February seems to have whizzed by in a bit of a blur… We’ve been really busy. It’s been ‘rainy season’ here, which means a couple of days of heavy rain and a few spectacular thunder and lightning storms. It’s all supposed to go back to normal at the end of this month, after Carnival and the crazy water fighting with balloons and spraying foam! But so far we’ve managed to dodge being a target (Dean insists it’s one of the advantages of having grey hair – they aim at everyone else!)
Our ministry work has been going really well. We are doing six regular presentations per week now, which keeps us rushing around from one place to another. The boys and girls at the rehabilitation centre are enjoying the Alpha course in Spanish. It’s incredible to see how they are now talking and sharing their thoughts more freely. They have got used to the structure and now volunteer answers and ideas. The topics we’ve been doing this month are about Jesus, the cross, faith and prayer. They particularly liked doing the ‘skittles prayer’ when they could pick a different type of prayer depending on what colour skittle came out of the packet.
A new group of boys have signed up for the drama course. They have been so enthusiastic and a few of the group who finished last year have been keen to come along to help. It’s funny to hear the boys explaining the meaning of the dramas to each other and hearing your own words being echoed back at you.
As planned, we have started going to another youth rehabilitation centre for girls in a district of Cochabamba called San Benito. This is for girls who have either lived on the street, and have been given the option to live in the centre or girls who have been using drugs, sniffing glue or addicted to alcohol. It is about an hour outside of the city. There are currently about 8 girls there, but it can house up to 20 and they are between 14-18 years old. After negotiating the journey, the gates and the four rather large growling dogs, we had a fabulous time with the girls, staff and even the cook joined in the games. They don’t get many visitors so they were so appreciative of our time. We are doing the 12 week drama course, where each week covers a different theme and bible verse. Some of the girls obviously have grown up going to church and one girl gave an amazing explanation of why she prays and about God’s grace. In those moments we just look at each other and cannot believe our ears. She was so excited to be able to participate in the drama and talk to her friends about what she believes.
A number of the boys and girls have left the rehabilitation centre over the past month. It is quite hard keeping in touch with them as their lives are chaotic and very transient. We’ve helped some with school supplies and materials they need to start college and one girl is interested in joining ‘Transformations’. One boy proudly told us he has a job in the big cinema and is a motorbike mechanic in the day (as well as studying at uni!?). Our friend Wilfredo came to our flat for dinner with his girlfriend and loved his Watford football shirt. He starts his third year of vet school this Spring.
We were delighted when our friend California asked if her could come to church with us. We have been visiting a number of churches to find one which is open and welcoming to the population we are working with. A church named Kairos from Santa Cruz has opened a small church plant in Cochabamba. They meet in a park, under a tree, sitting on the ground on blankets or on fishing stools. It’s very informal. There is usually a drum and either a guitar or ukulele. We are going to talk at their next family day out event on the 1st March.