Tomorrow (October 21) is the annual World Mission Sunday for the catholic church all around the world. As such, we thought it would be a great idea to give all of our blog readers an update on how things are going at our mission site.
The end of our school year is coming quickly; in Bolivia the school year runs Feb – Nov. The kindergarten finishes up classes the first week of November and then has graduation November 13th. Laura has had another very successful year teaching computer class at the kindergarten for the ~300 students each week. This year they have learned the basic parts of the computer, how to move the mouse, click, double click, and drag (while also learning to identify letters, numbers, countries, and other kinder-level activities), and where the keys are on the keyboard.
My (Tom) multimedia class has just started its last section of the semester, video editing, after already completing the photo, graphics, and audio editing sections. This semester the class was popular enough to fill up all the slots, so it was extra busy with making sure all the students were getting enough attention. Looking back, this course has been a great success with several dozen students having completed the grueling five month course. (5 days per week, 2hr per day)
Also at the Institute, Laura is finishing up with her second set of students for the year-long English course. The students leave the class with basic conversational abilities as well as reading, writing and listening skills. Besides the students learning her midwestern accent, Laura makes an effort expose the students to different English accents by bringing in other native english speakers from around the U.S. as well as the U.K. Most of her students will either be teaching English themselves someday or using their English to work in industry, technical services or international business.
In leading the Infancia Missionera group (roughly translated to child/young missionaries), Laura is helping children from the neighborhood to learn that everyone is called to be a missionary and bring Christ’s love to those in their communities. Each week she has around 20 children 6-12 yrs old that meet for an hour to sing, play, color and learn about how to be a good person.
Though we don’t have any official responsibilities at the hogar (girls home), the girls there are never very far from our thoughts. On Sundays we each walk one or two girls to mass and sit with them through the service. Laura has also been running a “Venta de Valores” (Store of Values) where the girls receive tickets for showing good values: helping out, being truthful, etc, that can be exchanged for small items like jewlery, kleenex packets, or shampoo. In addition, Laura has been spending an hour each week with our god-daughter Carmen helping her learn to read.
The best news we’ve gotten in the last couple months is that we are getting replaced! The two new missionaries that the Salesians sent down arrived in August and September and we’re working hard to get them up to speed on everything.
We’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received from family and friends back home. We wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of what we have accomplished without your support!
As we get set to leave here, we are especially looking at ways to keep the work that we’ve started going even after we leave. For the class that I started, we would really like to get a Bolivian teacher to start teaching it, so that it isn’t dependent on volunteers continuously working here. To make this happen, we would like to raise part of the salary for the teacher for the first year, so that the sisters have some time to budget in this new position. If we can hire someone in the next month, then I will be able to work with her (she’s a former student of mine) to hand off some of the behind-the-scenes stuff.
We are also hoping to raise some money for continuing maintenance for the computer labs. My lab gets used heavily and every semester I usually have to replace a part or two. Laura’s computer lab in the kindergarten doesn’t have to do any heavy-duty computation, but half the computers are 10+ years old and frequently die, we have a goal of replacing a few each year, so that there are always enough working that each of the students in a class (~30) can use their own.
If you would like to donate to support these efforts, please see the ‘Donations’ link at the top of the page or click here. If you want to send a tax-deductible donation to the sisters, please send us an e-mail at the same time, so we can make sure that your donation gets routed correctly.
Finally, please keep us, our students, and the people of our community in your prayers. The people here can use all that they can get, and we have a big transition coming up with our move back to the states.
Want to hear more?
The other part of our mission that we took on when we came down here, aside from serving the people here, was to show what life was like in a developing nation (hence we have this blog!). When we get back, we would love to talk to families, church groups, school classes, etc about our experiences. If you know of a group that would like to hear from us, let us know and we can set something up (firstname.lastname@example.org 314-266-8359).