Dear Family and Friends,
Often when driving through a busy intersection here in Santa Cruz you will see Bolivian youth trying to make a little money by washing windshields. They walk among the lines of traffic carrying a plastic bottle filled with water (and sometimes detergent) and a squeegee. For washing a windshield they will often receive a 50 centavo coin worth about 7 cents, or if lucky a 1 boliviano coin worth about 15 cents. Sometimes they wash a windshield and the driver speeds away without paying them anything. A few evenings ago Dan was at an intersection where there were 5 to 6 youth competing to wash windows. He noticed that there was a young boy about 7 or 8 years old who was trying to do the same. Since he was so small he had put an extra long handle on his squeegee to be able to reach the windshields. Dan saw him and called out to him,“Hey you can wash my windshield!” He ran over excitedly and began to work as hard as he could. As the light turned green, Dan handed him a tract and 2 coins saying, “Good job, here’s 2 bolivianos and I’d like for you to read some important words from this when you have time.” He smiled really big and said, “Gracias [thank you]!” As Dan drove away he glanced in his rearview mirror to see the boy reading these words on the first page of the tract, “You were created with value and worth. God wants your life to count. Did you know God loves you and created you to have a personal relationship with him?” We may never see this little boy again, but Dan planted a seed in his little life and we hope that someone else will come along to water it.
We ended 2011 with a wonderful four-day celebration of the 53rd anniversary of our mission here in Bolivia, Mision Evangelica Bethesda. Then on Jan. 12, Dan picked up Dr. Sam Vinton, Jr., executive director of our mission, Grace Ministries International, at the Viru Viru airport here in Santa Cruz. Our family was able to enjoy two days with Dr. Sam before Dan took him and two other missionaries (a five-hour drive each way) to Monte Blanco , the conference center where the CIMA Youth Missions Conference was being held. Many had been praying for this special conference which was being directed by GMI missionary, Talo Vergara, from Uruguay. Dr. Sam had been invited by Talo to be one of the conference speakers. Anticipation was high for this national event and we were so excited to hear that 10% of the total youth in attendance were from our own mission churches. Two of our own leaders from our Km 14 La Gracia Church attended. We have heard nothing but good, positive reports. Dr. Sam was so encouraged by the excitement of these youth, he just continued to talk about how wonderful the conference was.
After the CIMA conference, Dr. Sam had about a week in Santa Cruz before heading back to the States. On Sunday he preached at Fuentede Vida Church (Spring of Life). Then on Tuesday morning and afternoon he was given the opportunity to share two sessions of teaching and encouragement with the teachers of our Henry Prince Mission School. Tuesday evening the pastors and leaders of our Santa Cruz churches were invited to a doctrinal workshop with Dr. Sam. Around 70 packed the room with a few even standing against the wall. They were challenged to study and interpret the Bible correctly. Study booklets were given out and each pastor also received a personal copy of Things That Differ by C. R. Stam, in Spanish. They were so thrilled to receive these books that they will be able to use in their churches. They really felt honored to be able to sit in on a time of teaching by the executive director of our mission. On Wednesday morning it was Talo’s turn to teach the morning session for the Henry Prince School teachers, and then Dan taught the afternoon session. Wednesday evening a special worship celebration was held at Jesucristo Vive Church (Jesus Christ Lives). Dr. Sam’s message on Man created in the Image of God, was both a challenge and blessing to all who attended from our various churches. At the end of the service a folkloric music group from the mission played music from the Andes using flutes, drums, guitars, and a churango (a small guitar sometimes made out of the shell of an armadillo). Along with the music there were youth in costumes who presented cultural dances. It was a very special evening!
Early Thursday morning, Dan drove Dr. Sam and Jose (Pepe) Yucra, our Bolivia mission president out to visit our Camp Buena Vista. This beautiful camp is located in an area with jungle surrounding it and the Amboro National Park alongside it. The camp facilities have been upgraded considerably due to the 18 months of construction and renovations that Steve and Lorene Gabler provided. A highlight of this four-hour drive was that Pepe was able to share his heart with Dr. Sam and receive from him counsel and ideas for ministry. Of course, Dan had the interesting job of driving and translating at the same time during the whole trip. It’s very evident that Pepe’s heart was touched by Dr. Sam’s love for God and the ministry here in Bolivia. The trip to camp was then followed by a special lunch of authentic Bolivian food with the Bolivian mission leadership committee. As you can see, we kept Dr. Sam pretty busy during his time here. It was great to have him stay with us, and our family was able to spend time with him between all of these activities.
The morning after Dr. Sam flew back to the States, leaders from all of our churches gathered for the annual asamblea meeting. At times there can be some tension at these meetings, but not this year. Dan started out the morning by sharing a devotional, then each church gave a report, new leaders were elected for some of the committees, many things were discussed. There was such a spirit of unity and acceptance there. Dan felt that the attitude that was displayed there could only be attributed to the time that these leaders had just spent with Dr. Sam. They had been refreshed and encouraged by him and it was very evident in their attitudes towards each other in this meeting. It was a joy to be a part of this meeting!
Speaking of our Camp Buena Vista again, the Jr. High kids from the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center are enjoying three days of camp there right now. Next week, Trevor and Tasha will be going out there for five days of Sr. High camp. They get back to Santa Cruz on Friday afternoon and then the next day all of the Bolivian youth from our churches head out for their annual four-day camp. It is great to see the camp being used like this!
Thank you for your faithful support of our ministry here in Bolivia. We are so thankful for your prayers and financial help. If you would like to donate online to our ministry through Grace Ministries International, please click here. We could not be here without your support!
1. for Pastor Guillermo Choquebarra’s son, Ariel, who left in January for five months of YWAM training in Costa Rica.
2. for all the upcoming camps out at Camp Buena Vista.
3. for the health of our family as there have been many cases of dengue fever, which is spread through mosquitoes.
4. for the pastoral searches being done in two of our churches.
1. that Lilibeth Ortega is halfway through her two-year ministry aboard “Logos Hope.” We just received word that the ship is in Cebu, Philippines, at this time.
2. for Dan’s recent opportunities to speak at Henry Prince, teach at Vida Abundante Church (Abundant Life), and teach at the Km 14 La Gracia Church.
3. for the wonderful visit with Dr. Sam Vinton.
Serving through Christ,
Dan, Mary Sue,Trevor, and Tasha Reed