Visiting a farm… 250,000 people declaring autonomy from the national government… Yoli getting her hair cut very short… being tempted to buy pirate movies on VCD…
Yes, we’ve been seeing and doing it all during our time in Santa Cruz.
Well, we leave tomorrow. But before we end the trip, I wanted to take some time to talk about what we’ve been doing in Santa Cruz.
Mostly we’ve been visiting family and spending time with friends. Yoli has no shortage of friends, that’s for sure! It’s been cool to see all her nieces and nephews much bigger than the last time we saw them. And most of them can talk well now… (which is nice, since my communication level is closer to theirs than their parents.
Among the highlights of our time here was visiting Casa Hogar Nacer. Hogar Nacer is a home for street kids, about 50km outside of Santa Cruz. The home is beautiful, covered in spectacular gardens. It’s a place where kids come of their own free will to be rehabilitated, to work, to play, and to learn about Jesus Christ. I’m not kidding when I say “free will.” The man who started Hogar Nacer, Miguel Zucchetti, has never asked the kids to come. They just come! That’s how amazing this place is.
Since we last visited, the farm at Hogar Nacer has really grown. Now they have a chicken coop where they raise 100 chickens to sell for meat, as well as 170 egg-laying hens. They have a pond where they are raising tilapia. And they have one male and three female pigs, as well as 7 piglets with two more litters on the way. Last year they planted two hectares of additional land with corn.
We also got to see Miguel and Edly’s new house, and witness the construction of a new library. Miguel told us that 26 kids had returned home to live with their parents. Three kids had graduated from various schools. Wow, God is doing some amazing things for this ministry! When we get back home, we’ll be updating the Hogar Nacer website with news from this past year as well as information on their needs for this new year.
(2013 UPDATE: The site I designed years ago for Hogar Nacer has been superseded by a new website. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can still see my original design.)
Last week, we visited Yoli’s Uncle Adonai and saw that he had a new puppy. What a beautiful puppy he is… he reminds me of our old dog, Jed. In Bolivia they call those dogs “caniche”, which I think must be related to (or the same as) the Bichon Frise.
On Sunday we visited Yoli’s old church. They are currently without a pastor, so they have a time of worship and then sunday school, but no actual message. Something that makes this church unusual (to my limited experience) is that they point out visitors and have them wave or stand up. But of course this is a small church, so you can’t attend a service unseen as you can at a big church like Grace in St. Louis. After the sunday school, all the kids come in and each class recites what memory verse they learned. A director also reads how many visitors each class had, how many Bibles they brought, the offering, and the total attendance. It’s like a business report for each class.
Yesterday we visited the Esquina de Pescado, a great fish restaurant within the first circle of Santa Cruz. We tried grilled “sabalo” which is Yoli’s favorite fish. The sabalo was outstanding, really great flavor… It was served as one-half the fish with head, tail, and everything. The only problem is that sabalo has some mighty tiny bones in certain places… so you basically eat this fish with your fingers, like chicken, as you look for bones. But it tasted great, and we enjoyed it.
At El Jordán we successfully solved quite a few computer problems, which I am glad about, since we fried one of the old computers early on. We also helped re-organize their library. I hope the good we did outweighs the bad. In any case, we are grateful for the time we spent there, and for Corina’s hospitality in letting us stay (even though she was gone much of the time we were there.
It was also nice to meet Heidi, a volunteer from Canada who is working at El Jordán right now. And we also met a Guaraní family who came to stay at El Jordán for a week so the husband could teach street kids how to do leatherwork. The work they were doing was really amazing!
We’ve done a bit of cooking here, too. I stepped up to the plate first, cooking a bunch of chicken quesadillas for Yoli’s family during a visit to her dad’s house. Everyone seemed to like them (I certainly enjoyed them). Later, Yoli cooked some apple pies. Her hope was to share one with her dad and show him all the stuff she has learned about baking since we got married. But she ran into a problem converting units when she was figuring out how much butter to use. Unlike the states, butter here doesn’t come in sticks. So the first pies’ crusts weren’t right (but I still loved them!). But she baked another and it turned out well, so we took it for her mom and dad to eat… They seemed to like it, but this was their first time ever eating an apple pie. This morning we cooked cuñapes, which are small round cheesy biscuits, because Heidi wanted to learn (and I wanted to eat them). But we ran into a problem… The gas cut out during baking, and the cuñapes all went flat. Yoli was disappointed, and it brought back memories of a similar incident in the U.S. last year… the cause of that one was using mozarella, and an entire pan of cuñapes merged together to form a giant cake. Well, this wasn’t quite as bad as that. And of course they still tasted good. Yoli had some leftover dough which she used to make some good ones, so it all worked out.
Well, I have to confess that at first, being in Santa Cruz was a bit tough. I don’t know what it was… Many things here are different and might put out a lot of north Americans. It also didn’t help that I was sick when we first got here. But after a bit of time, I settled in and began to overlook that stuff and found myself really enjoying our trip. Now that it’s time to go, I wish we could stay a bit longer (and of course Yoli wants the same thing!)
One positive thing about the past few days is that a surazo (a cold southern wind) blew a storm into town. It’s been much colder and windy here… It’s like God is acclimatizing us for the return to St. Louis.
Well, that’s it for now. We hope to see you all when we return!