Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Helado Simple

It is amazing how one simple scoop of strawberry ice cream can change your life.

It changed mine about an hour ago.

It is Wednesday night, February 27th here in La Paz, Bolivia. The team that is here from my church will be leaving Bolivia tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. It is been such a blessing to have them here this past week and God has really blessed our time. But I am tired and I am worn out. I love them so much but I won’t lie…I am looking forward to some time to myself. Hosting people is not my gift and there were about eight people staying in my house. Yikes.

But tonight God sent me Laura.

Laura was a little girl begging on the street tonight when we left the restaurant. She followed myself, my pastor Foley and my friend Chuck up the street tonight after dinner. She was asking us for money. We told her “No”. Then Foley stopped to buy an ice cream and Laura was still with us. She asked me to buy her an ice cream and I said “No.” Foley got his ice cream, Laura looked at his ice cream and then looked him in the eye and we walked away.

As we walked away I felt the Spirit leading me to go back and buy her an ice cream. It was a strong feeling. I mean…I normally do not give money to the people begging on the street…but I thought, “Buying a little girl that is the age of my niece Carolyn an ice cream is something totally different.” Foley and Chuck felt it too. We all felt lead to do this so we turned around and walked back.

The little girl was walking up the street straight towards us as we turned around.

I asked her if she wanted some ice cream and she said “Yes”. I asked her what flavor she wanted and she immediately said “Strawberry.” I asked her what her name was and she said “Laura.” I told her my name was Miguel and I asked her where she lived. She told me where and turns out she lives in a poor neighborhood about two neighborhoods to the South of me. A pretty good hike for her I might add.

Well as I was buying her the ice cream one of the guys from the restaurant came up and asked her if she wanted a little bit of food. Double blessing. I thought…are you telling me that if we had not walked her back to get her an ice cream that she might not have gotten food tonight? Oh man, this is too much.

I don’t know if she would have gotten food tonight or not but I DO know that sometimes compassion leads to more compassion. I handed her the Strawberry ice cream and I told her that Jesus loves her. It was the first time that I have actually looked a kid straight in the eye since I got here and told them that Jesus loved them. It was incredible. She was dirty and she had a big scrape down one cheek and I asked God to bless her as we walked away.

I am just in awe of God’s timing. I was tired, frustrated, a little burned out and ready to go to sleep. And God sent me a little girl named Laura.

I was down in the dumps and He sent me a little reminder of why I am here. He knew exactly when I needed a reminder. It could not have come at a better time.

He sent me a little girl named Laura who just wanted a scoop of Strawberry ice cream. He sent me a little girl named Laura who needed to hear tonight that Jesus loves her.

Wow. It’s official now. I’m staying.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I just feel like God is giving me a bunch of big hugs right now.

It could be that I am just starting to see the big picture and realize my blessings here in La Paz.

It could be the encouragement and love that I am feeling right now from the five people from my church back home who are here.

It could be the Publix chocolate chip cookies that the people mentioned above brought me all the way from home.

It could be the amazing spirit-filled worship that I have experienced lately.

It could be that my sister submitted my taxes online today and that I am getting a nice refund.

It could be the kids that I visited last week in El Alto who ran up to me and hugged my legs just because I showed up.

I don’t know. All I know is that I feel God’s love this week and I want to be closer to Him.

I hope you felt His love this week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Loud Time

I guess there is a reason it is called Quiet Time. I guess you are supposed to be Quiet or something. Well lately all I have had is Loud Time. There is just so much noise in my life right now.

I am struggling to find quiet time alone with God right now. There…I said it. I am a missionary and I am trying to serve Him with all my might but I am trying to do it without Him.

But you better believe that I am gonna fight through this.

On Sunday mornings at church there is a service in English at 8:30 a.m. I went this past week for the first time and it was no accident that I was there. Go figure. The discussion was about our devotional life (or lack thereof) and four points hit me square in the face. Maybe they will hit you too.

• If I don’t spend time alone with God, how can I say that I love Him?
• I am as safe as my personal devotional life.
• Picture God sitting and waiting on you and YOU not being there. (Ouch. That one really hurt)
• As you grow as a Christian, it becomes more about listening and less about talking.

I just have to chuckle because it makes me laugh how God is always ready and willing to speak directly to us and all we have to do is show up. All I had to do was show up to the English service this past Sunday.

I have now setup a weekly meeting with my pastor here and today I was sharing my Quiet Time struggle with Him and I was sharing how difficult it is too schedule/plan things here.

He told me to open my Bible to John 15…uh oh….this is gonna be the second time that John 15 has hit me square in the face since arriving here in La Paz.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Ahhh yes…pruning…what do I always do when I need to check out a Biblical symbol…yes, you guessed it…Wikipedia…

Pruning in landscaping and gardening is the practice of removing diseased, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted portions from a plant. The purpose of pruning is to shape the plant by controlling or directing plant growth, to maintain the health of the plant, or to increase the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. Proper pruning is as much a skill as it is an art, since badly pruned plants can become diseased or grow in undesirable ways.

Why do all these symbols that Jesus used have to be so dead on?

My pastor basically told me that God is pruning me right now so that I will be able to bear more fruit for Him in the future. And I think part of the pruning process is God completely wrecking my idea of a schedule and an agenda. My daily “to do list” mentality that I imported from the USA is getting thrown out the window. I think this mentality is near impossible to accomplish here.

I need to have goals. Don’t get me wrong. But I think I need to see those goals with a wider scope. If everything doesn’t get checked off the list each day I am starting to believe that it's ok. He recommended that I set goals for the week instead of each day. And I like that idea. I am going to start looking at weekly objectives instead of daily objectives. A daily "to do list" is just too frustrating in this culture.

I just think God is telling me that objectives, goals and “to do lists” are ok…but I think He is teaching me that it is also necessary to be flexible. I need to be open to going places and doing things when His spirit leads me. I mean…His spirit led me down here so why should I change things now that I am here?

I just need to let the mysteries of the Word guide and direct me. I am always amazed at what I find when I actually take the time to look.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Best Friend

So this cute little girl walks into church yesterday proving that I am not the only Georgia fan in La Paz, Bolivia.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Excitement in the air

I am excited right now for several reasons.

The biggest reason is that on Monday morning five people from my church back home will be arriving in La Paz. They will be in Bolivia for almost two weeks and I can't tell you how excited I am to see some familiar faces. Most of the team has different objectives and goals here in La Paz but I just know that God is going to do some amazing things during their visit. I look forward to posting about their experience.

Also, I am excited because I am starting to define my responsibilities and tasks on the job front. I have pretty defined roles now at both Anglican churches and I am officially the communications manager for Red Viva here in La Paz. I will go into more detail about the work later but I just praise God that it seems to be becoming a little clearer.

This next week should be very exciting with the arrival of the team from church and also, I have some visits lined up to see some projects in the city. I will be visiting a project tomorrow afternoon in El Alto and then on Tuesday I will be visiting projects all day in El Alto. Next Thursday I will be visiting several homes that are part of a big ministry to street kids here in La Paz called Alalay. I look forward to showing you some photos and telling you about the ministries and hopefully I might have some videos for you as well. I just found out that several people at my church back home pitched in and purchased me a digital video recorder and the team will be bringing it with them this week.

Very cool. Looks like there might be some YouTube videos in our future.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ups and Downs

I have ups and I have downs. Some days are better than others.

I love this place and I hate this place sometimes all at the same time.

The more people and ministries that I meet = the more potential work that I have. Basically, most Christian ministries here need/want someone to help them with marketing. Everybody wants to communicate and promote what they are doing and there are not exactly marketers just running around the city wanting to help these ministries. This is both good and bad. Bad because I really do feel like an army of one sometimes and good because it makes me really feel like God brought me here to meet needs that are not really getting met.

The possibilities are starting to make my head spin though and last night I felt the weight of all of these possibilities in my stomach. I just felt sick. Not really physically sick but just the “you are never going to succeed here” sick. It is just my nature to want to help everybody but it is just not possible. I have to figure out, with God’s help, how to set some boundaries. I am not going to be able to help everyone with their marketing project and if I try I am going to go insane.

I remember in one of Andy Stanley’s books he says something like “devoting a little of yourself to a lot of different things means that you are really not devoting yourself to anything.” That is so how I feel right now and it is a fear that I have. I am scared that I am going to try to devote myself to so many things here in La Paz that I am going to end up doing nothing.

The temptation to be busy is strong right now. And it is such a good temptation because you think that you are doing a lot for the kingdom of God by keeping busy and doing a lot of stuff. But what is happening behind the scenes is that through your busyness you are drifting farther and farther away from God. I feel the temptation. I want to prioritize work over spending time with God. And I am not going to lie to you and tell you that work does not win out some days because it does. Some days I think I pray at night just because I feel guilty. I pray at night sometimes because I feel guilty that I did not include God in my life during the day.

With every new day here there seems to come new service opportunities. Sometimes I meet people and they are like, “Hey, you are that marketer guy aren’t you? Well I have this project…”

Everybody could use my help and my problem is that I want to help everybody.

I mean, I don’t want to work hard to earn God’s love. I know that He already loves me so that is not the issue. My issue is that I want to work hard to make God proud of me. And the more proud of me He is, the better.

But my fear is that in my quest to make God proud of me I am going to miss God altogether.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Give me a ring

Well, I am truly blessed today.

My Vonage internet phone is up and running at my house in La Paz. Give me a shout anytime at 678.431.6810.

I won't always be home of course but leave a message and I will call you back!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


For You.

When was the last time you enjoyed a meal next to a kid that was so dirty and smelled so bad that you thought you might actually have to get up and leave the table?

I won't give you the details but this happened to me recently and it was beautiful as only one of these moments can be.

I thought to myself, "Wow, my natural response is to walk away from this child."

And then I heard God say "Get closer."


Bring on the dirty and smelly kids. Let's all get a little bit closer.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Monday morning. Let's do this.

What are you praying for that is so big that it won't happen unless God gets involved?

I have a few things in mind...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Picture Time

Well, I have the internet up and running in the house. I don't have the Vonage phone up and running yet but it is next on the list.

The internet in the house means that I can now easily post pictures online...

Bookmark my Picasa Web Gallery when you have a chance:

I am going to try to add new albums as often as possible.

I have posted four new photo albums (Random pictures from my first month, my house in La Paz and my visits to a youth camp and a valley just outside of La Paz)

I will be posting a photo album of my pics from Carnaval next. I took alot of photos in Oruro during Carnaval and it will take me a little longer to get that album online...stay tuned and enjoy.

Here is my office where it's all going down right now...

And here I am with my fake Ray Ban Walker Texas Ranger glasses...

Friday, February 08, 2008

I feel...

...really lonely today. Don't know why.

And there are even people living with me for this next week and I still feel lonely. A couple from church and their three kids will be moving to Santiago, Chile next week and they needed a place to stay in between leaving their apartment and leaving for Chile. Thankfully, God blessed me with the space to accommodate them and I am happy about that.

But I just miss home today. I miss my family and friends. I miss feeling like I was in control of everything. Nothing is happening here how I want it to happen right now. I have a list of things to do and I just can't get much done. Something always seems to be going wrong.

I feel like I am in a free fall and I am just trusting God to pull the rip cord.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Urgent Prayer Request

I have an urgent prayer request for you…

I am hoping to get my haircut for the first time here in Bolivia later TODAY. So please pray that I will not leave bald and that I will be able to explain the kind of cut that I want in Spanish. J-Burns…tell Miss Bertha at Great Clips that I held out as long as I could. But it has been about six or seven weeks since I have had my haircut and I can’t stand it anymore.

I do have a couple of real praises for you though…

Check this. So I think I have mentioned my friend Grover to you before. Well, he is a missionary to the states (Cleveland, Tennessee) and he is from Bolivia. He is from the city of Oruro to be exact. Oruro just happens to be the site of the second largest Carnival celebration in South America (behind Brazil). So last Thursday we packed up and took a $3 bus ride about three hours outside of La Paz to spend a few days at the Carnival celebration. We stayed with his parents and they were great. (Quick side note for my mom: mom – just fyi I have been losing weight since I got to La Paz because I am walking a lot but Grover’s mom fed me so much that I am putting on the pounds again so don’t worry)

There were way too many drunks at Carnival and I got hit with so many water balloons (A tradition during Carnival here…and if you a gringo you are a prime target) but we had fun. My praise is that God allowed me to experience this celebration and really see how much paganism and idolatry is part of some of the culture here in Bolivia. The idolatry is really mixed with the Catholic Church here. It was a good experience and I praise God that I was able to go and learn more about my new culture. Pictures of Carnival will be online soon…

The second praise deals with the ministry that I visited last week called Word Made Flesh that I mentioned in my last post. This is a ministry in El Alto, a suburb of La Paz and probably the poorest area of La Paz. They minister to street prostitutes and their kids. Well, I was able to work with some contacts back home in the states to secure a donation for this ministry. Praise God. This donation will help the ministry subsidize the lunches for the girls and their kids. The girls pay a little for lunch but it is no where near enough to cover the total cost. This ministry is working hard to reach the street girls and their kids with the love of Christ and I can’t tell you how much joy I feel inside to be involved in a small way and help them get a donation.

I really think God has given me the vision to promote the needs of the Christian organizations working with at-risk kids here in La Paz to foundations and donors outside of Bolivia. There are many needs here and I believe that there are many people outside of Bolivia who want to help. The problem is that the needs just need to be documented and promoted in a clear, concise way. I envision a virtual catalogue, maybe a website where a potential donor could go and view a list of different needs at different giving levels and donate if God lays it on their heart. It is the same model that Samaritan’s Purse uses where you can go to their site and buy a goat for a family in Africa for $70 except this would just be focused on the needs in and around La Paz for the Christian organizations working with at-risk kids.

A perfect job for a marketer turned missionary don’t you think?

Friday, February 01, 2008

The week of inadequacy

First, an update on my water situation: You see what happened was that a huge pipe broke during our recent flooding and about 40% of the city was without water. Right now the situation is that certain areas of the city get water for a set amount of time each day. I don’t know how long this will be going on. My situation seems to be every other day right now. I had water on Sunday. No water on Monday. Water on Tuesday. No water Wednesday. You get the picture.

I am getting used to just putting on deodorant, brushing my teeth and dumping some bottled water on my hair so that’s cool…nobody really cares.

Anyway, now on to the title of this post…

I have felt really inadequate this week. Thank goodness that God is adequate though. It started Sunday night when I got a call from Pablo, the coordinator for Red Viva, who asked me if I could help him out on Monday. Sure I said, what can I do? He told me that Compassion International was having a three day conference here in La Paz for pastors and leaders of various ministries around Bolivia. Monday afternoon they broke out into small groups and Pablo asked me to lead twenty-five pastors in a discussion about the youth of the church in Bolivia and how the pastors/leaders can better develop the spiritual gifts of the youth. What??? I just got here. I mean…I could lead a really good discussion about how to take a taxi or how to find the supermarket but I think this is a little over my head. But they needed my help so I did it. I was the only facilitator of about twenty-five groups that was not a native Spanish speaker so God really put my Spanish skills to the test with this one. I am sure the people in my group were like, “Great, we get the gringo” but we got through it.

Then on Monday night after the conference I took my first Salsa class. I wanted to find some things to do for fun and my friend was going to take a Salsa class and so I went also. I love to dance and I am always up to learn some new moves. It was so much fun and I think I might be hooked. I felt a little inadequate but I think I am getting the hang of it. They have classes every Monday and Wednesday night and get this…it costs about $1.50 for a two hour class. Jealous?

Then on Wednesday I get another call from Pablo who said that one of the speakers from the Compassion conference wanted to go visit the Valley of the Moon (which is a cool touristy valley right outside of La Paz) and he really needed a translator. I also wanted to check this valley off of my La Paz to do list so I decided to go. But there I was walking around this valley translating the guide’s Spanish explanations about the valley into English and vice versa. I really need to brush up on my geology vocabulary. I am still learning Spanish and I am really improving but I was thrown into a little bit of a fire with this one. But I am learning that plans change last minute here and that you just have to go with the flow. All went well and I think I pretty much communicated what I needed to. It was my first true translation experience of many I am sure…

But I did have a few moments of adequacy this week also. Before visiting the Valley of the Moon on Wednesday I visited a ministry in El Alto (Very poor suburb of La Paz) called Word Made Flesh. They minister to street prostitutes and their kids and every Wednesday and Friday they invite the girls and their kids to the drop-in center for lunch and to just spend time with them. They also visit the girls on the streets but they wanted to have a neutral location where the girls could come as well.

I helped serve lunch to them and then I was called in to help with the kids. There were several boys that were older than the other kids so we played soccer (Something I AM adequate at) and I got to really spend some time with some of the boys.

I realized afterwards that this is exactly something that I want to do – spend time with kids who are at-risk. And trust me these kids are at-risk. I got to meet some of the boys and have fun with them and I look forward to seeing them again and I look forward to hopefully just being a positive male role model in their life. I bonded with one young boy in particular and I hope to see him again.

All this in only three days.

A few other notes:

I am having the internet installed in my house next week so I will be able to hook up my Vonage phone and call Georgia for free so get ready folks…you might just hear my voice on the phone next week. I will also be able to respond to emails faster.

And a few people have asked about my address. Although I do have a house I do not have a mailbox so if you want to send me a letter you can mail it to the church address to my attention and I should get it.

Here is the address:

Miguel Little
Casilla 3-35022
San Miguel
La Paz - Bolivia