I first heard about Bolivia on my second date with my now-husband, Endel. I remember him saying towards the end of our date, “Maybe you will get to go to Bolivia some day and meet the incredible children at Niños con Valor.” I nodded my head and laughed nervously as he signed the check. I pulled out a map that night to figure out where in the world Bolivia even was.
It’s a joy to look back over the past 8 years since that evening and to see the many ways that God has worked and integrated Bolivia into my life. I had the opportunity to live in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2013. I learned Spanish, lived with a Bolivian family, joined La Trinidad Anglican Church, and volunteered with Niños con Valor. It was easy to fall in love with the beautiful weather, majestic mountains, delicious food, colorful culture, and romantic language. But most of all, it was easy to fall in love with the people. That’s what really keeps me coming back year after year.
I grew up thinking that short-term mission trips were meant for accomplishing something obvious and tangible. Build a house. Check. Dig a well. Check. But what I’ve learned throughout the time I have spent in Bolivia, alongside my fellow RestoBolivia friends, is how much is “accomplished” through relationships. I go back each year for the people and am continually amazed at what God can do when we show up with open arms and open hearts…willing to serve our Bolivian friends in whatever way they have asked us to. I have no doubt that it has been a great blessing to our ministries La Trinidad and Niños con Valor when we have led church retreats, organized vacation bible schools, and taught seminars on healing prayer. But I think the most meaningful way we “help” our friends in these ministries is by showing up, building relationships, love them, praying for them, and coming back year after year.
So I guess to sum it up, I go to Bolivia for the people I have come to know and love. And it is a gift to witness all of the other friendships that have blossomed between our partners in Bolivia and my friends at Restoration – and I think God loves the way that we come together and grow together as we ultimately seek after Him.
– Kate Liias
We invite you to join the 2020 Bolivia Team.