After a beautiful, challenging, full few months in Cochabamba, Bolivia, here I am back in Canada. It’s weird to be making my final NCV blog post (at least for a while) sitting here in my parents’ living room in Waterloo, Ontario. I’m home. But home for me is also in Cochabamba, so I feel like I belong to two places.

I can’t adequately express in words how grateful I am for the girls, the babies and the wonderful friends and extended family I found in Cochabamba. Every day was filled with so much love, both giving and receiving. Saying goodbye on Saturday was so hard, harder than the first time I came. Because the longer I get to know someone, the more our relationship deepens… and my relationship with the girls and my Cochabamba community is definitely stronger and rooted deeper. I don’t think I’ve really let it hit me that I won’t be seeing these girls almost every single day for quite a while. And I knew that was going to happen – but it doesn’t make it any easier.
My last week in Bolivia was wonderful, with some emotional moments scattered throughout. I went with the girls and all the tias as well as Tyson’s family to Oruro, for the girls’ vacation which was a blast. My last day at the girls’ home was for Moda Loca (Crazy fashion day!) – I’m sure you’ll see some amazing pictures in this month’s newsletter. The girls, tias and volunteers all dressed up ridiculously, we had a runway competition and a dance party. It was great to be part of such a lively, celebratory event, to dance and laugh with the girls before my departure. Saying goodbye came too quick, and it seemed too abrupt. But I think my feelings proved how much these kids have been part of my life, and will continue to be. Along with the great friendships I’ve made here.
I remember leaving two and a half years ago – I came home to Canada totally filled with new life from Bolivia, but also bitter about life in North America and going back to school. This time, I am sad… sad to not physically be with the kids every day and to be part of something so incredible. But, I am not bitter. I am ready to live a love-filled life here in Ontario, and to bring some of Bolivia to this cold place, to share stories with people here. It’s not as easy, when you’re in a life that you’re pretty much comfortable with, to live each day like it matters and value each breath. I could do that in Bolivia, and I want to do that here. And I want to encourage people that they can be there for others, and need to be there for others, wherever in the world they happen to, in whatever work they’ve been called to do.
Life from here is a bit scary… I have to start making ‘plans’ for my future (school, work) and I am afraid to get too caught up in them. I’ve never been a good planner. But I’m excited, I have so many people to see and things to do, and a very special community to go back to. Transitioning, reintegrating, I will try to value this part of the experience as tough as it can be.
Thank you to everyone at NCV, to my Bolivian host family, my friends. Gracias. That word is so simple and says so much and it’s really what my heart is filled with right now.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the past couple weeks, most from our trip to Oruro. I think I will be looking through my thousands of pictures over and over again over the next while. Paz y amor de Canada,