Hola! We made it to Santa Cruz late Thursday night and to Monte Blanco camp on Friday afternoon. Despite a long day of travel, God was gracious as we had no problems with flight times, layovers, or customs. We left Santa Cruz at 7AM Friday morning and began the 5 hour trek to the Andes Mountains where the camp is located. Compared to the claustrophobic feel of the city, driving through the rural mountain range felt like a scenic tour. Even though it was a cloudy day, the low fog resting in the mountains made for an incredible view.
It was a little hazy once we arrived to the camp and we moved into our respective dorms. After eating lunch, we were put right to work cleaning out the dormitories the campers had just moved out of. We swept, flipped mattresses, took out trash, and mopped. We then did the same for the chapel. Once we finished, we met as a team and made a plan for what we were going to do at the orphanage the next day.
After a needed full night of sleep, we headed to an orphanage about 20 minutes from the camp. We traveled through the mountains to Manos de Amor and were quickly greeted by 30 kids. We sang songs and acted out the scene of Jesus and the lepers. It was fun to watch the kids react to the story! We think they enjoyed the entertainment. Each of us got to work in groups with kids on coloring pages and a word search that related to the Bible story. We brought lots of games and toys for those who worked at the orphanage to hand out to the kids, so we headed outside and played with them for about an hour. There were groups playing soccer, Frisbee, baseball, jump rope and other groups making bracelets and drawing with chalk. Before we left, the kids gave us bracelets that they had made.
We got back, ate lunch and had an hour to rest, which was needed! The art majors (Hannah) were whisked away to paint a mural in the chapel while the rest of us worked on the obstacle course. Half of us painted (Kelsey) and touched up tires and other parts of the course, while the other half hoed (Ashlee) and cleared the path. This was more intense work than we anticipated and we really felt the altitude and hot weather. But once we were done, it was something we came to call joyful fatigue. It made it worth it to know that kids (some without shoes) would be using the rigorous course we just spent several hours cleaning up.
We had a slower morning because it was Sunday, with devotions before breakfast and a rest time after breakfast. We also had an informal service in the chapel with Spanish worship music and a message from Tim, our team contact for Bolivia. We talked about forgiveness in light of the prodigal son and how the father was truly the protagonist in the story, portraying incomprehensible love that is magnified through Christ. The sermon was given in Spanish and also translated into English, uniting the two cultures. Because it was municipal election day, Bolivian citizens are not allowed to be on the roads or congregate in large groups.
After our service, we had some time to rest and enjoy the sun and Sabbath, bonding as a team over crazy volleyball games and reading. We will be hiking Monte Blanco, the mountain the camp is named after, later this afternoon.
Thank you for your prayers and support! We are so grateful to be here. Please keep praying for our continued health and stamina as the camp week starts on Monday. Also, keep the Bolivian kids in your prayers that their time at the camp will impact their lives.
Kelsey, Ashlee, and Hannah