Of course I have to start with baby washing. Several of you contributed to the bags that we stuffed for the families who came to have their babies cleaned. If you aren't familiar with baby washing, let me fill you in on a really cool ministry. Part of Bolivia's indigenous population lives in the mountains surrounding Cochabamba, and without running water or electricity. On Saturdays, some of them come down to the city square to have their babies washed and receive new clothes for their children.
The missionaries we work with head up this ministry and allowed us to tag along and help. If you can't quite grasp how humbling of a time this is, I will just say that one of the men on our team was fighting back tears when the first baby was carried in.
Our team prepared for this day by bringing over much needed items for the families. One team member watched as a mom took her bag of items and held them close to her chest and hugged them with gratitude. I watched a teenage boy open the baby wipes in his bag and run over to his mom and wipe her face as if to say "Look at how cool this is. A clean wet cloth!" When was the last time you saw a teenager rejoice over something as simple as a baby wipe? Perspective giver.
For the future, I have no doubt that we will continue this component of the ministry so if you live around me, save your hotel soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes, etc. As you collect a bunch, drop them by the church or my house. We will put them to good use.
If you want to help in an even bigger way, there is one giant need you can be a part of. The missionaries have a contraption (best word I could come up with- sorry) that will allow them to make the baby washing ministry more mobile. It would heat water in a giant container that would be placed on a trailer and allow them to also go to the local dump to care for the people living there. The one thing they lack to make it work is a generator. If you are interested in donating funds for them to purchase a generator, you can contact Lifesong for Orphans and make a designated donation to that project.
I hand picked this team based on specific tasks that I needed to accomplish on this trip. I knew they were all awesome people (which is why I chose them) but I had no idea just how incredible they would be in this setting. I chose a group of leaders and what I got was more than servants but also visionaries with a get it done attitude. They have come up with great ideas for future projects in Bolivia that leave me really excited for our participation with Fundacion Esperanza moving forward.
In the next year, we will be sending more construction teams, creating gardens at the homes, teaching cooking classes for the orphans, hosting soccer clinics, mentoring the older boys and girls through basic life skills and discipleship, and more.