Thursday, December 28, 2006

A little boy at Christmastime...

Blessings all around...

Well... Nathan had quite the Christmas... so many wonderful presents from friends and family. Nathan is loving his new tractor, books, clothes, and ornament (of course following the Wallace tradition of a new Hallmark ornament every year :). The tractor as of now is the highlight in his world. Every time it rolls across the floor you will hear my little man say... WOW. It's so precious! So just thought I'd post a few pictures from Christmas in Bolivia. Hope your's was Merry and white :)
The Vargas family at church on Christmas Eve starting off the gift festivities.
Billie Gill was so sweet to make Nathan a new hat and scarf,
that will come in so handy this winter!

The famous tractor from Nana, Papa, and Auntie Em.

A new Hallmark ornament...

is there anything more important than that?

Nathan's thoughts...

Now I know these guys are in one of my movies...

I never knew they were a book too!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And then there were four...

So who needs a new brother or sister when you can have... a new PUPPY!!! Merry Christmas to Nathan and to us! Last night marked Lucy's first night as a member of the Bull family. She's doing pretty good so far considering her mommy and 8 brothers and sisters are still living next door! Nathan is LOVING having a new playmate! Although one time she got a little rough with his little sock foot and he wasn't loving her so much then :) But we're excited and hoping that along with lots of fun times and new memories... she will bring the added bonus of keeping those pesky varmits out my house! God bless you all and have a MERRY Christmas!
Which one should we take home Nathan? Looks like you like them all!

She's the one!

Nathan loving on Lucy (we're hoping his "loving" stays gentle :)

Mommy and Lucy

Our neighbors... Lucy's Bolivian Family and her 8 other brothers and sisters :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Where do they learn this stuff?

Lesson #1: If you squint really big while mommy's taking the picture then you don't see those crazy spots for hours after from her crazy flash... and if you make this cheesy smile over and over... there is the off chance that she'll give you a break from picture time for a little while :)

Lesson #2: To be like daddy you don't have to walk a mile in his shoes... you just have to sit in his chair :)
Lesson #3: It's always a great idea to play in the sprinklers and get all wet and muddy right after mommy has just put you in clean / dry clothes :) (hey... daddy brought me out here :)

All boy

One small flight of stairs...
One window sill...
One driveway...
Three falls...
One knot on the head...
One bruise on the cheek...
and one scrape on the head with daddy's ghetto band-aid
One little guy... who is ALL BOY :)

(And I promise we were close at hand when all occured... what can we say... he's like his daddy... like a bull in a China cabinet :)

Oreos and Milk

I will always remember my time with my Grannie and Papa Sterne throughout the years as such fun times. We would go to their house for a week every summer and basically live in our bathing suits for a week since they had a huge swimming pool. I remember picking buckets and buckets of vegetables in their amazing garden, and eating Grannie's amazing cooking all week long.

My Papa was always a card. He was such a mess :) always teasing Emily and I about something or other. He always told us he would put us in for PFC (Private First Class) if we did our chores right, or that if we drank our milk... it would make our hair curly. Or the time he bought the DVD "Lord of the Rings" thinking that he was buying "Lord of the Dance"... expecting some serious dancing to ensue and yet was greeted by orcs, elves and hobbits :) But one memory I have just of him and me was one night when I couldn't sleep. I remember seeing a light on in the kitchen and Papa sitting in there watching TV in the wee hours of the morning. I walked into the kitchen and told my Papa that I couldn't sleep. He quickly moved to put together the magic cure... oreos and milk. After two oreos and a BIG glass of milk... I slept like a baby. Now we all know that it was the milk that helped this little girl sleep again, but I swore for weeks after returning home... that I needed oreos to go to sleep :) I'm sure my mom was just thrilled with her dad at that point :)

When I went to college and was only about 45 minutes from their house I would spend weekends there... enjoy Grannie's yummy food all over again (way better than the caf) and just spend time getting to know them as the people they were since it was just me and them. I so treasure now the time that I had to spend with them and love on them.

My Papa went home to be with our Lord yesterday and my heart aches that I wasn't there... and can't be there now. I would kick into granddaughter mode and take care of things around the house, details that I could help with as they care for other things. But alas I am miles away and my only comfort to send, my only help to give is my prayers. I know they are more powerful than any meal I could cook or errand I could run, but it leaves me feeling a little (okay let's be honest... alot) helpless and aching in my heart. So I petition my friends and family... not only for your prayers at this time for my family... but also that you would love on your family a little extra this year, an extra hug, an extra kiss, an extra I love you... for me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Recovering :)

Thank you so much for all your prayers yesterday. For our first Bolivian hospital experience I have to say it went pretty well. Gary and I got ready early and left Nathan with Sonia (what a blessing to have her available for situations like these). Our brother Vicente went with us (for company and the occasional needed translation :) The only drawback was that an emergency surgery came in about the time that mine was about to start. But not that big of a deal because that meant we got to partake of cable for about an hour longer :) which is so not in the budget in the Bull family :)

Then they wheeled me down to surgery, where i had to wait on those transport beds (not my mattress of choice if i may say so) for about an hour while they finished up with the emergency and came in to start with me. The anesthesiologist (so not sure if I spelled that right) came in and started my anesthesia, and then the fogginess began. What cracked me up was that a nurse started asking me questions AFTER the anesthesia. And I'm not talking, how are you feeling, or how are liking life here in Cochabamba... no I'm talking, what's your name, age, date of birth. And she was actually entering this stuff into the computer. And as everything is fading from my consciousness I'm thinking, for all this lady knows I could be telling her I'm Big Bird from Sesame Street and I'm not really sure how old I am, but I haven't seemed to age throughout the years :) But none the less, I answered as many as I could, as correctly as I could and then passed out.

A little whoozy as I woke up, but not a big deal and then we came home that evening. The doctor sent off two different spots for biopsy just to be safe and we'll get those results on Wednesday. The tough part now is not picking up my sweet boy when he stands down at my feet, arms raised up to me with that sweet face saying... mommy why aren't you picking me up and loving on me. It's only been twenty four hours and it's already killing me. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we survive this week. And our team as the Marcum's move to a new house, travel to Ecuador, and Butch and JD leave for the states to be at Denise's wedding. It's going to be a busy week here in Cbba, but then again they all are :) God bless you, and a Meeeeerrrrrry Christmas!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Under the Knife

For all of those who remember the crazy biopsy story of old :) I just wanted to ask for a few prayers to be sent our way tomorrow as I'll be having my nose job tomorrow. Just kidding, but I am going to have the mass that has officially caused me much irritation taken out tomorrow, and after much waiting in doctor's offices, a CT scan, x-rays, endoscopy, blood work, an EKG, and two shots this afternoon, I think I'm ready. Who knew? And thank goodness I have an ENT (not an easy word in spanish, no abbreviations here... ) who believes in her patient's being able to breathe through their noses :) I'll be plugged up for a few days, but she has some new crazy thing that has a tube through it that allows you to continue to breathe through your nose even though one side is closed off. Ah, the wonders of modern medicine... and for those who are wondering... no worries, there will NOT be pictures to follow :) So I'm off to have my last liquids of the night, and to remind my husband there will be no brewing of coffee in the morning, or frying of bacon, as this mommy is NPO (nothing, nada, zilch after midnight) until after the surgery. Thank you for the prayers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Let me share a verse from the New International Bull Version :)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and RAT destroy... " Matthew 6:19.

Sunday night (after surviving the flood and bug tasting over the weekend) I sat downstairs watching a movie before bed. Nathan was tucked in his bed with the door closed tightly (we would later be very thankful for this...). As I sat on the couch, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye and as I realized what it was, screamed at the top of my lungs... GARY... there's a MOUSE in the house!!!! (First time that I was thankful Nathan's door was closed).

They promptly came running, both the mouse and Gary, the mouse under the couch and Gary to the living room. Gary made a barricade type thing in hopes of blocking him in after we lifted the couch up, but with no success because the rat (not mouse as I found out as Gary got a better look at it) ran under the barricade (no idea how) to the other side of the living room (thank goodness we had moved all Nathan's toys to another room or I would have been doing some serious toy cleaning the next day).

With the rat trapped on the other side of the room, Gary set out to try and make a wall trapping the rat in the room so that we could catch it. But when we (okay Gary) tried to scare him out of his hiding place... he found the one hole in our wall and ran to the hallway, and then what happened next even we have a hard time believing. That rat went vertical probably 3 or 4 feet in the air as he jumped all the way up the stairs to the second floor (second time that I was grateful Nathan's door was closed). At this point Gary and I are both sitting downstairs looking at each other baffled, realizing that we have the Michael Jordan of rats in our house.

So we climb the stairs to find our intruder. We close all doors to every room in hopes of trapping him in. After strip searching every room, we head into Nathan's big boy room (the bedroom I have ready for Nathan when we move him to a twin bed). And there we find the culprit. He's decided the closet is a safe place from those crazy gringos. And he was right because we could not get him to come out from the boxes long enough to kill him. So Gary enters the closet with a broom stick in hopes of leaving with one less creature of God alive in this world. But about 30 minutes later, after much banging and movement Gary exited unsuccessful and really tired (it's about 2 in the morning at this point... and I'm still really thankful Nathan's door is closed!). We decide to call it quits for the night as the rat's not going anywhere anytime soon. (Bad decision... for many reasons).

The next morning we decide to bring in a larger creature of God :) Daisy, the Marcum's dog, to take care of the rodent. The rat stays in the closet all day where he apparently got a little bored and hungry as I would later find out. And we hear the amazing jumping continue throughout the day. Later that evening Josh and Daisy arrive to help out. Daisy is not impressed by the rat and really has no interest in killing it, so Josh and Gary go to work. At one point the rat crawls in between the comforter and sheets of Nathan's big boy bed and is slowed down for a second. Josh recognizes the golden opportunity and moves in for the kill. So now our house is one rodent less (and we're hoping rodent free... although Sonia found another Scorpion this morning in Nathan's room, so we'll have to see).

But yesterday morning as I began the cleaning process of the rat infested big boy room I went into the closet to take things out that needed to be cleaned / washed. Now mind you this closet is where I store extra linens. Linens that I painstakingly went and sought out last year at the after Christmas sales to bring with us in the container... only to find that that crazy rat has chewed holes in my sheets. EWWWW this mommy was so mad... and I can tell you that if that rat had not been dead already, he would have met his maker in that very moment. So we still have lots of cleaning ahead of us, and mending to do, but Gary reminded me of this verse in Matthew as I was mourning my precious linens.... that our treasure is stored up in heaven, not the big boy closet :)

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Special Order

As I opened our last reserve bottle of Children's Tylenol tonight (man this teething business is rough!) I thought to myself I need to email my friends back home and see if they can send a new stash of children's drugs to tide us over until furlough next year. And then I started thinking about people who have written or commented that if there was ever anything that we needed, just to let them know. So I'm cashing in on that offer. There are few things less, yes I said less, enjoyable than chasing down a 14 month old to administer drugs. But one thing worse is to do this with medicine that has an awful taste and with a 1 mL dropper (which is all I have been able to find here). So my Christmas wish is... Children's pain reliever (Tylenol, Equate, Sam's choice, matters not to us), some form of Children's cold medicine like Dimetapp Cold and Cough, Infant Gas Drops, and medicine droppers or the little measuring cups (I think they literally give these away at pharmacies if you ask for them, but I'm not quite sure). Please know that I am not necessarily one to ask for special treatment, but my chasing days are over and we still have teeth to go. So for anyone who would like to help poor little Nathan (I'm working the sympathy angle... is it working :) our mailing address is: first line - Laura Bull, second line - Casilla 575, third line - Cochabamba, Bolivia. No zip no nothing, it's as easy as that. And if you keep the package under 4 pounds, it won't have to go through customs (where it could sit for months... literally), and will come directly to our box. A big thank you in advance to all who respond. We so appreciate all the help that our friends and family provide for us while we're here! God bless you all.

Today my heart is full

My heart is so full as I sit and type about our day today. In the picture above you can see us and our teammates Butch and Jeff, and in the green shirt is our friend, and brother in Christ Vicente Castillo. Recently after hitting the ground here in Cochabamba Gary received an email from Vicente. He had been following our team through the website that Gary designed and our family blog. He contacted Gary in hopes of worshipping with us... and the rest is history, and a sweet one at that. Since that day we have gotten to know and cherish Vicente as a friend and brother. Vicente was (and is) a baptized believer and after much study between he and Gary we all agreed that he was baptized just as we were, for the forgiveness of sins. We have gotten to know his family (his precious mother Nelcy, who by the way loves Nathan, his older brother and his wife, and his younger brother and his girlfriend). In fact we were there just yesterday for lunch for which Nelcy cooked a traditional Bolivian meal from her home area of Potosi. It is always such a treat for us to get to spend time with them. So as if having their friendship wasn't blessing enough, today we were blessed to watch Vicente state publicly in the worship service that he wants to be a member of the body of Christ with us here in Cochabamba. As I watched my husband recount their getting to know each other, study together, and grow together, and then was able to watch Josh and Butch come up front as well to pray over our brother, my heart was so full. And as tears ran down my face as I wrestled Nathan because he wanted to be with Gary and Vicente up front as well :) I sat and marveled at the goodness of our God. Butch spoke of how we are here in this city to make disciples, but how also we have been so blessed to find believers already here, already following the beautiful words and teachings of our God. We are so blessed as a family to have the friendship of the Castillo family, and blessed to call Vicente our brother in Christ. Praise God for calling His children to Him. He has a way of showing himself to us! Thank God for days like today, He continues to amaze me!

And the weather report is....

Torrential rains! Which is what we had last night. Gary and I had settled in for the night, as he popped popcorn and kicked my tail at Skip Bo. And as we sat downstairs we literally thought that sleet was falling, the raindrops that began to fall were that big! We marveled at the storm, but didn't think much about it. Until about a half an hour later when we noticed the water level rising on the back porch. Well, if you remember the recent adventures of Nathan's plastic ball in our plumbing system, you'll remember the "door" of sorts that opens to the plumbing system out our back door. Gary lifted it once again and the water level improved greatly. But seeing this made me wonder how things were going in other parts of the house.

This house has already been such a tremendous blessing to us as a family, you can't even imagine. Yet, last night we were introduced to one of its not so nice aspects. The doors and windows to the second floor and attic are, how shall we say, not sealed super tight, so we had quite the water coming in off the balcony (into our bedroom) and around the occasional window.

The reason I recount this to you, is not to complain about construction or life here in Bolivia, but rather to sing praises to God. I realized last night as I sopped up water beside my husband, that God has done mighty things within this daughter of His. A year ago I would have had quite the emotional outburst, ranted about life here, and possibly threatened (just threatened) to pack. But last night God showed me in such a precious way, how He has grown me. For the reaction that followed was nothing I could have done on my own.

There were no tantrums thrown, no frustrations yelled, no boxes packed, and no hateful thoughts within this head. I truly was at peace. A little irritated that a few articles of clothes were ruined in the process, but what amazed me was the mantra that kept coming to my mind... it's just stuff. In the past I have said this to myself on many occasion, to force myself to believe it. But this time, it was not forced, it was not a reminder, it was an overflow of what the Father has placed within the heart of His child. I sat there, a little soggy :), and knew that everything in this house is simply material. What mattered most was that Nathan, Gary and I were safe. We were dry (even if the carpets weren't :) we have food to eat, clothes to wear, and all our needs met. Even if we lost everything, what matters most in this world is still safe, and that's my family. My husband and my son. I held my son a little longer than usual tonight as we rocked, and I was reminded of my love for my two precious men, and I thanked God that those that are my heart are "sano y salvo"... safe and sound :) (loose translation by Laura Bull :)

Saturday, December 2, 2006

The taste test continues

Apparently the recent taste test of baby shampoo wasn't enough for my Nathan :) Recently Nathan has really been enjoying raisins. He pops them like candy. The only problem with his new found favorite snack is that they resemble beetles :) oh we can all see where this is going can't we? And after last nights tropical hurricane in Cochabamba (details to follow soon), we had quite a few beetles in the house who were coming in to seek refuge from the storm. And this morning as we were sitting in the living room Nathan wandered up chewing on something. Mind you, usually it is a battle to get him to relinquish whatever he has in his mouth, but not this time... no this time the look on my son's face was one of... daddy, please get it out, I thought this thing was a raisin, but it most definitely is not! So after some fish hook/finger maneuvering, Gary pulled out half a beetle. Yes, I said half. We're still not sure where the other half went, but I'm sure we'll find out one day. Added protein right? I know this is only the beginning of gross things my son will try to eat, but not having had a brother, this is completely new territory for me. My sister and I were usually content to leave bugs and other critters alone with the don't bother it and it won't bother you philosophy. My son has obviously chosen another path in life, and I'm along for the ride :)