Street in El Alto

Seca y fría. Dry and cold.

No, I’m not describing La Paz (though I could be). I’m describing myself. Dry and cold. I guess my new home and I have that in common.

But I think I am melting.

I knew that working with IJM Bolivia would be intense, confronting. But I also know that I am better suited than many to face and deal with the ugliness that our work involves. But I didn’t think it would move me so quickly. Two weeks in and I’d had moments in which the testimonies I read moved me almost to tears.

It’s a good thing.

Perhaps I overestimate and oversell my “toughness” (or whatever you call it). There’s a special type of bread they make here in Bolivia that apparently can’t be replicated elsewhere because the altitude gives it its special texture. Marraquetas are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and frankly seem to me to be an inferior version of a French baguette – but the point is I think you need that balance of hard and soft to do this job well.

I can’t be crippled by the tragedy – that would render me useless. Nor can I be frozen, unaffected by the stories I hear, share and create – emotions are central, I need to connect with these in order to connect others with the truth of what is taking place here in Bolivia. Communications 101, yeah?

I need to let the sadness, the brokenness, the need, the desperation, the injustice, wash over me without overwhelming me and drenching me through. Because I know that God is in control.

One month I’ve been here. I’ll need to watch myself to make sure I don’t drift too far to either extreme.

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