Missioners in Bolivia

Below is a letter and slideshow of pictures from Karen and Jim Halberg, Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Bolivia.

Click here for the slideshow: https://picasaweb.google.com/halbergweaver/February2011Newsletter?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ2b44X3yoDudg&feat=email#slideshow/5566589716740423010

Summer greetings from Cochabamba, Bolivia!
For some great pictures of our family and life in mission, we invite you to our web page. Just click on “Play slide show” above.
The Bolivian school year began this week, on February 1. Dan is starting 5th grade and Emma 2nd in a Fe y Alegria elementary school down the street from our home. The Fe y Alegria schools were started by the Jesuits and have a good reputation. Dan and Emma enjoyed their seven months of double summer vacation, but are now eager to make new friends at school.
I began work on February 1 as well. I have joined a newly-formed team that will provide spiritual accompaniment to the students at the Fe y Alegria high school that is part of our parish. As a former high school teacher, I am surprised by the grace of returning to that setting after nearly twenty years. Our team will lead a retreat with each grade level over the course of the school year (which ends in November). We will also provide a “listening ministry” to the youth as a way to foster their spiritual and emotional well-being.
Jim and I have joined a diverse team in the very large parish (80,000 families) of Santa Vera Cruz. The pastor is a young Bolivian Jesuit of Quechuan descent with an assistant pastor who is from Spain and in his 80's. Three Maryknoll Priests also form part of the team, along with a Maryknoll Sister. Seven other congregations of Sisters work in the parish, from an international community of Mother Teresa's Sisters, to Sisters from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Peru, Poland, the U.S. and Bolivia.
The majority of the parish is migrant families from rural Quechua and Aymara villages who have left the farm to make a life in the city. Jim is hoping to build on his experience working with Aymara farmers in Peru to encourage people here to stay connected to the land and their faith while adapting to this more urban environment. Jim has also been asked to be part of the team working to make the technical classes offered at the high school productive, giving students skills needed in the marketplace.
We have enjoyed sharing a home with Maryknoll Father Paul Sykora who welcomed us upon our arrival. His workshop is a great attraction, particularly to Daniel and Jacob. They have crafted airplanes, building blocks, stilts, kites and other toys. Emma most enjoys the swings that Paul built out of recycled tires. Paul works with a team promoting composting, worm production and organic gardening in the always abundant recycled tires.
Over Christmas we took the opportunity to travel over to the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca where Jim and I worked from early 1995 through mid-2000. It was a very special visit. We spent Christmas with former Maryknoll colleagues in Puno, and traveled the bus lines to connect with many friends from the area. We loved meeting the newborn daughter of our goddaughter, staying the night in the same adobe home where we had lived in a rural community, and recharging our energy with the beauty of the lake and its environs. It rained hard nearly every day of our visit, so everything was green and cool, a relief after the heat we had been experiencing in Cochabamba.
The best thing about our trip was returning to Cochabamba with a renewed love and commitment for our life here. We are grateful for the gifts we receive and the gifts we offer as a family together in mission, and we are hopeful for the unknown graces that wait to be lived here.
Thank you for your support and love. We wish you hope and joy in this new year!
Karen, Jim, Dan, Emma and Jacob (Panchito)