We are home.
Hey Restoration! Our Bolivia Team arrived home around 9pm on Sunday night. Thank you for reading our emails and blogs, for praying, and for generously helping with our trip costs. Some of you came to the Bowlivia Dinner, others of you dropped your kids with us for a Date Night, lots of you gave specific gifts to help with flights, visas, and thousands of Perler Beads (more on that, soon). Restoration gives so generously of its time, prayers, and money. I am always grateful and humbled by your participation when the opportunity presents itself. Thank you.
I get the honor of offering some initial thoughts as we re-enter to North American life and culture. You will hear from other members of our team over the next couple of weeks.
Resto People are Incredible People.
Our team started meeting as a small group during the spring trimester. This is the way we have been prepping for mission trips for about 5 years. It gives us a great opportunity to get to know each other, to pray for each other, and to prepare to serve together. Over and over, I said thanks to God for the incredible people He put on this team. We were lead by the dynamic trio of Endel Liias, Kate Liias, and Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm. They were extraordinary: calm, attentive to details, and compassionate towards the rest of us. At least half the team was fluent in Spanish and another 1/4 could function well on their own in Spanish conversation. That left a few people like me with LOTS of help when we got stuck tripping over our limited vocabulary. We loved living in a guest house together and doing compline each night. We worked hard leading a retreat and serving lots of kids. We laughed, mourned, and were touched by the things God is doing in Bolivia.
We have this thing called RestoGoes (look for the yellow flyer in the narthex). We try to get teams to our partners in Cambodia (Jan2017), West Asia (Nov2017), and Bolivia (Aug2017) each year. One of the best parts of RestoGoes are the people who go with you. The next opportunity is West Asia in November. Want to join an incredible team?
La Trinidad Anglican Church
Most of us left Dulles at 11:30am on Thur, Aug 3. We arrived in Cochabamba around 8am on Fri, Aug 4. It’s a long way.
Our first task was to lead a retreat (Sat-Mon) for La Trinidad Anglican Church. The format was familiar to us– it’s just like our Restoration Fall Retreat (10/14-15, registration is open, last year we maxed out, don’t miss it!).
For 4 months, our team had worked on stories in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus has a meal with a group of people (there are over half a dozen of them). Our retreat theme was: En la mesa con Jesus.
Over the course of the weekend, we had six sessions where one team member taught the passage and a second team member gave a testimony for how that story impacted their life. The combo was so good. Our team had prepared with excellence. Many of the team taught and shared in Spanish. Some of us were translated by other members of the team.
Before we went, we discussed cultural differences we would encounter. We used the phrase– it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different. One of those differences was how we view vulnerability. Restoration is a church that views vulnerability as a strength. In our small groups and friendships, we want to be known, to be sincere, to not hide. Vulnerability as a strength came out in the way our team courageously shared their testimonies and it was very attractive.
La Trinidad in particular and perhaps Bolivian culture in general views vulnerability as a weakness (again, not right or wrong, just different). During the retreat, the people of La Trinidad greatly appreciated the vulnerability of our team and their appreciation lead to long discussions of how their church might become more transparent with each other– for the sake of the Gospel and the healing work that Jesus wants to do in us.
Our team was grateful to be able to bring the gift of our stories and grateful to see how the Holy Spirit used them to bless our friends at La Trinidad during the retreat.
I hope you will be quick to sign up for a fall small group where you can be known and build friendships with other folks at Restoration.
Niños Con Valor
From Tuesday to Saturday we volunteered with the organization, Niños Con Valor. It was a rewarding combination of affection, hard work, crafts, conversation, prayer, and learning.
There was a narrative that became very real to me that week. We had a presentation on the history of Bolivia that taught us the economic and political fragility of that country (the presentation was entitled, ‘Bolivia Exists!’). Bolivia is not a powerful economy compared with its neighbors. In addition, we were working with children who had been orphaned or abandoned. Many of them had special needs and almost half had HIV. These children became so precious to us. Yet, according to the currency and value assessment of most of the world, they could be dismissed as ‘the least of these.’ The staff and volunteers of NCV are truly standing in the gap for about 40 kids that might not have any other place to turn. It was our deep, profound privilege to get to serve alongside them and to experience the expansion of our hearts in exuberant affection for these children.
I loved our time in Bolivia. I believe we did some good. I know we built relational partnerships that will continue to strengthen. As we grow our work with RILA, and dream about a future Spanish service, and partner with our good friends at Casa Chirilagua, and wonder about how God will materialize our hopes for Incarnation Anglican Church in South Arlington, I know that this companionship in Bolivia is a part of our Restoration story. I love trusting that God is leading us and coordinating us. It is such an adventure!
Good to be home. See you on Sunday.