Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Confession & Request

This Saturday was my first Saturday to teach again at Happy Hour. I have had a hard time going back, because there are SO many moms, and SO many little babies. It can be overwhelming at times, and to be really honest, it can be tempting to allow my mind and heart to travel, and to be resentful. I think that’s normal, but I also think it can be dangerous. My prayer is that the Lord would not allow me to be bitter, but to love the children and mothers that He has put in my life. Please be praying for that if you think about it!

This Saturday, as we were waiting for children to arrive, one of the little girls proudly showed me her children’s Bible, and asked me to read the story of Adam and Eve. I started to read the story, and a small group of other children gathered around. As I read, I was shocked at how un-biblical this children’s bible was. It was a cute little story about Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, but completely missed the point of the story. The fact that Adam and Eve’s disobedience caused sin to enter the world, and the need for a savior – Jesus.

When I finished the story, another girl asked me if I had a Bible she could have. I asked if she had one at home, and she said she asked for one for her birthday, but her mom couldn’t afford it.

I began to think about how spoiled we are by the resources available at good prices in the US and realized that the variety of children’s Bibles in Bolivia is scarce.

One of my favorite children’s Bibles is called the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has beautiful illustrations, but more importantly, every story points to Jesus. I have a copy that I use to teach, and I love to see how Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, and the Walls of Jericho falling down all point to our need for Jesus.

I have found a site online that sells this Bible in cases of 20 for $179 with FREE shipping! That comes out to $8.95 a Bible! I would love to purchase a case of Bibles for my parents to bring down in October, and give them to children that come consistently for Christmas.

Would you consider donating $10-$20 dollars (or more :) ) to provide a family with a gospel-centered children’s Bible? Many of the parents have little education, and a children’s Bible is a perfect way for them to also have a clear explication of the gospel in a way they can read and understand.

To read more about the Jesus Storybook Bible, click here.

To make a tax-deductible donation through our mission organization, you can click here.

To make a non-tax deductible donation through check, you can send a check to my parent’s house – just send me a message and I will send you the address. :)

Thank you so very much!

Teddy hard at work coloring! We learned that God is love, and that he can fix our sinful hearts. 

They loved their "dolls". Thank you Susanne! None of the kids had ever seen googly eyes before.

My 2-6 year old class at Happy Hour.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

How are you doing?

Many people have asked in the last few weeks how we are doing, and we are SO thankful for your prayers and your willingness to grieve with us. It is a hard question to answer, because we want to be honest, but there just isn't a good answer without writing a short novel.

So that's what I did. Just kidding, kind of. :) There are moments that are harder than I could have imagined. I heard a quote that says, "We expect faith to make it hurt less, but it doesn't. It keeps us from despair, but it doesn't take the pain away."

But, while grieving the loss of our son has been much harder than I expected, God's presence has also been much sweeter than I could have expected. He has provided through many of you, but most of all, He has provided Himself. And we are finding Him to be enough.

I wanted to share with you a little of what He has been teaching me in the last few weeks, and I hope it is encouraging to you as well.

I have been reading a book by Nancy Guthrie, called “Hearing Jesus Speak into your Sorrow”. This book (and her other books) have been so helpful to me over the last few weeks, and I highly recommend them for anyone who is wrestling with God’s goodness in the midst of hard things.

In this book, she talks about the story in Mark 1:40-42. A man with leprosy comes to Jesus, and says, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Then it says-moved with pity, Jesus touched him and said, “I will, be clean.”

As beautiful as this is for the leper in the story, it becomes problematic when I suffer. Why was Jesus not moved by pity for my son?  For me? For my husband? My friends and family? I KNOW He was able. Why was He not willing?

But then Jesus in His mercy reminds me that He did not come primarily to heal our bodies, but our sinful hearts. If the question is “Jesus, if you will, you can make me clean from sin.” - His answer is always, I am willing, be clean.”

He was so willing in fact, that it says in Isaiah 53:5 that He was pierced for our transgression, crushed for our iniquities. He took the chastisement that brought us peace. By His wounds we are healed.

When I see my sin for what it is, I can rejoice in what Jesus was willing to do. But too often, I see my sin as a sniffle. A cold that will most likely go away if I wait long enough.

But my sin is leprosy. A deadly, infectious disease, that not only doesn’t go away on its own, it will kill me. It had no cure. But Jesus, because He was willing, became that cure, and died in my place to forgive my sin.

I have no problem with a good God, a loving Father, allowing Jesus to suffer on the cross. Jesus being God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, became a servant, and was obedient to the point of death. Death on a cross. For me.

And yet, when I suffer, I have a problem with a good God, a loving Father, allowing me to suffer. I want to remind God of His promises. In Revelation 21:4 it says that He will wipe away every tear. Death shall be no more. There will be no more mourning, crying, or pain.

And these promises are true. But they are future promises. God WILL fulfill His promises. But they are for the coming age. Not for now. For now, Jesus promised that we WOULD have sorrows. That we would suffer. But He also promised to be with us through the Holy Spirit. So I can rest in the future promise, but I can’t demand those promises now.

Jesus came to destroy the root of death, sorrow, mourning, pain, and tears. He came to destroy sin. But for now, we live in the in-between. The already, but not yet.

Jesus was willing to heal my son from sin. He healed his little body as well. Not in a second best, or incomplete way, but entirely. He is whole and with Jesus.

Too often I want God’s promise for complete healing now. I expect what God has only promised in the coming age – right now. God’s purpose is not to rid my life of pain, but of sin.

In Luke 15:11-16, the prodigal son says to his father, “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.” In our impatience, we want the inheritance that God has promised for eternity - on earthly terms. We desire physical healing and the absence of sorrow, more than we desire our Father’s presence in our lives.

And sometimes the Lord, in mercy and grace, gives us healing, and keeps us from sorrow. Praise God for that. It is a good gift. But may we not squander that gift by pridefully leaving our Father.

May we instead draw near to our good Father, that longs to give us good gifts. Both in this age, and the age to come. May we rejoice in our salvation, the willingness of our Father to forgive sin, and make us clean. May we trust Him, knowing that one day, He will make all things new.

Monday, May 8, 2017

It's a.......


In the last three years in Bolivia, I can count on one (maybe two) hands, the number of clothes I have purchased here. And 50% of these purchases were related to my brief time teaching PE. Sweatpants. Friends and family have been very generous to send/bring maternity clothes, so even that I haven’t had to buy! 

However, in the last few weeks, I have started to buy baby clothes! Partly, I’m just so excited about cute baby clothes that I couldn’t wait to get started. But mostly, it is because of how time consuming clothes shopping is here. I really can’t complain, Cochabamba has SO many options. However, new baby clothes imported from the US are expensive, and the best option seems to be the used clothes section of the market!

I have posted a video here (If you're short on time skip to 1:30 to see the actual clothes shopping.) from a family in Cochabamba on a clothes shopping trip, but it is generally like a big garage sale. In the market, there are several areas that have blocks of clothing. Each store has a variety of clothes set up like a garage sale in the US. Sometimes there is a great selection of good quality and good prices, and sometimes not. Most of the time, baby clothes cost around $1.50 each, but occasionally there are baskets of clothes for $0.75! Last week, I also found a tomato in this bargain basket- surprise!

Anyway, since the market requires a good 45 minutes by bus, some uphill walking, and lots of patience sorting through clothes, I am trying to finish as much as possible before it’s too late. BUT, if you happen to have extra baby boy clothes lying around, my sister is coming to visit in JUNE, and she has lots of space in her suitcase. She would love to bring baby clothes with her…right Autumn? 
Enjoy a virtual shopping trip through picture! ( These are other people's pictures for the most part.)

First, we catch the big yellow "Q" bus to the bus terminal at the market.

The streets around the bus terminal are crowded, so we wind our way through traffic.
(This is why the pictures are borrowed from google, pick-pocketing is very common in the crowds.)

A few blocks into the market, there are tons of vendors with delicious fruits and vegetables.

There are also some not so nice corners...especially when the trash service is on strike....

And finally the clothes section....let the treasure hunt begin!


The treasure washed and drying in the "dryer"!
IT"S A BOY!











Monday, April 17, 2017

Children's Day & Easter Celebrations

I have heard many time that Bolivia has more holidays than normal days. It seems like every week we have a reason to celebrate - partly because everyone gets their own day! Most recently we have celebrated:

-New Years
-Bolivian New Years
-Anniversary of the new name of Bolivia
- Valentines Day
-Carnival (Mardi Gras)
-Father's Day
-Day of the Sea
-Pedestrian Day #1 (of four)
-Children's Day
-Good Friday
-Easter

This might be a SLIGHT exaggeration, but by the time you throw in birthdays and protests in the road, we have a LOT of holidays. 

However, Easter in Bolivia is very different from my idea of Easter. Because the catholic church in Bolivia has mixed  many indigenous and superstitious customs, the evangelical church typically avoids anything related to the catholic church. Unfortunately, that means egg hunts/ baskets/ and Easter chocolates are rare. Confetti eggs are unheard of, and my Easter lunch consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches. ( We did talk about the resurrection at church though, so really I just miss the shallow parts of Easter. :) ) 

Fortunately, Children's Day this year happened to fall close to Easter, so we had a good excuse to celebrate with the kids at Happy Hour and church.

On Friday the church hosted an excursion day at a local park, and we were able to spend the day with good friends. Several families gave testimony to how God is working in their lives. It is exciting to see how God is working in and through the local church.
The testimony of a family that has been at the church for the last year, sharing about how God has changed their family since accepting Christ.

On Saturday at Happy Hour, a group of teenagers from the church came and put on a puppet show about prayer and obedience. I never did get a good count, but we served about 120 pieces of cake at the end!
Franco representing the Cowboys. :)

Someone was more interested in the camera than the puppet show.....
On Sunday at church, the same group of teenagers performed for all of the children in Sunday School, and we helped with crowd control and passing out the snacks. (My favorite!) We also celebrated Easter with baptisms after the service, and 16 people from the church were baptized!

Overall, it was a great Easter weekend. We are thankful for Jesus' death and resurrection, and for one more reason to celebrate! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let Happy Hour Begin!

Happy Hour is about to begin again! 

For the last two months Happy Hour, the weekly neighborhood Bible club has been on vacation. During the Bolivian Summer break, many of the children visit family in other parts of Bolivia, and attendance decreases. Since school is now back in session, we will be starting to meet again with the children and family that live in the neighborhood.

3-5 Year Old Class

Singing!

Playing outside with the kids before classes start


Often as we walk to the road to take a bus into the city, or to the store on the corner we see families that come to Happy Hour and get to visit with them. 

We have also gotten to continue to studying the Bible with Jasmine (name changed for privacy). This week we will be celebrating her 16th birthday with her favorite food Pique Macho, a classic Bolivian dish. (Ill try out my new Bolivian Cookbook....) Jasmine lives with her sister down the street from us, and her parents work in a small town about 3 hours away. 


Please pray for Jasmine and her family, that she would be a witness of Jesus' love to her family, and that He would work through us. Please also pray for the beginning of Happy Hour, that we would be able to connect and build relationships of trust with families in the neighborhood. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bible School Reunion


This last weekend we were able to spend at a retreat for the alumni of the Bible school Franco attended. He had been asked to be the speaker for the retreat, and we were able to take advantage and visit his family who live near by as well.

The Bible school is also a farm, and many of the students receive partial to full scholarships by helping with the care of the cows and crops. Franco went to the school on this scholarship and learned as much about cows and crops as he did the Bible... Almost! :)

The theme of the weekend was based on 1 Peter 5:6-10. In the morning the days started off with breakfast and a devotional, and then a time of worship and a sermon. After the sermon was a time for sports! (My personal favorite.) after lunch, we had smaller groups to discuss and reflect on the messages. I had the privilege of leading the women's discussion group, and was encouraged by the openness of the women to how God is working in their hearts and lives.

In the evenings there was another message, and testimony of the ministry of alumni. Students from all over Bolivia and some from Argentina shared about how the Lord has used the Bible school in their lives and ministries.

Below are a few pictures from the weekend:

Group Photo


Hight-tec projector set-up

Franco preaching and representing UNT!



Screen printing t-shirts     



Corn fields and the coulds covering the mountains


Finished product