Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bolivia Anecdote: Cinco minutos, hermanas...

Author's Note: So although I had planned on drafting blog posts while I was in Bolivia to post once I returned (because we didn't have internet at the School of Christ), I definitely didn't get around to doing that. Whoops. There wasn't really time. In lieu of that, I'll be periodically posting anecdotes, memories and revelations from God that I received in the school, as they come to mind. I hope to mix the humorous and absurd stories with the profound and serious. Buckle up!!

Cinco minutos, hermanas...

So one of the responsibilities I had during the three-week long school was to be "room warden" for a group of 20 or so of my classmates. There were two women's rooms; my friend Jessica was in charge of Room One and I was in charge of Room Two. We were chosen because of our bilingual skills, mostly (as Bolivians and Americans were split evenly between the two rooms). As you can imagine, each room had row upon row of bunk beds and our room had the special privilege of a wooden door that scraped nails-on-a-chalkboard-style against the floor every time it was open or shut. Good times.

One of the first days in the school we were instructed on the way that our bunk beds needed to be: signs with our names on our bunks (in case individuals needed to be punished for not following room regulations), towels ONLY hung onto the frames (not even jackets or coats were allowed), beds neatly made each morning (our Bolivian peers tended to bring legit bedding, like sheets and blankets, rather than sleeping bags), luggage/backpacks zipped and placed directly underneath the bed with two pairs (maximum) of shoes lined up meticulously in opposing corners.

Part of my duties were to make sure folks were adhering to these regulations, but also make sure that everyone got up on time and went to bed on time. First off, this was a bit of a challenge seeing as I didn't have a watch... but that was soon remedied as my American teammates Matthew, then Jacob, graciously lent me theirs. You see, the tricky thing was that if anyone from my room was either late to 6:00am prayer or caught up past the 10:00pm lights-out hour, my butt would be on the line AND the entire room would be punished. So the stakes were *high*.

Each morning we would be woken up by a bell ringing at 5:30am. I would quickly albeit with a noted absolute lack of coordination, fumble my way down from my rickety top bunk and shuffle over to turn on the lights. The first week or so, people would get up as soon as the lights were turned on. By week three, though, there were a handful of regulars that continued to lie there, unmoving, perhaps attempting to squeeze in a few more minutes of precious rest. I mean, seriously, some girls knew how to take it down to the wire. I tried to be fair by giving folks multiple warnings, 20, 15, 10, 5, 2 minutes and then 30 seconds out from our 6:00am call time. The same would go for counting down to lights-out at 10:00pm. I would just say tersely, "__ minutes, sisters [__ minutos, hermanas]." It became such a regular thing that my American teammate DeAndrea (who knew very little Spanish) would repeat perfectly after me, "Cinco minutos, hermanas!"

The strange thing was that even with these (what I believed to be) ample warnings, some girls seemed absolutely shocked when I would give the final warning in the evening, "30 seconds and I'm turning out the lights!" I would hear cries of alarm, followed by pleading, "Hermana, por favor," or "Ay, no, hermana!" Hermana! Hermana! and a half-hearted scrambling to get ready for bed.Without fail, though, I would turn out the lights at 10:00pm, because if not, the guy in charge of discipline would have my head for it (he would regularly be patrolling the hall at this time).

One time when the pleading was especially numerous and insistent, and I abruptly turned out the lights anyway (to further cries of distress), one of our Peruvian classmates, Eina, said, "April is a good soldier of Christ Jesus! She cares more about pleasing God than pleasing man!"

There may have been some truth to that.

Mostly, though, I was just happy to finally go to bed.