Winding down (and still very rainy)

Well, now we’re down to the wire. Two and a half days left before I return to the U.S.

This weekend was pretty nice. I got to spend a lot of time with Yoli’s family, and the two of us got some important things taken care of.

On Saturday we went to have our pictures taken. It’s a requirement with this fianceé visa application. The funny thing (to me) is that here in Bolivia all photos for official documents are very strict.

They won’t let you smile, they force men to shave their beards, and other stuff like that. I told Yoli I wanted her to smile in the picture. My thinking was that she’s engaged now, and it would be better that she look happy than look sullen and serious. Besides, in the States, it doesn’t matter how you look in driver’s license photos. And further, the forms we were filling out didn’t forbid smiling.

The photographer didn’t share my opinion, and even when we explained that the photo was for the U.S., not Bolivia, she still said she would probably use the photo where Yoli didn’t “show any teeth.”

In the months ahead, if the INS rejects our application solely because she and I smiled in the photos, then there is something seriously wrong with our government.

Anyway, Saturday night Yoli and I tried to look at the moon through her telescope, but it was too cloudy to see it for more than a few moments at a time. She also doesn’t have a tripod for it, and it is very difficult to hold a telescope steady with your hands.

On Sunday we ended up going to Yoli’s dad’s church. I liked it in many ways… the preacher had a much clearer style and delivery, so I could understand more of what he said than other Bolivian preachers I’ve listened to. This was more of an upper-class church, so it had lots of ceiling fans, which was very nice.

Unfortunately for me, the church didn’t use an overhead proejctor during worship. They did sing hymns from a hymnal, but the church didn’t have extra hymnals. I guess everyone just buys their own. Toward the end of worship, a lady let us borrow hers, so I was able to sing along with 1 or 2 songs.

It was also a very conservative church, so the most of the women wore head coverings during the service. This is only the second time I’ve been in a church that practiced that.

Most of the people attending this church didn’t live nearby. Many of them drove cars to get there. In the U.S., of course, that’s commonplace. But here it’s the complete opposite. In Santa Cruz, most churchgoers go to their local neighborhood church, since they can walk to it.

But this church still had the same customs many of the others do. They have a “greeting” song about halfway through the service, where everyone walks around and shakes hands with people while singing. They also called up the members who had birthdays and sang “Cumpleaños Feliz” to them as a congregation.

Yoli’s dad attends 3 different churches, we learned, on a rotational basis. They’re all the same denomination, but he knows different people in each, so he just goes to all 3 of them. This particular morning he rode his bike to come.

Yoli and I went to a pharmacy to try and get some allergy medicine for me, and then we went to Chriss, a two-story chicken restaurant we ate at several weeks ago. It’s a nice place with good food, and we really enjoyed it.

We went back to her house and were taking it easy. But her mom was cooking peanut soup to eat in the afternoon. I was fairly full from lunch, but I figured I should have the soup. Later in the evening when Yoli and I were working on filling out the visa application forms we had mate and some cigarros (pastries that look like cigars).

One thing I’ve sort of gotten hooked on here (besides certain foods and drinks) is Star Wars: Jedi Knight II for the Mac. It really adds a new dimension to first-person shooters (like Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, and all the others that have followed) with a slew of “force powers.” You get to use lots of guns, of course, but you have other weapons unique to the Star Wars universe. You have your light saber, which is defensive as well as offensive, and can be thrown at enemies or objects far away. You can use the force to run fast, as well as push, pull, and throw things. You can also heal yourself and do the Jedi ‘mind trick’ on enemies. I got the demo off a MacAddict disk when I came down, and I play it every few days. I’ve completed the demo’s easiest and second-hardest levels. In the easy level, you have to fight a “Dark Jedi” at the end. He likes to jump and flip around. The graphics are really cool and with the music and sound effects, it feels like you’re living the movie having a classic light saber duel. The second hardest level, though, takes things way up. First, the Dark Jedi isn’t a wimp this time. He uses all his force powers to throw you around and knock you off balance. Second, there’s not just one, there’s two. If you don’t kill the first one quick, then you have to fight them both at the same time, something that’s nearly impossible. But on Sunday I beat them both and felt pretty darn good — I said “YO soy the maestro!” in Spanish upon my victory, since the Dark Jedi usually says “Now I’M the master” if he kills you.

Well, the main thing for the rest of the trip at this point is to finish the Seminary’s website. I think we’ve got a good shot at accomplishing that. We’re going to go all-out on Monday and Tuesday to make it happen. I hope to have a web address to give you tomorrow.

About Josh Renaud

Josh Renaud is married to Yoli and together they have four beautiful niƱitos. Find him on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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One Response to Winding down (and still very rainy)

  1. Carol & Grandma says:

    Josh, what can we say? Enjoy your last 2 days with Yoli and her family. Please have a safe trip back to the States. Hug Yoli for us, and tell her that we can’t wait to meet her!! You did tell her that this family is real tall???? She might be straining her neck just to meet all of us??
    Love you lots!