Today I am feeling super sore, but also super proud and accomplished! Yesterday the Highlands high school students and staff spent the day working at a hospital in Amachuma for community service.
The hospital is called Beth-El, and it has been in the process of being built by a sweet and wonderful Christ-follower named Judy for the past 14 years. Parts of it are complete and ready to use, but it is still being added onto to provide medical care for more people. Miss Judy is a nurse who was born in the U.S. but grew up in La Paz, and as an adult she felt called to move back here and provide medical care to the small town of Amachuma. She shared some of her story with us yesterday, and explained how she found it very difficult to find a mission organization that would support “an old woman with an expensive, new project.” But she didn’t let that stop her! She decided to “pack up her dogs and move anyway!” What an incredible example of trusting and following the Lord!
Amachuma is a beautiful place. It is located on the Andean plateau known as the Altiplano right outside of La Paz. The views from the hospital were absolutely gorgeous and awe-inspiring. We could see the urban sprawl of El Alto to our left, and in front of us we had an awesome view of the Andes, including the snow-capped peaks of Huayna Potosí, Mururata, and Illimani.
We didn’t have too long to take in the sights, however, because there was lots of work to be done! Groups of students set about doing different jobs – from helping the electrician wire up the newest part of the hospital, to cleaning and scrubbing, to digging trenches – everyone was kept very busy!
I was assigned to the group that was digging and sawing several copper poles out of the ground. A few years ago, three copper poles had been discovered on the hospital’s property, and Highlands’ students had begun the task of digging them up. However, they went much deeper than anyone expected! The holes were a little over waist deep, and still the poles showed no sign of budging! We were instructed to saw them off and fill in the craters. The tools we were given to cut through these poles? A few bow saw blades. I’ll be completely honest; I thought this was an impossible task. The blades seemed to hardly make a dent in the posts! But my group of students was unfazed by the assignment. They remained hopeful and positive. Together, we took turns sawing, hacking, and kicking away at the poles until they gave way! We did it! I was so proud of them. The work was difficult, but it paid off. Miss Judy’s plan is to sell the copper to help raise money for the hospital and purchase an X-ray machine.
Here they are, victorious (and yes, the accomplishment was worth a “dab”):
The second half of the day was spent with a different group of students digging trenches. The hospital lies down a slope, and during the rainy season there is a large risk of flooding. Last year, Miss Judy told us that flooding caused her to have to replace floors in two rooms, an unforeseen and large expense. The trenches will serve as ditches to re-direct rain and flood water around the hospital and prevent this from happening again. The pickaxes and shovels were flying! It was hard work, but the students kept at it. Even when lunch was about an hour later than we planned on (it’s tough to cook rice for 72 people!) and water was running low, the kids kept on working. They even made a game out of it where two guys would go one-on-one against each other to see who could pickaxe hardest and fastest for the longest amount of time. By the end of the day we had dug a knee-deep trench that was probably around 40 feet.
Here they are, hacking away at the rocky ground:
Doing community service that is purely manual labor is not easy, and it’s not particularly fun, but these kids found a way to keep going and keep smiling all day long. Somehow, they even had enough energy to sing and dance on the bus ride the whole way home! I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder as a teacher than I was yesterday. Galatians 5:13 says that we are to “serve one another humbly in love,” and my students showed me a great illustration of humble, loving servanthood. My sore muscles are worth it.
Here’s the high school staff, plus our school’s chaplain, at the end of our long and successful day:
Some prayer requests and updates:
- Our director’s surgery was successful! Thank you to those of you who were praying for him.
- Huge praise – so far this year, 6 students have made decisions for Christ for the first time! We continue to pray for our students who are not saved that they will come to know Christ as their personal Savior as well.
- This coming week at school is Spiritual Emphasis Week for this semester. We have a team of missionaries coming to serve, speak, and worship with us from Texas. Please pray for the team – that they would make it here safely with all their luggage and adjust quickly to the altitude. Pray also for the students and staff here at Highlands – that our minds and hearts will be open to their words and service this week.
- We are currently in the midst of transferring our visas to 2 year residencies, and the process is proving to be a long one. Please pray that we can finish this process quickly, efficiently, and successfully!
- Please continue to pray for our health and energy levels as our schedules start to fill up with work and extracurricular activities.