Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eliana's Birthday

So I have long been absent from the blogging world due to a very busy last couple months as well as a sick computer for half of that time... but it's time to get back on the bandwagon and update you on our lives.

First off, Eliana's 3rd birthday party! We decided this year since she wanted to have a party and her birthday is so close to Halloween (and since we have never done any kind of trick or treat with our team kids), to have a costume birthday party. It was a lot of fun. We invited her close friends, played games (which were kind of a bomb except for the bag race... I need some ideas of good games to play with toddlers), had her favorite finger foods, and her cake of choice... cars! Eliana dressed up like a bunny in a costume my mom made for me and my sister, Michaela was a princess (of course) and Jana wore fairy wings for about 5 minutes :) It was a hoot watching the kids learn about trick or treat (since they had never done it before). I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Eliana, you are such a joy... you definitely live up to your middle name! I have loved watching you grow; I have suffered with you with your frequent illnesses; I have enjoyed your precious and distinct conversation; I have rejoiced over your sweet and loving spirit; I have thrived on your hugs and kisses. Most of all I have loved being your mommy. I pray every day for the grace and wisdom and patience to nurture you and your sisters. I love you!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nana's visit

The last couple weeks, we enjoyed a visit from Nana, Josh's mom. She split her time between here and Sucre as she came down for a ladies conference in Sucre, a children's workshop here in Coch., and of course much needed time with her 5 Bolvian grandkids! Jenny, Erik and the cousins came to Coch. for a few days too. Here are some pictures from our time together.

Snuggle time with Nana

Tea party with Nana

Birthday party with Nana (celebrating Mia´s first and Zion and Eliana´s third)

Fun at the pool

Taking a walk

Thanks for coming, Nana! We love you!

Recent Ministry Events

It has been a very busy month - on top of our regular ministry activities, we've had several special events too. Josh has said he feels like he's hardly had time to breath! And thanks to Josh's mom, we finally have a camara again to start recording memories!! I'm so excited to be able to take pictures again.

The month started out with a church 'retiro' - or mini retreat. We rented out a pool/recreation center for the day and had a great time of fellowship and food. This was the first church event that Miguel came to (see previous blog) and it was wonderful to see him and his family.

We started a monthly 'girls night out', and I put together the craft and the devotional focusing around our uniqueness and unity in Christ.

The guys had their monthly 'guys night out', and enjoyed the presence of Miguel as well as celebrating Gaston's birthday.

We held our annual ladies tea on the 26th, and had almost 60 women in attendance. Our theme focused on the Samaritan woman at the well, and our spiritual thirst for Christ. Trish did a fantastic job on the decorations and the craft! Mary Torres, one of the missionary women in Sucre, came to give the talk. She was very open with us about her life and how Christ has changed her and her family. A lot of our women put in a lot of hours working on invitations, nametags, the craft, the food, the decorations, and the testimonies. We continue to pray for wisdom as to how to draw the women of the congregation into a closer walk with Christ and fellowship with each other.

I lead singing...

Mary Torres, our speaker

An example of our craft

We were so excited with our attendance - and over half were friends of family of our church members!

Carmen and Elsa

Our welcoming table - Alejandra, Gabriella and Pocha

One of the many beautifully decorated tables

Patricia and Beatrice, 2 of our indespensible helpers in the kitchen

The next day, Sharla and Trish gave a workshop on teaching children. Josh's mom did a fabulous job providing a theological base for teaching children and Trish shared about her class for the toddlers, which has been a huge success! We are hoping to get more people excited and involved in our children's program, and I think this was a great start.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

3 months later

Today marks 3 months since the accident... a good time to post updates on how everyone is doing... again, in no particular order.

Miguel has been out of the hospital now for several weeks! The surgery I spoke of in the last update appears to have gone well. He is living with his mom right now, as he still needs supervision and care although he can walk, talk, and eat by himself. He has been to worship with us several times, and also to quite a few church activities. We have also set up a rotating visitation sheet and many church members have volunteered to take a morning or afternoon to sit with him so that his mom can get out. He seems to enjoy the time with the brethren and Josh feels that he is making some small improvements in his memory. His kids are still living with their aunt for the time being, but have been to Bible class a few times as well. We rejoice over the progress that has been made and continue to petition the Lord for his complete recuperation.

Bruno Vargas is out of his wheel chair and walking with the aid of a walker. He continues to go to physical therapy to work on his knee, but is slowly improving. Freddy's arm is almost healed, although he still is wearing a brace for support. Please continue praying for the Vargas family, though, as their family experienced another blow recently with the passing of their grandfather, Renan's father.

Camilla is now bandage and cast free. She is also undergoing physical therapy for her arm and will have another surgery within a few weeks of finishing her final exams.

Rebeca is walking great! She is of course still undergoing physical therapy as well. She is writing an article for the national church newspaper about her reflections surrounding the accident.

We are still searching for a permanent home for Wendy, who lost her daughter Ariana. We managed to find an apartment for rent, but are looking for someplace a little more permanent. Wendy continues to mourn for her daughter, but has found much strength and solace in the church body and in God, for which we are thankful.

Sunday was the birthday of Diana. Her parents, Jorge and Sandra, wanted to do something special in remembrance of her life, so we shared a cake and pizza and a slide show of her life. I was home that morning with a sick kid, but Josh said that service was packed with people who had known Diana. And Ariel, her brother, was there for the first time since the accident that morning! He is in a wheelchair now, but can sit up and move around somewhat, with the hopes of making a full recovery.

Jonathan and Rachel Sandoval have both started their first year teaching in Searcy. Rachel is doing well and enjoying her job. Jonathan's back is doing well, but he's having a lot of pain still in one shoulder. He went in for an MRI, which they decided not to do because of the metal plate in his back. So he will have physical therapy instead for a few weeks and see what kind of progress is made there.

Kevin got the casts off his feet but is still in his wheelchair. It will be a long slow and painful process of walking again.

Alejandra, Josh and Rosa are all doing well. Rosa may have surgery on her nose in another few months. Alejandra's bandages are off her arm and she is doing some physical therapy. Josh's injuries are completely healed. He is going next week to a missionary men's conference in Brazil and I am thankful that he is going to have some time surrounded by a lot of spiritual counselors.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for our family and our church body. God continues to work and be glorified here in Cochabamba, and we pray that the same may be true wherever you are living!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Point of Convergence

As I was waiting in line for 45 minutes outside the community center yesterday to refill our gas cans, I had plenty of time to meditate :) My first thought was to be thankful for a cloudy day, so as not to be waiting in the hot sun. My second thought was that it has hardly seemed like Bolivia the last year... no blockades or shortages of anything for a long time. It was too good to last. This week we had a blockade and gas cans became a scarcity again. Thirdly, my thoughts focused around the variety of people waiting in line with me.

Bolivia is interesting that way. There are several places I have been waiting in line, when I'm struck by the wide cross section of people waiting with me (in the identification office, getting my driver's license, and waiting in line for gas refills). I don't remember this being the case in the US...although I do remember waiting in Memphis for 2 and a half hours for my driver's license. Maybe because here everything is still so centralized. In the US (at least in the big cities), there are generally multiple offices for everything... so everything ends up being more 'zoned' for lack of a better word.

As I 'people-watched' yesterday (one of my favorite things to do), I saw the elderly and the youth, most likely waiting in line for their parents; women and men; the wealthy (dressed to the nines) and the poor, probably using a good portion of their week's wages to refill one of their most precious posessions; cholas with babies slung in aguayos and a more modern pregnant woman with a baby in a stroller; and myself, a gringa lady. We were all waiting in line for a nessecary commodity in life. Waiting patiently, because there was no other recourse, and smiles and sighs of relief all around when the gas truck finally pulled up.

A point of convergence. A place where all lives cross, no matter your status, class, color or gender. That's how I felt yesterday. And I was struck by the thought that our churches are supposed to be that way, although I get the feeling that they rarely are. May we all strive a little more to reach out to all types of people for, "You are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A lifetime

Last night I was honored to attend a concert given in honor of a good friend's parents-in-law. They were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. 2 months ago, as I sat in the mass for our 3 young ladies that died in the accident, I felt that we had now been here in Bolivia for what seems a lifetime... a little melodramatic, I know, but we've experienced so much of life here. Baby showers, births, baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings... life... and now death.

I got the same feeling as I sat in the concert last night... the feeling of 'a lifetime'. It was their legacy there on stage. All of their children and grandchildren and even they themselves performing in a talent show, honoring their love to each other. You would be hard pressed to find that much musical talent in another family. The grandkids all performed in a small 'rock' band - singing, percussion, guitars, piano. Then after the break, the father - a professional opera singer - sang several love songs to his wife. She in turn read him a poem she had written. There was a beautifully done ballet, perfomed by a niece. Then all the children and father performed different duets - mostly Spanish folkloric music - singing, guitar, even the traditional Bolivian flauta (that part was amazing!)

I couldn't stop from crying. I hope someday Joshua and I will be able to celebrate our parents lives together in such a way. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness again, remembering the accident, for the second chance Joshua and I have at someday, Lord willing, reaching our 50th together. I don't know what kind of legacy we will leave behind us, but I hope and pray it will be one that glorifies God through the lives of our 3 beautiful children. And finally I mourned the loss again of those 3 beautiful lives. Watching the grandchildren perform on stage made me accutely aware of how much we lost. Each individual's uniqueness: their personality, their talents, their inner beauty.

This morning was another emotional morning. A worship service marking the 2 month anniversary of the accident. It was a wonderful tribute to God's presence with us, His working through His body, gratefulness again for His goodness, celebration of our salvation through His Son, and prayer for those who continue to struggle, both physically and emotionally. Kevin was there for the first time this morning! What a blessing to see him and Bruno sitting together in the front in their wheelchairs, sharing a Bible and weeping together. What a blessing to have the Christian family that helped in the rescue attempt worshipping with us this morning. What a blessing to have Jorge and Sandra, parents of Ariel and Diana, get up and thank the congregation for their constant spiritual and financial support. What a blessing to see Carlos, Miguel's brother, with us. What a blessing, knowing that Miguel is out of the hospital, that surgery went well, although only God knows when and if he will recover completely. What a blessing to be able to call Miguel and Ariel up on the phone and sing to them. What a blessing to have representatives from the Bull's supporting church with us. And what a blessing to be able to eat and fellowship with one another afterwards.

We did our share of crying. But God is continuing to heal with His Spirit and through His body. My prayer is that He will continue to take our 'lifetimes' - both of Josh and I and of his church - and use us to His glory.

Friday, August 28, 2009


-curly red ringlets and blue eyes
-Eliana singing on the picnic bench
-a hot cup of chai
-the wind blowing in the trees
-roly poly puppies
-Josh pushing Jana in the swing
-planning a tea party for the kids
-a good friend
-singing and playing English hymns on the piano
-Michaela hugging Jana
-a long nap
-the sunset
-jacaranda trees in full bloom
-blossoming peach tree
-migrating swallows
-Michaela watering flowers

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2 months later...

Sunday marks 2 months since the accident. A lot of water under the bridge and yet still feeling the aftermath in so many ways. I thought it was past time to post an update of some things...

-Miguel continues in the hospital. He has come out of the coma, but has some traumatic brain injury. He can talk, eat, walk by himself, but has little memory of people or events. He is like a little kid. Thankfully, the family and doctors finally decided to move him to a better clinic, and not to the psychiatric hosptial. The transfer was made on Monday. Josh made 5 different trips on different days, attempting to make the transfer and there was always some kind of hold-up. The doctors are planning on operating on a blood clot in the cranium sometime soon. Please continue praying for Miguel and his family. We were very thankful to see Miguel's kids at church one Sunday, but they are sad and struggling to assimilate all the changes in their lives lately. They have been to see their dad, but he didn't recognixe them. We continue to pray for a miracle in this regard and would appreciate your prayers as well. It is discouraging and sad for Josh to see Miguel continuing in this condition - and strange for him to think that he was sitting right next to him when the accident happened.

-Ariel was released from the hospital yesterday, after another pelvic surgery. The first surgery was done wrong - one hip was 4 cm. lower than the other one, and he would have walked with a very severe limp. His parents were worried about his extended recovery and continuing pain and so got a second opinion from another doctor. Thankfully, this doctor seemed to know what he was doing and Ariel was sitting up within days after the surgery. He will now have another 2 weeks recovery at home and then continued recovery in a wheelchair. His cochlear device finally arrived too and we are just waiting for the technician to calibrate it. Ariel continues in good spirits in spite of it all, but his parents are really struggling with the continued tragedy of his health and the loss of Diana. They really need to be surrounded by prayers and the presence of God at this time.

-Most of the others in the accident are recovering well. Rebecca is walking better every time I see her; Kevin continues on bedrest for another month; Bruno will not have to have surgery on his knee, but is doing physical therapy daily; many of the others now have their casts or bandages removed. Josh has been encouraged by several discussions during the youth class together. Many are still struggling emotionally, but are finding strength in God and in each other.

-Butch made it safely to the States with Jonathan and back. They are now settled in Searcy and Rachel is teaching.

-As far as our family goes, Josh is pretty much completely physically recovered. We've had some sickness over the last month, but thankfully everyone is healthy right now. I think both Josh and I still have moments of tiredness and sadness - as I know do the rest of the team as well. It still seems like every day, there is some kind of follow up to do regarding the accident.

I want to express again how thankful we are for the many ways we've recieved encouragement through emails, facebook, and even lately real cards - thank you to Austin Ave. and to Livonia for having your kids make special cards for us! It means so much to us and the church here! And over the last couple days, we've been extremely blessed to have Dale Hawley here with our team. We were able to spend some great time together sharing about our team and everything that's happened over the last couple months. It was good to get away and to have time together. Thank you, Austin Ave. for making that happen!

We continue to find our strength in the Lord and in His body! May He continue to work through us, using us as 'instruments of His peace!'

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fun Pictures

Here are a few fun pictures (thanks to Katie!) that we took on our trip yesterday to La Cabaña hot springs with the Forbesses. It was a wonderful, relaxing way to spend the 184th Bolivian Independence day!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

If I had a camara....

I have been wanting to take a few pictures of things over the course of the last couple weeks, but seeing as we are still without a camara (it didn't make it in time for Josh's sister to bring down to us), this is the best I could do.

If I had a camara, I would have taken pictures of....

1) Eliana's black eye. She and Jana were trying to stand on the same chair and I think Jana pushed her and she fell off and ended up with a black eye.

2) Jana climbing the slide by herself.

3) Our dog, Daisy's, six new puppies!

4) The people added to our church body in the last week - Elsa and Carmen through a new commitment to Christ and baptism, and one family (Johnny, Ligia, Rosa, Ricardo and Mateo) officially placed membership with us!

5)The cuñapes (cheesy yucca bread) that I made for the first time. They turned out really yummy, and I'm excited because they are one of the girls favorite things to eat here.

Tomorrow is Bolivian independence day and we are off to the hot springs... this time with the Forbesses!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On a lighter note....

I realized the other day that I never posted pictures from our family vacation. We had just gotten back, and a couple days later Josh left on the jovenes trip... and the last month has been so crazy I haven't even thought about it. I was thankful we were able to salvage our memory chip from the camara, since I hadn't had a chance to download pictures from our trip.

We decided to take our vacation this year in a little town called Saimaipata. We wanted to try out our new car on the Bolivian roads. It did great!!! - and we christened it 'Dora' on the way (the girls idea!). We took the old road from Coch. to Santa Cruz (the same road the jovenes were on when they had the accident. After driving it is when Josh decided it might be better to take a bus. It was only paved for the first couple hours.... then it was dirt - albeit good dirt - the remainder of the way until the very end, when it was washed out pavement. I think I agree with my dad... Good dirt is better than bad pavement.) It was a long drive - it took us about 10 hours to get there. After driving there, we decided we had no desire to drive that road back, so drove on to S.Cruz and back on the new road (basically making a huge circuit). But it was some of the most beautiful and amazing country I've seen yet in Boliva! It's only when you get out of the major cities that you realize what a frontier country Bolivia still is.

We stayed at a hotel called 'El Pueblito'. It was like something straight out of an old west movie or something... each 'cabin' was themed after some kind of business from an old town (i.e. Seamstress, Bakery, Tavern, Blacksmith). They had a quaint little chapel, a playground, a pool (although it was way too cold to swim!), a restaurant, farm animals, fireplaces (which we definitely needed!)... It was a great experience and a beautiful view! And they made beautiful hand-painted pottery and woodwork.

The second day we were there, we went to visit 'El Fuerte', some ancient ruins that date to pre-Incan times, although the Incans used them later on as well as some kind of ceremonial/religous site and possibly a military outpost. It was fascinating... Bolivia's Machu Pichu... and very well laid out/maintained for Bolivia. The girls did great on the 2 k hike through the ruins and we saw our first Andean condor (eat your heart out, mom and dad!)

We also enjoyed exploring the town a little bit and visiting a local animal orphanage.

On the way back to Coch., we stopped halfway on the new road to break up the trip a bit. And stayed at a fascinating place. It was a working Bolivian ranch that is also a hotel. Very off the beaten track, but a great experience too. They had 5000 head of cattle that they were working as we drove up (of course the OK farm boy in Josh loved seeing that!). The hotel was spread out ranch style and very nice and clean; they had beautiful grounds, fishing (for pirahnas!), and free horseback riding as part of the deal... a pool and a great raised pavilion with hammocks (perfect for bird-watching, mom and dad!)

We drove the rest of the way back to Coch. the next day, stopping for lunch at our favorite hotel in Villa Tunari, and taking advantage of their pool and water slide!

All in all, it was a great vacation, and greatly needed.