Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | October 20, 2014


Okay, it’s time to get back on the blog after some time off. I’m going to try and write a few shortish posts in the next few days to give you a flavour of how our life is at the moment.

This is the word I’d choose for life with a new-born. Sometimes intensely, deliriously happy- like when we got to view Ana-Noemi’s first smile or bring her home and introduce her to her brother and sisters. Sometimes intensely difficult- like when Ana-Noemi is screaming, there is poo or wee somewhere it shouldn’t be in the house, various other members of the family are crying (including us) and we should have left to go out half an hour ago.

But it is never boring. Or uninteresting. I think actually a lot of the best experiences in life are intense- both intensely good and intensely bad at times.

Ana-Noemi is nearly three months old already and is growing well. God has blessed us so much.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | April 2, 2014

The big news!

This is a little late and I guess nearly everyone who follows this blog will already know this but it still deserves to be said (or shouted from the rooftops): Evie is adopted!

We have been in the process of adopting her for 2 years and 9 months. It has been ages. We had the sentencia where the Judge confirmed the legal decision the week before last. She is not quite a Powell yet, we need to request a name change still but the big thing is done.

We are getting used to this- there has definitely been some celebrating (cakes, ice-cream that sort of thing), but I think we more feel relief just now.

Time to get on with planning the big party now…

Thank you Father God.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | January 7, 2014

All packed up

Well Christmas is all packed away for another year. It always makes me feel a bit sad taking down the decorations, removing the Christmas albums from the playlist and realising all the Christmas cake has been eaten. Somehow you get used to having big socks hanging up and a garishly decorated tree inside.

I think I am finally used to Christmas in Bolivia. I realised this when a friend from school who was spending his first Christmas here told me he just didn’t feel Christmassy. Christmas to me now is less mince pies and mulled wine and more big pigs for sale in all the butchers, cider, panetone and fireworks. We’ve even got our own Christmas traditions now. Every Christmas we go to see the lights with the Hwangbos- a family who are very good friends- and eat ice cream. First we go to the cities Electricity provider’s main office- they have a big Christmas display outside. I think it’s maybe a sneaky advertising campaign “Look at all these lights! See how much electricity we can use!” then we head to the central Plaza to see what this years Bolivian take on the nativity is as well as lots of other lights. Father Christmas is here too, frequently to be seen in our local supermarket actually. One time I went he was telling everyone how cheap the supermarket’s panetone were. I’m glad he cared so much about our hunt for a bargain. It took me a while to realise that Evie kept on wanting to go to the ‘big shop’ because she would see Father Christmas and he might give her a sweetie. I think the big shop has lost its appeal now he’s gone again. Christmas wasn’t all plain sailing though, my hunt for brussels was once again sproutless. (Hohoho!)

This year my parents came to spend Christmas with us which was brilliant. We had a really good time with them; the children loved it. Despite the heat, the noisy cicadas and the annoying mosquitoes, I think Mum and Dad had a good if different Christmas too.

Here they are!

Here they are!

At Church we celebrated Christmas by playing musical chairs and our good friend Roberto spoke about Jesus. Simple and true.

A role reprisal!

A role reprisal!

This year I got to go to the ladies prison with others from our Church and take meals on Christmas Eve. This is something El Jordan organise called Christmas on the Streets where Churches have the opportunity to take meals out to people who would not be able to celebrate Christmas. It was a privilege to be part of, amazing and challenging at the same time. The best things often are.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | December 9, 2013


Patience is a virtue. Well actually not, it’s a fruit of the spirit. It’s not something that some people magically have and others not, everyone can have patience through the Holy Spirit.

We are studying the fruit of the Spirit at Church at the moment and I preached on patience yesterday. I’m sure when I was younger I imagined that people preaching were quite sorted in the things they were preaching about. It never seems to be like that for me.

I find being patient hard. One of the biggest things we have to be patient with is Evie’s adoption. We don’t know when it will finally be complete and cannot make any plans about visiting the UK until then. The only thing that helps in the waiting is taking our eyes off the situation and putting them on God. On His character, His promises and His word.

Romans Chapter 8 helps a lot with this. It talks about hoping for what we do not yet have and waiting patiently for it; about the Spirit helping us in our weakness and about God working for the good in all things. Roz and I need to keep on coming back to this again and again.

However what is probably even harder than that for me is being patient with my children day by day. At school I think I can be quite patient, with other minor irritations okay, but with my children it’s like my patience reserves are super low and when they disobey my frustration rises immediately. Knowing I was preaching on patience has either made this more noticeable to me or I am just more impatient with them than normal. Which is slightly ironic.

But here looking to God makes the difference as well. When I think of how patient He has been and continues to be with me it shows how mean and petty my own impatience with my children really is. And, because patience is fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit, not a virtue that I don’t have, I can grow in this.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 28, 2013

New youth group

Our Church has just started a new youth meeting (or Culto de Jovenes) on Saturday nights. I think we’ve explained before, but here jovenes includes anything from 16-30+. I still get addressed regularly as joven in the markets when I’m buying fruit and veg even though I thought having three children disqualified you automatically.

Our first one was last weekend and was great, well attended, well organised and fun. Pedro, Maykol and Franklin, three of our enthusiastic worship team (well actually the entire worship team while David is away) did a great job of running it.

I went along to share a short message and so naturally joined in with all the games played. This brought a few things home to me.

1. I am not really a joven anymore.

2. I don’t really understand youth culture in Santa Cruz.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the games, it was more the forfeits. We played Musical Chairs (I was thinking that maybe the youth were a little too old for this but they didn’t seem to think so) with forfeits. These forfeits involved a kind of blind date style where the person had to choose someone to marry and give reasons as to why they didn’t want to marry other options. All without knowing who they were choosing. They then had to walk down an aisle of the rest of the young people with their chosen partner. This was all expected and normal. Obviously a bit embarrassing for the people involved, but I guess that was the point really. Other forfeits involved saying you were an animal from the zoo and doing a dance.

Apart from the games though there is a serious side. We hope and pray that this youth group/meeting can draw our young people together and help them worship God. Our Church has loads of children under 12 but as they get older than 12 they get less involved with Church; we have a number of families with teenage girls who are pregnant, it is easy for young people to get involved with gangs and many of our young people have failed some grades at school.

The hope is that we can help them connect to Jesus, He makes all the difference. And at the least they can act out a marriage ceremony.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 26, 2013

Christmas is coming!

One of the weird things about finishing the school year in November is that some aspects of Christmas have to come earlier. Yes, I mean the school nativity! This year Roz and I were consumed with pride as Chloe got the part of Mary in her nativity. There may have been two other Mary’s but they were clearly inferior. We decided to make the most of Chloe’s Mary costume with a little family Christmas photoshoot so here you are:


Joseph and Mary receive the glad tidings with joy!

Joseph and Mary receive the glad tidings with joy!

Joseph's tea towel starts to get a little annoying...

Joseph’s tea towel starts to get a little annoying…

Joy is a little less apparent but Mary and the Angel are still going strong

Joy is a little less apparent but Mary and the Angel are still going strong

Joseph's had enough of the whole thing.

Joseph’s had enough of the whole thing.

Oh well.




Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | September 28, 2013

You and you

Some things about speaking Spanish are hard because English just works in a different way. For example masculine and feminine. Why are nouns- things- masculine or feminine? I have no idea. And why are some things that should surely be feminine actually masculine- like dresses, I mean if a dress has to be described as masculine or feminine it should be feminine. Surely. But, oh no- a dress- vestido is masculine. Who decides this kind of thing anyway?

Although that tirade may make it slightly unbelievable, I have actually come to accept that side of Spanish. I don’t understand it, don’t think about it too much, it just is. And you have to learn it. Like some things in Maths as I tell my students sometimes there are things we just have to learn, not worry too much about understanding.

However when it comes to you and you my understanding needs to improve. In Spanish there are two words for you. Well actually there are four to be accurate- usted, tu, ustedes and vosotros. It is fairly clear when to use the plural you- ustedes. I can count if I am talking to more than one person, so that’s alright. But the other yous are for formal and informal situations.

My main issue is that I am unclear on when I should show respect and use usted- with someone who is older (but how much older?) or who I don’t know. But how long should I know someone before using tu? And then here in Santa Cruz people will sometime use vos in informal situations.

Clear as mud then. My current tactic, and I have utilised this for a while, is to mix it up a bit. Inconsistency, that’s the key. This means that the people I am talking to and I myself have no idea what you will come out of my mouth next. It’s like living on the edge. Make’s conversation that little more exciting.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | September 25, 2013


I bet the title of this bad boy got you all excited. Responsibility is not exactly a glamorous word is it? It’s the kind of word us teachers use frequently as in “You need to take responsibility for your actions” or in school reports “needs to show more responsibility.”

I think naturally the last thing many of us want to do is take responsibility for something. Well, since David our Pastor has been away the leadership team and Roz and I have had more responsibility in the Church. People have been coming to us with issues and problems; we’ve had to make decisions; we’ve needed to organise things; we’ve had to watch out for the toilet paper situation. None of this has been glamorous or particularly exciting in itself (apart from maybe the toilet paper), but it is part of leadership and building the Church.

David has just got back and will be with us for a month or so and sadly a big part of me would like to heap all this responsibility back onto his shoulders for that time and sit with my feet up. Metaphorically. Evie and Caleb don’t really allow us to do that sort of thing. However I think that is the opposite of what we should really do. Instead we should continue in the same way, carrying the weight and responsibility but with an extra person to support, guide and lead us.

The other thing that comes to mind when I think about responsibility is that Jesus takes responsibility for me. For my actions, my sin. He doesn’t need to- my sins are my responsibility. But He does and frees me from the consequences, freeing me to live for Him. Responsibly of course.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | August 27, 2013

August update

We have not blogged for a while so I will give you some brief details of the past month- it has felt quite busy.

Chloe celebrated her fifth birthday with the help of Mister Burger King and some good friends. I think she really enjoyed it. Evie currently loves all things birthday related and spontaneously bursts into “birthday to you” at any given moment. Vociferously. She likes to round it off with the traditional chant here of “bite the cake!” (when the person celebrating their birthday starts to bite the cake but- surprise, surprise- has their face shoved into the cake. Everyone knows this is going to happen but we all love it anyway) while rubbing her hands together in excitement. Balloons, cake, presents- at the ages of 1, 2 and 5 what is there not to like about birthdays?

We also celebrated Bolivian independence day, naturally by marching as a school. This celebratory march as ever involved lots of standing around waiting and about 3 minutes of actual marching. Fun is not the word. On the other hand we were very impressed by the patriotic coca-cola bottles sporting little Bolivian flag waistcoats in our local shop.

As a Church we had a barbecue/bring and share together at a local park a couple of weekends ago- it was a great event and a good opportunity for families to get together, eat, share and have fun. There were no quiches so it may not qualify as an official bring and share. Also somehow I managed up to do the barbecuing.

Tragically there was also a horrendous incident in the prison in Santa Cruz last week. Many people were killed in an explosion which looks to have been the result of gang fighting within the prison. We know several people with family members who are in the prison but fortunately they are in other sections. A shocking and scary event.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | July 25, 2013

Semana fría

This week has been really cold. We are in winter here in Bolivia and it really feels like it. It is so cold that all fashion sense has gone out the window and coats, hats, scarves, gloves and leg warmers are the order of the day. Roz has been spending her days with a hot water bottle under her jumper. At school the hope has been that classes will be suspended. This hasn’t happened, but we are starting later every morning.

We watched the news the other night, something we don’t do very often. It was traumatic. They managed to get over half an hour out of weather news accompanied by dramatic music that was nearly loud enough so you couldn’t actually hear what the newsreaders were saying. By the end we felt quite stressed. One of my colleagues describes news reporting here as sensationalist; I am inclined to agree. They showed several interviews with people discussing how cold it was, a live view of a weather persons computer screen, the plight of the cold animals in the zoo (don’t worry Auntie Ju- the free roaming sloths have all been collected and put in a room with a heater so they will be okay) and reports on the affect of the cold on crops. My favourite part though was when they showed a roaming reporter out in the field demonstrating the frost that was covering trees and buildings. There were several minutes of frosty views, and the reporter- well wrapped up in a garish tiger blanket- picking frosty leaves, rubbing them together and shivering. All accompanied by dramatic music showing how newsworthy this was. Classic TV.

There is a serious side to this though. Santa Cruz is not set up to cope with these cold temperatures and while the sloths in the zoo may be okay, people die from the cold. We have several friends who live in poorly sheltered houses and we have been worried for them. Hopefully it looks like it is starting to warm up.

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