Our morning started off with a touching Devotional with my roomies :) Led by Christina. Wonderful way to start the day!
Ate Breakfast...the crepes were delightful!
The Kaya mini-Busses picked us up and already had several energetic children in them. Made for a fun drive. Cindy and I were seated in the front row surrounded by 6 tech hungry Bolivian boys. Clearly, seatbelt laws are not enforced here...I have much gratitude for Cindy's heart, kind soul, friendly face, approachable demeaner and ability to speak Spanish fluently, poetically & perfectly. I have been staying close & leaning on her a lot to get to know & have the ability to carry on conversations with each of the kids. SO THANKFUL FOR HER!!! As well as John, Andrew, Ariel, Yan & Sandra who also helped break down that communication barrier. I know I mentioned before that communicating goes far beyond words...and it does...but we still crave and require "below the surface" exchanges.
Being that it was Sunday, we attended Kairos, a local church in La Paz. Our expectations were exceeded times a million. We were told prior that it will be long & boring (boring mostly due to the fact the we won't understand the language), so feel free to bring a book/journal, etc.
We were, however, absolutely blown away from the moment we stepped foot into that church and walked those stairs to the Worship area!
In front of us were 100's of people on their feet, with hands high in the air in praise. The Energy, passion and emotion I felt that morning (among strangers who don't even speak my language mind you) was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was incredible! Many of the children of Kaya were sitting near and around us, so that made it more fun too.
I understood some words & having the lyrics of music and bible verses on the big screens certainly helped. But, even with that language barrier, there was NO MISTAKING the message. We were all part of one community, children of and praying to the same God. It truly was a beautiful thing.
After some powerful music and scripture readings, the Kairos pastor introduced up to the alter a special guest. A guest pastor in from Long Island, New York would be delivering that morning's sermon message. And wouldn't you know it, he spoke ENGLISH! His message was translated so beautifully (artistically, poetically & powerfully) for the local Spanish speaking congregation. Wow. Definitely a God-thing.
Oh...AND...the church he is a leader of has a Bible school called BETHANY! Coincidence much?
Just Too crazy.
As we were going up to drop money in an offering box, I could not help make notice of a father and his adult son who were holding hands. His son had Down Syndrome. This, for obvious reasons, was touching to me.
After that extremely uplifting church service, we shared in snack-time with the kids. Experienced "Saltinas" for the first time and they did NOT dissapoint. They were as tasty as my good friend Michelle had promised they'd be. Loved them!
Next, we took a hike up and through "Valley of the Moon". The views were spectacular and majestic. Simply stunning!
As we were entering the gate. All the Kaya Kids were lined up nicely - Dani "released" them - they all ran ahead and simultaneously grabbed the hands of an adult. Sweet Adrien came up from behind & squeezed my hand tightly. It was such an amazing feeling to have been "picked", "hand selected" by him. We walked together for a bit, then separated when we had to pose for a group photo :)
After the hike, we were treated to a Picnic at the park.
Played a fun game of frisbee...which quickly turned into a game of keep-away.
After a while, we walked over to a wide open grassy field, where we could line up a friendly (well, maybe friendly isn't exactly the right word) of Rugby. Bolivia vs. USA! We held our own quite nicely. :)
There was a cute, colorful train that circled this particular park, so we took turns "treating" the littler ones to rides. The sun was starting to set, which meant it was time to head for home.
Below are "some" photos from the days' festivities:
|Pastor John snuck this photo of our inspirational church service.|
|crowd that built up outside after church|
|headed for a hike!|
|Me and Cindy surrounded by kids in the van...|
|Lyn sharing her iPhone as well. :-)|
|a cool tunnel...|
|Saltenia's!!!! A delicious snack before our hike.|
|The kids lining up ready to head on in.|
|This is when Daniel let the kids loose...and they all ran and grabbed a hand of someone near them :-)|
|BIGGER group shot!|
|Do you think they look excited to be here or what?|
|Pastor John snapping a pic of Lyn and I believe that is Adrien.|
|Let's get this hike in the "Valley of the Moon" started...GORGEOUS DAY!!|
|Humberto leads the way :)|
|umm. yeah. that looks just a LITTLE dangerous eh?|
|it was a LONG way down...and not many rails keeping us on the trail. Not a site I think we'd see in Nebraska...or in the USA for that matter.|
|Cindy a good lookin' bunch of kiddos.|
|stunning views all around us. It was so overwhelming. hence the reason for 100+ photos...|
|great views of the city from up here too.|
|Cindy, Scott and their "family". ha!|
|See, I wasn't the only snapping a hundred pics! I think it's safe to say Christina captured a few as well.|
|posin' by the cactuses|
|on top of the world!|
|Leanna and me|
|stops to enjoy the beauty|
|Teri! aka "bubbles" her and I got into some trouble together... :-)|
|me, Brenda & Lyn|
|Jacey & her dad, Lee.|
|me, Christina & Teri|
|Scott's getting a lesson!|
|ha, love it!|
|He was taking a picture of me here too.|
|son & mother.|
|Anthony & Christina!|
|In case you couldn't tell...I like taking pictures of people taking pictures of people...don't ask me why.|
|me and Bradie|
|Christina and John. Our fearless leaders.|
|back in van for more craziness.|
|SISTERS!! Sarah & Bradie|
|arrived at the park...waiting to go in.|
|rockin' to some beats.|
|Lyn gives this little guy a push on his skateboard.|
|through the crowds! :-)|
|many of the kids just stared at all the toys and prizes. I think they thought if they stood and stared long enough, us gullible Americano's would eventually break down and buy them one...|
|Can you spot Scott?|
|preparing our picnic lunch in the park...we never ran short on Coke.|
|As you can see everyone gets generous portions...this, any meal with the Kaya center, is more than likely their only meal of the day.|
|Ysrael was such a gentlemen and waiting till last to fill his plate.|
|oup. The little guys spot the colorful train for the first time... :-)|
|playing some "keep-away" frisbee.|
|throwing it over their heads to Michelle|
|Scott hoists Ivan up. might be kid #37 to be on his shoulders that day.|
|Lyn getting in on the "keep-away" action.|
|the frisbee was tossed up to Ivan...Scott, out of instinct, reached up for it...and nearly dropped Ivan. oops. but he caught the frisbee, so all was good. ha :-)|
|Ysrael & Christina deep in conversation.|
|another SISTER shot :-)|
|nice Lee. :-)|
|I dunno. just being silly I guess.|
|relocating the open field down the way...ready to play some rugby!|
|Xemena poses...I love how the kids are grouped up behind her. Kind of says a lot.|
|me and Michelle getting our "game-faces" on. Are ya scared?|
|going over the rules...|
|TIP-OFF! Looks like team Bolivia may have cheated a little bit.|
|didn't matter, Scott still out-jumped 'em. :-)|
|GET IT TERI!!|
|Bob escapes with the ball.|
|trying to get John (Juanito) down...but he's not budging|
|As you can see, I (in the orange hat) am trying to get out of Anthony's way|
|trying to ease drop on team Bolivia's group huddle...|
|more fierce expressions by Pastor John.|
|they're teaming up on him...|
|oh no! Lyn got trapped under a pile of people...|
|Block it Anthony!|
|handshakes after the game.|
|"good game...good game...good game"|
|The SISTERS, Sarah and Bradie playing frisbee with Hector, Alberto and some others. :-)|
|LOVE this shot of her. :-)|
|Ysrael taking a nap in the "goalie box"|
|The younger one's could not get enough of the train! We took turns buying rounds for them :-)|
|they were very excited & appreciative.|
|a great shot of Christina and Anthony...loved the sunset behind them :-)|
|Me and Jacey get a turn to ride the train too!|
|a pic of my bed back in the hotel room and a little peek down the hallway of our "suite". nice huh? very cozy & LOTS of charm. :-)|
After a SHORT rest...our team met up for evening devotions. This was a chance for us to re-group, de-brief, connect, give thanks, and pray together.
Oh & here is a little something Pastor John had to say about the day over on his blog...be sure to check out his pics and especially the short video clips he posted :-)
"One of our focuses at Kaya is to return children to their childhood. As you see these pictures and videos one thing you will notice is just kids being kids. In the next few days you'll learn more about where they come from. Tonight our devotional time was focused on how God knows us as individuals and how are called to know and care for children individually.
What we love is a child, not just children in general. God knows us as individuals and likewise we are to know and care for one another as individuals. While a child should receive unconditional love, they should not receive indiscriminate love. In other words we should always love a child, but the child should know that they are loved as an individual, not simply because they are a child. They should know what we love about them and what makes them lovable. They deserve to be told what is unique about them, and to be called by name. They need to know that they stand out in the group, that they are recognized and cared for. Children need to be encouraged in their own unique gifts, recognized as special, and be loved and cared for by name. Scripture doesn't include the book of Numbers and other genealogical lists just to bore the reader, but because God cares about names and individuals. Salvation is for all, but was done for each individual. Likewise we care for children, but we do it through each child."
After devotions, We took a short stroll for a yummy dinner at a fancy restaurant at the 5-star hotel down the street. It did not disappoint...Ice we could trust & lettuce that was safe to eat!
On the way home, we stopped by a local market. I bought some wine & fancy wine glass. Stayed up late catching up with all the girls (and John).
That night, I did NOT get good sleep (seems no one did). Pretty much all of us are experiencing unpleasant, high altitude related symptoms. Diareah, major headache, tingly hands & feet. Tossed & turned. Some needed the assistance of oxygen...
It was a slow go the next morning.
I'll post about our day spent with the kids at the Kaya Center some time tomorrow :-)