Today was the group’s first full day in Bolivia- special memories mixed with amazing hospitality! Throughout the day we were privileged to work alongside our host, Food for the Hungry (FH), and appreciate the thoughtful and well orchestrated way that they connect with their partners (i.e. us) and their communities. Their caring nature was ever present. We also sensed the genuine way that the people of Lajastambo wanted to get to know our Blackhawk group, and share their lives and dreams. Their friendliness and joy was heartwarming. We experienced the love of brothers and sisters in Christ no matter how different our cultures might seem.
Our day began with welcomes and then the pageantry of the children, teenagers and adults demonstrating the cultural and historic dances of different regions of Bolivia. The artistry of their well chosen steps and the intricacy of their costumes could not have occurred without hours of preparation. It cannot be truly captured in pictures or video. We then somewhat spontaneously shared the quintessential Madison dance, Jump Around, thanks to the creativity of Carl and graced by the entire Madison team and the music and lyrics of Youtube. Some of our Bolivian partners and the kids even joined us with smiles shared by all. The morning progressed with opportunities for us to get to know individuals at that FH site. In the early afternoon we met at a Nutrition center and spent time with some of the kids that are mentored weekly by FH staff. This included games, crafts and a time to gift some of the many school supplies collected by our Blackhawk church family. We didn’t expect to be bedazzling empty soda bottles but it was worth it to see the smiles of those kids.
The day continued with home-made fresh fruit and yogurt cups that were an explosion of color and taste. We then were provided a delicious and nutritious lunch by FH staff- can you say "delicious flax seed derived sweet beverage"? We then gathered at a community center and participated in a half-day couples workshop led by FH staff. The attendance rivaled some of the successful conferences held at Blackhawk Church- we were also pleasantly surprised by the number of men in attendance. Steve R. shared a message with the men, and Anne R.
worked with the woman. Their teaching was engaging and practical, resulting in active question and answer sessions, and several impromptu couples counseling sessions. The day ended with a meeting with the community leaders from a number of the surrounding neighborhoods. They shared their needs, their vision and transformational plan for how they could improved the lives of their children, pregnant mothers and citizens. This provided us with a strategic plan that was impressive (even for those of us that are less inspired by the strategic planning process). I ended the evening by sharing some words of encouragement and comments that pertained to the critical role for good nutrition in helping children realize their highest potential through healthy body and brain development. At days end, we were tired yet content and motivated to see what tomorrow will hold.
God bless to family, friends and others who are supporting us. Dios le bendiga.