The days are simply flying by. It is strange to think that the end of our trip is quickly approaching as we face each new day full of activity.
We knew Wednesday would be a busy day and it didn’t disappoint. We gathered at the church early and went about the business of preparing the children’s rooms for the free medical clinic on the church site. At the same time that was happening, those involved with children’s ministry were busy preparing to see children during the day, those doing the sound system set-up were continually working on testing the system and those doing construction were starting their first day of cement work. It wouldn’t be a Bolivia trip without cement work!!! The church was full of life and full of people as each person set about doing the task they were asked to do. It is a beautiful thing to see the body of Christ in action. It is always such a tremendous lesson. Each person has a part to play. It doesn’t matter what other people’s parts are, it only matters what our job is. When we do what we are called to do, everything works together in the beautiful symphony of God’s grace. It is always an inspiring day.
The medical team worked throughout the day, long and hard. Again, Tina and Nathan did the triage of each patient. Lauren and our Bolivian friend and physical therapist, Alex, helped some of our elderly patients get reading glasses and Mark and Dana with the translation of Genelle and our new friend, Karla, saw all the patients. We had the addition of a Bolivian doctor who joined us yesterday which was an added blessing. Brandy organized and distributed the medications and Ann kept the line moving smoothly. It was busy and there was never a lull in patients who needed to be seen.
There are a couple of precious people who stood out to us yesterday. One sweet lady, after she had been seen, asked if a pastor could pray for her. Genelle was the closest pastor available so she sat and prayed for the healing of this precious woman. The whole time Genelle was praying, the woman continually prayed, in faith, declaring her own healing. This went on for about four minutes. When Genelle finished praying, this sweet woman kept right on praying she again declared her own healing and then went on to pray over Genelle and Karla who had just prayed for her. She prayed and she prayed over them asking for God’s blessing on their lives. When she had finished praying, she left the room, praying continuously. She prayed out loud as she passed each person and would change her prayers to cover each person she walked by. She would hug them all while continuously speaking to God on their behalf. Oh! She was precious and remarkable. Her eyes were very painful for her but she declared, “No more pain,” and then went on praying for the blessings of each person she encountered. We want to be like her! What a gift that precious woman was to us!
Another sweet woman stole our heart from the very beginning. She is in her 90’s and was slow moving as she came in. She brought all of her medications and we were able to sort them out for her and help her to understand what she was taking and what she needed to continue taking. She was super thankful…and she even took a selfie with us! She prayed for us and blessed us with her words and then she carefully made her way out to the table for the reading glasses. There, Lauren helped her to find a prescription strong enough for her. As she looked at the letters on the chart at the beginning of her time with Lauren, she couldn’t read any of the letters. Lauren got a pair of our strongest glasses and she put those glasses on her precious face and looked down. Her eyes welled with tears and she looked up with joy in her eyes. She said, “I cannot read but I can see!” Oh man, we were done. Every time we think of that story and that precious woman, we can’t help but cry. She never learned to read but the ability to see things close up that she had not been able to see for years was more than she could handle. Seeing her face light up, there is nothing that brings more joy! If that alone would have happened, our day would have been successful.
By the end of the day we had seen a total of 115 patients. That is more than we ever thought we could possibly see in a day. It was miraculous.
The children’s ministry group met with children at the tables in the courtyard of the church while the medical clinic continued. They did crafts with the children and each of the kids who were seen walked in with papers, stickers, and salvation bracelets. One of the sweet Bolivian women came over and was talking with our children’s workers. Julie shared with her that we had salvation bracelets but that all of our Spanish speaking leaders were in other areas working. The sweet Bolivian woman said, “Can I help you?” The answer was, of course, a resounding, “Yes!” Our precious sister spent time with each group of children, showing them the salvation bracelets and telling them about the love of Jesus. She gave each of the children the chance to accept Christ right then and there if they wanted to and several of the children accepted Christ there in that courtyard. God consistently has brought Bolivians to work along side of us and has shown us time and time again that His plan is prefect if we can just trust him.
Isn’t that just how we are sometimes? We think that we know what needs to be done but God sees the whole picture and He knows the perfect plan. If we are open and willing to let Him do what He needs to do, the finished product of what He creates is a masterpiece. It’s only when we have been open to His plan and what He wants to do that we have been able to accomplish His desires for this trip. We come on these missions to Bolivia and declare before we even leave that we are holding the details loosely, with open hands. We are not in control of the details and when we let go, we get to see the beauty of God’s handiwork. What He plans is perfect.
The last groups of the team worked hard throughout the day as well. It is such an amazing thing to hear music coming from the new sanctuary. As people worked, Robert and Andrew worked to install the sound system and tested it out with some of our Bolivian musicians. Hearing music resounding through the sanctuary brought us all one step closer to the reality of the building’s completion.
Nearby, the construction team worked tirelessly on the cement work for the day. The sanctuary itself is beyond the place where we can help with its completion. Instead, we have been tasked with working on the foyer for the new sanctuary. After four years of cement work, the men have the cement mixing and pouring down to a science. They worked for hours and hours and finished the day exhausted and completely covered with cement, sand, rock and water.
In the midst of all of this, we got to celebrate a birthday. It was Pastor Jim’s birthday on Wednesday and so we celebrated, complete with cake, songs, candles and lots of birthday hugs. Those of you who know Pastor Jim know that he is not a hugger so it was fun to make him a little bit uncomfortable all day long. We had ordered a cake at the beginning of the week and picked it up for lunch time. For dinner, a precious woman from the church brought the most beautiful cake for us as well. It was spectacularly gorgeous and delicious and we got to enjoy cake twice in one day! She even made him a lemon cake because she knows how much he likes it. He was thrilled and we got to have double portions of cake. That was a birthday celebration we could all get behind.
Throughout this trip, we have noticed over and over again that God continues to knit us together with our Bolivian family. When we thought we would be short a translator, God brought us two precious Bolivian sisters to translate. When we had more patients than we could see, God brought us a Bolivian doctor and physical therapist. When we needed a team to help with the sound system installation, He provided several church members to help and to learn the system. When we needed help with the children’s ministry out at Peji, He sent us youth from the church to come with us and to help keep the kids entertained. It doesn’t escape us that the word that God dropped into Kisha’s heart for this year’s Bolivia shirt was, “Nunca Solo/Never Alone.” Isn’t it just like God to drop that into our hearts and then to show us over and over again on this trip exactly what that looks like. We may have come down here to work but God didn’t have us do it alone. As much as we are here to communicate our love to our Bolivian family, God has turned it around and has shown His love for us by joining them with us, even when we weren’t planning on it or expecting it. He continually shows us that we are not alone either. That shirt was designed with the Faro del Cielo church in mind but God didn’t leave it only for them. This entire trip has been a lesson for us. He doesn’t ask us to go anywhere that He will not go with us. He will also equip us with everything we need…even when the thing we need most is another person to help. God is so good to us. How appropriate that our Bolivia shirt has the words mirrored in English…never alone. He is with us for every step and we are so thankful for the lessons He is teaching us along the way.