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10/25/09 Students Prepare International Fare to celebrate El Diá de la Raza

“A World Without Boarders” was the theme for UETIRG’s third annual international food fair to celebrate el Día de la Raza and reach out to parents and friends from the community. Preparations for the event started over a week in advance when students signed up with staff members representing the countries of Bolivia, Belize, Mexico, the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Each group made several dishes representative of their culture and decorated their table and booth with their country’s colors. Bolivia and Belize went for the native look, bringing a bit of the jungle indoors to decorate their areas, while the U.S. went for the old-west shantytown theme that ended up looking more like la parada de los pobres on your way out of Guayaramerín. South Africa showed off its wildlife, and Mexico had more flags than anyone else in their rendition of a roadside tienda. Canada stayed in the great out-of-doors with their campfire, covered wagon, and Mr. Clint’s wooden rifle. The program began with prayer, followed by a performance by the chime choir. Next came interviews of each country, interspersed with more music, including impromptu sing-alongs of the national anthems. The school voice choir also gave its first performance of the trimester, singing “Seeking the Lost,” complete with the bass and tenor parts in the chorus, not a small accomplishment for a choir whose only harmony to date had been in the inability to match a pitch. After the program, everyone circuited the cafeteria, filling their plates potluck style. About 100 visitors from Yata, Guayaramerín and Riberalta attended the event, and they seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. According to Director Ruan Swanepoel, the event was a great success. “I’d like to do something like this more often” he said. “It’s a great way to strengthen relationships with parents and the community.”

10/20/09 Visiting the Elderly

“Miss Susie, why don’t we go visit los ancianos?” it was Alcides who first came up with the idea. Every Sabbath, Alcides and Jhunior, two of the older third-year boys, go to town to visit the families of ex-students. One Sabbath a few weeks ago, they visited El Hogar de los Ancianos de Santa Teresa, a sort of combination between an assisted living center and a nursing home, and that’s when Alcides got his idea. Miss Susie jumped at the idea, and after having the students practice bathing, feeding, and grooming each other as part of their health class homework, she organized several trips into town to visit the Hogar. The kids had an amazing experience talking with, singing to, and caring for the residents. They were excited when they came back and shared their experiences for morning worship. At the end, Alcides said “Let’s pray for the ancients.” His prayer was simple and heartfelt. “Lord, please be with the ancients and help them to know You and Your love. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to be here and for the gift of service, and for what has been, for my part, some of the best days of my life.”

10/10/09 International Day of Compassion

On Sabbath afternoon, the pathfinder club organized a special outreach program in Yata to celebrate the Day of Compassion. Susie Moro, girls dean and campus nurse, collected clothes from the students and staff on campus to donate to needy families, and the pathfinders helped make about 250 loaves of bread to distribute along with literature pamphlets so the people could “have a little bread with their bread” as one of the students put it. The program began with the chime choir’s first performance of the trimester followed by several other musical numbers and a short reflection. Afterward, the pathfinders handed out the food and clothes and the health-class students gave screenings for pulse and blood pressure while the rest of the students sang songs and told stories to the bevy of neighborhood children that had thronged to the scene. About 100 people attended the event, and their response seemed very positive.

10/13/09 Third-year Boys Build House for Needy Family

The days of helping a neighbor raise his roof are not over, at least if you live in Bolivia. Don Angel’s old house was falling apart, and he didn’t have the time or money to build a new one for his blind wife Frieda and their children before the rainy season hit. When the third year boys found out about his predicament, the volunteered to help him build his new house. They cut and hauled the necessary building materials from the jungle, including 67 logs varying from two to ten inches in diameter, and 650 palm fronds to thatch the roof. After about two weeks of working half days, they finished everything, including the thatch.

10/4/09 Week of Prayer and New Commitments

This trimester’s week of prayer and spiritual emphasis focused on our identity as children of the king and what it means to be true men and women of Christ. The week was followed up with a special agape feast on Friday night, communion service in the chapel, and foot washing in the dorms. On Sabbath, the pastor from Guayaramerín held our church service followed by a baptism service. Five students, Barbara, Roly, Rodolpho, Rosalia, and Erika decided to give their hearts to the Lord. Students and staff gathered around and sang hymns while the candidates filed into the creek one by one to begin a new life in Christ.

9/18/09 Electrical System Upgraded

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Inverter and new batteries

UETIRG has recently been blessed with a substantial upgrade to it's electrical system. The previous  system consisted of four truck batteries connected to a bank of eight 12 volt solar panels. With moderate usage, the batteries would last until 9:00 or 10:00 pm, but on heavy usage day they would go dead as early as 6:30 to 7:00 pm, and on cloudy days there would often be no power at all in the evenings.  The new massive 700 amp, twelve-volt batteries that were installed are the type that are used to back up cell phone service providers. They come in six, two-volt cells inside a metal box, and each connected in pairs. It takes the generator four to six hours to charge them completely when they are dead with the current inverter that we have. Fully charged, the batteries should theoretically supply our power needs for two to three days. To save on generator fuel, we also connected the solar panels from the old system.

9/4/09 UETIRG Pathfinder Club

Sarai Pérez and Kaila Valenzuela started UETIRG's first ever Conquistadores (Pathfinders) club at the beginning of the trimester. The club has been a lot of fun, despite the extra work it has involved. We have learned knots, how to tie sticks together to make furniture, how to build fires and ignite them with a single match, and how to make kites from sticks and plastic bags.  Our first “excursion” was an insect-hunting hike into the jungle to collect bugs that we later labeled and pinned to a Styrofoam display board. Of course, all the insects seemed to hide themselves as soon as we began our search, whereas they are normally out in full strength, at times dive-bombing with such ferocity that I have dubbed them the Bolivian air force. You practically have only to open your mouth to catch one, but on this particular hike, we really had to work to capture our quota of fifteen! (I’ve decided my new bug repellent will be to carry around a glass jar in one hand.) Beautiful as the bug boards turned out however, I’d have to say one of our finest achievements as a club to date was our Pathfinder potluck which included green-papaya salad with onion and tomato, pasta salad, black-bean spread on toast, and minestrone-style soup, followed by a fruit salad of pineapple, banana, apple, and papaya for dessert.


About a week and a half ago we took the guias and exploradores from the Pathfinder club on a 28 km excursion. The only hiking trails in Bolivia that I know of are for the tourists, 20 hours away in Rurrenebaque, sowe had to content ourselves with the carratera between the school and Guayaramerín. The plan was to leave at four in the morning. Instead, I woke up at 4:40 to the attempted whisper of one of my eager students outside my hut: “teacher Kody! Vamos!” The moon had already set by the time we started down our driveway at 4:55, under the typical blaze of tropical stars that seem to melt in blotches and run into the Milky Way. When you look up through the tree branches it seems as if God has decorated the jungle for Christmas. So many lights, the sustenance of a myriad solar systems, and yet most of us would never notice if a third of them disappeared. We’ve replaced them with our own lights.

After six hours of hiking, we arrived at the outskirts of Guayara, and collapsed, dusty, footsore, and starving. Fortunately, teacher Lyli had hitchhiked a ride in ahead of us, bought food, and prepared sandwiches that she distributed to everyone upon our arrival. From there the kids rode the truck back out to the school.

8/18/09 Texas Mission Group Helps Raise Walls on New Girls Dorm

August six marked the much anticipated arrival of a group of volunteers from Texas (pictured below) who came DSC_0004to put up the walls for the new girls dorm. Classes were canceled for the first week of the final semester so the students could help full-time with the work. General Director Ruan Swanepoel and his father, Mr. Dion, planned and organized the work, dividing the workers intospecific crews of mud mixers, tenders, brick layers, and scaffold builders. Everyone worked hard and raised the walls, all 24,000 bricks of them, in five days, two days less than the original projection!Completion of the building is now on hold, probably until November or later, depending on when materials can be obtained. The hope is to have the dorm habitable by the beginning of the new school year next March.