Bolivia and Beyond…

Alana's travels and reflections

Pirates, field days, and weeekends o my! April 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 11:50 pm

At CCS during the last few Fridays we have had Fun Fridays where the entire student body dresses up. Last week was Crazy Day and this week it was Class Theme Day. Each class voted on what they wanted to wear and while some of you know about my slight pirate obsession, I did not make the decision or even encourage this! The class voted to dress up as pirates! I was a little dismayed because all of my pirate stuff is at home in Washington but after a quick Cancha run I was ready. The best part was that I actually had a pirate sword from Disneyworld that some of my friends got for me when they went there in March on our break with their family. Trying to teach with a class full of pirates was nearly impossible but we managed to get by with some pirate jokes to start the day, reading pirate stories, and doing a creative writing piece on pirate adventures. Yes, I am a very nerdy, but fun teacher!

Field Days were also this last week. Every year the entire school competes in field and track events. There are three teams, Red, Yellow, and Green for the Bolivian flag. This year I helped run the running long jump. I definitely got my workout for the week squatting down hundreds of times during the days to measure all the jumps. I now have very strong legs and a wonderful farmers tan thanks to the 90 heat.  But nonetheless, they were great days to celebrate sports and to talk with students and parents.


Every once in a while I feel the deep need to just get away and have some down time. The weeks have been packed full with basketball games, special events, meeting with students and everything in between. This weekend is a three-day weekend because of Easter and having an extra day off has been so nice! Yesterday a bunch of us went out to a pool way out in the campo. The pool is at a golf course but because it is so far out  nobody ever goes there. We had the entire pool to ourselves and it was peaceful and silent. I always tend to find myself neck high in activities and meetings and while I find joy in everything I am doing and see God’s hand in it, sometimes a nice afternoon at the pool with good friends and good food is refreshing! Later that night some of the teachers came over and we had an old-fashioned sleepover. I felt like I was in grade five again! We had all our mattresses out on the floor, tons of popcorn, brownies, and of course a good movie.

About a month ago there was massive flooding in the surrounding areas of the city. The rainy season hit very hard and it lasted for some time.  Just fifteen minutes from CCS there was a school that got hit pretty badly. As a school we wanted to reach out to the community and help in any way that we could. We were able to organize a clothing and toiletries drive for a dozen families that lost everything, and we had a work party that helped clean up the school.  I often forget how poor Bolivia really is and how fortunate we are. The school that we went to had been waist deep in water on all ground levels. Mud was caked to everything and the classrooms has the bare basics. Some of the high school students from the school were there helping us and it was really neat to work alongside them and talk to them during the day.


Flooding, Landslides, and Heartache March 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 4:28 pm

In Bolivia in the last few weeks there has been massive flooding and thousands of people have lost their homes. Communities on the edge of Cochabamba are completely underwater and many people in the Chapare (the jungle area 3 hours) have lost loved ones, along with their homes. There was also a major landslide in La Paz, the capital, and now thousands more are without homes. The President just recently declared a national state of emergency. The rainy season has hit hard this season and the people are suffering tremendously.


There has been major conflicts between the transportation unions,  the people, and the government. We lost almost two weeks of school due to protests, marches, and violence around town. It’s a hard situation because the public transportation workers don’t have enough money for their families but the people who ride the transport don’t have money for increased fares. The poverty and devastation on the news is heartbreaking every night.

 Please keep Bolivia in your prayers.


Blockades, Violence, and No School in Coch February 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 4:57 pm

As I am writing this I am sitting at home for the third day in a row. There is hardly any traffic noise outside and everything around the SIM compound seems peaceful. If only this were actually true. Cochabamba has been surrounded by marches, blockades, and protesters for the last three days. The prices of many items in town have risen all at the same time. We haven’t had sugar for about 3 weeks now but now that it is starting to come in prices have sky-rocketed, along with the prices of just about everything else. While this is causing some problems, the main issues lie with the transportistas, or the public transport people. The prices for a trufi ( like a small public bus) have stayed at the same price for many years. The government just passed a law approving the rise of trufi prices by 50 centavos. In American money that is 7 cents which seems like nothing to us but to many Bolivians this extra cost on their everyday means of transportation makes life that much harder.

The protests first started out small with people protesting the rise of trufi prices but then because they were violent and wrecked many vehicles, the transportistas retaliated and attack many of the transportation and local government offices because they felt like they weren’t protected and supported. Now I don’t really know what is going on but people are angry and doing dangerous things. The local paper said that 10 blocks of downtown were filled with angry people burning things and causing trouble.

Please pray for Bolivia, and for Cochabamba specifically, that these protests will stop before people get seriously injured. While we hope that this will blow over quickly, you just never know. Also, please pray for an agreement to be made by the officials of the city and the transportistas.

 For all of you worry worts (mom, that would include you) I am just fine. Nothing is going on around here, we have food and we are safe.  Thank you for your prayers.

Una persona que participaba en la marcha de los transportistas quema un cartel en el edificio de la Fejuve, ayer en la plaza 14 de Septiembre.  - José Rocha Los Tiempos            Dueños de tiendas tratan de impedir saqueos de vecinos ayer en Sacaba.  - Carlos  López Gamboa Los Tiempos


From awhile ago…Rurrenabaque Jungle Cruise January 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 1:38 am

I meant to post these pictures several months ago but I am only getting around to it now. In November Julie, Christa and I headed to the department of Beni in eastern Bolivia. This area is mostly grasslands and jungle and since I haven’t seen much jungle I thought it would be fun to explore this area. We flew to La Paz before transferring to the smallest airplane I have ever been on. I am a bit claustrophobic so I was trying to tell myself during the whole 30 minutes that I wasn’t going to die, even when we were in awful turbulence right over the Andes.  But eventually we made it safely. When we landed, on the mostly dirt runway, we took one look at the “airport” and started laughing. We decided a more appropriate name was “the shack.”


When we arrived we spent one night in Rurre before we left on our tour. Rurr has a strong local feel to it. Our hotel was on the other side of the river so we got to take a little motor boat with the locals across a few times whenever we wanted to head “in to town,” if you can even call it that. The next morning we left on our tour into the pampas, or grasslands. Rurre is right on the edge of the Amazon rain forest but we went to the grasslands right before you come to the jungle. Our guide told us that the pampas allows you to see more animals in the dry season since they tend to stay by the river. In order to get to the lodge where we were staying we had to drive three hours on the worst road that I have ever been on! Of course the seatbelts weren’t working, because it is Bolivia, so I had to hold onto the hand holds so that I wouldn’t bounce across the car.

Crossing the river into town.                                                                 A local house.                   

 Our next three days went like this: wake up early, eat breakfast, put on three layers of bug spray, hang out on the river for a few hours till it is unbearably hot, come back, shower, eat lunch, fall asleep in the hammock, and then go back out on the river in the early evening. I have never seen to many exotic animals in the wild in all my life! Of course I have been to the zoo many times but it is a different experience when you are two feet away from a very real, and very scary Caimen Alligator. At one point we counted over 100 alligators in an hour! O, and we were only in a small dug out canoe. We also saw three kinds of monkeys, lots of capybara ( odd, large rodent, pig things), turtles, lots of birds, a pink river dolphin, a few snakes, and our lovely alligator friends. It was one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever been on. Our guide drive us down the river and all we had to do was sit in the boat and soaked up the beautiful of it all. I loved coming back at night as the sun was setting over the trees.  It hardly seemed real it was so beautiful. The only bummer on the trip was that we weren’t able to catch one piranha. We fished for several hours but had no luck. I guess that is another adventure for another time.


                                                            Here are a few shots of the wildlife that we saw.                                                     




Christmas time in Summer January 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 12:58 am

It is hard to believe that a new semester and year have already started! December was a crazy month as usual but there were many blessings as well. Here is a brief rundown of some of the things that I did.

1. In Grade Four we finished studying Native Americans. The socials curriculum is on North American Geography and History so we did a unit on the Native Americans. The kids had fun studying the different tribes and doing crafts that went along with their learning. During the last week of school we also had a Christmas party where we baked cookies and played Twister. We had a ton of fun!

2. We went to the cabin. SIM owns a cabin on Lake Angostura and I love heading out there to relax and get away from the city for a little while. We spent two days reading outside, eating good food and going out on the canoe. The water was really low since we haven’t had much rain this year so getting the canoe to the water was quite a challenge.




3. Christmas. This year I left for Argentina on Christmas Eve but our Bible study got together the night before for a nice dinner and gift exchange.  It was very hot in Coch this year so it didn’t feel like Christmas but I was able to watch a few Christmas movies and do a puzzle.



In the midst of it all… October 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 1:37 am

I have always thought of the book of Lamentations as one of the most depressing books of the Bible and honestly in Jeremiah’s time life couldn’t get any worse. However, my dear friend from last year was sharing with me a specific passage from Lamentations 3 that gave her peace and reassurance in God’s plans for her life. In the middle of Jeremiah’s laments there is this glimmer of hope and rememberance of God’s goodness. It has put some things into perspective for me and I thought I would share it here. I hope that this piece of God’s word brings you the same peace that it brought me.

“I remeber my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,

and my soul is downcast within me.

YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great if your faithfulness.

I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portions; therefore I will wait for him.’

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

Lamentations 3: 19-26


Needing a full cup October 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — amrotz @ 9:49 pm

I have been planning to blog for some time but now that I am sitting down to do it I am writing about something totally different from what I intended. Things here have been… hectic. I don’t like to be the kind of person who answers  the question, “How are you?” by saying “busy.” I feel like it is an excuse to say you don’t have time to talk or a pat answer that doesn’t mean a whole lot. But lately, the truth of the matter is that this is true. I have so many things going on all the time that I feel like I can hardly breath. And this, I have concluded, is not healthy. Everything I am doing is good. They are ministry based things and many of them seem so “necessary.” But where is the balance? 

The missionary world is one that I am coming to understand quite a bit more. After a year and almost a half I am realizing how hard it really can be. I have begun to look at my life and realize that for how much I am putting out and I not able to keep my cup full spiritually, mentally or physically. I am worn out, burned out and am just getting by with the bare minimum. As you can imagine this is no way to live. I was reminded of this just this morning as I was listening to a sermon on the way to school. When Jesus was on earth it seemed like he stopped for everyone that he pasted and spent time with everyone. While he did impact many, many people, he also took time to draw away and rest and pray. In the early morning hours, late at night, and even for extended periods of time he had to get away to just be with the Father.  How on earth did I miss this lesson? I feel like I have been trying to impact everyone around me and stop for every hurting heart but it is exhausting to do 24 hours a day.

I am continuing to learn that I can not do everything and be everything for everyone. I simply need to say no sometimes, even if it to a “really important” thing. Mission work is not all meetings and constantly pouring out into others. Without time to rest and having a -barely -there mind and body, serving  is useless. And honestly I don’t think this is just a missionary thing. I remember feeling this way often times in the states when I had too much on my plate. I think the difference here is that every activity seems good and therefore we should do them, when really, they may be good but there is only so much that a person can do at once.

So where does this leave me now that I have just poured out my exhaustion and frustration? Maybe this just makes me a bad person and a bad missionary. Or maybe I just missed part of Jesus’ example of how to serve without being totally emptied and drained. In light of this,  I have decided to set boundaries and create more balance in my life. Here my new resolutions:

1. I will be going to bed MUCH earlier so that I have more devotional time in the morning. My body needs more sleep but my heart needs more time with Jesus. I honestly believe that the only way that I will ever feel full is through Him alone. Apart from him, well I am pretty nothing which has been pretty apart lately.

2. I will not do anything just because I feel guilty for not going. I will not care whether or not people ask me about why I didn’t go or think differently of me. Obviously there are commitments that need to be kept but some of those are going to be scaled down to a more manageable amount.

3. I will take time for just me everyday. Right now that is to blog, other times it might be to just read a book in silence with no one else around or it might be getting away from the noise to pray.

4. I will practice saying no. I say yes to far too many things and I need to set limits.

5. I will talk about how my heart is and the tough things that are going on with the close people around me. Lately I have had this tendency to try to carry it all myself and just deal with it. However, we have community so that we can share life and to be there for one another.

So there you have it. I suppose this is like my New Year’s resolution but it is  my fall resolution instead because I can’t wait until January.Thankfully we have our mid- semester break next week and I will have a week off to get away from it all. I hope all of you in North America are enjoying fall. I am craving anything pumpkin and the smell of a crisp autumn morning. Although, I am thankful that I don’t have to go through a long, cold winter!  Until next time…