Friends, family and others who have decided to follow our 2013 Bolivia Mission Trip adventures – we arrived safe and sound in the wee morning hours today on the 19th of October after roughly 20+ hours of travel. It’s been a full day!
We were greeted by some beautiful faces of little children and their families who came to make sure we were properly welcomed (at 5:30 am) at the El Alto airport. (El Alto is the world’s highest international airport; at 13,313 ft/4,058 m above sea level, it’s almost half as high as a jetliner’s cruising altitude!) We are surrounded also by majestic Andean Mountain peaks like this one, called Illimani.
We experienced a little more of this on the way to the hotel…
Traffic in Bolivia is always an adventure. 🙂 Our hotel is located down from El Alto in the city of La Paz. We continued down around the city, which looks like this:
After breakfast, we slept a couple of hours to rest our weary heads and then headed back to our bus, back up the mountain to the plains of El Alto to visit a Compassion site where we will be working later this week.
It was a very sweet time of getting to know the Pastor of the church and his team where the Child Development Center (CDC) site is located. The history behind this site was very touching. We learned that Pastor Candelari (sp?) had hoped for a CDC site at his church – located in an area of El Alto that has so much need, beyond what is normal in other areas. He dreamed about the CDC being built and with a whole lot of faith and determination and little else, combined with the dedication of his small congregation they were able to open a center. A few months ago, Pastor C gave a letter to one of the Compassion Region leaders to let him know that his work was finished and his dream of the site coming to life was accomplished. He was also turning the church over to another Pastor – Pastor Simon, to carry on this important life-saving work with the children. 2 weeks later, Paster C died. With lots of emotion, the new Pastor shared his heart for helping his community and his dreams to keep the center thriving. He sees the big picture. We were overwhelmed with the perspective we saw: a small room with limited to no kitchen appliances – sort of a make shift table and table top stove and a handful of large pots, yet 150 kiddos from the community are fed not only once but twice when they attend the center during the week. Classrooms we’d probably think 10 kids could be comfortable working in are jam packed with kids as they learn together in a safe environment. The community saw what was happening in this unique little corner of El Alto and offered the use of a brand new community building and sports court so that the kids could be accommodated better. It is located right across the street from the church/CDC site. It is such a help and very welcomed, yet the vision of Pastor Simon continues to be desiring to add on classrooms to his facility and be even more effective in transforming his community. So we link arms with him and his team this week and do our best with limited supplies and a whole lot of grit and determination to keep building his classrooms. We know we won’t finish, but we offer what we can and ask God to use us how He wants to as we build a classroom, yes, but even more important, build lasting relationships with these beautiful people.
I am so proud of our team (and you should be, too!) They are troopers through thick and thin (thin right now being the air we are breathing!) It’s hard not to spot 24 Americanos traipsing around the area, but I’d like to think there’s something else that might stand out a little more with our group and that is that they are truly living as God’s hands and feet, bringing news of His grace and love to those we encounter. It’s a good thing.
Our bodies are tired, our minds are busy, our emotions are raw, but we are here. We look forward to a good sleep and then on to day 2 of our grand God-venture. Until next time!
Carol Ann (on behalf of the team)
*Note – Photographs from our last trip, courtesy of Brian Howell, our photographer from our last trip. Hope to have some good current photos to post this time as well – Mark Maceda is our trip photographer and he’s already been seen hanging from mountain peaks, perched on soccer goals, draped outside our bus window…well, actually none of those things, but he is also an excellent photographer and I know you’ll enjoy seeing his work as well. Kaela Green was our photographer on our first trip – she’s also incredible. We are so blessed for each one of them to have filled this vital role because it frees us up to serve and know that the experience is being captured far better than we could do on our own through the lens of the camera and the talent of those operating it! 🙂