Thursday, June 22, 2006

Steam rizing from simmering BBQ Chicken and baked potatos. Yes these things do work!

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It would be useless to compare this course to the last. Each course took place in different places with different cultures of people. Both courses were successful. People built their own cookers with pride evident in the peoples eyes when we handed them there signed contract and with their newly built cookers. At the same time for me (Collin) this course was much more challenging than the previous. It was very productive and very efficient perhaps more than the last. I found my self-preoccupied while I was working. My mind was not where I wanted it to be. I wanted to be talking laughing and working with every individual. However at times Mike and I had to find a quiet corner to talk about finances. Mike told me “ every time we talk about money I get so down.” I think any one in our position would feel this way. Mike and I have to stretch this funding out as far as we can. We have to pick and choose who and how many people we can help. It is hard. We want to help everyone and we can’t. Even if we had all the money in the world we could not give everyone in Bolivia a solar cooker. It is hard to say no to people, especially when they are begging to us, “please I have no husband and this Cooker would help me so much, but I can only give you so much.” How are Mike and I supposed to say no to someone like that. How can we sacrifice the present for future when no one else is here with us to see how people live here and to see what the present situation is? We have a dilemma, but as we keep saying, “If money is the only problem, it’s only money.” The Bolivia project is helping people. We have touched approximately 40 families in two weeks. Still we wish the number forty was higher, much higher. It will be because that is why we are here. We are so lucky to be alive healthy and to have the opportunity to be apart of The Bolivia Project. As hard as it is, it will be well worth it.
On a brighter side it was refreshing to see was how badly people wanted their own cooker after seeing steam raze from cooked chicken and potatoes for the first time.
If I were to pick out one highlight of this course it would have to be at the end when one of the participants, an older woman, was so over come with emotion and gratitude that she could not stop crying. She was so happy, proud and thankful all at the same time. Her hug and kiss of gratitude is enough to see me until the next course.

In addition to working with people during the course I took the opportunity to spend my nights with a family who was participating in the course. Ricardo was the gentleman that I had the privilege of staying with, however I spent the evenings with his family while he was attending classes at a local university. One family member, Maritza, spoke Spanish to me constantly. Maritza offered her services as a Spanish instructor. She teaches a five-week course for Students of the Peace Corp. coming to Bolivia. We sat each night poring over papers and books as she shoved mounds of knowledge in my brain. I talked about my family, friends, and the project that I have found consuming all of my time. After a long day of work it was nice to exercise my mind, but after a while that too, my mind, fatigued. I can’t remember the last time I have slept so soundly.
Maritza was also mother to Fernando who was only the cuetest little boys that I have ever spent time with. By the last day Fernando and I became pretty close. This connection means a lot to me. I think the connections that I have made with all the children present at the cooker courses have been important. Their enthusiasm and spirit is outright rejuvenating. In the field of service I am finding that rejuvenation is the key to longevity.
Three weeks down and about five and one half months to go…Longevity is definitely needed.

In my life I have meet and had great conversations with people of many different faiths. However, in my life I have only had the privilege of meeting one Mormon individual that I am aware of. This amazing family that I stayed with was a part of the Mormon Church. Though they asked my what type of faith held, I was comfortable talking freely about it. In this way it was an inlightning experience as well.