Christmas in the Villages

It is always said that Christmas is a time for giving.  But why do we give?  We give because God first gave us his most precious gift, Jesus.  In the spirit of this giving Lovely Feet Ministries in partnership with Pastor Juan Saravia took Christmas dinner to 13 families in the Altiplano.

The morning started out cold with a promise of rain.  We began our day praying that God would bless our time in the villages and keep the rain at bay until we had finished.  The roads we take are prone to landslides and many are made only of dirt.  Rain, mud and landslides can render the roads un-passable in just a short time.

We left La Paz just after 8am and headed to villages.  The previous night we had loaded the Christmas dinners into individual gift bags. Each dinner included a roasting chicken, 1 lb of Rice, green beans, 2 Ltr of Coke, a Christmas cake called Panetone and a Christmas platter.

The sun was shinning when we arrived in Patacamaya at about 10am. We went straight to the church and had a short worship service where Ron shared about the Good Samaritan. His message that just as Jesus represents the Good Samaritan in this parable, we are to represent God as we reach out to help those in need in Patacamaya and around the world.

All of the brothers and sisters were grateful to God to receive their Christmas dinners.  They each expressed excitement and agreement when Rhonda shared that next year each of them would have their turn to bless another with a Christmas dinner.

The rain continued to stay off in the distance as we traveled the 45 minutes to Calacachi.  If you remember, this is the village that had their house of prayer (a small shed) destroyed by a storm.  The small group of believers continues to meet each Sunday afternoon in the open air.  We were well received and the brothers and sisters were overwhelmed and happy to receive Christmas dinner.

We took Brother Leoncio and his family to Patacamaya and had lunch with Pastor Juan before heading back to La Paz.  The rain that threatened all day finally came but not before we had completed God’s work for the day.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are humbled to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the Aymara of the Altiplano.  Your generosity made it possible to feed 13 families a Christmas dinner that they will always remember as a gift from their heavenly Father.


 

Chickens – $67

Green beans – $5

Rice – $20

Panetone (a traditional cake)- $20

Platters – $15

Coke Cole – $20

Gift bags – $4

Christmas Dinner TOTAL $151

 

4 x 4 Jeep rental to the villages – $80

Gasoline – $27

Transportation TOTAL $107

 

TOTAL FOR CHRISTMAS IN THE VILLAGE $258

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A Miracle Morning

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Rhonda and I were up at 6:00 a.m. and soon walking the ½ mile to the Teleferico where we would descend from our mountaintop in El Alto in the little glass box that provides transportation similar to a tram.  Fortunately, it was a nice day, the sun was rising and it was warm and the views of the mountains and the city below us were excellent.  We arrived at a stop thousands of feet below where we live and met some of our Pastor friends in a place called Obrajes.  There we walked across a long bridge and arrived at our destination, a hill that was filled with houses and apartments and small stores, called tiendas, streetside.

Riding the Teleferico down into the city.

Riding the Teleferico down into the city.

The hill is without roads, people ascend staircases to reach their own home, so the neighborhood is closed to outsiders.  But in the middle of the neighborhood stood an empty apartment, given to our Pastor friends for the purpose of a new church plant.  The location is ideal to reach this entire neighborhood and our friends, Polycarp and Teresa also are the owners of a tiny storefront at the street where they have a small restaurant.  This storefront isn’t like those we have in the U.S.  The door is more or less a garage door that opens and reveals the restaurant fully open to the street.

Our purpose this day was to pray, to usher in the anointing of God, to dedicate the location, the hill, this neighborhood for God.  The Lord gave Rhonda a word from Matthew; “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:14-16)  This was its inauguration and God’s light was shining.  We prayed from across the street, taking in the view of the whole hill and all the houses on it and then Polycarp opened the garage door and we entered into the little tienda restaurant to pray some more.  We raised our voices and our hands and invited the Spirit of God to make this place a light on the hill and we invited in God’s presence.

And then it happened!  As we prayed a young man of about 30 years happened by on the sidewalk.  The sound of our voices stopped him, froze him there on the sidewalk a mere 8 feet away from us.  There he waited and tears began to roll down his cheeks.  When we finished our prayer, we all turned to him.  Through his tears he told Rhonda that he had an accident.  His face and hands were covered with scars from a fire.   His wife had left him and taken his child and he had left God whom he had known and taken to drinking to relieve his pain.  He smelled heavily of alcohol, but he begged us to pray that God would change his life and take him back.  For the next thirty minutes we prayed.  He spent several minutes in my arms, resting his head on my chest and then, strangely, he looked in my eyes and said to me that I was a tiger and not afraid of anything.

He fell to his knees, cried, hugged us all and then, he picked up Polycarp’s guitar and began to play beautifully.  He is obviously musically talented and he sang and sobbed to God.  His name is Eusebio and he is our brother in the Lord.  Please pray for him.

We all received this as a confirmation that God wanted to work in this neighborhood.  How many times have you had an experience that simply during prayer, someone came and begged for God to change them?  I can tell you that it has happened more than once to us here in Bolivia.  And each time is a beautiful event.  I often like to say that God does the most beautiful things when it is not part of our planning, but it is simply when we are available.  He then works his plan.

I know that some of you reading this may think that Eusebio will not continue to follow the Lord, that it was simply an emotional response of someone who had too much to drink, but I must walk by faith and I am asking you to pray and believe with me that we have snatched this soul from the gates of hell.  Let’s pray that the grave clothes of that old dead man will be removed and that he will walk as a resurrected man, given new life and that his scars, both physically and emotionally will be healed in the name of Jesus.

One more thing:  The morning was not over.  Rhonda and I returned to the teleferico where we expected to return to the city for a second meeting with two other Pastors.  Only Rhonda and I and one other woman were in our little box that would climb back up the mountain.  That woman, Jacquelyn, began to talk with us, but her casual conversation turned to one of seriousness.  Her son of five years old named Benjamin was in the hospital here in La Paz.  She brought him here because he was diagnosed with cancer.  There, flying over the city, through tears we all called on the Lord, on the name of Jesus, to show himself in that hospital room and heal this child.  Jacquelyn and Benjamin are not from La Paz, they came from Sucre to get him medical care and this day they were to return home for Christmas until she would bring him back for more treatments in January.  We gave her our number and asked her to call us upon their return—but we are praying they will not need to return.  I am asking again for your prayers—for Benjamin and Jacquelyn.

OH, one more:  The day wasn’t over.  After a great meeting with the other Pastors, (although we were more than an hour late, they were understanding), we found ourselves in a cab with a Christian man who told us about his family—all Christians except for one 19 year old son, Marcello.  That’s right, we again enjoyed the privilege of prayer together, this time that God would demonstrate his power and show himself strong in the life of Marcello.  Amen.

It is unusual for us to meet so many Christians in one day.  Often we are confronted with witches, those who bow to Mother earth as animists, and sometimes cult groups, but today we met those in the body of Christ who needed encouragement.  What a privilege, what a blessing.

To that I say, Here we are Lord, send us!  Let your kingdom come and your will be done.  Amen.

 

My Grocery Store

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So, we are off to the grocery store-sort of.  We live only four blocks from where we do most of our grocery shopping and odds and ends shopping as well.  It’s not quite Walmart, but we like many of the things we can find in the street market called, Mercado Satelite.  Market days are Thursdays and Sundays, but the grocery part is open every day.  There are no processed foods, it’s all fresh and you shop vendor to vendor for what you want.  On market days you can find shoes, plastic tubs and garbage cans, videos, toys, tools, and more.  The fruits and vegetables are better than most of what you find in the states and the prices are much less.

Watch the video to see the market, some of the fruits and Rhonda buying a chicken.  That day I also bought some thinly sliced cow liver—Chloe and Figaro love that stuff!

 

We also have a regular grocery store about a mile from our house.  It’s new and sells groceries, as well as socks and shirts.  It is not nearly as well stocked as a grocery in the U.S., but occasionally we can find some things there that we are used to.  The problem is the price.  This week we bought a small jar of Ragu tomato sauce.  It was that or we have to make it from scratch, which quite frankly is time consuming.  But it cost $4.50 for the same jar we could find in the U.S. for $1.89.  A box of American cereal is $4, a small jar of peanut butter is $4.50.  So you can see we don’t like to go there unless we need cheese.  And let’s face it, we need cheese.  It is reasonably priced and tastes good.  Otherwise we stick to the street market where we get things much cheaper and we make friends with some of the vendors.

Church Service in El Alto

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Just like services in the United States, church services in the city of La Paz and El Alto have their own flavors, their own styles, their own worship music.  This Sunday we attended the service at Vida Abundante, a Church of God church in the city of El Alto.  Their music is quite contemporary Spanish most every Sunday, but occasionally they will sing to the Lord in Aymara with Aymara rhythms.  We have had the pleasure to preach at Vida Abundante often and even play and sing with their worship band, but this past Sunday we were there to encourage them and enjoy the preaching of our good friend, Pastor Richard.

The little clip below is from their contemporary worship service where you can see some of the Aymara women worshipping.  The young woman singing lead is Pastora Claudia.  She was the lead Pastor of this congregation for more than two years during which time the church grew.  Now, she supports Pastor Richard in every way she can.

Pastor Richard has been leading the congregation for the last three years.  Below is short clip from his sermon entitled, Restored in Order to Restore and Renewed in Order to Renew.

We were honored by the Pastor to address the church before service.  They always want to hear from us.  After the service I was asked to bless and anoint three vehicles for the Lord.  We always love to be with our friends at Vida Abundante.

We always love going to Vida Abundante where we are considered part of the family.

My Bolivian Electric Shower!

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We are continuing our blog about our surroundings here in Bolivia for a couple of weeks to inform and fascinate you with how we live at 2 ½ miles above sea level, how we shop, how we stay warm, how we cook, and how we breathe (the answer to that question is: not very well-at least for a couple of weeks until we acclimate).

In this blog, we are answering the question many people have asked me regarding how we take a shower when we live in an apartment that is always cold, has no heat and no hot water.  So, below is our short  video of our shower.

I like to think of my shower as a Mr. Coffee Shower.  There are electric heating elements in the shower head like Mr. Coffee and the slower the water goes the more time it has to heat up.  If the water flows much more than a slow fall, it will not heat up and you will have a polar bear shower.  And if someone in the building flushes the toilet or uses a faucet you will again instantly experience the Arctic circle.  It is at its worst in the winter when the air around you is about 40-50 degrees-that’s right, inside the bathroom of our apartment it is 40-50 degrees in the winter which greatly reduces your need for a shower.  But when the time comes the shower is taken very rapidly, putting one shoulder under the water while the other shoulder and various other parts freeze, then the body spins quickly to “clean” the other side, while icicles form on the underarm hair of the former side.

So, there it is, water and electricity with naked you (well, a naked me or Rhonda) standing in it—who thought that was a good idea?  And don’t forget to look for that ground wire in the video (it’s the green one that is not connected) and the fuse box that is just outside the shower curtain (it’s the one hanging out of the wall with exposed wires).

And you know what?  We are soooo thankful to the Lord for this shower!

Looks Like We Made It!

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WE MADE IT! WE ARE HOME IN BOLIVIA!

What a journey it has been.  Many stops and starts, obstacles and hurdles, but we landed in El Alto, Bolivia Tuesday at 8:00a.m., safe and sound, exhausted and short of breath because we are 2 ½ miles above sea level.  Customs went smoothly and the weather surprised us with a sunny morning of about 55 degrees.  So Tuesday was a great day to drop the 250 pounds of clothes and things (basically our whole lives) and go to sleep trying to shake off the altitude headaches.  But the altitude wasn’t the only thing that took our breath away.  We often broke into tears, thankful to our God for bringing us to this place, thankful for our partners who are behind us and part of us in this Great Commission of taking His Word and His love to people who don’t know Him.  I cannot express to you how moved we were at the sight of the snow capped mountains of Bolivia outside the airport, and the realization that this step is His miracle in our lives.

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And miracle number 2:  We are living in the same apartment where we lived and ministered two years ago.  It came open just when we needed it and Rhonda secured it during her ministry trip in September.   We are close to the Mercado de Satelite where we shop and centrally located to many of the local ministries where we preach, teach and work to encourage the congregations.

It is our hope that in a few months this room that currently has two chairs will soon have home meetings and the beginnings of a bible training center for pastors and leaders.

We are sleeping in the rear of the building; unfortunately we each only have a twin bed for now.  In the picture is Rhonda’s bed where she stays warm under the quilt that was a gift from the ladies ministry at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.  She needs it because it dips into the upper 40s in the house at night since we have no heat.  Our dog, Chloe is in her little house on the left, trying to stay warm.

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Our home is on the second floor with a small store underneath in the midst of a small neighborhood where some of the people have already begun to welcome our return.  This is just the beginning.

We will soon be meeting with our ministry partner, Pastor Juan, to talk about baptisms in the village of Calacachi and how we will be working in our church plants in Oruro and Patacamaya.  But the next big hurdle is our VISAs.  We obtained a VISA for a specific purpose to enter the country, but now we must be approved for a 1 year residence.  This is a huge task involving hospital physicals, dental exams, blood work ups, Interpol background checks, police investigations and interviews with our neighbors as well as with our sponsors.  So, please pray for us as we begin this arduous task.

For next couple of weeks we will be blogging some local vignettes to acquaint you with where we live.  We love you all.  Thanks for your help getting us here.

www.lovelyfeet.org

Leaving on a jet plane…

Haynes 30 Oct 14

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We are packing our bags and heading home…home to Bolivia that is.  As we sort through things to determine what stays, what goes and what we give away we are filled with melancholy.

Last weekend we celebrated Merry ThanksChristgivingmas with our kids and grand kids.  We decorated a a 12 inch tree and ate the best turkey I have ever made.  Later we Skyped with those that didn’t live close enough to come to our house and we sang Christmas Carols and laughed and laughed.  Figaro got into spirit by dressing as Santa Claus.

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We have begun the “saying goodbye” process. That is the thing about being a missionary, you are always saying goodbye to people you love.  But, the good thing about that is you get to say “hello” to other people you love.

We will leave Tennessee this Saturday.  Our dear sister Jan Wallace will be driving us all the way to Miami to save costs on airfare or renting a car.  On Sunday we will be sharing about the mission at Crossroads Family Fellowship in Clermont Florida.

Please remember us in your prayers.  We leave from Miami on Monday, November 10 and will arrive in Bolivia the morning of November 11th.

Blessings from your missionaries Ron & Rhonda

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