Lessons in Generosity
Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that I have already been in Bolivia for about 3 weeks, and yet, here I am! So far, I have been adjusting to my new life fairly well. The hardest part is the effort it takes to listen to a new language and communicate my thoughts. Often I find my brain zoning out, especially in the evenings or during long speeches or conversations that happen around me. Even so, I am very grateful for what I learned in Spanish classes in school! It definitely allows me to have basic conversations, but I can tell it has been a long time since I have practiced using the language for speaking or writing. It feels like all my knowledge of verb conjugations other than present tense has left for good. One of my goals is to spend at least one evening a week reviewing Spanish so that I can have better conversations in with the girls and the Sisters.
So far, I have spent my time getting to know the routines in the Hogar and running around getting the proper paperwork for my extended visa. I feel like I have spent as much time taking care of paperwork as I have spent with the girls! (While that is definitely not true, the process of obtaining an extended visa is way more complicated and time consuming than I ever would have imagined.)
One of my favorite experiences so far has been trying the new food. This probably comes as no surprise to those who are close to me. My Wichita friends have (half) jokingly said that food is my love language. One interesting fact about the food here is that I get to try both Bolivian dishes and El Salvadorian dishes. Many of the sisters here are actually originally from El Salvador, so they brought recipes with them from home that they use when they cook. I have eaten familiar things like rice, beans, and cooked veggies to new items like buñuelos, salteas, and anticucho. While the food has been delicious, I have honestly enjoyed the drinks more. They make so many delicious teas and drinks flavored with spices. There are many that are so different than anything I have had before, so it is hard to describe them. I really want to learn how to make the drinks before I leave! Not only have I sampled new things, I’ve also done some cooking for the girls. They enjoyed the pretzels, but they LOVED the brownies.
Talking about food brings me to the main topic of this blog: lessons in generosity. One thing that has really stood out to me since being here is how genuinely generous the girls are. This is a lesson that I want to permeate my life and bring about a change in my actions. These girls, who don’t have very much to call their own, are so quick to share what little they have. They love to let you try their snacks and treats, even special ones given to them by their families. (The Hogar is more like a foster home than an orphanage. Some of the girls are true orphans, but others have been sent to the Hogar either by the choice of the family or by the state.) They are also quick to give up their seats to the volunteers whenever we join them in their studies or while watching a movie. And the generosity here extends to the girls’ families as well. Last Saturday, a mother, aunt, and grandmother came to visit their girls here (there are four from this family at the Hogar), and while they were at the Hogar, they made anticucho (grilled potatoes, hotdogs, and cow heart with a spicy peanut sauce) for everyone. That is about 40 people that they fed!
Part of me wonders if this generosity stems from an awareness and gratitude for what they do have, which makes them more inclined to give to others. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I will let you know if I have any more revelations on this topic. For now, I challenge you to practice generosity this week. Maybe you could try to share that one thing that you really want to keep for yourself. (For me, that might be some chocolate or food or my time doing something I really don’t want to do.) You might be surprised at how it makes you feel. I can say one thing, I know I always enjoy my cooking more when I share it with others!
Well, that’s all I have for now. I hope you have a wonderful day!
P.S. I feel like this is a good fun fact to share. The Hogar has one pet. Her name is Doris,
and she is a tortoise. I enjoy watching her plod along and eat when I can spot her