2009 SIFAT Calendars

Our 2009 SIFAT Calendars are here! Order yours now! Each calendar features beautiful pictures from our projects in Bolivia and Ecuador. Inspiring verses and quotes accompany staggering statistics about world poverty, which SIFAT works to combat through our training and short-term mission teams.

Fundraising Opportunity: We suggest you sell each calendar for $10. Your short-term missions team, Learn & Serve group or missions fund will receive $4 for each calendar you sell. SIFAT receives $6 – a $4 donation and printing fees.

To order calendars, please contact Marie, lanierm@sifat.org. or call the SIFAT office.

These 2009 Calendars make a great Christmas present. In today’s economy, every gift counts – so give a Christmas gift to your friends and family that they will enjoy, and one that also benefits SIFAT.

We have asked Practicum student Becky Forrest to let us publicly post the recaps e-mails to friends and family. Becky is an American and has just begun full-time missions after 29 years as an accountant. Through her posts, we hope you will understand a little more about what the Practicum is and what students are learning. Below is her most recent e-mail. Thanks for sharing with us, Becky!
I can’t believe I have been gone 2 months today. The time has just flown by. My brain is trying hard to retain all the information we have been learning. We have covered such a variety of subjects.
This past week we spent most of the time learning about microenterprise and microfinance. Our instructor was from the Chalmers Center at Covenant College at Lookout Mtn., Ga. He was a wonderful teacher and had spent 20 years in Africa helping to set up MFI’s. We learned about the premiere example, The Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. It is a fascinating story of how it has helped bring people out of poverty by making small loans for starting micro enterprise. If you have time Google it and find out more.
We also picked up again with Christian leadership. We worked out of a book the 3 Colors of Ministry. We answered 180 questions to determine our top 5 gifts out of 30. My top 2 were Missionary and Voluntary poverty. Can you believe that? I guess I am finally in the right field. God has been really confirming that I am doing his will in many different ways lately. I knew my life was never going to be the same after I came here, but it is really hard to explain how different my life seems now.
We cooked street foods on our cookstoves we made several weeks ago to show how money could be made from selling foods cooked over an open fire on the street. It was our lunch, and we all thought we would starve before we finally got everything cooked.
Thursday came food preservation, canning, it had been many years since I have done that but it is such a good way to preserve foods. Many things I have learned in my past have been very valuable with some of our lessons.
We had Friday off, so I learned how to blog on SIFAT’s website, so when I get to Bolivia everyone can keep up with me by reading the blog.

God Bless,

Hola from La Paz! I`ve been here in LaPaz this week for visa stuff. Again, I thank God for working it out. Prior to coming here it was quite an ordeal. Last week, I was in Rurre for my visa extension (again), then to La Paz for the US visa. However, in the middle of this travelling, there was a huge “marcha” or rally from different parts of the region to the main city of LaPaz last Monday.  My appointment with the US Embsy was moved to another day…and thank God, it worked out.

While stuck in Rurre, I saw the news about the huge rally in La Paz, and it was kinda scary. However, thank God it all work out, and it was not bloody nor violence. The people of Bolivia are having issues with having a new constitution. So, I got here in LaPaz 3 days ago safe and sound, and had a wonderful long bus ride again thru the Death Road. This time, I enjoyed more the bus ride.

I realized I only have few weeks left here in Bolivia. Time flies so fast.  I started to reflect on my time here  and would try to share them with you the coming weeks.

I am appreciating more being here and learning about the culture and the people. I am enjoying more and more the beauty of this country. Bolivia is special and unique in different ways. I love the diversity of this nation. Much as I like warm weather and simple life in the jungle (Ixiamas), I also like the beuty of the landscape of the highlands (LaPaz and Altiplano), as well as the cool weather.

Anyway, back to Ixiamas,just to share with you some stuff I had with the kids before I left for travelling.

After few months of teaching English and Computer to the kids, it is still a challenge for some of the kids to grasp foreign stuff to them. I started teaching Internet to my class. Since our facility at the Internado does not have Internet connection, I have to take the kids to the town for the class.I take 2 kids at a time,
 The small town of Ixiamas in the middle of the jungle has only certain hours of electricity in a day, (actually the electricity is run by public generator) which conflicts with the time of the kids at school. Sometimes, I have to take kids at night, which is not a preferrable time because it is usually dark to walk. And before I left Ixiamas last week, we usually were having power off nights..Anyway, it still work out to have internet classes.

 It still amuses  me  that with most of the kids ( middle and high school),  are their first time to know about the amazing wonder of Internet. With limited Spanish I try to explain to them how Internet works and how useful it is and it would be for their studies.
Anyway, for some of the older kids they are using more the help of computer with their studies.
I try to encourage them how it would be useful in the future especially in getting jobs or to get to university. (I still try my best to simplify the usefulness of Internet to aid them with their daily studies as the school in Ixiamas do not have library).  For a lot of kids in the countryside, I heard they usually do not think about going to the university for education, maybe because of poverty.
With my role with the kids, for me it is not just about teaching them knowledge or skills, but I also try to encourage them to dream, to hope, to believe, and for them to know how God could be real in their lives. When I look at their environment, the poverty and the seemingly hopeless
life in the middle of the jungle, I could agree with them how on earth could there be hope in life.
But when I think and remember what God has done in my life, how he brought me from a very small and poor little town in a place in the Philippines where no one would know, I know God could do it also in their lives.

Thank you for your prayers for the Internado kids. Let us continue to pray for them for God`s purposes and plans for each of their lives.

Ciao, Vicky

We have asked Practicum student Becky Forrest to let us publicly post the recaps e-mails to friends and family. Becky is an American and has just begun full-time missions after 29 years as an accountant. Through her posts, we hope you will understand a little more about what the Practicum is and what students are learning. Below is her most recent e-mail. Thanks for sharing with us, Becky!

I can’t believe we only have three more weeks of training. The students all miss home, but we have become one big happy family. We share our problems and unite in prayer together. My friend Raphael from Nigeria received a call from him wife last night to tell him that her sisters were in an auto accident yesterday. One sister died, and the other is in serious condition. He was greatly troubled because he cannot be there for his wife, so we all prayed with him for her and her family. It is very hard for our international students being so far from home. The American students will be experiencing much the same when we travel to our various mission fields.

This week we have continued in water and sanitation. Monday, we built a sand filter for cleaning and sanitizing water with sand. It is a very simple design perfect for people to use in their homes to have safe drinking water, which is one of the biggest problems in the developing countries. Living here in the U.S., we don’t realize the importance of clean water and just going to the tap whenever we want. One of our students said he walked 3 hours to get water from one of the villages where he works as a missionary.

Tuesday, our class was on latrines with a visit in the afternoon to the water treatment in the big city of Wedowee. Wednesday came the fun part of the week. Well drilling!!!!!! We tried 3 holes and hit rock every time. The system we used was the one Addison learned in Bolivia and drilled 2 wells in Ixiamas, where I will be interning next year. Manpower does all the work. We all were covered in mud by the end of the day Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday was our big outing to Auburn University. We met with one of the professors there and learned about Water Watch. They are teaching communities all over the world how to take care of their watersheds. We had lunch at Auburn UMC, a very mission minded church with 4000 members. They have been having mission teams since the 90’s and raised the money to help SIFAT build a bridge in Bolivia. On our way home we stopped in at Auburn’s fisheries and learned about fish farms. Many tropical communities have ponds of tilapia for cash crops. Auburn fisheries are the best in the world.

The international students are going to Ft. Walton Beach for the weekend to speak at the First UMC there. A couple of the U.S. students are going to take the weekend off and maybe go hiking or to a movie – for sure out to dinner. We are supposed to get hooked up to DSL next week. We have been praying that would happen because out internet service is really slow.

My seedlings in my tire gardens (my class project) are really growing and I’ll post some pictures on Facebook when we get DSL.

Love to all,


Hola again from Bolivia…. I mentioned in my previous writing that bugs and insects have been a normal part of my  life here in the jungle of Ixiamas.  I wrote also that I was beaten by giant ants and wasp.  To continue with my story. One time, I was cleaning my room; suddenly I noticed a tarantula crawling on my window. In my surprise, I screamed. “Aaah!”

Well, I have seen several tarantulas around Internado, I was just startled to see it right in my room, that I didn’t realized I screamed. Then just the other weekend, some of us went hiking to the falls and I came back with sores and bug bites all over my legs and arms.

Almost every night, Bolivar the cat, would be on the ledge of the hall on the third floor, waiting for  a prey.  His supper is usually a variety of all kinds of bugs and insects, of different sizes, color and shape. One evening I was by the hall of the third floor where my room is. I was quietly reading a book, Bolivar suddenly jumped out from the air behind me! On his mouth was a small creature crying “iiik! Iiik!” At first I thought it was a tarantula, I could not see clearly as the light was not bright enough. With the “iiik!” sound, I recognized it  must be a small bat. Bolivar played with it before he chewed on it, right before my eyes. I was yelling. “Bolivar don’t eat it here, go away. Enjoy your feast somewhere!”

Anyway, in fairness,  I have not seen such beautiful birds and butterflies as much as I have seen it here in Ixiamas.

A Hike to the Falls

The other weekend, as the kids took off for a short break from school, Rachel, Mateo with a couple of kids visited an American family who live in beautiful prairie land in the middle of the forest. Every weekend we wait for them in town as they sell fresh milk, cheese and other stuff from their farm on their horse buggy. It is always been a joy every time I see them on their buggy with their goodies. I feel like being back in time, like the year of 1800’s.

Oh, how I love going to their house in the middle of a beautiful pastureland. It is a rough and rugged road through the woods driving to their place, but it is always worth the trip.

The trek began from their field in the middle of the forest.  It was a team of 3 Americans, 2 Bolivianos, 3 kids, me and 6 dogs. (Two of the dogs are from Internado). Our guides, the Bailers, the young guy came with his hunting rifle and hunting knife.   We passed many tall, small and old trees, bushes, ferns, and all kinds of wild flower, grass and plants. The kids treaded the forest like deer, they went fast. However, the Internado older folks were all careful and slow with our paces and strides as we went under and over some huge, old fallen trees and logs. Then the trail wound up to a river and stream. We continued hiking and treading over big rocks, some are mossy and slippery. I was all careful not to get my hiking shoes wet, but there was no way to keep it dry. When I can’t climb through the rocks, and between small stones, I just walked right in the water,  and didn’t care that my hiking shoes are all wet. We  stop once in a while to drink from the cool water of the stream. We stop and rested on some huge rocks after an hour hike as we passed a tall and high falls, with little water cascading down to a small stream at the bottom.  I asked our guide, Marvin,  “ Is this the fall? It’s beautiful”.  He said, yes it‘s one of the Falls, but there‘s more we are just half way. . I was already feeling exhausted, but hearing it was only half-way, meaning another hour of hike. We moved on and continued to follow the river trail.

I noticed the small dogs struggled as I heard them cry and yelp whenever they could not go over some high trails. One of us would help them to climb up, or just carry them. A few times I saw Snicker, the Internado small dog, slid down  from the big  rocks. Some of the bigger dogs just swam straight to the stream as they follow us.  Some of us adults had slid down the slippery and mossy rocks. Then, I whenever I look at our guides, they were patiently waiting for us, as they would be sitting and relaxing over the huge rocks. (In fairness they have been going to that trail for the last 7 years.) They literally grew up playing and hiking in that trail. When we got to the end of the trail and saw this gorgeous and breath taking falls right in the heart of the jungle, I forgot all the exhaustion and from the hike. It was about 20 feet tall falls  with plenty and clear water flowing from the top  down to a small looking-like a -lagoon that is connected to the river and stream. The water was clear and clean. I was praising God for the beauty of His creation!

However of all the time to capture the gorgeous scenery,, lo and behold, my camera was not working! Earlier in the trail I tripped over a huge rock and my camera went down to the  water. ooouch, I was not hurt but I cried for my camera. (As of now my camera is working after drying it, thank God!)
Our hosts and the other guide Lila, brought picnic lunch for us. We all ate a good lunch by the falls, and went all swimming and playing in the water after.
Then we had to hike back so it won’t be dark on the trail. It was another 2 hours hike back.
I tried to go  faster so our guide won’t be so bored waiting  for us. One time I noticed  the young guy, holding his hunting knife and a peace of small wood on his hands, while we were all struggling treading the trail.  No matter how I tried to go faster, I still was not able to catch up with them. After the two hours hike we got back to the woods, and  just before we turned to return to the prairieland of our guide, the young gentleman showed us a piece of wood. It was a carving of a spoon (like a dining spoon)!  We were all so impressed that he was able to make a spoon wood carving during our stops as he waited for us!
When we came back to the Internado, I was all tired and wet and I had bug bites on my legs and arms. However, I was so happy as it was one the best hike I had and it was  more challenging than the rest of the jungle tours I had in Bolivia. I really enjoyed that hike  though and was thankful to Our Lord  for that special trip. To our past Interns, I’m sorry guys you missed the fun and this adventure.