Life here in Bolivia, at least for me, has always been unpredictable and fast-paced. I can’t say I’ve always liked that, as my life in Texas was much more regimented. Let’s just say I could plan what I’d be doing all week and have things go according to “my” plan! I laugh to remember that now. Here I can’t tell you with certainty what will happen within the next hour. Even as I write this, I wonder if our newest child will arrive before I’m done…or if she’s coming another day.
Yesterday was a good example of how on many days, street work, Casa de Amor, and church responsibilities are woven together.
If a new day starts at the stroke of midnight, then on August 25 I was still on the street. Actually I was just arriving back to the hospital with 5 or 6 kids to check on our friend. She had been on an IV since 9 something. I went in to check on her and she was glad to see me again, and that the IV drip was almost done. By 1am we had gotten her medications from my favorite pharmacy, always open (I’ve been there around midnight or later more times than I care to count the past couple of weeks!), and then I took everyone back to the bridge.
8:45am—A “buenos dias” to the staff and kiddos in the dining room
9—Arrive back to the bridge to give the next set of pills and pick up a 19 year old. While I waited for him and his girlfriend to get ready, I went back up top to where a few were starting their day of window washing. I was curious who the two visitors were, since they’ve so rarely had visits from anyone lately. I didn’t really recognize them but they have met me, when I was visiting another street group. The one they were inviting to participate in an activity told me later that he won’t go. He said “YOU can invite me to an activity, but THEY cannot. Were they here when I was sick the other night? No, you were. Do they come when we need help? No, YOU do.” Well okay then. Relationship is key!
10—Picking up the 19 year old’s mom to talk about some decisions he needs to make and also to take her to Hospitals of Hope for an eye exam. I hope that they have a more economical solution for an ongoing eye problem she has had! She noticed the constant phone calls I was getting and how quickly I was setting up appointments so she offered to wait and see the doctor alone, and I had to take her up on it. On the drive back, I had what turned out to be my breakfast and lunch when the kids I was with offered me a banana and an orange.
11:15—Dropped them off at bridge and a couple of the little guys got in and asked where I was heading. I told them and they said they would get off as I passed the stadium.
11:35—Screeching in just on time, I pick up little girl A (uses hearing aids) from her twice-weekly speech/auditory therapy class. She is always so happy after her classes!
11:50—Pulling up to the Baby Home I see we have visitors, from the nutrition center hospital. I go right into a meeting between our social worker, psychologist, physical therapist, and the other party: a father, his little daughter, the social worker of the hospital, and a therapist from the hospital. This week we agreed to take in a 2 year old girl who is blind. Yes, this will be a first for us! I took a few pictures as the meeting came to a close.
12:40pm—I had a decision to make, because the unexpected meeting took up the time when I was supposed to be at boy A’s birthday at Casa de Amor II. I decided to try to catch the end of that later and go straight to the street (a community near the bridge) where I had promised to take another out for his birthday lunch. I already had to cancel with him the day before because of going to meet the little girl at the hospital.
12:45—Picked up C, his girlfriend and her cousin, and we go to their favorite place for birthday meals. C, turning 16, also realizes my phone is ringing incessantly and I’m having trouble not double booking myself, so he suggests we get the food to go. It took such a long time restaurant staff was feeling sorry for us, but the wait gave me a chance to catch up with him. He wants to get out his ID card and we decided to go speak with his grandparents (his parents have died) about it on Sunday.
1:40—Picked up another 19 year old and his 1 year old son (formerly from my bridge but currently doing well renting a room, way on the other side from where I live). They will be visiting his mother and family for the afternoon. This lands me near Casa de Amor II, so I spend nearly an hour checking on staff and the kids. One of our little girls asks me when she will have new parents, her weekly question for years now. One of the caregivers asks me about our plans for September 5, Pedestrian Day (no transportation) in Bolivia. How is it already the end of August?! We need to start coordinating with all the staff and volunteers to see how we deal with that this year.
3:30—Back at bridge with orders from the bridge boss to take his sister-in-law (the one who is sick) to a center downtown and get her seen by another doctor. I parked my car by the river wall yet again. Two girls and I changed her clothes and two guys helped her out and into the car.
4—I met with several people at the center, while talking to others by phone, reporting back to those from the bridge each time. (As an aside, there was a tense moment when the priest in charge mentioned the diagnosis of our friend right in front of everyone. Very few knew…until now.) In the end she decided to not stay. She was worried they might not help her in the multi-level building, but that at the bridge everyone helps her by bringing her food and drink and meds, helping her go to the bathroom, and just watching out for her. I didn’t know whether to be proud how everyone rallies around like family at our bridge, or be sorry that it’s so “nice” she won’t move to the center!! The two doctors asked me to come back with them as they examine my friend. I like how thorough they are and all the questions they asked to try to get to the root of things.
5:15—I drop everyone back off at the bridge and race to the office. I really didn’t mean to disappear the entire afternoon! As I arrive, 3 or 4 Hospitals of Hope volunteers are leaving. One girl came up to me and gave me a sincere hand shake, saying that she went to Sojourn Church in Texas the same time my family did. What a small world! Then office work: meet with my office staff, sign papers, tend to emails.
7:15—Drag myself away from the office to go to a church leadership meeting. I take my guitar to drop off for someone who needs it for a rehearsal and also a CD of Spanish songs that someone else asked of me.
7:30—Even though only two of us have showed up, we begin the meeting regarding our newly formatted webpage. I am miserably tired by this point but try my best to stay attentive. It helps to have several cell phone calls.
8:30—Talk to my Mom on my cell while buying a vegetarian burrito from a street stand and heading to the bridge
9—Give my friend at the bridge her next pills. Then I realize I’m almost alone (a rarity) with a young street couple who has accused me of something completely false the past couple of weeks and now they are willing to talk. We had a good long conversation and completely cleared up the air as they apologized through tears for how they’ve treated me. I’ve been getting calls from others telling me where they are, so we go pick them up from downtown and spend the next few hours going to the pharmacy, gassing up my car, talking to friends, playing with a 2 year old visiting his (street) mother, watching a few from the bridge play soccer with the neighboring street community, and taking friends to and from where they need to be.
All interspersed are moments of giving advice, encouragement, checking up on relational issues or problems that needed to be resolved, and answering questions from the few who now know our friend’s diagnosis as they process that. The guy I had taken to visit his mother jumped back in my car at one point. We talked about an argument he and his wife had the other night but how he took my advice and was able to resolve it without creating a big scene or one of them returning to the street. I was so proud of him and told him so! We found his wife a little later, 4 months pregnant with their second, and since they are known for drinking binges and big fights, I told them about the blind girl we are about to get and how her mother drank every day—and to let it be a lesson to them!! They listen attentively and she promises me she’s not drinking anything besides soda these days. May it be so!
12:20am—Arrive home completely exhausted and a fever (??) even though it was a relatively quiet night on the street (no bad fights, no police trouble, no medical emergencies). I still need to get the glue out of a large section of my hair before it completely hardens - a first for me but not surprising, seeing as street peoples' hands are often coated in it. Meditate on my "verses of the week". Briefly check emails.
12:35—Crash into bed!
Adios, Shana and Hillary - Thanks to Carla Booher for the blog! :) Wednesday night we had a "going away" party for two of our volunteers. Shana is from Texas and has been touring...
3 years ago