Two months ago 11 of us found ourselves en route to Guayaramerin, Bolivia. Today I’m wondering what’s faded only to remain in the hundreds of digital snaps we captured, and what’s stuck within and amidst those of us who shared this experience. “My Bolivian Treasure” was the title of the Sabbath morning message I shared just a few days before we left. We talked so much about trading earthly riches for heavenly treasures. We read daily Proverbs under candlelight, and fell in love with the beauty of hymns sung in different languages. Here’s a glimpse at some of the treasures Team Bolivia uncovered just a few weeks ago.
“It was a great experience for me to go to Bolivia and help out with the school. It took several miracles to get us there, and several more to get us back. I would recommend this opportunity to anyone with a sense of adventure, and a willingness to serve.”
Now that the dust has settled and the American way has resurfaced, it’s a good time to share some thoughts on what took place down in the jungles of South America.
The sun bore into our backs, baking us from the inside out. Red dust perpetually hung in the air and clung to everything – shoes, clothing, skin. “Organic mineral makeup,” we joked after a fine dusting of the ubiquitous dust coated our features during the bumpy truck rides. Insects of every size and shape became our constant companions. Bugs that would have freaked us out days before were now just minor annoyances. Except for the dog-sized mosquitoes, the constant hum of insect wings almost became a lullaby. There was the rooster that insisted on heralding the pre-dawn right outside of our window. A cold front blew through and chilled us in the early morning. “Laundry facilities” were planks of wood, brushes, and soap powder in a slow moving creek. The food was plentiful, but very heavily on the starchy carbohydrate side.
“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isaiah 58:11
But, then there were the stars. Millions of them brilliantly exploding in the night sky. Butterflies of every shape and hue fluttered around us until we did the impossible and ignored them. After a few hours on the job site, fresh, cool water from a spring was sweeter and more satisfying than anything we had known.
The children, their smiles warm and without judgment, embraced us as we stumbled cluelessly for the first few days. They shared their songs, their stories, their tears. The dedication of the missionaries and volunteers shone like a bright beacon and we knew we were camping on holy ground.
Besides the building project and the preaching series, I came away with an appreciation for the work of those dedicated to the ministry and a desire to model my life in a similar fashion.
Somehow it seemed we brought with us loads of luggage to share, and yet left behind the baggage of worldly treasures in exchange for the simplicity of real…life.
“At home, we are rarely able to get beyond ourselves and be reminded of what really matters in life.
This trip was an opportunity to do just that. It was a physical, emotional, and spiritual test that came with a great reward.”
We helped construct a dormitory. We provided medical care for needy patients. We brought the message of hope in Jesus. Together with the support of so many individuals, so much was accomplished in so little time.
I would like to share one of my experiences from the Bolivia trip. I attended a patient in a small clinic in Yata. She had a absess on the bottom of her left foot. The clinic nurse had been treating her with oral and intravenous antibiotics for fifteen days, however, the foot was still abscessed. We decided to open and to clean the wound. During the process, a thorn, about in inch long, popped out. This was why the antibiotic treatment hadn’t worked.
On our travels in Bolivia, we found other similar situations, that is, cases that were more serious than they first appeared and which required money that neither the patients nor families had. I am grateful that we were there and that we could be of assistance. But it would not have been possible without all of your help, without the teamwork.
So thank Austin First SDA Church for their support and thank God for making it all possible.
No matter what may have brought us to Bolivia, and no matter what unique experience we each had while there – the children manifested so well the message we thought we were bringing to them. Full time, fully dedicated, 100% disciples for Christ – the concept of a “mission trip” is simply a matter of routine.
The experience was wonderful. Addy & I have had our first mission experience together and are greatful. We both enjoyed the children & teens we met and were greatly impressed with their good behavoir and kindness towards us. It was our pleasure to serve them both as builders and spiritual support. The regular singing from morning to night was very pleasant and showed their love of God and each other.It was my first opportunity to give a sermon as my wife interpreted and even though I received short notice and wasn’t prepared, the service worked itself out just fine, praise God! I also turned 50 years old while there and hoped to skate by unnoticed, but my wife told the cook to prepare a cake and somehow from then everyone found out. That morning we were woken by serenading outside the screen window and after the morning service I was surprised by the male students who by tradition picked me up and tossed me into the cold river with the last bit of dry clothes available to me. The rest of the day went well with congratulations from practically everyone on campus.Many other adventures were delightful, such as two trips into town to the markets and squares, a special outing to a tourist resort, evening ministry at a local village, a jungle walk, etc. Our fondest memories though are of some of the children because they immediately touched or hearts with an innocent outpouring of love and gratitude for us throughout our visit.My wife and I would be very happy if, God willing, we were able again to visit the campus in Guayaramerin or another mission trip.– Ken