Flight to Santa Cruz - First Day
Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - Rhoda Steiner
We woke at 3:30 a.m. to load the van and head to the airport. We weren’t too sure if the 18-20 bags loaded on the top would stay in position until we got to the airport, but it did. Once there, were found we were way overweight. The international flight allowed 70 pounds per bag, where the domestic only allowed 44 lbs. We monkeyed around there and Mark took one of our bags, and then used one of his for carry-on. We were able to get half of the overweight on free and had to pay $100 for the rest. We were tempted to start throwing out some of the tennis shoes or used clothing, but it was already shipped out to the plane by then and we were stuck.
Going through security, my very tiny pocket knife was taken and they confiscated Mark’s tools. Then, because his carry-on was too big, they took it also, putting his tools and the knife into his back and checking it. In the end, we got our ‘illegal weapons’ onto the plane, and didn’t have to pay overweight on that one bag. Asi la vida en Bolivia!
We flew about 35 minutes to Cochabama and then had to get off the plane and board a second plane on the tarmac. This made Jia very happy as she had always wanted to be able to come down the steps like you see in the movies! Another 35 minute flight and we were in sunny Santa Cruz. It took awhile, but all of our luggage arrived and we did not have to go through customs, as we had already done so upon arrival in La Paz.
Solomon, Lucy, Ona, Leon and Deneen were all waiting for us with three vehicles. It was a great time of hellos and abrazos and we were off to the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) which had been our second home for Dallas and I during our first term.
Solomon and Lucy had saltenas and sodas for our brunch and we visited with different folks, including Matt Steiner. Mark, Cindy and girls were given rooms in the back guest house and the rest of the gang had two rooms, kitchen and bathroom across the street. We washed close and rested until about 4 p.m. when we went to the Hogar to visit. We toured the home and day care, ate supper and visited with the kids. We got back late in the evening and dropped into bed.
First Work Day at the Home
Thursday, December 23, 2004 - Rhoda Steiner
Solomon met us following breakfast and we all were carted out to the home in the truck. Cindy and Delight began working on cookies, a number of persons spent time with the children and Dallas and Mark began trying to resurrect the old Steiner tractor that had 13,000 hours on it. I spent time on administrative stuff and speaking with Flora and Solomon mainly. Multiple interruptions prevented us from being very productive! Another late evening and we were glad to get back to our place.
Christmas Eve Preparation
Friday, December 24, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Another trip to the home and preparations for Christmas continued. Cookies and cakes were baked. One of the older boys butchered the pig. Dustin, David, Devin and Jia helped sort out all of the tennis shoes in pairs, by size and condition. Denver and Rhoda helped divided the school supplies with Flora from the Home and Erlinda from the Day Care. Backpacks were piled up for the start of school. Toys and clothing was sorted out. Flora explained that they had been praying for tennis shoes and Solomon informed us that the children’s Christmas was to come from the items we brought with us. I began to feel the overweight fines had been worth paying, as well as all of the trouble of carting so many bags around.
Denver helped Flora and Ana Maria, the lady who teaches crafts to the girls, begin to find gifts for all of the children. Only three of the older girls were short gifts when they were done with all the sorting and wrapping, and Flora, Edmilson, Jia and Janine went to do some last minute Christmas shopping in the afternoon, finally returning around 7:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve was spent watching fireworks at the invitation of some MCC families who had pooled their $’s to give a nice show. Finally around 11:30 p.m., prior to the end, we encouraged our gang to gather in the MCC common room to do our secret gift exchange and enjoy snacks. It was great to see the creative gifts received.
We retired to our rooms and heard fireworks going off most of the night.
Christmas Day Celebration
Saturday, December 25, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Mark and Dallas were up at 5:30 a.m because they had a date with a pig. Jia woke and decided to go along. Apparently the early trip was worth going for as the pig went up in flames when the charcoal was lit. Children went running for buckets of water to put the flames out and Mark and Dallas tried again. The rest of us arrived around 9a.m. and began icing cakes, chopping vegetables and getting the meal prepared. Two of the older girls from the home helped out by making the fried rice and a special cabbage salad. In the end, the menu consisted of: roast pig, fried rice, tomatoe/cucumber/onion salad, cabbage/raisin/pineapple/creamed salad, fried platano and kool-aid. We served cake and treat bags for desert to 60 persons. Each child received their gift from Flora, using our gang as the delivery elves. Bruno and Yolanda shared from their heart which left some of us in tears. Then we had devotions from Edmilson, special music from Leon and his daughter and sharing and tears again. Our gang cleaned up and left the children free.
All morning it had been rainy, but after lunch, the sun came out and the children enjoyed playing with their gifts and a special lego soccer game, which was sent by the Horner family. It likely got more playing time in one afternoon, (non stop) than all its previous days put together! The Bolivians played the gringos, and the gringo’s won. Can you believe it? We were glad that Susana, her two boys, Rosa, Maria, and Terry came to share the meal with us. The girls were all from our time at the home. Later Debora also arrived, but had missed the meal, having already eaten.
We opted to leave around supper time, about the time Flora and the older girls were frying left over pork. By the way, Dallas had gotten his tips from Norm Gerber, back home, on how to do the pork. He knew what he was talking about, as it was delicious!
Supper for us was at a mediocre fast food chicken place. Bed time, yes!
Trip out to the Country
Sunday, December 26, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
We borrowed the Home’s truck and went to the campo to visit Nicolas Opimi and his family. Dallas and Nicolas worked closely together during our first term. Nicolas suffered a stroke at 40 and it has been a struggle for his family ever since. He is now in his late 50’s we guesstimate. We arrived while they were still having Sunday school and so his wife took us for a walk through the village. By then we were very glad to get some sodas. We walked back and met up with Nicolas and three sons and two daughters. We enjoyed pineapple together, although they no longer raise their own. It was sweet and we were sticky! Later we took a ride to their fields where they raise corn, yucca, beans and pastor for their horses and two Heifer Project cows. Yes folks, families do benefit when you give to Heifer Project! They had a one room building that lacked finances for the roof. They hope to have one of their sons living their caring for their crops. Currently they keep a half dozen ducks in this room to protect them from the bully duck that picks on them.
We decided it was time to return. We stopped in Cotoca on the way back. Cindy and I were looking for half slips which we both forgot to pack. The women in the market decided we meant girdles, but didn’t have those either. Thank the Lord! It was hot!
We stopped and waited for a lady to make 12 sticks of sonso, mashed yucca with cheese, roasted over coals. I told Cindy and Mark while sitting in the restaurant, its not a good idea to take new visitors to the campo right away, as it was rather grimy. Everyone handled it well and we all wished for more sonso, but not more of a wait!
We got back to our ‘homes’ and took long naps; all but Devin who declared, “sleeping is for night.” We pulled ourselves together and then went looking for the Pio Pio Restaurant, which all of us agreed, was a must on this trip. We circled round and round in the truck looking for the place, until a guard outside of a Chinese restaurant informed us it was no longer Pio Pio but Pollo de Oro and was only a block away. Indeed, we finally found the place we had already passed three times, because it had downsized considerably with its entrance on side. We ate, bringing Matt leftovers as requested, since we weren’t able to convince him to join us.
Morning at the Home, Lunch with the Leon and Deneen
Monday, December 27, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
We went to the Home, with Dallas and Mark attempting to continue work on the tractor. Alas, it may be the grave clothes for it rather than the resurrection we hoped for. I went with Cindy, David, Sandra, Devin and Denver to the cemetery in La Cuchilla to try and discover what happened to their birth mother’s grave. Records were missing in the home and we did not have a date for her death. At the cemetery, they instructed us that all records were in the Cemetery General. Meanwhile, we looked for Alejandro’s grave, and not having brought his date of death with us, we had to walk in the heat until we found it. We laid flowers at his “niche” and David also placed the flowers they had gotten for their birth mom there as well.
On the way back, we grabbed a pair of flip flops for Jia, as hers had broken. It is much too hot here to wear shoes, although it really isn’t kosher to be wearing flip flops here. Sandals are good, but they also feel too hot these days. We have heard via internet calls and communication back home that there have been snow and ice storms in Ohio. It certainly seems like a foreign idea today!
For lunch we enjoyed going to Leon and Deneen’s home. They have 6 children, with their two oldest here visiting over the Christhmas break. We enjoyed sub sandwiches, chips and fruit. You can not imagine how much soda we are drinking in this country, but we somehow are not making any extra trips to the bathroom because of it. Dallas, Cindy and Jia have had other kinds so of troubles requiring quick entrance into the bathroom at times, but not because of drinking too many liquids.
After lunch, the children enjoyed playing games, while the adults visited together. We enjoyed watching Sandra and Devin taking long naps in a drugged like state because of our long days and the heat. An after dinner coffee was enjoyed and then we washed up the dishes. Cindy was able to also feed the pet baby monkey. More visiting and then Solomon picked us up and brought us home, so we could rest a bit, shower and change.
The kids were on their own for Chinese and the adults met with the board of the Home at a restaurant specializing in Santa Cruz barbeque.
Dravenstott’s Last Day, More Cemetery Visits, Good-byes
Tuesday, December 28, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Dravenstott’s first order of business was to give stool specimens for examination prior to returning to the states. Dallas was elected to search out the location of our favorite lab and Dr. Crapuzzi (This is no joke. That is really her name.) After breakfast, Mark, Cindy and I went to the General Cemetery, which was half a block away from where we were staying at MCC. We walked past the rows of women selling flowers, the bags of clay used to arrange them and people sweeping the sidewalk. We smiled at hearing musical Christmas cards playing tunes for sell and remembered that we had also seen and heard many of these in La Cuchilla the previous day. It seemed odd to us to listen to “Santa Claus is coming to town,” and “Twinkle Twinkle” coming from the graves of numerous persons while we walked in the beating sun, looking for Alejandro’s grave. David had then remarked to his mom that he didn’t need a musical card when he died. After hearing about David’s request, Denver later requested a card with a solar battery when he died, so it could play forever.
Once through the front gates of the cemetery, we soon encountered a man at a desk who instructed us to go upstairs to find the ‘Erica’ whom the fellow at the La Cuchilla Cemetery had referred us to. After a bit of a wait and explanations of our mission, we were allowed to explore the book containing the information we needed. We looked through one edition, while one of the office helpers searched the other. We soon discovered various persons who had “N N” for their name, as they were unknown persons. La Cuchilla had been the place for the poor to be buried so the unknown persons also arrived here for their final destination. Now that Santa Cruz was growing, they had begun building above ground and space was being claimed for families willing to pay for burial buildings with numerous spaces each.
We got through both books when the helper discovered a third was missing. Alas we finally found our information and were done with that part of the day. We went back to find the rest of the gang and then headed to Los Posos market to get some last minute shopping in for Dravenstotts. The rest of us happily searched out items and I was excited to finally learn the name for half-slip and to buy one! Lesson: Don’t forget your slip when going to South America unless you remember the word “justan.”
It was a very hot day and when we all met in the park again, we were glad to sit a bit in the breeze. The Dravenstotts headed back to MCC to meet Lucy in order to go to their house for lunch and the Steiner/Howell gang went to find Mr. Law at Lido restaurant. It was very hot, but Dallas’ sense of direction did not let us down. We were rewarded with an air conditioned dining room, a good and inexpensive lunch and the opportunity to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Law and their daughter again, after 11 years. They had been frequent contributor of food items when we lived at Stansberry’s and it was good to see them again after so many years.
Following lunch, we decided it best to take taxis back to MCC due to the distance we had walked previously and the extreme heat. Our gang took in some naps while Dravenstotts visited with Ona and Lucy. When they returned, I went with Mark and Cindy to get their lab results. You don’t want to know the results, but we did have a nice visit with Dra. Crapuzzi who only charged half price because of our previous relationship and also told us what medicines to take. We grabbed a cab and went to take pictures of the Maternity Hospital where Jay, David and Sandra’s mother had worked. It had grown in size to the point where it was difficult to recognize the entrance. We then made our visit to a very modern farmacia, in order to pick up the prescribed medicines for their intestinal woes.
We located a supermarket for film and then grabbed a taxi who took us to a distant barrio to locate the day care where Jay, Sandra and David had attended, prior to living at the Home. Our helpful driver managed to locate a day care, although it would be difficult to say with certainty that it was the correct one, it was closet to the original center of the barrio. He allowed Mark to take photos and then drove us to Stansberry’s where we were to meet the rest of our gang for a ‘despedida’ (good-bye party) for the Dravenstott’s. Mark and Cindy were not feeling too great by this time, but were glad for the medicine we had earlier purchased. After supper, gifts and good-byes, we finally left in the Home’s truck to meet Solomon and Eunice who also wanted to have us to their home.
We enjoyed an evening of ice cream, potato and platano chips which really hit the spot. We find ourselves craving salty foods, likely due to the amount we are loosing through our skin daily. It was special visiting with Solomon and Eunice in their home, and anyone who knows them, knows that we always have a fun time and lots of laughter when with them. Then it was back home and time for packing, late as it was.
Dravenstotts Fly Home, Terrible heat and a night time seranade!
Wednesday, December 29, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Dallas drove Mark, Cindy, David and Sandra to the airport soon after 7 a.m. while the rest of us did some cleaning up and brought Delight and Jia over to where we were staying. Dallas returned and made a number of phone calls and then we were back to the Home for the day.
(By the way, David informed me he wouldn’t be reading this unless his mom made him, so I can probable write anything I want to about him! J)
At the home, we had lunch with a surprise visit from Jose Stansberry and Dallas started back working on his problem child, the tractor. A phone call to Roy some good advice and he was able to fix it because he had an extra pump that years ago he had used to make a drill press or some such thing with. Robbing that, he soon had the tractor up and going and Dustin chopped some hefty growth for awhile. That was after Solomon took him to the volunteer house in order to get a “big fat nap.”
Meanwhile, Delight was again baking cookies at the request of Flora, who was making plans for New Years. Delight was to translate some recipes and then get some of the girls to help, giving them a lesson.
Flora took the opportunity to talk with Rhoda for awhile and we had a good visit, exchanging ideas and concerns about the Home. Jia was enjoying making new friends and Devin was being called Eliseo, because he has glasses like Eliseo. It seems like the non Spanish speakers and the Home kids are loosening up with one another. Denver continued working on computers for the Home, with parts he brought from home and getting the occasional shock from ungrounded computers.
I continued searching files for information on some of the children and exchanging history with Solomon and Eunice, as well as discussing current needs and concerns. Delight soon came to tell me her cookie batter seemed too thin so I instructed her to add more flour as mine had acted the same. She later came to ask me to again check them out and although they looked raw, they were indeed hard and ‘done’. Closer inspection revealed that yucca flour had been left in the kitchen and the girls had mixed it up with flour.
Delight was discouraged at the results, but I encouraged her to note the eager nibblers and advised her to just let all the kids snack on these for today and then to start fresh with a different batch. We also opted to use a recipe using oatmeal so the batter wouldn’t be so runny. These came out nicely and they moved on to make chilled dough for molasses crinkles.
We enjoyed a supper of soup and yucca al fresco and decided to get back home before the home’s family worship time, as we were all very tired. Trying to sleep in our hot rooms was very difficult and became almost impossible when a band started playing around 10pm stopping occasionally and then playing again before you could get comatose enough to not hear them. I was relieved to finally hear pouring rain which put a stop to their outdoor concert. Just as quickly I realized that our clothes on the line were soaked and that this meant we would have to cancel out trip the next day to the campo to see Lucy’s parents and to meet some of Devin’s relatives. By that time, the relief from the terrible heat and the quieted band were much appreciated. I wondered how Dravenstott’s were doing as finally…………………. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Cancelled Campo Trip and Time to Hang Out.
Thursday, December 30, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Dallas woke and made calls to Lucy and between the two of them rescheduled to go on Monday. He also found the number for Mr. Asbun who had originally made my mother’s ring, which needed repaired. After breakfast, Denver and Devin opted to stay home, while the rest of us took the Home’s truck. Just a side note. There is a shortage of diesel and Ona had spent most of Wednesday trying to get diesel for his vehicle for our trip to the campo. With two vehicles in front of him, the diesel ran out and he had none. Edmilson agreed that we could use the Home truck and so we had ridden it home Wednesday evening. Solomon has most often picked up our gang to save us time on the busses which takes about an hour and money for taxis. Anyway…
We took the truck in the pouring rain, to Artecampo before our appointment with the jeweler. We weren’t able to find what we hoped for, but came up with some nice things. Then we enjoyed a visit to Mr. Asbun. He is always interesting and even the teens thought so. He recently finished publishing a large book he had written about the immigration of Palestinian Christians who had fled persecution from Moslems in the 1918-20’s. He also had Delight try on an earring worth $12-15,000. We debated whether he meant per earring or for the pair, but decided at that amount it didn’t matter, it was too much. Delight was reluctant to try it on, but he insisted and then requested a picture of it for something he was doing. So she became his earring model.
After that, we returned home for leftovers. Dallas, Devin and Jia took the truck back, stopping at the pet location to purchase some birds for the home as a surprise. Denver worked on the Stanberry website and I defrosted the fridge while the rest slept.
Heat again, time at the Home and a reunion with the older kids from our time.
Friday, December 31, 2004- Rhoda Steiner
Wow, we’re missing Ryan and Hannah’s wedding! Wishing we could be there. I find myself saying within me, “Wow, we are in Bolivia!” It seems so normal at times to be back, that it doesn’t seem strange or exotic, just good. There are some things we don’t miss. It seems a struggle to complete many activities at times, the traffic in Santa Cruz and the adjustment to the water, etc.
We finished breakfast and took two taxis to the Home. Denver noted that the cost of the taxi was the same for a bus in Washington, D.C. I pointed out that there were four of us sharing the cost of the ‘bus ticket’ though. I spent some time in conversation with Edimilson, the Home “papa” and helping with baking suggestions for Delight. She went on to make brazil nut bars, molasses crinkles, and carrot muffins. Dallas did some additional work in the shop, while Dustin mowed. Curt and Devin helped with cleaning up the shop and Devin made a bird house for the birds they had purchased the day before. Denver worked on numerous computers and Jia enjoyed time playing with friends.
Meanwhile, Solomon and I interviewed references that happened to be visiting at the Home for a potential volunteer. We no sooner had finished that, when I attempted to go work at the volunteer house on preparation for my second talk with the Home personnel. Solomon then requested that I meet with a father who had in the previous year, taken his son from the Home to live with him. His first wife had the other child. Now his second wife had left him and he wanted to return the child. We encouraged him to look at other options, as this was not the best for the child. Soon it was lunch time and then I finally managed to begin translating the Attachment Cycle for my talk.
Soon Nicolas Chirqui came with his daughter. He is a board member and also has a psychological degree. I discussed some concerns about one of the children and some testing with him that I felt might be beneficial for her. Please pray that accurate diagnosis can be made to determine if there is brain damage or a learning disability or what. The home needs to determine very quickly what to do with her educationally.
It was soon time to go to the Guardaria Moises (Daycare) where the older children from our time had planned a reunion. Susanna, Rosa, Maria, Debora and Zulema had put a lot of work into the preparations. We enjoyed cheese empanadas, chicken empanadas, sonso (cheese and mashed yucca baked) and banana cake. It was excellent! Wow! These kids have grown up. There were visits from Timoteo, Roli, Beti, Sara, Dorca, Ester, Teresa, Dra. Jenny Davolos and her family, and tons of children who came with the now grown kids. Solomon, Edmilson and Flora also stopped for a visit. It was a very special time for us.
After clean up, it was time to head back home in taxis. Many from the Home were going to church and lots of folks in town are hurrying home for New Year’s celebration. We are all tired and mellow. It takes a lot of energy to talk in Spanish all day. We will play some cards and try to sleep. It is going to be a loud warm night again. Oh well, at least our clothes dried on the line after two days.
Swimming at Urbari with the Home
January 1, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
The owner of the Urbari Club has been donating the use of the pool for about 11 years, beginning right after our time at the Home. It is a highlight for the kids at the home and we have been invited to go with them. Another children’s home is also invited to come so this should make for an interesting time.
We arrived and had to wait because there had been a new years party there the night before. It was a mess with broken glass and trash around the pool and plates, glasses, forks and knives in the pool. They even found meat and bread there as well. After spending some time in clean up, we were able to go swimming. The management prohibits the use of tanning/sunscreen type so we all got very burned.
The other children’s home never did come, so we had the place to ourselves and enjoyed a picnic lunch supplied by the home. We left early and Denver went back to the Home to continue working on some computers while we went for chicken. We all slept well that night.
Visiting Ona and Lucy’s Church
January 2, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
We slept in a bit and then caught taxi’s to Principe de Paz church, where Ona is the pastor. We enjoyed the morning service and the opportunity to see various persons from our MCC days. We also got to see Dona Nati, Devin’s great aunt for the first time on our trip. It was an emotional time for her to meet Devin again. She is the one who delivered him, gave him the name Elias and is also the one who saw to it that he came to the children’s home.
After church we had lunch with Roberto and Elizabeth. Our nieces, Janna and Lavonne had both lived with them at different times. Elizabeth had also been to my parent’s home for Christmas when she was in the states many years ago. She prepared Mojadito, (rice with chicken) fried yucca, platano, and eggs. We also had tomatoes, carrot slices and cucumbers. It was great to see how big their children had grown and to spend time sharing with them.
Later, Roberto’s son, Noel, drove us in their family car to Dona Nati’s. We enjoyed time sharing and looking at family photos. Yovana and Don Edgar where also there, and he loved hearing about the tractors and looking at the brochure that Dallas had. It was so very hot and we appreciated the cold soda and cake that they served us. We later saw dark clouds blowing our way and decided it was time to leave. Denver snapped some pictures and by then we were getting rained on. It actually felt rather nice, as we ran to get taxi’s on a major road. We waited quite a while before we could get them. It always takes two for our group. By the time we got back into town, the roads we deep with water and taxi’s were making their way down main roads that looked like rivers.
For supper we made our way back to our favorite pizza place that we used to go to, La Bella Napoli. We were concerned about whether this rain would once again cancel our trip to the campo the next day, but made out with Lucy that we would call them in the morning. Delight and Curt decided to check email and found a message from Curt’s folks to call ASAP. He was unable to get through to them, but in talking to his sister discovered his grandmother had died on Saturday. It is a tough time to be so far away when you want to be with family.
The Campo Trip
January 3, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
Happy birthday to my sister Cheri! I didn’t even realize the date until late that day. We met at 10:15 a.m. to go to the campo, as we had been told that busses were running. Lucy and Ona came with their truck, along with their baby and Jonathan. Danika had stayed with her cousins. Don Edgar had decided to come which was a huge blessing for us. We packed up our lunch and bags with treats for folks we were to visit.
We soon were off of the main road and trekking through puddles. After about an hour, we went into a puddle that ended up being more like a pond. Those of us inside the double cab, were soon sitting in water and Lucy was holding the baby up in the air to keep her dry. We quickly recovered from the shock and began passing bags out of the window onto the roof.
There was no way around it, but to get out and into the water. With 11 of us pushing, we were able to finally push the truck out of the water. I actually thought they were out of their mind to attempt it, as it was at such a sharp angle. We were grateful to get it out, but then the guys worked on the engine. No water entered into the engine intake, but the air filter was soaked. We tried pushing to jump start it which was pretty tough. After about 2 ½ hours a truck came and gave a pulled us to jump start it. We managed to go around the puddle on a very narrow path and then decided to eat lunch before attempting the rest of the road. We decided to eat in order to get some strength in order to push through puddles if we needed to.
We finally arrived at San Pedro and were rewarded with a visit with Devin’s birth mother, Margarita, sister Erica, age 15 and a brother David, age 4. She had gone through major surgery and was to be there for the next few months in order to recover. Devin’s birth father, Wilfredo was back in the north, close to the Beni, working. His oldest birth sibling, Daniel, was also living there, as well as his brother Miguel, one year older, and brother Isaias age 6.
Wilfredo’s sister Betti lives with her husband and some nephews and nieces in San Pedro where Margarita was staying. When we first arrived we saw Erica, David and two cousins driving a horse drawn cart with water. The cousins were Pura’s two boys. She is Wilfredo’s sister and she is currently living and working in Spain, a practice many Bolivians are depending on for income.
There was an abundance of animals including pigs, chickens, and ducks. Margarita showed us a pet black bird and a basket with three small birds know as ‘Cardinals.’ They look nothing like our American cardinals, but will have a red cap when they are adults. It was easy to see where Devin gets his interest and love for animals. We shared a few small gifts and a scrapbook with photos for the family. The photos brought tears to Margarita and Erica’s eyes which was very touching for all of us.
They served us pineapple drink and our visit ended with photos and many hugs of good-bye. We were so grateful that in spite of two rainstorms, rainy roads and a few hours stuck on the road, we had finally been able to visit with Devin’s birth family. We are glad that Ona has a heart for adventure and that Don Edgar was willing to be our guide.
From there we headed back over the same way we’d come towards Santa Cruz and out of town on the opposite side towards Don Lorenzo (San Lorenzo) were Lucy’s parents live. We were looking to see “El Presidente de Bolivia” and his wife after all these years.
Note: When we still lived at the Home, I was working in the office one day when I received a call from a man asking to talk to Teresa. I wondered what man was calling to talk to my teen gal Teresa and asked who was calling. His response was “El Presidente de Bolivia.” Not believing this I repeated, “Con el Presidented de Bolivia?” Lucy happened to be in the office and gasped, “That’s my Father!” It turned out he had been calling to speak to her, but had accidentally used another daughter’s name, Teresa.
It was beautiful in Don Lorenzo. MCC had worked there many years ago and came to know Lucy’s family at that time. I believe she told me her parents were early members of a church that resulted from bible studies held at that time. Lucy’s parents have a beautifully painted home, with a unifying geometrical design along the outsides of the buildings. The kitchen is housed in a separate building that has a mud oven off to the side. We began smelling something yummy and explored and found the oven was making corn bread items. We soon enjoyed coffee, tea or soda and some corn bread made with corn flour and cheese. These round ‘buns’ were crusty on the outside and warm and moist on the inside. Even more delicious was the opportunity to enjoy the pleasant company of Lucy’s family on the covered veranda.
We laughed together at Ona’s shoes which had been left in the middle of the floor imagining that the owner had been taken in the rapture. Lucy mentioned that her hope had been that we could ride the family horses, if our morning trip hadn’t taken so long. This idea was very enticing for a future trip! Lucy’s parents have both been struggling with their health. Her oldest sister lives there and helps with them. Her husband is the pastor of the church. Lucy also has an older aunt who never married that lives with her parents. We were able to meet some nephews and Lucy’s older brother as well.
It was soon time to take photos and return to Santa Cruz. I soon found myself feeling chilled which was almost welcomed after feeling so hot for most of the day. Unfortunately I was also feeling achy before long and was relieved to get home and to bed. Jia brought me some cold water which I needed to calm my stomach. I soon found that I was running a fever. I was to talk the next morning at 8:30 to the staff at the Home the volunteers, so Dallas made out to have it changed until the afternoon with Solomon.
Note: Lucy’s baby had been running fevers since Saturday and was on antibiotics because it appeared she might have bronchitis or something. Lucy managed to keep her comfortable with medicated suppositories on our trip and Johanika was such a good baby during our entire trip in spite of our crazy ordeal. Friday morning when we were leaving for the states, Ona informed us the baby had gotten a rash and was found to have had measles. Poor thing!
Final Days of Work at the Home and Tea with Biju Jaldin’s family.
January 4, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
We all managed to give a stool sample which Dallas took to the lab, while Denver and I went to the Home to get some things done. Denver had lots of computer work to do yet. I spent some time with Lois, Elizabeth and Dan who was visiting talking about some of the history of the Home. The rest came later and we had lunch at the Home. Then about 1:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. I gave some talks which I felt would be beneficial for those working at the home. I presented the Whole Person Model based on I Thess. 5: 23-24, which helps to explain the areas of our Soul needing God’s continued work in our lives and why people don’t such become perfect when they become Christians. Each one of these children come with many areas of trauma and pain. I also presented the Attachment Cycle and encouraged them to work as a team to find ways that would help the children with these issues. I so wish I would have known these things when we lived at the Home. It was interesting to be able to affirm to them the things they were already doing without knowing it that were positive for the children’s attachment needs.
Meanwhile Dallas and Curt continued to work on the tractor and Dustin did some more test mowing. The rest spent time with the children. Dallas soon came to tell us we needed to end, as we were supposed to be in town at 5:00 p.m for tea with Biju. He had let her know we would be a bit late and we grabbed taxi’s and arrived hot and dusty in our ‘work’ clothes. Biju has been on the Stansberry Board since our time there and a dear friend. It was good to meet her sister and brother in law and to have ‘just a very small tea’ with her husband and son. I told her I’d hate to come for a big tea, as we had sonso, empanadas de queso and de higote, tamales al horno, pan de arroz con queso, buneulo, and what have I missed??? At the very end, a delicious chilled cake was served. Biju’s home has been in their family for a very long time. It is located downtown and has a very beautiful patio in back.
Lunch with Dra. Jenny Davalos and Supper with Davidsons
January 5, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
Delight and Curt decided to go to the zoo with Devin. We had hoped to go as a family, but ran out of time. The rest went to the Home in order to get a few hours in of work. Denver decided to skip lunch with us and stayed at the home to continue working on his computer projects. It was not going the best because many of the computers were pretty old. I spent some time with Sara doing some assessment, letting her share some of her story, and later answering some questions from Flora and Edmilson that came up after yesterday’s talk. It was exciting to see how they were already attempting to make use of what they were learning. They are truly a blessing to the home as are the work of Solomon and Eunice.
We went to Jenny Davalos for lunch at 1p.m. and enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by her husband, Jose Antonio Garcia Gonzales. He is from Spain and treated us to seafood appetizers, yellow rice with chicken and smoked sausage from Spain and lettuce and tomato salad. He topped the meal off with delicious steamed clams, teaching us to dip our bread in the broth. The cappuccino from Spain was later agreed by Dallas and Rhoda to be the best we’ve ever had. Even better was visiting with their family and seeing Alejandro who is now 13 years old and attends the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. His English is excellent.
Our time went too quickly and soon we were out into the heat and being picked up by Jimi Davidson, who had graciously taken off the afternoon in order to show us all the changes to Santa Cruz. It was fortunate he had room and air in his vehicle for our tour. We first went to Chaco, where Jimi works and saw the new facility just two years old where Jimi works. He also showed us the new bridge that crosses the Yapacani River and the homes being built there. They are certainly beautiful tucked in areas that look like the campo, but often have a view of the city.
We then enjoyed getting to spend the evening relaxing with Jimi, Marucha and Jennifer. It was very pleasant on their back patio with the sun dropping and a gentle breeze. We were surprised to see Ignacio there to help grill. He had been the night guardsman/workman at the Home for a number of years, paid for by the Tesoro Oil Co. Denver’s friends Eric Kennel and David Landis, also joined us and we enjoyed tails of women praying over them in Mexico and different parts of their trek around the world. Jimi of course managed to tease Dustin and Jennifer about their old days and showed a picture of them when they were little.
Supper was wonderful. Have we had a meal we didn’t like yet? Marucha had prepared fried yucca, cheese rice, raw veggies and fruit, and tiny buttered whole garlic potatoes to go with the smoked pork, sausage and steak that Jimi had planned. He had smoked the pork himself the night before. Dessert followed with brownies and ice cream. After supper, Jimi and Marucha took us upstairs to look at pictures of Jimi Jr. and Andy on their computer. Jimi has bought a house and is to get married in June or July (?). Andy is slated to go to Iraq the 17 th. Please keep him in your prayers and also the Davidsons.
Meanwhile, La Paz and Cochabamba had been going through transportation strikes which had impacted Eric and David’s arrival to Santa Cruz. By now the unrest had reached Santa Cruz and there had been rioting downtown at the Prefectura’s. We watched some of the footage on the television and wondered what would be the best idea, bus or train for Eric and David to leave Santa Cruz. It appeared a train might be best. We also began wondering how it might impact our leaving on Friday, as there was already talk of a complete strike for Friday and the possibility of mandatory staying home. It was soon time to say good-byes to the Davidson’s and to Ignacio. We grabbed taxis and went back to our warm rooms. Good-night……………
Our final full day.
January 6, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
Dallas and I had a meeting with Solomon, Eunice, Leon and Deneen for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. They were there on Bolivian time and we enjoyed a few hours discussing ways to improve long distance communication, the financial needs for the ministry at the day care and ways to improve financial recording for the day care. We had thought we should get going by 10 a.m. but finally finished at 11 a.m. It had been a good time together and we hope productive.
The kids had gone separately to the home and Dallas and I went from the meeting to get our lab results and say our appreciation and good-byes to Dra. Crapuzzi. We then had to stop at three pharmacies in order to find enough medication for our large family. Yes… needless to say we all had something.
It was interesting to us to find a taxi driver who was not only willing to wait while I went to two separate pharmacies, but while visiting with him, Dallas discovered he knew about Stansberry’s and was related to Lucas Stansberry who had been there and in control of the home when Mrs. Stansberry died. He had not heard about Moises Stansberry’s death. He took us to the Home for our despedida. (good-bye party)
The meal was delicious chicken, rice and salad prepared by Dona Adela and her helpers. The tables were set with the same beautifully painted clothes we had been privileged to use on previous special occasions at the home, including our first day, Christmas, Dravenstott’s despedida and now our own.
Flora asked us to share and then we were given special gifts from the Home for our time there. I certainly do not feel like I did enough to warrant the beautiful gifts received but we will always treasure them. This trip has helped to renew my energy for the work, which is hard to maintain so far away at times. We then said our good-byes and borrowed the truck in order to go shower for our evening with Jack and Jenny Derksen. After doing so, we returned for Denver and Solomon, again saying good-byes. He took us, along with a truck load of come alongs, to Jenny’s. We again said good-byes and then spent the evening with Jack and Jenny.
They looked as good as ever and it felt much like old times. Jack had an old frog game which the kids enjoyed trying to pitch copper lugs into. They also enjoyed checking out he ostrich in the back. The mosquitoes where out and soon drove us less hardy folks inside. Jenny had prepared a delicious stew, mashed potatoes, (which lit up Devin’s eyes), cooked broccoli, corn and a yummy cabbage, apple and raisin salad. I opted to skip dessert which looked like delicious mango crisp due to an allergy.
It was good spending after supper time to catch up some more and we soon decided we need to go and pack. By about 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. we had our two taxis and were on our way back to the MCC after good-byes to the Derksens. When we arrived at MCC the teen kids from the Home where playing on the concha and our guys decided to play fubito with them. Devin even decided to go get changed and played with them. I served left over cookies I still had in the freezer that I’d made for some of our friends. Solomon and Eunice showed up with some letters and things. Then Edmilson and Flora returned and it was 11 p.m. We again said good-byes, went back to our hot rooms and packed. It was tough sleeping, knowing we would soon get up.
Chau to Bolivia and travel home
January 7, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
We got up around 6 a.m. to shower and clean up our rooms. We stacked mattresses, returning two of them back to the MCC center and taking our towels and sheets for washing. Curt and Delight had washed up the dishes the night before so Dallas and Devin and Jia put them away, while luggage got carried out and I swept. Some of us weren’t feeling the best due to the medicine we’d taken late the night before for our parasites and because of the early hour.
Ona picked us up at 7:15 a.m. (with the MCC truck because his seats were still drying out!). We were relieved to find out that traffic was running well, although still no micros but at least no roadblocks.
We got there in good time, getting our bags hand checked and wondering if the bags would get there together the way it was getting done. We finally got our airport taxes paid, again said good-byes and went through immigration. Then our hunger got the best of us and some of us went to get something for breakfast. They took so long that we soon realized the rest watching the luggage were not going to have a chance to come get something. We boarded and then we glad to be on our way, thinking of cooler weather.
Our trip to Miami went well. We were even served a light breakfast and a lunch. We got to Miami around 3:40 ish and walked forever to get through immigrations and then customs. We then found our way to American Eagle for our last flight to Cleveland. Of course our plane was late arriving so we had a bit of a wait, but finally got to Cleveland where we said “Hellos!” to Mark and Karen who had come to pick us up. By then it was about 9:30 p.m. We decided to hit a burger king on the way home so we could take our medicine with some food.
Mark’s caught us up on all that had been going on with the snow, ice storms, power outages, etc. It was wonderful to get home. We were wonderfully surprised to find Saturday breakfast and lunch provided for us by Mark and Cindy Dravenstott. What a great welcome home! Curt called his folks and unpacked some of Delights things from his duffle and was on his way to Malone. He wasn’t sure if he’d spend the night there or continue on home. We were glad to be home and to sleep in our beds again.
Final Trip Notes
January 8, 2005- Rhoda Steiner
It was kind of rough waking up with a sick stomach and a very sore neck which never let up all day; the neck, not the stomach. Everyone else continued sleeping so I went back to bed after awhile and ended up sleeping until 12. Hoping to get the laundry going, I had put in a load of wash. Denver woke me to let me know it had leaked out on the floor. My plans to wash clothes and get caught up quickly changed. I was still in too much pain to much care.
Overall, it was a very good trip. I felt like we needed some more time, but time we spent on renewing friendships was much valued. We are truly blessed with a variety of opportunities and people in our lives. We were glad to share this time with the Dravenstotts and want to thank each of you for being special persons in our lives as well.
There are many more stories to share from all the other participants on this trip. I hope you have the chance to hear from them as well. We also hope that this will help you see some of the work at Stansberry’s. The folks there are doing a terrific job.
Rhoda for us all.