Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reflections from Diane, a thankful goer

As I think of Bolivia I see the smiling faces of the children and adults of Florida Norte. What a blessing to partner in ministry with this loving congregation.

When it was decided that one of the mission trips this year would be to Bolivia I was excited and wanted to go. As the time drew nearer to commit to going, I was feeling ambivilent due to my medical issues. But Praise God, He always knows what's possible for me and I trust in Him. He blessed me to be able to go.

Traveling always has it's challenges, but I have to say that overall it wasn't bad at all. Matthew is a great leader and with Kristin we made a good team. I'd do it again in a heart beat. Unfortunately for Matthew he suddenly inherited two more mothers. Sorry Matthew but, as mothers, we can't help ourselves. Mrs. Beish, we were always looking out for your son. At the airport in Santa Cruz they paged him twice. Have you ever heard "Matthew Beish" with a Spanish accent? When we finally realized that they were calling him he went to see what was up. He told Kristin and me to wait at the cafe where we were. After waiting about 15 minutes we began to get concerned. Kristin went to look for him but didn't find him. We decided to wait about ten minutes before going to find him. As we were about to go he appeared back. We gave a big sigh of relief. Evidently, there was a "new" sniffing dog that thought he smelled something. When Mattew described to us what happened we were glad we didn't know what was happening at the time. We would have been in a state of panick. "All's well that ends well".

The accomodations at the SIM guest house were good as usual. It was like returning home. The host is a very sweet, older lady who is from Canada. Her name is Lorna. (Never did ask her last name.) I remembered Magda from my previous trip. Yeni, (It's pronounced "Jenny".) the leader of the children's education program at Florida Norte also works there. Everyone was very warm and welcoming.We had to leave there on the 22nd because they had a group of 24 people coming for a family reunion. We went to New Tribes which was more of a motel format, a little less interpersonal but equally as comfortable. The plumbing system throughout Cochabamba has it's limitation as to what it can handle so you can't throw ANY paper in the toilet. This is truly a challenge. (Enough said!)

Going to la "cancha" (huge market place) is an experience in and of itself. You talk about PEOPLE!!! They say that Wednesdays and Saturdays are the worst days to go due to the large number of people that go those days. The walkways for the most part are unpaved. What is paved is rough.You have to really watch your step as you swiftly move about. If you don't move you might get swept away with the crowd. It's really exciting. The shops, which are more like booths, are very small and cramped. I've never seen so much merchandise crammed into a single space. However, the goods are neatly displayed and the vendors are very happy to help you look at and examine the materials. Everything is so colorful! Severl vendors are selling the excat same things. The prices might vary some but they expect you to bargain with them over the price.

Thank the Lord for Abel and his guidance and assistance in many ways.He knows the best places to shop and the places to avoid. He knows where it's O.K. for us Americans to eat and where not to eat. He knows the best times to eat. You never eat from street or market vendors. (Even though the food smells and looks inviting.) We ate breakfast where we slept but other meals we ate outside as other meals were not provided. The Lord was with us and we remained healthy while there. Except for poor Matthew who had a cold. I think it might have been the short pants he was wearing??? ("Crazy Americans wearing summer clothes in the winter." Low to high 70s during the day.)

I think that the numerous photos that Matthew posted daily truly speak a thousand words! To see children having such fun with simple toys and crafts that our children take for granted everyday. This is certainly an experience that puts into perspective for us how blessed we truly are! The young adults have cells phones and some homes have TV but it's not like here where there's a TV or two to three in every home and the latest video game systems like Wii, Nintendo 64, Xbox, DDS, etc. It is a sincerely a humbling experience to have the opportunity to be and work with the Bolivian people and to encourage them in their faith in Jesus Christ.

It takes me time to get warmed up to write but once I get going, as you see, I can go on and on. I have to save some to share in person though. See you on Sunday! Thank you all for your prayers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some of the children and teens at the Saturday outreach event

Presenting Bible commentary and devotion book to Pastor Edgar--thank you senders for your financial gifts that allowed these gifts to be given

Precious child of God at Saturday outreach event

a young man studing God's Word in Sunday school

A Bolivian sister in Christ praying during the Sunday morning worship service

Mateo and Ismael

Kristin explaining ministry leadership structure ideas to church leaders

The Florida Norte church leaders with their building plans

Praying with the church leaders on Sunday afternoon

Snow-capped Andes mountains surrounding Cochabamba

Abel presenting the cash donation to Pastor Edgar for the church building fund

Our team with the Florida Norte church leaders during our Sunday afternoon training and prayer session

Diane and Abel

Precious Child of God learning about Jesus' love at Saturday outreach

Kristin sharing the joy of Jesus with kids at the Saturday outreach

Getting Ice Cream at 'Dumbo's' restaurant in Cochabamba with the VBS teachers

Home safe--enjoy some new pics and a few more blog entries to come

Hola! We arrived safely home on Monday afternoon about 5 p.m. Thank you again for all of your prayers.

We will do a missions moment this Sunday, August 1 at the OSLC worship services and will do an hour long presentation on Sunday, August 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Luther Loft.

Stay tuned for a few more blog entries. Please know how grateful we are for your prayers. Continue to pray for the church family at Florida Norte, asking God to empower them by His Spirit to love and serve one another and those in their surrounding community. Thank Him for their love for Jesus and for our church family! They sincerely send their love to all of you and will be praying for our church. Dios es bueno, todo el tiempo!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday evening and we're headed to the airport

Hola amigos!

It's Sunday evening abour 6:30 p.m. and we're getting ready to go to the Cochabamba airport. We had a wonderful morning of worship today with our brothers and sisters at the Florida Norte church. We presented them with many ministry resources and a financial donation toward their church building project. We had a working lunch with about 10 of their church leaders. Topics of discussion were the qualities of a God-honoring leader, how to develop leaders, ministry structures and more. This was a wonderful afternoon and it was filled with prayer. We also shared with them about a local pastor who is trained in reconciliation and is willing to help them if they desire. It's been such a blessing to have Abel with us as he was the pastor of Florida Norte over 10 years ago. He is one of their churches adopted sons.

It's always difficult to say goodbye. Many tears flowed from our cheeks as we were given gracious gifts by them. They send their love and prayers and hellos back to all of our church family and senders. Kristin, Diane and I have said to one another often during our devotions, prayer and planning sessions here that this was God's timing to have a team come from OSLC.

We fly to Santa Cruz, then to Miami and then to Boston--hopefully arriving into Logan about 1 p.m. or so. We will post more photos soon--hopefully from the airport! And I hope to get Kristin and Diane to blog atleast once more.

We love you! Dios te bendiga!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Jungle Journey did not happen--flexibility is a key word on all mission trips

Hola amigos!

It's 11:45 p.m. and we are in Cochabamba, not the jungle. We were supposed to leave at 2 p.m. for a 6 hour drive to the jungle, but the van that was taking us along with 7 of the Florida Norte church teachers had mechanical troubles. It arrived to pick us up at 7 p.m., but the driver said he was not sure about it's reliability.

So....we took these fantastic young teachers out for dinner and ice cream! What a blessing the evening turned out to be! We asked them to try to speak English as much as possible and committed ourselves to speaking Spanish as much as possible. God knit our hearts together with theirs, and we were able to encourage them in their university studies and their ministries at church. Many of them are considering missions work--God is good, all the time!

Abel has been such a Godly leader of our team. His patience, encouragement, translation help and love for Jesus are fantastic.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will do some local outreaches here in the Cochabamba area with the Florida norte teachers and youth. Please pray for these.

By the way, we've had lots of the USA in Cochabamba tonight. Right now, as I am typing this blog message from the guest house, 'In the Mood' (the big band song) is playing at a local disco! And the song before that was 'Shake, rattle and roll!' We ate ice cream tonight at an ice cream parlo called 'Dumbo's' (which is complete with an elephant logo in it's sign!) And you'll have to ask Diane about her 'spacebook' account that she has...and that's not a typo!

Glad to know that the God of the ages is directing our steps and keeping us safe,

Friday morning prayer request

Hello family and friends!

Please pray for our team today as we leave around 2 p.m. for a 6 hour drive into the jungle. We will spend the night there in a small village and host a children's outreach on Saturday morning with 7 of the Florida Norte Church teachers from Cochabamba. The church we will work with is called the San Gabriel church. Please pray for good health and safe driving.

We will leave the jungle tomorrow around 2 p.m. and hopefully send you a blog update on Saturday evening. We are in good health and ask for continued prayers for good health as we travel. Your prayers lay the foundation for all of our ministry, so thank you for praying!

By the way, Kristin had a dream that there were dinosaurs in the jungle and she was trying to save the children from the dinosaurs. Please also pray for our mental wellness! We love you!

Kristin, Diane, Mateo and Abel

Mateo and Abel teaching the Thursday night Bible study on Peacemaking and Reconciliation

Diane, Kristin and Mayra--Mayra has helped many of our teams over the years. Now she is 21 year old and married to a young man named Moises!

Mateo and Juan

A mom and her children worshipping Jesus!

The children acting out Daniel in the Lions Den

3 Hermanas en Cristo (3 sisters in Christ at Florida Norte Church)--our lives are very different but we love the same God!

Diane playing with the children

THE FIERCE LIONS IN THE LIONS DEN--can you find the Nittany Lion?


Hello family and friends!

It's Friday morning here and we are rejoicing in God's mercies that are new today as they are everyday! VBS was fantastic on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoons--Wednesday's theme was Daniel and the Lions Den and Thursday was when Jesus fed the 5,000. The children are wonderful actors in the dramas for the Bible lessons! There were over 100 children yesterday at VBS and the teachers really did a wonderful job in creatively presenting the Bible lessons. We assisted with songs, the Bible drama and crafts. I get misty eyed--you know me--when I think of how good God is in seeing the progression of the ministries at Florida Norte church. When we first sent teams here, we planned and taught everything during Vacation Bible School. Now they are teaching almost everything!! We've had some great evaluation sessions around 6 p.m. each day to review how things went. I've been able to give some teaching tips and various ways to present information and those have been well received, by God's grace.

We met a boy named Juan in the park on Wednesday before VBS. He's maybe 13 years old and did not want to come to VBS. After some persuasive coaching, he decided to give it a try and he loved it! He and his younger brother came on Thursday and the teachers were able to connect with him. The love of Christ drew this young man to the church so he could hear about our awesome God! Over 1/2 of the children who attended VBS were from the Florida Norte barrio (neighborhood)and the church is planning programs to follow up with these children and families so that they can continue to come and worship.

Last night (Thursday night) Abel and I taught a Bible study on 'Peacemaking and how to reconcile conflicts according to the Bible.' The Holy Spirit was moving among the congregation as we dug into God's Word. Abel and I both sensed an empowering from our great God as we taught together, and both of us were again misty eyed at the end of our presentation because of our love for the people of this church and desire for them to be unified. The congregation desires this too, and we will have an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the church on Sunday afternoon for some leadership training, prayers and planning. We will present a monetary gift toward their church building plans on Sunday morning.

Kristin and Diane are a magnet for the children and the women at Florida Norte! They both are doing a beautiful job encouraging and teaching. I am so glad that they are here. We have had many helpful evaluation discussions as we are seeking God's guidance for our future ministry involvement in Bolivia.

God has demonstrated His goodness and faithfulness over and over again to us during our days here. We've been studying the book of Mark in our devotions and continue to be amazed at the teaching and ministry of Jesus. What a blessing to be able to serve Him here in Cochabamba!

Love and prayers to all of you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Thoughts

Greetings to everyone back home,
How wonderful it is to wake up in the winter to a warm sun and bright clear ski and to be able to see the mountains surrounding you. Although I was last here over seven years ago, it's all coming back to me. The warmth,friendliness and graciousness of the Bolivian people. It's amazing to see the changes that have taken place in the landscape here. They have built many building for housing. An area near the Florida Norte church that was previously an empty, brush, trash and glass strewn field is now is a beautiful playground for the children. That's something that we've noticed as we have driven around Cochabamba, that there are lots and lots of large playgrounds. It is clear that they care about their children.

The VBS program yesterday was wonderful!There was so much creativity that went into this presentation of the Lord's word. Two of the male teachers did a mime skit with a cardboard box. The box was too heavy to lift. When they looked inside they took out a banner with that said,"Jesus Te Ama"(Jesus Loves You).

As at OSLC, scripture and prayer are very important to the Bolivian people. They begin working with the children from about age three,teaching them to memorize verses. The children are eager to learn. During their Sunday School hour each class works on the memory verse for the day. Then each class proudly presents their verse from memory in front of the congregation right after the sermon.They did the same thing during VBS.

The kids just adore "Mateo". They insisted that he be Goliat (Goliath). And what a wonderful Goliat he was! Falling down and all.

As we are preparing now for the second day of VBS they expect him to be one of the liones (lions). Well Mateo is asking me to stop as we have to begin our devotion. Talk to you soon.

With Love and prayers to all, Diane.

Impressions so far

Tues – After 7 years you forget all the little details of how wonderful the Bolivian people are. Always with big smiles, we are greeted every day with not just a firm handshake but kisses on both cheeks and pats on the shoulder or hugs. The children are so anxious to talk with you and just go on and on in Spanish. We went out into the surrounding area to invite more children to attend the VBS and ended up with 67 kids today with numerous mothers. We expect more tomorrow when word gets out. This seems to be an effective outreach technique which allows people not familiar with the church to come and see what it's all about. Kind of like we do at home - guess it works everywhere.
It's amazing how well behaved the children are, and eager to learn their bible verses and hear the stories. The adults and young teachers seem so appreciative of our support, encouragement and new ideas for presenting the Gospel. There are some issues within the church that we are also working on, so it is good we are here now. God's timing is good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Late Monday evening--thanks for your prayers

Hola familia de OSLC Y amigos y amigas!

It's late Monday evening, July 19. Thank you for your prayers for our meeting with the church leaders tonight. There were five leaders that attended the meeting with us. We learned about various topics that the church wants assistance with including leadership training and development, Christian education training and Peacemaking training. The Peacemaking (reconciling differences in a Biblical way) is a high priority for them now, so please pray for God's Holy Spirit to move among the Florida Norte congregation to bring reconciliation where needed. We were very encouraged with the leaders openness and honesty, and we believe it is because they know that our church family loves them and wants to spur them on in following Jesus. We were also thankful to hear that their burden for the lost is still the same and that they long for many people in the church neighborhood and around the world to learn about Jesus' love.

Please ask God to grant us wisdom and grace so that we may support them in their ministry development, leadership structure and training, and peacemaking/reconciliation ministry. Thank you for all of your prayers, love and support.

love and prayers,

VBS poster designed by Florida Norte church that was hung throughout the neighborhood

VBS teacher practicing using a puppet in prep for VBS

A Monday evening post from Diane

Hi everyone,

We had a restful day today. We had time this morning to do our own personal journaling and prayers. We then worked on our presentation for tonight's meeting with the church leaders. We also had our devotion this afternoon on the book of Mark.

I am really blessed and thankful to be back in Bolivia. I've seen many familiar faces that I remember and surprisingly they remember me. It is a joy to serve the Lord in such a meaningful way.

It's 7:00 p.m. and we are about to start our meeting. This meeting is very important because it will help us determine future ministry plans between our two congregations. We will let you know how the meeting went in a future blog.

God Bless you. We thank you all for your prayers.

With love in the name of Jesus Christ,

A Blog from Kristin Sunday, July 18

Sunday 18 Julio 10 (This post explains what happened on Sunday, July 18)

After our Sunday morning worship with Florida Norte, we had a prep meeting for the Vacation Bible School teachers at the SIM Guest House. The drive from Florida Norte is only about 12-15 minutes, so 14 of us traveled together in a 7 passenger mini-van. No problema. Bolivians are typically very short but with big hearts. The teachers are mostly young: late teens and early 20's, both male and female. Jennie and her husband Richard are the directors.

We had lunch and then a planning discussion for the upcoming 3 days of VBS, all of which was translated into Spanish. Thank God for Abel and Diane.

Everyone is eager to learn new ideas for the presentation of the Bible lessons. Matthew incorporated the puppets into the reading of the lessons and had everyone laughing. Then, with Abel translating, I did my 'Vanna White impression' holding up the crafts to go alone with each lesson. All went well but we still have some preparation to do and a few more purchases to make.

How wonderful to see the enthusiasm from these young teachers. The meeting took longer than anticipated as most things here seem to do. But that's a good thing. No time for dinner, and then back to Florida Norte for their evening service.

Blessings to all,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday evening greetings from Cochabamba!

Hola Senders!

Gracias por sus oraciones!! (Thank you for your prayers!)

Our first full day in Cochabamba was faith-filled and joyous. We worshipped with the Florida Norte church from 10 a.m. until 12 noon. Then we had lunch with the VBS Teachers from Florida Norte at the Guesthouse where we are staying. After lunch we planned our lessons for VBS with 13 of the teachers/volunteer leaders from the church. This was a wonderful way to partner in ministry together. The woman's name who has coordinated the VBS is Jenny. Her husband Richard is one of the elders at the church.

Our planning time went until 5:30 p.m. and then we returned to worship at Florida Norte at 7:30 p.m. I had the joy of preaching from the first chapter of Acts about being Jesus' witness empowered by the Holy Spirit. What a joy to share God's Word with this wonderful congregation. They send their love and hellos to all of you. Literally, they waved to us and said send this hello to your church family! It is very good to be here with them.

Diane and Kristin will write with more details tomorrow. They are sleeping now. We are all in good health and so thankful for your love and prayers. Tomorrow during the day we will have planning time for many of our upcoming meetings/VBS times and some trips to the market to continue to puchase supplies. Tomorrow night is a very important evening as we will meet with 8 of the church leaders of Florida Norte for planning, prayers and evaluation as to how we move forward with our church partnership with them. Please pray for this meeting which will begin at 7 p.m.

We are studying the book of Mark for our daily devotions time if you want to read along with us this week. Abel Zabaleta is such a wonderful host. When I preached tonight at Florida Norte, he was my translator!!! His English has improved so much. The main lesson for that: if you want to learn a foreign language, marry a person who speaks that language! That's what Abel did!!! (Abel is a Bolivian pastor who married a Canadian missionary.)

Our love and prayers are with all of you! Dios te bendiga!
mateo (matthew)

Florida Norte Congregation reading their Bibles during Sunday evening worship

Team with VBS Teachers during Sunday afternoon prep meetings

Giving Sunday School children bracelets that tell of Jesus' love

Praying during the Florida Norte's Congregation Sunday Morning Worship Service

We met Abel in Miami airport! God is good!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Safe in Cochabamba--thank you for your prayers!

Hello OSLC family and friends!

We arrived safely today at 3:30 p.m. into Cochabamba. This was 24 hours after arriving at Logan Airport in Boston on Friday. We are all doing well, but very tired. Abel Zabaleta was on the same flight from Miami to La Paz with us and we are sitting in the living room of the SIM Guest House with him now. We are headed to the cancha (market) to look for ministry supplies and then will have dinner at one of the many wonderful Cochabamba restaurants.

Tomorrow we will be worshipping with the Florida Norte Congregation at 10 a.m.--and we are in the same time zone! So we will be worshipping at the same time as all of you! We love you and look forward to writing more tomorrow and posting some photos then.

We love our senders!
Mateo, Kristin, Diane and Abel