Friday, December 26, 2008

Heya

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am excited because Paola comes to town THIS SUNDAY. I am flying to Miami to meet her. We will be spending two weeks together here in the states before heading back to La Paz on the 13th. Please pray that it will be a very fruitful time for us...seeing the city, meeting with family and friends and visiting the SAMS office.

We head back to Bolivia on the 13th and we get married in La Paz on the 31st.

Also...I was sorting through some old photos and came across this one below. Nice.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keep on keeping on

Sorry that I have not blogged in a week. I am not always in a place where there is internet. Also…I am just running around this city like a crazy man…

I am learning a lot during this trip about scheduling my time while visiting home. This is my first trip back home since leaving to be a missionary and I am just realizing how hard it is to see everyone. And I think I just booked way too much. I have been running around enjoying lunches and dinners with friends most days. And it is great. I love catching up with everyone.

But I haven’t left myself much downtime to just decompress. I think next time I make a visit I will be able to schedule things a little better. Lessons learned I guess.

I didn’t really consult any missionaries and ask them for advice on how to plan my visit home. Someone the other day asked me if I did that and I am wishing now that I had done that before coming home. It is a good idea.

I think I just started booking things and things got crazy. I guess I forgot how big this city is distance wise. But I love seeing everybody. No doubt about that.

I WAS able to get away on Wednesday and spend the day and evening at the Monastery in Conyers. It is a great retreat spot and I was able to rest and clear my head for a while. I pretty much have next week all clear so that I can just spend time with my family.

Then Paola arrives to US soil on Sunday the 28th and things get crazy again. We have my friend Warren’s wedding and a busy schedule showing her the city and letting her get to know my family and friends. We return to La Paz together on January 13th and then we have about two and a half weeks to make final preparations for our wedding on the 31st.

So right now I am just keeping on keeping on.

Please pray for me this Saturday morning because I will speaking to the brotherhood of the church to share my first year experience in Bolivia with them. I already had one presentation to the church and I learned a lot from that experience. I thought I would just be visiting and presenting but I think what I am learning during this trip is how to visit “well” and how to present “well.” Things that would be hard to know unless you experience them for the first time.

Paola and I will both be up in front of the congregation on Sunday the 4th to share our experiences and share where we are headed in the future as a missionary couple.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Making the rounds

So it has been five days since I got home.

And I am slowly but surely starting to make the rounds. Some of you I have seen. Some of you I have talked to but not yet seen. And some of you I still need to call.

I am excited to be here but I am definitely experiencing some reverse culture shock right now. In some ways I have easily adapted back to life here. And in other ways it is so clear that I will never ever be the same person that I was when I left for Bolivia a year ago.

The presentation this past Sunday at church went very well.
Thanks for your prayers.

And today I stopped by the pre-school at the church because the kids there collected donations all this year and they wanted to present me with the funds. The funds will be directly spent on the kids in Bolivia. It was cool what the kids here did. They gave up their ice cream money lots of times this year and raised $100 for the kids in Bolivia. Awesome. I love to watch God work. And I think that it is great that the kids here get to, at such a young age, be a part of what God is doing all over this world.

It was a great blessing to spend time with the kids today. It was show and tell day so I got to show them some photos and talk to them about Bolivia.

Hey...I will take every opportunity that I can get.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Presentation Tonight

So tonight at 5 p.m. I have a presentation at Holy Cross Anglican Church here in Loganville. I will be giving a little bit of a recap of my first year in Bolivia.

I welcome your prayers.

I pray that God speaks through me. That He says what He needs to say and says what the people need to hear. I am just a vehicle. But I hope I can accurately convey my extreme gratitude for all that He has done this year.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I am here

In Atlanta. For like five weeks.

Lunch with my family was great today. Hanging out and watching football too. I have a presentation tomorrow night at the church...talking about my first year as a missionary in Bolivia. I pray I take every chance and opportunity during these five weeks to talk about how great God is. It is because of Him that I even went to Bolivia and it is because of Him that I can come back home and share my experiences.

But I tell you all that to tell you that I am in town.

Let's do lunch.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bienvenido a Miami

I am sitting in the Miami airport right now waiting on my flight to Atlanta. In just a few short hours I will be home.

I have already eaten a Pizza Hut personal pan pepperoni pizza and a Quiznos sub. And I am currently sipping on Starbucks.

And I seriously think I might puke. What am I doing? I step foot on US soil and I immediately begin stuffing my face. What is it about this place?

See you very soon.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

This is it...

My last day in La Paz for like six weeks.
I board a plane bound for Miami early tomorrow morning.
And tomorrow evening I arrive to Atlanta.
Saturday I eat BBQ, french fries and drink sweet tea.

Today will be a day of packing and a day to say goodbye.

I will miss La Paz for many reasons. But I really miss home too.
And I am so ready for this trip.

How to contact me while I am in Atlanta?
Here are several options...

# at my parents house - 770.972.5679
Temp. cell phone while I am visiting - 770.598.2835
(This is an AT&T Go Phone. So free mobile to mobile for you AT&T users)
# at my apartment in La Paz - 678.431.6810
(This # will be forwarded to my temp. cell phone)

One of these numbers should get me. I arrive late tomorrow night.
So Saturday the phone lines will be open for business.

See you in the good ole US of A!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dry

I am ready to come home.

As I keep pondering all that has gone down this year I continue to realize that I just simply tried to get involved in too much. When I was at my missionary training course last fall they told us to take it easy. They told us to focus on the language and the culture and not to get too overwhelmed with work during our first year.

They told us that it is a marathon not a sprint. They told us to make sure we take care of our soul first and foremost.

Looking back on this year I don't really think that I took their advice to heart.

And as a prepare to get on a plane this Friday I am definitely suffering the consequences. Don't hear me wrong. God has done some AMAZING things in my life this year. And I know I have been used by Him in a mighty way. And I am closer to Him.

But...because I got involved in so many different things I am suffering a little burnout right now. I got overwhelmed by all the needs I saw. Bottom line...I need this trip home. I need encouragement to know that what I am doing here really matters. I need to be refreshed and renewed.

I need to visit home to remember why I was called here to Bolivia in the first place.

I have realized that I am more frustrated than I thought. I have realized that I am more burned out than I thought. My heart is harder than it was when I arrived last December 29th. I used to walk these streets with so much love in my heart. Lately, I have found myself just wanting to push people out of my way on the streets. No joke.

I try to be honest with you on this blog. I try to give you a real picture of my experience here and not to just make my life as a missionary seem all rosy and nice. Sure there are extreme moments of love, joy and fulfillment. But there are moments of sadness, frustration and hate as well.

I think the spiritual weight and depression of this culture is winning right now.
I need this time away.
I need to fall in the love with my Savior again.
I need to see you and remember why I am here.

Yet through all this God is faithful. I keep going back to Him.
I have seen and experienced too much of His love and provision to leave Him know.

But at least now I know. I know what I feel like inside when I overcommit and try to do too much. I know what the contrast feels like. I know what I spirit overflowing with God's love feels like and I know what a completely dry spirit feels like. I know what it feels like to let God take you somewhere and then tell Him "I got it from here."

At least I know.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Twice Now...

...I have told someone back home that I will "see you this weekend."

Wow. I can't believe the time is here.

I actually "WILL see some of you this weekend."

Nice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ciao

Well...my flight back to Atlanta is next Friday morning.
Less than a week away.

And the goodbyes are starting here in La Paz.

Today I have a goodbye lunch with Paola and her family.
Sunday night some friends are getting together for a goodbye party.

I will only be gone six weeks but still...it will be a week of goodbyes here as a prepare to say hello to the United States of America next Friday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Verdict...

...from last night is in.

I got my Thanksgiving on.


Amen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

So thankful

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thanksgiving doesn't really show up on the radar screen here in Bolivia but there is a group of us getting together tonight to eat and give thanks.

And I have so much to be thankful for. I wrote in a post a while back that I could spend all day long just thanking God for what He has done in my life and it still would not even come close to being enough.

And if I try to make a list of all the things that I am thankful for I won't be able to cover everything. So I will just say that I am thankful for a God who loves me, cares for me and who thought that I was worth dying for. A God who continues to have faith in me even when I stumble and fall.

Thanks Father. Everything I have is from you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mixin’ it up

So with just about one week left before I board that plane heading back to Miami, it is starting to sink in that I will actually be leaving Bolivia behind for six weeks to come home.

I am feeling a real mix of emotions right now. On one hand I am so ready to come home. I have grown so much this year. I have experienced moments of success and true joy and moments of extreme failure and frustration.

And I just miss the predictability and comfort of home.

But on the other hand I am starting to really feel a weight of sadness in my heart. I am really going to miss La Paz. And it is not just because I will be separated from Paola for three weeks. It is for all the relationships and places that I will be leaving. The food that I have grown to love. The mountains and the clear blue skies. The fumes from the awful public transportation. The kids’ smiles. Savoring a Coke like never before in my life. Speaking Spanish all the time. Everything.

This country has really captured my heart. And although I know that I will only be away for six weeks it is still going to hurt. But I know that the sadness I am going to feel over the lack of La Paz in my heart will be cured by seeing you.

By seeing my family and my friends who I have not seen all this year. By seeing the Atlanta skyline. By eating at all my favorite restaurants. By driving. By speaking English. By sweet tea and southern BBQ. Everything.

There is so much to tell you in person.
No doubt I have changed and you have changed too.
Let’s hope it’s for the better.
I am skinnier that’s for sure.

I am so sappy right now (happy & sad). My days right not are pretty much consumed with preparations for my trip back home, telling people that I can’t help them until next year and planning for my wedding in January here in La Paz. I am almost at the point of opening the suitcases on the floor of my bedroom and starting.

But I just can’t quite do it yet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

EL DIA Recap

EL DIA was truly amazing this past weekend. Thanks for your prayers.
I had been looking forward to this event all year.
I lasted for 19 hours.
We started around 8 p.m. on Friday night and I made it to 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon before I crashed.
19 hours of non-stop praise and worship.

I really needed this opportunity to just stop and worship God. And although my goal was to just praise Him and not ask for anything, God still gave me some pretty strong encouraging words during the event.

One cool thing was that He used other people to speak to both Paola and I and confirm that He has great plans for us as a couple. It was yet another confirmation for both of us that it is God’s will for us to be married. And it is His will that we serve Him as missionaries. It was great for us to get similar words of encouragement separately from different people. That was big for us.

Also, God gave me a very strong encouraging word personally. I felt Him speaking to me early on during the event, like during the first three songs.

I was just praising Him when I felt Him speak to me and say “Thank you Curt for this year in Bolivia. I really appreciate what you did. You left your life behind to come here and serve me and I want you to know that what you did this year did not go unnoticed. I saw.”

He said He knows that I stumbled and fell many times this year, which is so true. I had some serious low points here in Bolivia this year. But He also told me that He knows that I got up each time.

The issue is not whether we fall but how often we get back up. True failure would be to fall and not pick myself up. It is was a great word of encouragement that I received from God. And I’ll admit I broke down a little because I know that I can always do more. I know that I can always work harder.

But I felt God telling me that He appreciated what I did this year.
And it is just like God to do that. To tell me “thank you” and make me just want to give Him everything I got. It makes me want to serve Him so much more.

This event was a great bookend to my first year in Bolivia. Now I am preparing to come home, share what I have seen and experienced this year and then head back to Bolivia in January for year two.

Thanks Father for telling me “thanks.” It makes me happy to know that you are happy. I should be the one telling YOU “thanks.” You should not be the one telling me.

But “thanks” for telling me “thanks.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

EL DIA

Today is the day.
Starting at 7 p.m. tonight.
24 hours of worship, prayer and fasting.
My plan is to not leave the event.
I want to praise God for 24 hours straight.
Not sure if I can make it...but He certainly deserves it.

I can't wait to see what God does.
I hope He rocks my world.
I could use a jolt or two.

Please pray for God to be glorified and for the body of Christ here in Bolivia to be transformed during this event. Pray for the walls of division between the churches here in Bolivia to be smashed in this 24 hour period.

I will give you a recap once it is all said and done.

Peace.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

License to Wed


First came love...then came Reverend Ronald.

So Paola and I have officially begun pre-marital classes with the pastor who is going to marry us here in La Paz. Pastor Ronald Irene and his wife Nicky are meeting with us to go through some material and just talk. They have a cross-cultural relationship too (He is from Bolivia. She is from England) so that is an added bonus for us.

We already had one session talking about the purpose of marriage in God's plan. And we have about 7-8 more sessions to go. The purpose is not really to finish the material and say, "Yes, now we can get married." The purpose is time together so we can learn more about each, prepare for this next step, and learn from people who have alot more experience.

It should be very eye-opening. We will have a few more sessions before I head back home to the states and more sessions when Paola and I return to La Paz in January.

I already have one book on my reading list...

Men are like Waffles. Women are like Spaghetti.

Anyone read it?
I just started it but it talks about and celebrates some basic differences between men and women. How we both communicate, process emotions, make decisions and learn differently. I am in the early chapters where it is talking about communication. The basic premise is that men process life in boxes and try to solve one issue at a time. But for women, every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way.

I just started so I have a ways to go. But it has already given Pao and I a chance to have some good conversations. The book is in English so I am reading it and then we are talking about it in Spanish. She is also reading a book that we are going to discuss as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

As promised...

Here is a link to some photos of my new apartment in La Paz.
This is where I will be living for at least the next year.

Enjoy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The date is set

So the wedding date is officially set everyone.

On Saturday, January 31st here in La Paz, Bolivia I will be marrying Paola Ruth Aramayo Montenegro. Just about 77 days from now. She will be visiting the states at the end of Dec/start of Jan so she will have a chance to meet my family and friends before the wedding.

I am busy trying to plan her visit. She arrives on Dec. 28 and we head back together to La Paz on Jan. 13. And the wedding planning is underway. We are not thinking about anything really huge but something nice here in one of the Anglican churches in La Paz.

She already has her dress. And we are hoping to work on some invitations these next few weeks before I head back home to Georgia. We will be delivering some printed invitations to our guests here in Bolivia and anybody from the states who wants to make the trip for the wedding is more than welcome to. It is a costly trip to make so we plan on having a reception in Georgia sometime in the future for all the folks who can't make it down here to Bolivia.

We are very excited to see where God takes us as a missionary couple. We appreciate your prayers. I will post more details as the date gets closer.

And I look forward to sharing the details with you in person when I get back to Atlanta in about 20 days. I arrive on Dec. 5.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I want you back

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart.”

“Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”


Joel 2:12 – 13


Some days I just want to go back to the beginning.

I miss 2005…the first year I truly walked with Christ.
I was on fire. I couldn’t spend enough time with Him.

Every night I was listening to sermons and soaking up His word like nobody’s business.

I wonder if God misses 2005 sometimes too.

Sure I am serving Him as a missionary now in another culture and I am sure He smiles and claps. But I wonder if He secretly wants 2005 back. A year when I was completely on fire.

I have heard that we change and mature as Christians. But I do not believe that the fire we feel during our first year with Christ should die.

Why do I let it die?

I love 2008 but I miss 2005. I want that fire back.

Excuse me…but I have to go look for a match…

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank You

My first year in La Paz is winding down (the countdown clock shows about three weeks left until I head back to Atlanta) and I am trying to reflect on what 2008 meant to me.

But one thing I keep coming back to is the overwhelming gratitude that I have for my family and friends back home who make this whole thing possible. I thank God because He is working in your hearts.

But I seriously would not be able to serve here in Bolivia as a missionary if I didn't have your prayers and your support. So...thank you, thank you, thank you.

And I look forward to telling you "gracias" in person when I get back to the states in December.

As I reviewed my most recent posts I realized that most of them are "What's going on with me" posts and not really "What God is speaking to me" posts. I think that's because I am not making enough one on one time with God. I am not giving Him enough chances to speak to me.

I know that there have been a few sermons and passages that have spoken to me recently but I guess not strongly enough for me to write about them. My lack of alone time with God makes me want to get sick sometimes.

I need Him now more than ever. Someone told me before I left last year for Bolivia that I needed at least an hour every day alone with God. It's not that I feel guilty and think God is checking off a list our cheering when I spend time with Him.

I just miss Him.

I wish I had followed their advice about the one hour each day.
Actually, I think right now I will.

I am going to talk and listen to God for the next hour instead of worshipping this laptop...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm back....

Hey y'all.

I am back safe and sound in La Paz. I enjoyed a wonderful few days in Cochabamba attending a workshop talking about the mobilization of resources. It was heavily focused in marketing and fundraising and although not all of the info was new to me, I learned a great deal. And I made a great new contact with the guy who led the workshop. He is the Director of Communications for the Stromme Foundation, a large foundation based in Norway whose vision is a world free of poverty.

Check them out at www.stromme.org.

They mainly use education and microfinance loans as their tools.

But the whole experience just made we want more focus in my mission here in Bolivia. This past year I felt like I have helped a wide variety of ministries and organizations with marketing projects but I keep feeling in my heart that with some more time here God is going to give me more focus. I guess that is natural when you come to a new environment. You take it all in, see your options, pray and at some point God says..."this."

Well, I think I am just still waiting for the "this."

Something I do have is a fiance who shares the same missionary calling that I do. And I have no doubt that God has a plan for us as a couple. 2009 will be a big year for prayer for us. Praying for direction and guidance as a team. Something tells me in my heart that God is going to burden both Paola and I with a ministry or an orphanage or something...

We both know it is coming and we are waiting anxiously to know what it is that God needs us to do together.

The workshop this past weekend just made me crave that "one specific ministry" more. I want God to say "this" and I want to pour every ounce of marketing & communication creativity that He has given me into it.

God...just say "this" and I will say "ok."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Workshop

So last night I took an overnight bus with a few other folks to Cochabamba. I am in Cochabamba today and tomorrow attending a workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to learn more about raising/mobilizing funds for projects. It will be taught be someone from the Stromme Foundation, which is a big international foundation based in Norway.

I will be staying at the Bishop's house tonight and I am sure that I will be answering alot of questions about Paola. Speaking of Paola...I really miss her. We will only be separated for a few days but I know that this is but a small taste of what it will feel like in December when we are separated for three full weeks.

I just praise God that she got her visa to the states. That way...in December we will only be separated for three weeks and not five weeks. Praise God.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

She's legal

Hey everybody.

Great news. Paola got her visa today at the US Embassy!!! God is so good. I know that He was at work during this whole process. And they gave her a visa for two years. Sweet. Everything went smoothly. They asked me to come to the window to talk as well and they gave her the visa no problems.

So...it's official. She is coming to the states for a visit at the end of the year. I need to go to work planning her visit. I will be picking her up in Miami on Dec. 28 and she will be staying for a few weeks. We will then travel back to Bolivia together.

I am so excited that she will have the opportunity to meet my family and friends and visit the church. So get ready Atlanta...here comes Paola Ruth Aramayo Montenegro. My future wife.

Thank you so much for your prayers. WE will see you soon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A few things...

I now have the internet up and running at my new place so the phone lines are now open for business again. And I promise a new cribs video next week.

Paola has her visa interview at the US Embassy early tomorrow morning so please pray for her. I really want her to meet y'all at the end of the year.

And I just noticed that the countdown clock on the blog shows 29 days until I come home. I can't wait to see you. What a year.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Unplugged

Hey everybody.

First of all, thanks for all of your comments and messages congratulating me on my engagement to Paola. Thanks for the messages here on the blog. And thanks for the messages and comments on Facebook as well.

We are very very happy and it is all God´s fault.
He is totally to blame.
We can´t tell our story without talking about Him. Figures.
And I think that was what He had in mind.
Something about Him getting the glory or something like that...

Anyway...I also wanted to let you know that not only did I get engaged last Thursday but this past Saturday I moved into a new apartment as well. So there is lots of newness for me right now. I do not have the internet installed in my new place yet so I don´t have access to my Vonage phone right now. I, unfortunately, can´t call the states at the moment from home but I am hoping to have it up and running this week sometime. Which is really bad timing because I have so many people that I want to call right now.

Just wanted to give you a heads up. Lots going on in my life right now and to add to everything I am preparing to come home in 30 days. I have so much to do here in La Paz in this last month and I have alot to do as well to prepare for my trip home.

Keep checking my good ole blog here for the final month play by play.

Down...set...hut...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Engagement

Well...it happened...I AM ENGAGED!!!

What???? You leave to become a missionary in Bolivia and 11 months later you are engaged?

I know. God is truly amazing. I prayed for a long time that God would let me meet my future wife. It was a huge desire that I had. But I also tried to keep it in the desire box and realize that finding a wife was not something that God owed me. And if it happened I would praise Him...and if it didn't happen I would praise Him.

Well it happened.

And I can see more and more each day how God was working behind the scenes to bring Paola and I together. She is a gift from God and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her and spend my life serving Christ with her. It is going to be a wild ride for sure.

But this past Thursday night, October 30th, I invited her to have dinner with me at a restaurant at the top of one of the hotels here in La Paz. And I proposed. I broke down. She broke down. But most importantly she said...yes.

We are very very blessed and happy.

We have set the date for the civil ceremony here in La Paz on Saturday, November 29th. (Yes that's right...28 days from now.) And we are looking at March 2009 for the church ceremony also here in La Paz. The church ceremony is this most important thing for us so although we will "technically" be married according to law on Nov. 29th we will not have rings or live together until the church ceremony in March. I will share more about the details when I get back to Atlanta in early December. But at some point we will have a reception in the states because I know it will difficut for friends and family to get down here to La Paz for the wedding.

But for now...enjoy this photo album that I uploaded to Picasa. It gives you a snapshot of how this amazing amazing night went down.

Blessings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Home Stretch

So with 38 days left until I fly back home I was in need of a little project RE-prioritizing. I needed to decide what to focus on…what to get done before I go and what to tackle when I get back in January.

The result I think will be a very busy 38 days.

I am moving to a new apartment.
I am traveling to Cochabamba to attend a fundraising workshop.
I am preparing recap presentations/videos for my trip home.
I am proposing to my girlfriend.
And I have a sticky note on my desktop with a list of projects that I want to accomplish here in the next 38 days…some stuff for the RockSalt Foundation, a few things for the Anglican churches, and a few misc. projects for EL DIA and a couple of other ministries.

Not sure if it can all get done or not. But I am going to give it all I got this next month.

I realize that my to-do list in this life will never get done. And there will always be work. It’s not like one day I will be like “Great. I finished.”

I have said before that this is a life long to-do list. Please pray for me as I finish up some projects here and prepare to go home and share everything that I have seen and learned during my first year in Bolivia.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

GameDay

Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008
La Paz, Bolivia

Here is the view of my desktop...

God Bless Slingbox. Thank you Dan Cleere for hooking me up with this.
Slingbox means that I can watch cable back home. But the only things I have watched are the GA/Tenn game and today the GA/LSU game.

We had a birthday lunch for Paola's cousin today and Paola is at voice practice right now for the EL DIA event.

And I am sitting here enjoying the view of Tiger Stadium.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Movin’ on up

In altitude that is.

So I currently live in the lower southern part of La Paz in an area known as Calacoto. But what I have realized during my first year here is that most of my activities happen in the higher central part of the city. About a 20 minute taxi ride from my crib. Most of my activities are in an area known as Sopocachi.

The church I attend is there. The office is there. Most of my friends are in the central part of the city. And Paola’s family is closer to Sopocachi as well.

So I recently decided that it would be a wise move all around to find an apartment in Sopocachi. That way I could walk to church, I could walk to work and I could save a good amount of cash each month in taxi fares.

The rental agreement on my current house ends on Jan. 8 and I will be returning to La Paz on Jan. 9. So it made sense for me to find a new place and get somewhat settled in during the next forty days before I head back to the states.

And I just praise God that I found a great new apartment this past weekend. Yeah it is not quite as large as the house I am in now but it has two bedrooms and an office, a great view of the city from the main bedroom, a fireplace, HOT WATER everywhere…not just in the shower, a good amount of furniture already and it is within walking distance of the office and church.

It is truly a blessing and I will be going this afternoon with a few friends to discuss the contract. But I am looking at moving a week from this Saturday on Nov. 1 and I am hoping to just sign a one year rental agreement.

Expect a whole new cribs video once I get into the new place.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Natalie Update # 2

So I have talked with my friend Chris a few times now and I wanted to let you know that Natalie's open heart surgery this past Friday was a success. Praise God. For those of you who didn't see the posts about Natalie, Natalie is the newborn baby of my friends Chris and Melissa. Natalie had a heart defect and the arteries going into her heart were transversed...meaning they were reversed. Her heart and her body were seriously struggling but the amazing docs at Egleston performed an operation to fix the placement of the arteries going into her heart.

Chris told me that she is under intense observation but that the surgery was a complete success. They are slowly removing all of her support and she should be breathing on her own again in the next day or so.

Thank you so much for praying for Natalie and for Chris and Melissa during this trying time. I believe they are in good spirits and I have no doubt that their faith in God is a little bigger now than it was before.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ministry Post #2

So back before I had all my stuff stolen I shared ministry post #1 with you showing a few photos of me delivering some gas tanks to a ministry in El Alto.

Well here's ministry post #2. The church I attend started a daycare program this year as an outreach tool to the kids and parents in the neighborhood. I am currently working on an application for them to receive funding from a foundation in the states but in the meantime they were in serious need of some new tables.

So I was able to use some of my special project funding to allow them to purchase four new tables. Praise God.

Here are a few photos of the tables and some of the kids that occupy them.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peru photos

So all the photos from my Lima trip have been uploaded.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm a MAC part two

So I have very quickly noticed that there are not too many MacBooks flying around La Paz. And I am trying not to talk too much about the coolness of the laptop in front of my friends here.

I just thank all my friends back home again for helping me get these new and improved tools. One friend here told me today that she wants to get robbed and she wants MY friends.

I think that says it all. Thanks for sharing this vision with me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm a MAC

Ok. I am sooooo in love with my new MacBook. This thing is a beast and it does everything. It is so smart. And I feel like it calls me "stupid" alot right now...you pressed THAT button??? You are so stupid...let me show you how it's done.

Am I the only former PC user who feels this? MACS are so cool...just like all those commercials branded them to be.

Anyway, I am so in love with Apple right now. They got it going on.

And I have to give a big shout out to the itunes store customer service department because I contacted them to explain that my laptop was stolen and that all my itunes music that I had purchased or downloaded from gift cards was not backed up.

Well...an angel named Angela contacted me back today to tell me that she would be happy to help me. (Although she did kindly remind me that normally you can only download your purchases once and that she strongly advises that I back up my purchases in the future.)

She worked her magic and I am currently, as I type this, in the process of downloading 250 of the songs that I previously had in my itunes library.

The blessings simply keep coming.

Inconsistency

I am just inconsistent in my time with God right now. Period.

Sometimes I make time for Him. And sometimes I don’t. It is kinda scary how sometimes it doesn’t take very much for us to make God a lower priority in our lives. Busyness. Work. Family. Friends.

I am just a little frustrated right now because of the inconsistency in my time with God. I mean. I am a missionary. A professional Christian and if I struggle to make time for God…

This year has been a roller coaster. It is to be expected I guess in your first year as a missionary. Meeting people and building relationships. Learning which bus or taxi to take. Learning a new language. Trying to say “thank you” enough to the people back home.

I have had periods of extreme closeness to God this year. I have had some really high highs and some definite lows. But lately I just feel like God is someone that I see crossing the street everyday...someone that I just say “Hi” to. I thank him for waking me up. I thank Him for meals. And I thank Him for getting me through the day.

But that seems to be it. Sure I will have a string of days when I am spending good consistent time with Him but I am simply inconsistent.

The busyness of life gets in the way. The busyness of serving gets in the way for missionaries. Satan will do whatever He can to keep me busy. And I know that if I do not enjoy consistent alone time with God I will most certainly burn out.

I mean I am only in month 10 of this whole missionary thing. And this is a calling for life.

But the more I talk to people about this issue of time with God the more I realize that I am not the only one who struggles with this. Practically everyone I talk to nods their head in agreement and agrees that they need to spend more time with God than they are currently spending with Him. Understandable and I totally agree.

We all need more time with God. But I am not going to just say that I need more time without taking a look at the time I am currently spending with God. If I am not spending time with God and just "saying" that I need to spend more time with Him it is not good.

I just don’t want that “crossing the street” relationship with God. And I know that life will only get busier. First you get married. Then you get a dog. Then you have a kid.

Life keeps going and going. But I know that there are Christians out there who are married, have dogs and have kids and also have strong intimate consistent time with God.

How have they made this a discipline and not lost the fire in their relationship with God. The key to growing any good relationship is time. But why do I believe this is true with all of my relationships except my most important one…my relationship with God.

[A little frustrated but blessed beyond belief in La Paz.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Birthday weekend

So my birthday was last Thursday but since I was in Lima I was not able to be with any of my friends in La Paz on my B-day.

God has really blessed me with some amazing friends and really blessed me with the family of my girlfriend Paola. With God...giving is ultimately receiving. And I have really learned this lesson over the past year. Although I left my family, friends and job back home in Atlanta this past year...I gained some amazing new friends and family here in La Paz.

I was able to celebrate my birthday today with my friends here in La Paz. In the afternoon we went to a friend's house to hang out and eat sushi. And in the evening Paola and her family had me over for an amazing birthday dinner with some of my favorite foods. It was great. And I could not stop staring at Paola all night. It had only been five days since I had seen her but it felt like I was seeing her for the very first time.

We enjoyed a great meal and some great cake. And Paola even sang a song to me as well. Wow. What a night.


I thank God because the more I desire to serve Him the more I feel His love and presence.

Here's to a another great year.

Back Home

Hey ya'll. I am back home safe and sound in La Paz. And My brother is currently on his way back to Miami.

I had an amazing time these last few days in Lima with my bro. It was a great birthday. 30 was quite a year for me and I am excited to see what 31 holds for me.

But I must say that it's good to be back at 14,000 ft. And Paola's voice sounds so beautiful. I really missed her.

Take care everyone. I am rocking a new Macbook and a new camera so expect more videos and better videos than before.

I am open for business again. God is so good.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day Three

Fun day for day three here in Lima. The sun was finally out today and it was a little warmer. The first two days were a little overcast but today was definitely the nicest day that we have enjoyed here.

Lunch was at another place on my list...Papa John's...

After lunch we headed back to the ocean and ended up taking advantage of one of those once in a lifetime opportunities...how many can say that they have gone paragliding off the coast of Lima, Peru? Well, now we can. Enjoy the first video that I have made with iMovie on my new MacBook...


The evening was completed with a nightime bus tour of the city. This city is huge. Just about 9 million people. The whole country of Bolivia is about 8 million. Lima has some very cool buildings that look great lit up at night.



And the city has a park which holds the Guinness Book World Record for the public park with the most fountains...


One more day left. I fly back to La Paz tomorrow night.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Natalie Update

Thanks for your prayers everyone.

Natalie is stable and at Egleston. She will have open heart surgery in a few days to swap the placement of the arteries that go into her heart. They are reversed and the left artery needs to be placed on the left side of her heart and the right artery needs to be placed on the right side of the heart.

To be honest...I haven't talked to Chris so I don't know all of the technical details. I just know the info above and I know that the doctor feels very good about the procedure. They are at Egleston so there are not too many better places to be in the US for this.

Thanks again for your prayers. I will give you an update on her next week after the procedure.

Prayers for Natalie

Ok ya'll. I need to ask for your prayers again.

The amazingly beautiful little girl from a few posts back...Natalie...the baby girl of my best friend Chris & his wife Melissa is in serious health trouble.

She is currently in an ambulance racing to Egleston. She is having serious issues with her heart and she is not doing well.

Please pray right now for her. Please petition the Father for her life.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Day Two: The Birthday

Thank you everyone for wishing me well today on my birthday. I felt very loved and tremendously blessed. 30 was a great year for me. And I dare say that it might have been one of the most exciting, scary and adventurous years of my life.

But here is how my today went down...

I started the day at Dunkin' Donuts with two chocolate donuts and a cup of Joe...sweetness. I've so missed good quality donuts.

We saw some ruins in the morning (me celebrating my 31 years)...

My bro getting in on the action...

Brothers don't shake hands...brothers gotta hug...

What 31st B-day is complete without a llama sighting?

Lunch at Chili's...
...for some long-awaited chicken crispers...

After lunch we checked out a museum and then rested at the hotel. In the evening we enjoyed a very nice dinner at one of Lima's best restaurants. Thanks bro for making it a very special day. And thanks again everyone for your nice messages and notes. What can I say? I am a very blessed individual.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Day One

So I arrived into Lima, Peru this morning.

It was not without a little drama though because my wallet fell on the ground outside the La Paz airport and by the time I realized it...the wallet was gone of course. I know. Not the best few weeks for me with regards to losing stuff. This time I lost the cash I had in my wallet, my Bolivian ID, my credit card for emergencies and my debit card that I use to receive my missionary funds.

It's ok. My friend Pablo gave me some cash to help me get to Lima and he told me that it is not a big deal to get my ID replaced. And I called and deactivated both cards. It is just more of an inconvenience than anything. That debit card is how I receive all my missionary funds here and I will not be able to pick up my new card until I visit home in two months. I know that God will provide though. After all I have seen this year I have no reason to think that God will not provide if He wants to.

But enough about that...I arrived to Lima and met my brother!

We spent a good amount of the day walking and getting to know the area of the city around our hotel. We also walked to see the ocean and bought a few gifts. He brought me my new Macbook laptop (which is a beast) and he also brought me a new camera and ipod. Such blessings. It is so easy for me to see that everything I have is a gift from God because everything I have is given to me in donations.

But my day one here in Lima was really highlighted by two big things for me. Two things that I have been deprived of all this year. And two things that all tasted soooooo good.

Starbucks...

And lunch under the golden arches...

Wow. Lima is definitely more modern than La Paz and it is a much bigger city. I miss home but it has been a cool experience so far. We will see what tomorrow holds.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Peru

So I think that I mentioned a few posts back that my backpack was stolen.

And I also think that I mentioned that there were some amazing people back home who were going to replace the items I lost. It was a sign of God´s amazing provision and I just thank all my friends back home who came through for me in the clutch.

And I know I mentioned that it was cool because my brother was coming down here for my birthday and he could bring the new goods to me.

Well...the political situation here in Bolivia, although things have been fairly quiet the last week or so, does not seem to really be improving. And American Airlines is deciding daily whether they are going to fly here or not. So my bro and I decided on an alternate plan...

Lima, Peru.

He changed his flight to Lima and I will be flying from La Paz to Lima tomorrow morning. We will get to spend four days together touring Lima and we will also get to celebrate my b-day on Thursday. I am excited because I have not seen any of my biological family in person this year. And he is also bringing me a new laptop, camera and ipod nano. Sweet.

It is a tremendous blessing.

I am sad that he will not be able to see La Paz, see where I live and meet my future wife just yet but it´s all good. There will be more opportunities I am sure.

Should be a great four days. And when I get back I can hit the ground running again with my new electronic equipment.

I promise you some pictures. I will be back on Saturday night.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pastor Juan Carlos Update # 2

Hey folks.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Juan Carlos and his family. They still have some pretty huge financial needs so if God places it on your heart to support them just give me a call or send me an email.

Come to find out the thieves pretty much stole everything. Including all of the food in the fridge. It was bad.

And yesterday at church my pastor shared some more details with the congregation and I wanted to share those details with you. These details show just how cruel this world can be and how strong God´s will is. When it is not our time to leave this earth then there is more that God needs us to do.

My pastor shared yesterday that the thieves´plan was to actually kill the entire family. But the leader of the group decided to spare their lives. They held the gun to Pastor Juan Carlos´ head and pulled the trigger but the bullet did not fire. When they aimed at his leg the bullet fired. And also when they aimed the gun at his twenty-one year old son and pulled the trigger the bullet did not fire.

God still needs them here on this earth. Plain and simple. I believe strongly that if God says that it is our time to go than it is our time to go. Obviously, God still has a purpose for this family here.

And I am told that Pastor Juan Carlos is so thankful and filled with the joy of the Lord right now. No doubt it was traumatic for them...especially for their six year old daughter who saw it all go down.

God still needs them. We don´t know when our number will be called. And I don´t want to be a person who lives in fear wondering if something bad is going to happen to me in the future. I just want to be a person that uses the time he has to serve God the best He can.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pastor Juan Carlos Update

Hey everybody. Happy Friday.

I just wanted to thank you so much for your prayers and your financial support of Pastor Juan Carlos and his family. We have been able to help them with many medical expenses so far. Juan Carlos is out of the hospital now although he and his family continue to receive medical treatment.

Because of the danger the family cannot go back to their home so they are currently staying at a friends house here in La Paz. They are looking for a new place to live and they are in need of many new appliances that they lost. And I didn´t know this before but they lost their car too.

Thank you for your continued prayers for the family during this trying time. Our prayer is that we can continue to see God´s hand through this situation. He is pouring out alot of love and support on this family right now so we know that he is working.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Attacks

Well...the enemy just keeps bringing it.

Everyone, I need to ask for your urgent prayers again. This time it is not for me but for the family of a pastor that I work with.

I am helping a foundation here called RockSalt and one of the pastors that we work with was shot early this morning. He and his family live in a pretty remote area outside of La Paz and this morning five armed men jumped the wall and broke into his house. They shot pastor Juan Carlos, tried to shoot his 21 year old son and they beat up his wife and kids pretty bad. They robbed the house completely and told the family that if they complained they would be back.

Pastor Juan Carlos has six kids and the kids are really messed up right now, physically and emotionally. Juan Carlos is currently in the hospital.

I just ask for your prayers. This is not a story that I am making up. This is a pastor that I know and work with. Please pray for him and his family during this time. We have to relocate the family because of the danger and I have offered my home up to them for whatever they need. If they need to store stuff or if they need a place to stay.

He had surgery already today and he will be in the hospital for at least two more days. And with six kids he does not have the money to cover any medical bills. And he will need to replace the items from the house that were stolen. I am going to help them and if you want to help the family financially too just email me or call me and you can deposit money into my Wachovia account. I can give the money directly to the family. This is an opportunity for the Body of Christ to come together and help out a pastor and family who are doing tremendous work to advance the Kingdom here in Bolivia.

But at least pray, especially for the six kids. We feel like the enemy is really attacking our team right now. First with my stuff getting stolen but now with this much bigger attack on Pastor Juan Carlos and his family.

These days have just been a reminder of how dangerous this world really is and a reminder of how much the enemy wants us to fail.

Thanks for your prayers and support for this family.

I´m an uncle...

...again.

My best friend Chris and his wife Melissa welcomed a beautiful little girl into the world this past Saturday.

Congratulations Stallings family. I love you and I can´t wait to hold her and maybe change a diaper or two in a few months.

Natalie Suzanne Stallings
Born 9/27/08 at 2:23 a.m.
8 lbs 1 oz.

Friday, September 26, 2008

God the Provider

The work continues here in La Paz without a laptop. I am using internet cafes for a few hours each day to work on projects. Sure it makes life a little more difficult but it could be way worse.

God has definitely been speaking to me during this whole situation.

First, He is reminding me that what I lost was just ¨stuff¨. There are so many people in this world who are suffering way more than I am right at this moment. I mean there is cancer, abuse and death. And God is reminding me about all of the many blessings that I currently have in my life right now. When we lose things, especially material things, it is very easy to focus on the things that we lose but God has used this moment to show me and remind me of the things that I have NOT lost. The things that I still have. What a blessing.

God is also showing me that I don´t need a laptop, a camera and an ipod to serve Him and be used by Him here. Sure they help but He is much bigger than that. Maybe He needed to get my attention. Maybe not. Maybe I need to step farther out of my comfort zone these next few weeks and take a risk and serve Him in a new and different way here. It´s almost as if He was telling me to put the computer down and find new ways to interact and serve the people here.

And probably the biggest thing that I have seen is how God provides. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thanks for my friends and family back home right now. Within two days of me losing all of this stuff I have been contacted by friends back home who want to get involved and help me replace the items I lost. One group of friends has told me that they are going to go in together to purchase me a new laptop and another friend just contacted me today because He has already bought me a new camera. Wow. God is so good to me and He has been so good to me this year. I have lots of necks to hug and people to thank when I get back home in December.

And the timing couldn´t be better because my brother will be coming to La Paz in about two weeks and he will be able to bring me my new laptop and camera.

I just can´t thank God enough right now. I am blessed with an amazing group of supporters back home who always step up to the plate if I have a need. And I am also blessed with great friends and a wonderful girlfriend here in La Paz who love me as well and who want to see me be used by God.

God is so good. Whatever you are going through I just pray that you continue to ask God to show you His hand in the situation. To show you that He is working through the situation. Because trust me...although we don´t see His hand sometimes...He is always there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spiritual Attack

Hey ya'll.

So another lesson learned tonight and I have absolutely no doubt that this one was a spiritual attack. While sitting in a restaurant with my girfriend Paola tonight my backpack was stolen from me right out from under the table. No lie. I am still in a little bit of shock because my backpack was right next to my leg and it disappeared just like that.

It hurts. I lost my laptop. I lost my ipod with all my tunes. I lost my digital camera. And my bible and my girlfriend Paola's bible were in there also.

I have no doubt that this was a spiritual attack. Things are going well. God is using me in a great way to help ministries here in La Paz and the enemy took some of my tools away from me tonight to try and knock the wind out of my sails. The enemy knows how important my laptop, ipod and digital camera are to me. The loss of my music hurts alot because the music was not backed up and it is all gone. I had mostly praise and worship music that has really fed me sipiritually this year in La Paz.

Yet I know that in the end it is just "things" that I lost. It could have been worse. I didn't suffer any physical harm. I didn't lose my bank cards or my wallet. God is so much bigger the the "things" that I lost tonight and I am not going to let me spirit get down. I am going to keep praising Him and keep letting Him use me here...even without a laptop, music and a camera at the moment.

But I would appreciate your prayers right now regarding this attack. I have talked to some friends and I am definitely not the first to have something like this stolen. And some of my friends have had things much more important stolen. Some of my friends have suffered through experiences here that are much worse.

But it is a promise. As you serve God and as you make more noise for Him in this world...you WILL be attacked. Brace up for it. You will suffer sometimes because I truly believe that there is an enemy out there who doesn't want us to serve God and impact the lives of others for Him.

But we can take our hope in the fact that we are on the winning side. We know how the story ends. So even without some of my biggest assets here in La Paz right now...my computer, my worship music and my camera...I will still get up tomorrow and do all that I can to be used by God.

Ministry Post # 1

Ok. So I had a few cool ministry experiences this past week that I just thought I would share. This post is the first one. My home church of Holy Cross has started to send me some funds each month to use for special projects and special needs that I see down here in Bolivia.

And last week I was able to use some of those funds to help out a ministry known as Qhanawara. This ministry is an afterschool program located in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of El Alto. The ministry was in serious need of two gas tanks for their kitchen. So with some of my special project funds I was able to purchase and deliver two tanks to them last week. Praise God.

Here are a few photos to commemorate the event…enjoy.

Me showing off my arm strength to one of the kids…

Delivering the tanks…

I don’t think you should sit on that…

The kids, the tanks and I…

There has to be a photo of us making faces…

And a photo of us screaming…

Cool kids. What an amazing job God has blessed me with…

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reporting from La Paz

Hey everybody. I just want to thank you so much for your increased prayers right now for myself and for the current political situation here in Bolivia.

I am doing fine and I just wanted to give you an update and let you know that I’m ok. Life for me here in La Paz seems pretty normal actually. Yes, there has been some violence here recently and there is definitely a lot of politics happening right now. The US and Bolivia aren’t the greatest of friends at the moment and some relief and volunteer organizations have decided to temporary remove their workers from Bolivia.

But, to be honest, for me life seems about the same. Most of the conflicts are in other parts of the country. It hasn’t really reached La Paz but I am keeping my eyes open and trying to be careful just like my momma taught me.

If the situation does get bad my sending agency, SAMS, can decide that it is best for the missionaries to temporary leave the country. But at this point the situation has not gotten that bad and they have not asked us to leave. They are my authority right now and I will respect any decision they make. But time will only tell if it comes to that.

I certainly don’t want to leave the country but if they do decide that I need to go I might see you before December 5th after all. Maybe God just wants me to go to a Georgia football game this year…not sure…and I promise that the fact that I am totally in love with an amazing Bolivian girl has nothing to do with me wanting to stay!

Well…I just write you this update in the hopes of putting your spirit at ease some. True…it is not the best political climate here in Bolivia right now but I have really not been affected at this point.

I welcome your continued prayers and I will keep you posted as things develop. But I continue to get up each morning and try to be used by God to serve the people here. That’s all I can and want to do right now. No matter what is going on in a country it certainly doesn’t mean that the people need Jesus any less.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Travel Warning - Bolivia

Just got this email from the US Department of State.

I am fine and I am keeping an eye on what is going down in the country right now. I have faith that God is in control and that He has a plan. I am in His very capable hands and I am going to serve Him here as long as possible.

September 15, 2008

This Travel Warning is being issued to alert U.S. citizens to the unstable social and security situation in Bolivia. The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all family members of U.S. Embassy personnel in Bolivia and suggests all U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Bolivia. U.S. citizens currently in Bolivia should remain vigilant, monitor local media, review their security posture on a regular basis, and consider departing if the situation allows. Travelers in vehicles should not attempt to pass through or around roadblocks, even if they appear unattended. U.S. citizens who encounter a demonstration should try to depart the area as quickly as possible.

Over the course of the past weeks, opposition to the Central government’s policies by five of the nine departments (Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Chuquisaca and Tarija) has turned increasingly violent. Hunger strikes, marches and road blocks that were initially peaceful have become violent as pro-government and opposition forces attempt to consolidate or impede control of government buildings and strategic facilities, such as the gas and oil pipelines. To date, more than a dozen persons have died and over 100 persons have been seriously injured. Police and military police have lost control of the situation in some areas and cities of those departments, and the road blocks and other measures taken by the opposition are making gas, diesel and other essential items unavailable. No one can, with any degree of confidence, predict what may happen in the near future.

The U.S. Embassy in La Paz continues to review its security posture and may, from time to time, close for routine services. U.S. consular personnel remain available to provide emergency information and services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in need of Embassy assistance should call the Embassy’s Consular Section at (591) 2-216-8297 during working hours or 216-8500 after hours or on weekends.

American citizens should monitor the U.S. Embassy web site, http://bolivia.usembassy.gov, and stay in contact with family and friends in the United States. Family members and friends unable to verify the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens in the affected area should call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or from other areas via a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pray

That's word,we pray(pray,pray)
We got to pray
Just to make it today
I said we pray(pray) ah,yeah,pray(pray)
We got to pray
Just to make it to pray
That's word,we pray

Thank you MC Hammer.

That's my way of asking you to pray again.

But this time please pray for the country of Bolivia. There is a good amount of violence right now in the eastern part of the country in Santa Cruz. At least eight people have died. Anti-government protesters have taken over key buildings and they were also able to successfully block some gas pipelines that lead to Argentina and Brazil for about seven hours today. These pipes support large large parts of those countries. Brazil is Bolivia's # 1 customer. Gas reserves and gas revenues are key fighting points here in Bolivia.

And to make it a little tense between the US and Bolivia...the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, has just basically kicked the US ambassador out of the country. He told him to leave. The Bolivian president accused the ambassador of supporting the anti-government protesters and conspiring to tear the country apart.

And I just read that in turn the US government has now kicked the Bolivian ambassador out of the US. So I am not sure exactly what is going on. And I don't know how this will affect relations between the two countries.

My brother is supposed to visit in a few weeks so I hope he doesn't have problems getting his visa. And I am trying to help my girlfriend Paola get a visa to the US so she can visit at the end of the year. So I hope this doesn't mess up their chances.

There is no violence where I am in La Paz right now. So I am fine.

But we will see. Please pray for the political situation here. Gracias.

Success

A couple of things.

1) I ate Burger King while riding in a taxi today. It was the second time that I have done this in eight months. And for some reason I feel the closest to home while eating Burger King in a taxi. I guess all those memories of eating fast food while driving come back to me. Not something I want to do consistently but it just made me smile a little. A little dose of home.

2) The workshop yesterday was a huge success. Thank you so much for your prayers. There were alot of organizations represented and we took advantage of some great opportunities to help them improve their marketing/communication platforms. I also gave my contact info out to several ministries so I am sure there will be more meetings in the future.

But that is why I am here. To help as many people as possible and try to use the gifts and abilities that God has given me as much as possible.

Here are a few shots of me doing my thing...in Spanish I might add...






Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oración

Hola.

It is early morning on Wednesday, September 10th and I wanted to send you a prayer request. Today myself and two others will be giving an all day communications workshop to organizations that are part of the Red Viva network here in La Paz.

Just please pray that God's hand guides us today. And pray that He speaks through each of us to help these organizations that are serving Him here in La Paz better communicate the work that He is doing through them.

We will be trying to help very small ministries buy into the importance of making time for communication and we will also be trying to help some very large national ministries improve upon what they already do.

Please pray for us today and pray for me especially because I will be giving my part of the presentation/workshop in Spanish. It will not be translated so I am sure that it will be another great learning experience in a long line of learning experiences this year.

But the bottom line is that God is giving us the amazing blessing and opportunity to impact roughly 15 different organizations in one day. It is a great use of time. His kingdom and His work deserve the best marketing that it can get because I believe that He is the best product that this world has to offer.

I promise you a few photos and a recap later in the week. Thanks so much.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Booked.

So I officially have all of my flights booked now. My flights from La Paz to Miami AND from Miami to the ATL. I arrive to Atlanta in the evening on December 5th and leave in the evening on January 8th.

I just got real excited all of the sudden. The fact that I know that I will be visiting home in a few months is realing making me happy right now.

I did not realize how much I missed everyone until I actually bought the plane ticket.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

90 Days

So it turned September and I suddenly realized that I have only 90 days left before I return home for a visit. I can’t believe it. And I just got excited all the sudden. I can’t wait to see as many of you as possible and I can’t wait to share with you face to face the amazing things that God has done in my life this year living here in Bolivia.

I am hoping to buy my plane tickets this week but I have pretty much decided on the dates. My plan is to return to Atlanta on Friday, December 5th and leave Atlanta to return to La Paz on Friday, January 9th. So I will be home for five full weeks.

And I have no doubt that it will be a very busy five weeks because there are so many people that I want to see and so many restaurants that I want to visit. Also, my friend Warren is getting married on New Year’s Eve and I am in the wedding. Plus it is the holidays and I am guessing that Atlanta still has a traffic problem.

But I know that these last 90 days will be action-packed here in La Paz. I am a part of some exciting projects right now and time is flying. And although part of me knows that it will be very hard to leave La Paz for five weeks (read: I have met the love of my life), God is giving me an amazing opportunity to visit home and talk about Him. And I don’t want to miss this opportunity. And I have never been away from home for this long and I truly miss my family and my friends.

So I just write you to tell you that my calendar is officially open for business. I will be back in Atlanta from December 5th – January 9th. Please call my crib in La Paz (678.431.6810) or shoot me an email (curt.little@gmail.com) and let’s schedule time to hang. I want to see you.

See you in 90 days Atlanta.

Monday, September 01, 2008

EL DIA

So I have mentioned previously that one of the projects that I am working on this year is an event called EL DIA. It is 24 hours of worship, prayer and fasting that started here in La Paz about five years ago. It has now spread to five cities in Bolivia and this year the event will also be held in Santiago, Chile and in Dayton, Ohio. The event is November 22.

This past March I agreed to manage the marketing for this event on a national level. Meaning that I am responsible for getting all of the cities the marketing materials that they need to promote the event. The main things being making sure that the website gets updated, producing a video and producing a poster design. Easier said than done.

This project is by far my most difficult project. And sometimes I think that I bit off a little bit more than I can chew. The reason it is hard is because I am working with so many different people. People don't answer the phone. People never call you back. You have to push people so hard here to get things done and I am honestly not one who is used to pushing people that hard. I was starting to get there in my job back home but it was still a work in progress. And every city has their own issues and ideas. And I just arrived this year and I am still learning how to work in this culture and still learning the language.

At times I have even wanted to give up. But I know God has a plan for me with this event and even though it is challenging I am going to press on. People tell me that when I actually experience the event all the issues and problems before the event seem to fade away. I am looking forward to that.

Well we are a little under three months until the event and I am scrambling to get marketing materials to the cities. We have almost finished the video but what we have finished is the poster design and I wanted to show you the finished product. You might recognize the person in the photo. Believe me, it wasn't my initial idea to be in the photo but sometimes things just happen. Last year the cities received the posters two weeks before the event so I guess I should be happy that this year they will get them two months before.

Here is the Spanish version...

And here is the English version because the event is in the states this year...

Friday, August 29, 2008

NOOOOO DAWGS!!!

So I am starting to rethink this whole missionary thing. The fact that I can't see college football this weekend just sunk in. And it hurts. I am actually thinking about commuting from La Paz to Atlanta every Friday and then heading back on Sunday. Sounds like a plan, huh? But seriously...I can't see the Bulldogs play tomorrow and it hurts.

I checked online and I can pay to listen to the game through georgiadogs.com but I can't watch it.

There is also a device called Slingbox which is a box that can be hooked up to someone's Comcast cable back home. It would allow me to watch cable from back home right on my laptop here in La Paz. Really cool but it is like $180 and I just can't quite justify it in my mind.

I mean I am a missionary after all. I need to suffer more right?

Enjoy watching college football everyone.

But for me this weekend it will be NOOOOOOOO DAWGS!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Less like Adam, More like God

Sorry for my lack of blogging.

It has almost been a week since I blogged and that blog was about a chocolate candy that I am addicted too…so not much substance from me lately. Yes I am in love but that is not my excuse. And yes I have been busy but I always find time to Blog. To tell you the truth I have just had a little bit of writers block this past week. No real ideas have come to me.

But I have been reading the Word more than usual this week and when that happens God just has a way of speaking to you. So I have a few random thoughts to share with you.

The first is a praise. I praise God for my girlfriend Paola. And I praise Him that we have decided to get together at a regular time each week just to share the Word and pray together. We are studying the Sermon on the Mount right now in Matthew 5-7 and I am excited to study and share the insights God gives me and excited to hold her hand and pray with her. I just have to stop and praise God for this. I don’t know if I can honestly tell you how refreshing it is to be with someone who shares the same passion for Jesus Christ that I share. I can’t tell you how many times in my past when I was wrestling in my mind trying to make a girl I met “just be Christian enough.” It is such a tremendous blessing and gift from God to be with someone who I know shares my same heart for Christ.

And I am really starting to see how being in a relationship kinda equals God shining a giant large mirror right in your face. I guess I didn’t really have great experience with this before but it just seems like relationships don’t solve your problems, they magnify them. And I can start to see my faults more when I see Paola. I see what I am not when I see her. I see what I am lacking. I see how much like Adam I am sometimes. Passive. Indecisive. Scared. But I also see in her the man that God says I can be and that is pretty exciting too. I am just realizing that I want to be more like God and less like Adam. And although I am experiencing some pretty scary self-revelations right now I am thankful that God took the time to prepare me these last three years for the Christian relationship I am enjoying now. I am so much more prepared because of the one-on-one time that I had with God these past few years after truly accepting Christ into my life on a daily basis at the start of 2005.

And the other random thought that is really on mind right now is that…I want to want Jesus to come back.

I know that the Bible says that no one knows when Jesus will come back but someone told me the other day that they thought the time was getting closer and something inside of me freaked a little bit. You know what I mean? I mean it is the “Christian thing to say” that you want Jesus to come back but I am wondering how many out there really truly mean it. How many of us are really truly ready to leave all of this stuff behind? I realized that my bags aren't quite packed yet.

I believe all this Jesus stuff. I believe He is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. And I believe if I don’t go see Him first, He’s gonna come get me…but something inside of me still feels my plans on this earth would be messed up a little if Jesus came back.

I mean there are things I want to do on this earth and in this life and I want to make sure I get my fill before He comes back. I just think it is funny that after all I have seen Christ do in my life, something inside of me still struggles with the realization that life in heaven will be indescribably better than anything this earth has to offer. Am I the only one out there who struggles with this? And I am “missionary” after all. How can I struggle with this of all people?

I am just being honest with you. I love Christ. And I have seen too much of His love, blessing and salvation in my life to ever leave Him. But it is a process to become more like Him and less like this world.

And I am just learning that I still think this world has way too much to offer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Got a New Drug

I want a new drug
One that wont make me sick
One that wont make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick


Thank you Huey Lewis and The News...

Yes. I want a new drug. And I found it.

Rocklets

They are really cheap versions of M&Ms. And all the stands on the corners here in La Paz sell them. I can't stop eating them.

I have a problem.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here are the top…

…priorities on my list right now…

And let me just say that God is so cool. Although I get frustrated and overwhelmed at times, I just have to stop and give Him praise that He allows me to serve His kingdom here in Bolivia full-time. And I thank Him for YOU. My friends and family who support me. Without God working in your heart to support me I could not serve Him here.

The list right now…

• Work with two others to plan and execute a communications workshop here in La Paz on 9/3. I am super excited and the two people who are helping me plan this are amazing. I am stoked that we have this opportunity to help churches and ministries here in La Paz learn some practical ways to better communicate the amazing work that God is doing through them.
• Managing marketing campaign for EL DIA event. Finishing up a video and a poster design in English and Spanish. I am working with the marketing on a national level so I am communicating with teams in various cities around Bolivia, with a team in Santiago, Chile and with a team in Dayton, Ohio.
• Trying to finish two applications for funding. One application to support an educational outreach project for the Anglican Church in Tarija. And another application for the Anglican Church that I attend here in La Paz. They need funds to support their new daycare project.
• Record a new update video for my sending church back home. And putting together a recap video for the short-term mission team that visited Bolivia from the church recently.
• Working on website changes and updates for the Anglican Church that I attend here.
• Working with a designer to design and produce and new brochure for an organization here called LIBOPEN. This group trains teachers and workers of churches and various ministries to share the gospel more effectively to the kids that they teach and serve.

Just some highlights.

I can’t honestly put into words what God has allowed me to be a part of this year so far. It has truly been amazing. And I have about three and a half more months to go before I head back to the USA.

I can’t wait to see what God does in these next three months. And I know that if I stay surrendered to Him the opportunities will be endless.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Casa de Esperanza

A truly amazing trip this past weekend.

A trip that really took me out of my comfort zone. You might say Curt…isn’t living in a third world country out of your comfort zone enough? But sadly enough my answer to you is…no. La Paz is still a pretty big city and it takes me really getting out of the city these days to get freaked out. I am fairly comfortable roaming around the city right now.

My trip to Caranavi this weekend was definitely out of my comfort zone. A five hour bus ride outside of La Paz. The final two hours of the trip were pretty exciting because we were traveling on a one lane dirt road on the side of cliffs with cars coming both ways…yeah..like when two trucks/buses meet…one has to back up until there is space to go around. What an adventure.

Caranavi is in the jungle of Bolivia, an area known as “Los Yungas.” It was hot, humid and there were wild animals/bugs/ants. The jungle basically.

The orphanage that we visited is called “Casa de Esperanza.” It is located in the jungle above Caranavi. A very beautiful and picturesque place. My girlfriend Paola lived and worked here for about a year and a half. About 60 orphans live there, ranging from babies to about 12 years old. There are about 20 more youth that live in the town of Caranavi as well. The staff and directors are great with the kids. And the most important goal is for each and every child to grow into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

We arrived on Friday evening and had some time to hang with the kids. I can’t get enough time with orphans. I can’t hug them enough. I can’t love them enough. I can’t play with them enough. I can’t talk to them about Jesus enough. In fact, one of the first questions one of the kids asked me was, “What is your testimony?” It doesn’t get any easier than that to share your faith. Something wonderful just happens inside of me when I have opportunities like this. I just thank God that He called me here to Bolivia so that I could have these experiences.

On Saturday we worked with the kids in the morning, had lunch with them and then played games with them and did activities with them in the afternoon and evening. On Sunday we had a worship service with the kids on-site. Pao led the worship and I got to share some insight and stories from the Bible with the kids. This really pushed me out of my comfort zone because they asked me the night before to share some words with the kids. I was a little freaked but what a privilege and opportunity. Here are a few shots of me sharing with the kids…



What I loved the most was that I was forced to put my trust in God. I was forced to rely on Him to speak through me. I think God loves to put us in those positions sometimes. Also, I just praise God for Paola because she was right there by my side telling me that I could do it. Sometimes guys just need to hear someone tell them that they have what it takes. Not only do I love Pao but this weekend I realized that God brought her into my life because I NEED her too. God knows what I lack and He knows what I need. He knew Paola is what I needed. And I love Him more for that.

Overall…a great great great weekend. I uploaded some photos from the trip…check them out HERE.