Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Post -- 27/07/13

Alas, Trinidad is still waiting on that first batch of TaunTauns from Hoth.

Browsing my usual diet of UK media outlets over the past few weeks, amidst the usual clutter of Murray-mania (yeah!) baby-talk (yah!) and cricket scores (yawn!), it’s becoming increasingly impossible to draw the following conclusion: Britain is having a summer-and-a-half.

The jubilation over George is all well and good, but the little lad isn’t the only thing that doesn’t come around in Britain every year. The sustained spell of sunshine has surely been welcomed with equal fervour. There’s no doubting it: the Americans have petrol prices, the French have port blockades, but the weather is surely our national obsession.

And that passion certainly doesn’t abate in a tropical climate. Indeed, I’ve visited the BBC Weather page more here than at any time at home. Because, being a true Brit, I must also be fickle.

Back home, the months of June, July and August are feverishly anticipated in the (usually vain) hope that, just for once, we might actually have ourselves a summer. And I can report from my rigorous research of the British population in Trinidad, Bolivia (Kenny and myself) that we too look forward to these months, only our longing is for a merciful break from those near-constant temperatures of 30 Celsius and over.

For at this time of year, the long-awaited surs (south winds which blow in from the Antarctic via Argentina) are due to make their appearance any day now. Only, just like in the UK, the results can be decidedly patchy. Not since 2010 had we been on the receiving end of a sur of substance.

But this week, for one week only, our patience was duly rewarded. 20mph winds began bellowing their way through northern Bolivia at around 6pm on Sunday evening, the mercury plummeting in the blink of an eye. Such is the power of a sur at its most potent: one minute you’re perspiring in shorts and a T-shirt, the next you’re making a beeline for your mittens. Indeed, hypothermia isn’t the only danger in this situation; one must be careful not to choke to death when donning winter woolies which have gathered a year’s worth of dust.

Such was the force of this particular gale that, unusually, the wind picked up in power over the next 48 hours. By this point, we were down to the low-teens. Now, no sniggering at the back. Our harsh, northern hemisphere winters are at least preceded by a few months of steady temperature decline. Not so here. We’re talking a difference of 20 Celsius within a 24-hour period in a climate where homes, if anything, are built to be as cold as possible.

Thus, we made our merry way to bed on Monday evening in about three layers of clothing (I find football socks particularly useful in such temperatures) and slept under a sheet, a two thick alpaca-wool blankets and a quilt. And we would have thrown more layers on if we had them.

Goodness knows how we’ll cope stepping out into that Paisley air in mid-December.

It was a bit much at times, but in those moments, we just shut our eyes, remembered what it’s like to live in an oven most of the year, and within a split second, all was well.

As it happened, a general strike had been called for Tuesday, requiring everyone to stay at home for the day. I doubt anyone was too bothered, to be honest. We watched Zero Dark Thirty on Sunday evening and clearly drew some sub-conscious inspiration, not venturing beyond the confines of our compound till Wednesday morning!

It all made for a weird old week, with the three available teaching days hampered by significant drops in attendance, with many hot-blooded locals seemingly fearful of their lives. However, the wind cleared the way for unsullied, sunny blue skies over the past three days and, though it’s taking a lot longer than usual, temperatures are slowly returning to their usual, dizzying heights. The only wind the Beeb are forecasting for the next few days is due to come from the north and I have little in the immediate-term to look forward to. Perhaps I could alleviate things by turning to cricket fandom.

Steady on there. I'm not that desperate.

  • FT is once again running its course on ear and hearing care this week. It’s been highly publicised and will be held in a venue in the centre of town, so we’re hoping for big numbers. Amanda will be taking the Advanced course (she’s already sat Basic and Intermediate) so pray for success for her this week.
  • Please continue to remember the family of Yoselín and Ailín in your prayers (see last week’s post). That’s a very delicate domestic situation.
  • Taking advantage of Joe Sturman’s journey to Birmingham last week, we handed him a stack of letters addressed to Christian trusts in the UK, with a view to securing some funding for Craig’s studies next year. Pray that, somehow, support might be forthcoming in what are tough times for many of these trusts.
  •  For a refreshing (in a very real sense) break from the usual high temperatures this week.
We’ve just sent out our latest update, which you are more than welcome to print off and distribute, if you feel so inclined. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list, email us at

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Post - 20/07/2013

As I (Amanda) write this right now, I have to keep a nervous eye on the laundry room in the backyard, because today for the first time, it seems the puppies are interested in venturing outside their four walls. It's so adorable; they are walking now and playing with each other, but still learning how to do it so they keep falling over. Let's all say, "Awwww!" together! I want to keep them all, but seems less than likely to happen. Actually, even keeping one is not really in the cards. Especially because, just now, as Craig was taking pictures of them, one pooed on his foot. 

Sometimes I do not know where the time goes. Every time I look up from doing something, it seems it is Saturday once again. I cannot believe it is actually July... I want time to slow down so I can breathe a bit more. Or maybe time should speed up so we can go home and see you all again! Either way, that doesn't change the fact that it is Saturday again and another very busy one at that. Craig is preaching tomorrow and the church is starting a new series on Philippians, which means Craig has the problem of having way too much to say. KC has kindly asked that he not go till 1 p.m. because Caleb has started on baby food now and needs to eat on a schedule. I also ask that he not preach till 1 p.m. as I have been on solid food for 27 years and I also need to eat on a schedule. But joking aside, I know I am excited for this series in Philippians because, well, it is just an awesome book. I know Craig has also enjoyed preparing it, because he has been quite sick this week and yet worked from home on his sermon when he took a sick day. I remember waking up from my lunchtime nap one day and he was right back at it, working, when he should have been the one sleeping. 

Yes, poor Craig has been quite sick. I actually thought he was whining a bit and didn't give it much attention until the complaints started varying in severity and description. We have had a couple of very busy and demanding weekends recently, and I just thought he was tired and grumpy, but then a perpetual headache was only getting worse with Paracetamol, his throat started hurting, etc. So, finally he went to the doctor and he had quite an inflamed throat; he was given medicine, antibiotics and sent for some lab analysis. However, to compound the problem, after seeing the doctor his mouth started hurting a lot and I thought he might have a cavity (he says he has never had a cavity in his entire life). So the next day he went to the dentist and, to his great relief, he did not have a cavity (because keeping his record clean was obviously the most important thing). He does however have his wisdom teeth coming in on the left side of his mouth and will need dental surgery to remove them as a dental x-ray showed that they are partly impacted. Rut, the wife of Miguel-Ángel, FT President and a dentist himself, wanted to do it today, and he was fine with that as the sooner they came out they sooner they would stop hurting, but I commented that if he had his wisdom teeth removed on Saturday there is no way he would be able to preach on Sunday. So, the surgery is scheduled for some time this week... we will keep you posted. 

Our house guest for the past month, Joseph Sturman, left this past Wednesday and should be back in England now, settling back into life where I hear the weather is quite nice. Craig and I have both been so blessed to share this past month with Joe. We have been encouraged by his faith and his determination to serve God in as many ways as he can. He is a mature young man who we both enjoyed engaging in conversation on many topics. He was a great example to me especially as he showed an extremely professional work ethic. He would be most welcome here again for two reasons: 1) he baked cookies before he left to say thanks, and 2) he was also very complimentary of my cooking. For all future guests that stay with us... please take notes now. 

I mentioned that these past two weekends have been very busy for us and I know Craig shared the craziness that was two weekends ago, but last weekend was unexpectedly busy. We had the privilege to have two young girls stay with us for two nights as their family were working some issues out. They were wonderful guests, though Yoselin (one of the girls that I meet for discipleship) likes to leave crumbs behind her like a trail every time she eats anything; sometimes I follow her around the house with a broom and sweep up as she walks past. It was an interesting experience for us as we went from a house hold of two to three (with the addition of Joe) and then to five (with Yoselin and Ailin). I enjoyed kind of getting to be like a mother hen for a little while, though you do have to get up really early here to get kids to school on time. It felt even stranger going from five to three to two again once Joe left. Now we're just two people again... and ten dogs (eight puppies). But we pray that Yoselin and Ailin enjoyed their two-night sleepover with us and felt all the love we tried to show them. 

Well, off to do more Saturday stuff, like eat lunch (remember, I'm on a schedule). We will let you know how Craig's dental surgery goes next weekend. 

  • For Craig's dental surgery, if it happens this week - Miguel-Ángel, President of the Foundation and his wife, will be the ones doing it, so pray for guidance and wisdom for them as well.
  • Yoselin and Ailin's family and their personal Christian growth.
  • Amanda as she chairs Youth Group tonight - Elizabeth is speaking on the need for daily confession in our prayer lives. 
  • Craig speaking on Philippians tomorrow.
  • That Craig's throat and headache feel so much better after seeing the doctor.
  • That we had the privilege to have Joe live with us for the month he was visiting the Foundation.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Post -- 13/07/13

I write with a mild headache following a glass or two of wine late last night in celebration of our anniversary. We enjoyed a lovely evening at our favourite fish restaurant, taking the time to reminisce on these past six years and reflect on God’s overwhelming care for us as a couple.

Of course, if you’re one of those sorts of people who has everyone’s birthday and anniversary stored away in a mental Filofax (in which case you’d be more than welcome here – Bolivians’ obsession with birthdays is all-consuming), then you’ll have worked out that we were five days late in marking the occasion. Not a case, I stress, of either of us forgetting the big day; simply that the day itself fell slap-bang in the middle of a pretty brutal weekend.

Friday: youth leaders’ meeting. We had invited our cohorts to the house for an evening of planning for the next couple of months, while enjoying some social time when that was out of the way. In the end, time prohibited us from letting our hair down (as only youth leaders can!). That said, we managed to make some headway on our programme for the year, while also making our initial forays into planning for what, we hope, will be our first ever youth group camp.

Saturday: The Usual. 9am-Noon: Grocery shopping (Amanda)/blogging & sermon preparation (Craig); 2-4:30pm: Discipleship session with Grecia (Amanda)/piano lesson and band practice (Craig); 4:30-6pm: Bible Explorers’ Club (Amanda); 6.15-9:30pm: pre-youth group leaders’ meeting, youth group, driving youth to their various homes around town (both); 10pm: Crash.

Sunday: The actual date of our anniversary, was pretty much same-old Sunday, with two exciting additions: watching the last set of Murray-Djokovic, and a church leaders’ meeting in the afternoon! Oh, and an anniversary celebration, albeit not our own. For we share the same date (though a year later) with our old friends Jerry & Georgina. Excitingly, Georgina’s family, for the first time ever, had opted to pay a visit to Trinidad from their home way down south in Tarija, a lovely little city near the Argentinian border. A knees-up was in order. So we were delighted to join with their family and many friends to celebrate their seven years. Doubly exciting for me (and this picks up on the theme from the post a couple of weeks back) was the fact that several members of the church band had gotten together, independently of me and without prompting, to produce a programme of music for the evening, much of which was centred around the One at the centre of Jerry & Georgina’s partnership.

Monday: Party planning. Our weekly time-to-ourselves day was taken up with preparing for a great celebration, that of Maicol & KC’s boy Caleb’s adoption. They had requested the use of our home for a small party with family and friends in the early evening and, of course, we were more than happy to oblige. Pippa Middleton was nowhere to be seen but I reckon we made a decent fist of it under the circumstances. It would be back to our work at FT on Tuesday, but we hardly even required that incentive to make it an especially early bedtime, that evening, our final exchange before sleep took hold being a look that conveyed a thousand (or, to be more precise, five) words: Where did that one go?

I tend to prize my personal space a little more than the average person but you know what? Sometimes it’s OK to be busy, especially when there is so much to be encouraged by and thankful for in the process. We were particularly thrilled to be able to support Maicol & KC in that way as well.

This weekend, then, represents more of an opportunity to re-charge the old batteries. I’ll let you know how that’s going once Saturday’s out of the way.

  • A fair bit of travelling going on this week. First up, the Holts are currently in Santa Cruz, having left Trinidad on Thursday. God-willing, they will catch their flight from there to Sao Paulo tomorrow morning. And then on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, they fly to Edinburgh via Heathrow. Pray for protection, both for the family and for their belongings!
  • Secondly, our guest this past month, medical volunteer Joe Sturman, is due to take a somewhat less staggered route to Birmingham, leaving on Wednesday afternoon for Santa Cruz before catching a midnight flight to Miami, and then on to London on Thursday. Prayers appreciated for Joe.
  • I’m due to visit a church tomorrow to give another Emmaus presentation (indeed, the same church I’d been planning to visit a couple of weeks back – before I was rained off). Pray that more people might take advantage of the course to enhance their personal Bible study and growth.
  • Pray for Amanda’s young women’s Bible study group, who meet tomorrow evening for the first time in three weeks. 

  • For the encouragement in the midst of our various activities last weekend.
  • For six years during which the Lord has been so good to us as a couple, often, as Amanda pointed out last night, fighting for us while we have (usually with great difficulty!) kept silent (Exodus 14:14). We have so much to be thankful for. 

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday Post -- 06/07/13

We have the busiest of days in the midst of the most hectic weekends coming up and so, for one week only, I must stay true to the age-old dictum: when life takes over, post puppy pictures.

This is Poppy's second batch in the space of a year (and, if we have anything
to do with it, her last!) 
Improbably, a mostly-white dog made its debut appearance from Poppy's
fabled womb. We call him 'The Cow'.
The father, as ever, was Arturo, a loyal friend to his owners, but not
without his insecurities. Let's hope they turn out more like mum.

One final thought: come on, Andy. Oh, and...LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIONS!!!


  • For our fellow missionaries and dear friends Kenny and Claudia Holt who, with children Emma, Sara and Joshua set off on Thursday morning for Santa Cruz, before moving on to Sao Paulo and, finally, Edinburgh via Heathrow. Their six-month furlough is almost upon them. They will be sorely missed. Pray for safety in their travel and for the Lord's blessing upon their time in Scotland.
  • For Craig, who preaches on Nehemiah 12 tomorrow in church.
  • For a great evening with the youth committee last night. We had everyone round to the house and enjoyed a meal together whilst planning the programme for the next couple of months. Pray for the execution of this.
  • For safe delivery of the puppies!
¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda