Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A is for Angela

If you read my "B is for Bolivia" post last week, you know that a young lady named Angela was staying with us while waiting to get a flight back into that country after protesters had seized the airports there. Apparently, folks down there are getting pretty upset with the socialist president, Evo Morales, who is closely aligned with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Morales, who is Bolivia's first indigenous president, has nationalized the natural gas industry, among other things. Many who live in the eastern regions rich in these resources are fighting for autonomy. I read one news story in which a commentator declared that the country is just plain ungovernable. Not very hopeful, is it? Another family friend of ours, a native Bolivian who lives in Cochabamba, has reported that things are just awful, with bread costing six times as much as it did before, and rampant corruption and unrest. Fortunately, things at least settled down enough that Angela was able to fly home to Bolivia on Sunday. She said that once she gets out into the rural areas where she lives, things are mostly peaceful anyway. Still, her calmness and contentment amazes me.

Angela, who is on the left in this picture, made a big impression on us. She is so sweet! I just love her gentle and simple personality. I asked her what she misses about the USA when she's in Bolivia, where she has lived for 8 years, since she was 19. Her reply? "My family!" Then I asked what she missed about Bolivia when she was in the USA. "EVERYTHING!" When she is down there, she lives a pretty primitive lifestyle. Eating red meat or fresh vegetables is rare. She doesn't drive. She organizes Sunday School classes not only at the mission in the small town of Entre Rios, but also travels around to six other villages by bus or on foot, which can take hours. While traveling, she has to carry along her supplies, like Sunday School papers and books for the kids. She has to travel all the way to Tarija to get copies made, though she is contemplating buying a copy machine for the mission. Somebody gave the mission enough equipment to start a small TV station, which they use to broadcast family-friendly programs like Little House on the Prairie in Spanish. They intersperse this with Christian programs, such as excerpts from the Jesus Movie. In addition to Spanish, which she learned at the YWAM school in Santa Cruz, Angela has had to learn one of the native languages that I can't even spell, and will eventually learn others as well. She says the children love books and that she read them the entire Spanish language translation of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

One of the days she was here, I asked her to tell us about her life in Bolivia. I tried to record it on my MP3 player, but I didn't have it close enough to her. I could barely hear it when I went to replay it, but I'm going to listen closely and write some of it down later. However, she did tell us about the time she was hitchhiking and a red truck passed her by. She was wondering why it didn't stop for her since there was room for more passengers, but a blue truck did pick her up. Shortly thereafter, they passed that red truck teetering off the side of the mountain road... Traveling there is extremely hazardous! Another time, Angela came across a newly killed rattlesnake, still wriggling, directly in her path. If she had walked by there just a few minutes earlier...

Our kids really enjoyed Angela, and it's obvious that she loves kids, too! One day Julia was able to take off work and go to the beach with her, but she hung around with us for a few days at the house, too. It seems like Melody was on her lap most of the time. She played countless games of Sorry, Rummikub, and Hangman with our little ones. On Thursday morning, she went to the "Mom's Meeting" at church with me, and got to see a lot of people she had met at our church before, some of whom had been to Bolivia on Mission:X teams like my Julia.

Our house is a pretty busy place to be with so many of us here all the time, but she held up surprisingly well! Melody keeps asking where Angela is, even sleeptalking about her at night! As for me, I have been more inspired to declutter the house. If she can live a very simple life, we can at least learn to live with a little less stuff! I had commented to her about this, and she acknowledged that it takes so much more time to care for things when you have more. It's obvious that she prefers to spend her time caring for people instead of things.

I think of Angela often, and pray for her, too. After all "B is for Bolivia!" May God richly bless her life that so passionately honors Him!

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