‘Saludos’ in the New Year!
Like many, I start the year off rather ambitiously. This post began on the 2nd of Jan and here I am, post mid-month attempting to wrap it up. I will blame it on the fact that I have some interesting things to communicate, I hope!
So we find ourselves in a New year, our 2nd New Year in Bolivia which hardly seems possible. Really, it’s a milestone for us as it means we have completed our first full year living south of the equator in Bolivia. This motivates me to reflect… What was special about 2017? Well, it has certainly been a year filled with wonder, awe, and growth. Not wonder and awe of what we have done, or what my ‘amazing’ missionary friend has done, but what God has done, what he is doing and what he will do as we (his pueblo) surrender our will to His, trust in His provision and promise, obeying and responding to His love and grace. Not just believing in his son Jesus, but BELIEVING Jesus and living in and out of that belief. A belief which resolves one to intentionally love others, live differently, with confidence in one’s purpose and joy in the midst of all things. For us, it’s a belief, a faith which empowers us to go out boldly to share the hope and grace we have received, we have grown here and hope we continue. Our prayer for 2018 is that Jesus, not that clever blog writing missionary, or that ‘power couple’ we might tend to compare ourselves to, is the focus of our hearts and minds. It’s a challenge, it’s a real struggle for me here and now and I am grateful that I am not alone in this journey, Andrew, the girls and I are in this together and the Lord is always with us.
Jesus promises His Holy Spirit:
If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14 15-17
Thanks to our St Johns Hartley Wintney friends for the warm welcome given to Bely and Claire in December- we loved the video, especially hearing the congregation mis pronounce Satélite; we hope you have all been practicing your Spanish since! St. Patrick’s in Carshalton was another familial stop for them- again huge thanks for the special welcome there and delicious meal from my favourite mother in law, Mavis. Thank you for the goodies and cards you sent with them, they have been well received!
Christmas: We celebrated Christmas with families and kids in Satélite Norte as well as with our main Church in Santa Cruz. The girls performed a beautiful ribbon dance for the Christmas Eve service, Anayah was a shepherd in her school nativity. We welcomed -our niece Charlotte for Christmas, we are so thrilled she was able to take the time to pop down south-the girls were over the moon! We also had Daniela, a teen from Talita Cumi Children’s home for a Christmas sleepover; the girls loved preparing their room to make it special for her! Andrew, bless him was more outnumbered than usual! We had a traditional English Christmas meal complete with roast turkey and all the trimmings (apart from a Christmas pudding, which we now have) shared with a few more guests from the UK and Bolivia, all in all, it was a special day, one which we feel blessed to share! We also managed a joint video chat with Andrew’s family in the UK and nephew James in Verbier, Switzerland- the beauty of technology.
So what’s new in 2018?
The Flood: Sadly on the 1st day of 2018, overnight we had a horrible rainstorm which continued through the following day, which affected and shut down many areas of the city. The girls’ school and surrounding area were flooded with 2-3 feet of water in some places. For those on social media, this info is repetitive, sorry! Once the water receded, a few days later, a huge clean-up ensued consisting of 75 parents and staff-a great turn out! Sadly, many material things have perished in the flood, which of course, are replaceable at a cost. The school has insurance, however, the infrastructure here is different to what we know back ‘home’. Liliana’s locker was on the ground level, so she lost nearly everything in it, all of school textbooks, but the one thing that she was most upset about losing was her Bible which we gave her as an Easter present a few years ago. The library at the school, a favourite place of ours, lost over 5,000 books. We did not bring any books with us and it’s not possible to borrow books from libraries here, so this is a big loss, not just for us, but for the whole of the school. Just before they broke up for Christmas, the girls borrowed 20 books from this library! SAM- South America Mission has put a relief appeal together. If you are interested in knowing more about the school and donating to the flood relief fund, please click on this link; http://southamericamission.org/blog/scclc-jan-18-flood-relief/ Lil & Anayah just started back last week after a longer than expected break. The library sadly remains closed.
Vacation Bible school, Escuela Biblica de Vacaciones: Last week we welcomed a team from the Anglican Diocese in Valparaiso, Chile. A few went off to a Provincial Youth Conference while some stayed behind to help us with a Vacation Bible School(VBS) – The armour of God, ‘Armadura de Dios’ for the week in Satélite Norte. School being delayed meant our girls could spend an entire week with the kids in our mission. What a blessed time! We sang, we marched, we crafted, we played, we cared and shared, we taught, we laughed, we loved and kids even threw water balloons at the ‘armed’ leaders in a ‘spiritual battle’. Interestingly, we had to postpone the last day of the VBS to accommodate a Paro Cívico, which was a departmental protest against a new penal code to article 88, which includes changes to laws regarding negligence of all kinds, legalising abortion, terrorism, swiftly and rather disturbingly followed by stripping away religious freedom, which includes criminalising sharing the gospel, inviting people to church and more. For more in-depth info, here is the link to last weeks article about it in Christianity today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/january/bolivia-makes-evangelism-crime.html
However yesterday as an answer to prayers and protests from many parts of the world, the President has revoked the ban on religious freedom, however, for those that want to understand what is happening here in the political arena, do read the article above first and then this article from yesterday in Christianity today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/january/bolivia-evo-morales-revokes-evangelism-ban-criminal-code.html
Also, for a US Civics lesson and comparison of US & Bolivian Government to illustrate perspective, do take the time to read this well-written piece from my clever blog writing, dear missionary friend ( that one I don’t ever compare myself to…) who is from the US, living here in Santa Cruz. https://bremersinbolivia.blogspot.com/2018/01/why-bolivians-are-freaking-out.html.
Mission and Discipleship training: This past week, the ‘Chilean’ group taught a Panoramic View of the Bible and a course on discipleship and building missional communities-they shared their brilliant model which is both ambitious and successful. The course has been amazing, it’s something we could’ve spent weeks on, but we had them here only 1 week. Between the execution in rapid Spanish, seriousness and depth of topic, Andrew and I look and feel a bit like deer in headlights! It’s stretching and challenging our horizons though and we need it! I think this week alone I have learned about 50 new Spanish words and I am sure a few in English too! Fortunately, the Pastor from Chile, Daniel Kirk, also with CMS, is English AND he was staying with us so we could clarify any lost-in- translations, once we get home. It’s such a blessing to meet new people, make new friends and learn. We can’t wait to visit them in Valparaiso as well as feast our eyes on the view of the sea that Bolivia once had before the War of the Pacific! No hard feelings, really, none at all.
We’d love it if you’d join us in prayer for the following:
- Bolivia’s government, that Christ’s light would penetrate and breakthrough the darkness of corruption. Prayers of thanks for the revoking of the penal code as above.
- Provision for the replacement of books and other lost and damaged items from the girls’ school (SCCLC) as well as funds for rebuilding for prevention of future floods
- The community of Satélite Norte, that they would continue to grow in their faith and commitment in Christ.
- For our church, Cristo Luz del Mundo, that we would together begin a new, deeper journey of making disciples and building missional communities.
- Financial provision and wisdom in this area for us as we enter a new year/new budget.
With grateful hearts and love,
Andrew, Lisa, Liliana and Anayah