Our recent summer tour of England ended with a last ‘hurrah’ at our sending and home church, St Johns in Hartley Wintney- A Taste of Bolivia’ evening. Confession: I was dreading this. Granted, it was the end of our UK journey, we were tired of talking about ourselves and ready to get back to normality. I had also promised food, BOLIVIAN FOOD. I could not find yucca, nor the cheese I needed, and I had never made a salteña in my life! I honestly thought people had heard enough of us and I just imagined everyone rolling their eyes at another Peart Bolivia missionary mention- will these people ever go back to Bolivia??? But, we had promoted it, planned it and so we did it. Salteñas, cuñapes(my own version) and all. WOW! We planned for 20-30 people and over 60 showed up. I was the guilty
nay·say·er | \ ˈnā-ˌsā-ər \: one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something
grumbling and casting gloom on what turned out to be a wonderful event! Thank you to those who came, who helped, who listened and who prayed for us for what God is doing in beautiful Bolivia. It was a joyous evening!
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.: 1 Peter 4; 8-10 NIV
However despite this last-minute- I’m-tired- fuelled moment of dread, there was a theme to the evening which defines our time in the UK, encouraging us while we were there, carrying us into and sustaining us through this new season in Bolivia, bringing our last 2 years here and our years to come in Bolivia into fresh perspective. And besides, no one knew what Bolivian food was anyway, so what was the big deal? I self-inflated the importance of what I was doing. After all, we were there to talk about the Lord’s work in and through us, not the other way around- generosity and hospitality from His perspective…
Backtracking, imagine living out of suitcases, travelling and staying in a different home every few weeks, homes of people you have never met, talking non-stop to people about yourself, your family, your life, your work, the country you now live in. Feeling slightly overwhelmed by the order, the stuff, the privilege (Build a Bear story), the cost of things! Trying your best to see all the family, friends and give equal time to everyone (an impossible task!). Visiting churches, giving presentations, attending meetings, hearing your kids ask every morning at breakfast, “are we seeing anyone today?” when they just want to stay in, or hang out and read! What a whirlwind! Don’t get me wrong, I am painting an honest picture, not complaining, we loved every minute of it ( well nearly!) and we did have some amazing times of rest and relaxation whilst living out of suitcases!. This should not have been such a surprise, we were told to expect this from others going ‘home’ to report on their first stint of mission. Experience certainly speaks for itself and we needed to experience this personally, Sharing God’s ministry through our lives with others is part and parcel to serving in overseas mission, right?
In the spirit of encouragement, not to boast to our readers, we are certain beyond a doubt that without the generosity/hospitality of many, we would not have been able to make the journey ‘home.’ It started before we departed, with these 4 important blessings as we prepared to leave Bolivia for nearly 3 months:
Our vet offered to care for our dog in her home at no charge. A young man from our church offered to house sit. Our neighbour offered to pay all our bills while we were gone and look after our garden. Our Bolivian church family sent us back to England with loving prayer. They also wrote a letter to our mission inviting us back!
Once in England, we were loaned a Land Rover Defender, handy for towing a loaned caravan, a luxury car with a fancy engine( Andrew knows) perfect for the long journey north with Grandma to see family. We stayed in: A caravan, 3 homes of families we had never met before, homes of 4 different sets of friends, CMS mission house( twice!) a holiday home in Wales, and Grandmas house(twice). We had multiple family and friend gatherings, airport rides, we were hosted or taken out for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cakes, coffees, drinks, girls’ former school events, multiple birthday parties, sleepovers, church camp out and clothing for the girls! We were prayed over, given words and visions of encouragement, actually running out of time to take up all that was offered us, meaning, sadly we missed out on seeing people we hoped to see. Honestly, we are truly humbled by such generous and loving hearts, to only say thank you does not seem enough, yet Paul’s words to the Corinthians about generosity say it perfectly.
8-11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
2 Cor 8-11 The Message version
Generosity is more than just giving something. It’s also about listening- we did a lot of talking about our ministry, and you listened. It’s about support, being available and present-thank you to those who came to our talks-I am sure you had other things you could have been doing! In this ‘time-bound’ and continuously connected world we live in, it’s not always our first priority. We sometimes give what we can as a last-ditch effort. What if we put at the top of our to-do list (I know some who do this), 1 person or 1 family we would be generously hospitable and physically present with this week as a start? Not just talk about it, but actually, write their name on the list! This summer trip reinforced the link between generous (undistracted) hospitality and relationship, which is at the heart of the gospel. It takes me back to my very own life-changing ‘revelation’ some 18 years ago that I could have a relationship with Jesus...who, thankfully has no Smartphone, is beyond time, is at the heart of and guides me in my relationships with others.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting ( in person*) together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
* my added text for emphasis
So, in our preparation for long-term mission as newly selected mission partners with Church Mission Society working together with the Anglican Diocese of Bolivia, I had a quick read of what we wrote over 2 years ago as we prepared for our short-term (2-year mission) in Bolivia, this really struck me:
“We believe that we are called to help strengthen communities, see people flourish and further his kingdom through our gifts of hospitality and relational leadership. We see our role as being a catalyst for change to strengthen, empower and reconnect communities.
Although we have experienced times of doubt, times of hardship, coupled with complete and utter frustration and exhaustion, this little blurb that at the time we felt was at the heart of our calling remains at the heart of our calling. It represents our ministry here, not just because we wrote it, but because this is what the Lord has purposed us to. It truly was not something that just sounded good at the time to include in our CMS ‘glossy’ profile, to motivate people to support or like us! What an affirmation, leading perfectly on to…
Andrew’s Microenterprise ministry here in Santa Cruz Bolivia is firstly about forming relationships; listening to what is in the hearts and minds of the people, getting to know their dreams, and together developing a business plan. It’s about intentional discipleship, leadership and mentorship, a partnership with the ultimate goal being a self-sustainable flourishing business. It’s not just giving money. It’s giving his time, sharing ideas, not enforcing our western ideas, it’s about respect. Strengthening, connecting communities, people flourishing, empowerment, using our gifts and furthering God’s Kingdom. Andrew meets weekly with 4 business partners within the Microenterprise project to help them develop their businesses. 1-Car mechanic, 2. Seamstress, 3. Bakery business 4: A Family restaurant / public toilet rental business(yes, toilet rental, big business!) This takes up the majority of Andrew’s week for a few reasons- the businesses are in their infancy as well as in completely different parts of this continuously expanding city! This will change as the businesses and ministry grow with more people helping-myself included! It’s such a privilege AND an excitement to witness these people flourish in both their personal, spiritual and business lives.
A huge thanks for the blessings of your generosity and hospitality, (referring back to Pauls words to the Corinthians): We feel ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. You guys are great, we love you!
Andrew, Lisa, Liliana, Anayah, Jack Black (dog), Pop & Sunshine( Anayah’s tortoises)
As some of you may know, we are in the process of transitioning from short-term self-funded mission service to long-term mission service as CMS Mission Partners. As we step faithfully into this new phase, we would be grateful for your prayerful and financial support as you share in our ministry here in Bolivia. For the past 2 years, we have self-funded a significant portion of our mission work, together with the generous giving of churches, family and friends. As our ministry grows, so do our financial needs and to help sustain our ministry and our time here, we do need your help, thank you!
To give financially to our ministry please click on the link below to our CMS page which features a ‘support Andrew and Lisa Peart’ tab. Note, our CMS profiles are in the process of being updated.