Greetings from Monteagudo, Bolivia!
The last couple of weeks has been extremely busy and hectic...moving always is. We left Tambo a week ago this past Saturday, feeling a little bit like the Beverly Hillbillies...that is all of our stuff jam packed and heaped on the back of our pick-up. Thank you so much for praying concerning finding parts for our truck...we were able to find them all in Santa Cruz, Praise the Lord! Our trip here was, more than anything, a crash course in diesel mechanics. We found out the hard way that a diesel engine does not go with any air in the fuel lines...we had a few difficult moments, but in each case the Lord showed Himself faithful and we arrived here in Monteagudo safe and sound. Our trip from Santa Cruz to Taparillas was 15 hours, partly due to a roadblock (the usual form of protest in Bolivia)...after a journalist arrived to cover their grievances, the roadblock was lifted; later we saw an newspaper article about it all, including a picture in which Bill stands out a head above the Bolivians! We were very grateful that we only had to wait two and half hours, as road blocks here often last for days. Thanks so much for your prayers as we traveled.
We are definitely in immersion time now here in Monteagudo, especially as we are living near the center of town. Monteagudo has been a very busy place since our arrival, due to the fact that we arrived on the day the whole province was celebrating its anniversary, with a presidential candidate arriving the next day (election here is the end of June), and the Bolivian Mother's Day the following day. Each of these events was celebrated well into the night with much volume, so our Spanish immersion has been about 20 hours/day! Last night, a group of serenaders arrived at the room next to us to sing to the mother who lives there (a gift from her children)...at about 1:00am!! (but at least they were good :) )
We are finally beginning to feel settled here. It has been challenging to make a workable living situation out of two rooms (about 15' X 15' each). The third room was never vacated, but we are enjoying getting to know these neighbors...an older lady (Senora Viki) and a young lady (Yanita) from the country boarding with her while attending High School. Yanita is studying English with Kathleen tonight, and a promising relationship has begun to develop. Yanita's mother died when she was young, and she seems to have a very hungry heart for love. She blessed Kathleen this morning (Mother's Day) with a card and a bouquet of flowers!
The greatest challenge living here is the water and bathroom situation. The nearest water is about 30 yards from the rooms where we live, where the bathroom is. There is only cold water, and the bathroom has neither light nor window...minor details that seemed to escape the notice of the builders.
All challenges aside, our purpose in being here the next two months is several fold...our desire is to get to know some of the shops and their owners, as this is where we will be buying our supplies in the future. As well, we hope to be more immersed in Spanish than we were in Tambo...and on that account things look hopeful, as it seems we are the only English speakers in town. We are hoping the the kids get lots of Spanish exposure too...right now they are a little timid and quite self conscious, noticing the other kids staring at them with comments such as 'gringo'. We very much covet your prayers for them. Lastly, we look to the Lord that, despite our short time here, there would be eternal fruit borne in the lives of even just a few who are already kindly disposed to the Savior. Please pray with us to that end.
We are sending this out over our ham radio, which is yet untested, trusting that it will find you and that your heart is at rest in the unlimited grace of God. By the way, our new email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
May God bless you!
Love in Christ,
Bill and Kathleen, Josh, Jon and Jesse Mann
PS-May 29th--The ham email system has been down as the missionary in charge of the server had to be flown out to have his appendix out (please pray for Brian's recovery--praise the Lord that they were able to remove it before it ruptured). Since we hadn't been able to send this letter yet, we wanted to share a neat answer to prayer that we saw today. We'd been praying for opportunities for learning Spanish for the boys (all the Bolivian kids will be in school our whole time here, so play time is limited). Today, Don Nestor, a man who has been very friendly and helpful to missionaries, offered to have Josh work with him (he has a motorcycle repair shop) and practice Spanish that way. He also told us of a school for preschoolers (ages 4 and 5) where Jon and Jesse might be able to "help out" and learn Spanish along with the children as they learn colors, numbers, etc. The Principal of that school was more than helpful, offering class time to the boys from 9:00 to 12:00 each day for free! Kathleen will go along too, helping wherever possible, and enjoying the immersion situation too. Praise the Lord for His provision!