In the wee hours of Tuesday, July 17 a team of 26 people (a mix from Grace Point and Restoration Church) headed to Bolivia for 8 days; and it was amazing. It is difficult to share all that our team experienced while in Bolivia – including the many God-sightings and the emotional roller-coaster ride of visiting our sponsored children and their families, our friends at Unidos en Cristo, and making new friends at another Child Development Center. Our trip with Compassion International was incredible beyond words. Our schedule was full and hectic at times, but we had a great team that was flexible and willing to adapt.
Compassion’s mission statement is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, and we saw that firsthand. Below are small snippets from our daily prayer updates, in case you weren’t on our list, or you simply want to relive our trip with us. 🙂
Day 1 – Wednesday
Today was nothing short of amazing, encouraging, emotional, and inspiring. Cochabamba is a fantastic city and sits at the feet Cristo. After arriving at the hotel and grabbing some lunch, we had some time to refresh before we made our way to the national Compassion office for all of Bolivia.
Our team split into three groups and heard all about the ministry, philosophy, and process that Compassion employs in Bolivia. Each of these wonderful Compassion employees view their work as a much-needed ministry to not just change the lives of these children, but to ultimately to bring about life change to their entire country. Next was dinner at which we were joined by Pastor Angel and a few members of the governing board at Unidos en Cristo. After dinner, Pastor Angel shared his vision for ministry and church planting. He closed by providing an update on his and his son’s recovery from an automobile accident several weeks ago.
It was long day, but worth it.
Day 2 – Thursday
Today we visited Unidos en Cristo, the first of what will be many gatherings planned for this week. Here we received a warm welcome complete with waving flags and handmade welcome signs! We had a service together in which we sang and prayed. A young lady at the age of 13 spoke to us of her favorite verse (Rev 2:10) and how we must be faithful to God in all circumstances. Then, the pastor’s wife prayed for us, their visitors, asking that God bless us and protect us. She gave thanks to God for our love of her community and home country of Bolivia. She prayed all of this through tears of love and appreciation. It was truly humbling. We came here in hopes of being a blessing to the community and these people beseech the Lord to bless us!
There were two teaching opportunities this day. The first was for the women of Unidos en Cristo in which Barb Brown spoke about the importance of living in community as Christian women and developing relationships that provide support and spur one another on to growth in Christ. Then Sherri Wolf spoke candidly about the kinds of things women and mothers struggle with and how we can seek forgiveness and ask the Lord to help us sow good seed into our children and families.
The second teaching opportunity was led by Chuck Arnold who spoke to the teenagers about what it means to be an adolescent and how to succeed even while they face many pressures growing up.
Dinner tonight was pizza spent with fifteen of the 48 students enrolled in the GAP program. GAP is a selective program in which students, age 18-22, apply to develop leadership skills. These young people were so excited to meet with us. They greeted us with music, provided a concert for us during which they implored us to dance. We later met in small groups and learned about the various experiences of these sponsored children. GAP provides small group connections and support. It was awesome!
Day 3 – Friday
Today was the first day we split teams; Grace Point went back to 703 (Unidos en Cristo) for a service day, and those of us from RC had the amazing opportunity to visit a center that has never received a visit before. As they pulled up to the gates of Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Marquina, we could see the children and staff had made a beautiful welcome banner they strung along a second floor balcony. The children all ducked behind it when they saw us approaching and when we got off the bus they all popped out to shout “BIENVENIDOS! (Welcome!)” As they walked down the stairs, each child holding a brightly colored balloon, they sang a song for us. They let the balloons go as they reached out to embrace us each, one at a time. It was a beautiful, heart-warming welcome!
The RC folks had a day filled with home visits, a special opportunity to tag along with the Compassion staff for a home-based program visit for mothers and infants. Then, they had a chance to meet with the staff at BO-707 and enjoy games and activities with the children.
The GP folks helped to sand and repaint the furniture for the classrooms at Unidos en Cristo. We also installed a new computer lab for the students, with 12 desktop computers. Additionally, we brought seven laptops with us for the students to use for homework and other computer training. The staff and students who were there on Friday were extremely grateful and excited about these new resources!
Be sure to read more about our trip in “Part Two.”