Part 4 – Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Youth is marked by three outstanding characteristics: invincibility, omniscience and hope. Without these one would never risk it all in pursuit of a passion. The Neverlands and Narnias, Wonderlands and Lands of Oz would never be discovered were it not for these three magical spells that have been spoken over all wide-eyed girls and boys.
DaRonn and I were enchanted and our mysterious land yet to be discovered was Bolivia. After a 10 day trip with a group from church to help with a crusade in the spring of 2001 we were ever so much more convinced that we were to spend our internship time in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with a missionary couple that were connected with Tulsa’s Victory Christian Center. They graciously extended the invitation for us to come and we spent the summer months in preparation.
A few significant things took place. In July we decided that if we were really going to live overseas fully supported by donations then we must practice now; so DaRonn stopped working his temp jobs that he might dedicate his full attention to the fund-raising process. August brought us our third child; she was 10 weeks old when we moved to Bolivia. In September the twin towers were hit; thus changing airport procedures forever.
We were red-flagged because of the five one way tickets we had purchased for our family. Our bags and babies were searched at every checkpoint. I landed in humid Santa Cruz exhausted and hoarse after the journey that took close to 24 hours. Trying to make use of all our carry-on and check-on privileges we had checked 13 duct-taped rubber tubs and had 10 hand bags. Three-year-old Raimy and two-year-old Timothy each had a little rolling bag to tote around. I had the baby on a front pack and a back-pack on the back keeping my hands free for my toddlers. DaRonn carried the rest.
We left October 31 and landed November 1, Bolivia’s “Day of the Dead” on which they celebrate their dead ancestors by visiting the grave sites and sharing a meal together, leaving the leftovers for the spirits to enjoy. How odd it was as we drove into the city to look around and see every person dressed in black. Due to the fact that I had completely lost my voice I was unable to carry on a conversation with the missionary that had kindly picked us up from the airport. I was left to my thoughts. The main theme running through my mind was, “These people need Jesus.”
The missionaries had benevolently offered for us to stay with them until we could find our own place. The home they lived in, along with their four children, was in a neighborhood with dirt roads and high walls around all the houses. We were directed to a room behind their small place in the maid’s quarters. There was a bathroom attached to it. A double bed and a small table took up three fourths of the room. There was a closet and some wicker furniture as well. This was to be our home for the next six weeks. We shared it with the mosquitoes, spiders, quite an impressive variety of ants, biting flies, lizards, and scorpions.
Our next two years in that city were filled with adventures and challenges that could cover many pages. We were placed over the bible school operations, a public school outreach program and the children and nursery at the church. This couple had founded all of this work in the seven years they had been there at the time of our arrival. All the while we were learning Spanish and learning the Bolivian culture. Our internship was useful and I am grateful for it.
We knew that eventually we were going to launch out with a separate work. The instances that led to this breaking away will be saved for a later date. Suffice it to say that I am happy that we left the “maid’ quarters” stage of our missionary career. Cochabamba was the next destination as we packed up to move in November of 2003.