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Report on Trip to Bolivia 2017

Bolivia Day 1 (May 13)

Sue and I had started the journey the day before, leaving Minneapolis Thursday morning, flying to Kansas City and then on to Miami where we spent most of the evening repacking all our suitcases so we might be at full weight and include 75 pounds of a new book written in Spanish by Chris Mattix. Just about everything desired was included.

The journey started with an early morning flight to Panama City and a long layover there before heading to Santa Cruz in the afternoon. The travel was uneventful. That all changed on arrival. The rules had changed in the last few months and only the immigration officer seemed to be aware of them. Our letter of invitation was not sufficient for entry, so we were denied a visa and are being sent back home. Copa airline employees did a wonderful work reasoning with the immigration officials for 3 hours trying to find a solution, but to no avail. We and an American girl which had flown with the Canadians that we were joining, are being sent back to our point of departure. For us Miami and her to Toronto. The current hope is that all can be resolved in a couple days and a return made to Bolivia. The books and other things were able to be left with the Canadians to deliver.

Bolivia Day 2 (May 14)

Sunday started early with us heading to a confined area to await a plane scheduled to return through Panama. We left about 2:30 am for Panama, made a relatively quick re-boarding and arrived in Miami near noon to await further developments. A man named James was not caring for his mother, so was able to pick us up at the airport and return us to the guest house next to Boulevard Chapel. This allowed us to catch a nap, grab supper, make a few contacts, and go to bed early.

Bolivia Day 3 (May 15)

Really slept in, so shows we were tired from flying across the hemispheres and back. Hard to believe that we had flown to Bolivia and back in 27 hours. Most of the day was spent determining what our options are and making arrangements. The airline had used our flight tickets as rescheduled to get us home, so any flights to return to Bolivia start over. The flight insurance likely does not cover not having paperwork as they would consider it incompetence and not their responsibility (never mind that no one but the immigration agent was aware of the change). I will try filing just in case. A new flight was found for tomorrow night, which has many less layover hours and will be a direct flight upon return. Now we plan to go to the Bolivian consulate here in Miami tomorrow to see if a visa can be purchased (a flight has to be purchased beforehand so they know you will return home). Thanks for praying for us through the Lord’s interesting plans.

Bolivia Day 4 (May 16)

One more day in the comfort of an American house. We were able to entreat one of the young men of the local assembly that speaks Spanish to join us in going to the Bolivian consulate. It was a welcome help as the lady behind the counter did not speak English. We started into the process of applying for a visa and supplying all the required documents. In the end all was accepted and they wrote a letter enabling us to get a visa upon entry into the country. We have now repacked the suitcases and expect to be on an overnight flight to Bolivia. Another report of a loving God is two others that are coming to work on computers were able to get in quite easily last night.

Bolivia Day 5 (May 17)

The trip was uneventful, although we left the gate an hour late because of needed paperwork for the FAA. The six and one-half hour flight was eating supper and sleeping as we traveled to La Paz through the night. A quick turn-around with the people coming through to clean as we stayed on the plane and we were on the hour flight to Santa Cruz. We both noticed that the thin air from the high altitude as the plane doors were open made us somewhat nauseous for a while into the flight. With the full compliment of papers we were easily through obtaining a visa. Thank you all for praying with us. Customs was rudimentary and then we were on to the camp/chapel/worksite to actually greet and meet those we would be working with. The schedule is different here, mostly trying to avoid traffic, so the work is scheduled to end about 3:30 in the afternoon (with an early morning start), with the remainder of the day spent cleaning up and getting to know each other. After supper we walked to an ice cream store.

Bolivia Day 6 (May 18)

Finally we are settled in to the work here. After all the other adventures, we enjoy joining in. Sue was able to work with others making breakfast, lunch and now working with others on supper. Fred was learning how to lay the brick tile. The walls for the classrooms are going up as fast as the cement can stand. The Canadian team has been here for several years and enjoy being part of the work the Lord is doing here. There are several young ones around seeing what is going on. Though the assembly here is ministering to about 250 several times a week by supply of Compassion International, we noticed today that there is a new road going in which ends at the entrance to the chapel property. This will bring a housing development, and more children into the neighborhood! What a work the Lord is doing with an assembly that is only 4 years old.

There is a brother with us for about a week, Robbie Youssef from Axios One (a new organization that helps missionaries with computers), that is setting up the computer lab. He is a more prolific writer and takes more pictures. You can see some of his pictures here.

Bolivia Day 7 (May 19)

Another day that was what has become the routine. Up early to be on the road before traffic jams, and then devotions while breakfast was cooked at the camp. This morning in addition to a short devotions we heard the testimony of Mercy Vanden Eeden, a friend of ours from our daughter, Naomi, assembly. She was born in Ecuador and was adopted when her mother died from cancer. The day was spent putting up more tile blocks, forming for posts, and filling the posts with concrete. After we broke from work for the day, most of the Canadians went to visit people that they had made contact with in past trips. Supper and the evening was spent at a member of the assembly’s house.

The internet connection is very slow and keeps me from uploading pictures. To see up to date pictures, continue to check the link I sent last night. If things improve I will attempt more. We will be traveling to see Mark Mattix tomorrow and do not expect to be in contact for a day.

Bolivia Day 8 (May 20)

Rousing time was about normal as we were starting the trip process about 8:00. Enoel, the missionary, had arranged for a local lady to accompany us. She is a cancer survivor, which had caused her to lose her job, she spoke some English and could work with a translator on her phone, but more importantly spoke Spanish to get us from the taxi to the bus to the taxi to Mark and Carol Mattix house. And we allowed her to travel home to see her family for a day. We had a good trip and she was a great help. You can pray for Roxie as she continues in her walk with the Lord.

It was good to see Mark and Carol again and to look over the work they are doing. Several possible projects for TeamWorkers Abroad were looked at on the camp/school property. We attended the announcement by Chris Mattix of his new book written in Spanish, Confessions of an Inquisitor, as it was introduced to the local people. It appears to be a well documented historical fiction that is going to be well received and have a great impact in the Spanish world. Some are even talking of putting it in the public schools. If you know of a Spanish work that would benefit from understanding the impact and cause of the Reformation, the book would be recommended. The publisher hopes to produce an English version by October.

Bolivia Day 9 (May 21)

Sunday we were privileged to see Chris propose marriage to Genesis on their bridge before gathering with the believers to remember the Lord. It was a wonderful time again remembering the Lord with believers as we considered the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the impact it had on Peter, and should have on us. Lunch was with the celebrating families. A rest and then getting bus tickets for the return trip (8:00 pm – 2:00 am) before going to an anniversary celebration of a local believer from New Zealand and his wife.

Bolivia Day 10 (May 22)

If you happened to follow this saga, you caught that it was a short night before starting the day. There is little to report as unusual in the day. There had been a huge rainstorm before Saturday morning, so all plans for the Canadians were canceled due to water filled streets and mud at the construction site. Having had a day off and being able to do some shopping on Sunday afternoon they were ready to get back to the work. Forms had been pulled off by the time we arrived and we went straight to putting up more block. By quitting time several of the wall sections were completed to the roof and most of the window and door framing was in place so more blocks can be placed over them. Leveling of the floor was also started. I did find out in conversation tonight that the reason pictures take long to load is that the limited bandwidth is being used up by all the phones that are individually connected.

Bolivia Day 11 (May 23)

There was a lot more effort put into the work today. Some scaffolding was put up and more bricks laid to top out some more walls. The big effort was filling the large room with fill sand. At one end there was about 6 inches of fill, and of course it is all brought in by wheelbarrow. When the sand had been delivered the truck driver did not think he could get in, so it was left in a pile at the gate. Not only was it a long way from the site, the rain over the weekend had thoroughly saturated the sand, making it quite heavy. By the afternoon most of the room had been filled and then started the scraping and leveling to put on the bricks, until they ran out at about quitting time.

Bolivia Day 12 (May 24)

Final day of work. Because of the expected schedule later in the day we shifted the morning activities to have breakfast and devotions at the mission house before traveling through the city to the Sion church site. The start of work was about the same time. We proceeded to form up the unpoured posts that are between the walls. This will stabilize everything as the concrete flows partially into the block walls. While the forming was going on others were pouring in the cement. This is a tedious job as the concrete is carried by bucket to the ladder, hoisted to the men 15 feet up and poured into the forms, sometimes by the cut off pop bottle. Lunch was with the children. After lunch we flattened the floor in the new dining room and lay all the blocks that had been newly delivered. The children gave us drawings of the work we had done and expressed their thanks. Most of the afternoon was spent playing soccer with the kids and parents. During a break in the games the team passed out clothes and toys to the children. Supper was served at the church site, then afterward the church gathered with us to express their appreciation for our coming and several on the team expressed the impact and changes they have seen over the years. The return was late and bed was welcome after making contact with home.

Bolivia Day 13 (May 25)

This is a day for making the final preparations before leaving. Some of the Canadian team went to visit a work they had been to before. This is the advantage of making repeat trips to one area, personal contacts are made and interest is maintained in what the Lord is doing in others lives. Some went shopping for the final purchases to bring back home. Packing had to be done. The final gathering was at a local believers house for supper. They had a barbecue with all the trimmings for the whole team plus a few others. The fellowship was wonderful. One of the elders was telling us the impact our coming had on the life of a man we were working with. He had seldom attended the meetings with his wife, but had come for two weeks in a row as we are there. He was observing our devotions and working together, and it impacted his life for eternity. This is just one reason we make these trips. At the end of the evening we said farewell to those we may not see again this side of eternity, but have had an impact on our lives.

It was pointed out that my concentration in these reports has been on the work on the building and had omitted the critical part that Sue was to the team. Every day she was with the team, traveling early to camp, and then fixing breakfast with others while most were able to enjoy a study and discussion from the Word of God. Lunch was also served at the camp. This was not the stainless steel camp kitchen that we are used to, but rustic setting with some large burners and a couple griddles. Cleanliness is a major factor as this is a different country for our bodies to handle. The last day of work was the most enjoyable for her as she was able to help the local women cook for the children and then do some activities with the children.

Bolivia Day 14 (May 26

We had been notified the night before that the flight was going to be about 2 hours late, so we were able to get a little more sleep and relax in the process of getting to the airport. Before loading the flight was 3 hours late. We arrived without incident and are now enjoying the hospitality of Florida.

Thank you for following and praying for us as we get the privilege of going to help and encourage, and to see the work the Lord is doing elsewhere. It is a tremendous work He is doing, and the Lord allows us to be involved in a portion of it.

You can see pictures from our trip here.

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TeamWorkers Abroad was started to assemble teams of believers from U.S. assemblies to work on building projects for assembly missionaries. While TeamWorkers Abroad’s focus is primarily on teams of skilled workers, there are opportunities for unskilled workers and young adults on most projects.