Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fun in the Mud

A few weeks ago we decided to do something different for Sabbath and took a trip up to the little village of Espejillos (es peh he yos) where Dr. Kim and his family have set up their mission school. This little town is about a 15 minute car ride from the property where we're at and then from there it is about 11 miles from the road back into the Kim's place. Steve, DJ, and I thought it would be great to walk the 11 miles in on the beautiful junglish road. Jeff decided to take his family on his Honda 250 dirt bike/motorcycle. So we all drove up to the turn off to Espejillos and left the car there.

The next thing that we had to do was cross the river. Here is a picture of the Sutton family getting ready to cross the river. When we went across in the morning the deepest part of the river was only up to our knees. Everyone who lives in Espejillos has to cross this river to get into town or go back home. As you can see in the second picture of Jeff riding his bike across, one vehicle was already stuck. (Fortunately the Bolivians mine sand and rock out of the river and have plenty of large machines available to help people get unstuck...at a small cost).

Once across the river, Jeff took off on the motorcycle with his family and Steve, DJ and Jodi started their walk through the beautiful Bolivian hills. About 6 miles in, Dr. Kim and Jeff drove up in the Kim's landcruiser and gave us a ride in the rest of the way.
We spent that WONDERFUL Sabbath day enjoying the nature and fellowship with good friends. Unfortunately our camera had broken and we didn't have another one with us at the time, but just imagine this: On the Kim's property there are two waterfalls, the first set of them are about 10 to 20 feet tall. Then there's the big one at about 50 ft. tall. Each of these falls has been carved into the limestone rock creating smooth channels and ending in cute little pools of water, each with its own unique shape. They figure that about 60 gallons a second tumbles over the falls. The bottom pool flows into a quaint stream with lots of big rocks and water plants growing in it. At the top of the falls the creek widens and is said to go to a 5 spring source. Steve, DJ, and Jodi walked up the stream a little ways...that is until Steve and DJ got tired of being "spider men." There were hundreds and hundreds of these large 2" bodied spiders with thick yellow stringed webs all across the creek. The beautiful blue butterflies flying by made the trek up the creek extra enjoyable.
All too soon, the afternoon was pressing on and we felt it time to go. We figured we'd have to walk out and the sun goes down about 6:15ish. It was around 3:30 and we had flashlights, but we didn't want to be out that long after dark. (By the way, it's not very dangerous in Bolivia, and there was not a safety issue with being out after dark) Truthfully.
As we prepared to leave, Mrs. Kim offered to drive us out. It had rained just a little bit while we were there during the day and Jeff didn't want to take his family back out on the motorcycle, so they were going to go with Mrs. Kim and we just got lucky :)
Mrs. Kim drove us about 3 miles down the slick, clay road at which point we came to the end of a long line of cars. We got out to see what was going on. Had there been a road slide? An accident? Well, come to find out, the road was just in rather poor condition. We decided that we'd walk over the bad hill and then Jeff would shuttle us on his bike to the river. So we said goodbye to Mrs. Kim and put the two littlest kids on our backs and headed out walking. The next few pictures don't even do justice to the condition of the road. There must have been 30 or 40 cars lined up, unable to proceed. Now, that's a lot, considering the size of the village :).

Steve having fun (below).A few cars that slid!

The clay stuck to the bottoms of our shoes and made even walking difficult. But at least we were moving...unlike the 50 or 100 people that would most likely have to spend the night there with their vehicles. We were reminded of our many dear friends who are serving as missionaries in the Philippines and who have to do this kind of thing weekly, if not daily!
The sun sank lower and lower in the sky as we plotted along one foot after another. Jeff was having a hard enough time controlling the bike and stopping to clean out the mud that he was in no place to play shuttle man. So we walked along, enjoying the fun of the mud, taking pictures and videos with Jeff & Fawna's camera, and trying to keep the kids happy. We walked until the sun went down before the road was sandy enough and dry enough for Jeff to begin shuttling people. First he took Sierra and Steve (who had fallen earlier and injured his hip and knee), then he took Fawna and the two little ones, and lastly he came back for us. By that time, we only rode on the bike for a mile!

We finally arrived at the river to another challenge... the water had risen. The deepest part now reach a good way up our thighs. We made it across ok, linking elbows, but then there was Jeff on the bike. We prayed hard as he began to cross in the shallow water. When he reached the faster flowing, deeper channel, all we could do was hold our breaths and pray. The water came up to the seat on the bike and somehow managed not to enter the air intake as the bike kept going, revved up really high. We all couldn't imagine how the bike would stay up under the circumstances. In seconds, however, Jeff raced up out of the water and up onto the sand flat. I can't wait to get to heaven and hear about how many angels were there pushing the bike up!
Once on the sand flat, Fawna and the kids got a ride in the back of a kind family's pickup truck to the car. Steve, DJ, and Jodi sprited across the rest of the sand flat and got to the car shortly after Fawna and Jeff had. About a minute later, Fawna realized that she had left their backpack in the pickup. Sierra started crying frantically for her teddy bear and Savana was hungry. Jeff and Fawna left the kids with us and rode off after the truck to try to catch them. We all prayed that they would get the backpack back. Not that it had a lot of valuables in it, but kid's teddy bears are hard to replace. A few minutes later, Jeff and Fawna came back with the backpack. The people in the truck had realized that they had the backpack, stopped and were on their way back to give us the backpack. So finally we were in the car and arrived home at about 8:00.
Such a fun Sabbath day!


Both the RedAdvenir Team and the Aviation Team have been squeezing into housing. Up until now, the large RedAdvenir building has housed many of the team members. One month ago the station was officially moved out of their town location and into the new building. As construction continues and they move towards broadcasting again, the RedAdvenir building needs to be less of a hotel and more of what it's meant to be. Since housing is at the forefront of our thoughts, let me share with you some pictures of our housing situation and our plans for growth. These photos are of the current housing on the new property where the RedAdvenir building is.
"Hotel" RedAdvenir (from the back)
Richard & Katie Carrera's house. Richard is the director of RedAdvenir, originally from Trinidad. He is married to Katia, daughter of Becky and David Gates. They have two children, 6 and 5.
The "guard house." This has been used by many families and now is the center cooking location for all the single volunteers and houses some of the girls that work for RedAdvenir.
And then there's Jeff & Fawna's new house that we've been building (see previous blog, the Sunflower house). They just moved in from across town where they had been renting a house.
Now the rest of the aviation crew...
The first few months that we were in Bolivia, DJ and Jodi stayed with Jeff & Fawna across town. The last few weeks we moved out to the property to reduce transportation time and costs, as well as to help get the last of the Sutton's house on the property ready for them to move in.
This is Jodi's little kitchenette on the porch of a little building with 3 tiny rooms. These rooms were used for storage and to keep some of the aviation guys' stuff in. This fresh-air kitchenette is very nice but quite breezy. We ended up moving the stove inside one of the little rooms because of the wind.
(i.e. it took 2 hours to pressure cook a pot of lentils!)
And then there's the lovely container which has been made into a little trailer home. There is a bed in the way back, a bathroom in the middle with a shower and toilet and a curtain door, and a little kitchen in the front. However, it gets really hot inside during the day, and there is currently no stove or fridge in there. This container has housed volunteer missionaries for about 2 years now. DJ and Jodi stayed in here for about 2 weeks and then moved out for another missionary couple, Scott and Min Sterling, to use it for the next few months. (We were headed to the States for a month or two so our next option...see below...only lasted a week :).
And so we spent our last week sleeping in our cute little tent in one of what we refer to as the "chicken coupes"...apparently the previous owner had intended these two buildings for use as chicken coupes but had never actually had chickens there.
Here's Daniel Adam's little tent house.
In the picture below you can see where Steve Wilson and Herman Gonzalez have set up camp in the other chicken coupe. Fun stories are shared at breakfast when the previous night was windy. Some conversations go like this...
Steve: So I kept waking up because the wind was blowing the mosquito net into my face.
I think I'll turn my bed around 180 degrees.
Herman: Last night I woke up freezing cold! There was this big gust of wind that had apparently blown my mosquito net out from around my mattress. It was flapping in the breeze above my head parallel to me when I was lying down. Then to my dismay, I had no sleeping bag on top of me. I looked over across the chicken coupe and there it was against the other wall.
Steve: Yeah, I give up with this mosquito net thing. I think I'll just handle the mosquitoes biting for the first hour I'm in bed. The tend to lessen as the night goes on anyways...

Then there's the lovely bathroom. Trust me, it's come a long way. When we first arrived, there was no plumbing to this bathroom. Since then, Richard Carrera has had voluteers help run water lines in, hook up a shower, paint the walls, and kill the wasps nests inside. This lovely bathroom serves 5 of us on a good day.

The plan from here:
Richard is working on building dorms and possibly another house or two which should be finished within a year or so. Maybe two years.
The aviation dept.'s next house will be for Steve Wilson and his bride to be, Helen Ross. Much of the aviation property suitable for building houses on is like the picture above. Steve has gone to great lengths with the Skidsteer Bobcat and cleared some land to look for a nice place to start building. We hope to build at least 2 more houses in the near future.And how many volunteers are living at the property?
RedAdvenir: 2 Families (8), 6 volunteers
Aviation: 1 Family (5), 2 couples, 3 more guys
Plus all the visitors, family members, and volunteers from other projects that need a place to stay on a more temporary basis. This number can be upwards of 10-12 people at a time.
TOTAL: 26 permanent, + visitors

We are thankful for what God has already provided and are excited to see how He changes this little piece of property into a center where His work is spread all over Bolivia and into other parts of South America.

Tool "Shed"

The new and improved tool and equipment container. A recent project involved converting this small shipping container into a tool shed for all the tools and building materials. DJ spent many days building shelves out of leftover L-metal. Steve helped with the crossbeams and making an 'attic.' Then we moved all the tools from the two tool rooms in TV station to this container and reorganized them to fit in this small space. In the first picture there are two doors/frames to go in Jeff's house in the picture, but everything else is in somewhat of an order.

A Finished House!

Our house project that we have been helping work on for the last three months has come to a close. The last drywall has been hung, the last tile laid, the yard cleaned up, and the family moved in. Here are some pictures of the lovely Sutton house in La Guardia, Santa Cruz. This marks a milestone for the aviation department as the first house on our section of land.

The upstairs: used as storage, extra space for company who needs a place
to stay for the night, and as an office.

Here is a small picture of the handrail that DJ and I worked on. The wood had to be sanded, routed, and measured, cut, drilled together, and finally varnished. This was quite the project and took many hours/days for the unskilled carpenters to complete.

Here is a picture of the living room from upstairs.

This is the bathroom, "Bolivian style." Most of this tile was laid and all of the bathroom appliances were installed by the aviation crew.

La cocina

And finally the outside of the house, a beautiful "sunflower."