On Wednesday we were invited to eat lunch with Glennie and Marilyn Wry. They are my neighbors, physically. Their house is on the ground floor of a 3-story student housing building which is right next the the guest quarters where I live.
Upon arriving for lunch from El Jordán, Marilyn called to let me know that my dad had called Becky Turner. Apparently someone in my family saw a news report on CNN about flooding in Santa Cruz — so bad that the water had carried people away. They were afraid for me.
Well, rest assured that I haven’t been swept away anywhere (unless you’re talking about love…).
In fact, until that phone call, nobody here had heard about the flooding (that I know of). There has been consistent rain every day (especially heavy one day last week), but Yoli and others say that it hasn’t been what Cruceños would consider “a lot” of rain.
Because we were curious, later in the day Yoli went to the library to check a newspaper and see if there were any stories about flooding. She couldn’t find any. So, we really aren’t sure if the flooding took place here. If it did, it must have been away from the city near the River Pirai. There’s also a chance there was flooding in a different Santa Cruz — Argentina has a Santa Cruz, as does California in the U.S.
About that lunch with Glennie and Marilyn: I learned something new about Glennie. He loves woodworking. Before lunch we saw him turning a lamp on a lathe. When we went inside, Marilyn showed us stools, lamps, and clocks he had made. He’s really very good at it. And I think my dad would drool if he saw how big the lathe was. Glennie doesn’t get a often chance to do much woodworking, though, because he is constantly kept busy at the seminary, where he is the “canciller,” as well as in local churches, since he is always preaching at a different church somewhere in Bolivia.
There’s another item in the media about Bolivia that may frighten some of you if you’ve heard about it. There were some big fights in La Paz (the capital city) between police and military. Some were killed and many were wounded.
The economic situation in Bolivia is not good. It’s hard to find work, and even when you do, many times you don’t get paid on time or at all. There was a transportation blockade in Cochabamba recently, because of citizens angry about the economy. The government tries to create new programs (hmmm.. sounds like the U.S. and the state of Missouri) to ‘help’ people, but they don’t really have the money to execute those programs. The politicians hope that proposing these programs will pacify people and increase their popularity.
Well, recently the president proposed a big income tax to help pay for things. Given the already bad economic situation, you can imagine how well that went over. He quickly retracted the idea, but it got people angry.
I think what happened in La Paz (and I don’t understand this very well, so I could be way off) is that the police were protesting their low wages and demanding a pay increase. The government sent in the military to break things up, and it became violent. Some citizens joined the fray, and the violence escalated. There was a lot of mob-type damage to businesses and such. The mob was calling for the resignation of the president (“Goni”).
So, it’s not a great situation. There have been no problems here in Santa Cruz, though. People tell me (and I’ve read) that violent protests and mob action usually happens in the highland cities (La Paz, Cochabamba). People in lowland cities, like Santa Cruz, tend to be much more relaxed and more worried about making sure they have their parties on the weekend.
Across Santa Cruz yesterday evening, businesses announced they’d be closed Thursday, a sort of holiday to avoid trouble. There were supposed to be protests here on Thursday in the plaza at the city’s center, so we’ll stay off the streets just to be safe. But it’s unlikely to be anything like what happened in La Paz. All the same, keep us in prayer and also pray that God would give the leaders here wisdom and integrity to deal with the nation’s problems effectively.
That’s one prayer request that I think we should make for leaders everywhere, especially with the U.S. on the brink of war.