Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back in Kansas

After an eventful trip, during which we ended up stranded in Chicago for the weekend, Daniel and I have returned to work in Kansas, while Mike continues working at the hospital in Bolivia. (He and his wife, Elizabeth, a Bolivian-trained dentist, will spend Christmas with her parents in Cochabamba.) While in Bolivia, I was blessed to meet many of the people that work at and are served by the hospital. While the political climate in Bolivia has become fairly anti-American recently, the people I met were all welcoming and more than willing to talk to a gringa with somewhat sketchy Spanish.

One of those I met was an indigenous woman named Ginoviva. She is a native of Bolivia, but she seems to be one of the large numbers of Bolivians for whom Spanish is a second language, since she speaks it with a somewhat nasal twang. Her native language is probably Quechua.

Ginoviva came to the hospital with her husband, who has been suffering from a cough. Other doctors they have seen have told them there’s nothing wrong, but he has not gotten better. Our hospital is one of the best in Cochabamba, so they came in the hopes that our doctors could help. Ginoviva and her husband have three children, all under the age of 15, which surprised me, because, from her appearance, I thought she must be in her 50s. Probably poverty and hard work have combined to make her look older than she actually is. Please keep Ginoviva and her family in your prayers.

Another person I had the opportunity to speak with was Nestor Hugo, the pastor who preaches to the people in the hospital waiting room. A Baptist minister, Nestor preaches tirelessly day after day to our patients and their families. (Latin America tends to be much more open to public discussion of faith than the United States.) Nestor was eager to talk to me and get a chance to practice his English.

While we were speaking in broken English and Spanish about everything from our families to his ministry, a woman came up to him asking for prayer. He interrupted our conversation to speak with her for a few minutes and to give her counsel and prayer before her doctor’s appointment. This seems to be a frequent occurrence for him, allowing him to minister to those in great physical and spiritual need.

As we talked, Nestor asked me to pray for his family, for the people of the community, for those he preaches to at the hospital. Before I left, he prayed for me in Spanish, and I prayed for him in English, with the confidence that the God we serve understands no matter what language we speak.

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