Volunteer Mission: June 2010 Pine Forest UMC

 Hello All,
The Pine Forest UMC Mission Team has returned home safely after a wonderful trip to the Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home in June. I thought I’d share with you my “Coordinator’s Log” as well as some of our best photos from the trip… Feel free to add comments, or, if you were part of the team, add your own stories and photos. Thank you all for your prayers and support! — Elizabeth Barricklow, International Volunteer Coordinator

 

COORDINATOR’S LOG: JUNE 2010

Trip: Pine Forest United Methodist Church of Goldsboro, NC

Dates: June 15-29, 2010

 

Pre-Trip Panic – We need one more volunteer!!!

Shortly before our departure, team member Dolores Hans’ mother was hospitalized. With the team’s full support, Dolores and her husband, Tom, made the tough decision to cancel their trip in order to be with her. Realizing that we needed at least one replacement volunteer in order to meet our minimum 10 passengers for our group airfare reservation, we began the frantic search for ONE BRAVE SOUL who might be able/willing to spontaneously dash off to Bolivia with us…

Less than 48 hours before takeoff, past volunteer KELSEY GRIFFITH (from Pine Forest’s 2008 & 2009 teams) courageously jumped on board.  She turned out to be, of course, exactly the team member we needed… THANK YOU, KELSEY!

Kelsey, the artist of our group, shows Erika how to paint the jungle mural she designed for the boys' room.

 

Arrival & La Paz Tour

After nearly missing our connection in Miami due to weather delays (airlines should add “wear running shoes” to the list of warnings/advisories at the bottom of e-tickets), we arrived in La Paz on time on Thursday morning. Victor showed us some new sites on this trip’s City Tour, using his seemingly-infinite knowledge to help us appreciate the urban renewal currently taking place in La Paz. New tour stops included: beautiful public parks; new soccer fields and basketball courts; and a long walking bridge (Villa Balcon) that winds through several neighborhoods.

Walking around La Paz during our City Tour...

 

To Tacachia!

There is nothing in the world quite like the feeling of arriving at the Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home in Tacachia. Our trucks were met by a crowd of grinning, shouting children, bursting with excitement and ready to smother us with hugs.  All but two of our team members had been to Tacachia before, and the tears started flowing as soon as the truck doors opened.

 

Group photo on the way to Tacachia.

 

 

Project #1: Birthday Party

Our first job in Tacachia was to celebrate the birthdays of Abigail (11), Rita The Cook (ageless), and Colton (19 – one of our rookie volunteers). Instead of a cake, a giant pyramid of donuts (the kids’ favorite new treat!) was placed in front of Abigail with a candle on top.

After birthday wishes were made and properly formalized, each party-goer took a donut to the donut-decorating table where Bronwyn (my mama!) provided cake-decorating tools and training. Everyone from little ones to adults got to ice their donuts with sugary flowers, leaves, and words in various colors. Meanwhile, at another table, Jessica, Hannah, and Gavin set up a tie-dye “shop” where everyone picked out patterns and colors for their own made-to-order tie-dyed tee shirts. Bubbles, balloons, and beaded necklaces rounded out a fantasitc fiesta.

Feliz Cumpleanos, Abigail, Rita, & Colton!

Abi, Rita, and Colton's "Donut Cake".

Bronwyn teaches Gary how to make flowers and stars out of frosting.

Edmar & Rene check out their new colorful shirts.

Thanks for sharing your 11th b-day with us, Abigail!!!

 

 

Working in Tacachia: Painting

Of course, we didn’t just party the WHOLE time. We also did some work…

Kelsey, Lisa, and Carrie teamed up to paint two of the boys’ rooms – one with a jungle theme and one with a cowboy theme. Thanks to Kelsey’s amazing artistic talent (remember how I said she was just what we needed?!), the boys are now sharing their rooms with a monkey, a leopard, and (by special request of the two youngest boys) a “baby horse”. 

The painting crew (Kelsey, Carrie, & Lisa) contemplates its next move.

The paint crew's first finished room: a jungle for the boys.

The pant crew gave the second boys' room a cowboy theme, including (by request of the little ones) a "baby" horse.

 

Working in Tacacha: Rocks & Cacti

 There are two things in Tacachia that you never have to worry about running out of: rocks and cacti. Fortunately, the KW Family knows how to handle both. “Every rock has a purpose,” said Frank (who had managed to become a fully-acclimated Tacachian since I dropped him off in April), “Some are paving rocks,” he said, “Some are corner-stones, some are perfect for walls…” And, so, with Frank, Gavin, and Ernesto (“El Maestro” of construction) in the lead, the team helped various rocks acheive their destinies while building another retaining wall and continuing progress on the kids’ basketball court. As for the cacti, they were “handled” with machetes and shovels in order to clear another plot of land for farming. It was tough work, and everyone did a GREAT job! 

Tommy bravely battles a cactus with his mighty machete.

Colton assists a rock in finding its purpose.

 

Nick places paving rocks in what will soon be the Tacachia Basketball Court.

 

The new rock wall and its proud builders - Nick, George, & Gavin.

 

 

Working in Tacachia: Jewelry

Meanwhile… over on the softer side of Tacachia… Bronwyn, Hannah, Jessica, and I helped to launch an exciting new art and fundraising project for the KW Home. Using beautiful stones that the kids had collected, we worked with the children to make TACACHIA JEWELRY, which will be sold to raise money for the Home. Jewelry-making tools, a rock tumbler/polisher, and a special drill for putting holes in stones were all generously donated by Glenda Potts of Goldsboro (thank you!).
We were postively blown away by the kids’ talent and interest in this project!!! Many of them began immediately to implement their own unique designs and tricks, needing/wanting very little guidance from us. The resulting “products” are gorgeous. (Prices and sales information will be announced soon!) 
We’re so excited about this new opportunity for the Home and for the kids. The idea is not only to raise funds for the Home, but also to teach the kids a skill which, for some, could turn into a future trade.

Rene shows George the new jewelry-making skills he's learned from Bronwyn. He's a natural!

Juhliza displays the first two stone necklaces she has made.

Jhoselyn makes a necklace for her Kory Amigo.

 
 
Playing in Tacachia :)
No matter how many walls we get to build, knock down, or re-paint (depending on the season), the BEST part of our time in Tacachia is always, by far, THE KIDS. The team savored every moment spent laughing with the kids, organizing an Easter Egg Hunt and games, and simply getting to know them… It was a particularly special time for those of us who got to bond with our Kory Amigos (sponsor children). Please continue to keep all of the KW Children in your prayers!

Kory Amigas Jessica & Jhuliza were virtually inseperable throughout the week!

Meal times bring everyone together at the KW Home...

While spending almost 3 months in Bolivia, Frank developed an especially close bond with his Kory Amiga, Tanya.

Humberto took a particular liking to Hannah... ;-)

Rodrigo gathers his treasures during the surprise Easter Egg Hunt.

Rene was all smiles with his Kory Amigos, George & Lisa.

 
 
Leaving Tacachia :(
Leaving Tacachia is never an easy or tear-free task… This time, we had the special treat of celebrating the Festival of San Juan with the children on our last night. We gathered around a bonfire for a sing-a-long, a devotion on God’s forgiveness, and fun with sparklers. It was a wonderful way to wrap up a wonderful week! We headed back to the city the next morning.

The Whole Crowd... Thank you for a wonderful week!!!

 

 
La Paz
As always, we kicked off our return to La Paz with lunch at Eli’s Pizza (yum!), then split up for an afternoon of shopping in the artisan markets. For the next couple of days, we worked on the construction of the second Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home in Oveyujo, a neighborhood on the outskirts of La Paz. (The building is coming along nicely!) Saturday, we saw a folk music/dancing presentation over dinner, and, Sunday, we attended service at a local Methodist church.

Eli's Pizza (the "return to La Paz" lunch that everyone looks forward to!)

The team at the site of the second KW Home in La Paz.

 

Last Day Excursion to the Amazon Basin

On Monday, our last full day in Bolivia, we decided to swap our trip to Lake Titicaca (almost all of us had been there before) for an excursion to THE YUNGAS – a warmer, lower section of Bolivia which is part of the Amazon River Basin. Trusting in Victor’s never-failing guidance (how great is it to have the ultimate tour guide as our partner in Bolivia???), we drove up over the snowy Andes mountains (about 15,000 ft above sea level), and then down into the jungle (about 5,000 ft), where we walked over the Amazon River on a rope bridge and trekked for about hour or so to a small eco-lodge called El Jiri. After a traditional lunch, some of us hiked onward to a waterfall, while others learned how to make chocolate and coffee.

The best part of the trip was having Roy and Miguel join us. As the two oldest boys, they are now living in La Paz so that they can attend school. We missed them in Tacachia and were thrilled to get to spend the day with them. Miguel was a helpful gentleman, constantly stopping to assist us over slippery slopes and difficult rocks, while Roy, who is originally from the Yungas, was so excited he could barely contain himself. Thank you, Victor, for an incredible day!

Snowy mountain peaks, as seen through the bus window during our Yungas Excursion.

Before we know it, we're out of the cold and hiking through the jungle...

Hannah makes her way across a rope bridge on the way to the waterfall.

Lisa tries making chocolate from coco beans at El Jiri Eco-Lodge.

Roy and Miguel at the waterfall with Hannah and Kelsey.

 
 
Until Next Time…

We arrived safely home on Tuesday, June 29th, after an absolutely wonderful trip. This team bonded together seamlessly – like a family – from the very beginning. They were a joy to work and travel with. Thank you, again, to all of the family, church, and community members whose support made this trip possible!

 

THIS WAS THE FOURTH MISSION TEAM SENT TO THE KW HOME BY PINE FOREST UMC (www.pineforestumc.com). Your dedication, faith, and generosity are greatly admired and appreciated! THANK YOU! Come back soon!

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