Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trip to Chihuahua

....And that would be "Campo Chihuahua", Bolivia, not Mexico! I had four incredible days spent in a different world unbelievably close (relatively speaking) to Cochabamba. I "fit in" with the people living there, identified more with their culture and thought process, the food reminded my of my Grandma's southern cooking, and I thought much of Texas. Twenty plus years there had prepared me for the insects, the oppresive heat and humidity that persists into night, wide fields of cows, flat land, flies, beautiful sunsets, varmints....and did I mention the spiders?
I went with 5 other members of our church here, Cochabamba International Church, including the founding pastor/administrator and our praise team leader and his wife. We already have a member of the church living in Chihuahua for three months as part of an intensive mission immersion program and were able to check up on him. Our team's purpose was to encourage the believers in their new church, meet with the leaders of the church and Christian Spanish school they have begun for their kids (if the kids go to local colony schools, they are ostracized for not living in the legalistic, extremely oppressive way of the local Mennonites), and give some training classes in praise and worship. I also spent several hours tutoring an extremely willing student on the only keyboard for miles around.

We had beautiful days of fellowship and battles all night......with the natives! Mosquitos attacked me the first night with admirable gumption then alerted the neighbors. The next night, you would've thought I was bathing in sugar water instead of repellant (OFF at that)! They bit my eyelid which swole half shut, my face, chin, neck, fingers, feet, fingertips--anything not tightly covered and not already marked from the night before. But with the temperature and swelteringly high humidity, it wasn't exactly pleasant to stay wrapped like a mummy. I also had a bed mate, a lady about half my height and equal in width, who snored and seemed to think I was her husband when asleep. Did I mention we were on an air mattress on a concrete floor? Yeah, nights were rough...

But the days were amazing! Once I finally got more orientated by constant question asking (in Spanish and English, depending on who I spoke to) on WHO these people were in the middle of nowhere, born in Bolivia and yet the furthest thing from "Bolivians", and native speakers of Low German, the great need started to become clear. These families live in one of the very few "open" Mennonite communities in Bolivia, but they have multitudes of relatives (to the tune of dozens of aunts and uncles and up to 100s of cousins) still living in the abject darkness, implorable poverty, and tight chains of a legalistic religion and way of life. There are 42 Mennonite communities in the department of Santa Cruz and these form THE urgent mission field for the Christian families walking in light we had the privilege to meet!!!

What an opportunity I had no idea of to provide prayer, training, and encouragement to these farmers and their families so that they are equipped to be salt and light in this "hidden" mission field. If anyone has resources or books or links on particularly the Mennonite community in Bolivia, I would love to keep learning more. I doubt that with my hectic schedule I will be able to return, at least soon, but as our church continues their outreach I want to be more informed.

My little house on the prairie for four nights

The house above was this family's house till they outgrew it
(they live in a new house now, maybe twice as large)


Gallo Pinto2 said...

Wow! So where is this place in relation to Cocha? It sounds like it was quite the adventure!

Anonymous said...

Cool! I didn't realize there would be places like that in Bolivia.... a whole other mission field with a completely different culture. Glad you got to go!

Jennifer Thompson said...

Campo Chihuahua is a several hour drive NE of Santa Cruz, depending on several factors including if the one way bridge is going your direction at the moment or not, and RAIN. A third of the distance is a dirt road that turns to pure mud in rain and is simply shut down until dry. We had it easy both days we traveled: just under 3 hours to and from SC, although it can easily take 4 or 5!

Thanks, Amber! I'm very blessed that I got to go. And it was even a rest, which I've realized by how tired I've been since I got back to the pace of life in Coch. =)

Nelson Rempel said...

Wow, nice information. I live in chihuahua and know the people and places in the picture. I did a search for chihuahua and you must have about the most information on the web. Congratulatios