Today is the day after the end of the Bolivia trip– the end of the most transformative summer of my life as a whole where I felt God challenging me and pushing me to use my heart in ways I had not done before. This summer I felt the presence of God work through people in unforeseen ways.
First, what did I bring on this trip and how did God take it and transform it for His good?
On this trip I brought my love for getting to know the people, culture, and traditions of Latin America, which long preceded my interest in joining Equipo (Team) Bolivia. The second thing I brought with me was my love for serving others-from serving my family, friends, community, and job- I seek to serve in everyway I have to opportunity to because I feel like I marginally bring the world to being restored from a state of need or brokenness. However, on this trip, God has given me a renewed heart and lens with which to view Latin America as well as serving.
I saw through the work we have done with La Trinidad, an Anglican sister church in Cochabamba, that sowing and reaping together rather than working on behalf of other people renders incredible results that glorify God. This has been instructive in how to serve cross-culturally in settings where historically having others come in from the outside often has negative results. In working with the La Trinidad, we were humbled to see the such an elaborate and dynamic church could arise- a church that includes the most marginalized and offers them an immediate and engaging experience alongside the of gospel of serving that the houses and tias (affectionate and formal term for the women that care for the children) live out day in and day out. This indeed informed my experience of seeing that as a church there is not a one-size fits all model, and there are cultural differences that are key to understand.
Secondly, I brought my love for serving people and thinking critically about how this service is impacting them. What God has taught me through the experience of sharing with Bolivians is that He wants us to uphold the relational aspect of His kingdom to reflect His love in this world. By living out the relational aspect of God’s kingdom, we expand the network of people we love, care for, know well, and connect with- which is exactly what I felt like the whole group did while in Bolivia.
During our debrief session before flying out of Cochabamba at the end of our trip, Tyson, the leader of the work we were doing with Niños con Valor, shared with us the healthiest and most helpful way to transition out of Bolivia is by integrating our experiences there into our present reality here. As I return back to the states, my hope is to integrate these experiences into a part of my life I have felt disconnected from for the past year as I have simultaneously been drawing closer to Restoration, which is an answer to the prayer of what my vocation should be. This is an area I have been praying to the Lord about for cohesion for in my life between my passions and my day-to-day work. I want to pivot my vocation to working with Latin Americans back in the U.S. and in Latin America directly with humility and a spirit of working alongside people in settings like Bolivia where there are obstacles and constraints as well as opportunities and abundant blessings.
Through the testimonies we all shared that followed the theme of being at the table with Jesus, we learned and lived what God continuously shows his disciples in Luke, which is that out of our little, He in turn provides abundantly.
And when it comes to service, it has been key to invite God into settings where we serve others joyfully and creatively where we can glorify Him and expand His love in His Kingdom. I will continue to pray for God to penetrate the ways I practice serving my Latin American community back here in the context of the greater Washington community. In the day after, I seek to continue to build on the experiences we all had with the children, tias, and homes into the practice of seeing how I want to live out service and my passion for Latin America in my day-to-day life. I think I will start with grabbing some mate (local tea) and staying in touch with some of the kids we connected with through letters and staying tuned to their lives in the larger context of Bolivia.