Two of my favorite meals

As I’ve mentioned in my e-mail newsletter, my host Hermana María, is an amazing cook. I’m spoiled every day. Unlike the United States where dinner is the largest and main meal of the day, Bolivians’ main meal of the day is lunch.

Two of my favorite meals so far include silpancho and sopa de maní (peanut soup). I’ve taken a picture of each meal prepared by my host. Here’s a good description of silpancho:

The name of this dish comes from Quechua (Silpanch’u) which means thin, pounded meat. It is a dish typical of the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia (a valley city famous for its cuisine). It consists of beef pounded thin, served with rice, browned potatoes, sarsa (tomato and onion salad), locoto (hot chili) and a fried egg.


Here’s a description of peanut soup (picture below):

a flavorful meat and vegetable stew, thickened and enriched with the earthy flavor of ground peanuts. Sopa de maní is most often made with chicken or beef, but you can use all vegetables for a delicious and nutritious vegetarian meal.


Working in the Café

The last couple of weeks I’ve been helping out in the café. The café at El Alfarero (The Potter) is completely run by students. The menu is amazing with all kinds of lunch items and drinks. Lunch platters have a choice in a few different kinds of meat, and come with rice, beans, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, and corn. Drinks include smoothies, coffee, frappuccinos, soda, and more. Snack items include brownies, peanut cookies, empanadas, cinnamon rolls, and one of my favorites: the cuñapé, which is a doughy bread made of yuca with a cheesy center. So good.

The café is one of the centerpieces of El Alfarero because it helps generate income to keep the ministries going. It also draws in hundreds of clientele every day who are made aware of the various ministries at El Alfarero if they should want to avail themselves of them.

Personally, what I enjoy most about the café is the people with whom I work. They are abundantly kind and cheerful workers who love being there. We have a lot of fun washing the dishes, preparing the drinks and meals, and serving the customers. There are a lot of places to eat in Santa Cruz, but honestly, this is my favorite place to eat. The food is great and everybody knows your name.

Hola from Bolivia!

I’m safe and sound in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Thank you to everyone who prayed over my travels from the United States to Bolivia. The flights were relatively comfortable and I sailed right through customs. I flew out of LAX in Los Angeles, had a brief layover in Houston, Texas, then another layover in Panama City, Panama, and then landed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia 16 1/2 hours after I started.

The first week has been a whirlwind of activity. On day two I met with a lawyer to begin the visa process. This required sitting in long lines at Interpol and the notary office, but thank God, there were no hang ups. I hope to obtain my three year residency card within the next few months.

My first week in Bolivia I stayed with the national directors in their home. Here I am playing pool with their son, Zac. Current number of wins: Derek: 1, Zac: 5.

This was my first day working in the cafe. Belén and Pamela are students who work in the cafe and they’ve already taught me a lot.

Jumping Right In

I’ve sat in on a few orientation sessions to get familiar with the way things operate down here in terms of bureaucracy, culture, transportation, safety etc. (very different than the U.S.) Since it will take me a few months to get fully settled and advertise and launch the English classes, I will be fulfilling a few other roles in the meantime that I am excited about.
First, I will be teaching a couple of English classes to young adults in the master’s program at El Alfarero (The Potter). These are students who need a grasp of English in varying degrees for their current and future ministry work, both here in Bolivia and around the world. I am gratified to play a role in supporting Bolivians who are being sent out to share the gospel and help others in need.

Second, I will be helping out a few hours each day at the cafe at El Alfarero. The cafe has 300 students per day passing through it for a coffee or a healthy meal (I’ve already had two delicious lunches there with beef, rice, beans, and vegetables). Working in the cafe will not only help the ministry, but it will also serve the dual role of sharpening my language skills and giving me the opportunity to meet a ton of students–many of whom might end up taking the English classes I’ll be offering.
Eating dinner with my Bolivian family. It was such a joy to share a meal with them! My host, Hermana Maria, prepared a “sonso,” my favorite Bolivian dish made mostly of yucca–a very popular root crop here.

~ Answered prayer: Thank God I arrived to Bolivia safely and I’m settling in quite nicely for the first week I’ve been here.

~ Prayer requests: Please pray for me as I start teaching English to some master’s students next week. Please also pray that I can walk in wisdom and prudence as I seek to find university students for the classes I will be starting at a later date.

A visit to the market with Hermana Maria. Maria not only is a gracious host, she’s also an amazing cook. I’ve already eaten a number of delicious foods like peanut soup, rice empanadas, and sonsos.

Thanks again, everyone. I look forward to keeping you up to date on my ministry and life here in Bolivia. Feel free to e-mail me at and say hello.