Thursday, August 20, 2020

How Can I Pray for Bolivia & COVID-19?


Covid 19 has affected Bolivia in many ways, but these are three main three areas that stand out, and ways we can pray .

1.       Mid-March, the Bolivian government took extreme measure to slow the spread of the virus. Mandatory curfews and consequences were put into place. Those measure have relaxed, but movement is still extremely limited.

Adults are allowed to leave their homes between 6am-4pm two days a week. (depending on your ID #) Children and Elderly have not been allowed to leave the house legally for almost 5 months. This has affected many families that were already living in extreme poverty.

The Lord has provided funds to provide weekly bags of food for each of the families we work with most closely. This also allows us to visit briefly with each family, pray with them, and discuss the week{s bible study.  We have been so encouraged by the way these new believers have shared their food with neighbors in the hopes of being a testimony to God{s love.

Please pray that the physical need & hunger of the people would open doors for sharing the gospel and discipling new believers.

2.       Despite these preventative measure, hospitals are overrun. Even for those who can afford to pay, access is limited.

Franco’s father and grandfather passed away last month due to COVID, and his mom was just released from the hospital after almost 4 weeks. The hospitals are not able to provide even basic needs, such as water and toilet paper. We are thankful the Lord has provided people that were able to help meet these needs for his mom, as we were not able to travel to be with her, but many people do not have the same resources.

Please pray for health and protection, especially for Franco as he delivers food and meets with families. Pray that many would see an urgency of their need for Jesus. Please pray for Franco’s family as they grieve- that they would be a light to non-believing friends and family.

3.       Education has also been affected. Due to the extreme poverty in Bolivia, most families do not have internet in their homes. The Bolivian school year runs from February- November, and most children have not had any instruction since March. The government decided this week to end the school year, and pass everyone on to the next grade level. This will cause almost all students to fall behind academically.

Because the children have not had classes, we have been able to provide Bible study material for the parents to work through  with their children.  We praise the Lord for how He in working in the homes of our neighbors.

Pray for wisdom as we seek to serve the families we work with. Pray that the Lord would use us to equip parents to help their children academically, but more importantly, to train them up in the way of the Lord.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Resources for Grief

Several days after Ezekiel was born, I found myself scrolling through old Facebook posts in the middle of the night. I was searching for a post from an acquaintance who had posted several articles about grief after losing their baby boy the year before.

The Lord in his mercy brought this couple and their posts to my mind, and He used those posts and later, that friendship to comfort me in my grief, and point me to Jesus, the anchor of my hope.

Today, on what would have been Ezekiel’s 3rd birthday, I wanted to share some of the resources that were instrumental in pointing me to the hope of the gospel in my grief.

Obviously, every person experiences grief differently. These resources are not a checklist for “overcoming” grief, and they may or may not be helpful for everyone.  They are some of the ones that were most helpful for me.

The Bible is clear that Christians are NOT immune to suffering.

John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
James 1:2-4 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

We should expect to suffer. The Lord allows suffering for those He loves, and He doesn’t waste anything. Everything He allows is for our eternal good and His glory.

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells the story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock. Even if you are not suffering now, I can’t encourage you enough to look through these resources. Build your life on the firm foundation of Jesus now. Understanding suffering in light of the gospel is so important. Not only will it be helpful for you when the storm does come, it will allow you to love and support others in their suffering.

I pray that you don’t find yourself searching for this post in the middle of grief. But if you do, I pray that the Lord uses it to comfort you and turn your eyes upon Him.

If you do find yourself searching for hope in the midst of grief, I would love to talk with you more.

With love,

·         Video: "What Grieving People Really Wish You Knew About What Helps (and What Really Hurts)" Nancy Guthrie
This was one of the original posts that was helpful to me. SO often people want to be helpful, and they just don’t know how. This short video is helpful for those around you, but it was also helpful to me in remembering to have grace for others when they don’t say the “right” thing.

·         Nancy Guthrie Books: Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow
If you read nothing else – please read this. This book addresses the hard questions we have about a good God in the midst of suffering.

·         Nancy Guthrie Books: Holding Onto Hope
Nancy Guthrie lost two babies to a rare genetic disease. This book is part of her story, and includes a bible study on the book of Job.  (I think anything by Nancy Guthrie is great, but I will limit my suggestions to these. J)

·         Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, by Timothy Keller
This book is great if you are looking for a biblical understanding of suffering. I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually finished reading it- it’s a hard read. What I have read has been great.

·         Sermon: A Christian’s Happiness
This is a 20+ year old sermon that a friend sent me after Ezekiel was born. I listened to it on repeat in the months after. Based on Romans 8, it talks about what God has actually promised us, and where our happiness as Christians comes from.

·         Songs: Though You Slay Me – Shane & Shane
This song was also on repeat for months. The chorus says, “Though you slay me, yet I will praise you. Though you take from me, I will bless your name. Though you ruin me, still I will worship, sing a song to the one who’s all I need. ” There were many (most) days, that I could not sing this. It was my prayer. The message from John Piper in the middle of the song was a balm to my soul.

·         Song: Show us Christ: Sovereign Grace Music
Based on the verse in John 6:68, “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Often in grief I came back to this verse. As hard as it was to trust the Lord, only Jesus offered any real hope. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

This week we have rejoiced in the Lord, and the good sweet gift of our daughter Adelle.

When we found out we were expecting in March, we were incredibly thankful. A positive pregnancy test was an answer to a year and a half of prayer. Our excitement was real, as was our fear. We knew that a positive pregnancy test did not necessarily equal a promise of a healthy baby, and yet our desire was to celebrate every day of life the Lord granted us.

As the weeks passed, we began to make plans. We struggled day by day to trust in God’s sovereignty, and were constantly reminded that “having faith” meant trusting the Lord to be good no matter what happened, not a blind assurance that He would do what we wanted.

In June, I traveled back to Texas in order to have access to the best medical care and resources possible. Our son Ezekiel was born prematurely at 30 weeks (7 months), and we wanted to do whatever we could to be prepared for a similar situation. Franco stayed in Bolivia until August to continue with ministry responsibilities and because of his visa situation.

The two months we were apart were hard and emotional, but we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity of those that gave of their time, finances, prayers and generosity to make it possible.

When Franco arrived in August we breathed a collective sigh of relief. However, we were also nearing the 30 week mark of pregnancy, and I expected to go into labor any day. Although the doctors said Adelle was healthy and growing, I had my hospital bag packed, and by the door. As the days passed, the idea that we might really have a baby became more and more real. Each week I watched my videos about baby’s development, and read about the risks of premature babies and the odds of survival. I alternated between planning for coming home from the hospital, and thinking about what songs I would sing at a funeral. I praised God for the kicks inside of me, but hesitated to take the tags off of anything, because I still wasn’t sure I would be able to use it.

In September, my sister moved to Northern Ireland to study, and my parents went with her. While they were traveling, we went for a check-up, and the sonogram technician suddenly got quiet. She was concerned about signs of early labor, and my doctor agreed. Before going home, I was given my first round of steroid shots to help mature Adelle’s lungs in case she was born early. I was also put on bed rest, and I was sure she would be born any day. Since Franco doesn’t drive in the USA, my mom sent out a request to her friends, and we were immediately taken care of. Dear friends and family were so gracious in serving us, visiting us, bringing groceries, delivering meals, taking us to doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, etc… We were reminded that even in difficult circumstances, God shows His love for us through His people, and we could trust Him in whatever was to come.

As time passed, we were amazed that Adelle continued to grow. A sweet friend was teaching me to knit, and I spent my days knitting this blanket, and reflecting on the fact that as I knit this blanket, God was knitting Adelle together in the womb. As I made mistake after mistake, I marveled at the fact that God does not.

On Wednesday, October 16th, two years and three months after Ezekiel was born, Franco and I woke up about 4:30 am, anxious to get to the hospital for our scheduled C-section at noon. I took my time getting ready, because I wanted to make sure that I had pictures with Adelle when she was born. With Ezekiel everything happened so fast and unexpectedly that we were only able to take a few pictures of him in the incubator before he went to be with the Lord.

Leaving for the hospital!

The drive to the hospital seemed surreal. I couldn’t believe we had made it to term at 37 weeks of pregnancy. It was a miracle! When we got to the hospital, we walked up to the admissions desk, and I informed them I was there for my c-section. As if it was as normal as checking in to any other appointment I had ever had. The sweet volunteer asked if it was our first baby, and I told her it was, because that seemed easier. She grinned when I told her it was a girl, and she informed me I should start saving for the wedding! Ha! We are still saving for the birth!

After a few minutes, we were called back to prepare for surgery, and we spent the next two hours being poked and prodded and monitored.

Finally, at noon, they took me to the operating room, and Franco changed into his scrubs. I had read online that Oct. 16th was World Anesthesia Day, so I congratulated my anesthesiologist as he administered the anesthesia. He didn’t know about it, but I assured him Wikepedia said it was.
As they began the surgery, I waited for Franco to come in and listened to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” on the radio in the background. Hopefully that isn’t a sign of things to come, but it made me laugh.

A few minutes after Franco arrived, the doctors lowered the curtain, and we heard the first sweet cries of our daughter. We cried tears of joy and relief as she continued to cry. Franco went to be with her, and I waited impatiently for them to bring her back to me. As I held her, I praised God for bringing her safely into the world.

Now we are home, and we continue to praise God for every moment He gives us with her. Even the 2:00 am diaper changes and feedings feel extra sweet, because we know what it is to wake up at 2:00 am and NOT have a diaper to change.

We love to watch her facial expressions, and imagine what her life will look like and who she will be. But sometimes, I look at her face, and I see her brother. In those moments the grief is fresh, and I am amazed at how similar they look. I watch her face move, and remember the moments that I stared at her brother’s still face thinking of Lazarus rising from the grave.

And in those moments, I am reminded of the verse:

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

In the days after Ezekiel was born, I wrote in the margin in my Bible beside this verse, “Not when you want to rejoice – rejoice always!” It has often been a struggle since then, but I have learned that I am rejoicing in the Lord, and His finished and saving work on the cross. I am rejoicing in my good, loving Father, who allowed His son to take my sin and shame upon Himself. I am rejoicing in a God that was not only with me in my suffering, but a God that shared in my suffering Himself.

Even now, as I am grateful for, and rejoice in the good and undeserved gift of a healthy baby girl, I am ultimately called to rejoice in the Lord and who He is, not only in what He chooses to give.  

We are IMMENSELY grateful for SO many of your prayers, your generosity, and sacrifices you have made. We pray that today as you read this, whether you are rejoicing in the Lord and His good gifts, or rejoicing in the Lord and His hard gifts, you feel the joy and peace that surpass understanding.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Picture Update


Bolivia celebrates Children's Day on April 12th each year. At Happy Hour each child got a balloon and a special snack. 

Halloween is heavily tied to dark spiritual traditions in Bolivia, so Children's Day is an alternative for dressing up! 

On special occasions we always have lots of kids at Happy Hour!
(Pay no attention to the sleeping child in the corner... it really was a fun day!)


This month we have started guitar classes on Friday afternoons. The kids are learning to play guitar using the worship songs we sing at Happy Hour. 

It's a slow process.....

It's a great opportunity to meet some of the parents that don't normally come to Happy Hour in an informal setting.
(Homemade pizza is always a good thing too!)


Andres & Becky are expert bread makers, and they make fresh bread each week to take on our home visits. 

We have been working with a family this week that is struggling to provide for their grandchildren. Franco is TRYING to communicate with the great grandmother who only speaks Quechua. Needless to say, there was a lot of sign language. 

This particular family raises pigs, chicken, cows, and harvests corn, as you can see laid out in the background. 

Sometimes we get put to work cutting the corn stalks.... 

We don't have a picture of the adults, but this is the table in preparation... 

On Sunday afternoons we are studying the book of Acts with a few families from Happy Hour. The kids have their own class with Becky, and they are a lot cuter than the adults!


As a reward for memorizing bible verses, and having perfect attendance in her class at Happy Hour, "A" won a trip to the movies. We couldn't resist the $0.15 massage chairs, and she loved it! 

She's happier than she looks, I promise.

Outside of the movie theater!


Franco spent two week in April teaching a class in his hometown in southern Bolivia.

We are expecting another baby in late October! We are so thankful for this life, and continue to trust God daily (and hourly).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Curbside Pick-up... The Bolivian Way

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about how I could best share our life in Bolivia with our friends and family from far away. One of the biggest differences in daily living is grocery shopping (and prices!). It is a far cry from curbside pick-up, but I have grown to mostly love it. 

Because Cochabamba is one of the largest cities in Bolivia, we have a variety of options when it comes to shopping. There are two big chains of supermarkets (think Target and Walmart in the early 2000's), lots of smaller mini-mart type stores, and then traditional markets. 

Because we rely on public transportation, getting to the big supermarkets is usually more trouble than it's worth. We typically go when we "need" specialty items like tortillas, cream cheese, peanut butter, etc... 

On a normal week, we usually go to the market closest to our house for our groceries. About two blocks from our house, there is a bus that will take us to the market. The bus costs 1 boliviano each -about 15 cents.

When we get to the market, our first stop is to buy chicken! The meat section would definitely not meet any FDA regulations, and I try to hold my breath as we walk in. 

Each week we go to stall #15 and buy chicken breasts for us, and all the leftovers (chicken feet, head, heart, liver, intestines) for our dog. The chicken breast costs about $1.50 per pound, and the leftovers are about $0.30 per pound.

This week we had a small misunderstanding where I accidentally asked for 12 pounds instead of 12 chicken breasts. OOPS! Just when I think I've mastered Spanish, something always keeps me humble. 

Our next stop is the vegetable section! There are around 15 vendors with their individual stands, but we try to go to the same one each week. The quality of vegetables seems to be the best, and the lady is always very friendly. 

Franco was the official photographer for this blog, which is pretty risky because the vendors are very cautious about being photographed. He did a good job taking sneaky pictures, so any blurry pictures are a result of that. :)

The cost of vegetables in Bolivia is MUCH lower than in the United States, and they are all locally grown and organic. 

Our next stop is the fruit section! 

Franco thinks the Garden of Eden must have looked something like this!

After our shopping, we stop into out favorite snack place to re-new our strength and people watch.

I almost always order my favorite combo: a Tucumana (fried and breaded with llama meat, onion and peas served with a spicy peanut sauce), and a mini coke. For only $1!

With renewed strength, we make the walk to the bus. The bus leaves us about three block from our house, and poor Franco carries our groceries. (This is one of the nicest perks of marriage. When I first came to Bolivia I struggled with my groceries alone, and had more than a few embarrassing moments as my bags broke and I tried to maneuver my way in and out of crowded buses.) 

Almost home! We live across from the second light post.

I laid out the groceries so they were easier to see. As you can see, we mostly eat chicken and vegetables, accompanied by rice or noodles (we buy those in bulk). 

Milk & Coffee come in a bag! To serve, a small hole is cut in the corner of the bag, and can then be poured. (I could do a whole blog on all of the things that are sold in plastic bags here..... suffice to say that the gas station next to our house sells gasoline in plastic bags.)

In the last year or so I have discovered these bags or pre-cut vegetables and they make life so much easier! They come with cabbage, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, and sometimes peas. They are great to add to a soup or stir-fry! ($0.30)

This is  can of pineapple chunks. It is also a part of the government subsidy of food that every pregnant and breast-feeding mother in Bolivia is entitled to. "PROHIBIDA SU VENTA" means ""PROHIBITED TO SELL". Almost every time I go shopping I end up buying something from the subsidy. I guess its a good thing only the selling is illegal, not the buying!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

18,000 + WORDS

This past July, I celebrated my anniversary with Bolivia. In July of 2012 I came to Bolivia for the first time, and in July of 2014 I moved to Bolivia with exactly 99.5 lbs of luggage and a backpack that probably weighed almost as much.

 As time has passed, the novelty of life here has faded. The things I once considered foreign have become [mostly] normal. I used to be afraid of getting burned when I lit a match, and now I light a match to start the stove several times a day. I used to cringe when greeting people with a cheek to cheek air kiss, and now I only cringe when the other person is especially sweaty or has prickly facial hair.

Over the last four years, Bolivia has become my second home. There are things about this country that are really beautiful, and there are also things that I am still waiting for the Lord to make beautiful.

I would love to share my second home with all of you, (please come and visit... we have a room for you!) both the beautiful things, and the not so beautiful things. But because that isn't very probable, I thought I'd share pictures from a typical week in Bolivia.

On Saturdays before Happy Hour starts, the kids start arriving up to two hours early to play soccer. The Happy Hour building and land is such a blessing, and our prayer is for it to be a local church in the near future!

While the kids are playing in the park, I get to talk to the women who come with their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, etc...

This little boy is a monkey in and out of class. Last week he climbed onto a stack of tables, opened the window and jumped outside during prayer. I really should pray with my eyes open.

Worship time with the kids before going to their classes.

Each song has a visual aid for the lyrics (Forget projectors!) The kids love to be in charge of displaying the lyrics, so it is extremely ineffective, but they enjoy it. 

Singing "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back". We pray that this would be more than a song, but something real.

After worship, we have three different classes. Franco teaches the 10 years and older class.

I have the six and under class. We are learning about the miracles of Jesus this month.

As we have tried to become more involved in our community, we have been intentional about doing everything as close to home as possible so we can meet our neighbors. As I was getting my hair trimmed across the street (risky), we ran into a guy we had met a couple of times before. He informed us that he was going to get his dentures made, and proceeded to show us the dentures in his pocket. He then insisted that Franco take a picture of this sign with a phone number so that we can refer all of our friends that need dentures. (And I just thought getting my hair cut here was risky.) We actually do know a lot of people that need dentures, but I haven't found a polite way to suggest that just yet. 

During the week, we visit the families that come to Happy Hour. Sometimes our visits are quick, and sometimes we get to stay and share a story from the Bible and pray with the families. Many of the families come from a very close knit farming community. It is easy for us to see the families freshly bathed and in their best clothes at Happy Hour and forget the hard situations they are coming from.

The family that lives here comes every week to Happy Hour. There are six siblings, and the oldest girl (11 years) bathes all of her siblings and washes their clothes so that they can come.

They raise turkeys to sell, and everytime we visit I get excited about Thanksgiving!

Speaking of food, the grill we got from the jail for our 1st anniversary continues to be well loved. A couple time a month we have families from Happy Hour or church over for a delicious barbecue.

Bolivia has SO MANY holidays. Almost every week we are celebrating something. This was September 14th, Cochabamba's anniversary. We went with Franco's brother and sister-in-law to a park outside the city and enjoyed fresh air!

This couple became Christians a little over a year ago, and decided to get married! They have been sweet friends to us, and Franco was honored to get to be the master of ceremonies for their wedding. 

Remember when I told everyone that I was going to Bolivia to be a librarian?? Well four years later, I actually am! Three days a week I am helping with the library at Carachipampa Christian School. I love getting to recommend good books, and I especially enjoy spending time with the kids I have taught over the last few years.  

Checking out books to my first grade class of 2014! They are almost 5th graders now (because of the calendar change from American to Bolivian system) I don't know how much I taught them, but they are reading big books now, so that's a good sign!

How Can I Pray for Bolivia & COVID-19?

  Covid 19 has affected Bolivia in many ways, but these are three main three areas that stand out, and ways we can pray . 1.        Mid-Ma...