Saturday, December 27, 2014


Well, I guess it's time for an update. I have left Bolivia on the 17th of this month, but I'm still dwelling in South America. I'm currently visiting my friend Carla in Brazil, who lives with her family about 2 1/2 hours north west of Sao Paulo. This small place is called Engenheiro Coelho, and it hosts part of the Sao Paulo Adventist University (UNASP). Carla is a student of architecture here.

My journey turned out a bit complicated, as I unfortunately sprained my right ankle while jogging just the day before I left Samaipata. But with the help of my friends in Bolivia, the trip actually went quite well. Although I've been a bit incapacitated, I'm enjoying my time with Carla. We haven't seen each other for about eight years after all. My foot is slowly improving, and I hope I will be able to be more active in these last few days here. As for the language, of course it's not very easy if you only speak Spanish, but I've been able to communicate with the neighbours a little bit.

Currently, it's quite hot here, about 33 degrees (90 F), but I'm still thankful that I don't have to experience the European winter this year. On Wednesday, I'll be headed to Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama. I'll be volunteering there in the Lifestyle Center. I look forward to this experience, although I'm a bit apprehensive. After all, it's already seven years ago after all that I finished my training and internship as a lifestyle counseler there; and they only opened the new Lifestyle Center after I had left. So I'm praying for an interesting and fruitful time there.

Carla with her husband Ricardo and daughter Kathlyn

The church at UNASP

Graduation of the theology students

And below you can see how sugar cane juice is being made!

Nature's candy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

More Pictures

And here are some more pictures about my experience in Bolivia:

With RenĂ© and Angelina - the two children I´ve been supporting 
With Claudia, another volunteer, and some of the younger children

The two houses of the orphanage
Angelina is getting a hair cut
The children at House 1
On a mountain tour

At the nearby zoological garden

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life at Fundacion el Sauce

I'm living in the orphanage for several weeks now and I'm enjoying my time here. There are about 20 orphans distributed in two houses. In the house I'm staying, most of the children are already between 13 and 16 years old; there are only two younger girls age 8 and almost 3. The youngest, Angelina, is one of the children I've been supporting. She is here with her mother Virginia who had her at age 13. Most of the orphans went through very difficult times in their young lives. When I read about some of their backgrounds, tears came into my eyes. These are very sad stories - stories of abandonment, abuse, and neglect. Usually, they all do have parents, but have been left behind by them. But this place is a true refuge for them, where they can thrive and grow.

The "parents" in this house are Merce and Lito, a couple from Spain. I haven't met Lito yet though, as he had to go to Spain for a while for family reasons. But from what I can see, they have been doing a great job with the kids.

In the mornings, I usually help out on the farm. Lots of produce is groing here, especially vegetables. The project has a base of customers in Santa Cruz, and every Wednesday, the produce is being delivered there. Although it's sometimes getting strenuous when the sun is shining hot, I appreciate that I can work in the garden. In the afternoons, I spend time with the children. My little friend Angelina likes to go for walks and look at books. I've also been teaching English to the children. The level is very low here, and they are obviously having a hard time with this language, nevertheless they seem to like it.

Last week, I caught a belated "Welcome-to-Bolivia-Bug", which put me out of order for three days. I made the mistake of eating an unwashed fruit at the market, and I think this is what caused my misery. It wasn't pleasant indeed, but Merce took great care of me. Other than that, we had to deal with mice in the house, and at one point I even had one in my room. You may imagine that I was not amused! But these are minor nuisances. All in all, I'm glad to be part of this little world, and I hope I can make a difference in the lives of these precious children.

Below are some every day life pictures of the project. I will upload more in a later post.

Angelina & Ximena - the two youngest in House 1
Angelina with two of her friends of House 2
The children are always discovering something
Jhonny & René
On the farm
Long rows of vegetables
Beautiful views

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bolivia and Beyond

It's been a couple of weeks now that I made it to Bolivia, and my time here has been quite eventful so far.

I'm in Samaipata, a little place with about four thousand inhabitants, beautifully situated in the mountains (about 2 1/2 hours from Santa Cruz). The days are usually warm and sunny, and the nights are pleasantly cool. It's quite a contrast if you come from a Western European country to the poorest country in South America. Some people here live in shacks that we wouldn't even use for cattle. A monthly income of about 100 Euros is quite common here. In this particular place, there is quite a variety of inhabitants: indigenous people, as well as foreigners from all over.

Since my arrival, I've been with the Mester family from Germany. Kai is the editor of our hoffnung weltweit ministry, and they have lived here for the past three years. After a few days of recuperation, I went with them on a long trip to the Iguazu-Falls in Argentinia. And if I say it was a long trip, I really mean it. We went by bus for over 30 hours, which included two nights in a row. Part of the journey was through unsealed roads in the semi-desert of Paraguay, and the dust of the road just blew into the bus. It was not pleasant, to say the least. So after this torture, I decided that I wouldn't do this a second time, and was thankful that I found a reasonably priced air ticket for the way back.

Nevertheless, the trip was really worth it. These waterfalls are rightly declared as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We both went to the Argentinian and the Brazilian side, and we were even able to take part at a moonshine walk at the falls. We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout the whole time.

Right now, I'm still staying with the Mester family, but in the next few days, I'm going to move to the project, which is situated outside Samaipata, about a 30 minute walk from here. We already got to visit the orphanage, and from what I can tell so far, the children are very affectionate. Also the agricultural project looks good. I'm going to share more about my work there in my next post.

And finally, here are some pictures of our amazing trip:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

185 Years

I'm in Germany these days celebrating the birthdays of my two precious grandmothers. Monday last week was my final day at work, and before going on my big trip, I didn't want to miss these special occasions back home.

So my grandmothers are alltogether 185 years now - what a blessing! Last week, we had a nice celebration with my maternal grandmother, who turned 90; and since Wednesday, I'm staying with my 95-year old paternal grandmother. I'm grateful that I still have both of them, and it's a blessing that I was able to see them before my departure. Tomorrow, I'll be headed back to Brussels, and after two days of preparation time, I'm going to take off for Bolivia...

With grandmother number one...

and number two!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From the Hillside to the Coast

I'm dwelling at the Belgian coast as I'm writing this blog. I spontaneously travelled out here yesterday. Originally, I had planned to come here for the weekend, but since the weather forecast for these days looked much more promising than for the weekend, I decided to extend my vacation until Thursday.

So here are the last couple of weeks in a nutshell:

On Monday, I returned back from our camp meeting in Germany. It was a blessing in many ways. I'm very thankful that this was indeed the first one in three years where I was able to get some decent rest. It made such a difference to be able to follow at least part of the programme. Of course, it was still a busy time, but I'm learning little by little to delegate tasks. Our speaker-couple was Alan & Lorraine Humes, my "adopted parents" from Tennessee. I had them stay with me in Brussels for a few days before the camp meeting started. It was a blessing to have them over and share at the camp meeting. The other speakers were Tim Risenberger, Sylvain Romain, and Emiliano Richards. We had many decisions for baptism, and a lot of participants were thankful for spiritual renewal and uplifting seminars. This time, more members of my church participated, and I'm grateful that they gained a blessing as well. Of course there are still things that can be improved, but with the Lord's help they will!

Anyway, I'm thankful for this little break before going back to the office. Today, I took a long walk at the beach. It was invigorating. From Thursday afternoon, I will be back to work for another 3 1/2 weeks - and then I will be off for about a year...

Evening meeting 

Tim Risenberger speaking

With the Chilimboyi family and Sister Alice  from my church

And here are some impressions from the coast