oscar as he "proposed" to Adrienne and pretended to fight the dragon and the whole shebang. It was great. :) Michael is awesome. He tells me he has a split personality and that sometimes his evil twin Misaias takes his place. He really is a great guy and it's all for fun. :) I love having them both around, it reminds me a little bit of the craziness of the Stolitza household.
Superman. aka Fernando. He's my fav. period. I don't know exactly what it is about him that makes me like him so much but he shows up adn my day is a million times better. It all started with him being really excited that he knew an English word and upon seeing me shouted, "HHHIIIIII" really really loud. Well that obviously started a tradition and we still often greet on another by yelling across the church (before the service starts of course). Anyway, when i have a doubt or a question, he's the one I turn to first because I know that I can trust him not to make fun of my mistakes. He's been the force behind my translating experiences too. When I wanted to run, he was the one to give me a hug, then push me onto the stage while saying in his heavily Spanish accented English. "You do it. No... you CAN do it. (big grin cause he succeeded)". You just have to grin back and he never fails to touch my heart when i need a word of encouragement.
So those are the people I surround myself with, there are soooo many more. I could talk to you about Fabricio, the most awesome guy from Ecuador you'll ever meet. He blows me away with his talents and his ability to converse, his love for the Lord and his constant understanding...Carlos who has the most incredible testimony and has helped me in uncountable ways... Daniel, the other Daniel... who has been an inspiration to me from the start. His youngest brother Johan, with whom i've basically fallen in love. If you can fall in love with a 10 year old, that is... :) These are the people who have helped me through the hard times, laughed with me through the good and everything in between.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Whoa life got busy.....

Alright, my first few days were not an accurate forshadowing of my days in Bogota. Up early, stay up late seems to be the norm here. After the first few English classes when i taught like 50 children ranging from ages 3-16, I decided to enlist some major help. A.k.a. MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) She's wonderful. She sent me a whole bunch of stuff to help me out and now that I'm all prepared to teach.... I don't have time. :( I've been so busy lately and I honestly couldn't even tell you where all the time goes, it just goes. So, I know it has been forever since i have written on here, but i'm going to back up a few steps and introduce you to some special people and also tell you about life here and what i've been up to. :) The journey... is about to begin. :D

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bogot√°, Colombia

I suppose it's time to continue blogging about my adventures. :) It makes me quite happy....

Alrighty, last wednesday I arrived in Bogota, Columbia to work with GO InterNational partner Guillermo Parra and his family. Incredible family... but more about them later. I met this wonderful old lady on the plane and over the course of a three hour conversation that made me break out my quite rusty Spanish brain, I learned that she was a Christian. She invited me to her church in Bogot√° but we'll have to see if i'll be able to see her again. The airport was fun. Talk about being worried, my bag was the last one to come off the plane. :S I found Adrienne outside with Paola and we went to what will lovingly be called 'home' for the next ten weeks.
The South American air is great! The Spanish is wonderful. The people are incredible. I love it here. I arrived in the middle of vacation from school so i haven't settled into a routine yet, but I've been helping Adrienne with English classes and doing any number of odd jobs and translation stuff so i've kept busy.

On Saturday we held an event in el parque de joyas near one of the projects. (Pastor Guillermo and his family work at and administer 4 different projects that offer food and classes to kids) This outreach was my first cherished Colombian experience, a very new experience for me: bodyguards. Fernando, a really great guy who i met the day before, accompanied me when we went out to invite people to the event. When we got back to the park, he had to go off to the side because he was helping with security. I didn't want to miss everything so i chilled in the crowd. :) and everything was good.
Half way through, Carlos came to find me to take pictures. So i followed him across the stage and started snapping pictures (with an almost dead camara :S) it was bad. It's also not a great idea to show off camaras so it was interesting. Anyway, this dude kept following me. In the middle of drug territory and far from Fernando and Carlos who had wandered off too, i was slightly worried. So i decided to test the situation and i walked to the other side of the crowd to "get a different angle for pictures". he followed. Another five steps to the right... (working my way toward Fernando) and he followed, conveniently stopping when i did. I couldn't handle it and me in my "he wouldn't hurt me" attitude, i confronted him. :) Apparently they told him to watch out for me... jaja. I appreciated it, i really did. It would have been nice if I had met him before but hey... having strangers watch out for you turned out to not be too bad. His name was Daniel, plays the drums in the church. Cool guy.... once i got to know him and knew he wasn't a creeper.
Yesterday I went with Paola to her university and got to know downtown Bogota. Fun! And very very different from Lima. I find myself comparing everything to Lima and even though the two countries share a border, it's amazing how distinct they are. I'm off to an English class, but i'll do my best to get some pictures up soon and tell you more about my family here. Blessings....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Comas, Lima

After returning from Chincha, the GO group had a day in Lima to do some sightseeing/shopping. Well, the night we got back, we went out to eat and someone stole Randall's wife's purse. She had her own passport as well as her son's and all of her credit cards and cash. Randall, then, spent the day of shopping and sightseeing in the police station filing an official report and applying for new passports and travel papers so that they could leave with the rest of the group. The problem is that he and his wife were the spanish speakers. Guess who became tour guide... :) me. It was alot of fun, but i was dead tired after the day. It's easy enough to watch out for yourself, but try watching every person on the street and make sure that no one is following one of the 12 people in your group. Trying to watch our for everyone as well as bargain for their shopping was quite the job.

Luckily, they were able to fly our of Lima and arrived safely in the states. After that group left, i joined up with another GO group ministering in Lima. This time i did some translating for a medical team serving in the outskirts of Lima. Unfortunately, i was only with the group for two days before my flight left on Tuesday night. It was incredible working with them though! I mostly helped by translating in the pharmacy.
One of the things i did in between the two Go groups absolutely blew my mind. I have to share. I went with a lady named Wilma to feed some of the street children in the outskirts of Lima. Not necessarily without homes, but definitely malnourished. I was advised not to carry a camera, but i really wish i would have had some pictures. Each child had to bring a bowl to eat from (although they weren't turned away without one) but i'm not talking a small cereal bowl. These children showed up with mixing bowls and wooden spoons to eat with. That in itself was shocking, but after they dished out the food... I can't even describe it. I saw children two and three years old putting down more spaghetti than i could eat in two meals. I mean, they don't weight more than what? 30lbs. and they were eating a mixing bowl full of spaghetti and potatoes. I don't even know how to describe it other than heartwrenching.

Chincha, Peru

Chincha is located roughly four hours to the south of Lima in an area where they recieve between 0 and 0.7 inches of rain during January, February and March and nothing for the rest of the year. Literally, nothing is green. Regardless of the not-so-attractive landscape, the people are very welcoming and generous.



I spent the week there under the care of Randall Morton, who was leading the GO group. We all stayed with the Guzman family, an incredible family that serves the Lord with everything they've got and more. They have a million outreaches including 5 churches (most pastored by Pastor Gerardo and his children/their spouses. While we were there, we were actually able to help them build the 5th church. Like most buildings in Chincha, it was nothing more than four walls made from bamboo mats and a tarp to keep out the cold. The people were so excited that we even had the elecricity installed! Consisting of two lightbulbs. :)




I spent the morning of my time in Chincha working in one of the two schools (also founded and run by the Guzman family). Pastor Gerardo Guzman has 5 children of his own and three are married. Of those eight, a whole bunch are pastors and the rest work at the school i think. Seriously, they are all involved! I told you that they give their all. So, i helping in some English classes. From preschool (which was so my age group! After teaching 16 of them in Guate last summer, 8 was a breeze!) to 6th grade. Since we were only in each class two times throughout the week, we couldn't really start a new concept and expect the teacher to continue that, so we chose a few things and played alot of games with them... basically forcing them to use English and have fun at the same time. :) They didn't realize how much they were learning, which is the best way.




Break: Have to acknowledge that Espana won the World Cup! We had a great time watchign the game, althoguh Pastor David was not so excited as some people. jajaja.




In the evenings, we jumped into the numerous outreaches. Twice a week, the Guzman family and members of the church go out into surrounding villages where there is no running water, no school, no church, no transportation, and only about 10 houses. In these areas, houses are nothing more than four walls. One of the incredible things was to watch the response. It's easiest to gain access to a village through the children. They are more open to learning songs and listening to stories. Little by little, the adults get curious and oh the coloring sheets! I have to tell you about the coloring sheets. When we went out into the villages to share teh Word, we would often have coloring sheets, balloons, and sometimes a snack for the kids. When we started passing out those coloring sheets, all of the adults approached us and wanted coloring pages too! For them, it's the only way to decorate the insides of their homes, so those coloring sheets are very precious and you see everyone painstakingly coloring their paper so that it can adorn their simple home. Honestly, the sight made me want to cry. I've been culturally shocked before, but never have i seen so closely a community of people, content where they are and quite happy, yet living in such poverty. The wastefullness of the states puts us to shame.




We also had a one-night vacation bible school at each of the churches. I loved learning the songs with the children. And i can't even begin to describe the frienships i made in those little towns. Friends i will never forget, but friends that i might never see again. Although a few have access to internet and i can email, many of the children do not.




I made fast friends with a girl named Leslie. Teh start of our frienship resulted in discovering that we share a birthday. She turned 14 this year on the 14th of July. :) It was absolutely wonderful sharing the day with her. Made it bareable. I didn't tell anyone for the first few days of the trip that my birthday happened to be during our time in Chincha. I almost couldn't stand the thought of those people who have so little giving anythign to me. Accidently let it slip, 1. to Leslie and 2. to Leo, one of Pastor Gerardo's sons and a really good friend. Anyway, during the goodbye service on Wednesday night, they called Leslie and i up to the front and sang to us. There was a cake involved of course and we were each told to chose the piece of cake we wanted. well, that escapade resulted in our faces being shoved into the cake. Sticky icing everywhere and no water to be found in order to wash off. Good times. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hello from Florida!!!!

I'm currently sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Safe after my travels to Chincha, Peru and then in Comas, Lima. I'll definitley write about each of those as soon as possible, but i will be boarding soon. This is basically just to say that i had a wonderful time (other than the fact that my dictionary was stolen... i guess it could have been worse) and that i'm safe in the states before i head to Guate. Internet access in Guate will be limited, so don't panic if you continue to not hear from me.

The plan is to travel a bit first. No idea where, rita and i plan to just wing it. We'll go to antigua, stay in a hostel maybe adn just jump into a group traveling somewhere. (no worries, it will be guided... probably) Depending on what trip we take, we'll get back to La Senda after five days or so...

:) psyched! Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pucha!

Germany lost. :( My team went to semifinals and lost. What a terrible day. Just kidding, but i guess i want Espana in the finals. (Merely because Barcelona is in Spain and not the Netherlands...)