Bolivia 2017

May 27 2017

Day 1

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.

Start of Day 2

Sunday started early with us heading to a confined area to await a plane scheduled to return through Panama. We left about 2:30 for Panama, made a relatively quick re-boarding and are now in Miami to await further developments. 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

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

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

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

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. I will attach his letters to these emails and encourage you to look at his pictures on , which will be updated often.

Bolivia Day 7

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 and 9

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.

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

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

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

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.

Attached in addition to the pictures (nearly everyone is shopping so band width is available) are the comments from Robbie. More pictures at and many more from the team when we get back home.

Humbled by the Lord’s grace and mercy for a sinner such as me.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I could feel the hands of our Lord in every part of our trip. You have lifted us up before the throne and for that I am eternally grateful.

In Christ,

Robbie @ Axios One

May 20, 2017

We are nearing the end of our trip. The weather in Bolivia has been beautiful so far. They tell me that it’s usually hot and very humid in this part of the country, but every day has been cool with a slight breeze. These cooler temperatures make the weather perfect for working outside, while keeping mosquitos away. We have completed phase one of the computer lab setup. Now, we are in the midst of the next phase, installing parental control software on each computer to prevent the children from viewing unwholesome content with their innocent eyes. Mercy has been carefully installing and configuring the software on the computers, one by one. The best part of my day is seeing the little children as I walk around the camp. These are children that have next to nothing, but the joy I see on their faces paints a different picture. Even though they lack so many material things, they are rich in the love that they receive from the saints here at the Sion assembly. I have learned to say a few words to them in Spanish, but the universal language of a smile never fails. I have posted some pictures of these children. As you are viewing them, please pray for these precious ones, not just that they get food and clothing, which are important in and of themselves, but that they come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 19:14. Every day that I am here, I learn more stories about the Lord’s provision and care for these dear saints and the children they care for, which makes me think about how blessed we are in the USA. We have so much that we tend to take for granted. We need to be content with what the Lord has provided for us. Our brother Paul writes in Ph 4:12-13, “Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” One common theme that keeps repeating itself, as I listen to the saints tell their stories, is the continual tug of the Lord on the hearts of His children to redeem the time, because the days are evil. The Lord is moving the hearts of the saints throughout His Church to serve Him now, abandoning what the world values as essential and important, and embracing the true calling of every member of the body to fulfill their purpose on this earth for the One who gave His life as a ransom for them. I had the pleasure of being invited to the home of one of the elders, on Thursday evening. As I entered his house I could feel the love of Christ manifested there by the warm hospitality of this dear brother and his wife. I learned that their loving hospitality extends to missionaries, who often stay with them for months. His humble abode does not distract from the rich life he has in Christ. After giving me a flavorful cup of authentic Bolivian coffee, he then took me out to an Arabic restaurant with his family. There, we were joined by the other elder and his wife. I was rather surprised to learn that my cuisine could be found right here in Bolivia. After arriving, I went right over to the owner of the restaurant to find out just how authentic this place really was. To my surprise, the family owners were Syrian. In no time, I was speaking with them in Arabic. The elders and their families eagerly looked at me as I gave the place my stamp of approval for being authentic Arabic cuisine, and they really enjoyed hearing me converse with the owner in my native tongue. And the food was amazing. My Bolivian brothers, sisters, and I enjoyed such a wonderful time of fellowship, as we shared this special meal together. While I was sitting at the table with them, I totally forgot that I had just met these dear saints a mere three days ago. It felt like I had known them for a lifetime. It’s only through our beloved Savior that this can be true, as we are all tied together by that One Spirit.

In Christ,

Robbie @ Axios One

May 24, 2017

We are finally home. After a day of rest, I wanted to sit down and recount my final days in Bolivia.

By mid-Friday, it had gone from being just cool and breezy to being cool and very rainy. The rain came down heavily and steadily for about 2 days. Even those among us who could comfortably wear short sleeves and flip flops all week, needed to put on jackets, as well as shoes, and even a pair of socks. This made going to camp on Saturday an adventure. Most businesses close when it rains that hard because the streets become flooded. The Canada team didn’t even try to go to camp since their work was outside, but since our work was inside and our time was short, Mercy and I knew we needed to get there. Thankfully, Brother Jose was willing to take us, but it took almost twice as long. After arriving, we finished as much as we could before water began leaking into 2 walls of the computer lab. The task of connecting all computers to the network could be finalized, as was the installation of parental controls. Due to concern about the electricity shorting out, we left the last step, of setting up all 3 printers on the network, for Sunday.

We then left and went to meet the rest of the team at the biggest mall in Santa Cruz. Once again, our travel time was doubled, taking 2 hours, rather than the usual hour or so. Once we finally arrived, the team was starting to leave. So, we encouraged brother Jose to ask his wife and daughter if they could join us at the mall for dinner, which they were able to do. It turned out to be a lovely time of fellowship together.

On Sunday morning, as I waited for Brother Jose’s usual arrival, I was standing in the courtyard at NTM. It was just me and my new friend, Watchman, the German Shepherd I’d had a very unsettling first meeting with earlier that week. While standing there, I was brought to tears as I realized that this was my last day in Bolivia, and how much I was going to miss these dear saints. In one week, I had come to feel like I had known them for a lifetime.

After Jose picked me up, we went to one of the local assemblies and enjoyed a blessed time at the Lord’s Supper. The songs and the comments were all in Spanish, but I recognized the tunes. I was singing in English very softly, of course, but they sang beautifully in Spanish. Even though the meeting was in another language, I felt the Holy Spirt moving among us that morning. I loved the fact that gathering with the people of God in another country felt so much like meeting with my own home assembly. After the Lord’s Supper, we had a little break and then we had the morning service. Brother John, the leader of the Canadian team spoke in English while brother Enoel translated into Spanish.

After the meetings, the entire Canadian team, the elders and their families, as well as Mercy and I headed to a Chinese restaurant. Yes, Chinese in Bolivia. They have that there also, and it was really good. Brother Enoel, with his typical generosity, ordered an abundance of food. Since he always sought to make sure we were full at the conclusion of every meal, we left, very satisfied and grateful.

Soon, the Canadian team went to do some shopping for their families. Because it was Sunday, no work was being done at the camp. Plus, it was still very wet. But since this was Mercy’s and my last day, we went with both elders and their wives to the camp so that we could finalize the computer lab. We worked very quickly. Mercy mostly. She’s very fast and efficient in setting up these computers. All computers were connected to the printers and the project was finally completed. We all stood together in a circle in the middle of the lab and prayed that it would glorify God.

Afterwards, we headed back to the mission to join the others for the evening meeting at a different assembly. Since we had left the camp later than we’d planned, however, we found that the others had already left when we got there. At this point, I became hesitant to go because I knew that we would need to head to the airport in just a few hours, for our flight home. If anything else caused further delays, we wouldn’t have time to finish packing and would very likely miss our flight. I made this concern known to Mercy and Jose, but my wise colleague, Mercy, politely insisted that we should go to the evening meeting and leave it in the Lord’s hands. I agreed with her that this was the best decision, and I am so glad that we went. It was such a wonderful time of worship and praise. It was not as big or as nice of a building as the morning assembly, but it was filled with saints who were hungry, wanting to be satisfied with the Lord.

While we were there, I was asked to give a five-minute testimony. At first, my flesh said no, but the Spirit overpowered that decision and I shared in English while brother Enol translated in Spanish. It was lovely to share with the saints there, and they were so thankful for it. After I was done, Brother Richard from the Canada team shared the Word from the book of Nehemiah.

Once the meeting was over, we left the assembly and went back to the mission to finish packing. When we were ready to leave, brother John prayed for Mercy and me. Then, we headed to the airport. We arrived there by 10:30 PM, which gave us plenty of time, as our flight wouldn’t be taking off until 2:25 AM. Even though I had not met him before that night, the elder from the evening assembly drove us to the airport, out of a desire to share with us the love of Christ. Jose and his wife, Veronica, joined us also. After getting our tickets and checking in our bags, we said our emotional goodbyes. I embraced brother Jose, as the tears rolled down both our cheeks. Sister Veronica was also very emotional. We then went through immigration and customs with no issues. Thank you, Father!

By Sunday night, Mercy was not able to speak much. Her voice was gone. She had spent the entire week translating for everyone, since there were so few who could do this needed work. Pray for Mercy. She is now resting at home with her mom and sister. I was so encouraged to see a young lady of that age tirelessly serving wherever she went. She would always look for ways to serve others and never ever complained. She is truly what a godly young lady should be. I am so looking forward to seeing how the Lord will use this remarkable young lady, and am convinced that He has an amazing purpose for her to bring honor and glory to His Name.

By Monday afternoon, we arrived in the USA and brother Jacob Daniel picked us up from the airport. We stopped in Queens to get dinner and then headed to PA. After a long time of being stuck in traffic the Lord opened the roads, thanks to the prayers of a few faithful saints. We were finally home.

Just one day after arriving home, I had the great pleasure of talking with Jose, his wife, and some of the other brethren by video chat. They invited me to call them around 8:30 last night, and so I did. I had no idea, however, that they had arranged things so that I would be calling them while they were meeting for a Bible study. A break time had been scheduled just so they could talk to me and make sure I was well after the trip home. It was such a blessing to see their smiling faces once again. Pam was also able to take part in the call and was so excited to meet some of the brethren she’d been hearing so much about. They were very happy to meet her, as well, expressing their love to her.

In conclusion, this trip to Bolivia was truly a gift from God. I went to bless, but instead I was the one who was blessed. Blessed by the Canadian team, by the saints in Bolivia, and by my colleague Mercy. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to serve the Lord alongside such saints. I am humbled by the Lord’s grace and mercy for a sinner such as me.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I could feel the hands of our Lord in every part of our trip. You have lifted us up before the throne and for that I am eternally grateful.

In Christ,

Robbie @ Axios One

Bolivia Day 13

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

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.