Bolivia Update #4 Final

 VIM BOLIVIA TRIP REPORT #4      COCHABAMBA                28 junio 2010

 In less than an hour the annual despedida for our team will begin here at the Instituto Americano. Unbelievably, it is time to say farewell to all the members of the different congregations where we have been working, worshiping, playing and sharing these past eleven days. Our days have been full indeed, and these final two have been joyous, llenos de gozo. We will leave at 7 a.m. on Tuesday for four days of travel through the Chapare tropical region of Bolivia, first going up to over 10,000 feet and then dropping back down to sea level amidst the rainforest area.

 On Sunday we worshipped first at Luz de Vida, in the backyard of the Luz de Vida garage church, alongside the gleaming ovens and baking area that produced the first eight loaves of bread from the new panadería. The women of Luz de Vida were so anxious to try out the bakery that after we left on Saturday afternoon with six toasty brown loaves, they made another two. We all have such a sense of connection with this project that we were able to be a part of, from cleaning out the yard on our first work day here to spreading butter on delicious slices of bread at our evening meal  just seven days later.  The blessing of the bakery by the church leaders during the service was a moment of grace for everyone present. It reminds me of an actual grace we learned at snack time from the children this week at vacation bible school:

 Damos gracias al Señor del cielo, por el pan, por el pan.

Damos gracias al Señor del cielo, por el pan, por el pan.

We thank the Lord above for our bread, for our bread.

We thank the Lord above for our bread, for our bread.  

 We do thank the Lord above, and ask your prayers for this exciting new ministry that will provide an income for many women of the Luz de Vida church.

 Another movement of the Holy Spirit occurred when an entire family was baptized during the service, including the president of the new congregation. Rudy, his wife Norma, and their children Rudy Jr, Anié, and Azul were baptized together in another moment of grace. Our hearts were overflowing when at the last little Azul knelt in the dusty grass and bowed her head to receive the living water of Christ.

 On to Iglesia Emmanuel, the church which is sponsoring the exciting outreach church at which we had just worshiped. Another theme that has recurred this week, along with the movement of the Holy Spirit, is the planting and nurturing of seeds.  This theme was in the message given by Emilio Altazurra, the former District Coordinator, as the church celebrated with his wife, Luz, and the rest of their family the fifteenth birthday of their daughter Emiluz. In much of Latin America a girl´s 15th birthday is one of the most important in her lifetime, and the family wanted to foremost thank God for the life and potential of Emiluz. The entire congregation later circled the sanctuary for holy communion featuring not only the grace of God, but also the fresh bread from the bakery. It was another special service of praise and thanksgiving, filling our hearts with gladness and our souls with true communion and fellowship.

 The annual barbeque that the VIMmers host for the churches took place right after our busy morning at two  services, this time filling our bodies. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing soccer with the churches´ leagues, catching a World Cup game, collecting goods to bring back for sale from two women´s sewing groups,  going for ice cream and delighting in a Bolivian sabbath.

 Our Monday morning work team was a bit reduced. Supplies were taken by some to a local hospital and Emmanuel´s daycare clinic, while  injuries and illnesses kept others close to the Institute. But by the afternoon everyone rallied to start packing, finish last minute shopping, and go yet again for ice cream.

 It´s now 10 p.m. and the despedida has ended. Our friends, some new to us, others already dear, donned regional dress and danced for us, and got us up to dance with them. We prayed and sang and shared again together one last time. Creative Daniel Flores–the current District Coordinator as well as architect and general contractor for the building projects– fashioned rebar wire we had worked with into crosses, and even formed the dusty earth we had breathed in all week into a solid small brick for each of us. On their surface is etched a cross as a visible reminder of the ways we have encountered Christ during our trip; of the Holy Spirit that blew like the wind in our faces these past days. We will carry the bricks home in our suitcases; the Spirit, the memories, the people of Cochabamba and the seeds of new life we will carry home in our hearts, to share with all of you. While we are, as always, sorry to be saying goodbye so soon, we are excited to see a new part of this wonderful country, and look forward to being in fellowship with all of you again soon.

 Hasta entonces, until then, we pray you can feel the Spirit´s movement all the way from Bolivia.

VIM  Bolivia Team 2010

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