Last Friday we hosted an international worship night at InterVarsity’s large group meeting, led by students from International Fellowship Association (our International Student Ministry). We were excited to share the experience with a handful of friends from the community, as well. It was a wonderful celebration of God’s love for all cultures and languages as we sang, heard scripture, and prayed – in a total of nine languages. For a sampling, see the pictures below:
Our Bible studies on Saturday nights have continued to be a place of diverse cultures coming together in fellowship and study. Last week we had one of the largest (and mixed) groups yet:
- Two Americans (the two of us)
- Two Thai students
- Two Indian students
- Two Chinese students
- Four Nigerian Students
Exam week we held a big Christmas party with international students where we ate lots of good food, learned a little about Christmas traditions, and had a white elephant gift exchange. (Caleb made out with a nerf shotgun, so he enjoyed his first white elephant experience!)
Since beginning the new semester, we’ve started holding international dinners again and had our first one last Saturday. The dinners were held every other week last year, and we didn’t realize how great it was to have a chance to eat and chat with international students we don’t see all of the time until we stopped holding the dinners. We’re excited to have them going again.
We attended Chinese Night in January, which celebrates the Chinese New Year. The night included dinner and a performance, and we enjoyed yummy Chinese food (including one of our favorites – Chinese dumplings) and got to see the Chinese student group put their twist on the folk story The Lotus Lantern. Even though we’d never heard the story before it was easy to follow along and was very funny!
Looking Ahead: There are a bunch of other celebrations coming up. The first one is this tomorrow – African Night (March 1). International Night is March 23, Iranian New Year is March 29, and the Thai New Year Festival is April 5.
If you’re in the area and interested in attending one of these events, let us know and we’ll help you get tickets!
Recently I heard a devotional about Advent, a time of reflection on the coming of a promised Savior. Many churches and families celebrate Advent with a wreath, lighting one candle each week until Christmas, when the center candle is lit. My mom had one that we lit each year growing up and our church also lights one.
Since I heard the devotion, I’ve been thinking about preparation for Christmas. Most of my preparations are finished already – presents bought, decorations up, plans made for traveling. I still plan to make a few Christmas cookies and a few more gifts, but I feel ready for Christmas to come.
I was surprised when the topic of Christmas preparations came up with friends. It seemed to me that many of them feel like there are too many things to do before Christmas to finish it all. And I wondered why that seemed odd to me – I don’t feel that way at all. I’m sure part of it is due to only having one child and that he is still young – we don’t have extra school or church Christmas-related activities filling our schedule. Nor do we have to prepare gifts for teachers, coaches, or Sunday School leaders.
But I think some of it is that I don’t feel like we have to do much to celebrate anymore. The big Christmas excitement for the last few years was seeing the giant Coca-Cola tree go up in the parking lot of one of the supermarkets in Cochabamba, and seeing all of the seasonal Christmas items show up in the market. We listened to Christmas music at home and celebrated with our teammates and our church. And that was about it. Christmas in Bolivia is pretty similar to any other holiday in Bolivia – there is a little preparation, the celebration on Christmas, and then it’s over. There isn’t nearly as much hype in the culture over Christmas, and so it is a lot simpler.
We want Advent to be a time of preparing our hearts to celebrate the joyous news that the King of kings was born on earth. We want our focus to be on God and what He is doing around us – and how we can be used to bless others, especially at this time of year when we remember how He has blessed us. We’re still learning how to do this, and I’m sure it will be different as our family grows. But I’m thankful that God has given me the desire to draw near to him.
O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
-Verse 3, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
True to our nerdy roots, Hans and I are celebrating Pi Day. For those of you who have happily repressed memories of high school math classes, Pi Day celebrates the constant pi, π, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. Since the most common approximation of pi used is 3.14, it is celebrated on March 14… which is 3/14. (Although today’s date in Bolivia is technically 14/3, my students don’t mind changing the order if they can have a party!)
I promised my precalculus students a pie-making party this Friday, since we don’t have class on Wednesdays and therefore miss the real Pi Day. Friday is the last day of the quarter and they’ve worked hard, so I felt a Pi Day celebration was deserved.
But life in Bolivia doesn’t always go as planned… and this week is no exception.
Due to protests in Colcapirhua (where the school is located), school has been cancelled since Monday. The protests are over a territory dispute between Colcapirhua and Tiquipaya – apparently Tiquipaya is claiming 45 hectacres that Colcapirhua says belongs to them. Due to the recent movement to give more power to local governments, this land is important for tax purposes.
We saw on the news last night that leaders were in closed meetings to come to an agreement over the dispute, but apparently they didn’t agree since the roads are still blocked. They reported 38 block points throughout a 5 kilometer area, and people are having to walk, ride a bike, or take a motorcycle to get into Cochabamba for work and classes. Not fun in normal weather, but to top it off we heard it was raining out there this morning.
Please pray for:
- Colcapirhua and Tiquipaya – that the leaders would come to an agreement soon
- People who are having difficulties due to the extended blockades. (Usually blockades start early in the morning and end in the evening, only to start again the next day. These have been in effect around the clock, with some trucks parked in the middle of the highway since Monday.)
- Students at CCS, who are on their second day of doing work assigned at home. This is affecting students, their parents, and the ministries of parents.
We’ll see what the rest of the week holds. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re going to get to that pie-making Pi Day celebration…