STEP Sharing and Reflections, Post-trip, May 2014

On Sunday, May 18, our STEP team shared several stories regarding the STEP trip to Bolivia. It was a great day of sharing the good news about our partner churches in Bolivia. Below are some of the stories in written form…plus you can click the links further below to watch video footage from this time of sharing.

Ryan Sato: We have names, faces, churches, programs…plus CBM field staff faces! There is a new wave of CBM momentum in Bolivia and we are blessed to see that some of that momentum is growing in the region that we are partnered with. As we spend time with these rural churches, it’s amazing to see the effect of the global village…we recognize that we are not that much different in terms of the challenges that face us – – we are seeking God’s will as we attempt to be the church of the 21st century and as we seek to bless the cities and towns that God has placed us in. Jeremiah 29:7 works in Bolivia as it does it Canada…do not be downcast…instead, hunker down, pray, bless and seek the peace and well-being of the city.

Ryan Murray – Encouraged by how our experience is immediately affecting his Aunt’s CABC church in New Brunswick! So great to work with the team, a great team-building experience. One for all, all for one. We have been blessed by great team dynamics – – same intention: to serve God as best we can. Our team has been a great support network. These are the great benefits of a STM! Global discipleship is a significant piece.

Lisa Johns: Skeptical as we left but struck most by God truly speaking to me. Through conversations, people, community…since I’m a community person, I learn life lessons through community. Soucy’s, Nacho’s, Guthrie’s…this affirmation, challenge to Spanish & ministry. God showed up in ordinary conversation!

Kurt Young: The rural context is interesting. I have a heart for the country!
That’s my gift…to be able to enter the space of the rural context.
Simplicity. People with big hearts. People will embrace you and love you without knowing your names.
At first, it was weird being hugged and loved…and then it was a matter of “I can’t wait for the hugs and the love!” That’s deeply beautiful.
David Nacho is a saintly spirit. He would speak few words, but when he did, he would speak words of challenge…ie: “Do you care?” Wow, what a deep question.
What a great heart David has for the Timothy project.

Leslie Henderson: Relationships. Seeing people we’ve met before…to know how their work had developed, or changed…(ie. Emigdio).
In North of Potosi…to hear firsthand of their challenges and how they are handling them. Then, look at your own Christianity and commitment in light of their stories.
Very impressed with Rodolfo in Potosi – – his philosophy is “Make a plan and then do it!”

Gordon Dinwoodie: Reflecting on past 3 visits…progression…Pastor Juan and Daniel are significant figures from our 2008 trip…this trip we pressed into the region of N. Potosi. Now there are several pastors in the area and we are hearing of their challenges and successes. We are seeing the evolution of the region! And it’s hopeful. We also see in Llallagua: a new road, new schools. We see leaders trying to wrestle with their cultural and economical contexts…we at FBC are trying to wrestle with the same thing. We see global issues that are the same! Feel quite positive about the area, and it seems like it’s on a good trajectory.

Melba Montgomery: We are not called to fix people’s problems. It’s a slow work. People in Bolivia say to me, “You are a gift of love to us”….but I realize that these people are a gift of love to me.

Jon Mitchell: We have ways to build relationships with leaders and churches (ie. andres, danny flores, elsa & angel, primo). Exciting to hear about Ivan’s idea of a young adults worship team making a trip to North Potosi.
Some extra words re: Pastor Andres
We met Andres in Cochabamba the day we journeyed to Llallagua as he was returning home there after a few days in the city. We had met his mother, Modesta on earlier trips. In 2011, she told us he was pastoring a large church in Chapare after having attending the UBB seminary in Cochabamba. He had a good salary and congregation. His wife, Yovana had a teaching job as well. However, God was calling him home to North Potosi. So he came back and took on the role of pastor of 3 rural churches. He was able to buy a modest home and a very aged 1984 Toyota Carina station wagon. His wife decided to put her teaching job on hold so she could help him with his ministry. The churches where he serves (Chayanta, Amayapampa) have not had a pastor for many years.

Life is difficult for Andres and his family, He has no set salary, he only earns what offerings are received. On our last Sunday in Llallagua he came to say his goodbyes to the team. He told us the offering that day in Chayanta had been 179 B or about $22. He is looking after 3 of his sister-in-law’s children, as their family suffered through a propane explosion at their home in Chayanta, killing Yovana’s grandmother and injuring her nephew. Modesta sells fruit outside of the hospital in Uncia to help support both families. Andres is behind on his social security and health care premiums, his car’s tires are completely bald and it is a miracle it even runs. His dedication and commitment to the congregations he serves is remarkable and inspiring to myself and the team.

David Nacho invited Andres to La Paz last weekend to attend an intensive Timothy training course and he participated in it. Andres and Yovana are two individuals who give us hope for the future of N Potosi – faithful servants of our God.

Ivan Guitierrez (Our CBM Host) shared these thoughts with our team during one of our last “reflection sessions” on May 8, 2014:
Time and time again…I learn that it’s not about the money…it’s about the people. Jesus spent time with people…and then he changed people’s lives!
Q: are we willing to change our lives, our paradigms? If not, I have no right to expect others to change their lives/paradigms. It’s scary work. Try to put this as a practice into your lives. The results will surprise you.
Taking the cross, daily…so…do not expect things to change around you unless you, too, are changing.

We have seen with our eyes…there is hope…things could change for better or for worse, but there are some encouraging signs…for UBB, for CBM…we can continue to work with the momentum. Historically, we started physically, but now we see faces, new places, see churches, exposed in an intentional way to what is authentic here. “we have seen with our eyes, and we cannot be quiet…”
Challenge: How can you take what you have seen and bring it to life in the midst of your church, your church context?
What have you learned here…what have you learned about yourself? What can be the “outpouring” of that experience?
How will you be transformed from this encounter?
Let’s do our best to keep the story of North Potosi alive.

You can check out video of our Bolivia stories from May 18th here:

Part 1

Part 2

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Ayacama North Potosi

Ayacama is a Quechua word for “See you later.” We leave Bolivia this morning looking forward to getting home, but full of wonderful experiences and a little sorry to say good-bye. We hope to see again all of the Bolivian brothers and sisters who have so warmly shared their hospitality with us.

We spent some time Thursday evening with Ivan going over our experiences in Bolivia, each speaking to what moved us the most. We will share more of that during the May 18th service at First Baptist and on the blog after the service for those who can’t attend. For now suffice to say that all of us have been encouraged and challenged by our experiences in North Potosi.

We’ll be upacking these experiences over the next week and beyond. We hope you’ll be able to come on the 18th to hear more about what we’ve seen and felt over the last seventeen days. But for now, thank you for your prayers and we look forward to seeing you all when we get home.

May 9 May 9-2 May 9-2-2 May 9-3 May 9-4 May 9-5 May 9-6 May 9-2-3 May 9-3-2 May 9-4-2 May 9-7 May 9-3-3 May 9-8 May 9-2-5

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Haute Cuisine

Food-1

Rice, potatoes, some veggies, and chicken or beef. That’s our typical lunch and supper meal in Bolivia. It’s never spicy, although they serve some salsas on the side that can have a kick. We start each meal with a sharing of the hand sanitizer, then grace, then soup, then the main course. To drink, we might have bottled water or juice. Bolivia has some wonderful fruit juices: apple, orange, papaya, tumbo (looks like a passion fruit). Or we might have coca tea when we are higher elevation. It helps ward off the effects of altitude sickness.

Lunch on the road:  beef, rice, potato, coca leaves, hand sanitizer

Lunch on the road: beef, rice, potato, coca leaves, hand sanitizer

Up in Llallagua the diet might be a little monotonous, but Bolivia has some food adventures to offer. Take llama for instance. When we joined the Timothy Leadership group for lunch last Saturday, they served us llama. The day before Ryan M. was pressed into hauling a hind quarter of llama up to the church kitchen and on Saturday it showed up on our plates. It was quite tasty, similar to beef.

Potatoes are a real staple here and we have boiled potatoes with rice almost every meal. Sometimes boiled potatoes get swapped out for chunyo. We first encountered chunyo on our work project in 2008. Some of the women who were working with us brought it for their lunch and gave us a taste. As we tucked in Melba overheard one of them saying, “Don’t tell them how we make it.” As it turns out, chunyo are freeze-dried potatoes. The potatoes are frozen, then thawed. When they thaw they are quite mushy so to force the liquid out of them, the women walk on them in their bare feet. This process is repeated, resulting in a dried potato that keeps well. They are rehydrated and cooked before serving. They are usually dark and taste like potato, but have a firmer texture. Not a bad addition to the meal if you don’t think about it too much.

Llama, rice and chunyo at the Timothy Leadership session

Llama, rice and chunyo at the Timothy Leadership session

Quinoa is becoming a popular grain in Canada, but it has been grown here for years. It’s nutritious, tasty, and gluten-free. Jon has been enjoying different quinoa breakfast cereals.

Quinoa

Quinoa

Quinoa breakfast cereal

Quinoa breakfast cereal

Bolivia grows several kinds of fruit at lower altitudes. On the way back from Misque we drove through fields of prickly pear cactus that are grown for their fruit. We bought some in the market in Llallagua and it was like a sweet kiwi with bigger seeds (keeps you regular) and a thick peel. Ivan’s backyard has figs, lemons, and chirimoya. Melba was familiar with chirimoya from Cuba, but it was new for the rest of us. We had some on Wednesday morning for breakfast. It was a little overripe, but still delicious.

Chirimoya

Chirimoya

Salteñas and pique macho are two popular Bolivian dishes. Salteñas are a similar to a turnover with meat or cheese inside. They are one of our favorite Bolivian foods. Pique macho varies from restaurant to restaurant, but it generally contains a mixture of beef, sometimes tongue, and sausage, with potatoes, tomatoes, green and red peppers, sometimes hot peppers, and olives served on a bed of rice. It’s delicious but needs either a big appetite or someone to share it with.

Probably our most adventurous meal was guinea pig at a restaurant in Cochabamba. It arrived breaded and fried, looking disconcertingly like guinea pig road-kill. Under the breading was a layer of fat and under that was a thin layer of meat that tasted vaguely like chicken. The head was a bit challenging. Once the breading was peeled off, the skull was laid bare: eyeballs, grisly nose, and two rows of tiny teeth. Always up for a dare, the two Ryans each ate an eyeball.

Deep-fried guinea pig

Deep-fried guinea pig

Eyeball 1

Eyeball 1

Eyeball 2

Eyeball 2

We’ve enjoyed the food during our stay in Bolivia. Although there’s much more variety on offer in larger centres like Cochabamba, where you can find just about any kind of restaurant, than in rural areas like North Potosi, it has always been good. Regardless of where we are, Ivan keeps a close eye on the food and makes sure we have good meals that our delicate Canadian stomachs can tolerate. Thanks be to God.

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Potosi-Misque-Cochabamba

Whew!  We’re back in Cochabamba after two days of grueling, but fascinating, travel.  We left Potosi on Tuesday morning and drove to Sucre, arriving there at lunchtime.  After a delicious meal at the Joy Ride Café near the 25th de Mayo Plaza, we spent an hour wandering around site seeing and shopping.  After our quick stop we jumped back into our cars and left for Misque.  Those of us who were on the 2011 STEP trip were looking forward to revisiting the town where we worked on our Chagas project.  It was a long six-hour drive through dramatic country, much like we drove through yesterday, but becoming increasingly green as we dropped in elevation to Misque (about 6,000 feet above sea level).   The road changed from good pavement to gravel for the last two to three hours of the drive and it grew dark about an hour from our final destination.  We arrived in Misque at about 7:30PM and went straight to the café for supper.  It was a familiar spot for the 2011 team; we ate lunch and supper there for five days. All chicken all the time and always good, if a bit monotonous.  We were ready for a good night’s sleep by the time we checked into the hotel on the square, also a familiar spot for the 2011 team.

Sucre

Sucre

Tuesday-2 Tuesday-3

The next morning, after breakfast, we set out to find Sebastien and Angela, whose house we plastered in 2011.  We found Sebastien at home, but Angela was selling vegetables in the market.  Sebastien remembered us and we had a good visit.  We gave him a calendar, which had a picture of him, and Jon presented him with a set of bicycle repair tools.  Sebastien repairs bicycles for the local children and anyone else who needs his services.  His collection of tools was pretty minimal, so the tool set should come in handy.  He and Angela also raise peanuts and vegetables on some land a few kilometers from Misque.  We tracked Angela down in the market where she was selling some of the vegetables.  She also recognized us and we had a short visit with the assistance of one of her customers who helped translate Angela’s Quechua into Spanish for Melba to translate into English for the rest of us.

 

Misque

Misque

Sebastien and the 2011 team (minus Sam)

Sebastien and the 2011 team (minus Sam)

Angela and 4 of the 2011 team

Angela and 4 of the 2011 team

We also connected up with Aida, who is a driving force in the local Baptist church and their efforts to support the Chagas project in the area.  We dropped by the school where she teaches and gave her some presents (soccer balls, coloured pencils and some bookmarks from our FBC Sunday School children) that she could pass on to the children in her church.  She joined us later for lunch and we had a good visit, although we were sorry to hear that her mother had passed away the week before at age 98.  We remembered her fondly from our previous visit.

 

FBC Team and Aida

FBC Team and Aida

After lunch and a quick stop at the Misque cheese factory on the edge of town to pick up some cheese, we were back on the road for the final haul into Cochabamba.  It was another beautiful drive over some stretches of difficult road.  We made the long climb up to the pass at 11,800 feet then dropped down into the Cochabamba valley.  Most of the road was winding, narrow, and a mix of gravel and cobblestone.  When we finally hit pavement, we were so tired of rattling over the cobbles that we had to stop and kiss the pavement in relief.  After a final grind through Cochabamba traffic we arrived “home”.  Danny and Ivan did a fantastic job of driving us safely over long, difficult miles.

 

Ivan's car on the road to Cochabamba

Ivan’s car on the road to Cochabamba

We met Duane and Karen Guthrie and their two children for supper and had a good visit back in civilization.  Duane’s involvement with CBM is focused more on Potosi and Sucre than North Potosi.  (Potosi is a Department, similar to a province in Canada, and North Potosi is northern part of the that Province.  To confuse matters, Potosi is also a city in the southern part of Potosi Department.)  Duane comes from a business background and is CBM’s OBADES representative.  He was involved with the microcredit program in El Alto (near La Paz) before shifting his focus to the southern part of Potosi.  He is involved in a transition that UBB and CBM are working on for OBADES.  Currently OBADES

is a separate arm of UBB.  CBM and UBB are trying to integrate OBADES projects into the day-to-day operations of local churches by having individual churches take responsibility for specific projects.  This is part of a move to encourage local congregations to implement integral mission into the life of their church by recognizing the need to care for both the spiritual and social needs around them.  Duane is also doing some teaching in a program called CITES and was excited about a new course on worship that focuses on four movements:  entering the presence of God, receiving from God, responding to God, and carrying it all back out into the world.  The course teaches a style of worship familiar to First Baptist in which the congregation is an active participant in worship.  It was a nice evening with congenial company and a good way to unwind from a long drive.  After supper we headed off the UBB centre to unpack and enjoy a good night’s rest.

Supper with the Guthries

Supper with the Guthries

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Potosi

We started off on our drive to Potosi Monday morning.  Ivan’s brother Danny came to Llallagua last night and he will drive a second vehicle, since we won’t all fit in one. Before we left, Daniel Flores dropped by to say good-bye and we had a chance to talk more with him before we left.  We heard much the same story from Daniel that we had heard from Pastor Andreas on Sunday.

Churches in North Potosi are growing, but there is still a culture of dependency.  The pastors working with the churches are trying to help them see that they have the means to support full time pastors.  Aside from Pastors Severo (Llallagua), Andreas (Chayanta and Aymaya Pampa), and Elsa (Uncia), whom we met, there are a number of other pastors in the area:  Primo pastors the church at Villa Aeropuerta, on the ouskirts of Uncia.  Emigdio Cayutchi is helping with the church at Merke Amaya.  Emigdio was one of the attendees at the Timothy Leadership session at Llallagua on Saturday.  Corina pastors a small church in Catavi, near Lllallagua and Uncia.  She works for the town, which provides her with an income to support her part-time work with the church. Celestino pastors a small church at Matcha.  Celestino was the President of the North Potosi Association, who we met in 2011 and who informed us of the need for a motorcycle to allow the Association to visit their small, far-flung churches.  Primo is now the Association president and Daniel serves as vice-president.  Daniel is employed on a World Vision contract, which provides financial support for his family while he volunteers with the Association and the Llallagua church.  He was pastoring a large church in Cochabamba, but like Pastor Andreas, he felt a call to return to North Potosi.  His return has been a great benefit to the area.

We finally bid farewell to North Potosi and started our six-hour road trip to Potosi.  The road winds itself along the edges of large hills and across wide valleys.  It was an absolutely spectacular trip.  We went from the dry sepia tones of North Potosi to greener valleys and brick-red rock outcrops as we got closer to Potosi.  We are enjoying being tourists for a few days and exploring some new country.

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We arrived in Potosi just in time to meet Rodolfo, the President of the Potosi Association, for supper.  Five churches make up the Potosi Association, which is newer than the North Potosi Association.  Rodolfo is an engaging, charismatic figure who comes from a 14-year background with a non-governmental organization.  He splits his time between serving the Association, pastoring a church, and teaching at a seminary.  He has been president of the Association three times and is near the end of his current term.  He is encouraging the churches in the Association to engage in planning so that they will focus their efforts toward clearly defined goals. His focus is on engaging youth, using a youth leading youth model.  He finds youth are more willing to attend church than older people, who are more tied to tradition.

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Our Final Sunday

We started off Sunday morning with Ivan’s fabulous pancakes and then went over to Llallagua Baptist Church to help with Sunday School.

Saturday

We had 27 active children ranging from pre-school to 11 or 12 years old. Leslie brought some pamphlets that told the story of the Good Samaritan in Spanish so we went through those with the children. After the story they had a lot of fun colouring the pictures. We gave all the children stickers, candies, and the bookmarks that our Sunday School children made for their friends in Bolivia. Next we had the children sing some simple action choruses. We finished off with the hokey pokey, always a big hit with the kids.

Llallagua Baptist Church Sunday School

Llallagua Baptist Church Sunday School

Saturday-2

After church we had the afternoon off until the evening service, also in Lllallagua Baptist Church. Pastor Andreas and his wife Yovana dropped by to pick up some gifts that we brought for his churches in Chayanta and Aymaya Pampa. We were able to talk with them for an hour or so, which gave us a much better idea of the challenges they face. Pastor Andreas was pasturing a church in the tropical area of Bolivia, but sensed a call to return to North Potosi. Neither of his churches fully support him financially. Pastor Andreas receives a portion of their offerings and so far has been able to get along. He divides his time between the two churches, spending alternate weekends (Friday through Sunday) at each church. He is encouraging the church members to become more intentional in their tithing. He believes that if they can become consistent in their giving, both churches can probably support their own pastor. While attendance at the church in Chayanta has remained steady, Aymaya Pampa has been growing under his leadership. Maintaining an adequate income is an ongoing challenge for Pastor Andreas and his wife. His wife is thinking about returning to her teaching career to supplement their income. Like all the pastors we’ve meet in North Potosi, Pastor Andreas and his wife are pressing forward with their calling to help their congregations grow in knowledge and action despite difficult circumstances.

After supper we went back to Llallagua Baptist Church for their evening service. After some Spanish and Quechua hymns and choruses we sang two songs for them, one in Spanish and one in English. They joined in the Spanish chorus, which was simple enough for us to learn and therefore easy for them to pick up. Jon, Ivan, and Pastor Ryan played for us with the assistance of one of the church members on the drums. Jon, Lisa and Melba gave a multi-voice reading of John 4 and Ryan spoke on it. He was well received again. We closed the night out with traditional greetings of hugs and kisses, then a presentation of gifts from us to the church and vice versa. We were a bit sad to leave, since it will be our last church service in Bolivia. On Monday we leave on a road trip to Potosi (the city), Sucre, Misque (where the 2011 team worked), then back to Cochabamba.

Pastor Severo and his wife Aleida

Pastor Severo and his wife Aleida

Llallagua Baptist Church congregation

Llallagua Baptist Church congregation

Saturday-8 Saturday-9

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Saturday in Llallagua

Saturday morning was free, so we wandered the markets. Saturday is market day so Llallagua was extra busy. Along the way we bumped into Daniel Flores and his son. He gave us a quick tour around Siglo XX mine, which sits on the outskirts of Lllallagua, then took us up some of the market side streets had some items that might be of interest to tourists like us. Most of the market is groceries and household supplies, but even if we aren’t looking for laundry detergent or sacks of potatoes, it’s great fun to people watch. Most of the women are in traditional garb. The men’s clothing is pretty similar to ours, but sometimes they will wear a traditional tall pointed hat. The style of clothing signifies where they come from. Women wearing wide white straw hats come from the Cochabamba area, while women in bowler hats are from La Paz. There are more subtle differences that signify individual clans. When we met with the Nachos in Cochabamba, they told us that Bolivia has retained the most traditional culture in South America. The indigenous people have resisted all things that try to force them into a more modern lifestyle.

Saturday Saturday-2

Suzanna Nacho and kids took the Soucy’s back to La Paz on Friday, but David stayed on to help with the Timothy program on Saturday. This was the final session of the second module. About 12 people are working on this module and we joined them for lunch at the church, then stayed on for the afternoon. The group was discussing stewardship in very practical terms: good and bad reasons for giving of our money, time, etc. There were some group discussions and then each participant drew up a plan for how they would put stewardship into practice in their own lives. They will report back at the beginning of Module 3 in July. When the session was over we served them tea and pastries that we bought from a small bakery near the Lllallagua Mormon church. (Hot tip for your next trip to Bolivia: Berlins are similar a donut filled with dulce de leche. They put Tim Horton’s to shame.)

Saturday-3

In the evening we went to the youth service at the Llallagua church. After some choruses we sang two songs, with Ivan and Pastor Ryan on guitar, Jon on keyboards and one of the church members on drums. Ryan and Ivan talked about youth ministry in Canada and then had a Q and A session. The questions were varied and topical: How should I respond to sin in a friend’s life? What is the difference between Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses? All of these groups have a presence in Bolivia. Ryan M. asked them about challenges faced by young adults and the response could have come from a group of Canadians. It is apparent that, while the cultural contexts are somewhat different, we are all working through the same challenges and issues.

Saturday-4 Saturday-5

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Aymaya Pampa

We had a relatively easy morning on our final day of work. Santiago and his crew were wiring rebar together for the next cement work. We took the forms off the concrete pillars that we helped pour on Wednesday and then cleaned up some piles of rubble. Everything had to go down to ground level one small pail at a time, so it took awhile, but we finished by lunchtime. Lunch was again served up by the women from the church. Leslie presented them with a small gift to say thank you for their hospitality.

Friday Friday-2

Presenting gifts in the church kitchen

Presenting gifts in the church kitchen

In the afternoon, Pastor Andreas met us at the hotel for the trip to Aymaya Pampa, where he pastors a church in addition to the one in Chayanta. Aymaya Pampa is a small miner’s village beyond Chayanta, about a 1.5 hour drive from Llallagua. It was the ride of a life; down narrow gravel roads that crossed wide valleys then hugged the edge of the valley side with no guardrails and steep drop-offs. We could see why the motorbike tht First Baptist funded is such a necessity for visiting these remote churches. A few kilometres past Chayanta, we stopped for a few minutes in a tiny village called Entre Rios. It’s another mining village that had a tiny Baptist church until a few years ago, when it finally became too small to keep up. We passed another larger mining community beyond Entre Rios and then passed through the property of a gold mine once owned by a Canadian company. Aymaya Pampa was just beyond the gold mine.

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We were warmly welcomed in the home of Ismael and Elena Sanchez. Ismael works at the gold mine, as do many of the people in Aymaya Pampa. The Sanchez’s also farm some rented land where they grow food for the family. They served us some delicious bread baked with flour milled from their own wheat. Ismael and Elena have five children. The oldest two, Cesar and Maria, attend university in Llallagua. They were home for the Premier de Mayo holiday. When they return to school they will walk two hours cross-country to Chayanta, where they will find transportation to Llallagua. The other children, David, Vivianci, and Claudia, go to school in Aymaya Pampa. Ismael was very proud of his children, making a point to tell us that they walk with God.

FBC Team with the Sanchez Family

FBC Team with the Sanchez Family

After a short visit we walked over to the church. The village was humming with a local festival that seemed to be celebrating some figure from their indigenous religion. We didn’t get a clear idea of what it was about, but the school grounds were full of people in colorful costumes and a small midway was offering rides just around the corner.

At the church, a table had been set up for our supper. We were served a simple but tasty meal of beef topped by a fried egg, rice, potatoes, and tomato salad. This is typical Bolivian fare. People kept coming in as we ate so we would have to break off to greet them in the traditional manner. When we finished our meal, the table was removed and the church was set up for the service.

Despite competition from the festival, the church was packed. People came from some of the surrounding villages, including one elderly woman (she’s the lady in the first picture below) who walked half an hour with her grandson and his wife to be with us. It was a typical Quechua service: much singing, led by girl who will finish high school this year. After singing, we were introduced and we did our John 7 reading. Pastor Ryan spoke, translated by Ivan, and was well received. Then the whole church lined up to give us the traditional welcoming hugs and kisses. There were so many people there that it took quite a long time. After the welcome, they presented us with traditional clothing. Each of us got something a bit different, all beautifully made. Then more singing before we closed the night out and made our way home in the dark.

Friday-8

Aymaya Pampa Church

Aymaya Pampa Church

FBC Team goes Quechuan

FBC Team goes Quechuan

You can take a look at Aymaya Pampa church on Google Earth or Google Maps by entering: -18.48637 -66.38642

Check out some video from the Aymaya Pampa service:

Quechua music:

Pastor Ryan speaking and Ivan translating:

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Our STEP Partnership

Thursday was May 1st: Premier de Mayo, also known as Worker’s Day in Bolivia. It’s a holiday that celebrates the contribution of workers. Most people have the day off and spend it with family and friends. Celebrations started Wednesday night with a big parade. The local schools marched in groups, complete with marching bands and fireworks, while a large brass band played in the square outside our hotel. We got back from Chayanta while it was in full swing and could hardly get through the crowd to our hotel. The large brass band continued to play after the parade until close to midnight and bands started up again at 5:45AM.

Tuesday-2 Tuesday

Because the men who are working on the construction at the Baptist Church have the day off, we do too. We took advantage of the break to sit down with the Nachos and the Soucys and learn more about the work of CBM and UBB in Bolivia and how our STEP partnership fits in. It has sometimes been a challenge for us to understand what our STEP partnership is about. Back in Cochabamba we learned that most STEP churches are partnered with OBADES and they help with specific OBADES projects. For example, Laurier Heights Baptist Church is partnered with Casa de Amistad in Cochabamba and the teams that they send down help with that specific project. Our partnership is with UBB rather than OBADES and we are helping to build leadership capacity in North Potosi. The nature of our partnership is less defined than the partnerships with OBADES and we have sometimes struggled to understand it.

The Nachos helped to clarify how our partnership is supporting developments in North Potosi. David Nacho described the history of North Potosi and in many ways it is similar to Alberta. North Potosi has always had a resource-based economy, much like Alberta’s. Our economy is based on oil; North Potosi’s is based on minerals like tin. During the 1920s, Simon Patiño cornered the tin market from his home in Uncia and this area was one of the richest in the world. Today the mines are almost exhausted and the wealth is gone with nothing to show for it. But North Potosi’s economy still rests on the production of minerals and people care only about producing as much as possible (which isn’t much) while disregarding the environmental and social consequences. Another factor in North Potosi’s situation is the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in North Potosi. There has been a heavy presence of NGOs in North Potosi for a long time. They have poured millions of dollars in development funds into the region, with little to show for it besides a culture of dependency. A third factor is the increasing population of young adults who move here from rural communities for university (Llallugua has a university that was accredited a few years ago) and for economic opportunities. They are away from home, without family or social connections, and often fall into a cycle of alcohol abuse and partying. The 20 to 30 year old age group is largely absence from church. Even though we see a lot of young adults in some of the churches we visit, it is only a small proportion of the young adults in the area. The local churches have also suffered from jealousies between churches that have hampered their growth and ability to work together to address the needs of the communities around them.

The UBB and CBM are looking for ways to respond to these needs. Pastor Ryan asked the question, ‘What can the church offer that is different than all the other things on offer in the world around us?’ David Nacho’s response was “us”. It is true that we offer Jesus, but that can all too easily become nothing more than a mystical notion or theological position. Jesus has a body and that body is us. The lives we live and the actions we take in the world make the life of Jesus concrete. We can never forget that Christianity is an incarnational faith. This is the message that CBM and UBB want to convey to Bolivian churches through a program of leadership training. One example is the Timothy Leadership Program.

The Timothy Leadership Program was developed in Africa to help give people the knowledge and ability to live out the life of Jesus in concrete ways; to be “fruity” Christians as Pastor Ryan says. David Nacho has introduced the Timothy Leadership Program into Bolivia and it has been well received. The program is taught by David and staff from the seminary in Cochabamba. In North Potosi, Llallagua church was the first to respond when Timothy was offered in the area and consequently the teaching sessions are held there. Uncia church wanted their own program, but the first students in Llallagua were so enthusiastic that students from Uncia and Catavi (a nearby community) are now coming to Llallagua for the training. This is an encouraging sign that some of the old barriers between churches might be breaking down.

The Timothy Leadership Program consists of six modules:

1. Caring
2. Stewardship
3. Preaching
4. Eliminating violence
5. Worship
6. Community development

For each module students receive a teaching component and then identify an activity they will work on that will be a practical application of what they have learned. For example, the Caring module may lead a student to make an effort to reach out to someone who has lost their connection with their church community or who needs assistance of some kind. Students have four to six weeks to work on the activity and then report back to the rest of the group on how it went. On Saturday, David is leading the final session for Module 2, including reporting on the student’s activities. We will be able to sit in on the reporting and see first hand how the students have fared in incorporated their learnings into practical action.

So how does First Baptist fit into this? Our STEP partnership supports leadership development activities like the Timothy Leadership Program in North Potosi. While it may seem less concrete than building a school or the training centre that the 2008 team worked on, it is probably more important in the long term. It helps the UBB offer leadership development programs like Timothy. These programs support North Potosi churches in their spiritual growth and help them to model Christ to the world around them. Our partnership also builds relationships between us and our brothers and sisters in Bolivia. We have a lot to learn from each other. The efforts of Jon, Shannon, and Melba in Canada and Suzanna Nacho in Bolivia have helped to keep the connection alive between trips and we are seeing the fruit of those effort during this trip. It is becoming more apparent that First Baptist is participating in a changing relationship between developing and developed world churches. Programs like STEP are evolving from Canadian support for bricks and mortar projects in the developing world to recognition that we are all facing the same problems. David Nacho’s description of the challenges faced by Bolivian churches sounded very similar to the challenges we face in Canada. We are both working out what it means to be the face of Jesus to the changing world around us. Our STEP involvement is one way to help us cross our cultural and national boundaries so that w can work together on common issues and learn from each other’s successes and failures.

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Chayanta Baptist Church

After our visit with World Vision we went back to the Llallagua church to help with the construction project.  Because we had a relatively short time to spend there, the workers decided to spend the time making concrete so that they could pour the remaining corner posts on the top floor.  We hauled a few sacks of concrete up to the second floor and started to help with the mixing under the watchful eye of Santiago.  No cement mixer here.  We piled up gravel and sand on the floor, added cement, then made a well in the middle to hold the water.  When the water was added we started mixing from the outside so the water didn’t run away.  Eventually we had the right consistency and started pouring concrete into the forms that the men had already built around the rebar that they had also put in place.  Mixing concrete by hand is hard work, especially at 12,000+ feet.  After all the forms were poured we were quite happy to knock off for another delicious lunch cooked by the women of the church.

Mixing concrete

Mixing concrete

Pouring concrète

Pouring concrète

Later in the afternoon we started off to Chayanta, a small community about a 45-minute drive from Llallagua.  We stopped at Uncia to pick up Pastor Andreas.  Chayanta is one of two churches that he pastors.  We dropped by to meet his mother at her fruit stand in Uncia near the hospital.  Pastor Andreas took us to meet his wife, daughter, and sister.  They live in a very simple, small house where they are also looking after his sister-in-law’s children.  Their house recently exploded when a propane leak caught on fire. His wife’s grandmother was killed in the explosion and the man lighting the fire is still in hospital.  Fortunately no one else was injured.  His sister-in-law is working as a teacher and her husband is in Santa Cruz in the military, so they needed help with the children until they can sort things out.  It was obviously a very difficult situation.  We prayed for them before continuing on the Chayanta, accompanied by Pastor Andreas and his wife.

Pastor Andreas' mother

Pastor Andreas’ mother

Pastor Andreas at home

Pastor Andreas at home

We arrived at Chayanta in time for a delicious meal cooked by the local church women, then joined the congregation for a service.  About 75 people attended and every bench was full.  They opened with traditional Quechua hymns, accompanied beautifully by some musicians on guitar, mandolin, and charango.  Then the whole congregation lined up to greet us with hugs and kisses.  We did our reading from John 7 and Pastor Ryan gave his message on fruit of the spirit.  He encouraged everyone to know that God uses us no matter how large or small our faith is.  It is God’s love flowing out of us, not our efforts, that touch those around us.  Following the message there was more signing in Quechua followed by much picture taking.  It was an incredibly warm welcome and it was hard to leave.

Chayanta Baptist Church

Chayanta Baptist Church

Most Popular Team Member

Most Popular Team Member

Check out Youtube for some video clips of the wonderful music from the service.  You can find the video at these links:

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