The past month has been pretty crazy. First we had Christmas, which included visitors in the weeks leading up to the actual date. Anytime visitors came, the girls danced for them, so there was dance practice pretty often as well. On Christmas Eve we went to Mass, then came back and had dinner and danced until midnight, when we toasted with champagne to Baby Jesus. The Sisters and Padre gave their presents to the girls on Christmas Eve, so Megan and I gave our gifts to the girls on Christmas morning. The Sisters said that what they really need is new shoes for school, so the week before we bought 40 pairs of black shoes. We also got them hair clips, nail polish, candy, and lipgloss. On Christmas morning, we counted down and had all the girls run out to open their box with all their goodies. It was a really cool experience seeing them open their presents and get so excited! It was also a great experience of being able to take that time to explain to them that our family and friends helped us buy their shoes. I have been absolutely amazed at how many of my friends and family have donated so that I can buy shoes and other gifts for the girls. Thank to all of you who have donated! You are a true blessing and have made such an important impact on my time here so far!
New Year’s was also a big deal in the Hogar. New Year’s Eve we played bingo with Padre for a couple hours, then had dinner and danced again, then toasted more champagne at midnight. Then we went out back and shot of firecrackers and lit sparklers. It was so much fun!! I still can’t believe that it is 2017, but I definitely trying to take this year to look at things differently. I will be here in Bolivia for most of the year, and I still have so much to learn and do in my time. I usually am not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I started one thing that I hope to keep doing. Every night before I go to bed, I write down the top few things of that day and put all the slips of paper in a ziploc bag. When I finish my time here, and next New Year’s Eve, I will read each slip of paper and remember all the great things that happened here and this year.
On January 4th, Hna. Rosy, Hna. Letty, and Jane (the new volunteer from France) arrived. This has been quite a transition of welcoming Hna. Letty back to the Hogar after 2 months of vacation, and also trying to help Jane adjust and get used to things here. For about 3 weeks, Megan and I were also alone with the girls almost all day everyday because the Hermanas were doing legal paperwork for the girls in the city. This was definitely hard at times, especially when we didn’t know what the Hermanas wanted done all the time when they were gone, but I think in the long run it actually helped us. We were able to find our own role within the Hogar, assert more authority, and do more activities. For example, last week we had a spa day where we painted all the girls’ nails. The next day we made cookies and popcorn and watched a movie in our pajamas. The Hermanas are officially back in the Hogar full-time, which is really nice. What’s even better is that they are supporting us, letting us still do more activities with the girls before they go back to school, and enforcing any punishments we find necessary.
I think two of the most important things I have learned thus far, in my 3 and a half months, is patience and to not expect anything. During the time when we were somewhat alone with the girls, we had to expect that we were not going to know what was happening the next day, or even later that day. Things change at anytime here, and we just have to roll with it. That has been somewhat hard, but I’m getting used to it. What has also been nice about having Jane here so far, other than having more help and another community member, is that it helps me reflect on the struggles I had early on and realize that I am actually comfortable now. I feel like I have found my place in the Hogar, and I’m finally feeling at home here. It’s a really nice feeling, and it’s weird to think about how much I struggled the first 3 months. There’s still definitely tough moments at times, but I know more how to deal with them now and they don’t make me want to pack up and leave anymore. What’s hard now is trying to translate that to a new volunteer who is struggling and is only here for 6 months. I ask that you pray for Jane and her transition. As always, I ask you to pray for me, Megan, the Hermanas, and the girls as well. And please know I am praying for all of you!!