The Harnisch Family

The Harnisch Family

Jul 26, 2012

Post Bolivia thoughts...Acclimating...and Resentment...

So, I've been a little MIA here on the Harnisch Family blog (at least as far as "personal" blog posts go).  I've got some catching up to do.

Seems the more you have to blog about, the less TIME you have to blog about it. figures.
Once arriving home from Bolivia, it didn't take long to JUMP back into the crazy routine we call "life".  We spent the 4th of July Holiday week/weekend out at the lake.  It was nice being there with family and all...of course...but my heart & mind mostly were unsettled.  What I wanted most was to
be home, in front of my computer DECOMPRESSING. 
As you know, the way I decompress and process things, is by writing and reliving experiences (at least one more time) through photographs.  Lord knows, I had PLENTY of Mission trip photos to sort through and try to make sense of.
That's my therapy.  My release.  My way of "finishing out" and "putting the trip behind me" in a sense.  I guess I needed closure.  Not closure so much...because I know I will carry these experiences with me I guess the better word might be "COMPREHENSION"!

I was able to do that after having (I mean getting - hehe) to spend a few days out at the lake...

I still think about and pray for those children daily.  Their smiles, generous hearts and gentle souls weigh heavily on my consience.

Coming home and adjusting back into the day-to-day Regimen has been rough.  Getting acclimated to our Civilized, first-world country luxuries has been a tough pill to swallow.  A little bit of guilt exists.
But to be honest.

This is hard.

I can only think of one word. This word seems harsh and unfair.  But the word I think I am still battling with most is "resentment".  Don't get me wrong...99.9% of the time I LOVE my girls and am SOOO excited to be back home with them (of course).

But, a teeny amount of resentment is present.  :-(

definition of Resentment - "deep-seated resentment, frustration, and hostility accompanied by a sense of being powerless to express these feelings directly"

Resentment towards my girls...specifically our five year old McKenzie.
 She is such a good kid.  A sweet kid. A smart kid.  A lucky kid.  LUCKY being the key word here.  She has NO IDEA JUST HOW LUCKY SHE IS!!  How good she has it.  She has not seen what I have seen, she has not been where I have been.  So, I know it's not fair that I would expect her to understand...But seriously, she has NO IDEA just how FORTUNATE she really is.  We are most certainly not "wealthy" people by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know, that relative to the World's population (most of which is poverty stricken) we are settled somewhere in the single digits % on the Household income scale.
With that being said, why on EARTH does McKenzie whine so much.  Why does she still feel so entitled.  Each time she opens her mouth to beg for another snack...or more juice...or another just sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Makes me cringe.

I just want to shake her (of course I don't) and set her straight.  

These children in La Paz, who I had the pleasure of being with, had nothing, came from nothing and have low hopes for a nutritious meal, let alone a successful future.  How many times did we hear them complain or whine?  NOT ONCE!
It was amazing, for example, when we would offer them food, how kind, polite and gracious they were.  How, when we visited Hector at his family home, and gave him an orange...he did not beg for it, he waited patiently for it to be handed to him.  And rather than peel & eat, keeping it all for himself...he peeled and distributed sections of it to his siblings.  Amazing.  Simply amazing.  Heartbreaking at the same time.

So, why can't my child be just a tad bit more appreciative for what she has?

Okay, so this frustration (resentment, if you will) has to end here.  It's not healthy.  I need to understand and meet her where she is at.  She is fortunate to grow up here.  She has the luxury of NOT knowing the difference.   Not knowing what it's like to go to bed hungry.  Go to bed scared.  Go to bed on a dirt floor.  Go to bed with only a tattered & torn hand-me-down stuffed animal.  Go to bed not knowing what the next day is going to bring.  Go to bed unsure if you will even be safe sleeping in your own "house".

So, with that being said, I need to be more understanding of her & accepting of "where she is at."  But, at the same time I need to work hard NOW.  I need to focus my energy on reinforcing and instilling an appropriate and gracious demeaner upon her. I need to be better and more consistent about not responding and giving in to her "whiny-ways".  That's the easy way out.  After-all, it's my fault she is the way she is (well mine & the rest of society and her generation - I can't take ALL the blame).

I simply want her to praise and thank god each day for all that she has.  Not ask and be sad for what she doesn't have...rather grateful for what she does.

"What if you woke up today, with only the things you thanked God for yesterday"  ~ anonymous

I hope that by my continuing to share stories of the children in Bolivia with her, she will be more humble and caring.

She get's it.  I can't expect much more.  For this, at least, I am grateful.

As far as Macy's kind of the opposite.
Not that I went on this trip seeking to get out anything 'out of it" for me.  Afterall, it was ALL ABOUT THOSE KIDS.  Once there, it was easy to understand the reason why God called on me to go there.  JUST BE.  JUST DO.  JUST LOVE THOSE KIDS!  simple really.
But, this trip and these interactions with these children did put a few things into perspective for least as far as Macy's concerned.
I will say I returned with a better sense of appreciation for all the advantages that Macy has in this world.  In this country.  In this town.  In this family.  She has so many resources and opportunities at her disposal.  More than she would ever need really.  So the days of me stressing/losing sleep over.."are we doing enough"..."is she getting enough"...etc...are over.  Girlfriend has ENOUGH!!
And by ENOUGH, I mean people who love and care for her.  People, in her circle, who would do ANYTHING to provide EVERYTHING that she should EVER need.

This is going to sound bad, but I think I'm just going to type it as I honestly feel it.  But...I can't help but feel that Macy, even with her significant & permanent physical and intellectual disabilities, has more HOPE for a better and more promising TOMORROW, than millions of other "fully-abled" children across the world, who live on the streets or who are at risk of living on the streets.  She's going to be okay.  Some of these children, who are poor, are abused, don't finish school, search for work as young as 6 to provide support to their families, most of whom are fatherless and turn to drugs to cope with the sadness and despair of their life, have a difficult time holding out hope.  And the major reason this is - is trust.  They lack the ability to rely on and fully trust anyone.  So sad.  :-(
Thank goodness for organizations like Kaya Children Int'l.  Kaya recognizes, reaches out and makes a difference in the lives of these kids.  But at the end of the day, they still live in a country that is poor, and where the government is corrupt.  My prayers are with all these kids every day!

Just makes you think.  Puts things into perspective.  I most certainly do not have any good reason to stress and fret over the opportunities and successes that lie ahead for our Little Miss Macy.



okay...I think that is all for while...I now return you to regular, normal, everyday, "light-warm-fuzzy" Harnisch Happenings blog posts.

Jul 16, 2012

Leaving La Paz...

disclaimer:  Most of my Bolivia blog posts were written on my iPhone while I was away...I chose not to publish them until I got home so that I could upload my own photos (so that's why they are a little delayed).

I wrote this one on the plane ride from La Paz to Santa Cruz...

This was the view out my window as I typed the note below...
The majestic snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains down below.  A breath-taking view!!

Our journey home began with the loud buzz of the 3:00am alarm.  Lovely.
Pack up.
Hasta Luego La Paz.

Our group stood out front of the hotel in the dark of night, waiting for our four taxis to arrive.
I was with Sarah & Lyn.  Our taxi was third in line...3rd...until our cab started experiencing troubles.  It kept STALLING!  We were passed...we were now last.
Our taxi proceeded to STOP 15+ more times.  Seriously??  Are you kidding me right now?

Fear sunk in.

Here we a 3rd World Country...3 ladies...3:00am...

Driving through the dark & depressing slums of El Alto (must I remind you we were afraid a few days prior in this very part of town in broad daylight?).  I'll let you do the math.

His transmission was, as he told us, "caliente", that is why his vehicle is struggling to make it up this steep mountainous terrain.  The roads are narrow, with tall walls & large gates lining each of the streets.  My heart was racing each time we stopped, just imagining who might have been behind one of these gates, jut waiting for some weak looking out of towners to "stop-by".  All-in-all, aside from a few people rummaging through trash bins, the streets were pretty quiet.

When the car was running, it was at barely 10 miles/hour.  Fast forward 15 minutes... I've never been so happy to see low flying airplanes overhead! This was a sign the airport was nearby.  Can I get a HALLELUJAH?  :)

I think this is them moment where it ALL TRULY SUNK IN.
We were three adult women...

Now imagine for a moment...

if we were 3 young children (your daughters age - under 10).  
Abused, neglected, abandoned, alone, filthy & afraid.  
This is reality for thousands of children who call the streets their home.
 we were simply given a fifteen minute "walk in their shoes".
Thank God they have a higher power looking after and watching over them.  
May God continue to wrap his loving arms around them, shine his light on them and show them the "way" they are so desperately seeking.
God bless all the children.  

All have been wonderfully made in his own image. Intricately sewn together by his own hands in their mother's womb.  
He knew them, much like us, before they were born.  Only He knows what lies ahead.

We made it through customs, migration, & security.  Got to Santa Cruz on time...are en-route to Miami. Next stop Dallas.  Then 18 hours later, we should be back in "the good life" state of Nebraska!
Can't wait to see Joe and hug my babies very soon :)

Jul 14, 2012

La Paz, Bolivia Day 6 - Road Trip to Tiwanaku

Our team arose early and made the brisk walk over to the Kaya Center. Three large buses could be seen from a distance. As we got closer we could see several little heads peering through the gate that stands in front of the Kaya Center. Before we knew it, a few of the kiddos had escaped and rushed over to greet us with smiles, giant hugs and happy giggles. You could sense the excited anticipation in the air. As we walked through the gate, into the enclosed courtyard, there stood close to 100 children, wall-to-wall, waiting, all bundled in their winter gear, coats, hats and scarfs. Some, as the staff had anticipated, arrived without proper attire, but no worries, they had plenty of gear on hand to loan out to everyone. As a result, some kids' coats were a bit oversized, but they didn't seem to mind one bit!
posing inside the gate to the Kaya Center, where 100 sweet kiddos were dressed & ready to go.
Anthony's ready to go too! 

Once the announcement was finally made to board the busses, I, along with the children, could not run fast enough to claim our seats. I was excited to be sitting across from Cindy, who speaks Spanish fluently. :) Our bus happened to be full of the younger kiddos, while our two-hour trip was a tad-bit crazy, it was fun and PRICELESS at the same time! We started off singing songs and the majority of our (Cindy & my) time was spent ensuring equal time between various electronic devices of ours (iPhones & iPad) that the children were eager to get their hands on. "cinco minutos...dos minutos...TIEMPO"! "Sienta-te" (sit down) was a frequent phrase heard out of Cindy's mouth. The kids also enjoyed wearing our sunglasses, we had packed several and passed them around. We took photos and called them "super estrella's". They just LOVED seeing their faces in photo form on our cameras.
well looky here...I get to sit near Claritza & Maria!  :-)

She is SUCH a doll.
Ivan claiming his seat in the back row.
She was right behind me for part of the trip.
Alberto was behind me for the majority of the time.

Daniel came aboard to get a quick head count...
And...another quick head count before we are officially OFF!
Brenda was a brave soul hanging in the back with the rowdy bunch  :-)
Angel's already got a hold of Cindy's iPad.  :-)
Once we ventured through La Paz, up the mountain & through the slum city of El Alto, it was beautiful scenery for as far as the eye could see!  Breath-taking views of the Andes all around!
"We aren't in Kansas anymore"
we got passed...and yep, that's a kid and a bottle of Coke hanging out those windows.  hehe
 About half way there...we had to pull over at a "toll type" stop.  All the sudden, these ladies & children surrounded our bus and started knocking on our windows.  We are practically in the middle of nowhere.  It was SOOO strange...kinda creepy, I'm not gonna lie.
 They were selling fresh made bread (looked & tasted like NAAN) & some type of juice in a plastic baggie.  I was all for ignoring them...but all the kids rolled down their windows, reached into their pockets and exchanged their Boliviano's for several bags of bread & juice.  I was like "WHAT???  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??"  never in a million years...
But looking around, the other Kaya adults on the bus did not seem to have any resistance to the idea.  So there you go...
here's a couple boys eating the NAAN.  On the trip home, I was brave and purchased a was SOO good!!!
I couldn't bring myself to try the juice though...
Cindy & I bought waaay more than we we asked and shared them with the rest of the kids.  They were so appreciative, gracious, and polite.  Not one child ASKED us for anything.  They quietly waited, once we asked if they wanted one...they would SMILE and of course say YES. 
 Snacks were also passed out during the long bus ride...crackers, candies and juices, etc...I wasn't hungry for mine, so I shared mine with Alberto.  He was SOOO grateful.  He put the extras in his big coat pockets.  I just new he was going to take them home and save for later...or perhaps even share with his family who had very little (if anything) to eat where they live.  It just made my heart melt to see & experience his genuine appreciation.
Cindy & Claritza playing a game
After a couple hours we finally arrived at Tiwanaku, which is an archeological ruins. I have learned that this was one of two "large group" trips they have the opportunity of taking each year. What BLESSING that we could accompany them on this special outing. Our time at Tiwanaku was enjoyable. The kids had the freedom to run and check everything out. All-in-all, I was impressed (amazed might be a better word) at the organization and over-all controls we had over the kids. As you could imagine the children significantly outnumbered the adults. We toured, played, shopped and picnicked for many hours without incident. Our two-hour journey and descent home was much the same as our prior ascent into the mountain. Albeit, slightly less energetic.
radio in hand...LOVE IT!!

check out the soccer ball in the kid in blue's hand.  Appears as though kids in Bolivia do not leave home without their soccer balls.  :-)
waiting in line for the first museum.
a map illustrating the layout of the Tiwanaku ruins...
I was already atop a large hill by the time all the kids were finally RELEASED into this was quite a sight!  The flood gates have been they come!
They're still RUNNING!
but by the time they got  up to where I was at, they were pretty winded.  hehe
tired Cindy??   That's a BIG hill!
enjoying some tunes!
sportin' my shades :-)
seriously...could she be any cuter!?!
Super Estrella!
aaaaawwww.   :)
the boys stopped to play a puzzle...
hey's me!
Daniel poses for me on the tracks.
he looks like he's got a lot on his mind here.
Yan was putting blindfolds on the girls and spinning them around...they were LOVING it!!
a sweetie pie taking a rest with Jacey

Fabiola wanted a picture with Yan next.  :-)
Anthony, Leanna, Sarah, Hanna, Bradie & Jacey
 We did a little souvenior shopping, then headed back towards to buses.  time to head home!  :-)
Hey Raul...nice Hat!
"Go Big Red" is what we chanted as I snapped his picture. :)
And yet again...another line...
started our journey back to La Paz with a few more songs.  :-)
Brenda and the gang in the back of the bus.  :)
Three of the girls up front with me!
and four of the girls up in the WAAAY front.
I couldn't stop taking pictures of these snow capped mountains...I mean's JUNE!!  :-)
As we were en-route, getting caught up in the fun day and silly commotion inside the moving bus, taking in the gorgeous view of the Andes outside the was easy to lose sight of who these children are, where they come from, how they live and WHY the Kaya Center plays such an integral part of allowing them to be "children" if even just for a few hours each day. I paused for a moment, stole my iPhone back, turned a special song "Gratitude" waay up. The song played during our team commissioning at church the week prior...I think I needed that five minutes to sit back and truly absorb this moment. Silent tears were streaming down my cheeks and neck. A familiar tightness grabbed ahold of my throat & ached my heart. I wanted to make time stand still.
At that moment I wanted to grab the steering wheel and turn it into the direction of Elkhorn, NE. They could live with me. I have room. But no. That's not the point. They love La Paz. This is where they call home. No, they do not have it easy. Yes, they have been forced to grow up too early. Some begin work to support their families as early as six years old. This seems unfair. But I have to remind myself, this is all they know. I am proud and my heart is at peace knowing they have the fine staff and volunteers at the Kaya Center who love and care for them. And ALWAYS WILL!!

Okay. Unfreeze time. Back to our bus trip.
An eerie silence overcame us as our busses approached the Kaya Center. Just knowing these special little people would be returning to their "not-quite-like-we-have-it" homes, made for a somber departure from the bus.

I think having to say goodbye/Chau/Adios to all those incredible Kaya kids tonight will rank pretty high as the "hardest thing I've ever had to do". A million hugs and kisses by all. Our drawn out "Goodbye" in front of the Kaya Center seemed to last an excruciatingly long time.
We were all just so sad to be leaving Bolivia, leaving these amazing people, we will miss their sweet smiles, kind hearts & tender souls...but so glad to be returning home to our families.
final hugs  :-(
one last lift - even with a possible fractured arm...what a guy!
piling into the minibus that will return them to their homes for the night.

Here's our lobby area where we met as a team to debrief, talk and pray together.  each night got more & more emotional.
We celebrated our final night in Bolivia at the steak house down the street.  mmmm.  wonderful way to finish out the day!
While the majority of our team went to Tiwanaku, a few others (John, Scott, Lee & Lyn) went to Calauma, a juvenile prison outside of town where two children (Carlos and Adolfo) Kaya has worked with in the past are living.
Pastor John elaborates further on his blog...

"Yesterday was our last day visiting the boys of the Kaya family. We had two different activities planned for the day. Most of the group (13) went with almost 100 kids to Tiwanaku ( The other four of us, myself, Scott, Lynn, Lee went to Calauma, a juvenile prision here where two children (Carlos and Adolfo) Kaya has worked with in the past are living. The plan was to go there and then meet the rest of the group in Tiwanaku. The inturruption of plans began as we arrived in Viacha, the city where the jail is situated. As we arrived just minutes from our final desitination we quickly saw the road blockade and the 3 military takes ahead of us. We asked for passage, while denied we happened to meet someone going to the same jail who could take us through another route. Definately a God moment. We began to cross through this barren landscape, partly following a road and partially making our own path. With the jail in sight our passage was no blocked by a Toyota Corolla veered off a narrow passage over the train tracks. What followed must have been nothing short of amazing and surprising for the Bolivian driver as two big Americans came out of nowhere to join a handfull of Bolivians and pick the car up off the tracks.
We were blessed to be able to spend about two hours with Adolfo and Carlos in Calauma. They asked for forgiveness for the mistakes they made, shared how much being in the homes meant to them. Three times they asked to be forgiven for the "grave mistake" they made. I assured them, they are forgiven and that we were there to encourage them and to remind them how many people love them, care for them and are standing behind them to help and support them. They shared remembering even the first time they came to the Renacer home and what living in the homes meant to them. They said that without Kaya and the love in the homes they would not have known God or God's love. It was something they had never experienced prior to coming to live in the Kaya homes and clearly made a mark on their life. Our visit was to encourage, support and to remind them that when the time comes to leave not to look for problems, but to look for help and support. Carlos was afraid it was too late for him, but we assured him that it is never to late to change your life. We encoruaged him not to focus on regrets of the past but to look forward to the future. We shared time playing games and brought lunch for Adolfo and Carlos. Part of our long visit and the special permission to bring a camera may have been that Carlos is well liked by the staff because he is an excellent soccer player. Regardless, we were able to take in our camera and take the pictures you see below. We know Kaya has made a mark on their lives and they will forever be a part of the Kaya family. We don't now what that will end up looking like, but pray they experience grace and live out of faith, hope and trust.
Our return back to La Paz was about as adventurous as the path there. Our route we found in was no blockaded too. Amazingly though it was Google Maps, with a little cell phone coverage that helped us navigate our way out and back to the main road after nearly an hour on dusty dirt roads. We all made it back safe and shared bittersweet moments of saying goodbyes. If I'm able I'll add another post later from someone who went to Tiwanaku and can share more about their trip.
It's 5:40am now. Most of us have been up since 3:00am and are ready to board our flights back to the states any moment. We are blessed for a smooth trip, relative safety (ask Scott about moving cars) and great time with the kids. Thank you to everyone for all your prayers and support. If all goes well the team will be back in Omaha at about 11:30 tonight. Please excuse any typos, the blog is being written after about 2.5 hours of sleep early in the morning as we wait to board the flight." 


some of John's & Christina's Pictures from Day 6
Direct Album Link -

I wanted to end with this photo Christina took.  It makes my heart heavy...really captures a tender moment.
on her facebook page she captioned it...
‎"Be the change you wish to see in the world."