The “Gift” that is Bolivia

RestoBolivia 2018 - 55

Hunter Weimer reflects on going to Bolivia with his son.

As children grow toward middle school, they begin to peck at the shell of dependence that served them well in childhood, breaking through in fits and starts to greater independence. Last summer, we could see the emerging teen in our twelve-year-old son as he would vacillate between thoughtful and charitable to surly and selfish, sometimes in a matter of moments. While I enjoyed his deepening maturity, refined laughter and beginning wisdom, surges of impulsivity and occasional emotional squalls were trying, and arguments took on a new edge.

So it was a gift to do something together, father and son, far away from the well-worn paths of our relationship at home, where we experienced service and selflessness both individually and alongside each other as part of a gifted Restoration team in a place new to us both, centered on care for children with a very special place in God’s heart. “O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.” Ps 10.17-18

I could talk about how God led me to a deeper experience of intimacy and immediacy in prayer or about how he broke my heart engaging children afflicted with chronic mental and physical challenges while also surviving neglect, abondonment and even abuse from parents — those who should care for them the most. I haven’t known tears to flow so freely for a long time.

But what I cherish most about that trip is that I shared it with my son. We saw the same things together. I saw him lift up and play with little Ninos, joy beaming from his face and theirs. He saw me engage Bolivian adult Christians in prayer for the retreat we led. We learned together, experiencing a new culture and country we knew little about. He saw me simple and uncomprehending when faced with linguistic challenges. I saw him take things in stride and adjust to the unexpected, as schedules and the need to serve sometimes changed from what we anticipated. We tried new foods together and made new friends independently. We joined the whole team for daily worship and prayer together, and sometimes youth and adults divided for their own reflection. And that was perfect for us both. He could see me let him have his own experience, and I could see him take risks, serve Niños kids, laugh with peers and grow in faith. I appreciate and admire the young man he’s becoming in all kinds of new ways.

And now we can’t wait to go back — to love the kids of Niños con Valor, embrace the people of La Trinidad and engage the city of Cochabamaba. We want to experience more of the beauty of God’s children in Bolivia.

Hunter Weimer

Application Deadline: This Friday, Feb. 1st 

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Trip Dates: August 2 – 12, 2019
Email a team leader: Diana Intagliata, Andrew Intagliata, Isaiah Brooms
Application Link:  2019 Bolivia Application 

Resto-Bolivia 2019 Invitation

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Photo from the 2018 Bolivia Trip: Kate Liias has been developing relationships with the children at NCV and La Trinidad Anglican for eight years.

 

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 2019 Bolivia Team.

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Dates: August 2 – 12, 2019
Email a team leader: Diana Intagliata, Andrew Intagliata, Isaiah Brooms
Application Link:  2019 Bolivia Application 
Application Deadline: Feb. 1st 

June 3: BOWLivia Team Fund Raiser and Parish Meeting!

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Big Impact.  Yummy Food.  Parish Meeting.

Want an easy way to make a big impact?  Come eat BOWLS of yummy food and give generously to help Team Bolivia at Restoration’s Parish Meeting June 3!

When:  Right after the 11am service on Sunday, June 3 in our fellowship hall.

What:  A delicious lunch prepared by the 21 members of TeamBolivia18 as a fund raiser for our travel and ministry costs.

How much is lunch?  Be generous!  The team shares all of the donations and they are used for team travel costs, ministry work in country, and ministry donations to our partners in Bolivia.

How long will the event last?  We will start serving lunch at 12:30pm.  Then at 1:00pm, we will have our ‘end of spring, beginning of summer’ Parish Meeting.  It will include an update on our finances, a report from TeamBolivia18, and a big cheer for Incarnation as they start Evening Prayer that night!

What will TeamBolivia18 be doing?  The team has been meeting together since April.  By God’s grace and good timing, the team has already had an opportunity to meet both of our ministry partners!  Here is a wonderful note from team member, Stephanie Dickerson:

When I signed up to join the Restoration Team going to Cochabamba, Bolivia in August, I simply thought, “Fun! This sounds like an adventure that I get to do in community!”

After meeting our two ministry partners, Tammy Firestone, Rector of  La Trinidad Anglican Church, and Tyson Malo, Director of Ninos con Valor, I realize there is so much more ahead of us.

Tammy asked that the Restoration Team provide healing prayer workshops for the people of La Trinidad– to both receive prayer and to learn how to pray for others. Then together, we are going to offer prayer to the neighborhoods around La Trinidad and their church plant in a nearby town.

“Healing prayer,” Tammy said, “is the way I believe we’ll see many, many lives actually transformed by Jesus. So many in Bolivia have heard his name, but simply add Jesus onto their other practices of worshipping idols, Mother Earth, and other Andean religious practices.  Abuse, addictions, and general brokenness is so prevalent in Cochabamba– people are in desperate need of healing. Healing prayer is the key to growing the church in Bolivia.”

I am excited to see how God stretches us as a team to serve and partner with La Trinidad in seeing lives healed and people transformed by Jesus!

Tyson, Director of Ninos con Valor, shared with us about the way NCV is continually refining and improving the way they provide residential homes for vulnerable children and teens– often taking the most challenging cases from around Bolivia. He spoke of how NCV is replicating their training practices to help others provide a similar level of quality care.

I am excited about continuing and deepening our partnership with Ninos con Valor as they care for and value children who are the most vulnerable in Bolivia and have a vision to expand their reach to more children!

I am excited to have the Restoration community participate with Team Bolivia!

So…..COME!  EAT!  GIVE!

See you on June 3 at 12:30 in fellowship hall.

-David

Resto Goes! Cochabamba, August 2018

Cocha_cristo-790x532Restoration will be making its third official mission trip to Cochabamba in August 2018.

Our role:

We are taking a team to work with our friends at La Trinidad Anglican church, and to spend time with the children of Niños con Valor in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

dates: August 3-12, 2018

Cost: Airfare + visas + $900 (includes accommodation, food, and internal transport). Scholarships are available, and the team will also be doing some communal fundraising. Airfare is typically between $1000 and $1400. Visas also cost an additional $80 (or $120 depending on type).

If you have any further questions about these teams please feel free to contact team leader Endel Liias, endel.liias@gmail.com

Here’s the link to the application form!

Submit your application as soon as possible to Liz, liz@restorationarlington.org

Bus 9: reflections from #RestoBolivia2

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During our time in Cochabamba, Bolivia we traveled through the city in a small bus that had a number 9 written on the front window.  It was driven by a very kindhearted man that became known as number 17, “Diecisiete”, on our team because when we would get on we would count off to make sure we were all there. Those of us who had been to Cochabamba the year before were pleased that it was the same bus and driver that we had during last year’s trip. I remembered him saying he especially enjoys times when he works with groups like us because he has more time in between our trips to spend at home with his family.

Upon arriving, bus 9 waited outside the airport to take us to where we would be staying. Since the bus looks like the other public buses (and usually is used for public transportation), it was quite common for us see locals attempt to flag down the bus and get on as we passed by. There usually was another bus like it not too far behind. Bus 9 took us to the NCV homes: Corazon del Pastor, Pedacito Del Cielo, and Sendero de Esperanza. It took us to a retreat center for the church retreat with La Trinidad (yes, there were llamas). There was luggage stacked in the aisles and on laps. Those who were feeling sick opted to sit up in the front of the bus next to the driver.  We sometimes packed children from the homes on the bus with us – quite the bonding experience. It took us to the Cristo de la Concordia for a beautiful view of the city. We took the bus to places that had delicious Bolivian food when we were hungry. The bus even took us to the largest open air market place in Bolivia, “La Cancha”.

On bus 9 we prayed, talked, laughed, cried and were quiet together. One time the bus stalled in the middle of a busy intersection and some of our team members got out to push until the engine started up again. The bus was usually on time, but everything usually started late. Our last trip on bus 9 was to the airport. Back where we began, but we were different. “Chao”, we said (goodbye that means we will see you again). God willing, we will be back on bus 9 next time.

~Andrew I.

Was it valuable? Thoughts from #RestoBolivia2

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So, RestoBolivia, 2017…led by awesome leaders, Eva Elizabeth, Endel and Kate.  Followed by the rest of us…Rachel, Diana, Lauren, MacCrae and Bennet, child lovers and carers extraordinaire. Lauren and Andrew, worship and prayer leaders.  And the rest of us, teachers, testifiers and also child lovers, Phil, Wayne, J.P., Alexa, Laurel and David, and me, Desiree.

What a wonderful group of dedicated Christ lovers with whom to experience my first Mission Trip.  And what an experience it was.

The experience of love and care on the part of everyone in the group toward everyone else in the group before we even got to the actual work of the trip was true Christian love in action.

The level of care and concern evidenced over and over again for the well-being of each of us I have never before experienced.  So awesome, words fail me.

The experience of a previously unknown country and people and culture was exciting.

The experience of participating in the retreat we led for the local congregation stretched me beyond my comfort zone.  It was nerve racking to prepare a testimony for an unknown audience not to mention one that did not speak English.

But, nerve racking or not, I and others did it.  I for one felt vastly relieved when my part was done and I am still basking in the relief of having it behind me.

But, was it a valuable exercise?  Yes.  I decided in the preparation that reviewing my testimony was something I should do more frequently than I have been.  I really need to share my story ongoingly.

Of course, I’ve been talking about me.  Aside from the impact on me of giving my testimony was the impact on those who heard it even in translation.  I was amazed to realize how God used my words to stimulate responses in the listeners.  I felt humbled by so many who had questions and wanted follow-up conversations.

And then the experience of loving on the adorable children in the boys’ and girls’ homes which we did for the balance of our time there.  It was heartwarming to see and experience the love and care being lavished on the children by all, including us!, who come into contact with them.

The Mission Trip was a transformative experience in my journey of faith.  And one for which I feel very grateful for the opportunity to participate.

~Desiree F

 

The day after… thoughts from #RestoBolivia2

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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.

~Alexa A.

Un Equipo Increíble: Thoughts from #RestoBoliva2

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Short-term mission trips come with their share of challenges. Before the trip, I found it hard to believe that somehow in a 10 day period, a group of 16 people of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences could somehow come together, plant themselves in a foreign country, adjust to new food, language, and culture, and have a meaningful impact on the people they came to serve.

I was in awe of the way our group demonstrated flexibility, sensitivity, and openness to the daily realities that we faced in Bolivia.

Instead of expressing frustration at the church retreat that our detailed schedule was constantly being rearranged and delayed, our team expressed delight that we could embrace the Bolivian way, release our Type A grip on things, and simply open our arms wide to welcome the beautiful chaos that we know God was orchestrating. If we had been adamant about sticking to our rigid schedule, it could have caused a rift between Resto and La Trinidad. Instead, our team’s flexibility allowed for an easy integration of our groups during which we could focus on what God was teaching us.

Instead of going through the motions of giving gifts at the end of the week to our friends at Niños con Valor and offering a generic thank you to all of the Tias for their work with the children, our team decided to hand-write individual thank you notes to each of the 19 Tias.  After a long day of work, our team members willingly gathered around the table at our guesthouse until midnight, reflecting on the distinct personalities of the Tias and specific ways that they love the children of NCV. As we distributed the gifts and notes to each Tia on our final day in Cochabamba, it was brought to our attention that no group had ever thanked each of the Tia’s individually. This gesture was deeply meaningful to them, and I’d like to think that our words and actions played a role in “refreshing workers” – which was one of the main objectives of the trip.

 Instead of grumbling about the illnesses that plagued our group from some uninvited friends (amoebas and parasites to name a few), I watched our team members support one another by offering healing prayer and taking multiple trips to the pharmacies to buy various medications. In addition, those who were afflicted with various health issues maintained positive attitudes and continued to offer ways they could help the team fulfill our mission.

These are just a few of many ways that our group demonstrated that they came to Bolivia not to be served but to serve.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” – Hebrews 6:10

I praise God for each individual that he placed on this team and I know that the fruits of their labor will continue to bless our Bolivian friends.

~Kate L.

Equipo Bolivia Vuelve

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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.

Now…

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.

-David

He has taken my little, and given me much

#RestoBolivia2 – Team reflections #1

Tu fe ha salvado; ve te en paz.

RestorationMission 2These are the words of Jesus as he blesses the woman who washed his feet with her tears. A simple sentence:

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

These are the words of Jesus that have been on repeat (in Spanish and in English) since Sunday morning, after Laurel and Desiree shared testimonies and teaching with members of La Trinidad, the church here in Cochabamba. Words that carry blessing and hope.

I wasn’t ready for this trip. We’d put months of preparation in to it – some of us had literally been talking about this trip since we left Cochabamba last July. Plans were set – we knew who would be speaking – we knew who would be leading kids time – hours of prayer and encouragement and listening and learning were put into this trip. And still my heart was not quite ready. I was tired, struggling with some familiar voices of shame and the question of “has it been enough?”

Late Friday night I sent around an update for our prayer partners. I was exhausted after a full day of travel and little sleep, and in all honesty struggling to find words. But last night my words were re-read to me, and I realized that the prayer I’d written for our friends at La Trinidad was in many ways a prayer for myself: “that they will be able to enter into the next few days with ready hearts.”

Now, on the other side of the retreat, I am grateful for the ways God took my little and reminded me that he is enough. Our plans were used and changed and shared in ways that we didn’t always understand, but they did not return empty. So many of us were privileged to see many at La Trinidad share their stories in new and vulnerable ways. There was weeping and rejoicing, celebration and struggle.

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We also discovered that the Hanke family knows a thing or two about llamas

As we reflected on the story of the woman weeping at Jesus’ feet, I shared with our small group that as I imagined myself in her place, there was an overwhelming sense that the need for healing was greater than the weight of shame that could leave her (me) isolated and alone – that risking the judgment of the people watching was worth the relief that would come from Jesus’ grace.

 

This is my benediction: Your faith has saved you; go in peace

~Eva-Elizabeth

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