“Is it bad that I haven’t thought about Bolivia lately?” is a question that we’ve asked ourselves lately. We have been back in the States almost six weeks now, and with such a busy travel schedule we haven’t really had much time to miss our lives in South America yet.
The three years overseas already feel like a distant memory because of how busy we’ve been since we returned. I feel so far removed from Cochabamba, our church, and our friends there – it feels like we’ve been gone for six months, not just six weeks – and I think I’m now starting to grieve the loss. We knew it was coming – it’s a part of re-entry – but I think the busyness of my sister’s wedding and a two-week road trip (spending two nights per city) has prevented it from really sinking in.
But when something triggers a memory, we really start to miss Bolivia. We remember the delicious, large mangos from Bolivia when we see the tiny, green ones in the supermarket, or are reminded of the chaotic Bolivian traffic when driving on the highway through Detroit.
We’ll get an email from a friend in Cochabamba and recall good memories with them, wishing that they weren’t just memories.
At church on Sunday, when the pastor was speaking from Acts 9, another memory came to me.
We taught the college students (jovenes) at our church how to do an inductive Bible study, and then passed off the responsibility to our friend Noelia before we left. The last study before we left was the beginning of Acts 8, and I knew that they would have started Acts 9 by now.
I found myself longing to study this passage with the group of jovenes – our group of jovenes. What observations would they have about the passage? What applications would Noelia come up with for the group? How far have they made it through Acts? How is the study going?
We studied the book of Jonah and the first part of Acts with them. We hosted them in our apartment countless times, taught them how to make pancakes, and learned how to make humintas. They loved Caleb so much. They were our family in Bolivia.
We’re excited that God has called us to work with MTU students through InterVarsity, but are still struggling with some of what we’ve had to leave behind to follow Him. Please pray for us as we grieve the loss of what we had in Bolivia, and begin to focus on students in Houghton.
Today is our last full day in Cochabamba. It’s hard to believe that we are leaving after three years. Sure, we’ve had two official goodbye parties (one of them being an early 1st birthday party for Caleb), gotten together with friends almost every night in the past week, packed our suitcases, and moved out of our apartment, but it still doesn’t quite feel real.
We’re excited for what’s coming, but we’re sad to leave Bolivia behind. And so it makes for a bittersweet time in our lives right now.
Here are some photos from the past week.
Two weeks ago we invited the jovenes (college students) from church over to play games. We’ve had them over several times before, but not for the specific reason of playing games. (Although, they do ask to play Dutch Blitz every time they come over, so we’ve played games with them before.)
This time, I was able to play Dutch Blitz with a bunch of students because Caleb was happily walking around the apartment in his walker. While we were playing, Hans introduced the rest of the group to Bohnanza, a card game that involves planting beans and harvesting them for gold coins. He later told me that he thinks it is easier to lead Bible study in Spanish than it was to teach the group to play the game in Spanish!
One of the girls in the group celebrated her birthday earlier in the week, so the jovenes surprised her with a birthday cake. She took the traditional “bite” of the cake, but the group was nice to her and didn’t smash it in her face. (Yep, it’s a real tradition here. We’ve both had birthday cake smashed in our faces!)
I know I’ve said it before, but we are thankful for our friendships at church and for the ability to host the jovenes in our apartment! We’re going to miss them a lot.
What on earth is an huminta, you ask? It’s easier to show than explain…
First, you separate the corn from the husk – cutting off the bottom of the cob so that the leaves peel off intact.
Then you cut the corn off the cob, grind it, and add cinnamon, sugar, salt, oil, and anise seed
Then you overlap two leaves and add a small slice of cheese. Once you’ve folded the leaves over and tied the little bundle shut, all that’s left is cooking the humintas.
To prepare the pan, place some of the used cobs in the bottom of the pan and lay extra leaves on top of them (to prevent the bottom humintas from burning on the bottom of the pot). Place the tied humintas on top of the leaves, stacking them on top of each other. When all of the humintas are in the pan, place a layer of leaves on top of them. Add boiling water so the pan is about 1/3 full, cover, and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
The jovenes (college students) at our church decided we needed to learn how to make humintas and so last Monday they all came over. We didn’t realize the process would take so long… though it only took an hour or so to get the humintas in the pan, it took a lot longer to cook them! But since Monday was a holiday, we enjoyed the time together.
Of course, we didn’t just make humintas. Lots of Dutch Blitz was played, a movie was watched, and Caleb was loved on.
Just in case you want to try your hand at humintas, here are the proportions we used:
25 ears of corn (makes about 4-5 quarts of ground corn)
1/2 – 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp anise seed
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tbsp oil