Lent in Bolivia

On Ash Wednesday when Tom reminded me that it was a day of fasting, indignation and disappointment rushed into my mind as I thought, “wait I still have to do that here?”   Possibly because I’ve felt like I’ve been fasting and sacrificing for the past 6 months, I subconsciously thought that lenten fasting wouldn’t apply to me.  Isn’t everyday Lent here compared to home?

But this thought process just forced me to take a step back and count all my blessings here.  I need to get out of the mindset of listing what I miss from the U.S. and instead appreciate all the amazing things I get to experience here that are only temporary.   So for Lent Tom and I have both resolved to use more of our time for the greater glory of God and less time dwelling in personal comfort.  To this end I have given up watching American TV shows which I like to watch to “forget” I’m in Bolivia, and instead I am doing more reflection, prayer and blog-writing.

This evening I had company while I was reading my Lenten reflection.  As I read aloud, Isaias lay on the floor next to my computer smiling contentedly and showing off his 1 year old teeth.  He’s living with the Sisters right now to get some extra attention that he can’t receive at the Hogar.  Isaias came to the Sisters as an infant when his mother died of brain cancer.  She was already sick when she became pregnant and the father immediately renounced the sick woman and the baby.  Isaias had a rough start from conception and was never properly nourished.   During a surgical attempt to remove her tumor, the mother died when Isaias was only a few months old.   Alone and anemic, Isaias arrived at the Hogar and despite attempts to fatten him up he’s still a little skinny and developmentally behind for his age.  Particularly, he’s having a lot of trouble crawling and walking, so the Sisters brought him to the convent to feed him well and provide him more one-on-one locomotion practice.   This is how Isaias ended up on my floor tonight.  He had been crying in the office of the Guarderia with Madre Inez so I took him back to our house to play until she was done working.  The lenten reflection I was reading was motivational and suggested ways we could take up our cross and follow Jesus: spend 5-10 minutes in prayer, reach out to someone each day, find something each day to be grateful for.   Looking down at Isaias I realized I had taken up my cross that day without even knowing it.  I had never felt such a strong conviction before that I was serving Christ with my whole heart.  It was one of those fleeting moments in life when you can say with absolute certainty, “yes, this is where I’m meant to be.”

Isaias with milk mustache : )

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