Well… A million miles away from Christmas, from friends, from family and from home really. It is weird. We obviously miss our lovely friends and family but there is a kind of lightness that comes with only having a backpack full of stuff.
We have finally got our visas. It has been such a fiasco. We waited for nine hours in immigration. The system is so inefficient and frustrating. But do not be put off, any visitors can get a 30 or 90 day stamp really easily for free! So if you would like to come out to Bolivia for a trip – let us know and we can start planning.
Our drama team are amazing! They have been so committed to practices and keen to learn lots of sketches. We have been invited to present dramas in the main plaza, at the stadium and at the University. All of these have been great opportunities to talk to people and invite them along to church. Occasionally there is a moment of panic when we realise that somebody is missing and we have to swap roles, but thankfully we practiced with extras who could step in.
This month we were invited to run a drama course in a prison/rehabilitation centre for young people. They wanted us to teach Christian values and self worth through drama and games sessions. We didn’t know what to expect as we heard some of the young people had been responsible for murder, drug trafficking and other offences. We have been overwhelmed and totally taken by surprise with their response to us. In 3 weeks we have built relationships with 9 teenage girls who come from various backgrounds but mainly from extreme poverty and abusive families/situations. The first time we met the group one of them asked if we could be their new mum and dad (we had to hold back the tears – seriously). I think it shows some of the deep needs of these young lives. Parents are welcome to visit, but not many come.
Slowly the girls are sharing little bits of information about their lives. It seems obvious that many have been neglected both physically and emotionally. The prison staff and guards seem to really care for these young people and are doing their best to teach them new skills and coping devices for life on the outside. They even have access to knives, drills, hammers and soldering equipment which is amazing. But reality hits home when each young person is searched after our visits and locked up for the night.
We never thought that our new youth group would be inmates in prison!
As we now have our visas we want to dedicate much more of our time to the youth prison and in February we want to run a programme for the boys with whom we have already made some good connections. Richard, our friend from England has made some headway with “the boys from the hood”! Looking forward to the challenge…
This week the prison had a Christmas presentation with different groups performing dance, drama and music. It felt like we were at a youth camp for while and the girls performed a drama that we had been working on (sorry not allowed to take photos). The girls put there all into the performance as the whole prison watched in silence. I will never forget the look on the girls faces as we stood in a circle and one by one they thanked us for going in and sharing our lives with them. Awesome time!
We are now starting to gather a team of Bolivians so that we can build networks for these young people in the future and we would also like to set up a drop in centre for when they leave the prison. The whole prison experience has been a totally unexpected and awesome journey for us – please keep us in your prayers.
Our Christmas diary for this year:
(Please remember us as you tuck in to your Christmas pud).
Dinner on the 24th with our spanish teacher Mauge. Chicken and chips with banoffe pie. No turkeys here I’m afraid:(
Christmas morning: calling home to speak with family and friends.
(Bolivians celebrate Christmas at midnight on the 24th).
Boxing day: 3 day mission trip on to the community of Piana with Belen church and the drama team. (Piana is way out in the mountains).
Deans duties: Drama evangelism and filming the trip.
Ruth’s duties: hair washing and cutting, feet scrubbing and toasting marshmellows.
4th January: Journey to the Jungle. 2 weeks working with a tribe in Riberalta in Pando. (This one will be quite an adventure in 80% humidity – no internet contact for 2 weeks).
Thanks for reading our update. We would like wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for all your messages and parcels. We have a few parcels which have just arrived which we are saving for Christmas day:)
with love from Dean & Ruth.
Mr D Such
Sort code 20 39 07
Account no. 50163678
(Any donations will be used to serve the different projects we are involved with).