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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