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“10 Things I’m Thankful For”

In today’s blog post, current missioner Valerie Ellis writes in gratitude about the blessings she’s experienced during her first month on mission.
Photo by Valerie Ellis on a scenic drive with her host family

10. My host family.
They have been incredibly hospitable, kind beyond my wildest dreams, and have the patience of saints.

9. A three year-old.
Two days ago, when he and his family (who are part of the extended family of my host family) came over, he greeted everyone with a smile and a dip of his head so we could individually kiss the top of his head. He did not leave me out. I am not extraordinarily weird to him, because to three year-olds, all adults are weird.

8. Big favors in small packages.
Every time one of my fabulous language instructors tells me to have patience with myself, tears come to my eyes. Speaking of patience, their generosity with paciencia is also admirable beyond words in any language.

7. Laughter. 
All in one day, the following blunders occurred:
  1) In my first language class, right after I had explained to my instructor (answering his questions about yesterday as is customary for Spanish practice) that I was not able to wash my clothes yesterday because of the rain (because in Bolivia all clothes are hung on the clothesline outside), I smelled something funny.

As I wondered whether it was coming from me or my instructor, I simultaneously realized that the source of the smell was dog doo doo, and that there was a good possibility that my instructor thought that the smell was a result of my not having washed my clothes. It took me until my second class to realize that the dog doo doo was on my boots, and I spent the break after carefully extracting said substance from my footwear.

        2) In my last language class, I talked to my instructor for five minutes straight about how hot I was last night, before he kindly explained that I was using the wrong “hot” (caliente instead of calor), and I remembered that caliente means hot in a much different way.

Photo by Valerie Ellis of landscape outside Cochabamba

6. My walk to and from Spanish classes.
While I am enjoy the beautiful view of the city of Cochabamba, with mountains surrounding all sides, my brain runs on overdrive with all of the correct and incorrect Spanish phrases I have recently used.

5. Bottled water and a washing machine.
In a country that doesn’t take either for granted, and where many have neither, I am blessed to currently have both of these creature comforts.

4. Siestas. 
I am officially changing the expression from “when in Rome, do as the Romans” to “when in Bolivia, do as the Bolivians”. Who can argue with a glorious nap in the afternoon after a big lunch (the most important meal of the day in Bolivia)?

3. Skype, Facebook, and Google Hangouts.
Although I typically detest technology and think of it as a way to distance people, it is currently serving as the exact opposite by connecting me to loved ones, and I am very appreciative.

2. You!
I am eternally grateful to you, my friends and family, who have supported me through thick and thin. Now that I am speaking two languages, please be assured that my prayers for you have doubled.

1. God.
I am grateful to our Lord and Savior for keeping me safe, well cared for, and loved!

Valerie served for two years (2014-2015) in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with CUBE (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) to raise sexual violence awareness and prevention, and in CEV (Comunidad Educativa Para La Vida) teaching and nurturing children six months to 8-years-old. Valerie grew up outside of Wichita, Kansas and graduated from The University of Tampa. She found her way to Franciscan Mission Service after 12 years of working in higher education where she worked with international students and designed and taught a class called "Avoiding Violence: Be A Part of the Solution."