Monday, March 31, 2008

More Visits

So sometimes when you have meetings at projects that work with kids you get the opportunity to really see what life is like from the kids’ perspective. The picture below is me in my really small chair waiting for our meeting to start. Seriously, I sat in this chair during the entire meeting...about two hours...I love how my New Balance shoes just seem to glow…

Our visits to projects continued last week on Thursday and we visited two more projects that are part of the Soforthilfe foundation. Soforthilfe is German for “Immediate Help” and the foundation has five different projects. I wrote about my experience visiting their street ministry in a previous post.

Last Thursday we visited two more of their projects. One project is called CATI where they offer a safe and secure environment for kids to come to. They help the kids with their school work, they feed them and they strive to help meet the needs of the kids...needs across the board…from washing the kids to help keep them clean to spiritual growth exercises. CATI is for kids ages 6 + and all of these kids are at-risk and most live on the streets.

The other project that we visited was called MI CASITA and it is a similar program to what they do at CATI but this home is for kids less than six years old. There are about 40 kids involved in the project right now. The kids were so little and cute. They were eating lunch when we arrived then of course came nap time. I snapped a few photos of the kids sleeping. In one of the rooms there were twelve kids sleeping all together in a row. They had some cushions underneath them but I really wish that I had some of those blue mats we use in the states to give to them.

It was another successful day visiting projects. We have visited eight different projects so far and I think we have about three or four more to go. We are currently developing a website for our program that helps all of these projects and over the next two to three weeks I will be gathering all of the info that we need for the site so that I can get it to our designer. Getting all of the info together for this site is my main focus these next few weeks. Once we get this website launched I hope to work with some of these projects more directly to help them accomplish some of their marketing and communication goals.

This German foundation Soforthilfe is really doing some great work and I am excited to help them. They currently receive all of their funding from Germany and a few other countries but they have no support in the US. I hope to help them break into the US market.

New Response

So I had a thought this afternoon. I have a new response for when people ask me why I am not married yet.

I am going to start telling people that it is just taking me longer to name the animals than it took other guys. Ha.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Had it My Way

I did it. I caved. I have been away from the states about 90 days and I couldn't take it anymore. A family from church invited me to lunch today and we ended up at Burger King.

What you see above is a Whopper Double combo with King-sized fries and a King-sized Coke.

And it was all that I had hoped it would be.

Friday, March 28, 2008

He’s not a machine, He’s a man

At the Home of Martha and Mary

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” John 10:38-42

In my weekly meeting with my pastor here a few days ago this story hit me square upside the head. The timing of it was nothing short of a God thing. You see, for the first three months of my life here in La Paz I have been Martha in the story above. I have been someone distracted by the work that is in front of me. I have been someone who has been worried, upset and anxious about many things. I have been someone who at times has valued serving God way more than just sitting at His feet and listening to Him.

I don’t really think that Jesus’ point in the story above is that serving Him is wrong. If fact, it is great. It is just an issue of balance. But I think what Martha missed and what I miss sometimes is that when you have opportunities to connect directly with Christ and listen to Him directly you have to take those opportunities and not miss them. My pastor Ron told me that my life should be like a pendulum. I should swing back and forth between spending time alone with God and serving God. Back and forth. From one to the other. It is a matter of perspective as well. He also asked me if I used my cell phone so that I would have to charge it or do I charge it so that I can use it. Wow.

Do I serve God so that I will have to spend time with Him for renewal or do I spend time with Him so that I am charged and ready to serve Him? I truly believe that authentic service of Christ can only stem from an intimate connected relationship with Him. I could hide behind service to Christ and people might think that I am a “great Christian”. But I am nothing if I am separated from the vine.

I have spent some amazing time with God lately and God actually helped me realize this before I read the story above on Wednesday. The story above from John was just confirmation in me that most of my time here in La Paz has been out of balance. And confirmation that if I continue down the path I am on, the result is going to be burnout and distance from God.

I have even written it here in my blog. Go back to my Call of Duty post and you can see it plainly. I mention a pretty intense list of projects and then I say that I am looking for more. More to do. More service. As much service as I can get. I didn't write about looking to just sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him more, I wrote about looking for more service.

Well during another visit to a project yesterday I felt God nudge me during our meeting and speak to me and say… “Curt, you have enough to think about already. Look at the projects that I have given you already. Just focus on what is in front of you and don’t look for more. You are right where I want you. I know that you want to spend time with kids but if you look closely I have placed kids in your life already if you will just take the time to get to know them. I gave you your Marketing skills and just look how much need there is in front of you for those skills. There is ministry after ministry who needs help in Marketing and I brought you here so that you could use your skills to help them. Curt, I need you in the strategic Marketing area right now. It is a huge need here in La Paz. That is where I have placed you and that is where you can do the most for My Kingdom right now. There will always be at-risk kids to visit here. Slow down and don’t rush. You are not a machine, you are a man. Put down the to-do list sometimes and just enjoy being human. Do you see the snow-capped mountains all around you? When was the last time you stopped and admired my creation? Curt, My love for you is not based on your productivity. I made that clear when I modeled the Sabbath for you. Us spending time together is more important to me than you checking a project off of a list.”

My ears were open to hearing these words from God only because recently I have made spending time at His feet and listening to Him more of a priority. My life has been more of a balance between Mary and Martha. I have WANTED to hear from Him. And when we actually want to hear from God it is amazing what He tells us sometimes.

So for right now I am going to follow His advice. Right now the only thing that I am actively looking for more of is time alone with God. I am not going to worry about finding MORE ministries and projects. My focus is going to be on the projects and ministries that God has placed right in front of me. They need my attention right now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Gift

Below is a photo of another gift that the team that visited me brought...

If there is one thing that God has shown me in these first three months it is that one of the things that Bolivia needs the most is...more cowbell.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Well it has been a few weeks since the team that visited me from Georgia left Bolivia. It was so great to see some familiar faces but hosting was also very stressful. I learned a lot and I know that trips in the future will only be better.

Here is a photo of the group that visited…

Chris, Doug, Allen, Chuck and Foley

A special delivery of Publix chocolate chip cookies...thanks Paul and Juanita!!!

The team was here for about two weeks and they split their time between Cochabamba and La Paz. One of the things that made the trip challenging was that the team was not here to accomplish a specific project. People had different objectives and goals. My pastor from home, Foley, was here to share three nights of messages at one of the Anglican churches here. Doug is an ex-paramedic and he was here to give first aid/CPR classes to workers from different ministries working with at-risk kids. Allen was here just experiencing the culture for the first time and Chris and Chuck were here for meetings and also to just minister to me.

A few photos of the team at work…

There is another group from church that is planning a trip down in July. I am excited to host them and excited to have them here to get them involved with what God is doing here in Bolivia. It is truly a blessing that my home church is so excited to bring teams down here to Bolivia. Although managing and hosting the teams is difficult for me because hosting is not my gift and I haven’t been here very long, I just praise and thank God that anybody wants to come. I have some other friends who are planning trips down this year and I am excited to have them experience the Bolivian culture and have their eyes opened to what God is doing down here.

I am just trying to see the big picture through the challenges. God is at work and it is just a privilege and honor to play some small part in His plan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soul Mate

Well...after only three months I believe that I have found my soul mate here in La Paz.

Check us out...

Mr. Pibb and Dr. Pepper are my two favorite sodas and they are no where to be found here in Bolivia. Or so I thought. I heard rumors recently that occasionally cans of Dr. Pepper will appear at the grocery store. Today I found six and I bought them all.

They are in my fridge getting cold as I type this.

I think I have found my soul mate.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What da ya have?

The top ten meals that I am craving right now.
(And yes I know that these are not good for me. And I don't care)

1) Zaxby's large chicken finger plate with fries, garlic bread and sweet tea
2) Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich (w/ BBQ sauce) combo with waffle fries and a lemonade
3) Sonny's big deal pork sandwich with krinkle cut fries and Jumbo sweet tea
4) The Gobbler with fries and a Mr. Pibb from Locos
5) 25 wings (5 different flavors) from Wild Wing Cafe
6) A cheesburger, two chili cheese dogs and onion rings from The Varsity
7) Bacon egg and cheese sandwich, fries and a water from the Majestic Diner
8) A waffle and a double order of hashbrowns (scattered and covered) from Waffle House
9) Beef burger medium well, onion rings (with horseradish sauce) from Ted's Montana Grill
10) A large plate of cheese tater tots from the Highlander

I know I am missing some. Anybody want to throw out any that I am missing so I can crave more?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Live from La Paz

So I finally had a few moments tonight to start playing around with my new video camera. If you didn't know, the team from my home church that came to visit me about a month ago brought me a video camera so I could take this whole blog thing to another level. And also so I could send the church video updates of everything that is going on down here. The video below was shot during their visit.

Hey it's a start. Look for more videos down the road.

Day 4

One of the things that I am starting to realize is that my life was very predictable back in the states. I had my routine. I had my job and my daily to do list. I had my schedule. Another thing that I am starting to realize is that my life is very UNpredictable here in La Paz. And this is a big part of my culture shock right now. It is so hard to get things done here sometimes and it is so hard to plan for the next day because things change so much. Back in the states I used to plan my next day of work before I would leave my current day of work. Totally impossible to do here.

But I was talking with a few friends from the states tonight and it was nice to hear that I am not alone in feeling this way. One friend’s parents were missionaries here and she told me that one of her dad’s sayings was that he would try to just get one thing done each day here in Bolivia. If he got more than one thing done praise God, but try to focus on just one thing he would say. It sounds crazy if you don’t live here but it is so true. It takes so much time to move things forward and God is really teaching me about patience and flexibility right now.

Day 4 of our site visits continued this past Tuesday with visits to a project known in the states as the Bolivian Street Children Project. In Bolivia they are known as Fundación Bernabe. Their ministry has several layers and stages. Basically, the first thing that they try to do is visit the kids on the street and try to build relationships with them. There is a team that focuses in this area and this ministry has decided to just work with boys. They try to become friends with the kids who live on the street and convince them to leave the streets and come live in a home that they have. Not an easy task I might add. The project has one home called “Hogar Renacer” and “Renacer” in English means “Rebirth.” This is their transition home where the kids go directly from the streets. The kids are given a place to sleep, they work with teachers and tutors for education, they are given meals, they participate in Bible studies and worship services. And they are given the chance to stay. Some stay. Some don’t. Some steal things and jump over the wall in the middle of the night. Some stay in their beds.

If the kids do decide to stay they have the chance to move to a more permanent home after they have stayed in the transition home for six months to a year. They also have to demonstrate through their actions and words that they are ready for a more permanent home. If they are ready, they have the option of two permanent homes to choose from depending on where they fit in. The cool thing about the permanent homes is that the homes have parents that live there and act as the parents of the boys. They assume the role of parent and help the kids with their studies in school and also lead them in devotionals and other activities.

The more and more kids that I see and meet, the more I realize that it takes a very special type of person to live and minister to these kids. And the more and more I feel totally inadequate. Social workers and Psychologists work with these kids. Not someone who managed marketing for a theatre company in Atlanta, Ga. God is definitely using the marketing skills that He has blessed me with to impact projects working with kids here. What still remains to be seen is what kind of direct contact will I have with the kids here? I have contact with kids each week but I really want God to lead me to one project where I can volunteer some time.

But the trap of spreading myself too thin keeps coming back to me. It is one of my big fears right now. I am scared that I am going to spread myself too thin, try to do too much and in trying to do too much not do much of anything at all. Time management is so tough though. I have come here as a missionary so basically all I think about is how to serve others with every ounce of time that God gives me. But the problem is that there are only so many hours in a day and there are only so many days in a week.

Who do I give my time to?
Time = Life…so who do I give my life to?

Sometimes I think that maybe God just needs me to do the strategic marketing stuff right now. Sometimes I think that I might be trying to force His hand. I don’t know. Maybe He has something down the road that I can’t see right now.

All I know to do right now is ask Him about it.
Maybe He will read this post and we can chat about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back in my hands

Bolivian Immigration held my passport hostage for the last month but I picked it up today and it is stamped with my one year residency visa. I can stay in the country until Feb. 28, 2009.

I can stay. I am just going to praise God for that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carnaval Oruro 2008

So I realized the other day that I forgot to upload the photos from my trip to Oruro for Carnaval. This is the second largest Carnaval celebration in South America behind Brazil. Oruro is a city of 400,000 people. During Carnaval there are 11 million people there. Keeping photos updated and creating videos is seriously a full-time job. So I apologize for the delay.

Check out my new Carnaval photo gallery HERE. The album is about 200 photos but I think it is worth the look if you are bored at work. I don't think I will be going back again but it was worth it to get a taste of this part of the Bolivian culture. Lots of idolatry and paganism but the costumes are really amazing.


The Depths

Wow. That is all that I can say about Day 2 and Day 3 of my project visits last week.

Day 2 was the most I have been out of my comfort zone since moving to La Paz. Day 2 was dirty and smelly. Day 2 was down in the depths. Day 2 was the closest I have felt to Christ while serving another person here in La Paz. Day 2 reminded me of a lyric from a Misty Edwards song “In the depths I will find You, serving my brother.” I got a little taste of “the depths” this past Thursday.

We made a few visits with a project called Soforthilfe which means “Immediate Help”. It is a German word and a German-backed ministry. The parent organization has five projects and this is one of those projects. The goal of these visits on Thursday was to visit people who live on the street, take them bread, give them something to drink, share the Word with them and pray with them. This project visits twenty different groups on the street every week. They know them. We visited three groups that day. And these visits were visits that we could have not made alone.

Visit # 1 – Under the Bridge
We stopped on the side of the road to visit a group of people who live near and under a bridge. They basically had a house setup under this bridge. I had not ever seen anything like it. The thing that really got me during this visit is that they had a two month old baby living with them under the bridge.

Visit # 2 – Up the Hill
We rode to another neighborhood in town. I knew that we were going to a sketchy area because when we got near our destination we passed a park and there was a guy sitting on a bench shooting up drugs into his arm. We arrived and climbed up a large hill to reach our destination. Our destination was a small shack where I promise fifteen people were living. It was tiny. You could not stand up in the shack. About five were able to get out and talk to us. Ten stayed in the shack. Most were drunk and high and could not get out. One guy by the door was very ill. I watched him get sick into a small bowl. No one had shoes. There were empty rubbing alcohol bottles everywhere because they drink it. It smelled like a zoo. And Jesus was right there in the midst of it.

Visit # 3 – Into the Woods
We rode up the hill towards El Alto and headed into an area in the woods. The place that we went to is actually a Bolivian police training area. We were told that the police bring people here to beat them up. Well there is a group of fifteen people living in the woods in the area. They have a small shack and there were really bad mattresses on the ground outside the shack where they sleep. Ten of the fifteen had gone down into town to look for food for the group. Most of the five that we visited were drunk.

We gave all of these groups bread, something to drink, shared the Word with them and prayed with them. It was surreal. It was a message of love to them. It was a message that no one has forgotten them. It was a message that Jesus loves them. But it was also a message telling them that they can decide to change the course of their life. With the help of Christ they can change the trajectory of their life and change their situation.

On Day 3 (Friday) we visited two more projects. Both in El Alto. One was an after school program where they give the kids lunch, help them with their school work and help them improve in various subjects in school. After that we visited a daycare program for younger kids. They sang to us when we arrived and it was super cute. Some of the kids here want to stay at the daycare and they don’t want to go home. They don’t want to go home because many times they are left at home alone. Sometimes for days at a time. These are like four year olds that I am talking about.

It was a very powerful two days. Visits will continue this week. We are evaluating the needs of all of these projects and assisting them in developing projects that will help them improve in the areas that they need to improve in. We would like to help them secure grants for these needs as well.

The work continues. The longer I am here the more chances I have to get far out of my comfort zone. I pray that all of us have the opportunity to leave our comfort zones. I am convinced that it is possible no matter where you live. There are parts of every city that people do not want to visit and these are usually the parts of the city that need to be visited the most.

But I know that we experience Christ in amazingly powerful new ways when we step out and meet the dirty/smelly/drunk/high people where they are. In God’s eyes we are equal. God loves me just as much as He loves the guy who couldn’t even get out of the shack to accept our bread because he was too drunk and high.

Try it and see if you don’t find Christ in “the depths.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What a Blessing

I had another moving day today visiting projects. I will post on Day 2 later.

But Padre Willy from one of the Anglican Churches here called me today to tell me that a bunch of letters had arrived for me. I went to pick them up and they were all letters from people at my home church, Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville. They are letters wishing me a Happy Easter. It made my day.

Check them out.

Thank you Holy Cross for wishing me a Happy Easter and for making my day today. I feel very loved and appreciated so thanks for that.

I also have a slip of paper that says I have a package to pick up. No idea what that could be but I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 1

This afternoon the team visited a project called "Qhanawara". This is an Aymaran word which means "Stars that Shine Bright."

It is located on the outskirts of El Alto heading towards Oruro. Very rural area. The project is basically a "Center of Support" for kids in the area. They have a program after school every day from 2 - 5 and sometimes on the weekends. About 35 kids from the surrounding areas are part of the program right now and they range in age from 4 to 15. They help the kids with school work, teach them Christian values, pray with them, teach them skills, play games with them, do other activities with them, etc...they are also trying to minister to the parents. Not all of the kids have both parents of course. Some don't have dads. Some don't have moms.

It is a super cool program. And of course I fell in love with the kids. (There I go and fall in love with the first project that I visit.) The project has some serious needs to address and they have land nearby where they hope to build a larger center (with a health center) to minister to even more kids.

If I get permission from the director, I will post some photos of the kids.

The project is about an hour away from my house but it would be a perfect project for me to visit two times a week in the afternoon to minister to the kids. We will see. It is the first project that I have seen this week but you never know what God might have planned.

Today one little boy asked me if I would take him to the United States tomorrow. And one little girl kept holding my hand and she asked for my autograph. I tried to tell her that I wasn't famous.

So one project down and more to go. God only knows what tomorrow's visits will involve. I think we are visiting a street children project tomorrow here in the city.

I'll keep you posted.

Wed Noon Update

In about an hour we will be heading to El Alto to visit a project.

Turns out that I won't be visiting 14 ministries in the next three days. It will be about half this week and the other half next week.

But I just had to share an interesting experience from this morning.

I was riding in a taxi to the office and we were coming up a hill and the traffic was backed up really bad. My taxi driver couldn't wait and he decided to do a U-turn and head back down the hill. Another driver did the same thing right behind us. And as he was trying to turn my taxi driver decided to go straight and they hit each other. It wasn't a bad hit but the front corners hit.

It was just interesting because I sat in the car for about 10 minutes while they argued with each other (yelling and waving hands and all). Finally the one guy gave the taxi driver some cash for the light that was broken on his car and we went on our way.

I flagged down another taxi and went to the office.

Just another day in the life of a missionary in La Paz, Bolivia.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Knock Knock

That is my homework for tonight.

I need to read this document. The reason I need to read this document is that tomorrow afternoon and all day Thursday and Friday I will be visiting the 14 different projects that are part of our PSMC program.

I will be taking photos and filming the projects. But also I will be helping our team evaluate the projects and identify the greatest needs of the projects. I am really excited about this. I need to read this document so that I can be ready to help the team evaluate the projects on the following standards…

Building Relationships
Guidance and Loving Discipline
Lifestyles, skills and recreation

Whew…..this could be more involved than I originally thought. But this is cool. I thank God that I have the opportunity to help these projects better serve the kids that they work with.

Who knows? Maybe one of these projects will be the group of kids that God wants me to spend that consistent time with.

Lift up some prayers for me these next three days. Gracias.

You know?

Sometimes when I struggle here and have bad days in La Paz I think "Dude, remember that you are trying to do all this stuff in another language."

"Oh yeah, Duh."

Believe me it helps.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, I am officially back home. La Paz home that is. And it feels good to be home in my own bed. I had a great week in Cochabamba. I met lots of people, learned a lot about the Red Viva network and got to visit some friends. I spent time with some SAMS missionaries there and I even enjoyed a few great Gringo home cooked meals. I had Lasagna one night and man it was good.

But my favorite part was the pic below. Cold sweet peach flavored ice tea. I have not had cold tea in two months. Can you believe it? No cold sweet tea in two months. Well it wasn’t exactly the jumbo glass from Sonny’s but it was awesome none the less. And the peach flavor just made me think about Georgia that much more.

I also had the chance to spend some time with the team from Niños con Valor. God is really blessing their ministry. Their girls’ home is really running strong now and they are starting to focus more on their street girl outreach and their HIV/AIDS daycare for kids. I delivered a laptop to them and some medical supplies. Having lunch with their girls was a big factor in me realizing that I need to find a group of kids of my own.

I had a great time. But the visit also confirmed in me that I love La Paz. I am so happy to be here and although I have good days and bad days I have no doubt that I am exactly where God wants me to be.

An empty house welcomed me when I got back last night. Just God and I again. And I am really looking forward to spending time with Him and getting to know Him a little better this week. Tomorrow is going to be my Sabbath day. In fact, I am hoping to make Monday my Sabbath day every week. I will let you know how it goes. No work. No emails. Just resting, reading, listening to tunes and growing closer to God.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Call of Duty

Check out my sweet shirt and badge.

I am all official now and stuff. PSMC is a program in La Paz that I am helping. They are currently working with fourteen different ministries that all work with at-risk kids. Their ultimate goal is to help churches and ministries better serve the kids that they work with. The program takes each organization through six different modules of training to help them improve their service to kids in various areas. It is a cool program. My goal with this program is really two-fold. One goal I have is to help PSMC communicate their program to churches and ministries working with at-risk kids in La Paz. Right now this involves the development of a website for the program. I am working on planning and implementing a website for this program and I am trying to get it launched by the end of this month. The second goal I have is to think of ways to promote the program so that more churches and ministries will want to participate.

If you know me well, you know that I am a “list” person. But I must tell you that being a “list” person here in Bolivia is an extremely difficult task. Sometimes I want to push projects forward faster than the culture will allow.

Well I still make lists anyway. And I wanted to give you a little taste of what is on my list right now…

PSMC Program in La Paz
• Help launch website by end of March
• Brainstorm ways to increase participation in program (We are currently working with fourteen groups, we want a total of twenty-five by the end of March)

Cristo Redentor Anglican Church in Calacoto
• Submit grant application to US foundation to fund a new dental chair and materials to support Dental Outreach ministry to community
• Help launch a Discipleship program in church
• Help launch my pastor’s radio ministry program from back home on a radio station here in Bolivia
• Brainstorm activities and ways to improve the Saturday morning outreach program to the kids in the community

Cristo Salvador Anglican Church in Sopocachi
• Submit a special funding request to SAMS to help renovate the sound equipment in the church
• Brainstorm ways to help promote the new Daycare program at the church
• Help update the church’s website

• Create a marketing plan for the El Día event – a twenty-four hour prayer, worship and fasting event later this year. This is an event for the entire Body of Christ in four Bolivian cities and in Santiago, Chile. I am directing the marketing for this event and I am also working on a plan to raise funds for the event outside of Bolivia.

Obviously, I can’t do all this at once. I have to prioritize. In fact, I can’t do this at all. It has to be the Spirit living and working through me.

And as you can see there is no lack of work or opportunities. But one of the fears that I had when preparing to come to Bolivia was that I would get completely lost in strategic marketing projects and not have enough one on one time with kids. Now that I am here I feel that fear starting to become a reality and something is missing inside. I want to do the strategic marketing stuff because I feel God has blessed me with those skills for a reason.

But I am starting to pray for God to lead me to one particular ministry where I can volunteer time each week to be involved in the lives of the kids there. Right now I just feel like a consultant. I bounce from place to place, I raise money, I deliver things and it’s great. But I am missing consistent relationship building time with the same kids every week. I want to know the kids’ names when I visit. I want them to know my name. I want to know their stories. And I want God to intentionally use me to share His love with them.

Will you join me in praying that God will continue to use me for strategic marketing projects here but that He will also give me one particular group of kids that know my name and know that I show up every week just for them?

Monday, March 03, 2008

More Goodbyes

I experienced more goodbyes this past week. The five people from home who were visiting me left and I am going to post soon and share their experience here in La Paz. But for several weeks now there has been a Bolivian family of five living in Casa Little also. And tomorrow they will be leaving Bolivia for the first time and heading to Chile.

Martín, Carla, Josué, Abby and Davíd are a family from one of the Anglican churches here in La Paz and for the past few weeks they have been my family. Literally. They are moving to Santiago, Chile because Martín will be studying in a seminary there.

They have had issues getting their visas to Chile but God, in His timing of course, has finally made the way for them to leave and tomorrow they go. We had to say our goodbyes yesterday because I am in Cochabamba this week and I am going to really miss them. It was nice to have other voices in the house besides my own for the last few weeks.

Please pray for God’s blessing on their life and ministry as they head to Chile basically as missionaries. I thought I had it hard getting here to Bolivia but listening to their stories, I can’t imagine what it has been like to do something similar to what I am doing but with three kids. It was logistically easy for me, a single dude, to pick up and move, but for a family of three that has never left their home country…wow…I can’t even imagine.

It is really sinking in again that the life that God has called me to will be a life of constant goodbyes and hellos. I will never ever again in my life have all of my friends in the same place.

Saying goodbye to the Flores family is another one of those goodbyes. I pray for safe travels and for God’s will to be done as they take this next step and answer His call on their lives.

Here are a few photos I took to remember them by…

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Scene of the Crime

In just a few hours I will be boarding a bus to Cochabamba. It will be an overnight seven hour bus ride. Should cost about $4. Cochabamba is a little place that I like to call the scene of the crime. I was riding through the streets of Coch almost two years ago when God called me to Bolivia as a long-term missionary.

And even this past June when I was visiting Bolivia to discern exactly where God wanted me to be, I still thought Coch was going to be it. I had a great peace about it and I even had a great foundation that I was going to work with – a foundation that is doing some amazing work in Coch. Check them out if you are interested – Niños con Valor.

But God had other plans. He called me to La Paz and He had a much bigger role in the story for me than I had for myself. I am happy to be in La Paz and I have no doubt that it is where God wants me to be. But Coch still holds a special place in my heart and I am excited to be visiting.

I will be in Coch pretty much all this week. I will probably be flying back on Saturday. I have a mixture of meetings and training all related to the Red Viva Network that I am working with. My goal is to learn more about the organization and meet some people who coordinate activities for the network in other cities in Bolivia. I am going to be managing the communications for the Red Viva office in La Paz so I hope to build some key relationships this week.

Pray that God uses me this week. In addition to the meetings and training, I hope to visit some of my missionary friends in Coch and I will also be meeting with Niños con Valor just to see how everything is going and to deliver some medical supplies to them for a clinic that they are working with.

It should be a fun week. So if you need to reach me just send me an email. I won’t be home to answer the Vonage phone this week.

Also, I just want to share two quick verses with you that knocked me over this past week.

The first verse I stumbled across while I was at the House of Prayer on Thursday night. It is Psalm 61:2 – “From the ends of the earth I call to you. I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

I like to substitute “La Paz, Bolivia” for “ends of the earth.” But man this verse hit me square in the face. I feel just like this verse sometimes. I am calling to God as my heart grows faint. I am serving God full-time but I feel my heart growing faint because I am struggling to spend one on one time with Him consistently. And I so want Him to lead me to that rock, that level of protection, that is higher than I am right now. Father, my hand just can't reach it...

The other one hit me in church today. John 9:39. Jesus’ words after He heals a man who had been blind from birth. “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

…those who see will become blind. Wow. I mean it’s easy to grasp that Jesus wanted to heal people who were blind but what’s up with the part about people who see becoming blind? I have always missed that part. I just realized for the first time today that Jesus wants me to be blind sometimes. He doesn’t want me to see where I am going all the time because He wants to guide me, He wants me to take His hand and trust Him. That's good because I can't see very well right now.

Lead on Savior. Lead on.