The boys continued on the building work this morning, helping to pass the bricks and set the cement while the girls helped the ladies with the cooking. We had such a fun morning helping to prepare lunch. Half way through the morning we had a popcorn and coke break which was a lovely opportunity to share photos of our home towns and families with the ladies who have become so special to us. Even with a language barrier it is very lovely to be able to laugh and share times together and we have special memories from our morning preparing lunch together.
After work today we spent time exploring the cactus valley that surrounds Candelaria. It was stunning and we enjoyed time as a team chatting and taking in the beauty around us.
Pizza day! While in Sucre on Monday we bought some pizza toppings as we wanted to cook pizza for our hosts, using their homemade bread as our base. Salami, ham and cheese pizza – we couldn’t wait! We had a great time kneading bread with the ladies (though our bread looked pretty shabby in comparison to theirs!), then fired the pizzas in the stone-bake oven. We ate outside with some of the community and the pizza went down well! Today was the last day on site and the guys helped to create an iron support which would reinforce the concrete. Overall we are really pleased with the progress of the building, and we wish we could have stayed longer to help out. Before dinner, we went with Santos to visit the other community leader and his family. We had the opportunity to open the Bible and pray for them, which was great.
Our last day in Candelaria! But still lots to do…
We had an early start, as we’d been invited back to Molle Molle church in Pilitori that morning to preach and run a kids club. It was an hour’s uphill walk from Candelaria, and speedy-walker Santos came with us again! We had about 15 kids for the club and a good morning with the church there. In typical Bolivian style, we weren’t allowed to leave without having some soup, then we headed back to Candelaria for our goodbye meal. The meal was great, with chicken cooked in the stone-bake oven, with vegetables, potatoes and rice (of course 2 carbs!). Lots of people we had met turned out for the meal, which was a lovely way to end our time here, and there were speeches from the locals and from us, to express everyone’s gratitude and love.
Then we got ready for the leaving service – our host family and some of the other ladies had planned for us to wear traditional dress, so they helped us get ready. During the leaving service, Louis preached and the team sang some of the church’s favourite songs from the Quechua hymn book. The service was a fantastic way to end our time in Candelaria, and some of the teenagers from the internado came along, which was great to see. We then said a sad goodbye to the people who had looked after us so kindly during our stay, before heading off to Potosi. Sam, Anna, Olivia and Bethan had a rather eventful taxi journey before arriving, much to their relief, at Louis and Maribel’s house in the early hours of the next morning – ask them what happened, it’s a good story! Time for bed.
Another early start today, as we headed for our team day off at the salt flats in Uyuni. We had a great drive (with seatbelts!) through Bolivia’s stunning landscapes and fields of llamas. First stop when we arrived in Uyuni was the train graveyard, full of old trains which you can climb on and explore – a bit like an adult adventure playground! Then we went to the salt flats. There aren’t really any words to describe how beautiful they are, we couldn’t really take it in. We took some team photos, then drove to an island in the middle the salt flats, which was full of huge cacti. The highlight of the day was watching the sun setting over the salt flats, then we headed back to Potosi. It was a really fantastic day, spending time with each other, and seeing God’s glory in the amazing things that God has made!
Our last full day in Bolivia! We started the morning with debrief with Louis and Maribel; it was good to have time to reflect, talk and pray about our time in Bolivia with them. We spent the rest of the morning exploring Potosi, and visited the Casa de la Moneda, where Bolivia used to produce its money. After a final lunch with Louis and Maribel, we said another sad goodbye to them. We are so grateful for their kindness, their wisdom and the way they have taken such good care of us here – we will miss you Louis and Maribel!
Then we drove back to Sucre to catch our evening planes to Santa Cruz. The team split in half and booked onto two different planes, but when we arrived we found that Jack, Michael and Olivia’s plane had been cancelled, and there were only two spaces on the other one. Anna, Sam and Bethan checked in and boarded, then waited to see if the others would make it to join them. We had decided that they probably wouldn’t make it on when we saw the size of the tiny plane, but just in time another space came up and they made it onto the plane! What a relief! Praise God for his kindness! We arrived in Santa Cruz, where the team split in two. Those going to Peru went off to a hotel and the others stayed in the airport overnight.
There was time for an early-morning reunion before we headed off to our separate flights – Olivia, Michael and Jack are in Peru for an extra week, trekking up Machu Picchu – we can’t wait to hear their stories when they come back! Sam, Anna and Bethan had four smooth flights back to the UK, and even managed to find a long-awaited MacDonald’s in Atlanta! We arrived at Heathrow on Thursday morning, and said goodbye before heading home for a hot shower and a good night’s sleep.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support whilst we have been away – we are very grateful! And most of all, we are so grateful to God for his faithfulness and goodness to us as a team. Please do keep praying for the ongoing outreach of the church in Candelaria, and for us as we settle back into UK life, that we would continue to learn from our time here, and that God would be glorified as we talk to people about our time in Bolivia! Thank you!