In January 2006, Dan and Mary Sue and their three children—Taylor, Trevor, and Tasha—arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a city surrounded by the Andes mountains. They went to language school and ministered there for one and a half years and they now live and serve in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They are currently involved in leadership training, evangelism, church planting, and encouraging pastors, their wives, and lay leaders in ministry. Here is a recent update of the exciting things going on in their ministry. (www.gracem.org)
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world (Romans 1:8).
Dan and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel up to La Paz in mid-September to take part in the anniversary celebration of one of our Grace churches in Viacha. Viacha is a town in the Altiplano region which is the area on the outskirts of La Paz. We arrived a day and a half early so we could spend a bit of time in the city of La Paz. It turned out to be a good plan since the altitude was affecting both of us. We needed that extra time to get acclimated to the 12,000 plus elevation. After our time in the city we headed out to Viacha, which is a whole different world – world that we love! Everything slows down when you get out of the city and you seem to step back in time where life is a bit less complicated. The city of La Paz is a mixture of modern buildings and traditional simple brick buildings – a lot of cement and not too much greenery. Lots of people are always walking around the city, and the streets would remind you of the steep streets in San Francisco. It is a beautiful city bustling with the energy of people and activity. In contrast, when you drive through the Altiplano you see lots of dry flat land. It is a rugged, yet beautiful terrain. Here and there you see towns which are comprised mainly of adobe and brick buildings. Viacha is one of these towns. In the distance you can see snow covered mountains. It is such a beautiful sight!
When we arrived in Viacha we checked into the Viacha Plaza Hostel. It is located right off the main plaza in the center of town. It cost just $10 for the two of us to stay there for the night. We had our own room (very small) with a view of the plaza. We shared a bathroom in the hall, but it was funny because the shower on our floor was being used to wash clothes so we couldn’t even use it. Wet clothes were piled high in the shower. We were on the fourth floor so each time we returned to our room we had to climb all the stairs and we were all out of breath.
The anniversary celebration was scheduled to start at 2 pm on Saturday. It was to last until 10 pm and then continue on Sunday morning until 4 in the afternoon. Knowing that things usually start late in Bolivia we arrived around 2:30. Five people were there starting to cook food and set up some things for the program. Soon the music people arrived and started setting up. Little by little the people came and as we greeted them they welcomed us with open arms. The anniversary celebration finally started around 3:30. It was wonderful seeing these beautiful people gathered together to worship the Lord. We have five churches in the Altiplano area and people from all five of the churches came to celebrate together. A little old man came wearing a suit coat with his dress pants tucked into his socks, which I thought was a little interesting. I later found out that he had ridden his bike to the church. He said it wasn’t that far, it only took him about an hour to get there. A beautiful 100-year-old lady was also there and was so thrilled to attend. It is very unusual for people to live that long in Bolivia, so it was a real treat to meet her. She had beautiful leathery skin and other than using a cane she seemed to be doing very well for her age.
During this weekend of celebration each church was given a time to lead music, and all of the pastors were given opportunities to share. The music was incredible! Many of our people in that area are from the Aymara Indian background. Spanish is their second language and many still only speak Aymara. The little songbooks they use have Spanish on one side and the same song in Aymara on the other side. We sang many of the songs in both Spanish and Aymara and we got to sing some old favorites like, “How Great Thou Art,” “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus,” and “I Just Keep Trusting My Lord.” The Bolivians just love to sing, so we did a lot of it! Much of the speaking during the celebration was in Aymara so it was very hard for us to understand but we can’t help but love being with these people! Dan was given the opportunity to share with the youth Sunday School class on Sunday morning. He shared how God wants to use each of them and gave a real challenge for world missions to the 37 youth who were there. What an encouragement to be with these youth! They are so full of life and seem to be very on fire for the Lord. They were so attentive as Dan spoke and many wanted to speak with us after the Sunday School time. We were very impressed with this group of youth! They invited us back to La Paz for different activities that they have planned at later dates.
The ladies of the Viacha church cooked and served meals to all the people who were there. The people sat all around outside wherever they could find a place to sit. They set up a little table with a tablecloth for Dan and me to eat. They were so gracious…they treated us like royalty! We were the only two with the use of a table. Everyone else ate with their bowl of food in their laps. The weekend was such a blessing to us! It was exhausting but so encouraging at the same time. It was hard to say goodbye when it was time to leave. So many asked when we would be back. We hope to go back sooner than later! It was a weekend we will remember forever!
Thank you so much for your support of our ministry here in Bolivia! Because of your prayers and financial support we have the privilege of traveling to places like Viacha to encourage and support these precious believers. Thank you so much for partnering with us! If you would like to donate online to our ministry through Grace Ministries International, please click here.
- For our five churches in the Altiplano and for their pastors.
- For the youth in these churches, that they would grow in their walk with the Lord.
- The La Paz leaders who will be traveling down to Santa Cruz in November for our mission leadership conference at Camp Buena Vista. (Nov. 6-8)
- For the past missionaries who helped start many of these churches in the Altiplano.
- That we were able to take some books and materials to distribute among the leaders over the weekend.
- For the opportunity to travel up to La Paz and be with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Serving through Christ,
Dan & Mary Sue Reed
Attached are two pictures:
- Dan with the La Paz youth
- One of the churches presenting special music at the anniversary celebration.