Robin's JOY

October 13, 2016

Day 12-Visit with Compassion International Families PART 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 11:56 am

March 18, 2016

We were thrilled when we first started planning to go to Bolivia, that both of our sponsored children in Bolivia, are near the areas where we were traveling. We contacted Compassion to see if we could arrange a meeting with them. This is not the usually protocol, we were very last minute in all our planning, and if you are ever wanting to do this, I highly recommend planning 2 months ahead at least. Richard actually contacted the director of the center in Bolivia and that helped get our visit arranged. There were some details ahead of time, like background checks, transportation, etc. but it was all arranged and our kids were so so very excited to meet Victor and Nicole.

First we went to meet a few staff members who would be going with us, Yolanda, is Victor’s tutor (teacher at the compassion center) and she sometimes writes us on behalf of him and his family since he is so young.  Sarah was another translator/guide type person who works for Compassion, more about her later.

We met them at the Teleférico station (Gondola is a form of public transportation, we actually took it several times while in La Paz and we were so happy we did!  The ride above the cars and traffic saves time and gets you quickly from one end of the city to another.  We met up with Richard’s Tió Samuel who was our official taxi driver while we drove around that day.  He is Richard’s mom’s brother and loves to drive around, knows the area well, etc.  He was so kind to us, and generous with his time and vehicle.  We all rode together.  Richard and Isaac in the back (trunk) of the small SUV, Yolanda, Sarah, and Robin in the middle, Gabriella on my lap, and Aliyah rode on Marco’s lap in the passenger seat in the front.  Can you say a bit tight?  This car was FULL!  This carseat/booster law following mom had a hard time with the lack of seatbelts, child seats, appropriate number of passengers for the car, etc. there, but we needed to go along with what was acceptable in the culture there and the kids loved it and their mom quickly got used to it.


The pictures show most of our time with them and give glimpses into the visit, I suggest reading the captions for more detail.  The main takeaway we had as a family from our visit with Victor was his contagious laughter. This child is JOY through and through.  He laughed and played with the kids and had a great time.  He was delighted to share lunch with us and if you can see in the photo of the soup, we were a bit surprised the fish was staring at us when we sat down to eat, but I was SO proud of our kids for trying to get the bones out of the fish and eating with such beautiful manners and such great attitudes. Thankful our kids are not generally picky eaters and they did a good job here of being super polite.  The Chuño (Freeze dried potatoes) are traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities in Bolivia.  It is a 5 day process that involves taking potatoes and putting them outside in the very low night temperatures in the Andean Altiplano, freezing them, and then exposing them to the intense sun during the day.  I personally tasted a few to be polite, but think the taste must be something to get used to.  The kids all tasted each new food.  Richard says he remembers his mom used to make them when they were younger in the U.S. but stopped because it is so labor intensive.

I will share more about our thoughts after seeing Compassion centers up close, but want to share that if you do sponsor kids (through Compassion or any other organization) write to them!    Write to them often, they really do love hearing from you and they showed us EVERY letter/card we have ever sent to them. They saved them all.  Compassion even has an ap that you can send letters and notes online.  It is really fast and easy, I have used it and the kids have even written there too.

October 6, 2016

Day 11- a day in the city of La Paz

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 1:18 pm

We headed to La Paz to take care of some paperwork and government office type stuff.  This is a whole different ball game in South America.  What we ended up doing was taking Richard’s ID card (similar to a Driver’s License in US) in to get renewed, his last one was from when he was pretty young, so he needed an updated photo, etc. and we had all 3 of our kids get ID cards.  Because Richard was born in Bolivia, all of our kids are considered eligible for dual citizenship.  This is AMAZING and so helpful, so we had them all get their ID’s while we were there, so they will never need a VISA to travel in and out of the country.  I on the other hand, will always need to get a visa for any travel to and from Bolivia.

We also ate some amazing Salteñas which were different than the ones Richard’s mom makes for our birthdays, but very tasty.  All the kids loved them.  We also hung out at the house there and Richard’s cousin Lismer played some amazing music for us.  He has a band and plays for events and things, but we got our own private concert in his living room.

Day 10 (leaving Coroico and going to La Paz)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 12:55 pm

Leaving Coroico was sad because it meant some of the relatives who we were with there, we may never see on this earth again.  Living on different continents feels far, when you are saying Goodbye.  We took the entire morning till about 2pm to say good byes to everyone there.  Then we boarded our mini bus, (Taxi, sort of) and headed up the hill to La Paz, about 2-3 hours depending on who is driving🙂

If I had to describe Coroico I would say the biggest surprise to me, was the landscape was so tropical.  I pictured Bolivia as La Paz is, the high desert, with mountains nearby.  The tropical flowers and waterfalls were unexpected but so welcome in Coroico.  The girls had Richard take photos of so many different flowers and fruits because they wanted to hang a photo of them on their wall at home.

The night before we left, we took the kids to the Plaza for a little walk (the evenings are cooler there, so it is nice to get out a bit (with 3 layers of bug spray on🙂 and Isaac got stung by a type of fire ant.  He accidentally put his hand on it, but it was really scary because Richard wasn’t there and I didn’t see what bit him right away so of course my first thought was, what if it was poisonous?!?  He knew right away something had bit him and was able to point it out, Thankfully Didia saw the ant and recognized what kind it was, basically it burns like wasp sting, but with some cold water and medicine the pain subsided.

By the next morning, it just looked like a bug bite. Thank goodness!

September 29, 2016

Fall reflections

Filed under: 2016,Bolivia,fall,H-11 Pro,Nichole Nordeman,Steamboat Springs — by robinjoy @ 11:01 am

back home in Colorado

Summer melted into autumn and somewhere along the way we took a few deep breaths.  I am trying to work on being present and absolutely treating each day as a gift, but I struggle with so many jumbled thoughts about this.

This morning on my run, I saw a tree that was caught between every stage of turning colors.  The leaves were small and so they scattered like multi-colored confetti as the morning breeze trickled through.  I loved seeing the deep golds peeking though the bright greens of summer hanging on.  The darker red and golden browns were spilling over the edges with the promise of cooler mornings and evenings on the horizon.  If you have never experienced Fall in Colorado, it is a treasure, with beauty and temperatures that beckon you outside at every chance you get. (Or at every moment of procrastination you allow yourself to have🙂 While the days are still warm enough that shorts and a t shirt feel good most afternoons, the mornings now beckon for a sweatshirt and evenings are coming sooner each day.

This tree was a great refection for my thoughts as I have been caught between the typical 1st world parent mindset of wanting my children to have all that I had and more.  Shiny new tennis shoes and a fresh new back pack for school, lessons and activities that will allow them to try lots of different things…and yet I am finding myself longing for the simple days in Bolivia, where half of the day seemed to be spent preparing 1 meal and the other half building relationships.  Stress is minimal if you are healthy and have access to education/employment.  Because houses take less time to clean when they are smaller.  Toys and clothes can be washed and put away quickly when you only have a few pairs.  In Bolivia we were seen as “wealthy Americans” and yet I found myself longing for bringing many of these simple traditions back home.  I am grateful for the blessings and the abundance that we have here, and I do recognize the privilege we have for being able to do so many things, travel, take piano lessons, etc.

I feel I am caught between wanting the best for our family and having a desire for our kids to grow up knowing they have so much and they do not need most of it.  I want them to feel contentment with where they are and the abundance they have.  Do you struggle with this balance?  What is our call to action here?

I am so thankful God works in every season of our lives, and He is the conductor!  My favorite Nichole Nordeman song was one she shared when she visited my college for a concert, back in Sioux Center Iowa 18 or so years ago (oh my goodness, where did the time go!) and I was blessed to hear her perform it live once again this past weekend at the Belong Tour right here in CO.  If you haven’t ever heard Every Season definitely take 3 minutes and enjoy!  Be blessed today!


Autumn in Steamboat Springs, CO


The view looking down into the town of Coroico


Coroico, Bolivia: the town where Richard’s mom is from.


Aliyah age 5 in Bolivia with Robin


Coripata, Bolivia: the town where Richard’s dad lived when he was young.

March 27, 2016

Day 9

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 7:20 pm

On Wednesday we decided to leave for La Paz, about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive, depending on traffic, road conditions, etc. on the infamous Death Road.  We didn’t have to drive down the really dangerous part, for which  I am very thankful.  There are quite enough harrowing turns and death defying passes, by very experienced drivers who I am also thankful for.  I honestly had to stop watching, when our driver, who was one of the nephews, was passing on a narrow dirt road above huge cliffs without a guardrail.  The views are amazing and thankfully no one was car sick the whole trip.  Aliyah, Bella,  and I sat up front to try to avoid that and Marco, Richard’s brother, who also gets carsick, sat in the passenger seat.  We took a mini-bus which means a small van, with several rows.  Thankfully, Richard’s dad was doing ok with the huge climb in elevation, although we did get a chuckle when his water filter in his oxygen tank back fired after we hit a bump and it tipped.  All of the sudden there was this gurgling noise and he was getting water sprayed into his face instead of air.  Richard was trying to be serious, but it was pretty hilarious after he realized what had happened.

We had to say Good Bye to some family members in the morning, because some of the Coroico family will not be seeing again.  But a few will come to La Paz with us, or shortly after us and we will see them again on Saturday or Sunday.

When we got to La Paz, we were tired, but thankful to be out of the mosquitos, and heat.  We all were covered in bites by this point and just a bit cooler air, felt wonderful.  We stayed with the same family that we did our first night in La Paz, and it almost felt familiar to be there with a bit of space and beds that were comfortable.  I honestly almost missed the rooster crowing in the morning…almost.  :)

March 19, 2016

Day 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 2:42 pm

On Monday we had homeschool for a few hours in the morning while Richard and Marco tried to get Papi oxygen from the hospital.

Our school included PE (throwing a ball down the apt stairs) and art (testing out some of the compassion kids art projects so we could give them some examples of butterflies we created.  Kids completed most of their math and reading so we took a short walk and then went to visit some family walking around town.

We were so blessed to walk by the biggest oven I have ever seen in my life.  Pan is sold fresh daily here and we have forever been ruined by eating fresh empanadas out of the oven, yum. Richard’s cousin showed us the inside and the smell is amazing. So very cool. They bake bread over fire in big stone ovens in the Tradituonal way, very cool to see.

One of Richard’s cousins watches a bunch of you tube videos and learned how to do some really good braids so she fixed Aliyah’s hair in a special style.


Day 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 1:56 pm

imageSunday there was a bunch of family in town so we decided to make pancakes for breakfast. Everyone here was excited for trying American food. We decided to make banana pancakes both because bananas are awesome here and because it might help make up for the flavored we were missing, couldn’t find vanilla or ground cinnamon.  They have heard of pancakes and call them Panqueque (pan Kay Kay )

I used this recipe:

this is how you make pancakes in Bolivia

  1. Wait for Internet to get fast enough to load page with recipe
  2. write down
  3. translate list of ingredients to Spanish
  4. send husband and brother to store to buy
  5. they return 5 min later (store is only downstairs and a few blocks away)
  6. need weights instead of amounts because you buy flour/sugar/etc in the amount you need
  7. Triple recipe
  8. start cooking, try to find a pan big enough to cook more than one pancake at a time
  9. light stove with match
  10. burn first batch because pan is too hot
  11. cook 4 more batches
  12. put pancakes in pan for everyone to eat with coffee and jam (no syrup here, they eat with fingers like bread)
  13. cook rest of batches
  14. more relatives come
  15. make another batch of batter(triple it again ). Use packs of squeeze applesauce from my traveling snacks to sub for oil/butter because we ran out after first 3 batches
  16. Burn first batch
  17. realize they are taking forever to cook because there is no flame on burner. Re light and try again
  18. realize people are eating the half doughy burned ones that I had set on a towel
  19. 6 batches of pancakes later there are no leftovers
  20. the End

March 16, 2016

Day 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 5:36 pm

I think after reading yesterday’s post we think we went to the waterfalls on Saturday🙂 well either way it was awesome. We are getting a bit behind on updates because the Internet is pretty iffy in The town of Coroico.

Many family members came to Coroico for the weekend on Friday night and Saturday/Sunday to see us and Richard’s brother Marco and parents.  I can officially say I now understand what it was like for Richard when he met my whole family and a bunch of extended family from both sides at Josh and Candaces wedding a few years ago.  Holy big family Batman!

We had fun going to the waterfalls, riding in back of the truck and when you get to the first waterfall, it goes over the road ( think river) and it pours over the rocks, which you drive over maybe a foot deep.   cars are stopped there, not because of stalling, but people will pull out a rag and start bathing the car.  Car wash at its finest, or washing clothes, hair, etc.

I thought it was kinda funny to wash the cars, then continue driving on the dirt roads. I suppose it is the same thing as when we wash cars in the middle of winter🙂.

We took a short hike, up to the falls, and again I was amazed at Tio Samuel and how spry he is for a 70 year old.  Didia brought a bunch of apples, peaches, and prickly pear for snacks.  The fruit here is good but needs to be washed and peeled to be safe to eat.  Prickly pear are bright pink here and dark pink inside.  I have only ever gotten green ones in my produce basket back home, so I didn’t know what they were.

Other fruit new to the kids and I are chirimoya and maracuya.  The maracuya we liked as juice but thought was sour to eat. Chirimoya tastes like a cross between a pineapple, a strawberry, and banana.  Very sweet and white inside.  I’ll try to add photos later.

March 14, 2016

Day 5- animal sanctuary and waterfalls in Coroico

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 1:38 pm

On Friday we went to a wild animal refuge that is here.  It isn’t too far, maybe 20 minutes by car, so we crammed 11 of in the pick up truck and went for the morning.  We were blown away by the variety of animals we saw, very different than the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.  We saw a bunch of different types of monkeys, parrots, toucans, turtles, lizards, copybarra, and snakes.

We walked around a bit then got the kids an ice cream before hopping back into the bed of the pick up for a bumpy ride home. Good news! Found out the girls don’t get car sick if they are in the back of the truck bed! 😉

We came back to have lunch at Casa de Mi Abuela, a restaurant that featured a pork dish Covered in a green sauce I can not remember the name of with rice and yucca. All 3 kids think yucca tastes like sweet potato And they think all the rice here is amazing (their mother can not make good rice.) Also a dish made of shredded beef with hominy.

Isaac thinks the fact that you drink Coke with every meal here is awesome. After lunch we went back to grab some towels etc to go to the waterfalls near here. La Jalancha is the name of the big one here.

We stopped, paid to use the restroom (still cracks me that you pay for toilet paper) and Walked up the short hill to the waterfall. So. Very. Cool.

March 13, 2016

Day 4- Coripata

Filed under: Uncategorized — by robinjoy @ 2:35 pm

imageOn Thursday, Richard’s dad wanted to go to Coripata, a town about 2 hours away, to see if we could find any family of his. He used to live, go to school, and work there so he has many memories in this area.

Unfortunately, the girls were not feeling great and on the way a bit of travelers illness/car sickness caught up with both of them. Riding 2 hours on bumpy dirt rides in a van packed with 11 people was a bit of a stretch, but we are thankful for our pediatrician who thought to send us with Meds for that, and the prayers of so many who literally prayed them well.

We walked around Coripata and met Papi Hugo’s aunt, who cared for him as a boy. We had fresh empanadas and explored the town.

We saw lots of waterfalls and butterflies along the way. Very cool views and awesome adventures. Richard and I are so proud of all of our kids, they have been rock star travelers.

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