Tuesday afternoon we returned to Nueva Criatura to work some more. We moved a lot of dirt and bricks
We finished the job faster than the Maestro could find things for us to do so we visited with the church members and ate several snacks they brought. We also made a presentation of new tools to help in the future construction of churches in the district. It was a fun evening.
After a quick rest and dinner we went to the school where the youth of Cristo el Bien Pastor meet for youth group. We had music, a word from Pastor Moises and testimonies from 2 of our students, Sayre and Abby. They did an outstanding job.
Then there were more snacks and visiting. You never go hungry on a VIM Bolivian trip.
Then there was volleyball until late in the night. We were pretty sure Pastor Moises stopped keeping score because he was having too much fun to stop. But in the end the Bolivians beat the Americans and we all went home to bed.
And the story will continue with a full review of Wednesday’s activities in Cobija, Bolivia
Monday afternoon we went out to Villa Vista on the edge of Cobija to the church of Nueva Criatura.
Nueva Criatura is one of the oldest Methodist churches in this area. We visited Nueva Criatura last year when they had a wood church, but now they need to expand it, add a kitchen and bathrooms and build it with stone.
One of the oldest leaders of the church, Mario, got up and shared the history of Nueva Criatura and showed pictures. We sang songs and Pastor Moises shared a message and then we had a blessing the cornerstone.
Randy spoke for the team and represented Oklahoma well, laying the first cornerstone and pouring water on it.
Each team member and several key members of the church then added mortar to the stones and then we joined hands and prayed over them. It was a beautiful service. Mario got very emotional when we layed the cornerstone because his wife passed recently and she loved her church and would’ve been so happy to see it grow. It was a very beautiful time.
Tuesday morning we went to work. We are extending the trenches for the foundation at the back of the church where the kitchen and bathrooms will be.
The trench needed to be 12″ wide, 30″ deep, and a total length of maybe 25′. Everyone jumped in with picks and shovels and had the trench finished by lunchtime. We also had a few food breaks. Church ladies brought us Salteñas and empanadas which are always delicious.
Welcome to 2017’s VIM Bolivia team. Jacob, Sayre, Randy, Heather, Makenzie, Brenda, Michaela, Tracy, Abby, Tabitha, and Cassie.
This is the 6th year the Wichitas District is working in Cobija. Some are on their first mission trip and first time out of the country, others having been going to Bolivia for years.
We started out Friday and had a lot of travel struggles this time. Our flight from Oklahoma couldn’t leave because of bad weather in Dallas, once weather cleared up we left but missed our connection in Dallas. We waited on standby for a few hours and made it to Miami. We had already missed our connection to La Paz and there’s only 1 flight a day so we spent the night in the Miami airport. And had a little fun day exploring Miami on Saturday.
Sunday morning we arrived in La Paz very tired. We rested, showered and saw some old friends. Pastors Max and Mary and their daughters came to visit in the evening.
Monday morning we headed to a military airport and got on a plane to Cobija.
We had a fantastic welcoming committee from the churches and the school. They made some great banners for us and sang the welcoming song, gave some introductions and lots of photos were taken all around.
Summing up our trip is hard, but here is the newsletter article and video I put together.
Hola from Bolivia!
Centenary’s 5 member VIM team just returned from our 5th year supporting the Wichitas District commitment with Cobija, Bolivia. Our brothers and sisters there send you their love.
It was exciting to see how far the church has come. Cristo el Buen Pastor has been holding weekly services in their new church for over a year now even while construction continued on. We were very excited to see all the electrical work done, with lights and fans installed in the ceiling. It’s also exciting to see how much the city of Cobija has been growing over the past 5 years. The airport has expanded. The church used to be on the outskirts of town, but the city has stretched and there are new buildings growing up all around our church now.
We also met the new Pastor of Cristo el Buen Pastor, retired Bishop Carlos Intipampa and the new principal of the Methodist school Christian Bolivar and reestablished a strong relationship with them and the congregation of Cristo el Buen Pastor. We also went out and visited several of the house churches in the district and are very pleased with how strong the Methodist church is growing in Bolivia and reaching out to help the poorer areas of the country. We already have plans to lead a team back next year at the end of June and we are raising funds to help them put in the final touches of the church. A tile floor instead of concrete, a drop ceiling and painting the inside walls. We would like to raise $10,000 from the Wichitas District overthe next year to accomplish this.
We want to thank everyone for supporting our VIM teams with your prayers, gifts, and enthusiasm.
or the Wichitas District VIM Bolivia Facebook page
VIM Oklahoma to Bolivia ~ Lawton District to Cobija Mission
VIM team leader
Tuesday we packed our bags to leave Cobija. We had a wonderful farewell committee at the airport. We got fresh empanadas and drinks and many sweet words of farewell and plans for our future partnership together.
So with many hugs and tears we moved past security into our gate.
It turns out our plane was also sharing the airstrip with the Bolivian President’s plane. He had also been in town for Cobija’s celebration and Pastor Carlos had met him that morning.
So we finally got on our plane and flew back to La Paz.
There were some road blocks coming into the city so we took a more scenic route through El Alto.
Back to the John Wesley hotel and then we went out for ice cream with the Bolivian Bishop. We showed him some pictures and told him about our time in Cobija. He was there recently and so we had a good conversation.
It’s also National Women’s Day in Bolivia so Wilson gave all the ladies roses.
After ice cream we met up with some of the students we knew from previous trips to Cobija who are now at University in La Paz. It’s always great to see how the relationships we’ve made over the years keep reappearing.
They helped us with some shopping. They got to practice their English and we practiced some of our Spanish.
We tried to have a fairly early night since we leave for the airport at 3am Wednesday and have a long day of travel.
Monday started early with a lot of rain and a visit to the American Institute school. We met with Principal Christian and then went to several classrooms. The school is K-12, but we only made it to the middle and high school classes. Randy brought a great prop (also thanks Cydni) of a world map so we could show where Oklahoma was and how we had travelled down to Bolivia. It was really fun when we found foreign exchange students from Belgium in 2 of the classes and had them show where they came from.
There were lots of pictures taken and we signed lots of autographs. If you ever want a little taste of celebrity you should come down to Bolivia, they make you feel like a rock star.
We also participated in an assembly at the school for the anniversary of a big battle between the Pando area of Bolivia and Brazil that I assume Bolivia won.
And then Randy and Christina allowed themselves to be swarmed by 1st-5th graders
We had several of the students who were good at English going around to the classes with us to help translate. The school day finished at 12:30 so we invited our translators to lunch with us and had a great time getting to know each other.
After lunch there was a break and the Randy and Christina went back to the school to play volleyball with a bunch of the students. The rest of us have been sharing a cold and needed a siesta.
Because of the rain that morning we could not go out to Rios de Agua Viva church (the roads out there aren’t paved and so had turned to mud)
Instead we joined the students in the center of town for the celebration parade (of the battle anniversary) and we marched with them past a bunch of dignitaries as they announced the group from Oklahoma. We waved and represented you well.
After the parade we had a farewell ceremony back at the school. Cristo El Buen Pastor and several of the other churches in the district held a short worship service. Pastor Carlos preached a nice sermon on Matthew 25 (I was hungry and you gave me food, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, etc). After the service there was a presentation of gifts for our group. Then several student groups from the school performed songs. Our group had to perform our 2 song repertoire. Randy gave a great speech. Everyone signed banners. And then we had traditional music and dancing. It was a wonderful night filled with happiness and sadness. It is always hard to leave, but we always leave with the promise of ‘next year’.
Sunday in Cobija. Our day started with church service #1 at “Nuevo Criatura” or New Creation church which was a new church for us to see. We had a beautiful church service, heard the scriptures and Pastor Carlos’ first sermon (the same scriptures were used throughout the day but pastor Carlos would start off with the same sermon and then change it up a bit to keep Wilson translating everything). We also had communion which was fun to see how communion is done a little differently everywhere you go, but a lot of the liturgy is the same.
Then it was on to church service #2 at Cristo el Buen Pastor. It’s great to see the congregation worshiping in the new church even when there is still some scaffolding outside. Tabitha shared a short testimony for the congregation and the team sang “Here I Am Lord” and of course afterwards there was a potluck.
A short break and then onto church #3 The children’s church of Ebenzer in the community of Aurora. They were having craft time when we arrived. They sang us a song, we sang Jesus loves me and then had the kids participate in a song with us which was very funny. Then the kids sang a few more songs and gave us some of their crafts. They had a volleyball that had a hole in it so we left money for them to buy a new one and some more crafts.
Church service #4 was at the avensada (house church) of Alfa & Omega. It’s in a poor community a little ways out of town. They currently meet on the front porch of one of the members, but they have land and hope to build a small church for themselves soon. We had lots of singing. They’re favorite phrase is “one more song”. I counted it 5 times. And we sang our 2 songs for them. Pastor Carlos gave us another sermon on the ten lepers and Jesus (that was the scripture for the day). Pastor Carlos is very proud of his Aymaran heritage and tells wonderful stories about the Aymaran people to tie into the scriptures.
It was a wonderful Sunday.
Oh, throughout the week we have invited different groups of people to join us for dinner back at the hotel and it’s been a great way to learn more about them, hear their stories, let them ask questions about us and share in language defying laughter.
Saturday we went out to Cristo el Buen Pastor church to see the continuing construction. There is a lot of scaffolding around as they stucco the outside walls and finish the front cross. We had a meeting with church leaders, Pastor Carlos, DS Carmen and Principal Christian to discuss the church progress, plans, budget and more. The next important step is a tile floor for the interior. Each new thing completeled is precious to them. They want to show us the strong wooded doors, the glass windows and the decorative bars to keep them safe. The newly installed lights and fans and the wooden pews the congregation raised all the money for. We build things so quickly in the states that sometimes I don’t think we have time to revel in the small things.
The ladies of the church brought us saldinas for a snack and we had a lot of fun with the taking pictures. They loved the Bolivian flag I brought for pictures.
After that we went back to the hotel for lunch and a little rest. A few of the students from the school came by to visit and we went to get ice cream and do some shopping.
In the late afternoon we went to the school gym to play with the youth of the church. Playing volleyball and basketball. We also discovered how musical Pastor Carlos is. After playing awhile we joined the youth for their time of worship. Randy gave a short talk and the group sang How Great is our God.
After the service we went back to the hotel and had a fun dinner with several of the church leadership. After awhile language barriers don’t matter when laughter is shared.
Today we arrived in Cobija to another wonderful welcome by the school and church members. It is a very honored feeling like arriving celebrities.
We went to the hotel and got settled in. Did a little exploring around the area had lunch and a rest.
In the evening we went to the church Cristo El Buen Pastor and were excited to see the lights on as we drove up. This was the first service they have had in the evening with all the lights and electric fans for air conditioning. We had a wonderful welcoming service. Received more gifts, sang the welcoming song and were welcomed by everyone in the church with handshakes and hugs. We met the new pastor Carlos, Brigette who works with the children and the new principal of the school Christian along with many other familiar faces. Everyone was so proud of the new lights and they wanted us to bring back their greetings to Oklahoma.