Monday, 30 June 2008

New Prefect

Sunday 29th May we were confined to our homes as the elections were taking place for the new Prefect of the departement of Chuquisaca - the equivalent to Welsh goverment elections.  There were two main runners for the election.  After much campaigning that has taken place over the last month or so, severe restrictions were put in place to ensure that everybody made their vote, restrictions which included the prohibition of buying any alcohol, or holding any public gatherings on voting day - which meant that all church services were cancelled.
From what we could tell the day passed peacefully and by early evening the preliminary results were through which showed Savina as the winner with 55% of the votes.  With the results through the celebrations and festivities began in the plaza, with the sounds drifting up towards our house.  We now watch and wait to see what changes happen with the newly elected prefecta.

F is for Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry (FH) is the organization we are working with here in Bolivia. FH has been in existence since 1971 when Dr Larry Ward felt led to start the organization to provide help and hope to the poorest and most needy survivors of disasters and calamities around the world. What started out as a compassionate response to a hurting world by one man has developed into a vibrant ministry composed of more than 2,000 staff members who walk alongside the poor in more than 26 developing countries.


FH started working in disaster and emergency relief, but over the years it has changed its primary emphasis to the long-term development of the extremely poor, recognizing their creativity and ability to resolve their own problems-, which is why over 90% of staff in the field are recruited locally. Through them FH work for any combination of the following: Food provision; Water provision for drinking; Sanitation and irrigation; Primary health care; Income enhancement / micro enterprise development; Education and Empowering indigenous peoples.


You can discover more about the work of FH by looking at the following websites including FH United Kingdom and FH Bolivia




FH Bolivia  


Our work is with FH Bolivia, which has been in place since 1978.  The following link will show you the different programs that are running in Bolivia and how they are benefiting many different families and communities.


Saturday, 14 June 2008

E is for English lessons

A few weeks ago some of the Bolivian staff started having English lessons three mornings a week (starting at 7am!!) with a lecturer from the University. They all seem to have taken to it very seriously and are practising on Simon and myself in the office and asking all sorts of questions about English grammer, which I have not got much of an idea about. I just use the language. They come into the office or in when we are having our afternoon tea break and practise their new phases with us. Much to our amusment as they try to get their tongues around 'th' and other strange sounds that we use in English. Simon and myself are also sometimes a little unhelpful and teach them some of the different accents instead of just talking to them in 'Queens English'.
It does make you stop and think when they come up to you and ask you a question in English and you don't understand it, just how do I sound to them as I try and communicate in their language! It kind of makes you want them to stop speaking in English as you think how bad I must sound!

The British and the Weather

You don't realise how much we British go on about the weather until you go to another country. At present here in Bolivia we are in Autumn heading into winter. Everyday it is cold in the mornings usually with blue sunny skies, by lunchtime it is really hot outside and then by 6 or 7 pm it has gone cold once more with the buildings giving off all of the heat that they have absorbed during the day.
In Autum and winter there is no rain. The other week I realised that we have not had any rain possibly since February/March time and we are likely not to see it again until October!! For a Brit that is a long time to go without rain. It's good to have predictable weather however, I do miss the unpredictablity of the UK. On Wednesday in the Campo (rural areas here in Bolivia) we had a unusual short shower. Just enough to wet the stone floor of the courtyard and give of that lovely smell of fresh rain on a hot floor.

Second Campo Trip

Though I was a bit nervous before going it turned out to be an enjoyable trip. I thought that I would be taking the 3 hour journey on stone roads to Ravelo in the back of a lorry (which I thought was called a 'turno' in spanish) turned about it was in a bus with ok leg room. All the word 'turno' means is whos turn it is to take a vehicle on any given route, but this word is also used to refer to the vehicles as well! Very confusing.

A question for the walkers amoung you.

If you start walking at around 3500 metres above sea level is that called hill walking or mountain walking?

Well whichever you call it that was what this trip was about. Much walking to look at some of the areas of woods that FH has been helping the communities near them to conserve so they don't cut all the trees down at once.

On Wednesday we arrived at Ravelo at lunchtime, ate and then walked out of the town to some hills in the distance. When we got there we used GPS (Global Postioning Satilites) to accurately measure the area conserved. In all we walked for 2 1/2 hours. Not a lot but I'm still getting used to living at high altitude and it was only a warm up for the next day. In the evening we went to a community 1/2 an hour further on and stayed there for the night.

The woods (only low growing trees) we went to on Wednesday in the distance (pic below left) , and my boss Sergio (right) and David one of the technicians.

Thursday we started off on motorbikes and went to a community and found someone who knew the area we wanted to go and look at. Then we went to a high point on the bike and looked over the conservation area. We then started an hours desent to the river at the bottom of the conservation area. I had jelly legs by the end of all that down hill walking. We had lunch (sardine rolls and biscuits Sarah had made before I left) in a beautiful spot by a stream with pools.
Then set off along the river to record the missing information for this area. The techicians went off with the GPS and the camposino (what the country folk are called) and my boss and I took photos and drawings to record the different types of vegetation and to look for erosion. This was tiring enough, but we then had to get back to the community! The technician walked straight up a 60 or 70 percent slope to continue collecting the GPS data and to measure the area and my boss and I followed a path by the river back to the community. Unfortunately it was too good to be true and we had a steep climb back out of the valley to the community. By the end of it I felt that I had almost walked too much that day! I then got back on the motorbike for a 40 minute ride back to Ravelo, to catch the 3pm bus back to Surce, with less leg room and people standing in the isles all the way back to Surce.
See the bottom of the valley follow that along and around the corner some and thats where we started from and we still had a load of climbing to do!

Needless to say I slept well that night.

As I write this Alana is playing next to me with some bottle lids and keeps saying gras (her form of Gracias (Thank you)).

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

E is for Escalator

It is interesting to think that we are now more advanced than Aberystwyth as we now have an escalator in Sucre, the only one for who knows how many miles around. It has caused quite a bit of excitement in the city as it's the first time many people both young and old have ever seen one or even experienced one. To the point that there is a security guard stationed at the bottom helping people to get onto it.

So why do we now have an escalator, well its all part of a new super duper shopping mall, which by Bolivian standards is huge, (but by UK standards quite small). So instead of our small pokey supermarket we now have super SAS with probably the same amount of merchandise just more spread out. A shopper can now choose from a range of different trolleys from little ones for children to push around (though many adults seem to like stooping over these) big ones with baby seats and even ones with little cars underneath, which seem initially like a great idea until you realise how easy your little one can either escape or help themselves to items on the lower shelves without you realising a thing.

We now also have what we think is a three screen cinema (yet to be tried out) with its own food court as well as other services and shops that are opening up in the available spaces. It has caused quite a stir so far as well as traffic jams. But makes like easier for us as we are now 3 blocks closer than the old supermarket.

Moulding Chronicle May 2008 Letter No 5

Dear Friends,


In April we hit the land mark of 6 months here in Bolivia. The day itself 21st April passed unnoticed but now seems like a good time for us to give you some reflections on this time. It has been a harder time than we expected it to be but we can both say that we have seen God leading and protecting us through this time. We hope that the next 6 months still with its challenges will see us begin to thrive here.

Ed There is a word in Spanish 'Esperar' which means two different things in English, to hope and to wait. I think that this is probably a good word for these past months. We arrived in Bolivia and found life challenging, missing family and having different things making us feel unsettled. Through this time I had to hope and trust in God that He would carry my family and I through this time, again and again He did, though we didn't feel particularly close to him.

Our last year in the UK was very busy, visiting people at weekends and just generally being busy. Here in Sucre there is not that much to do at the weekends and I have had to learn to wait and to rest (partly due to life at high altitude). To be content to spend time with my family going to the park or a café for a Saturday morning and not rushing around. It's getting better but it is difficult to change something that has been so ingrained in my life for many years that 'I must be busy.'

The final hope has been that I would see Sarah happier here and having purpose. It was her passion for mission that started us on this road, but me who walked straight into the 'missionary role' with job and purpose.

Sarah It has been a tough 6 months what with one thing happening after another. However, it was whilst suffering with shingles that something suddenly changed, my perspective had shifted from feeling, lonely, insecure and so far from home to a more realistic analysis of our life here in Sucre, which actually has many positive aspects such as being able to do a job share so Ed gets to spend some quality time with Alana, learning a new language and culture amongst many more.

As yet I still have no defined role, and get frustrated as I keep pushing doors that don't open, but I have to keep reminding myself that God has called us here as a family and that he has his plans and purposes for each one of us.

In adjusting to life here one of the biggest struggles for us both has been in adjusting to a people orientated culture, not an easy task for two introverted task orientated individuals from a very task orientated culture.

Alana on the other hand is just enjoying life and all the new and exciting things that she discovers. Her vocabulary has also increased to about 6 words now including water, coca cola and pear.

Phase 2

Every new international staff member is required to attend an extended orientation period of three weeks, taking a more in depth look at FH as an organisation, how to live and work in another culture as well as many other things.

Within a matter of weeks our 3 week phase 2 programme set to take place in Peru, changed to a one week intense programme here in Sucre with us and the other Brit family.

This resulted in a very full week with lots of running around in order to fit around the children's schedules. However, it was a very positive week learning more about FH as an organisation, how our world view shapes the way in which we do things and more about ourselves.

I think we all came away from it feeling challenged about our own world views and the things we do as a result. The other point that stuck with us was about the need to change a persons values and beliefs in order to bring about positive changes in a persons actions. Something vitally important for an organisation such as FH which is involved with development work. A bit more info about this can be found on our blog.

Praise God For:

An encouraging and challenging time during phase 2

Beginning to feel more settled and at home

Opportunities to explore more of the area

The friendships we have with other expats

Please pray for:

Opportunities to get to know more local people and the courage to take those opportunities

Edwin, one of the shoeshine boys Sarah often chats with in the plaza

Our health, as we have all been suffering with colds and Alana with a bad cough

Ed, Sarah & Alana