Buenos Dias Bolivia

by - November 06, 2015

It rained this week in Bolivia.  Everyday that I was there.  Except this morning as I rode to the airport with our Argentinian partners, driven by a Pastor who had become a friend.  Bolivia constantly made me think of Sri Lanka.  The palm trees, the buildings.  I’ve wondered if they are  along the same either longitude or latitude.  I can’t google right now from a cruising altitude of 35,000 ft to remember which of those is correct, and needing to remember doesn’t normally come up in everyday life. I remember a lot of other things though.  It was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand that started WW1, for example.  I still can’t get over Rasputin, or Coach Poole telling us about him. It was very hot and humid last week in Bolivia.  I’m a thousand times glad we weren’t here last week.

This was the shortest trip I’ve been on since beginning this season I find myself skipping through.  Six days.  I joked I only needed an overnight bag, but still brought a carry on and a half empty checked bag.  I could have survived with just the carry on, but I have a system.  Traveling to our Latin American partners is a lot closer than I am used to going.  A friend asked me if Bolivia was in Central or South America.  Uhh…  I can confirm now it is in far South America.  They speak Spanish, but it was more difficult for me to understand than it was to understand our friends in Mexico or Guatemala.  Like states in the U.S. different countries have different accents and some are harder to understand…even for a fluent Spanish speaker such as Yo.  But, I quickly came to know their hearts, even though this was the most difficult language barrier of any place I’ve visited.  Their love and care for us was a gracious blessing.  The Lord has given us partners and friends that are just incredibly wonderful people.  Of course people are going to usually be nice when they have visitors come to town, but every time I go to visit a partner, they go WAY out of their way to see our needs are abundantly met.  I’m so thankful.  They are grace to me in this journey.  Their hugs, their smiles, their tears all leave forever pictures in my mind and occupy spaces in my heart I didn’t even know were there.

Since this was such a short trip I didn’t have opportunity to have a day to see a few sights.  But we did have one hour one afternoon to walk around the city center of Santa Cruz.  I love seeing everyday life in these places.  Taking a few snapshot of sights, and breathing in the air, where I may never go again, but I did once. I got to see them.  The people in the city and on the streets.  I got to smile at them, say “buenos dias (morning) buenos tardes (afternoon) or buenos noches (good evening).   I get to take word of them back home.  And for some, share their story through Hope.  My favorite part of any trip is sharing with them what the Lord has sent us to share.  Giving them help and hope as they are surrendered to the Lord to help the hurting people around them.  Sharing with them what the Lord has equipped me with to share.  Not of my own wisdom, but of His and of those whose shoulders  I stand on in my family,  in the professors at Southwestern, and in HFTH.  All for Jesus.  It all begins with Him, and it is all for Him.  Our Hope is built on nothing less. No matter the country, the language, the hurts or the happiness.  What an amazing privilege to speak His name, and encourage trusting him in the midst of sometimes incredibly difficult places and circumstance; and with all confidence say he is faithful, he loves them and he is good.  All the time.  Just...I love this.

Here are a few pictures from 5 days in Bolivia…

Flying into La Paz.

Quick Reference Guides in Spanish.  

 The table setting for the lunch they prepared for us one day.  It reminded me of my Granny Toot's table when it was a special day.  She had a table cloth like this one. 

 This is the restaurant menu.  It is burned into the wood.  The menu doesn't change often. 

 Pastors of Hope.  They first watched the women's ministry take off with the Hope Center.  Now they each meet with men and families each week to counsel them with Hope. 
 Window shopping, sort of. 
 Rainy courtyard of the church where the Hope can be found.
The meal they prepared us.  Arroz con leche, yucca and steak.

So now I’m en-route  to Miami, then Dallas, then OKC.  I’m listening to Mumford & Sons.  I guess I will never ever ever get tired of them.  Ever.  I have an answer to what is the best thing you have eaten on these trips:  a homemade empanada in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  The pastry itself was a destination of delicious.  It wasn’t just the vehicle to hold the filling.  It would win awards even if it was empty.  But, then the  filling.  Hang with me here:  chicken, raisins, peas, olives, egg….  Those where the things I could see and taste.  I don’t know what the seasonings were, but I’m not kidding.  Best thing.  Hands down. The wife of the Pastor who drove us to town this morning has a food stand in their little village where she sells these empanadas everyday.  She is known as one of the best cooks around.  Also, if you happen to watch Bolivian nightly news, I’ll probably be on it.  The Governor of all of Santa Cruz is on the flight with me, or maybe  I am on the flight with him.  I stood next to him in line with at least 10 television cameras aimed at him.  He said “buenas dias” to me.  I maybe should have fainted, but I just responded to him in kind.  Soooo….by bedtime I may be famous in Bolivia. And, also I may very well not be.

 Vaya con Dios Bolivia amigas y amigos.

A final picture.  It's raining here in Miami.  I'm getting ready to board the plane for Dallas.  One more layover, one more flight and I'm home.  Thanks for everyone who prayed us through this trip. 

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