Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sunday morning comics... oh how we miss you :)

In the Wallace family, there has been the long standing tradition of thoroughly enjoying the Sunday morning comics. When Gary and I lived in Brownwood and weren't taking the Sunday paper, my mom would save every weeks' comics and have them ready for us when we came to visit... or tuck them in her famous care packages. Even to this day when a package arrives from Nana... it's sure to have a weeks worth of comics in it! Which we love! We each have our favorites from Rose is Rose, to Baby Blues (which I appreciate even more these days :) but I will always remember my mom's love of Family Circus and Peanuts. So when I was picking up last minute bargains for Nathan before we left the states and saw this Snoopy t-shirt, it was a must have :) Nathan's now big enough to wear his t-shirt proudly for his Nana and we wanted to send these pictures out just for her! So Nana, know that we love you, miss you so, and appreciate all that you guys do for us!

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's half full... not half empty

These past few weeks have been a struggle for me to love life here. It's not that I don't love the people here, or why we are here... it's that life here is alot harder than life back home. The daily routine of cooking, cleaning, running a household, etc. just takes a lot more time in a third world country. I miss the conveniences of freezer sections at the grocery store, being able to drive my own car whenever and wherever I like, cleaning products like the Swiffer, but I digress :)

So in efforts to refocus myself, today I decided to focus on some things that I truly love about Bolivia, from the big to the small. I started off small (I am always about starting with the easy part first :) and noted how much I love having fresh fruits and vegetables here year round. I know that I complain about having to disinfect them all and the saga it takes to complete that on a weekly basis, but the truth is that having fresh avocados the size of a small cantelope, mangos that are the sweetest thing I've ever tasted, and tomatoes that taste like home-grown from the garden, does make it worth it! I love that Nathan will grow up eating healthy since there just really isn't alot of junk-food/processed food around. It is a small blessing, but a blessing none the less and I'm counting everyone that God allows me to see!

One a bigger scale, I love that Bolivians can find a use or a value in almost everything. As I was riding in a taxi to the video rental store (another thing I'm thankful for... two movies for three days for under 3 dollars) I saw a large building under construction. Now mind you this is not a new from the ground up construction. I have been watching this particular building for weeks now as the workers labor over it. I say labor because to me it is a labor of love. In the states I can guarantee you that this building would have been torn down and something bigger and grander been put in its place. But not here... not here where everything has a purpose and a value. This particular building is being rebuilt. There are parts of it that can still serve a purpose, that can be used, and so the pieces that need to be replaced are, and the original walls and structure of the building will remain.

I love this about Bolivia because it is so different from our disposable society that I have gotten so used to. Little by little I am beginning to see value in all things. That even something I would have thrown away a year ago, when cleaned up and polished up a little, can still serve a purpose, can still be used. Can't help but feeling a little like that house right now. There are many parts of my idealism about life back home, about the way things "should" be, about past sins for which God has forgiven me, that I feel like God is taking out, piece by piece. But He leaves the walls, the original structure, the core of who I am. And I imagine what I will be like as He begins to rebuild me... what will the new windows He puts in look like, will the door be wide so that all can come in? I am thankful that God is teaching me to see value in everything, from something as small as the jelly jar that can be used as a cup to my fellow man sitting on the side walk begging for his daily bread. I pray that I continue to learn what it means to see this world through God's eyes, as His handiwork, and as valuable in everyway.

7 Reasons I love my Mom...

Today marks my sweet mom's Birthday and so I thought what a better way to celebrate her "_7th" (you'll have to ask her :) birthday than to share with you all 7 reasons why / things I love about my Mom...

1. With the help of my dad, my mom always felt it was worth whatever sacrifices needed to be made to stay at home with my sister and I as we were growing up. She gave up a career outside the home and I'm sure many days wished she could have passed the day behind a desk rather than behind a kitchen sink... but she was always there for us. Whether it was a forgotten lunch, a sick day at home, meeting us at the door when we had had a bad day... she was always there and I will always be so grateful for that.

2. My mom is the queen of running a household. She modeled for me and showed me in so many ways how to take care of not only the people within a home, but the home itself. She is the organizational guru of our family and we have always said that without her, our family could not function :)

3. I love my mom's laughter. I remember many times when my dad would be traveling... leaving just us girls at home :) There were many a night that my sister and I would get my mom laughing so hard that no noises could be heard coming from her, just the tears of laughter running down her face, the movement of her body as it felt her laughter, and the huge smile across her face to prove that there was great laughter in her heart :)

4. My mom taught me the art of showing, truly showing others that you love them. When I say showing I mean in action, which my mom is great at! She is amazing at taking care of others, thinking of every detail, being prepared, and acts of service. She taught both my sister and I how to model acts of service in our own lives' for others.

5. My mom makes birthdays so special. I can remember growing up that she would make posters for our bedrooms saying... Happy Birthday Laura! She would make a special breakfast, complete with the little bear that sat on your plate saying "You are Special" She would often make cupcakes or cookies for us and our friends at school on our birthdays. And that evening would be a special birthday dinner, complete with your special requests, a giant cookie birthday cake, and birthday balloon. We never doubted for a second that day how much we were treasured!

6. My mom is a wonderful Nana to my son. She was there by my side as he entered this world and walked beside me for the next few weeks as she stayed with Gary and I. She walked me through the newborn/Post partum fog and continued to affirm me as a mother, even when I doubted I had what it would take to be a good one. She has been there every step of the way since as well, not telling me what to do or how to do it, but respecting how we choose to parent Nathan, and being a huge help to us as first time parents.

7. My mom is beautiful, inside and out. I will always remember little things about my mother's appearance growing up... her pearl necklace that I always loved to play with, with her pearl earrings from Dad, how I loved to watch her get all dressed up for fancy business dinners with Dad, Pearls and Lace perfume, and how she was always so pretty without all the make-up that other ladies wore. But even more than all the externals, I will always love how my mom was, and still is, beautiful inside. My mom has modeled to me for many years what it looks like to be a Christian mother and wife, a servant of the Most High God, and a prayer warrior for us her children. Mom... thank you for showing me what true beauty is! I pray that your birthday was beautiful, I just wish we could have been there to celebrate it with you! Know that I love you and am blessed and honored to be your daughter!

Mom and Emily (aka Nana and Auntie Em :)

Mom and Dad (aka Nana and Papa :)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let's try again...

Okay so I warned everyone I was new at this tagged thing right? It seems that I forgot to tag people, I'm a slow learner :) So let's see who to tag, who to tag... I'll tag Wade for reminding me to tag people... Jenn as if she has nothing else to do :) ... and Molly just because I'd love to see what all she has to say! Okay I think that's all I'm supposed to do... I'll wait to hear from blog land if I've committed a foul, but I think that should cover me :)


Well I've officially, for the first time... been tagged by my friend Marie and though I'm a little late in responding (welcome to my world :) here goes nothing...

1. I’ve come to realize that my ex-(boyfriend) ---deserves to be happy too.
2. I am listening to --- Nathan taking a nap on the monitor and third world cars that you can hear coming for miles :)
3. I talk --- alot more when I'm in small groups (it's the introvert in me :)
4. I love --- guardedly.
5. My best friends --- are too far away.
6. I lost --- my cell phone charger... it's gone MIA.
7. I hate it when people --- take advantage of others... we see that alot more here than at home it seems.
8. Love is --- at times a little painfully vulnerable.
9. Marriage is --- hard work and a constant melding of two sets of dreams.
10. Somewhere, someone is thinking --- man I miss my little man (my dad... Nathan's papa).
11. I’ll always be --- impatient with Latin America systems of getting things done... although hopefully over time I'll learn to tolerate it a little better.
12. I have a crush on --- my husband... but if we're talking movie stars... the new Bond sure is handsome.
13. The last time I cried was because --- I was stressed about the riots here and us not being able to get food.
14. My cell phone --- is dead (remember the MIA charger :)
15. When I wake up in the morning --- I'm so not ready to get out of bed, which is the blessing of Gary committing to get out of bed in the morning with Nathan.
16. Before I go to sleep at night --- I check my email, check blogs, kiss Gary and snooze away.
17. Right now I am thinking about --- all that I need to get done today as I sit here blogging :)
18. Babies are --- something that I'm not super crazy about, but endure knowing that they'll turn into precious children. (we're being honest right?)
19. I get on MySpace --- never.
20. Today I --- will bake cookies to try to make amends with the post office workers I was impatient with on Friday, I will attempt to maneuver the customs system here to retrieve a package that came in the mail, bake a cake for team lunch tomorrow, do lots of laundry and hopefully be able to enjoy some playtime with Nathan. (aren't you all jealous?)
21. Tonight I will --- maybe watch a movie with Gary, feed Nathan (man I wish this kid tolerated having his hands messy, but until he learns to use a spoon... I'm it), wash dishes, and hopefully beat my husband at Skip Bo.
22. Tomorrow I will --- spend some time out at the Marcum's for our team devo/lunch and informal marriage seminar that Julie's parents are doing for us... and hopefully finish all the things I didn't get done today.
23. I really want --- a Wal-Mart/Target/or Sam's next door (hey a girl can dream right?)

So there you go... the inner workings of Laura Bull :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wooo Hooo Visitors 2!

Amy Hubbard gets to enjoy one of Nathan's rare "still" moments. Thank you to the Amys (Hubbard and Skinner) who coralled our little ones during church on Sunday!
The loot, can you even believe it! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Children's tylenol (Tim... the huge bottles are AWESOME!), other kiddo drugs, seasonings like Tony's and Cavender's, Candy Corn, Whopper's, sippy cups, and yes that's right you did see a bag of Starbuck's coffee among the goodies :)
Just wanted to show off our new teacher's work room thanks to the handy work of Butch. He did after all win the golden hammer award at our recent one year anniversary party :)

Wooo hooo! Visitors!

The ever famous, everyone must have one picture of the Cristo, but I thought this one of Roland's turned out especially good.
An up close and personal shot of the balloons.
Daddy's little helper
And the waiting begins... I say begins because we all stilll have smiles on our faces and there are no bags under our eyes... yet :)
Amy Hubbard asking someone to please call Adult Protection Services :)

The calm after the storm...

First off, please let me say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been lifting the people of Cochabamba, our families, and the church launch up in prayer. Things have been a little crazy and so I apologize that I have not updated everyone earlier, but we're back in action now and so here we go :) As far as our family goes, we are all back to normal (or as "normal" as we get :) Nathan is feeling better, I am feeling better, and Gary is back safe and sound from taking the Austin Avenue group to Santa Cruz. So we are all back together in our house and happy to be feeling better.

Things here in Cochabamba seem to be calming down. The group of protestors self-destructed yesterday (meaning that the group kind of divided among themselves, made some moves to elect a new govenor, but got no national backing and so have headed home) and so things in the downtown area are calming down and returning to normal. Hopefully we'll get to make it to the post office tomorrow to pick up our mail. I love going to pick up mail, just not when it's in the middle of riot central. The two pictures below are of the group that came into town to stir up trouble and the police coming into to try and establish some semblance or order.
The "cocaleros" or "campesinos" gathering to protest outside the hotel where our visitors stayed.

The police marching, again outside their hotel.

Over the weekend, things really calmed down (apparently the protestors here in Bolivia only work M-F). So Saturday the Austin Avenue group was able to tour the city, visit the statue of Christ and pass out balloons. We had balloons made (yellow of course :) that say "Cristo te ama" or "Jesus loves you" on one side and the address to the church on the other. Well, I tell you what, those AA folks got busy :) They blew up all the balloons and went to two or three plazas here in town to hand out balloons and flyers about the launch. It was a huge help and gave them a great way to be involved. Below are a few pictures of the balloonage... (Nathan was making sure to help and show all the kids in Cbba how you do it :)

Man you talk about some good publicity :)

Nathan... showing them how's it done :)

Handing out balloons in the Plaza Principal.

Amy Hubbard handing out flyers... she knew I meant business when I said, don't come back with any :)

Sunday marked our launch day and it was beautiful... beautiful weather, beautiful message, beautiful visitors, worshipping a beautiful God. With things calmed down many of the Cochabambinos that we invited were able to come to worship with us. Our brothers and sisters from Santa Cruz and La Paz weren't able to come as they wanted to due to the blockades that were still in force until Saturday afternoon/evening. But a precious handful from Santa Cruz boarded a bus late Saturday night, traveled all night, and showed up on our doorstep Sunday morning. You cannot even imagine the joy it brought to our hearts to see their faces. The women from one of the churches there hand made and painted the most beautiful table cloth for our Lord's supper table that they presented to us during the service. Butch preached a great message on God being the only author of change, true change, in our lives'. Josh lead our worship. And we were blessed to have Vicente (read about our brother in previous posts), Freddy Vargas (a precious teenager of one of our families here) and Renan Vargas (his dad), open our worship, read scripture, pray, and lead our Lord's supper. It was a beautiful (I think I've used that word before :) blending of team members and Bolivian Christians coming together to lead worship... exactly what we have prayed for. Then we were blessed with a time in which an elder from the Santa Cruz church and from Austin Avenue were able to come forward and express their thoughts and pray blessings over the church here. All in all it was a wonderful day...

Our new church sign and what it looks like all lit up at night :) Pretty awesome huh?

This is the church building packed full on Sunday morning... we had around 140 in attendance! Praise God!

The most beautiful thing by far about the whole day was that our sister Camilla accepted Jesus as her Savior and put him on in baptism after worship. Camilla began attending worship with her mother (Aida a sister in Christ, who's family are brothers and sisters in Christ in Santa Cruz). Aida is now in the states working and Camilla is here with her dad. She expressed an interest to be baptized a few weeks ago and Katie began studying with her. She is a precious girl and we rejoice with her and her decision to take this step of faith. The pictures below are of Camilla's baptism.

Nathan... testing the water :)

Josh saying "This is true sacrifice (the water was super cold), but so worth it!"

Camilla putting on her Lord in baptism.

Camilla and her sister.

I think that pretty much sums up our Sunday. Thank you for all who were in prayer! We found out after our worship here that a group from Austin Avenue braved the ice Sunday morning to get up early and pray together over our worship services at the same hour that we were starting here (okay a little earlier... we do after all live on Latin American time that always starts at least a half hour late :) But just know that we are so blessed to be covered in your prayers. Please continue to pray for the political situation here. Things are at a calm for now... but as we have learned in the past week, can change in a heartbeat. And please continue to pray for the church here, for the contacts we have made, and for the work that God is continuing to do! God bless you all... and to close it out, a new picture of the Bull clan, thanks to Danielle Turner, one of our visitors/photographers :)

**Also wanted to let you all know that one of the visitors traveling with the AA group is a writer for the Christian Chronicle back home, so keep an eye out for his write up in the upcoming edition. Should be fun and exciting to see!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What a week

Well last Saturday night as I watched my little boy puking his poor little guts up, I imagined that would be the worst of our week. Boy was I wrong. From that point on things seem to get crazier and crazier, in our house, and in our city. Sunday was stay home and recover, make pallets on the floor and watch movies day for Nathan as he continued to feel bad. Then Monday Gary went to work as usual, but early in the afternoon called me to let me know that there was some conflict going on downtown and that he felt like it would be better if went ahead and came on home for the day.

We have all known that Cochabamba has been in turmoil lately, not serious turmoil until here recently... but Monday a group of leftists from the "campo" (or country) had entered the city and were protesting against the local governor who is moving to make a referendum for local autonomy from the national government. See this link for the CNN coverage Bolivia CNN Update.

It all gets confusing, but basically these two groups have met in the streets everyday this week... until today, thank our amazing God! (and mind you in the middle of this we are moving forward with plans to have our church launch/inauguration this weekend in which 24 people were coming from the states to be a part of... not counting brothers and sisters from La Paz and Santa Cruz who could not get through because of the blockades that the "campesinos" had set up blocking pretty much all roads coming to and from Cochabamba).

The protesting/rioting this last week ranged from groups roaming the streets with bats and sticks, rock throwing, sling shot throwing of rocks, and burning the governor's office. Three people were killed this week and many more injured in the violence.

(Back to Nathan... trying to stay in the timeline here :) We finally broke down and took Nathan to the doctor on Tuesday. His fever was just not breaking and I was getting concerned. So the doctor started him on an antibiotic and took a stool sample (we are turning into pros :) and we later found out that he did have a virus in his system as well. So Wednesday we pack up Nathan and take him over to the Sandoval's who have graciously agreed to watch the little man (sickies and all) while Gary and I both travel to Santa Cruz to pick up the group coming in from the states. It was really nice to get away with my husband, just the two of us, but heartbreaking as usual to leave my Nathan.

So as we are in Santa Cruz the violence escalates and the two deaths occur. Much of the fighting is taking place outside of the Sandoval's and Forbess' apartment building and they are exposed first hand to what the rest of us are seeing on the news and in the newspaper. All the while, we're in Santa Cruz, confirming flights and getting our visitors settled in. That has to have been the highlight of the week for me. Watching our friends walk into the airport has to be one of the funnest moments I've had in quite awhile. We get them settled in the hotel for the day (as our flight doesn't leave out for Cbba until later that evening) and talk plans. Do we go ahead and take them on into Cbba, or book them flights back home, understanding too that we have reservations for them on the main strip downtown, where the majority of the fighting is going on. Because of the road blockades going out of Cochabamba, there are many travelers who are stranded in the city and all the other hotels are full. What do you do?

We decide to go on and head back to the Santa Cruz airport and try to catch our flight out. We get there at 5:30pm for our 7:15pm flight. I could get into all the details, but let me just summarize by saying, at 5:00 the next morning we got on a plane bound for Cbba. Many giggle fests over lack of sleep, card games in the airport, cricks in the neck because of sleeping on a bench, and emotions of frustration we arrive home. Only to realize that we really don't feel safe for Gary, Nathan and I to return to our house just yet. Gary has been the acting tour guide for the group and if we go home, and something happens on the bridges or in between us and downtown, there would be no way for Gary to get to anyone. So... we camp out at the Sandoval's (who work hard to cook meals for the group of now 30+ when you add team members, because all the restaurants and stores are closed in protest of the violence)... and I thought a little vomit would be the worst of my worries :(

So that brings up to today, Nathan and I got up, rested (because now I've got the stomach part of his virus) and came on home to our own house. The protesting has died down for now and roads and businesses seem to have opened back up. We just keep praying for the country of Boliva, which is in such unrest right now. We pray for the launch tomorrow, that the contacts we have made here and invited will be able to make it into the city and come. We pray for our travelers, some from Santa Cruz and La Paz who may try to make it in by bus now that the blockades have lifted and for our travelers from the states.

So many have told us, and we firmly believe that there is a reason all has come to a head this week and this weekend. Satan knows that God intends to claim this city and reclaim souls, and he's shaking in his boots. He's trying to do anything within his power to dampen our spirits and efforts, but we refuse to yield. Just please keep us all in your prayers. A week like this last one makes a weary mommy, daddy, and kiddo. We want to be fresh tomorrow to praise our God and show and give his love to all who walk through those church doors for the first time. God bless Bolivia, Cochabamba, the souls that lie here waiting for harvest, our prayer warriors back home, and us as we seek to serve him, no matter the conditions.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Buh dee buh dee buh dee... that's all folks!

So along the way in our language learning we have definitely learned to laugh at ourselves :) and this past week was no exception.

Sonia came to the house one morning last week and she and I were working in the kitchen. I was trying to tell her that there was a huge dead bee (aveja) on the front sidewalk. And I'm not talking little honey bee, I'm talking huge killer bee. So it was definitely worth talking about, only I didn't tell her we had a dead bee... I told her we had a dead sheep (oveja). You should have seen her face. It was as if she was thinking, I just walked past there not 10 minutes ago, and I sure would have thought I would have noticed a dead sheep :) So after trying to explain, no the animal that flies and makes honey, she understood what I was trying to say. So we had a good laugh and moved on, but oh the difference one vowel can make huh?

Then New Year's Eve we were over at the Sandoval's house playing cards. Mind you it was late, like 2 in the morning and Nathan was tucked snug in his pack and play while his parents enjoyed a quick game of spades (which by the way we won!). But as we were playing we smelled something burning, which is not all together an abnormal thing here in Cbba. See the Cochabambinos enjoy doing fireworks, and it was New Year's Eve after all, and they burn a small little thing that kind of looks like a little grill to offer sacrifice to Pachamama. Gary was trying to say that maybe someone was burning one of these sacrifices, but instead said, I bet someone's burning their "chola" which in fact is one of the words in Quechua for a woman. So we all got a good laugh at the idea of flaming women running through the streets of Cochabamba in celebration of the New Year.

And after all they say laughter is the best medicine right? So after language learning we should be some of the healthiest people alive. Let's just hope the people of Cochabamba can survive all our blunders :)

Where does it come from?

Okay, so i know that the number 7 is definitely a Biblical number, but there is nothing Biblical about 7 dirty diapers in one day. And I don't mean wet diapers... I mean dirty. Now mind you, we have not acquired more children since you last heard, every single one of those were gifts from my precious son! So needless to say, we're trying to figure out "what are you feeding that boy?" :)