Thursday, 29 September 2011

Moulding Chronicles September 2011

Dear Friends,

What holds people in poverty? – At the beginning of August Ed took part in the annual evaluation of the work zones in Cochabamba. During this time  he discovered two factors that hold people in poverty. The first of these was geographical.  A large number of the communities that FH works with exist between an altitude of 2,500m – 4,000m+ above sea level (Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK is 1,344m). Families in these regions generally live off of the land of which they may have 1.5 - 2 ha.  Living at this altitude is harsh with limits on what can be grown because the geographical conditions are tough. Just by dropping down a few hundred metres the conditions become more favourable for growing a greater variety of crops.  However, in these lower regions, people are still living in poverty, therefore it is due to more than just  simple location.
The second and greatest factor that holds people in poverty is their Worldview (the way a person or culture interprets the world around them and how they react and interact within it). There are 3 main world views (animism, secularism and biblical theism) as well as a variable mix of all 3. In Bolivia the animistic worldview is the greatest where by the spirits control the physical world. A person can do nothing to change their situation therefore the result is a fatalistic people.  So whether a person lives at 4000m above sea level or 100m it makes no difference if a person was born poor they will always be poor and so will their children. This belief system is particularly strong in the rural areas (including the Churches) and further compounded by being told by outsiders that they cannot do anything by themselves without outside help. 
FH has worked hard in these areas for the last 10 years seeking to chang peoples worldview little by little.  After all this time some have still not grasped the idea and continually look for handouts.  However, with others there is encouragement seeing where slowly people are beginning to change the way they think and do things realising that they are able to change their current situation, that creation is not something to be worshiped but something they can have dominion over.  
Don Nacho was one such person who back in 2003 had nothing.  With the help of FH and other organisations he has experimented with new ideas and farming methods such as a trout farm. 

With such a radical mind shift and way of life required, FH has identified the need to work with and strengthen the local churches. Many people here are first generation Christians and so their faith is often mixed with animistic beliefs and Catholic traditions from their colonial past. Therefore the churches need to be equipped to teach the truth of the bible so that this generation and the ones to come can learn the truth about the creator of the world and what that means to their outlook and way of life.

Thank God for: 

  • A healthy family
  • Being a part of Gods work changing lives here in Bolivia
  • Godly leaders from whom we are learning so much

Ask God for:

  • Wisdom and patience in raising our children
  • Greater cultural understanding for walking with our work colleagues
  • Greater centralization and strengthening of the work FH is doing with local churches

Monday, 12 September 2011

Happy Birthday our little princess

Birthdays seem to come around very quickly each year so I am very grateful that I began the planning process for this one some time ago having finally gotten an answer from Alana as to what theme she wanted this year. Princesses seem to be a very popular theme for this age so I was able to gather plenty of ideas.

Bolivian birthday parties don't always constitute to much fun with both child and parents sitting around not sure quite what to do with themselves (or at least that has been our experience of some) so I like to plan things that will be fun (hopefully) for both the parents and children.  This of course has to be tempered with the fact that people never arrive to birthday parties for the time that you state on the invitation so activities need to be flexible.

We were not expecting anybody to arrive for the 3pm start time on the invitation however by 4:15 when still nobody had arrived we were beginning to get a little concerned that in fact nobody was going to come. But thankfully by 4:30 the princesses did began to arrive in a steady flow until the last one arrived at about 6pm!

The festivities began with a painting of the nails and putting on eye shadow and lipstick, which the girls loved, then we moved onto making crowns.  During the corse of this time more had arrived so once everyone had finished their crowns we could play some games beginning with parcel parcel and the usual few reluctant to pass the parcel on in the home it may stop on them. Then we played 'kiss the frog' where by each in turn were blind folded, put on lipstick and had to kiss a picture of a frog.  We then finished of the games with 'musical thrones' (Basically just musical chairs).

It was then time to eat and for Alana to blow the candles out on the cake and then to take a bite of it (A bolivian tradition here).  Once everybody was satisfied with full tummies (Apart from Alana who was still sat eating way after everybody else was done) the princesses then got to decorate their own party bags ready to take home with them some party goodies.

Whilst all this was going on the parents were happy sat playing games together such as Uno and Jenga.

Alana had a great time and I like to think that the other children and their parents did too.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Day of the pedestrian

This year La Paz decided to institute a new national day, that of the pedestrian.  This means that for one day a year no vehicles are permitted to drive about the streets, as a way to try and combat the pollution and congestion that normally clogs up the city. So from 8am in the morning until 4pm in the afternoon the streets are completely clear of any traffic.  This makes for a really nice tranquil sunday with lots of people milling about along the streets, on skateboards and bicycles.