July 2016 Bolivia Humanitarian Trip - Travel & Day 1

Getting the DFG kits and the medical supplies to Bolivia was no easy task.  Each person could check 2 pieces of luggage and there were 22 of us, giving us 44 bags that we could check.  World Village has duffle bags that they use each year to carry supplies down.  They packed 15 duffle bags with DFGs kits (70 per bag) and then another 14 or so bags of medical supplies (not medicine, but clinic supplies like syringes, catheters, vials, etc.), and then we had a couple bags that carried a total of 100 newborn kits.  We used a 14ft trailer to haul them all down to the airport in Las Vegas and then divided them up per family and checked them all.  It was quite the process!  We each had a small carry on suitcase for our personal clothes and belongings for the trip and then one checked suitcase per family.  I brought my 2 oldest children, Noah (age 10) and Sarah (9) with me.  Jenni had her husband Mike and 3 of their children with them: Isaac (13), Seth (11), and Lily (10).

We left at Midnight Saturday night, June 24th.  The flight was delayed so we didn’t get out until around 1 am.  We flew into Panama where we had an 8 hour layover that consisted of many of us passed out on the floor and on different rows of chairs throughout the airport.  We left on our flight to Santa Cruz at 3:45 in the afternoon and got into Bolivia around 10pm.  We spend a good hour going through customs and paying for 10 year Visas (the only option we had to choose from), and then started to gather all of our baggage.  They have had some issues with customs in the past where they keep their supplies for a day or so and then they let us have them back to distribute.

When we arrived at customs, I tried to talk to them to explain what we had, but honestly, I didn’t have the right words in my Spanish vocabulary to adequately explain what all the supplies were and us coming in with 30+ black bags looked quite suspicious.  As they took notes on all the supplies and kits we had, they pretty much freaked out and told us that the bags had to stay to be processed.  We wanted to work with them the best we could, so we agreed to leave them and return to get them in the morning.  It felt like I was leaving my first born child when I think of all the time and work we put into all those kits!  But I felt confident that we would get them back soon and be able to distribute them all that week. We piled in the bus and drove an hour from Santa Cruz to Montero where we were staying.

Sunday we went to the local LDS church and passed out that afternoon after all the traveling and prepared to work on Monday.  They went by the airport to talk to customs again and it looked like they were going to release everything Monday morning.

#worldvillage2016 Day 1: Sunday #whendowesleep

A photo posted by Emili Griffiths Whitney (@emiliwhitney) on

BECAUSE THIS TRIP WAS SUCH A LONG AND AMAZING ADVENTURE, I'VE CHOSEN TO BREAK DOWN THE BLOG POSTS INTO INDIVIDUAL DAYS. YOU CAN FIND THE JOURNAL OF EACH DAY HERE: