Photos: Jericho

Here are some photos of the new construction at El Jordán. First a few notes: The name refers to the Jordan River in Israel, which the Israelites had to cross before entering the Promised Land. El Jordán is a support center for street kids where they get help to leave behind their old life and “cross the river” to a new life.

Several years ago, the folks at El Jordán were able to buy the property next door. They had been praying for this opportunity. They named the new property “Jericho,” which was significant in several ways. First, in the Bible, it was the Israelites next major challenge after entering the land. Second, the Israelites had to tear down the walls of the city. The same would be true of this Bolivian Jericho. They cleaned it up, but at that time didn’t have the money to begin demolition and construction.

So that’s the background. Here are the photos:

This is “Jericho” from the front. Yoli and I had our wedding reception on this property in 2003. Late in 2005 they tore down the old house that had been there and began the construction that you see in this picture.

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So a busload of Mennonites walks into a Mexican restaurant and …

You know you’re in Bolivia when you’re walking by a Mexican restaurant in the heart of the city with loud pop-rock blaring and a ton of Mennonites in their traditional garb are getting off a bus to go eat inside. We saw that as we walked on our way to a nice restaurant called Los Lomitos. Yoli has told me before that Mennonites love Mexican food, and it’s true… almost every time we walk by a Mexican restaurant, there’s at least one inside.

For a norteamericano this is just one of many surprising realities of Bolivia that seem funny and captivating.

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More about Yoli’s jail visit

The Palmasola Prison has little of a prison. It’s more of a little town.

I guess Josh already talked about our troubles trying to get in to the prison on Thursday. We had been in the line at 2:40 p.m. The closing time to let people in was 3 p.m., but they let us in at 4, so we had to pay. When I finally was able to get in, they wanted me to pay 5 Bs. I was so angry that they didn’t let Josh in and about standing in the line so long with my crying baby, that I yelled at the policeman, and he let me in without paying. (This was the first time I ever yelled at a policeman).

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Wrapping up

The last few days we’ve been spending most of our time visiting friends and family and taking care of various errands. We’ve really been packing a lot into our time here, but we haven’t been able to do everything we wanted. We had been talking about visiting a nearby city, Cotoca, which is renowned for its handicrafts. They have a large market on Sunday where you can buy all sorts of beautiful textiles, pottery, and much more. There have been political problems there, though. The people are riled up over an issue involving the mayor and many of our friends suggested it wasnñt safe to go. We ended up not having enough time Sunday, anyway. So, that’s another thing we’ll save for the next trip. We may still try to buy a hammock while we are here, but right now I’m leaning toward putting that off until the next trip, too.

Today (Tuesday) we will hold a birthday party for one of Yoli’s sisters, which will also double as a goodbye party for us. We’re hoping to get the entire family together, which is no small feat since they currently live spread out all over the area. I’m not sure if all the grandchildren will be there or not. If they are, it will be a crazy time.

Tonight we hope to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy some Bolivian cuisine. It should be a pleasant way to wrap up the trip.

Mama and Jadzia go to jail … and Papa gets kicked out

Yoli has been hoping to take me to jail for a long time.

It’s not what it sounds like. This penitentiary is like a city surrounded by a giant brick wall. Prisoners literally have their own houses, stores, even restaurants. Maximum security is different. Prisoners are kept in cells … but they have the keys and can lock themselves in or out.

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The walls came down … and they’re going up

When I first came to Bolivia, my wife was a volunteer at El Jordan, a center of support for street kids. It’s a place where street kids can learn practical skills to make an honest living and get off the street. It’s an amazing place that is changing lives.

On Wedneday we got to see a long-time project that is finally coming to fruition. Dubbed “Jericho,” it’s an expansion onto the next door property.

Yoli and got to visit the construction site. It was amazing. The frame of the 4-story building is mostly finished. What remains is to cover all the walls with cement and do all the finishing work. We crawled all over it, even standing on the open fourth floor and enjoying a spectacular view of the city.

Yoli shot a bunch of video and when we get back to the states we will edit it and post it here on the website. It’s interesting to see the standard construction technique there compared with the ways we do things here. Almost all buildings there are built of hollow bricks and covered with cement.

In any case, the progress has wowed us and it’s exciting to think how El Jordan will be able to expand its ministry once the new building opens its doors.

Rainy days can be fun, too

The weather here has been nothing short of wonderful, though in the past few days it has begun to warm up a bit. We’ve had rain most days, though today we had some torrents. In fact, as I type this, it is thundering and pouring pretty hard. I’m probably going to be soaked walking back to Yoli’s sister’s house.

Monday we visited the mission for their weekly prayer meeting. The usual format is that the groups sings several hymns, then one of the missionaries shares a short devotion, and then the group shares prayer requests and breaks up into smaller groups for prayer. On this occasion, I was asked to speak.

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