We love Sundays here at the Faro Del Cielo church. Each Sunday we are here, we arrive at the church at 7:50 in the morning to get ready for the first service. As we come into the church grounds, countless friends we have made over the years always greet us. They are such precious, warm and affectionate people. It is a joy just to be in their presence each year.

The first service begins at 8:00 in the morning. Worship begins and there is one solid hour of music and worship. Everyone is on their feet for that entire hour. There is never a complaint. Everyone stays engaged the entire worship hour. They lift their hands and their voices. Even when there are mistakes made by the worship team, still, the people stay in an attitude of worship and surrender to the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely beautiful to watch and it’s such a joy to worship with them. We can learn so much from these wonderful people and this church.

After worship, Pastor Ruben invited Pastor Jim and Pastor Genelle up to greet the congregation. Every year, Jim makes sure that he lets the people of the Faro del Cielo church know that we are one small group of people who are actually here in person but we represent hundreds of people who are praying, who are partnering through giving, who are standing beside the people of this precious church and believing in faith for all that God has promised them. We are hundreds of brothers and sisters in the Lord who love them and who know that what God has started, He will be faithful to complete in this church. What a blessing it is to represent each one of you to these people. You are loved by this congregation and by us as a team.

For each service, Pastor Robert brought the message to the church and Pastor Jim translated. Now, I know you all can imagine with me how Pastor Robert preaches. He is a passionate preacher and taking the sermon slow isn’t really his style. I’ve never seen Jim work so hard at translating as he did when translating Pastor Robert! He looked like he ran a marathon after those services! The sermon was great and was an affirming message for this congregation. They are such an evangelistic church body and it affirmed the importance of reaching the lost for Jesus.

After the first two-hour service, there is a thirty-minute break and then the second two-hour service starts at 10:30. After the service there is a time of fellowship with the congregation. We had a chance to build deeper relationships with many of the people at the church and then we left to go back to the hotel to quickly change our clothes to head to lunch. In Santa Cruz, we are in the middle of their winter. Yesterday it was a high of about 55 degrees with a really strong wind. We were cold! We brought sweatshirts and jackets with us for the workdays but most of us didn’t have warmer jackets to wear with our Sunday clothes so we were a bit chilly. We put on several layers of clothing before we went to lunch and felt much better.

Pastor Ruben is extremely busy and exhausted on Sundays. He works incredibly hard and so, on Sunday afternoons, we have told him that we will take care of ourselves and he will have the opportunity to get some rest. Mission teams can be a tremendous amount of work but we do our best to limit the amount of work we will be on Pastor Ruben. We figure Sunday morning is enough for him to have to accommodate!

So, Sunday afternoon we were on our own. We went to a new lunch place that was in a park. After a great lunch, we took some time to walk around the park grounds. It was such a good diversion and it brought much laughter and childlike play. This year was a unique one as we had several people who joined our Bolivia team at the last minute. As a result, we didn’t have a lot of time to get to know one another well before we left. We also have several people who are more introverts than extroverts so it was really important that we build some team dynamics yesterday. There is nothing like laughter to bring down walls and build relationship. We talked and laughed and saw all the beauty that is Bolivia and this gorgeous part of the world. It was a gift and it brought our team together as only laughter and shared time together can.

Following our time at the park, we went to our Sunday evening tradition at the ice cream shop. This has become something we have tried to do each year on our first Sunday night. Again, it is a team building experience. There is just something about returning to the childlike glory of an ice cream sundae that brings a smile to everyone’s face. It opens the door to conversations and it brings joy. It is always our Sunday dinner experience and it does the trick every single year. We laugh, we talk, we share and we eat our fill of sugar for the week. It truly is a special memory every single time and it binds the team together in one simple, ice cream filled meal. I highly recommend it!

After our day filled with precious moments, we went back to the hotel to get some much needed rest for the workdays to start the next day. God is good! He is knitting our hearts together and giving us one heart and mind. It is always beautiful to see how God uses these trips to reveal pieces of Himself to us. He is the giver of joy. He is the sustainer when we are weary. He knits hearts together as no one else can. He brings laughter and relationship. He shows us His goodness over an over again. We are so thankful for all that He is and how close He draws near to us as we are on this trip. He is a good, good father, my friends, and we are so thankful that we are loved so very much by Him.