So what has happened since I last wrote? To be quite honest, a lot. September has been a month of transitions and new beginnings, so let me tell you about what is new.
First of all, my site partner, Mary, went back to the States after spending 2 years out in the mission field. I give her major props for staying in a foreign country with all of the uncertainty that characterized the beginning of the pandemic. Luckily, I was only on my own for a week before Olivia came, and a week later, Grace arrived. It will be nice to have 3 volunteers again, especially now that it is official that the girls will not be attending in person classes for the last trimester. My days have been filled with showing the new missionaries the routines in the Hogar as well as the city.
One adventure we were able to do since their arrival was a visit to the Cristo de la Concordia. It is similar to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, but according to our research, is taller and at a higher altitude than the one in Brazil. I’m not sure why the one in Bolivia isn’t more famous. We met up with a couple of Maryknoll seminarians for mass and lunch before we headed over to the Cristo. When we got there, we had the choice to take the teleferico or walk, and the decision was made to skip the line and walk to the top. It wasn’t until we got to the top and did some research that we found out there were at least 1,500 steps to get to the top. And they were steep ones! By the time we got back to the bottom, my legs were shaking from the exertion.
I also celebrated my birthday this month. I don’t know why, but turning 27 seems like a bigger deal than any other of my birthdays in my 20s. It is strange to think that I am just a few short years away from turning 30.
One of my favorite traditions here at the Hogar is their birthday celebrations. For each birthday, we sing the birthday song, eat cake, and open a present. The presents are fairly simple, but the sisters give what they can with the greatest of love. My birthday was celebrated twice. My actual birthday was a school day, so we celebrated with homemade stuffed crust pizza for lunch and cake for the afternoon snack. Then on Sunday, we ate pastelitos, more cake, and the girls performed traditional dances and a lip sync competition. At the end, I opened my present, which included snacks and a rug that the girls made. It was a birthday that I won’t soon forget!
This month has reminded me that life never stays the same. There are times for new beginnings. Sometimes the changes are bittersweet, but there is always something to be learned or enjoyed from those same changes. I am enjoying the new friendships I am creating with Olivia and Grace while cherishing the friendships of Nicole and Mary and my friends back home. And I know that before long, it will be my turn to pass on the responsibilities to the new missionaries and head home. At that time, I will once again enter the beginning of a new chapter.