Volunteer Mission: July 2010 FUMC-Cary Youth
The FUMC-Cary Youth Mission Team had a wonderful and productive trip to Bolivia! THANK YOU for all of the contributions, prayers, hard work, and support that made this trip possible. Check out my “Coordinator’s Log” (below) for a quick peek into our 10-day adventure… As always, comments and additions are welcome.
Thank you again! – Elizabeth Barricklow, International Volunteer Coordinator
COORDINATOR’S LOG: JULY 2010
Trip: Youth Mission Team from First United Methodist Church of Cary, NC
Dates: July 14-24, 2010
Two years ago, FUMC-Cary’s 2008 Youth Mission Team worked for a year to plan and finance a volunteer trip to KW, only to have their flights cancelled at the last minute due to weather. (They made themselves useful in Guatemala instead!) Now it’s 2010, and they are ready for full immersion into the KW Family. At the airport, I look around at our team: 6 new youth, 4 returning youth from last year, and 4 experienced parent chaperones from last year. Zimm (the official doctor/chaperone of the FUMC-Cary team, who hasn’t missed a trip yet) pulls out a multi-colored Bolivian indigenous flag, waves it over his head, shouts “Vive Bolivia!” and leads us toward our gate. And we’re off on another adventure…
Arriving in La Paz
We arrived in La Paz around sunrise on Friday, July 15th. Poor Rachel spent half the flight sick, laying on the floor in the plane’s middle walk-way, but was looking much better by the time we met for lunch at Café Ciudad, and was almost fully recovered by the end of our always-fascinating City Tour with Victor (The World’s Greatest Tour Guide).
That night, La Paz celebrated its Independence Day with a massive city-wide parade. We had a spectacular view of the festivities through the wall of windows in Hotel John Wesley’s second-floor dining room. Everyone in La Paz participates in the festivities – from nurses to lawyers to what seemed like nine thousand high school marching bands. Our favorite part was the enormous herd of dancing cross-walk zebras. (The zebra, whose black-and-white stripes symbolize the cross-walk lines, is the official mascot for traffic safety in La Paz. People dressed in zebra costumes work throughout the city helping pedestrians cross the street safely.) It’s funny enough to see one or two of them at a cross walk on any given day, but hundreds of them? Dancing in the street? THAT was something to witness!
Arriving in Tacachia around lunch-time on Saturday, we were welcomed, enthusiastically, by a bouncing swarm of happy, excited children. 5-year-old Jhimy was especially thrilled to see his Kory Amigas, Megan and Peggy, for whom he faithfully reserved chairs on either side of himself at every meal throughout the week.
Kids’ Activities in Tacachia
For this visit, our special kids’ activities included: necklace/bracelet-making with alphabet beads; creative relay races involving balloons; and the second installment of the FUMC-Cary luau-themed dance party (continued from last year), which featured the Chicken Dance (the team’s signature dance), the YMCA, and the Cupid Shuffle.
Movie Night with Popcorn
As a bonus surprise, Zimm brought a projector (donated by a generous neighbor – thank you!) and a stove-top popcorn popper for the kids’ weekly Movie Night. The projector turned the library wall into a Big Screen for larger-than-life viewings of Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. Rita The Cook had a great time learning to use the popcorn popper (a large pot with a hand crank). Magnificent, peerless Rita managed to crank out batch after batch of perfect, fluffy popcorn without burning a single kernel. After each batch, she would grin at Zimm and say, “One more!”
Field-Clearing (the rock n’ roll of hard labor)
Our primary “hard labor” mission in Tacachia was to continue clearing a new field for the farm. This mainly involved digging up giant boulders and rolling them over the edge of the property into the riverbed. It was hard work, but nothing bonds a team like strenuous rock hauling. A roar of cheers would erupt from their section of the farm whenever a particularly stubborn boulder (such as Chelsea’s personal nemesis, “el Diablo,”) was finally pushed over the edge. Savannah summed up the experience with a huge smile: “Who knew that rolling boulders over a cliff could be so empowering and exhilarating? This is something we’d never do in Cary!” The Pine Forest UMC team, which started clearing the field in June, can rest assured that the FUMC-Cary volunteers carried their torch triumphantly. Gavin says we should be ready to start planting the field in August.
Tacachia Stone Jewelry
We also continued the jewelry-making project launched by the Pine Forest UMC team in June. Using stones from Tacachia and copper wire, the KW kids made pendants and earrings, which the volunteers will sell back in the States to raise money for the Home. It’s incredible to watch how the project brings out the kids’ artistic talent and innate creativity.
Painting the Town
Megan Carroll volunteered to be the designated artist for this trip. (Thank you, Megan!) She did a terrific job decorating one of the boys’ bedrooms with an outer space mural, and she re-created the Bolivian seal and flag for the community school’s stage. Kelley, Hayley, Ruth, Savannah, and others helped Megan bring the drawings to life with colorful paint.
Thrilled to have a few more days in Tacachia than we’d originally planned, the group was excited to explore the beautiful landscape. Hiking down the dry, rock-filled river bed was one favorite activity. We also trekked up to the top of a nearby “hill,” where we were able to see snowy Mt. Illumani peeking over the tops of the mountains across the valley. (The top of the hill, we realized, was once the site of a large, sprawling building. The crumbling ruins of its foundation surrounded us, revealing an interesting layout of various rooms.) Half of the group slept outside under the stars, despite the cold snap. (Carrie told us it was the coldest it had been all year in Tacachia.) Also, it must be mentioned that Ruth finally fulfilled her life-long dream of holding a baby pig. (Congratulations, Ruth!)
Back to La Paz
We left Tacachia on Wednesday morning, after a traditional breakfast of bread and api (a corn-based spiced tea) and a tearful round of goodbyes. (It’s always so hard to leave the kids!!!!) Back in La Paz, we spent the afternoon in the artisan market doing our part to help boost the Bolivian economy. Llama legwarmers, llama sweaters, Bolivan instruments, beautiful jewelry, colorful scarves… This team knows how to shop! Bolivia will be well-represented on several college campuses this fall.
Folk Dancing Show
Wednesday night, we attended a spectacular folk dancing presentation, held in a small ballet studio in an old mansion and featuring dances from the various areas and indigenous groups of Bolivia. Thanks to Victor, we were lucky enough to see the show the week before the dance company headed to China to participate a world-wide indigenous dance competition – an honor they earned by winning first place in another competition in Venezuela.
Day Trip to The Yungas
The road to The Yungas (the lowland, Amazon River basin area closest to La Paz) took us up over snow-capped mountains to a height of about 15,500 feet above sea level (almost 3 miles high), then down to the river and the warm jungle, which rests at about 4,900 feet (still a mile high). On our way, we passed a large herd of wooly llamas waiting to cross the road! After a 45-minute, entirely-up-hill hike through the jungle to El Jiri Eco-Lodge, we thoroughly enjoyed our traditional Bolivian lunch. Post-lunch activities included a hike to a nearby waterfall and a chance to make hot chocolate from cocoa beans. Roy and Miguel (the older Kory Wawanaca boys) accompanied us again on our excursion and had a blast hiking, playing, and swimming. It was a wonderful day for all!
On Friday, we packed, relaxed, did some last-minute shopping, and had our last dinner at the Hotel John Wesley before catching our overnight flight out of La Paz. Due to delays in Bolivia, we just missed our connecting flight in Miami on Saturday morning. We were promptly re-booked – 6 of us on a flight through D.C. and the rest on a later afternoon flight directly to RDU. Our poor D.C. group got delayed AGAIN and didn’t get home until late Saturday night. (Thank you for being such troopers, guys!) We’re all home now, safe and happy after a truly fantastic trip.
This is my 4th summer mission trip with FUMC-Cary’s youth, and every year we are blessed with new adventures, hilarious stories, life-changing friendships, and the chance to do some serious hard labor. A million thank you’s to everyone who supported and prayed for us, and thank you, especially, to the FUMC-Cary community (www.www.fumc-cary.org) for always sending such fantastic, fun, hard-working youth. Please know that your volunteers represent you and their faith in a way that should make you all very proud! You have been a wonderful blessing to the children of Kory Wawanaca.