Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Post -- 27/11/10

With summer now very much upon us, football season in South America is drawing to a close (though, as in most of the world, that doesn't necessarily mean a break from football). We're entering the final weekend of fixtures here in Bolivia, with Trinidad's Real Mamoré travelling to Sucre, where a point would guarantee them survival in the league. This comes hot on the heels of a heroic home victory over third-placed San José on Sunday afternoon, or a sobering insight into the darker side of South American football, depending on your point of view.

A John Major-dull first-half gave way to explosives in the second, with a penalty being awarded to the home side for a spectacular, non-contact dive in the box. 5.9 for technical accuracy etc. In spite of this, the ref didn't even think twice. And no wonder. The past weekend, a Mamoré-incited riot on the pitch, as a response to some poor refereeing calls (in their opinion) had almost caused that game to be suspended. The added sweetener of a red card for the player who didn't make the tackle confirmed that this particular match official was in no mood to be hounded from the field of play. Penalty successfully converted, Mamoré went on to romp it 3-0. Hard to begrudge them the victory, but the circumstances made it harder to applaud.

Things have mostly returned to their normal pattern at FT now that the Campaña has come to an end. I've been spending some time taking in the classes which are held for children in the Community on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These are groups of children who live nearby, or in, Trinidad's men's and women's prisons. Convicts in Bolivia (I stop short of calling them all 'criminals' due to the imaginative criminal justice system in place here) get the added bonus of taking their families with them to jail, should they so choose. Thus, many children find themselves living in these atrocious conditions. They go to school, but the state schools are pretty useless here and, given their family background, many have very much missed the starting gun as it is.

So, FT sends a bus to the prisons, which ferries them here in the afternoon. The classes have a mix of Bible teaching, English teaching and homework assistance as part of each lesson, but at the moment a curriculum isn't in place. So, once the classes finish for the year in the next couple of weeks, I'll be sitting down with Sammy (who is currently taking the classes) to set out a vision for 2011. They're very poor kids but they love the input of the Community classes -- they represent something of a refuge for many of them -- and I'm looking forward to playing a part in that.

Amanda has been back into the regular nursing rhythm of things, carrying out vaccinations in the community and visiting schools for health checks. She's taken on more administrative tasks recently and she's really enjoyed the extra time she now has in the mornings, having finished her Spanish classes, to see to those tasks. She and I got some great news this week in the shape of our first family visit! Jessica, Amanda's younger sister, is coming in mid-January to spend some time with us.

Tomorrow lunchtime we're looking forward to hosting Omar & Lucy and their two children, whom you may remember me mentioning in previous posts. They're a great young couple who can definitely be filed under the 'seeker' category. Our co-worker, KC, has been meeting with Lucy regularly to study the gospel of John and Omar is showing similar enthusiasm. They threw a surprise birthday lunch for Amanda in September and we've long been looking to repay the compliment. Please pray for our time with them.

• For our time with Omar & Lucy tomorrow.
• For Amanda as she takes on more administrative work in these next few weeks.

• For confirmation of Jessica’s visit in January.
• For the opportunity for Craig to use his educational gifts in the community classes.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Post -- 20/11/10

Once again this week I've been struck by how very easy it is to communicate a doctrine of the faith to others, yet almost unconsciously be negating it in one's own life. This week's verses for the morning meditations came from the latter section of 2 Corinthians 9, in which Paul implores the Corinthians to be cheerful and generous givers, not merely for the sake of Christian goodness but because the blessing to the giver is real and life-impacting. Materially, he/she will never go without the essentials, and spiritually, he/she will reap a great harvest of blessing.

What a simple lesson! Indeed, as I led the meditations, I boldly suggested that I may not exactly fit into the stingy Scot stereotype. And yet this week a couple of scenarios arose in my life where I found myself in positions to be generous with my resources and, initially, felt major resistance, only to find that when I gave, the blessing was indeed as much mine as my recipients and the returns on my investments were momentous. Be encouraged to give in a spirit of generosity.

This week has, of course, been the second of the surgical Campaña fortnight and I'm pleased to say that patients and staff emerged from the two weeks intact. The Lord has really blessed the work of the health team in the last couple of weeks. And, of course, it'll be nice to have Amanda around a bit more. Indeed, this morning I've taken some time off fronton so that we can spend some time together (see, I really have learnt the 2 Corinthians 9 lesson!). Aside from the meditations, which take me a good two-three hours to prepare every day given the language hurdle, the website has again been my priority.

Big shout out to my sister, Kirsty, who hit 21 this week, rendering me officially old. And, of course, my fellow St Andrews alumni. I tell you, that sausage supper made him the man he is today.

• For the full recovery of all Campaña patients.
• For our witness here, that we would not simply be hearers, but doers of the Word.

• For the successful completion of the Campaña.
• For the Lord’s help as Craig led the meditations.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Friday, November 12, 2010

Saturday Post -- 13/11/10

That’s Amanda with our faithful mutt, Arturo, a picture taken last week and one of her last known sightings round these parts.

I exaggerate, of course, though it’s true that, since FT’s General ENT surgical Campaña got going on Monday, I haven’t seen all that much of her, working, as she is, 12-hour shifts, doing clinical work in the mornings and joining the Campaña team in the afternoon. Amanda’s primarily been based in the new inpatients’ ward, which was opened on Monday and has certainly been put to use this week.

I can forgo a Monopoly partner for a week when so many needy cases are being helped. The Campaña continues until the end of next week, though, happily for Amanda, is punctuated by a holiday next Thursday, for the Beni region’s anniversary.

My work this week has mostly involved further website updating, so not too much of note to report, though this morning I spent some valuable time getting to know other notable Trinidad residents (see posts below). Given that it took me the best part of two hours to get them online, I hope regular readers will understand the brevity of today’s post.

• For Amanda and the rest of FT’s health staff as they treat the Campaña patients.
• For Craig as he leads the morning meditations next week.

• For energy, particularly for Amanda, during a hectic week for her.
• For help for Craig as he preached at church last Sunday.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Nature Calling (2)

Nature Calling (1)

Back in July, FT staged a 5-Day Club in the village of San Pedro, some 60km north of Trinidad. Since then, we've been back twice for one-off afternoon visits. However, one thing that cannot escape your notice as you drive the road north is the variety of wildlife on show, particularly the bird life. A shame, then, that we've always been in such a hurry to get to San Pedro and back.

So, this morning, my good friend Kenny Holt and I took a few hours off and set off bright and early, expected only to be home in time for lunch. Kenny very graciously lent me his zoom lens and here are some of the day's spoils.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Saturday Post -- 06/11/10

We've just returned from our 6-monthly review meeting with the FT board, where we had the chance to discuss our plans for 2011. No messing around, here's a breakdown.

One of my main tasks this year has been to organise and promote the use of FT's library. I started out enthusiastically here, putting the books in order (it was that bad) but time has constrained me from doing more, such as assembling an index and acquiring texts. Therefore, I'll be re-focusing my energies here, as well as promoting titles which may be of use to people at the morning meditations. We have a great wealth of texts but little awareness among the staff of their benefits at the moment.

Additionally, FT's community education ministry, which takes place among local children and those who live with their parents in Trinidad's prisons, is somewhat short-handed at the moment in terms of staff, and so I've been asked to come on board to advise Samy Gutierrez (who regular blog readers will be familiar with) and assist in running the classes, which take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Aside from these developments, I'll be pressing on with the website, tweaking the English classes to encourage a greater uptake next year, and continuing with my usual church commitments.

As mentioned last week, Amanda's language classes have just come to an end, freeing up her morning schedule, which she will now primarily devote to administrative tasks in the Health Area, including working on compiling the data for a Beni-wide survey which FT embarked on in 2009. There may also be an opening for her to take on a more hands-on role in FT's audiology work, supporting audiologist Odalis Arce, who could do with a hand at the moment. That possibility will be run by the general assembly later this month.

As Diego mentioned in the meeting, those days when we moaned about not having much to do seem like a long, long time ago now. But we're excited about our new range of tasks and looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us.

Looking forward has been the theme of the week, with a surgical campaña kicking off next week, for a fortnight. Unlike the campaña back in May, this one is a general ENT campaña and a team of surgeons from Spain will be here to support Diego and the staff, including Amanda. With around 6-7 cases per day, and Amanda often required well into the evening in post-surgery, I'm already mapping out my diet of televised sport and war movies for the fortnight. Before that, though, I'm due to preach this Sunday, so please be praying for that.

• For patience and flexibility for both of us as we adapt to our new schedule.
• For Craig as he preaches this Sunday from 1 Samuel 22.
• For Amanda as she prepares to work two solid weeks with the surgical campaña.

• For a productive meeting this afternoon.
• For meeting various administrative end-of-month deadlines this week.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda