The cream always rises to the top

Dear family & friends, I was asked by our beautiful friend and fellow missionary if she could write a ‘guest blog post’ for us. I said yes… We are humbled and touched by her words. We debated whether to share this, we aren’t serving for accolades, but in the end our friend is such a great writer and encourager, it seemed selfish to keep it to ourselves. Personally for us, it serves as a great reminder of the apostle Paul’s writings to the churches in Rome, Thessalonia, and Philippi of how we ought to spur one another on, encouraging and building each other up in our faith; so it is from this place of encouragement that I share this humbling guest blog. 


  

“The cream always rises to the top…”  A friend of mine told me this in law school.  In a particularly grueling class, our Criminal Law professor all but filleted me by means of the Socratic method.   Somehow, I’d never heard this before.  I suppose, academically speaking, I’d never been quite so shaken before either.  But those words, “The cream always rises…” buoyed my spirits then and have done so many times since.  Just knowing that circumstances are temporary, and that good students and leaders will rise again, is an encouraging way to view life.

Frankly, I’d never really considered cream much (aside from this saying) until we moved to England.  My husband was stationed at RAF Lakenheath and, for a few years, we lived in the bucolic village of Burwell outside of Newmarket.  In fairness, Burwell isn’t bucolic by English standards, but to me it was out of a Jane Austen novel- with castle ruins, wild blackberries, holly and watercress, and even a butcher shop and baker just down the lane.

It was there that I first understood the world of cream.  In the US, we have whipping cream and half & half.  That is all.  Our tiny little Cooperative store in Burwell had an entire end cap dedicated to cream: clotted cream, single cream, double thick cream… and on and on.  It was in England that I discovered how much I love cream.  I don’t need scones.  Just give me the cream and I am set.  My English neighbors found this revolting.  Note: “That’s not proper” is really the polite way of saying, “You American Heathen, stop desecrating that pot of Devonshire cream.”

It was also in England that I discovered that sharing a language does not equate to sharing a culture.  My English neighbors didn’t care much for American desserts (too much sugar) or my love of disposable paper goods.  I don’t really grasp British humor and I still can’t make a decent pot of tea.  The English are resolute and reserved.  I am neither of those.  I learned a lot about cross-cultural living during our time in England and, though we are different, I left with a profound respect for the English.

We now live in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  My husband, John, retired from the Air Force and went from fighter pilot to missions pilot.    He now flies into the Amazon to bring supplies, transport medical and mission teams, medevac patients and to conduct evangelical outreach.  I teach law at different universities here, where I refrain from belittling my students with the Socratic method, I should note.  I also serve on the school board of our mission’s international school and I help with an adult English language ministry.  It is through these additional ministries that I have come to know the Peart family well.

I met Lisa the first week we arrived.  I was sitting in an orientation at our children’s school and looked out the window.  There sat the most elegant “Bolivian” woman.  She was wearing white pants despite the constant and unrelenting dust that blows throughout the city.  After my meeting, I introduced myself.  Lisa and I have become good friends, though she was not to be my first “Bolivian” friend, as I’d initially hoped.  Nor was she my first American friend here, as Lisa is decidedly more English than she is American.  I offer her stance on the Oxford comma as proof.  Whatever she is, she is gifted in bridging cultural divides.

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English learners 2020

Lisa and I started an English class for Bolivian adults in 2017, which she now runs.  Andrew and I serve together on the school board, and he is unswervingly ethical in all his decision-making.  I know that the Pearts’ primary ministry is with the Anglican Church and they work tirelessly there too.    Of all the missionaries that I know, the Pearts have shown themselves to be remarkable.  Dare I say, the cream of the cream?  Channel Island extra thick double cream, if you will.

Writing and baking calm me.   Unfortunately, my oven just broke.   I am left with prepping food for my family of seven without an oven during a quarantine.  This leaves me with writing as my therapy.  With this in mind, I asked Lisa if I could write a blog post for her.  What better time to share what it is that I see of the Pearts here on the mission field (and not just that Lisa manages to effortlessly wear white in what is essentially a dust-covered, frontier town)?

During this pandemic we are all shut in our homes, as much of the world is.  Bolivia is very restrictive because the medical system is ill-equipped to handle an outbreak and is already over-taxed from the surge in Dengue cases (one of our daughters and one of the Pearts’ daughters both recently recovered from mild cases of Dengue).  The rules in Bolivia are such that one person may leave once a week, on foot to bring groceries into the home.  No one under the age of 18 may leave the home at all.  Each family is assigned a day and has four hours in which to walk, purchase food and return home.  Police and military are patrolling, fines and arrest are the punishment for disobeying the quarantine.

Bolivia is very poor.   Many Bolivians live day-to-day.  They are day laborers.  These restrictions place a significant burden on already burdened families.  No one really wants to acknowledge that families aren’t eating.  It seems like something that just can’t happen this day and age.  And perhaps, in England or the US, there would be relief of some sort.  But this is Bolivia.

A recent news story told of a boy of twelve who walked eight kilometers down back roads (to avoid police detection) to try to get food for his family.  He is the oldest of eight siblings.  They had not eaten in three days.  This is the heart-wrenching reality of life in Bolivia.  It is a cruelty that we would like to believe only exists on the pages of a Dickens novel.

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Daniela, welcome to the Peart family

Being a missionary in Bolivia is challenging, even under normal circumstances.  At the end of the day, I often choose to shut out the world.  Unlike my “retreat and recharge” approach, the Pearts have opened their home to a dear girl, Daniela, who would otherwise be left to her own devices.  I shudder to think of what her life would be at this moment had they not done so.  They love her and are teaching her.  And this, I have no doubt, is both fulfilling and exhausting.  They live their ministry, day in and day out.  It is who they are.

During this pandemic, most of our ministries are on hold.  Missionaries long to serve, but how? We dare not defy government orders and risk arrest by leaving our homes.  And yet, the awful truth that some will succumb to starvation in order to stem the pandemic is a brutal reminder of how this is not England and not the United States.  This is Bolivia.

Many of us are turning inward, “How will I get seven days of food home for my large family with only a stroller to transport it?” “How will I prepare food when my oven has just broken, and no one can come and repair it?”  The Pearts are, instead, continuing to serve.

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Patricia, neighbourhood leader & Lisa
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John 6:35a, Jesus says,  I am the bread of life…

Lisa and Andrew have been baking bread for their neighbors.  They have coordinated with their neighborhood leader, who then issues permissions for those who are most desperate.  Daily, the Pearts have people come to their home to take a dozen rolls or a loaf of bread.  It is simple fare (though not simple to prepare), and yet it is sustenance.  Men from the neighborhood, a poor barrio, are coming to get food for their families.  And as they walk home, one by one down the dusty road in front of the Pearts’ home, Lisa admits that she weeps.  Because it feels like so little.

But someone is not starving today because of this gracious act.

They are sharing the love of Christ in a crisis.  When no one else is helping, despite the risks and costs, the Pearts are helping.  This is the love of Christ in action.

This is “tzedakah,” the Hebrew word for “charity.”  Only tzedakah means more.  It is righteousness too.  It is giving while maintaining the dignity of the receiver.  It is doing what is right. Seeing what is wrong and doing the ethical thing to right that wrong.  Righteousness to the least of these.  This is tzedakah.

I am inspired by the Pearts.  For as much as I have devoted my life to the service of our Lord, I see how much more so I could be serving.  Agape.  The sacrificial love that brings an orphan into one’s home and spends the entire day coordinating a way to feed the desolate, when everyone else shuts themselves in.   That is how the Pearts serve.

I cannot help but be reminded of Matthew 25 “’For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matt 25: 35-40)

I very much look forward to a day (hopefully soon), when Lisa and I can visit again.  I look forward to when we can visit and joke once again about trivial things like how Andrew sounds like a royal to my untrained ear.     But until then, though we are separated only by a boulevard, it is as wide as an ocean.  And I can only text Lisa and encourage her at the end of the day.  Though utterly depleted from hours of baking and facing poverty in Bolivia head-on, the Pearts are, as always, serving our Lord well.

Though they would likely never tell you, this is who they are.  As friends, they are wonderful, but as missionaries they are the cream that rises to the top.  When battered and shaken by the harshness that is Bolivia and our whole broken world right now, they follow Christ and serve in His name.  They are what missionaries should be.   It is a profound honor to know them.

Light in darkness.  Tzedakah.  Righteousness.  Agape.  All for the Glory of God.  These are the Pearts.

– Laurie


Please hold Bolivia in your prayers, as the strict lock down continues indefinitely, people are growing very desperate with blockades in protest of the quarantine are currently in place in 7 areas of the country. Having said that, we are thankful that in our barrio  neighbours are uniting to help one another by providing food, gathering funds for medication, and paying others’ rent- love in action. May this be the new contagion…

Lots of love and prayers for your well being.

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, Anayah & Daniela xo

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Happy Easter!

 

Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matt 22: 34-40

I often wonder,  if  we were to live out this commandment, what would our world be like? Our hearts, souls, and minds open to the will and purpose of what God yearns to do through us, his beloved? –

Happy Easter! Here we are on lock down with all of you. For us in Bolivia that means we are allowed to go out of our homes/property lines one day a week to shop for essentials. My day is Tuesday, Andrew’s is Wednesday. It’s been this strict for 3 weeks now. As of Tuesday next week, our city will be militarised and all small markets closed- it has the most coronavirus cases in the country- apparently people are not obeying the stay at home decree issued by President Añez. We are doing ok. Daniela has been quarantined in at the Orphanage next door for the past 3 weeks so she can help with the children, filling in a huge gap! The girls, now on Easter break have already had 3 weeks of google classroom on line learning-they start again on Tuesday. They are spending time creating, helping around the house and my favourite thing, sisterly bonding!  I am sure it’s as strange for you not to have a large family Easter meal as it is for us. Now that we can’t invite anyone in person to Easter lunch and with more time to reflect than ever, I have been thinking, who would we invite if we could? Jesus’ words as recorded and written by Luke always present a great challenge to me; having had an amazing career in the luxury hospitality industry, I should be a ‘hospitality’ expert, right???

Jesus said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14, 12-14  Carry on reading through to verse 24 and the challenge continues… 

Wow. Who’s the real expert? 

As we look to Jesus, his life, death and resurrection this Easter 2020 in the midst of this pandemic we are all facing, what is it we see, or want to see, how do we feel? Are we wallowing in our own needs, giving in to our fears of what we don’t have or might run out of,  hoarding like literally, there is no tomorrow? Confined to our homes to protect ourselves and others, how are we spending our newly found ‘free’ time?  I read that all of us will be affected by the death of a loved one from this virus. Many already have – what a very heartbreaking reality. 

So how do we respond? 

The other day, I was out in our Barrio delivering bread to families with desperate needs with my neighbour Patricia who knows these needs. Andrew and I usually make the bread and put it outside our door for the neighbours to collect, so delivering it was a new thing. Along the way, we met a man called Iver, he was sat on the dirt road wearing a mask, a dusty old t-shirt and camouflage trousers. He thanked us for the bread, yet he declined it, asking us to give his portion to those who really needed it. Then he said, “we should all be out sharing the good news of the gospel, it’s all about Jesus.”

-Wow, Iver, what a response- 

Give it to others and share the gospel. Hope. The Bread of Life. The Good News.  Love God, love Jesus, love your neighbour. Feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, visit the prisoner, welcome the stranger, call on those living alone, those with less. What you do for others, you do for me, says Jesus.

Consider that God is calling on us to look beyond our own needs. Because frankly it’s not that we don’t all have them, but rather that he knows what we need- and we should trust Him with our needs. Might he be challenging us to pray differently,  without ceasing? Perhaps he is asking some of us to love one another by sharing the resurrection hope that we have with those we tried before and maybe it did not go so well? It might be he wants us to be more intentional in our prayers of intercession, mindful of people in our lives or those that are not yet in our lives. Or could He be showing us by His word that we need to seek and ask Him what His purpose is for our lives at this present time, saying sorry for going our own way? Could that be the more pressing need? My good friend Lou raised this question recently in a talk on prayer, it really brought these thoughts home:

Instead of asking God, what should I be doing with my life, ask God, what are You  choosing to do through my life? 

Isaiah chapter 55 v 6 tells us to: Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Seeking the Lord while He may still be found, while he is still near.  Stuck at home, given one day out, how should we use our time?  Like Iver said?  Telling people about the transforming, compelling love and mercy of our Lord, the one who gave up his only son, Jesus, for us. Whose death means nothing can separate us from the Lords great love for us- we are reconciled to our heavenly Abba, Father.  Jesus’ life for ours,  by his wounds we are healed. After all,  it was our sin that put Him on that cross, dying in our place. It is by His grace that we now live, with Him, the risen Christ our Lord and Saviour,  proclaiming with great joy,  HE IS RISEN, ALLELUIA! 

Jesus, help us to live out your word and your greatest commandment with loving compassion and sensitivity, especially in these difficult times. To be a light and authentic reflection of  your peace, sharing your resurrection hope and joy in our homes, with our families, friends, in our communities, churches and workplaces, in our everyday to the wider world that so desperately needs your transforming presence, love and healing. 

We hope you have a very blessed and Happy Easter!   

Love, 

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, Anayah & Daniela

2020-What’s next Papa?

Greetings in 2020-we hope your Christmas and New year celebrations were joyous!

Thank you SO much for all your messages of encouragement and prayers, specifically over the last few months of 2019. Bolivia seems to be on the long and winding road to recovery with a constitutionally installed interim President, and both political parties agreeing to a brand new election to take place on Sunday 3rd May, 2020. Please continue to pray that this ‘interim’ period continues to be peaceful and productive for Bolivia as she heals, fights for democracy, and seeks peace and justice. What you have heard in the international news about a coup isn’t at all what has taken place, so I plead with you, don’t believe it! The wounds of the past in this beautiful country go deep, therefore much ugliness, corruption and injustice is being brought to light- a good, yet hurtful thing. However, we look forward with great hope and faith towards restoration and reconciliation in this great land!

I wrote this post just before the Presidential elections in October, it then fell off my radar completely until a friend noticed an additional name ( Daniela) to the family sign off in my last blog post and wondered if she’d missed something…she had not!

In our Bolivian church everyone seems to be biologically related and when I say that, it’s not an exaggeration. It’s wonderful, and if I am honest, I am slightly jealous. For the majority of my ( Lisa) adult life, I have lived very far away from my biological family. I left ‘home’ at age 18 for university, only returning to visit. Then I moved states, countries and continents, in fact, today 10th January marks 20 years of living outside of my beloved home country.  It has been difficult and yes, at the cost of missed births, baptisms, birthdays, weddings, graduations,  being with mom and dad in their final years and the everyday-being far from one’s family can be lonesome and unfamiliar. In my immediate family, I have 8 siblings, 24 nieces/ nephews,  33 great nieces/ nephews(1 on the way!), and 2 great- great nephews all living in the US. On Andrew’s side we have Mum (my MIL), girls’ Grandma of 88 years ( 89 this month), 4 siblings,  12 nieces and nephews from a 1 yr old to a recently graduated from University! – there is a lot to miss with family between us. It’s been over 4 years since I have seen my US family. We are grateful though, as it’s been a dream to travel, live, work and serve in distant lands, embracing and learning new cultures and languages, stretching ourselves and pushing our boundaries, but it doesn’t mean we don’t struggle as we miss our biological families.

Family is not only biological, as you know…

Family and community are an essential part of our lives and I believe that this is true not only for us, but for all humanity.  I believe God meant for us to interact with one another in family form, as a community- a group of friends, a church, an adoptive family, a foster family, or a traditional familial setting. The world today tries to tell us we can do all things on our own, in our own strength, for ourselves, by ourselves. Community in all it’s goodness and fullness loves and serves each other, carrying each others burdens, living through the highs and the lows, encouraging one another, meeting together, sharing hospitality and friendship.  God, as our Abba (Papa) Father, makes it known that family/community in it’s many forms is central to His heart for us, through his own son, Jesus. 


15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!  Romans 8: 15-17, The Message


While visiting our UK sending church last summer, St Johns Hartley Wintney,  we sang an absolutely beautiful hymn in the early morning service that has stayed with me since. Andrew wove it into his talk that day and I had scribbled it in my journal just after we sang it. It affirms so much about the body of the Church- the family we are in Christ, the global church. As we strive to be family, we share in each others suffering, weeping, rejoicing, laughing and celebrating as we faithfully walk alongside each other and love one another on this journey. On this very day when we met as a church in both services, we did weep and pray together, as we were mutually saddened by the sudden death of our friend and sister Kayla. Click here for the lyrics.  Hymn #635 Brother, Sister let me serve you.


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Dani with her ‘casera’ meaning homemade, bread.

Speaking of family, ours has changed a bit…

Meet Daniela,  she has grown up in an orphanage here in Santa Cruz, arriving at age 10, the same age as our daughter Anayah is now. Last June she turned 19, reaching the maximum age to remain in the home.  She has a biological family,  a family of 30+ at the orphanage and now she has us. For obvious reasons, I will not be sharing  the circumstances in this post of why she is not with her biological family,  that is her personal story, however, I will share how our family fits into her story , and she into ours.

 

 

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Christmas 2017: Chocolate roulade

We met Daniela Christmas 2017.  As a result of volunteering in her ‘home’ about 4 months in, I was asked to help translate for an internal training. My polite no thank you my Spanish is not good enough for translating was not accepted- I know! When the training came to a close, the weekly meeting started. During that meeting I committed to, admittedly without asking Andrew,  welcome Daniela for Christmas- it’s tradition for the kids in the home celebrate Christmas with families every year, giving them an opportunity to share in family life outside the home and giving staff a well deserved day off to spend time with their own families. That Christmas was very special as we also had our niece Charlotte visiting from England-our first family visitor. Daniela joined us the following Christmas as well as other planned occasions throughout the year; the girls get on very well, they share a love of reading and laughing, Daniela’s infectious smile and sweet, gentle manner fit in well with our girls.

Last year, suggested by Andrew,  we met with the director of the home in which Daniela was living to ask one simple question, knowing that she was reaching the maximum age limit for living there… What’s next for Daniela? That question and subsequent answer brought her to where she is now, living with us for a transitional year.

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Christmas 2018 Liliana, Anayah, Daniela & Jack

So, what is next for Daniela?   She’s been with us for almost 5 months now; it’s been a time of adjustment, of deep challenge and joy for all. The girls get on well and spend most of their time together laughing! Daniela has started volunteering at the orphanage for children with disabilities located next door to our home, 3 mornings a week. Her dream is to work with children, and serving next door has opened the door to new possibilities – she really loves it. Andrew and I are investing in her, guiding her into her own little bread baking business.  She goes to night school Mon-Fri and will do so for another 2 years after which she will receive her Bolivian baccalaureate

 

 

 

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Praying  Daniela out of the home of Talita Cumi and into ours.

In her leaving party from the orphanage, she spoke about how being a mother is so much more than giving birth to a child. She told of how she had been praying for a family for 10 years and how she feels we are an answer to her prayer.  Gulp. 

We would love for you to join us as we pray and seek to provide Daniela with a safe and secure space to grow in confidence, that as we invest in her life, we will both teach and be taught by her. That we will encourage and be encouraged by her, that we will model biblical love, grace, patience, commitment and integrity for her. That we will be mutually blessed as we are family for and with her, caring for one another as we live in faithful anticipation of what good things God has planned for his precious family.

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This is a new chapter in the Lord’s story for Daniela’s life and our lives; what a privilege that our stories are woven together.

Thank you for loving us and praying for us. Do let us know how we might pray for you.

With much love and blessing in 2020,

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, Anayah & Daniela

 

 

 

 

 

Being Community

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The Community- serving each other in love! 3rd ring and Roca y Coronado. I am the tall one in the middle.

The English-language word “community” derives from the Old French comuneté which comes from the Latin communitas”community”, “public spirit” (from Latin, communis  “shared in common”).

Human communities may share intentbeliefresourcespreferencesneeds, and risks in common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

In Santa Cruz we have nearly completed our 3rd week of the nation-wide strike. We understand from friends in the UK, that last night (Thursday), the Bolivian crisis made the BBC headline news-finally! Schools remain closed, grocery stores open a few hours in the morning, some public transport until mid day, very few banks open, cash points hit and miss, most people are not able to work. There are some food and petrol deliveries allowed, a few hospitals open and ambulances operating for emergencies only, pharmacies the same. Our Bolivian WhatsApp groups have been overtaken with videos, photos, messages; it has been a challenge to sift through and discern the truth, especially when it’s not our culture nor our native language.

Before the elections, we were advised to stock up on necessities.  I must confess, I was rather naive, perhaps even skeptical at the whole stock up on food, petrol, toilet paper, water, etc. frenzy.  Thank God Andrew was the proactive one!

All this in response to the fraudulent Presidential Elections which took place on the 20th October, which the current President, Evo Morales, won, or did he?  

Millions have taken to the streets to block roads, crying out against corruption, shouting  for democracy, fighting (mostly peacefully, there have been some deaths) for justice and truth, to say NO, again and again to a government who does not listen. This is how Bolivian’s make changes, they blockade to shut down commerce. Support for the current president seems to be waning- but that could just be my limited perspective-it’s hard to tell as our city, Santa Cruz is a strong opposition to the current government.

It’s not all negative!  Community, public spirit, cohesiveness, risk, belief, identity- it’s all around us, and it’s not anything like what we have experienced our 3 years here- at least not to this extent.

Earlier this week I had the good( or bad if a flat tire counts) fortune to go out on the bicycle to help a friend and her family-she has not been able to work, like so many others, because of the strikes. As I rode down the middle of a road, nearly empty of traffic, I was taken aback by  my own sense of  freedom and the conundrum it brought as the Bolivian’s fight for theirs. I respectfully walked my bike through blockades with ease, met by friendly faces and polite salutations, feeling smug that my 24K round trip journey during a city wide strike could not have started off better.

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My friend Isa and I at the 4th November market where she works- you can see the metal gate pulled down, they are normally open.

Food safely delivered to our friend, hugs, kisses, and prayers for her and her family, Bolivia, and my journey home, I headed to check on my friend Isa who works in a small market in the same area.  Isa met me with excitement-to tell me what had been happening- the day before the market had been attacked by Masistas (supporters of MAS, the current government),  explaining why the metal bars were lowered at every entrance. She’s been grateful that despite this, the market stays open for half days and she can work.  As my back tire was low on air, Isa took me to get it filled.  At this time of road blockades,  Santa Cruz is only accessible by bicycle, motorbike or on foot, so a whole new market within the market popped up-all things bicycle! It cost me 1 Boliviano to fill my tire, the equivalent of  11p/ 14 cents- a bargain!

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Me and my new friend Virginia

 

Heading home, I stopped to take a photo of a very large flag that spanned an intersection, but instead ended up being drawn towards a big tent off to the side. So, I rode over to find out what was going on. I was told, “we are being  community!” COMMUNITY. I asked them how they were

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Community lunch

being community and they said, “by being here”.  SO, I stayed, I mean who doesn’t want to BE? Soon, a plate of chicken with rice and a glass of somo(white corn juice) was served to me- I was being blessed by this group of people being community as they fed me and 100 others! Funny how we came here to Bolivia to serve, love and be Christ to others and there I sat on the receiving end! However, in this culture, saying no to food and service would have been a rejection of the people and their culture- not loving nor serving!  What an amazing group of people-public spirit, cohesiveness, identity, belief, risk- personified. It was truly an honour to ‘be’ and share together in a time of hardship.

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My bike on the right with wheel and tire removed. This is the repair shop I eventually found.

Soon after, and still about 10k to home, I had the bad fortune of a flat tire, a ripped air valve for which my repair kit was no match.  It is a well known fact that locals, including police, although very well meaning, are not precise in direction giving, so I went on the wild goose chase of my life to find a bike repair ‘pop up’ shop. Eventually I did find a repairman, who sent me on another wild goose chase, on foot in 41 degree sunshine, to buy an inner tube… 90 minutes on and near the end of my tether, no such shop to be found, in desperation (exasperation?) I asked one more stranger for help…not only did he know where to get an inner tube, he offered to go and buy one for me.  I gave him 40bs, my old inner tube and my hope and as he rode off on his bici, I collapsed in the dirt road and phoned Andrew, tears streaming down my face. 10 mins later the kind stranger returned with a new inner tube in hand, a receipt and 10bs change- Hallelujah! I returned to the repairman and in 5 mins I was on the road towards meeting Andrew. I arrived home  sunburned and shattered after an unplanned 8 hours on the road, yet encouraged and full of hope for what I saw and experienced in the community.

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Praise and worship evening with neighbours at our home. We roasted marshmallows too! 18 kids & 6 adults.

It’s not been a particularly easy time for us as family, but it’s not a hardship either. Although kids are not in school, they do have a fair amount of homework via google classroom. I guess we do feel a bit sidelined or benched from our own plans and work. Well at least I do and I am not a great bench warmer! As arrogant as that might sound, it’s the honest truth, I like being a part of the action. Nevertheless, looking around there is much opportunity to be community in a new way. We live right next door to a home for children with disabilities, so as a family we can and have been helping this ministry and the family(they have 12 children of their own!) who run it. We live close to a YWAM (youth with a mission) base, so we have connected with people there as we open our home to them. We have hosted a prayer and praise evening and attended others in the local area. We’ve shared what resources we have been blessed with, with others, but mostly we realise that being sidelined in our work has led us to rely less on ourselves and our own plans and rely more on the Lord and connect with the community where we live-hospitality as we knew it (or thought it to be) has taken a new, fresh form. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us:

“The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.”

Having said all this, we feel safe. Liliana, Anayah and Daniela are not worried, nor are Andrew and I. As a family we speak about and pray openly for the current situation together and with others. Honestly, there has been a turn for the worse this week as violent clashes have left another person dead and 70 injured in other parts of Bolivia. Some of our missionary friends  have chosen to leave, not permanently but until the situation settles. Many feel they can be better used in their ‘home’ land as they are unable to keep their ministries going with the nation shut down- we respect and understand their decision, at the same time, we feel at peace with being here. Pray for all who have left, those who have not been able to return and those who remain here in Bolivia- it’s not only where, but whom we serve wherever we are…

We’d love you to pray for us, the Church and community, we are so thankful that people are being drawn to love and serve one another in new ways in the midst of the unrest. Not being able to work is causing many worries- isolation and fear may be an issue, but being together has given people new hope in building relations, loving  and providing for their neighbours- us included. We pray that this continues as it’s now a matter of survival and sanity for many! The fact that millions in our city alone have been gathering nightly in the Christ Redeemer intersection to get on their knees and pray to Jesus, seeking the will of God, is so powerful. We pray with confidence it will indeed bring major change. Although we are not able to get to our church, we are joining in with a 40 days of prayer organised by our church family via WhatsApp.

Pray also for the strikes and demonstrations, that citizens and leaders would choose the path of peace and justice. In areas where the current president has support the protests are more violent and divisions are deep-pray for unity. Pray for great wisdom, for the current government/ President and for the opposition to miraculously agree to move forward with a new election for the good of the Bolivian nation and her people to safeguard her freedom, justice and democracy. Viva Bolivia!

Here are a few photos a bit closer to our home.

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Blockade on the main road, 2 small blocks from our home. Liliana and Jack our dog, on the right

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A young boy seizes the opportunity to ride under the flag as it’s lifted by the wind on the Doble Via a La Guardia- the main road close to our home. Photo credit Liliana Peart

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Liliana says:
“I feel safe with my family and when we go out on the streets everyone is friendly and polite. I have not seen any violence. I miss going to school, seeing friends, playing sports. I like being able to ride a bicycle down the middle of road where there is usually a load of traffic. Please pray for the people who aren’t able to work because of the strike- for God to provide for them in the way only he can.”
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Anayah says:
“I miss school. It would feel weird to be in school while all this is happening. Doing all my homework on a computer is a little bit stressful. Going to the park a lot and riding a bicycle everywhere has been fun, but I am sad and worried for the Bolivian people.
Please pray for peace and an end to the violence.”
As ever, thank you for joining in on this journey with us. We feel loved and cared for over the miles by your support!
Every blessing and much love,
Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, Anayah & Daniela
Jack Black (Cocker spaniel), Pop & Sunshine (tortoises)

Is uncertainty the only certainty?

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Santa Cruz Town Hall gathering early Oct 2019

Dear Family &  Friends,

The title to this blog comes from the words I read in an article from America’s Quarterly, which I mention later in this post. They grabbed my attention as if true, we live hopeless, uncertain lives. I was convicted by what I read and here’s why: I believe in Jesus. He is my certainty. There is a saying “you can be sure of 2 things in life, death and taxes, even taxes after death!”  But, here’s the thing, there is death and we must pay taxes, but, there is the certainty of  life in Christ, now and eternal. I am certain he laid down his own for mine, so I could live it free of the shackles of my own selfishness, arrogance, wrongdoing and uncertainties in this life. I live for my life to be a witness to this certainty,  which brought us here to Bolivia-to share this certainty of our faith in love and grace with others, to be Christ’s light in the world, to be witnesses for the Lord’s Kingdom.

Sadly, right now, there is much uncertainty in Bolivia. A quick post seems appropriate as you may have heard news of the controversial Presidential election which took place on Sunday 20th October, the date which also marks our 3 years here in Bolivia! I posted a short update on Facebook. however I am certain many of our friends and family are not FB users. 

Firstly, we feel safe here in Santa Cruz. Today there is a nation – wide Paro ( which means stop) a full scale strike. No transport, public or private from mid day, our girls’ school was cancelled, so it’s a ‘home education’ day. Andrew and Anayah have gone to the market to stock up on food. Petrol stations have long lines as people are filling up with gas- all precautionary and normal here in these times. Yet, all seems peaceful from where we sit.

Funnily enough and on a much less serious note, yesterday we had our septic tank emptied. It seems the last time it was emptied was 4 years ago!! We realised on Friday it was full, much to our surprise as we only just moved in- I blame Andrew and his pension towards toilet humour! Good timing though, as having to wait even one day longer due to a city strike, would have been, well, VERY stinky. Apologies for digressing..it was certainly bound to happen!

So, how did Bolivia get to this point and why the controversy’?

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A favourite photo of mine from a past protest about  #21F.  “Presidents and diapers must be changed for the same reason, respect my vote”

Under Bolivia’s 2009 constitution( changed by the Morales’ government), presidents may only serve two terms. Morales argued his first term was exempt from this rule because it took place before the new constitution. Then on February 21, 2016, Morales’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party held a referendum to decide if he could run again;  he promised to respect the result, however. that did not happen. In late 2017, the country’s Supreme Election Tribunal- all Morales appointees- ruled that preventing him from running would violate his human rights, prompting protests called 21F- Bolivia Dijo NO and Bolivia Dice NO.  There is also a political party bearing that same name.

For more detailed insight in the lead up to the election, check out the link below to this article in America’s Quarterly. It really explained it for me https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/morales-or-mesa-either-way-bolivia-faces-tough-questions

Sunday-Election night and Monday:

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Evo Morales current President

Late Sunday evening, an abrupt stop in the release of presidential election returns fueled suspicion and confusion, leading to protests in the major cities of Bolivia which have spilled into Monday and today. Opponents suggested electoral officials were trying to help current President and candidate Evo Morales avoid a runoff with his closest rival, Carlos Mesa, which before the abrupt halt in reporting the results seemed inevitable to take place. This raised the eyebrows of the monitoring agency OAS as they demanded an answer, calling the drastic change from the earlier preliminary results ‘inexplicable.’

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Carlos Mesa

Currently, there are nation wide protests, some violent. amid accusations of corruption and fraud. Crowds burned the offices of the electoral body in the southern cities of Sucre and Potosi, and protesters set fire to ballots from Sunday’s election in Tarija. So far in Santa Cruz, the protests appear to be peaceful in nature. This city does not support Morales, but rather Carlos Mesa, a former Bolivian President who joined the opposition.

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On their knees praying for Bolivia after the election

We don’t condone the violent protests, however, we do condone the peaceful protests. – be assured we will stay clear of them though.  We recognise and respect the resolve and resilience the wonderful people of Bolivia embody. We hope that truth, justice and democracy prevail.

 

Join us as we commit to lift Bolivia, her people and her democracy in our prayers and our heartfelt thoughts today and furthermore.

As always, we are grateful for your love and continued support.

Every blessing,

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana & Anayah.

Not the Oxford blues

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Dear Friends, 

Greetings from Bolivia! We have recently returned ‘home’ from our 3 month mission partner training with CMS ( Church Mission Society). As you may know, we were in Oxford, UK with just enough time for the training and church visits to raise support-our current Bolivian VISAs allow us only 90 days out of Bolivia. We managed to make it just under the allowance, with a 4 day cushion.  Nearly a miracle as this included a canceled flight from Heathrow, resulting in missing our connecting flight in Miami, an unexpected overnight stay in Miami-courtesy of BA,  a new flight and layover via Panama; the joys of overseas travel! 

Here’s a little update on what we got up to in those 3 months: 

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Our favourite Oxford address

Community living: I realise the thought of this might raise a few eyebrows! We  lived with 3 other families, 13 people in all, connected to South America-namely Chile, Bolivia and Brazil. There were times when we had other visitors for dinner or staying in the house from all over the world taking the dinner count up to 20.  Thankfully, it was a big house, everyone had their own space, including bathrooms. We were a loud, fun group! Monday through Friday we shared dinner together, taking turns to cook which was all scheduled in advance. It took some serious menu planning and communicating, fortunately the ‘boss’ of the house is a professional project manager , so he kept us all super organised! We ate well and we ate much. Andrew and I were told we had ‘fattened up’ (gorditos) by our Bolivian friends as they met us at the airport in Santa Cruz. Culturally, it’s a compliment!

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Our community family in Oxford

 

Community life challenged me, it brought out the introvert in this extrovert. It opened my eyes to the importance of accepting people who live life differently than me.  In our time together, we broke bread- food was integral to life in the house- prayed, shared testimonies, worshipped, danced, laughed and celebrated; we had many shared birthdays!  Life was a little messy (literally) at times, however, great friendships were formed as we did ‘life’ together. IMG-20190614-WA0001 (1) I’d do it again! Liliana’s favourite thing about living in 244 was the ‘Llamas’ testimony night. Anayah’s favourite was the leaving BBQ- there were 18 children under 12; they all had a blast! The children in the house formed a group called the Llamas; their initials spelled the word llamas, sort of…one L short, but that only matters in Spanish! They lead prayers,  worship and gave testimonies- a real blessing to our home and time together. 

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Oh the burdens we carry! Andrew and I tried unsuccessfully for many months to organise school or an alternative for the girls  during our training, while we were still in Bolivia, a burden we carried with us to Oxford. Thanks to our amazing Lord -the one who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine- within a week of being in Oxford Anayah had a place in the local neighbourhood primary school and Liliana, a bit later, a space in a local secondary school, both within walking distance. Thanks to the prayers of many, both schools embraced our girls; they made friends and settled in with ease. For the record, ‘getting a place’ is never straightforward! Anayah’s teacher commented what a blessing she was to the class and it seemed as if she had always been a part of it. Her class made her a lovely goodbye IMG_20190503_150821277_HDRcard signed by all. Liliana’s class had a leaving party for her. Her head of year personally wrote to her, telling her she was a model student, an incredible human being and one who will make a difference to the world. The love and light of Jesus sure does shine from within our girls-hallelujah!!

Prayers of praise for the Lord’s provision!

Throughout our 3 month training, we were aware of the importance of maintaining a teachable and moldable posture for spiritual growth and character development as being integral to mission. We don’t claim to know it all. It’s a mindset we pray we carry with us wherever we go! We are thankful to CMS for pouring their hearts(and time!) into our training. Our final project and presentations were a fun (and a bit stressful) challenge which in the end came together as we had hoped. Andrew and I feel it’s such an honour to belong officially as Mission Partners with CMS, serving Christ together. Please pray, as we start this new season, that we would remain teachable and humble with open hearts to learn and receive wisdom from God, our local leaders and the people in the community we seek to serve.  

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The Old Church, Edgebaston, Birmingham

The Pearts Tour- most Sundays we could be spotted journeying about England visiting link churches in Hampshire, Surrey, Chester, Birmingham & Manchester, introducing ourselves and sharing our heart for overseas mission in Bolivia. Andrew went on a few midweek visits as we ran out of Sundays! It was exhausting, but so much more than that it was humbling and encouraging to see how the wider church is committed to engaging with and supporting mission in the UK and overseas. It’s an incredible privilege to build partnerships with these churches; we look forward with much excitement to see where God leads us on this journey together. 

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Mission Prayer wall, St Patrick’s, Wallington

We are grateful to CMS for orchestrating and maintaining these links on our behalf and for continuing to foster new relationships with churches while we are in Bolivia. This is key,  it allows us to continue doing what we do.

 

And here in Bolivia. We had an interesting start to getting into our new home here- unknowingly ( by both parties) we were given the wrong keys to this house back in April- so, Andrew had to climb a wall from a neighbour’s garden (with permission!) and remove a metal gate from the front door; like a thief in the night, or rather like a thief in broad daylight! Meanwhile, Rottweiler and German Shepherd guard dogs of the other next door neighbours were going berserk. Fortunately we got access without suspicion and we are busy settling in! We are happy to report, we have been reunited with our beloved dog, Jack Black. We’d love you to  pray with us that we would be intentional in forming friendships with our neighbours-it’s something that is really important to our family. Most properties here are surrounded by very high walls, limiting daily contact. In addition, as we start a new routine and get back into serving, we ask for prayer for the girls, they have not had much of a break from school- they went straight from Bolivian school to Oxford school with busy weekends; school here starts this week!

This week we also begin our VISA process for Permanent residency in Bolivia. Pray that it’s straightforward- a miracle for any country- and no surprises. Those who know me, know I have had a few! Why new VISAs? Our original VISAs were for 3 years, they expire in November. 

Thank you for your prayers, love and support! 

Bendiciones, 

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana & Anayah

We are mission partners with Church Mission Society, serving in Bolivia. To support our work and to read more about it, please sign up to receive our linkletters, updates and prayer requests via this link: churchmissionsociety.org/peart

We’d love to hear from you. A reminder of our personal e-mails and WhatsApp numbers

lisajweedman@hotmail.com +591 785 61303

andrew.peart05@gmail.com +591 784 08828

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Surazos, Fake News & Truth

I am publishing this from Oxford, England, we arrived here safely on Friday evening. I started writing this several weeks ago while still in Bolivia, but in my underestimation of the time and energy involved to move out of our house and simultaneously pack for a 3 month trip to the UK, it was nearly impossible to finish it prior to departure.  I would also like to add I had written the majority of this before Easter Sunday, therefore did not mention Sri Lanka- we are praying for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones as well as for the local authorities and organisations helping during this heartbreaking and difficult time.


As we head into Autumn here in Bolivia, it’s exciting, locals may disagree! This season is literally blowing in from the south, bringing wind and rain with it. Soon, the cold polar winds called SURAZOS will come blasting up from the South, causing drastic temperature changes, blankets(as opposed to just sheets)  jumpers, and jackets to resurface. Early April brought a fierce rain and wind storm, yet according to a Bolivian friend, it was ONLY a sur y chilchi( normal wind & rain), yet it had the power to nearly paralyze a city of 3.2 million ( Uni classes were canceled, minimal public transport, etc), flood roads and knock down over 50 very large, old trees in a matter of hours.

As this seasonal weather change takes place in Bolivia,  as many of you will know, we head into a new season in our family, our own personal season changing SURAZO: causing us to take the girls out of school here 6 weeks early, move out of our current home ( save on rent), travel Northeast to Oxford, England for a 3-month residential Mission Partner training, visit link churches, raise funds and make time to catch up with family& friends on Saturdays and half term week.  When we return to Bolivia, in winter, slightly shattered and battered, yet more equipped and knowledgeable from the 3-month blast, we may need to hibernate a bit ( and move into a new home), so do ‘bear’ with us.  Our training starts on the 29th April and finishes on the 17th July.

A few weeks ago our mission, Church Mission Society very kindly put out a prayer request on Facebook and their weekly Prayerlines publication on our behalf. The last part of the prayer post said this:

“Pray for Andrew, Lisa and their THREE daughters as they transition back to the UK for this training and prepare for long-term mission.”

Maybe some people read that and thought, perhaps this is why the Peart’s are needing to raise more financial support, they have another mouth to feed? Or perhaps they were so busy they forgot to…?

This, what I jokingly called ‘fake news’ to Andrew sparked some interesting e-mails and comments from friends wondering if we had forgotten to share our news. In fact, this is how we found out about the ‘fake news’ ourselves.  Joking aside, it was a genuine error that we were not upset about it, in fact, I sent a note to CMS just to say they might want to know that we only have 2 girls, how we found it funny, and that we were thankful that my mother in law is not on FB!

This led me to think about how Fake news has become a thing. So I looked on the all truth telling (not) internet, according to which President Trump cried ‘fake news’ of the press’ post-election coverage of his Presidency,  regarding the coverage of the leaked reports on Russian hacking, today he still continues to cry ‘fake news’ when it suits him. The BBC reported it was actually Hilary Clinton who first used the term, claiming it hurt her Presidential campaign. Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law which will allow the punishment of individuals and online media for spreading what Russia calls “fake news” and information which “disrespects” the state.

According to The Economist, we live in a post-truth society—a claim they made at the close of 2016 when the Oxford English Dictionary chose “post-truth” as its Word of the Year. As written in the Oxford English Dictionary

post-truth/ˌpōs(t)ˈtro͞oTH/

adjective
  1. relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

And written using poetic license-

bib·li·cal truth /ˈbiblik(ə)l/tro͞oTH/ 

adjective

  1. No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks (or writes*) falsely will stand in my presence. Psalm 101:7    *added for emphasis

We have warned our girls about the dangers of Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia. Instagram, etc as well as the benefits these media platforms offer if used properly.  Recently Liliana and 2 classmates made a video for a Bible class project about a little known old testament person. They were told to be creative with the story. When I saw the video, which she had posted on youtube,  I was impressed by the creativity, yet slightly aghast- it was quite graphic in it’s animated violence and although I am aware that the Old Testament is not void of violence, I did not feel quite comfortable with it. After a ‘circular’ debate, in the end, Liliana did come around to an awareness of her responsibility to the truth and she wrote a brief, yet clear explanation, together with the bible verse so others could check it out for themselves. It’s easy to unintentionally mislead and for others to misinterpret, especially on the internet.  Not trying to paint myself here as the perfect- all-knowing parent, I have Facebook for that, insert tongue in cheek.

In the lead up to Easter, the period of Lent,  I spent a fair amount of time reflecting about the truth; the distortion and fear of it, and the need for it, to name but a few of my thoughts.  I guess anyone who wants to get a point across or enjoys storytelling could be guilty of embellishing, exaggeration or exercising poetic license for emphasis of personal opinion within the truth. There is much more to be said about this, but at the risk of being verbose, I will reserve that perhaps for another time, or I may just keep it to myself. Here’s something that caught my attention: This very short and recognisable conversation between Jesus and Pontious Pilate in the Gospel of John 18: 37-38


37You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.


Good question Pilate! Sadly, a direct answer from Jesus to Pilate is not recorded in the Bible. However, later on, in John 14:6 Jesus does answer Pilate’s question, though this time in a conversation with his disciples: Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus responds, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”   Truth is embodied in Jesus Himself!

 

As a believer in Christ, I should be committed to the truth, to desire to understand it more deeply, to hold to the truth of God’s Word even when culture goes against it. This is so much easier said than done, why is that? We have Jesus as THE example of radical counter-culture living, he manages to be in the world, but not of it, breaking the cultural norms/world views of his day, without sinning. Then He pays the punishment (death) we deserve for our sin, out of love and obedience for His Father, God,  leading us to genuine repentance and faith in Him, bringing us back into relationship with our Father God, for eternity! His death was our gain, his life for ours. At Easter, millions of people around the world every year reflect and celebrate the Risen Christ. For me, it’s the most important part of the Christian story.  In our  Bolivian church here we proclaim/ shout “Ha resucitado, aleluya!”  Not just once, but at least half a dozen times throughout the service.

So, how do we respond to the truth of Easter with our lives? Well, one example could be: We sit around in a North London pub, drinking tea, discussing and praying about 1. The current slave trade culture 2. Social conditions 3. The need to share the Gospel throughout the world. Then we take loving action, in faithful obedience! 

That was how our mission, Church Mission Society(CMS) which we are grateful to serve with here in Bolivia started, 220 years ago last month, and continues to serve with that vision today, worldwide. This time 220 years ago a teapot was engraved and given as a commemorative keepsake, remaining in the CMS archives, surfacing on special occasions like this one. All Mission Partners received an e-mail on CMS’s birthday thanking us for our service. Included in the e-mail was with the photo below, with an explanation of its (the teapots) significance. 

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We are especially grateful that although we are not official mission partners until the successful completion of our upcoming training, CMS has faith that we will complete it!

We would love your prayers to cover the following:

  • Strength for this period of transition and all the prep involved.
  • Energy,  wisdom and relationships/connections during our training and church visits.
  • Our health- Liliana recently fractured her elbow and wrist, Andrew has been diagnosed with bone spurs in each heel.
  • Provision for the girls care/education while we are in training-still not sorted.
  • Microfinance program, in our absence things would run smoothly
  • Prayers of thanks for the privilege it is to serve the church and community in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

We thank you for your continued support, for joining us on this incredible journey. We hope you all had a  Happy Easter and look forward to seeing many of you pronto-soon!

Much love,

Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, and Anayah xx

A little slide show from the last 4 months of random photos to catch you up!

 

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