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Bolivia 2016 - Update #4

Dear Gateway Family…

The days continue to be full and so does my tummy. One of the things that we typically run into is that our hosts are eager to make sure that we eat well, but that is only part of the truth. You see, in Bolivia, there are four meals: Breakfast – where we are served eggs, yogurt, fruit, pancakes and toast covered with Carlos Mojica’s (son #2) delicious start-up peanut butter and jam (He is looking to go into business with these products); Lunch – which has typically been a bowl of soup followed by a plate of rice, fries, chicken or beef; Tea – this is typically a time to eat some cake, pie, some sweet kind of pastry and have some tea or coffee.; and Dinner – which is served at around 9 p.m. at night and is usually a full meal like we would all be used to. Now, if that isn’t bad enough, during our conference we had breaks where more coffee, tea and snacks are served…apparently to prepare us for dinner. Also, it is not unusual that after dinner you have some dessert – pie and ice-cream or some of Mery’s famous strawberry shortcake.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “Oh pastor Rod, it ‘really’ sounds like you are ‘suffering for Jesus’ down there in Bolivia.” All I can say to that is this, “When Alex Lopes is dropping his head and growling because he is stuffed and there is more food coming” you know that you are doing this for the sake of ministry and not for selfish gratification. All three of us have looked at each other with fearful eyes that are saying, “No! Please! There can’t be more,” but there always is.

On Thursday and Friday we travelled with Matias, Mery and Melby (Mery’s sister and law) to the mountain town of Samiapata where Matias grew up and stayed in the house where he lived with his adoptive parents, Charles and Hannah Brooks, who were Missionaries from the USA serving in that town. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, but the drive up was rather challenging. The drive is usually about 3 hours, but it took us about 4 because we ran into heavy traffic both at the tolls and then behind the large trucks that travelled this two lane highway between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba (another large city in the mountains). On the way we enjoyed taking a break at the waterfalls. It was too cold to go swimming, but the serenity of the location was truly therapeutic after being in the car for so long. Later, after dinner, we looked up into the sky and enjoyed brightly star studded sky and then some great fellowship conversation with Matias & Mery. Matias told his stories of living in Samaipata and what life was like in those days.IMG_1059.JPG

On Friday, after breakfast, we ventured out to see the Inca ruins. These ruins are one of the few locations in Bolivia of significant ancient history. These Inca ruins were discovered in the late 1960’s but Matias will tell you that he and his friends discovered them without knowing what they were. It was on that same mountain that he and his friends would go out playing and exploring. But to them it was just a playground. But when the news of something unusual being present in the mountains got out, some educated archeologists came to Samaipata and “discovered” the Inca Ruins.IMG_1037.JPG

The Inca Ruins take about 2 hours to hike around and Matias is a knowledgeable guide. It is always amazing to hear about how organized and moral the Inca society was as well as to the reasons for their demise. We often view such ancient peoples as savages without any real wisdom and skills, but the Inca people smash that thinking to pieces.IMG_1039.JPG

Later, after lunch we toured the town of Samaipata, visiting Maranatha Baptist Church where his father used to pastor. It is quite a large facility and feels more like a conference center with all the extra rooms, soccer fields (actually cement) and kitchen. This is where they have been having camp for many years, but it is simply too far for many people to attend. When we arrived back in Santa Cruz that evening we quickly washed up and went out for dinner at the food court at the Ventura Mall, the newly constructed local “hangout” for many of the young people.IMG_1014.JPG

So much of coming to Bolivia is relationships and education. Spending time with the Mojicas on trips like this offers great opportunity for discussion about ministry in Bolibia and where we need to be praying for God to work. It is my observation that the ministry here is hard going. People are not often dependable, and many don’t follow through with their words of commitment. Also, the deep rooted shallow Catholicism is a great hindrance to the Gospel. Please pray for those Pastors under the care of Matias to labor faithfully in the Gospel among their people. Also, there is a great political divide among the people that affects both ministry and relationships. Of course, we know what that is like, but we need to pray for breakthroughs that penetrate such walls against Gospel ministry…

That is all for now…

God bless…

Pastor Rod

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