More Than We Ask Or Imagine

When I think of missionaries, the first things that come to mind are normally huts in the jungle, dirt roads, strange animals, poverty, and white people in outdated clothes. While these are not all untrue, most of them are stereotypes. MOST missionaries I know live in relatively modern cities, have access to internet, and wear fairly normal clothes.  (Fairly)

This year, working at Carachipampa, an international school in Cochabamba, I have often had to remind myself that I was not in the U.S, North America, or even the Northern Hemisphere.  As much as I love Bolivia, my life here is not extraordinary. I have good days and bad days. I have weeks that I am reminded of my need for the Lord, and weeks when I try to do things on my own. There are days when I see God’s hand working, and days when I try my best to trust that He is.

But, God HAS been so faithful to work and answer prayers, even when I can’t see it in the moment.
Several weeks ago, the seniors at Caracipampa decided to do a toy drive to provide Christmas presents for children living in poverty. The original plan was to take the gifts to the jail, where many children live with their mothers.

The kids in my class were so excited to be able to give, and were very generous in giving of their own toys, as well as buying new ones. (Or their parents were very generous. ;) ) Almost 120 gifts in all were donated!! Then, because of logistics, it was decided that taking the gifts to the jail was not the best option. However, there was not a backup plan for the donated gifts.

Then, one of the teachers at the school, that also happens to host the Bible club/ Happy Hour I am involved in got a visit from a man he barely knew.  He told Richard that he lived in a very poverty stricken area outside of the city, right outside of the garbage dump. They wanted to know if there was any way Richard could help with Christmas gifts for the children of his neighborhood. Richard asked the man about how many gifts they would need, and he said about 120! The exact amount of gifts the school had collected. Is God not faithful to provide?!?

The man was not a Christian, but he also asked Richard if we could put on a Christmas program of some kind to teach the kids about Christmas. What an amazing invitation to share the good news of  Jesus’ birth, and the gospel. Saturday afternoon after the Happy Hour/ Bible Club’s Christmas program, Richard and his wife Gladys asked the group of teachers if we would be willing to do the same Christmas program again for the neighborhood of Kara Kara on the outskirts of the city dump.
Kids from Casa de Amor at Happy Hour!

Saturday I learned how to make buñuelos, and then helped make 300 of them!

Around 300 kids and mothers came to the Happy Hour last Saturday for the Christmas program!
Sunday afternoon I got the chance to go with Richard and Gladys to the neighborhood to meet with some of the leadership of the neighborhood, and plan for the event. As opposed to my everyday life here, I felt like a stereotyped missionary. We traveled on rough dirt roads, avoided the sheep on the side of the road, passed by makeshift houses, and I won’t  even bother trying to defend my wardrobe. When we arrived, everyone came out of their “houses” to greet us, and the kids looked like it was Christmas morning. (Which it almost was.) The man that invited us took us through the neighborhood, and called all of the women to come out of their houses to meet on the “soccer field”.

The field was littered with broken bricks and rocks, and marked off by old tires. One little girl hid behind her mother’s skirt and looked at me like I was an alien. I smiled at her as our host spoke to the mothers in Quechua, and her face lit up. After the introductions were made, the little girl came up and told me her name was Noelia. I asked her what she liked to do, and she told me she had a doll that looked like me… which I assume just means she is blonde.:) As I talked with Noelia and several of the other girls, I was reminded of what a great God we serve. Here in this forgotten neighborhood outside of Cochabamba, the Lord is at work. He loves these kids, and has not only provided toys for Christmas, but He is the reason for giving toys at all. He came to earth, and gave us the gift of His son. He made a way through Jesus to be forgiven and loved, and made right before God. And now, He has opened the doors so that the entire neighborhood of Kara Kara might come to know Him.

Please praise God for the crazy ways He has worked everything out to be able to go to Kara Kara this Saturday. Please pray for good weather, and more importantly, that God would begin to soften the hearts of the kids and mothers, and even fathers that will be there. Please pray for relationships to be built, and for people to come to know the goodness, love, and mercy of the Lord.

*** Although God has provided for gifts for the children, we would love to be able to buy sugar and possibly other household staples for the mothers that come as well. If you feel led to donate to help meet this need, I would love to talk with you more! **


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