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Don’t forget SIFAT also has a cause on Facebook, where you can help us raise money by donating online, setting fundraising goals and getting birthday gifts donated in your honor.

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 intern 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.

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time is going by. In three months, I will be traveling back to the US. It seems like I am just really getting started. The last month has been very busy with the English classes really rolling now. I have five students from town, four staff members and, of course, the kids. Reaching out to the people in town with more training is one of the goals of the Internado this year. We feel the English classes are a good start. Can’t you just hear all these Bolivians speaking English with my southern accent? My Spanish is coming along much better and will greatly improve this month with Rachel traveling for several weeks.

The last week we had an outbreak of what they call gripe here. It’s what we would call a virus. Some with headaches and fever, sore throats and a few had vomiting. Five of the students and two staff members were really sick for a few days.  Two of the girls dehydrated and were admitted to the hospital for IV fluids. It seemed like we were back and forth to the hospital many times a day for several days. Sunday, the last girl came home, and no one else has been sick since Friday.   Friday night, three doctors from the hospital came out to give some instructions on prevention and check every one. They also went through our medicine cabinet and made suggestions of things we may need to have on hand.

The end of August, I had a surprise visit from Sophia that I met here on my first mission trip in 2007. We met at the church in Marivel and Miguel’s community. The day we met, we had an immediate connection, and I knew at that moment I would be coming back to Bolivia. She told me that she prayed daily for me after that until God assured her I would be coming back. Her visit was so great because we again felt connected as sisters in Christ. This time I could talk to her some and understand part of what she was saying to me. Rachel translated part of our conversation, but we shared our own feelings with my limited Spanish. She asked me several times if I was happy and content here, and I could honestly say very much so. It made me really do some reflecting. I do miss home and family, but I really am quite at home here with the kids. God has blessed me with very wonderful family here in Bolivia.

One morning, a pair of macaws circled several times really close to where I was standing, allowing me a great look. The colors are so vivid, brilliant yellow on the underside and iridescent blue on top. Of course, I didn’t have my camera on me. They fly over every morning and evening, but they are usually too far away to see the colors. They are one of God’s gifts of beauty here.

A couple of Saturdays ago, it was deep cleaning for the kids’ rooms and lice treatment for them. What an experience!   Guess who shampooed every one’s heads. I have never seen girls with so much hair. They all have this beautiful long, thick dark hair that is really hard to cover with the shampoo.

The Mennonite lady, Sarah, brought me some buttermilk, but we had been without power for a week and the refrigerator was not working, so Rachel and I decided to bake everything we could think of that called for buttermilk. I made over 50 buttermilk biscuits and corn bread muffins. I had cornbread and buttermilk for breakfast.  Rachel made a really great coffee cake. As you can see, there is never a dull moment around here.

Thanks for all the prayers.

Hasta luego,

Hermana Rebecca

The 2009 Practicum has begun! This marks our second week of classes. Most of last week was spent learning “the basics” – computer and Internet training, cross cultural studies and learning important Southern words/phrases, such as y’all. This fall, one of our American students, Katherine Harrison, will be writing about her experiences for our blog. Below is one of her reflections from last week, introducing herself and why she is participating in the Practicum. Katherine is a member of Brookhaven UMC (Brookhaven, Miss.) and was a member of their SIFAT mission team to Ecuador in July 2009. Katherine is also keeping a personal blog here.
When everything falls away and you find yourself alone with God, looking up and saying “Now what??”

Through more tears than I can count and a strange meandering path, God has brought me here to the SIFAT campus. I say He brought me here because I was unsure I would be able to attend. In fact, by the middle of last week, I had begun making plans not to attend and to continue on this spiritual journey at home (for the moment). But God and Kathy Bryson had other plans and the SIFAT door kept opening back up even though I was steady trying to close it.

I have an image of me leveraging my weight against a door to close it and there’s this big God-sized foot lodged in there to keep it open.

So here I am and I can honestly tell you I have no idea why or where it may lead. That’s not to say I am not focused or enthusiastic about being here. I am! I feel so blessed! I also feel a bit unworthy. I am not a community leader, a pastor, the head of some organization or a full-time missionary. These people are established and they know their place in God’s kingdom. They have specific missions to carry out. God may change those plans mid-stream, I know, but they at least have a stream. I don’t.