Leaving Montero

Leaving Montero was bittersweet.  While we were looking forward to seeing family and friends after so long an absence, it’s heart-wrenching to say goodbye to so many new friends when our return is uncertain. 

The Sisters were very sweet and thanked us multiple times for our service.  We stayed for Madre Clara’s 25th anniversary of her vows on Saturday, Dec. 8.  It was a beautiful celebration of the huge contribution Madre Clara has made and the sisters took advantage of the ocasion to give us a public thank you. You can see some pictures of our last days on their blog: http://sscjbolivia.blogspot.com/  Scroll down to ‘Bodas de Plata’

Sunday night we went around the Hogar and gave all the girls a hug goodbye.  Then the Sisters had a despedida (going-away party) for us in the convent with dancing and a nice dinner.  On Monday, Madre Rosario arranged for the Hogar bus to take us to the airport so that a leaving party of about 20 girls could accompany us.  The girls were very excited to help carry our bags.

Tom’s backpack was so heavy we had Ofelia and Alejandra carry it together.

They all got in line with us for the flight and apparently caused such  disturbance that they moved us up to the first-class line just to get us out of the line faster.  :)   Then we had to go up the escalator to the waiting area which is always hilarious with Hogar girls since they don’t have enough experience with escalators to know how to step on them.  They hover around watching other people do it trying to work up the courage until airport staff come and make them use the stairs.  We went up to the observation deck since we had time to kill and found one of these huge water bugs up there.

Then it was time to go through security and we had to actually say goodbye.  The girls sang to us “Les damos las muchas gracias”  “We give you many thanks” and I cried a lot.

The send-off party

Then as we were sitting inside after security and customs (and the usual pat-down for drugs) I started feeling sick and well, you know the end to that story.

Arrived safely!

We arrived in St. Louis just past midnight with no problems, no bags lost and mostly healthy.  It appears Bolivia gave us both the stomach flu as a parting gift.  One of the hazards of hugging 100 beautiful little girls goodbye.  Nothing some sleep and clear fluids can’t fix though.  Pics to come… (of the parting, not the stomach flu)


The End is Here

We are now in our last days in Bolivia.  We’ve had a whirlwind last two months, finishing up the school year, celebrating Thanksgiving, doing three god-daughter’s birthday parties and traveling for a week in Argentina.  Now we’re just packing up our bags, celebrating Madre Clara’s 25th anniversary of her religious vows, and getting on the plane.

At 10pm on Monday, December 10th we land in St. Louis and officially end our time as volunteers/missionaries.  It’s been an amazing two years, amazingly difficult and amazingly rewarding.  Since we want to enjoy the last of our time here as much as possible we haven’t been and won’t be updating the blog until we’re settled stateside.  But we promise between now and Christmas to catch you up on all the adventures and fun times we’ve had in November and December.  Thank you for reading our blog, please stay-tuned also for post-service reflections.  We’ve been told the deepest of the reverse culture shock doesn’t hit until 6 months back so check back in June if you’d like to hear how that’s going.  Off to pack, see you all in the US of A!