Equipo Bolivia – our team to Cochabamba – is home! And over the next few weeks we will be giving you glimpses into our time in Bolivia. I do hope you will enjoy them! Why not take a team member out for coffee and ask them about their experiences? And look out for RestoBolivia – a night of stories and images … coming in the early Fall! And so first off – here’s some thoughts from Gloria Kim.
When I consider my time in Bolivia, I am grateful for the teammates God orchestrated into my life. Each of them brought a strength to fill the weak spaces and a unique beauty to our interactions with the workers and children of La Trinidad and Niños con Valor. Coming together from a variety of backgrounds and interests in public service, spanning the age spectrum, being introverts and extroverts, Spanish speakers or solamente inglés, starting as friends or strangers, we gelled together in Christ’s love in order to serve outward.
During our 11 days away from home base, I witnessed my teammates’ courage and care in connecting with Bolivian children who were once neglected, abandoned, and/or abused. They earned the children’s trust, affection, and the familiar labels tío y tía simply through a myriad of moments of quality time in structured activities and free play. My team’s efforts were the gifts of childhood for these young Bolivian hearts, the same kind experienced by little campers in the States. I also witnessed a wonderful exchange of ideas about best practices in teaching children the Word during a workshop to refresh the Bolivian Sunday school leads. I believe that God recalls all of this love by name. And, I do too.
The babies of our team—Carson, Grace, and Craig—reminded me of what freedom looks like. Freedom is impeccable manners and fun play all at the same time. Carson’s constant words of “thank you, thank you so much” in response to kindnesses was heartwarming, while his easy way of taking and giving cues in imaginative play with the boys of Pedacito de Cielo reflected the type of innocence worth carrying into old age. Freedom is dancing and laughing. Craig taught hip dance steps to the girls of Corazón del Pastor as they clamored “Tío Craig, Tío Craig” in a special, earnest way. Grace danced sweetly to the worship music, while engaging with the children at La Trinidad in the mornings with her open smile, enough to substitute for every good Spanish word in the dictionary. Plus, Grace’s giggles, finding pure humor in language within our team, were energy boosters. Freedom is connecting to others.
The seasoned women of our team—Liz, Louise, Susie, and Marla—showed me a window into a desired future as a woman of God. Liz’ amazing ability to save the day, here and there, wherever she is needed, even before we realize that she is required, helped us not miss a step in our plans. Louise’s tenderhearted way of sharing her experiences in children’s ministry with thoughtful, Scripture-grounded answers to her Bolivian counterparts’ questions was moving. Susie’s mini Bible lessons in Spanish guiding into the VBS crafts captured the attention of the children. And, the energetic Marla fully engaged with everyone at all times, whether helping a child up onto a beam in the playground or regaling the team with stories from her wonderful life. No wonder Carson wanted to sit by her many times!
The joyful couple of our team—Endel and Kate—are bright spirits, very shiny with big kid hearts. Their prior investments into Bolivia brought forth the fruits of these days in July. And, they with Andrew were our in-team translators, sometimes having to navigate multiple conversations at the same time. Truly taking one, or more accurately many, for the team.
My talented peers—Andrew, Lauren, and Eva-Elizabeth. Andrew shared his guitar playing talents in harmony with the praise team at La Trinidad and led the children through many a “celebrad a Cristo, celebrad” followed by a clap-clap-clap, clap, clap-clap-clap-clap. Lauren ran a smooth VBS with great leadership that brought forth a rainbow in the sky on the last day. Last but not least, Eva-Elizabeth, with Andrew, cared for the littlest littles among the children, the most challenging bunch with many needs, for four whole mornings.
Through each of my teammates being exactly who they were created to be by God, in Christ, with the Holy Spirit, the workers of La Trinidad were refreshed, and the children of Niños con Valor felt their value. And, I too felt their love. How Lauren provided mini-debriefs each evening as my roommate on the trip. How Kate and Marla’s positive energies radiated into me by osmosis next to them. How Liz, Louise, and Susie validated my way of participating and who I am at various activities. How Carson enthusiastically and profusely appreciated a leftover coloring page I gave him from an afternoon activity. How Grace’s humor made its way into my brain and stayed, such that I found myself laughing with her quite often. How I saw that the joy of Grace was also the joy of Louise, like mother like daughter. How Eva-Elizabeth let me assign her to the artistic task of face painting for the children and endured even when the children began coloring all over her lovely face in their childish scrawls. How Andrew gave encouraging words warmly. How Endel walked all the way back to one of our planes to try to retrieve my little cross body purse that held my passport, so that I can come home. How Craig told me that it’s alright when I triggered the alarm to a door I walked too near while in line at customs.
On July 11th, coming from Bolivia to the States, the singular thought about my team and what we gave and received was this: God knew and knows what He is doing! And, God does love.
~Gloria Jin Kim