Today was our first official work day at the church. We ate breakfast this morning at the hotel and then drove the few blocks through some falling rain to the church site. The Lord gave us a perfect day for working. The rain fell early this morning but left a fantastic cloud cover and a high today of 64 degrees. It’s perfect. Everyone was thrilled to actually be on the church property and to see in real life the buildings they had seen previously in picture form. One team member said specifically that the pictures of the property didn’t do it justice. To actually walk the ground let us all sense the presence of the Holy Spirit all over the facility.

After bringing in the gifts we had brought for the church, we headed over to the work site. Edwin, the worker at the church who is fully employed to continually do construction, took some moments to greet everyone and then quickly got us to work. He is a tireless worker and the church is extremely blessed to have him. Some team members set to work digging huge ditches to eventually house the foundation of support pillars for the second floor of the building. Some of the women were tasked with tying metal wires around metal rebar that will serve as the foundational support when the cement is poured. It’s a huge project and it is tremendous to see big tasks getting completed as the work progresses.

We stopped for lunch this afternoon and sweet Amy Duren took off her knee high rubber boots to shake the dirt out. She had been working shoveling the dirt out of the ground and digging one of the ditches. She is a tough cookie. As she was dumping the dirt out, she quickly earned the respect of Edwin and the other workers when, along with some dirt, a rock nearly the size of a golf ball came dropping to the ground. She hadn’t even noticed it was there! We all shared a good laugh and then went back to work.

We definitely will not be going hungry on this trip. The Bolivians are so gifted in hospitality that they have us well taken care of. After being served breakfast at the hotel this morning, we worked for a bit at the church and then were told that they had purchased salteñas for everyone to eat during a morning break. Salteñas are pastries filled with meat, potatoes and gravy. They are amazing and they truly are sufficient as a complete meal. After the snack break, the group went back to work for a little over an hour and the ladies called them back for lunch. Two ladies from the church are working all week long to shop for, prepare and cook the food for the group. Lunch was delicious and huge. When we finished eating lunch, the ladies pulled me aside and asked if the group would like an afternoon snack as well. I politely declined as we were already scheduled to eat an early dinner. The term “meat sweats” may have already been spoken by a few of the team members on this trip. We have eaten a lot and eaten often. This may be the only mission trip in the history of mission trips where the group comes back weighing more than when they left.

Right before we left the United States for Bolivia, we received an email asking the group if we would be able to join the young adult service at the church tonight. They also asked if we would teach, preach or give testimonies during this time. So, this afternoon a few from our team took some time to prepare something for this evening. It is short notice but we have some great speakers on our team with willing hearts to share some insight from their lives and from the Word to the group of young people. Robert, Amy and Jon, and Lauren all prepared something to share. What an honor to share what God is doing in us with the young adults of this congregation. These four did an amazing job and, without having talked to one another prior to the evening, planned to speak words and testimonies that all went seamlessly together. It was an awesome night of sharing and hearing a clear word from the Lord for our young Bolivian brothers and sisters. Like Lauren shared while speaking, the Holy Spirit is the same in South Carolina as it is in Santa Cruz and the God that is the same yesterday, today and forever is also the same regardless of our location. It was an absolutely precious time.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. The first church service in the morning starts at 8:00 and the second at 10:30. Pastor Gil will be preaching and Jim translating at both of those services and we are so excited to see how God will continue to knit our hearts together with the Bolivian people. After lunch tomorrow, we will head out to see the property at Peji and catch Pastor Ruben’s vision for that large piece of property. We look forward to passing that vision on to you.

Until then, thank you for praying. Go eat some steak and some fried yucca and it will almost be like you are here with us. Blessings to you all!