Bandage, Stone Age, Garbage

First aid trainingThe moment she hit the floor, everyone in the back row leapt to their feet to see what would happen next.

Sue Albright, a volunteer in mission and a virtual patient for the mission's recent First Aid training class, moaned in pretend agony feigning a sprained ankle. Her daughter, Jessica Workman, walked the 20 avid listeners through the Spanish equivalents of RICE -- Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. She showed them how to splint with a piece of tree bark, sticks and a shredded T-shirt, all readily available in remote rural areas.

First aid trainingThe class was mandatory for presidents and lay pastors of the five area Methodist churches, three church plants, and officers of the women's and youth groups. After the five-hour course, each church received a free, fully stocked and inventoried First Aid kit, along with instructions: trainees should use their new skills and equipment to help their neighbors in crisis. Not just church members. Everyone.

Jess taught the group how to recognize and treat infections, first-, second-, and third-degree burns, cuts, puncture wounds, sprains, and fractures. Wisely, she wove in a lot of roll-playing. They loved the opening activity: Green paint signified germs, which we all have on our hands and clothes all the time. Red paint represented blood. The challenge was for green-smeared care givers to treat bloody red patients without mixing "germs" into the red "wound."

In the lesson's second round, before treating patients care givers washed their hands and/or donned rubber gloves (available in the First Aid kits). They clearly got the point, and had fun.

First aid training

Cathedral Rock and Andean Artifacts

Sue arrived Dec. 26 and will work with us until Feb. 4. We're delighted to have her here! The three of us did our Volunteer in Mission training together in April 2010, and she's been our "Mission Buddy" ever since. Jess, 24, gave a week to intensive Spanish immersion in La Paz, and joined us in Copa early in January to teach the First Aid class.

While she was here the four of us hiked to a rocky peak Jeff and I call "Cathedral Rock" because of its soaring stones and strange quiet despite lake winds whistling outside the rock formation. Jess, an archeologist, promptly found an obsidian arrowhead, and a handful of ancient pottery shards.

Cathedral rockCathedral rock

Early last Sunday, Jess headed off to other South American adventures. Meanwhile, Sue, Jeff and I are planning for an 10 member mission team from the Northern Illinois Conference, arriving Feb. 19 for a ten-day working trip.

Small Hopes

EkkekoRemember Alasitas, the centuries-old, 10-day festival in which Aymara people appeal to the god of abundance, Ekkekko (right, seeking favors in the coming year? Beginning on Jan. 24, virtually every family builds a shrine to the jolly god and surrounds him with miniatures of things they want -- new cars and houses, suitcases stuffed with cash, passports, first-class plane tickets, diplomas, and wads of micro-money.

Clean Up and Recycle?

This week we received an intriguing solicitud from the English teacher I (Deb) covered for last year during her maternity leave. She and several of her fellow university students want to start a small business that would take over trash pick up in the Copacabana municipality. But instead of dumping the trash over a mountainside, they'd start a landfill. And before they use that, they'd separate recyclables for resale and reuse.

We've long lamented the lackadaisical local attitude toward trash - it lines the streets and piles up around the few trash collection cans around town. We're glad that the proposal includes a comprehensive and ongoing education plan because, although locals blame tourists for dumping trash, we see lots of our neighbors dumping trash everywhere. Parents and children of all ages including toddlers routinely drop waste at their feet or throw it from bus windows.

It's an ambitious project. To our knowledge, nothing like it has ever been attempted in Bolivia. It might well become a model for cities throughout Bolivia and other South American countries.


The team's detailed 12-page proposal seeks a total of 105,500 Bolivianos, a little over $15,000. On Feb. 7 they'll present the project to small business loan officers of a Bolivian bank. If approved, they bank will cover half of the start-up costs. The mission is considering covering 20 percent, about $3,000. We'd welcome your input on this prospect. Should we commit mission funds to this project? Should we perhaps give $1,500 and loan another $1,500 to be repaid in a year or two? Other thoughts?

Prayers for a 5-Year-Old Friend

Isabella Morat-Donoso Torres, five-year-old daughter of a Bolivian friend, Claudia, flew to the U.S. this week with her parents for a major surgery to correct her malformed spine. Surgery will be Feb. 4 at Children's Hospital of St. Louis. Please pray for her and her family.

Once again, thanks from all of us here. None of us can do what we are doing without you as our global neighbors!

Love, hugs and blessings!
Debbie and Jeff

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