Our current intern in Ixiamas, Bolivia, is 2008 Practicum graduate Becky Forrest. During Practicum, Becky shared her experience on our blog. Now that she is in an intetn in Bolivia, she will post updates as our interns in 2008 did. Becky served on short-term mission trips in 2007 and 2008 in Ixiamas.

Life is definitely never boring here at the Internado. On April 5, I left Ixiamas by bus for LaPaz to start on my work visa, since my tourist visa will expire on Apr. 25. Rachel was already in LaPaz on business, so I would be meeting her there. God blessed me with a traveling companion that spoke English. My fear of traveling alone was taken care of by his grace. The trip up the road was uneventful, and I arrived bright and early Monday morning after only 26 hours of travel.

When we arrived that afternoon at the immigration department, we discovered that I would have to leave the country in order to obtain my work visa. We took care of all necessary paperwork we could. I have to wait until it is ready in a couple of weeks. We decided it would be best for me to return to Ixiamas with Rachel on Thursday.

Two trips on the road in less than a week, am I nuts? The trip down was great until we arrived in Rurre early Friday morning with rain coming down in buckets. Rurre is a river town on the Beni River, and there is no bridge. The bus has to cross the river on a pontoon boat, while the passengers cross by water taxi. After having a quick breakfast, we crossed the river to wait on the bus. We waited and waited. It would not stop raining, and we knew the road to Ixiamas would be getting bad. Finally, we were told to get our luggage off the bus that it was going back to LaPaz, since they could not cross in the rain. We would have to travel the rest of the way by mini bus. Around 3 p.m., we boarded a mini bus for Ixiamas. Rachel was really glad when she saw the driver because she had traveled with him many times and said he was really a good driver. On the road from Rurre to Ixiamas there are not many bridges but there are many rivers and streams. It had been raining since Thursday night, so the water was high. We knew there was a chance we would have to come back. But we had the world’s greatest mini bus driver. Several times, he would get out and walk across the river to find just the right path to take in crossing. He even made a snorkel out of soda bottles. Eventually, we arrived at a river too deep to cross. All of the passengers decided to cross on foot and walk the hour it would take to get to the next town, Tumupasa. I just knew I could not make it after being up for around 36 hours. So Rachel and I stayed with the bus–knowing we may have to sleep there. We watched the river as the sun went down, and it seemed to be receding some. We also noticed that the driver had walked down to the woods and was gone a really long time. Upon his return, he said he had found an old road and a way to cross the river where the water was shallow enough. I could not believe we were driving down what looked to me as a path in the jungle, but he got us across the river and we arrived in Tumupasa in time for supper. We got a room in the little hotel there for the night. Early Saturday morning, we arrived safely in Ixiamas after 42 hours of travel.

Ixiamas was a very beautiful sight that morning. It was Easter weekend so all of the kids had gone home for the holiday to be with their families. It was so great to see them again when they returned Sunday night.

I leave Saturday for LaPaz again, and then on to Puno, Peru, so when I return I will pass along my travel tells from that journey. Thank you for all the prayers for my visa problems. I am sure God will take care of all the details. As I was told in an email, this is just a hiccup in His plans for me here.


Hermana Rebecca (Becky)

People interested in participating in SIFAT’s community development training often cannot take part in our 10-week international Practicum. This spring, we are offering a two-week Field Study Course highlighting hunger and malnutrition. Kathy Bryson, our international training director, has written a letter below to those interested. At the bottom of this post, we have included some links to our training information on the SIFAT website.
Dear Friends,

Do you want to learn practical skills to address hunger and malnutrition in the developing world?  Come join us at SIFAT for two weeks (May 17- May 30) of intensive hands-on learning that will give you a tool-kit to address basic human needs. 

Learn roof-top gardening, build a simple solar cooker, make leaf concentrate to treat malnourished children, learn some simple technologies for clean water and sanitation, build fuel-efficient cookstoves, learn to preserve foods and “refrigerate” without electricity and much more…..At the same time you learn practical skills, your understanding of world hunger and community development issues will deepen through participatory activities.

Classes will be taught at SIFAT’s 176-acre rural International Training Campus outside of Lineville, Alabama (1.5 hours from Atlanta or Birmingham).  Some hands-on components will be in our simulated Global Village.     

SIFAT Trainers are experienced in international development and cross-cultural dynamics.  Additionally, we are partnering with several outstanding instructors for this training including Dr. Martin Price of ECHO, Dr. Larry Winiarski (Rocket Stove inventor), and Dave Kennedy, founder of Leaf for Life.

This field study is designed for grass-roots community workers, university students, missionaries, development organization workers, and those who want to learn how to make a difference in meeting the needs of a hungry world. This course was first developed with NIH grant funds through the Sparkman Center for Global Health and the University of Alabama in Birmingham,School of Public Health. 

Click here for additional information about this course, as well as a registration form, course flyer and course objectives.

Please e-mail me with any questions.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Kathy C. Bryson, MPH, MHS

International Training Director
SIFAT (Southern Institute for Appropriate Technology/Servants in Faith and Technology)
2944 County Road 113
Lineville, AL  36266
(256) 396-2015


Quick links:

Our current intern in Ixiamas, Bolivia, is 2008 Practicum graduate Becky Forrest. During Practicum, Becky shared her experience on our blog. Now that she is in an intetn in Bolivia, she will post updates as our interns in 2008 did. Becky served on short-term mission trips in 2007 and 2008 in Ixiamas.

What an exciting 2 weeks! My birthday was March 21, and the kids gave me a party. Chocolate cake, my favorite, but the Bolivian way to have cake on your birthday is that your first bite has to be face first into the cake. Needless to say, I had cake all over my face. Two of the older kids held my head to make sure I got a good bite. They laughed very hard at me. They all made me cards, and Rachel gave me an apple and grapes that were a real treat to have fresh fruit. It was definitely a birthday I will not forget.

On Friday when I went to check my email, I had two mp3 files, one with Pastor Mike´s sermon and the other with the choir’s anthem from Belin UMC. What a wonderful gift it was! I had really been missing church in English. I couldn´t get home fast enough to listen to them. For those who don´t know, Belin has the greatest choir and God blessed me by being a part of them for many years. They are also my largest group of prayer warriors and donors. Several people were involved in creating a file small enough for me to download quickly since I have to pay for my internet use by the minute. I want to send a special thanks to Mark, Chip and John for taking the time to do that for me. You have no idea what it means to me.

Saturday was our great field trip for the kid’s hard work in the Chaco harvesting the rice. We went to visit a Mennonite family from Tennessee that has a farm out past Two Trees. We had to walk part of the way there because of the heavy rains we’ve had, and we were afraid we might get our four wheel drive truck stuck. Their house is deep in the jungle and what a great farm they have. It was like stepping back in time at least 100 years. They have no electricity, but they do have a small solar panel for lights at night. We had church there with them, and it was nice to sing familiar hymns even though they were in Spanish. The pastor gave his message in Spanish and English since there were only 2 of us that did not speak Spanish. The other lady was visiting a Russian family here and is from Canada. After a very nice lunch the kids went with Mervin up to a deep swimming hole in the river that comes down from the mountains. They had wanted to hike up to a big waterfall but the river was too high. I stayed and visited with the family in their very nice home. It was hard to believe we were as far away from everything as we were. They had a very nice stream that ran beside the house, and they pumped water up to a holding tank that ran to the house. They are building a place to house tourists to come and learn about organic farming. As we were leaving they ask me if I had eaten wild pig yet. When they found out I had not, they insisted on giving me some. She said she usually cooked it with onions and garlic. So Sunday, I tried my hand at cooking wild pig and it turned out very good or so everyone said.

In Christ,

Hermana Rebecca (Becky)