Sunday, March 27, 2011


We've had a lot of fun getting dirty and learning new things the last week. Putting stucco on the ceiling has been "the latest and the greatest." Actually, DJ says his muscles haven't hurt so bad in a long time. Enjoy the pictures!

Steve and Helen begin the mixing process.

DJ grunts as he smears another swipe on the ceiling. Jeff levels off what's been smeared on. Happy with their progress... Until the next day when they came back to find that the stucco hadn't dried because the mix was too wet. All that is on the ceiling in this picture had to be scraped off and the process started all over.
We'll just say that mixer Steve got real good at mixing up the "perfect" mix. First he'd ask "Ready? Do you want a small, medium or large batch? ____ Thicker or thinner?" And so he'd go and make his next batter up. We should've given him a chef's hat. About two minutes later we'd begin to hear the following, signifying the stage at which the mix was at:

Melted Baby Ice-cream.

Creamy Soup.


Cream Cheese.

Quick! One more scoopful before it becomes chalk!

...and did I mention that it smells like rotting eggs?

Dirty DJ!
After DJ & Jeff put on layer after layer of stucco, straining to make it smooth and even, Jodi and Helen put the finishing touches on the ceiling to give it a "high class" look.

The stucco process resulted in a "gran desastre" on the walls and floor...

...but also a beautiful ceiling!

... and some dirty workers :D

Making Tofu

I kind of miss going down the street a mile and buying a 19 oz. box of tofu for $1.59. Actually, I really miss it. Tofu is one of my favorite foods. In Bolivia, if you don't eat meat, there aren't a whole lot of protein sources besides beans/legumes. ...And there are only so many things that you can make with beans. In fact, I'm kind of tired of eating beans. So then come the days when we try new things :) Like making tofu from soybeans. A few weeks ago the people of Bolivia (and of other South American countries) celebrated this ridiculous (in my opinion) Holiday, Carnaval. Basically it's like Mardi Gras where everyone parties for about 5 days/nights. Another thing that goes along with it is that everyone, especially the kids like to throw paint and water balloons at other people. It's not usually dangerous to go out and around the city during the day, it's just not preferable. Every once in a while you'll get a mean person who will throw a rock instead of a water balloon and shatter a windshield or throw water balloons filled with urine or bleach water instead of just plain water. So when Carnaval came around, we decided to stay home for a few days instead of driving out to the property to continue work on the house. One afternoon, when DJ and Steve were busy fixing motorcycles and working on airplane paperwork, Helen and I decided to make tofu. It turned into an all afternoon and part of the evening ordeal. I thought that you might enjoy seeing the process, so here are some pictures :)
First the soybeans must be blenderized at a ratio of 1 cup soaked soybeans to 2 cups water.

What was blenderized then has to pass through a screen of some sort. We used a pillowcase :)

The leftover fibrous part can be used, but is often just thrown out. The milk that remains must then be cooked. Helen began to squeeze a pile of lemons between stirring the milk and running the blender. I was on the squeezing part (see picture 2).
Once the milk comes to a boil, it gets turned off.

Next we added the big cup of lemon juice and epson salts.

And it started to curdle.

And curdle some more until it looked like this picture below.

We then solicited Steve's help to pour the large pot into our pillowcase strainer set up.

Lastly the water was squeezed out of the tofu and the tofu was pressed.

A picture of the final product was neglected to be taken as the night was coming on and the photographers were busy washing dishes. The result was the blue strainer bowl full of tofu and some happy, but tired tofu makers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beautiful Wildlife

Bolivia has so many neat creatures and birds. Here are just a few that remind us of the Creator, His creativity and His individuality. God loves to make things beautiful and then He shows us of His love through His wonderful creation.
(We didn't take the bird pictures!)
We saw a few of these Atacari at the park one Sabbath.
There was a Capped Heron sitting by a little stream at the side of the road one morning
when we were walking to church.

This bird is called a chachalaca and is hard to see, but hard to miss hearing. They make a "terrible" or rather loud racket.

Here we have a cute little frog, cousins of the many that we find in our room, bathroom, and every little corner!

We saw this cool alligator looking bug one evening. He was about 2 1/2 in. long.

Beautiful Butterflies

A fairly large tarantula :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Well for the past few weeks we have been busy as beavers learning about how a house goes together in Bolivia. We have been very grateful for the large collection of tools available to us, left here after the construction of the new TV station building for Red Advenir. This house project could nearly be happening in Texas or Georgia by the feel of it. There are only a few things that remind us we are working in plywood and ready made septic tanks being unavailable. Here are a few pictures to show what happens here.

The whole family watching as Jeff brings his homemade, and rather patchwork septic tank form around to the back of the house. You can´t buy plywood in Bolivia so these pieces have been used and reused with the minimum number of cuts possible. The forklift deserves a word too. It has been a great blessing both in work accomplished and character building....When we arrived it had been sitting because nobody could get it to run. The gasoline here is very old and varnished by the time you can buy it at the gas station, so rotten or dirty gas causes about half of the mechanical trouble here. Jeff suspected the carb so I took it apart and found it surprisingly clean and in good order except the plastic venturi was broken. We put it back together and discovered it will start on full choke and run halfheartedly on half choke with lots of babying and good head pressure from a full gas tank. Jeff is hoping to get parts on his next trip to the states. We joke that a forklift ¨type rating¨is needed to drive the beast. An extra foot would be helpful too do the fact that it won´t idle.

We approach the hole cautiously. The forklift is rather heavy and if the walls caved under its weight we would be very stuck. It can hardly pull itself through a large mud puddle. The backhoe that dug the hole is being used at the TV station so our friendly forklift is the only thing for the job.

Jodi and I helped guide the form into the hole. The next day we stubbed pipes into the form and poured concrete all around the form to create a tank. After that was done we dug a drainfield with the backhoe and a laser level. It is sooo nice to have tools. It is rainy season and the back yard where we were working is all clay, making for quite a mess when wet. Laying the perf pipe (homemade perforations) between almost continuous rainshowers took a while, meanwhile we framed up some metal stud walls for the bedrooms. Finally we were ready to backfill the drainfield. By then the back yard was a swimming pool. And our drainfield was starting to silt in. We started to backfill with clay and though better of it. The way the clay was trapping water on the surface we figured it would seal off the drainfield too and prevent and septic liquids from evaporated or filtered at all. We came to the conclusion that we needed sand but not before the backhoe had to do so serious one armed swimming to get out of the clay pit in the back yard. Thankfully there was sand nearby for free and we had the use of a dump truck to get it.

A few days later I poured a floor in the tank and after it cured Jodi built a center dividing wall with block.

The lid was poured on a flat (mostly) piece of ground and left to cure a week. Here I am working to make mostly flat into flat. As you can see we always have plenty of help...

Here is another look at the finished roof from inside. The steel was scrounged from the construction of the TV station and the roofing material was well under $1000. Labor-free of course. We are learning lots of skills by being involved in this project. We are also learning how much work it takes to create infrastructure for a project.