February 18, 2006
Greetings once again from Cochabamba, Bolivia. We, the Forbess family, are now in our seventh week in Bolivia. Soon we will lose count of how many weeks we have been here and will begin marking our time here in months and then years! We continue in the process of beginning our life here in this new land. There are many wonderful things about being here and sometimes there are challenges, but we keep Philippians 4:13 in mind always.
Katie and I have two more weeks until the end of our Spanish review course at the Maryknoll school. We have had such wonderful teachers, although we have not been able to do our homework very consistently so I don’t know what our teachers think of us. We will probably end up staying at Maryknoll for our Quechua classes as we have been impressed with the quality of instruction and also with the staff’s genuine interest in accommodating the needs of a family with a little one at home. Josh Marcum who is also a part of our team, will be studying Quechua at Maryknoll as his Spanish review ends in two weeks as well.
Our most valuable learning at least for Katie and I, has probably not been the language learning, although that has been very helpful. What has been the most beneficial for us is learning about Bolivia. Katie and I have an uncanny knack for getting our teachers off the subject of grammar, (yuck!), and getting them to talk about Bolivia, (which of course they love!). We have been able to hear from at least eight different individuals who each have a unique perspective of their homeland. These conversations that Katie and I have had have really been invaluable to us as we strive to get a glimpse of the collective Bolivian heart and soul.
One our teachers “Fritzy” has been walking Katie through home decorating magazines to teach us all the necessary vocabulary as we begin the process of wheeling and dealing at furniture stores and with the merchants at La Cancha. We will be moving into our apartment on the 4th and 5th of March. Our apartment will have four bedrooms and a very nice living, dining, and kitchen area. There will be plenty of room for any visitors that come our way. Fritzy has also been helping us with the decorations because we want to our home to be very Bolivian from the moment you hit the door. We are going to use tocuyo and aguayo which are both Bolivian fabrics for our sofas, pillows and curtains. We have already ordered a bed, living room set, and dining set. We will be working on the appliances this week and later on we will probably find the remaining necessary furniture at a used furniture store near the language school. Although it will take a lot of effort, it will be fun to arrange our home and we think the end result will be very nice.
Three of the other families on the team have also found places to live. The Sandovals will be two floors directly above our apartment. In fact they have already been in their place for a few weeks. The prospect of free childcare so close by was too good to pass up! The Sandoval’s have some neighbors who are from Korea. They attended Maryknoll last year. Kim and Choi have asked if I would be interested in teaching English to their three children. I have agreed to a trial period of one month to see if our schedules will permit it. They seem like a very nice family and Kim was surprised, but very happy when I told her of Katie’s love of Kim Chee (pickled cabbage). Of course they also liked Jubilee’s middle name which just happens to be Song, the last name of our good family friend Hyesung.
Gary and Laura Bull also have chosen an apartment in a great location that is also within walking distance of ours and the Sandoval’s apartment. Josh and Julie Marcum have been blessed to find a lovely house that is probably ten to fifteen minutes away from the rest of us by taxi or trufi (trufis are taxis that run on fixed routes and are cheaper than regular taxis). Drew and Jamie will continue to stay with their Bolivian family until late in the spring.
In other news, the father of our Bolivian family, Fayez, is doing much better. At last posting he was not feeling very well at all. Since that time he has been receiving dialysis and it seems to be helping. There are also many family members who have come to visit with him and encourage him. Thank you all so much for your prayers on his behalf. This time we ask you for prayers for our health. Katie, Jubilee and I have all had viruses, allergies, and colds. Jubilee also appears to be cutting teeth. We have also found out that Katie has an serious infection. She is receiving very good medical care, but it is of course a stressful situation for Katie especially. Thankfully our Bolivian family has many members who are doctors and they steered us towards one of their most trusted family physicians. We ask that you pray for her healing.
Another big news item is Carnaval. The largest celebration is in the city of Oruro, but here in Cochabamba it is also a big deal. The most common way to tell that it is Carnaval time is by observing the throngs of youth who delight in throwing water balloons at each other, young pretty ladies, gringos, and pretty much anyone else. We have quickly learned their hangouts and try to avoid them. Most water balloon launchers are very courteous as they usually avoid senior citizens, babies, and people who are disabled. This means we try to spot those people and walk behind them! Once the official celebration begins there will be a lot of dancing in the streets. Some people save their money all year long so they can buy elaborate costumes and participate in the display. One of the most famous dances is the “Diablada” which is originally a dance from the city of Oruro. Most of the dances are symbolic histories of the mistreatment of the indigenous people during the time of colonization. Other dances are dances of gratitude for a good harvest for example. As we learn more in depth about the traditions and celebrations of the Bolivians we are faced with the challenge of recognizing the richness of the Bolivian heritage while also maintaining the integrity of Biblical teachings. It will indeed be a challenge!
To conclude, we are doing well and we feel so fortunate to have so many people praying for us. Thank you to you all. We are all part of this great effort to preach the good news of Jesus Christ in Cochabamba and beyond.
La Familia Forbess