Yesterday started out bright and early with our usual breakfast of eggs, fruits and Bolivian pastries at the hotel. The breakfast each morning is included in the price of the hotel each night. We are spending about $20 per person per night for a hotel room and a hot breakfast each morning. We can’t beat that! The hotel is lovely and clean. The water in the showers is hot and the breakfast is just what we need to start a day of work. We are so thankful to have found a location where we can return each year and we know we will get good sleep and feel refreshed each morning.
After breakfast we went straight to the church to begin our work day. It was more cement mixing today and we had to make a thicker mix of cement to pour and shape around the rebar that will be used as the foundational pieces of the church entrance. We have done this work before in years past so we knew exactly what to expect. That cement mixer has become a good friend so we are well familiar with the cement mixing drill. Several of the team members were at the machine doing the mixing, others were shoveling in sand and rocks, others filling up buckets full of water and still others bringing in the 110 pound bags of cement to pour in. Once the mixer did its job, the cement was poured into wheelbarrows and was poured into the holes. Then Edwin did his job and shaped the cement to his specifications. Any work with cement is hard work. Doing much of the mixing and pouring by hand is hard work at yet another level. Our team worked hard and they were tired once the job was finished. Still, it was great to see progress being made and we are thrilled to see how God is going to use this building for His glory in the future.
As usual, Maribel blessed us with an amazing lunch mid-day. She is an amazing cook and we are so blessed by her each afternoon. A couple of us normally go to the open market with her and her shopping list and she goes from vendor to vendor purchasing whatever she needs to buy for her recipes. We trust her completely and she always brings out a lunch that is absolutely delicious. She knows what we like as well and prepares special hot sauces for Pastor Gil and people’s favorite desserts to share. She made a tres leches cake on Wednesday that was absolutely spectacular. Her dream is to one day open up a restaurant. I am praying that dream becomes a reality for her as there is no one more deserving. She is a gem.
We had our afternoon devotions that Karina did a fantastic job leading and then we shared a bit about what God is teaching each one of us on this trip. It’s so good to see how the Holy Spirit weaves the same thread through several of us as the days go by. He is telling His own story and we each are catching pieces of it during our days here. God continually reveals more and more of His heart and His character to us as we are here. Sometimes separation from the tasks of our normal lives allows God space to whisper new revelations into our hearts. When several of us get the same revelations and share them, we can see the tapestry the Lord is weaving on this trip. It’s so beautiful to see how He works and to catch a small glimpse of what He is doing. He is so very good and faithful.
We left the work site a bit early yesterday afternoon so we could get cleaned up, get dinner and get back to the church in time for the Thursday evening discipleship service. We decided to head to a mall food court for dinner. It is fast and cheap and everyone can get what they feel they would like for the evening. We ate quickly and were back on the bus in no time and on our way back to the church for the evening service. If you missed it, we did a brief Facebook live video as the service was starting which you can go back and watch. It’s great to read the stories but it’s even better to go back and see things in real life.
Jim did the preaching last night and, I know I am biased, but he did an amazing job. He is a natural speaker and communicator and he connected with the church through stories of their own pastor and their own members of the congregation. He has a natural way with the people of this church and his love for them is evident when he speaks. He was speaking about the promises of God and how the fulfillment of those promises in our lives builds our faith and trust in the Lord. At one point, Jim held up the Bolivia shirt with the tree on it and explained the reason behind the shirt design. For those of you who don’t know, the shirt is symbolic of the tree that was Pastor Ruben’s first church sanctuary. His first church was held underneath a large tree. They brought in chairs and were somewhat protected from the elements but were still simply under a tree. It was while under that tree that Pastor Ruben was given a vision and a promise from the Lord, that one day, He would have a great church building. Pastor Ruben shared this vision with his congregation and many of them didn’t believe him but Pastor Ruben had enough faith for them all. Jim read the verse that is on our shirts, Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Jim shared with the congregation how much it meant to us last year as person after person from Pastor Ruben’s congregation went forward at a dinner they had for us the last evening and spoke of Pastor Ruben’s faith. They spoke of how the fulfillment of the promise God had given to Pastor Ruben had not only strengthened Pastor Ruben’s faith, but that of the entire congregation. As we listen to those testimonies last year, our own faith was built up as well. Jim shared with the congregation last night how much of an impact that evening had on each one of us. He mentioned that Pastor Ruben’s faith in the character and the faithfulness of God was an inspiration to us and a boost to our faith and trust in the Lord. We were so moved that we would get to be a piece of the fulfillment of that promise in the life of Pastor Ruben. As Jim spoke those words, I looked over to Pastor Ruben and he was shaking with sobs. He cried unashamedly and I couldn’t help but cry with him. The love and the faithfulness of God is overwhelming. His goodness is without measure and we can trust in Him. He hasn’t failed us and He never will.
During the entire service, there was such a sweet presence of the Lord. Each person there could feel and see what God was doing. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Ruben came up and spoke to his congregation and so many responded to what God was speaking to them. It was a precious time with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters in the church. Each time we are with these precious ones, the Lord knits our hearts together more and more. What a precious thing it is to witness God’s unity among His people. There is no language barrier in the Spirit. There is no distance in the Spirit. There is no loss of time in the Spirit. God continues to confirm and build relationship upon relationship in His Kingdom. We are so blessed to see how He continues to work in our lives and in the lives of His loved ones here in Bolivia. It is such a gift and such an honor.