Monday was a big day of preparation. We arrived at the church in the morning and joined together to first talk to Edwin about our plans for the day. For those of you who don’t know Edwin, he is one of our precious brothers-in-Christ who attends the Faro del Cielo church. He has an amazing testimony of God’s complete transforming power and he lives his faith out daily as he works and serves the Lord with a joyful heart. He is hired by the Faro del Cielo church to work all year long on the construction of the new sanctuary. We come and work for one week and then Edwin continues to do the work for the rest of the year. Each year when we return to see the sanctuary, we are always in awe of what Edwin has been able to accomplish in the year we have been away. That huge church building has been, in a very real way, built by one man. It’s remarkable.

Edwin has become like family to us. He loves to laugh and makes jokes often with us as we work. His heart always shines through and he reminds us over and over again the honor it is to do the work of the Lord. He is a treasure.

Each year before we come, we ask Edwin if there are any tools that would be helpful in the construction of the sanctuary. If we have the funds to purchase those tools, we bring those down to Edwin. Some of our favorite memories are those of Edwin getting his new tools. One year he cradled his new hammer like it was a baby he was rocking. This year, his face lit up when we gave him his new welding mask. He loved it! His old welding mask was damaged at the eye mask portion, making it very difficult to see. The eye mask portion on his old mask also had to be lifted and lowered each time he tried to weld. We were able to bring a new mask that automatically darkens when the welding beings and lightens when the welding is complete. Edwin’s face lit up like it was Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one. What a joy it is for us to get to bring joy to others.

Once the tools were given to Edwin, we got to work. The day was a day of prep work. We are one big team broken into a few smaller teams this year. Robert and Andrew are working with Pastor Bruno and some of the other musicians at the church, to run cables and attach a new sound board in order to get a sound system installed in the new sanctuary. Those men spent the entire day in the new sanctuary attic and walls running wires, setting up cables and trying to get the sound system set up. Their job for this week will be to get that sound system completely set up and running in the new sanctuary. The second group is a large number of people who will be doing the medical clinics. Several of those people were in another room preparing medications and putting labels onto medicine in Spanish. The rest of the group is doing construction. So, divided, we got to work. The foyer of the new sanctuary needed to be cleaned up to make room for the sand and gravel that would be needed for cement we will be pouring later this week. So, the first part of the morning was spent cleaning up the foyer. Everyone got busy doing what needed to be done.

In the afternoon, Maribel prepared an amazing lunch for us all. Maribel is the wife of Edwin and played a crucial role in bringing her husband to the Lord. She is a gem and has an amazing servant’s heart. She is a wonderful friend to each of us who know her. Each year when we come to Bolivia, she is prepared with ideas of what she wants to cook for our lunches. She goes over her menu ideas with Genelle and then is off and busy. She is an amazing cook and she loves to be a blessing. We are so thankful for her. She made us an amazing lunch yesterday and we loved it. We tell everyone who is praying and thinking of going on a trip with us to Bolivia that they won’t go hungry. Maribel would never let that happen!

After lunch, we had a team devotion time and then got back to work. The sound system team kept working on the sound, the construction team began moving sand and gravel from the street into the work site by wheelbarrow and the medical team headed out to the pharmacy to purchase medications for the three medical days we are doing this week. We do our best to bring all of the over-the-counter medications we can with us but we are unable to bring antibiotics and prescription drugs with us from the United States. So, we set aside money in order to purchase all the prescription medications we need from the pharmacies here. In most Latin American counties, you do not need a prescription to purchase medication. You simply go to a pharmacy and tell them what you need and they give you your medication. We were able to purchase a large portion of antibiotics to give out to those who will need them in the next few days. It takes a long time to get all of those medications purchased and then we headed with Maribel to the open market to purchase our food for the week. We made it back to the church when we were finished and gathered the rest of the team to head back to the hotel.

Apparently, the other part of the team finished up all the construction work for the day and were waiting for our return. In the spare time, they played a quick pick-up game of baseball, using a metal bar as a bat and a homemade baseball. They were super excited about the game and it was a fun way for them to end their day waiting for the other groups to finish up their tasks. We all got back to the hotel to shower and headed to dinner. We were able to get back to the hotel by 9:00 and were in bed early. It’s a gift to get a good night’s sleep so we were thankful for rest as we get ready for our first medical day in the morning.

God is good! He is there in the preparation days and in the waiting. Things may happen on a different timeline than we anticipated but we are simply thankful to be able to serve. God knows what needs to be done and He also knows that we are not here just to accomplish our tasks. We are here to be a blessing and to build relationships. We are here to share the love of Jesus and the love of our church family with these people. We are here to remind them that we are with them and that they are never alone. There is no timeline for that and the ramifications of those things go far beyond a church building. Our hearts are full just being with these people and we are surround by their love as we do all of our tasks. It’s a joy to be used by God in every way He allows us to be used.