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Bolivia

Rest Required

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Nora McMahon describes the process (and standstills) of arriving at her new mission site in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She notes the importance of rest as a gift, contrary to cultural acclamation.  Preparing to leave for Bolivia was perhaps more hectic than actually traveling there. Repacking my bags three times, trying to say…

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Language and Culture: A Vibrant Relationship

Editor’s note: Overseas missioner, Anna Metzger, reminisces on her time in Bolivia while at home in Kentucky. She dives into the connections between language and culture, considering lessons learned from her journey into the Quechua language. Most simply put, being home is hard.  For years, I dreamed of living in Latin America, and just as…

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Hogar. Home.

Editor’s Note: Sabrina Portner, Missioner in Bolivia, reflects on the definition of “home” and the vulnerability that she is experiencing as she discovers a new home within her ministry site in Cochabamba. Hogar. Home. Ambiente familiar que se desarrolla en la vivienda habitual. Family atmosphere that develops in the habitual residence. When I think of…

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Sabrina Portner

Invitations to Dance

Editor’s Note: Sabrina Portner recently moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia to embark on a mission of love and accompaniment through FMS Overseas Lay Missions. Sabrina reflects on the ways God is inviting her to encounter Him in this new environment. Everyday I wake up amazed by God’s love. This is most definitely not an exaggeration. I…

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Love Blooms in Traffic

Editor’s Note: Current Missioner in Bolivia, SarahJane Cauzillo recalls a moment when she allowed herself to be present to the workings of God, instead of sitting in frustration. I was late. Like, really late. I was over an hour outside of the city and yet here I was, slammed into a crowded trufi (taxi bus),…

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Embracing Humility

Editor’s Note: Maggie Van Roekel, current missioner in Bolivia, reflects on a moment that invited her to embrace humility and cast aside shame. “¿Quién necesita carpicola?” What I thought I had asked was, “Who needs toothpaste?” I stood in the kitchen with several kids who were about to brush their teeth before going to class.…

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Finding Comfort in Our Limitations

Editor’s Note: Current Missioner, Anna Klonowski reflects on her own limitations that guide her response when faced with the suffering of others. “Me duele el alma.” “My soul hurts,” Desi told me as we were sitting on a bench together during a beautiful morning in September. Despite the fact that she doesn’t sleep well, has…

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Come to the Table: Kinship

Editor’s note: Missioner Maggie Van Roekel continues a three-part blog series on how kitchens and cooking have become important to her on mission. In part three, Maggie shares her relationship with her host mom, Anita, and how they first bonded over baked goods. There have been many times during my lifetime where a kitchen has brought…

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Learning Humility and ‘The Sacrament of the Present Moment’

Editor’s note: Missioner SarahJane Cauzillo reflects on her ability to be present to those she serves in Cochabamba, Bolivia and the graces God has given her to do so. “If you have come here to help me… you are wasting your time. But, if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine,…

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Come to the Table: Patience

Editor’s note: Missioner Maggie Van Roekel continues a three-part blog series on how kitchens and cooking have become important to her on mission. In part two, Maggie shares a time she learned patience in the UAC campus kitchen in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia. Another kitchen that has made an impact on my experience on mission was the…

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Faith Calls Us to be Neighbors: The Feeling of Hospitality

Editor’s note: As a part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, missioner Anna Klonowski reflects on the moments of hospitality she’s experienced in Bolivia. I have experienced hospitality this year on mission in so many new and unexpected ways. This makes me think of a quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said,…

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Faith Calls Us to be Neighbors: Aymara Hospitality

Editor’s note: As a part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, returned missioner Lee Lechtenberg shares an experience of hospitality while adventuring the Inca trail with fellow missioners in Bolivia. Our journey began in the falling snow at the top of a mountain, trying to find the beginning of the Inca trail that would take…

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Faith Calls Us to be Neighbors: A “Thank You” Letter to Bolivia

Editor’s note: As part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, missioner Catherine Hope Sullivan shares her gratitude to Bolivia, who has welcomed her in a variety of ways for the past two years, as she leaves the country today. Dear Bolivia, Today, I leave you and I cannot believe it. You have been everything to…

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Faith Calls Us to be Neighbors: Welcoming and Being Welcomed

Editor’s note: As part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, missioner Aubrey Kimble recounts her experiences being welcomed in Bolivia. This year’s Advent theme centers on hospitality and welcome, themes that are central to the Franciscan charism. I love that showing hospitality is part of the Franciscan charism because it is something that I believe…

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The Privilege of Options

Editor’s note: Missioner Catherine Hope Sullivan reflects on her two years in Bolivia and shares her reflective thoughts on the transition to returning home. As my two years here in Bolivia come to a close (I cannot believe I am typing it, but today marks one month until departure), I have found myself constantly reflecting…

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Beneath the Paint

Editor’s note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the transformative process of an art project with the girls at Nuestra Casa in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It started out as a boredom prevention project. The girls at Nuestra Casa—a home for girls who have experienced sexual violence or abuse—were about to start their month-and-a-half of winter vacation (in…

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Showing Up

Editor’s note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs traces the ups and downs of her journey on mission and reflects on the challenges and joys of forming relationships along the way. When I decided to go on mission, Iwas prepared to experience two of the most fulfilling and gratifying years of my life. I pictured myself arriving in…

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Dios Está Aquí

Editor’s Note: Executive Director Elizabeth Hughes shares a reflection from her October site visit to FMS communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Carmen Pampa, Bolivia. There is a popular Spanish worship song — that also happens to be one of my favorites — called “Dios Está Aquí.” Its English lyrics proclaim “God is here, as certain…

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A Day in the Children’s Library and Daycare Center

Editor’s note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares her experiences both in the daycare center and the children’s library in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia. [unitegallery daycare] How do you practice a childlike faith in your life?

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A Deeper Definition of Dignity

Editor’s note: Missioner Catherine Hope Sullivan explores perspectives on sexuality through the lens of her experiences in San Sebastian Prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Are you all singing along? I know I am. I have known that song for as long as…

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Love Can Be Kept Only By Being Given Away

Editor’s note: Missioner Maggie Van Roekel describes a meal that she and her campus ministry group organized in the Carmen Pampa community. “Love can be kept only by being given away.” —Tomas Merton, No Man is an Island This month our campus ministry group, pastoral, organized a lunch for older people in the Carmen Pampa…

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Michel’s Madrina

Editor’s note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan reflects on the role of “madrinas” in the Bolivian culture when she is asked to be a baptismal godmother for a friend’s daughter. Madrina is a very important term in Bolivia. There is actually an entire day and festival dedicated to madrinas, because here the word refers to a friend…

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A Day at CUBE

Editor’s note: Missioner Anna Klonowski shares about her work at the CUBE social center in Bolivia and the children there whom she has formed friendships with. One of the highlights of my week is spending several days with the kids and adolescents at Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza (CUBE), or, in English, Center a Breeze…

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¡Nunca de Rodillas!

Editor’s note: In a sequel to her last blog post, “The Weight of Waiting,” missioner Allison Dethlefs continues to learn more about the issue as she stands in solidarity with the Bolivian families who are fighting for better health care for their children. Recently, I read an article in one of Cochabamba’s main newspapers, Opinión,…

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To Choose Neither

Editor’s note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares a poem juxtaposing the societal norms of the US and the societal norms she experiences throughout her time on mission and her ministry in the Bolivian prisons. These lives continue to baffle me. They are lives lived entirely for others                  …

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Easter Celebrations

Editor’s note: Missioner Maggie Van Roekel reflects on how the missing of Easter mass opened her to renewed solidarity with the Bolivian people and a deeper awareness of privilege. The Easter season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love celebrating the mystery of the Resurrection. Attending mass during Holy Week has…

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Warning All Mothers

Editor’s note: Missioner Anna Klonowski celebrates her mother on Bolivian Mother’s Day by acknowledging some of the life lessons that her mom taught her. Although Mother’s Day in the United States is always the second Sunday of May, in Bolivia the date never changes—mothers are celebrated every year on the 27th of May. Though I…

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The Weight of Waiting

Editor’s note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on early mornings, long lines, and the frustrations with the healthcare system in Bolivia from her experiences on mission, and how—through these encounters—she has felt called to deeper solidarity with the families she accompanies. The darkness pressed in on me as I fumbled to shut off my alarm. I used…

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The Stripping of Tradition, One Pollera at a Time

Editor’s note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the parallels between the stripping of Christ’s clothing with the societal stripping of the cultural dress that she has witnessed in Bolivia. As I reflect on the Stations of the Cross in preparation for our coming Lenten season, my thoughts have come to dwell on the Tenth Station—Jesus…

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Once Latina, Always Latina: A Returned Missioner Talks Race

Editor’s Note: FMS alumna Hady Mendez—recently returned from two years of service in Cochabamba, Bolivia—reflects on the role that race plays in her reintegration back from mission and in daily life in the United States. Hi again. It’s been a little over a year since my return from Cochabamba. So much has changed since then!…

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Only in Bolivia…

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on some of the cultural practices in Bolivia, both those that cause her frustration as well as those that she has been deeply touched by. Nearly once a day, I find myself uttering the phrase, “Only in Bolivia…” For my line of ministry work, I volunteer with a rural…

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Love in the Midst of Tragedy

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how a tragic event in the community brought her back to the realization of the urgent importance of love. “There is a small but significant chance that this will be my last year – but whether or not this is so, my life will certainly be transformed, in a…

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Be Not Afraid: Waiting With Them

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares how fear of being an intruder and of not knowing enough about the Bolivian medical system led to a new understanding of what it means to walk with others through complex and scary situations. I stood on the corner feeling utterly helpless. I was supposed to be meeting four…

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Be Not Afraid: Meeting Myself in Solitude

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on how accepting silence and solitude led her to a better understanding of herself as well as the other people around her. There is a quote from the popular feminist author, bell hooks, that says, “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we…

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Be Not Afraid: Leaving ‘Me’ Behind

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares that when she first arrived in Bolivia, she was her own greatest obstacle and had to overcome the expectations she placed on herself. For this year’s Advent blog series, we  were asked to write about overcoming fear.  We hear the words “Be not afraid” so often in the Bible,…

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Be Not Afraid and Trust God in the Midst of Suffering

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how her faith was shaken after a traumatic event in the campus community in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia. “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the…

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Be Not Afraid of Foolishness

Editor’s Note: Missioner Tom Little shares how breaking through the image many people had of him when he first came to Bolivia allowed him to open up more and form deeper relationships. On mission I have had to move past the fear of making a fool of myself in order to build relationships with people…

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Thank God for Answered Prayers

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how some advice from a friend caused her to see her past and present in a different light and set her on a path of deeper gratitude for the future. Thinking of the future has always brought me a bit of anxiety. It usually reminds me of the need…

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Tuesday Normal Morning

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares a poem that she wrote after an emotional visit with a patient at one of her ministry sites in Bolivia. With one of my ministries, Fundación San Lucas, I often have the challenging and formational experience of going on home visits to check in on various children or families…

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Come Grocery Shopping With Me

Editor’s Note: In order to provide a glimpse into her life in Cochabamba, Bolivia, missioner Catherine Sullivan takes her readers with her on her weekly grocery shopping experience. Every Saturday morning, my site partner Allison and I head out to do our weekly grocery shopping. With a list in hand (along with a price ‘guestimate’…

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Free to Have Less

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett shares how moving towards a simpler lifestyle has positively affected her in physical, spiritual, and emotional ways. I wonder about how complex we make the concept of simple living; I think about how entrenched we have to be in consumerist culture to buy more books to teach us about consuming…

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Responding With Love

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares her thoughts about how, often, the seemingly simple and obvious answers are the ones that we should really seek. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love. During my free time, I’ve been reading more of the Bible – specifically the Gospels – and man, does Jesus talk a lot…

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Colonization

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares her realizations of the long lasting effects of colonization in Bolivia, especially as it relates to Catholicism. At the beginning of the summer,  I was able to attend the Maryknoll Mission Center Language Institute. I am incredibly grateful to have had that opportunity. The language school was very well…

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Telling Their Own Story

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on the experience of accompanying women in the Santa Rosa community as they tell their stories through a sequence of videos produced entirely by the women themselves. For the past year our garden project has been involved in the process of making videos participativos or participatory videos with the…

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Dancing Through the Doorway

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares how she’s been able to start forming relationships through teaching Zumba classes to girls who are survivors of sexual abuse. Upon arriving in Cochabamba, Bolivia, over seven months ago, I had no idea what kind of ministry I was going to get involved in. By a stroke of luck, during my six…

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Solidarity in the Climb

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on finding solace during an emotionally and physically strenuous climb up a mountain. On June 21st, Bolivia celebrated the Andean New Year. For the Aymaran people, this marked the year 5524 according to their calendar. This day is important because it is the beginning of a new agricultural cycle.…

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The Making of Miracles

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett shares how the experience of accommodating unexpected guests led her to think about the nature of hospitality and its differences across cultures. Recently a group of friends and I decided to grill fish together. It took us a couple of hours to prepare the meal and soon the patio filled…

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Look For Her Eyes

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan in Bolivia shares how she stays hopeful during her daily practice of reading the news. One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through different news sources and articles, comparing stories and trying my best to keep up with the goings-on of the world. It is often how I start and…

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Making My Money Matter

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the challenges of living on a stipend in Bolivia and how it has made her more mindful of those around her who are struggling with financial matters to a very serious degree. When we signed on with Franciscan Mission Service as missioners, we knew that while we were…

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The Bolivian Way

Editor’s Note: In Bolivia, missioner Tom Little oversees and works in a meat packing plant on the campus of Carmen Pampa University. In this post, he shares how he’s had to adapt to a very different understanding of time and deadlines than what he was used to in the US. My main job at the…

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