Saturday, March 11, 2006
TOURING AROUND THE COUNTRYSIDE OF TARIJA
What a good week this has been. Not only have I been seeing the sites in Tarija, but also all around the country surrounding here. We've gone for a number of drives and have seen many things. It is all so beautiful - we are so surrounded by God's incredible creation. The area around Tarija here is known as the Drumheller of Bolivia - it is the badlands capital area of Bolivia. It is astounding! The mountains surrounding the area are high but with no snow - snow is never on these mountains. It has rained quite a bit this week and so everything is so lush and green. It hasn't rained too much though, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to go on these drives. The above 2 pictures are of the lake by the dam. It was not very high right now so there was absolutely no water coming out of the dam. When the water is high, the crops and land near the water will be completely flooded. You'll notice at the top picture that part of the farmer's land and crop are in water but not all of it. The people always plant very close to the water and hope that it never floods too badly.
We had driven to this one park outside of Tarija where a family was washing clothes and having a bath. The little boy was completely naked and having a blast. The picnic shelters were bamboo shelters and the picnic tables were made out of stone and cement. In one of the shelters, a homeless man was sleeping on the cement. Other people were having picnics and cooking food over the fires. Many have their meals here because they don't have a kitchen to cook in. It was all so interesting to watch but it also made me so thankful and grateful for what we have at home - thankful for all the things we take for granted; sinks, washing machines, drinking water, stoves, fridges, bed,...you name it - we take a lot for granted.
Along the road, you would see these colorful little drink and snack stands that you could buy something at - they were always bright colors. It was neat.
One day we had gone out to the vineyards to see the grapes. I had never seen a vineyard so close before - it's beautiful! The grapes looked real good. We drove through this small rundown town to get there and so I took a few pictures there as we drove through. People live so simply there and very down to earth with none of our gadgets that we are so used to back home. Again, I could've just watched them for a while because it was all so interesting. While we were out there, the storm clouds were gathering and you could see storms happening in the mountains surrounding us. Everywhere you look when you're out in the country, it's like you're driving near Drumheller with all the canyons and ridges. It's beautiful!
On Friday, we had taken a hike up to some falls not far from here. What incredible beauty! It was so quite and serene - just breathtaking!! We were the only ones on the trail. They had me hopping rocks, jumping over falls, and wading through the river and walking on narrow rugged mountain trails. The city girl was out in the country - the real country, all rugged and quiet. And was it ever hot! I really enjoyed that time even if it was very stretching for me - jumping those falls and hopping those rocks were completely out of my comfort zone. I was quite nervous at times but they were very patient with me and didn't laugh at me too much. :-)
Well, today I said good-bye to many people here. It was a day of mixed emotions for me. Tonight, after church many of the people took me out for burgers for a farewell. That was very nice - I enjoy all of these people so much. They've made me feel so welcome and I've felt like part of their family. They prayed that someday I will come back because now I have a family here as well. That's the beautiful part about being a part of God's family - it's worldwide!! It was good to be with them one more time before I leave. It's always hard to say good-bye and yet I know I will be seeing my family at home soon. But first, I must complete another adventure that God will take me on. That will be to spend a week near Santa Cruz, Bolivia visiting relatives that I've never met on the Mennonite Colonies. My dad is really hoping I'll be able to find his brother that he hasn't seen in 46 years and the good Lord willing, I hope to do that for him. It should be good. So far this whole trip has been in God's Hands and it will continue to be so. God knows exactly what is going to happen and so I know I just need to trust in Him to take care of me through this next week's adventure and to get me home. I am looking forward to the second part of my journey here to Bolivia. Thank you for your many prayers for me back home. I have felt many of them and I know God is here with me and also looking after my family back home while I'm away. A verse that often comes to mind in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you you hope and a future." In my devotions the other day I read about how God looks after those who put their trust in Him and He cares for those who love and obey Him and how we will be rewarded for trusting in Him (1 Peter 1:3-9). Those verses were very comforting to me. I do love God so much and I desire to live for Him. There are times that I fail at obeying Him but I keep on getting up when I fall and I try again. He is so faithful at loving me through the difficult times and forgiving me when I repent of my wrongdoing or my pride. His Hand is always there to guide me through and I love to find out what He has planned for me each day. God is good!
(Sorry folks, I've tried numerous times to put more photos on this section but it's just not workin. I'll add some photos to another section as a continuation of this one. :-) I'm just not enough of a computer genius to figure out why I can't add any more pics.)