Many have ask me to write about our time serving the Lord overseas. So to do that I thought I would start with a prayer card.
There we are, fresh, excited, ready to begin the adventure of dorm parenting.
First, lets back up a little... we were heading to another country, not Bolivia, SA. God changed our direction by a need in the New Tribes Mission boarding school, Tambo in Bolivia, South America. After talking to our pastor about this possible change of direction he was confident God had trained us for this kind of ministry. We had always worked with children and teens at our home church. This was April, 1991, the leadership ask us to consider going to be dorm parents and they wanted us there in August 1991. We had two more months of training with New Tribes. And two months to raise financial support...SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.
We arrived in Bolivia seven days before school started We flew into Santa Cruz, spent the night at our mission guest house. Next morning we boarded a bus for about 40 people with over 60 people on it. To say it was close quarters is an understatement. STILL SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.
Our daughter was a 10th grader struggling with homesickness already which took all the adventure out of that bus ride. After six hours we headed down our last mountains, we could see the lights of the boarding school. Then just like that, they went out and one of the other missionaries said, oh the generator just went off at Tambo. Hello, welcome to darkness...
Our daughter groaned and our son, 6th grade was quieter then usual as we headed to the boarding school. And I was not feeling adventurous either. Six hours on a crowded bus with all the smells, sweat , wood smoke, tobacco, chicken poop, other poop, urine, and unknown smells along with a bumpy roads had my stomach churning the chicken foot soup we ate at one of the bus stops. .
But at last we were there, Bienvendedo Tambo, Welcome to Tambo the school sign said. Our family along with about six other missionaries families got off the bus in darkness with only a few stars helping us see. The only other light was the flashlight from the one person who walked us to our houses. We were six thousand feet above sea level in the foot hills of the Andre's mountain, it was cold. The helpers on the bus threw our duffel bags down from the top of the bus along with everyone else bags. The thought of looking around where we were going to call home for seven to eight years was not appealing and besides, remember, the generator was off, no lights. We did the only sensible thing, crawled into bed with our clothes on and tried to sleep. It was cold. IT REALLY SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.
As I woke the next morning my eyes lit on a huge crack in our bedroom wall, running from top to bottom of the wall and all I could think about was, any kind of bug, critter could come through that crack which they did. Another story , another time.
Ace I roused the kids up and we went to a good breakfast fixed by staff who was already there. After a few instructions we were finally able to view where we would live. I love to tell people I lived in a an 11 bedroom house during our years at Tambo. And that is the truth, it did have 11 bedrooms. A huge bathroom with four toilets, and four showers off the back of our house for the high school guys that would live in those 10 extra bedrooms. A huge living room with a great fireplace ( no furnance) to take the chill off in those cold evenings, a dining room and kitchen. We had our own living room off our bedroom and bath. And an extra bath in the hallway. Ok, enough room for all of us, me, my husband, our son and, like I said 16 high school guys. The day the guys arrived our daughter went to live in the high school girls dorm, just a building away from us. That part seemed the most impossible to adjust to, for us and her too.
The day finally arrive and off a huge bus and from cars and small single wing planes came all sizes of children. All the high school guys arrived, from five different nationalities, some came with their parents, some came alone but they all came. This was a Sat, just a week from when we arrived. STILL SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE. But each guy and the parents who came made us feel welcome and before we knew it was Monday, the parents had left and the first day of school started. While the guys were in school some of the staff met with us to explain how Tambo operated. They assured us we would get the hang of it and we did. That first night with the guys we had devotions and a time of just getting to know a little about each other. Our biggest concern was trying to remember their names. Before we knew it the lights went out and we all went to bed, we survived our first day. We were responsible for 16 high school guys that year which was over whelming. Remember though we still have two children. Our son Jared could stay in our dorm in a bedroom closest to us. Our daughter was in the high school girls dorm, being terrible homesick. THIS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE.
The school was located 150 miles from a city either direction. It sit off the Panamanian Highway which was only dirt road by the time it got to us. Mountains were surrounding us, but they were not filled with green trees and foliage. The Tambo Valley was a dry desert with cactus everywhere, much like Arizona. If you ever watched the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, well they were killed not far from our school. So we were pretty remote with only little villages scattered all over the valley. We had to wonder why in the world did New Tribes locate the school there? Well, when land is given free you just make the best of it and they had certainly did that. Our buildings were made with adobe bricks with plastered walls and floors were concrete. Sounds kind of drab doesn't it and it would be if it were not full of kids ranging from first grade to twelfth grade and probably 30 some staff, some teachers, their families, dorm parents, cooks, we even had our own farm run by a missionary from the states. They pasteurized the milk, made all our cheese, raised pigs, cattle and the hay to feed the cattle. We bought our veggies and fruit from the local markets. The place grew on us each day. It was a simple life, not complicated by what cities life bring and pretty soon it DID NOT SEEM IMPOSSIBLE, except for our daughter getting adjusted. But I'll write about that next time.
What are you facing that seems impossible?