Monday, October 28, 2013

October 20 - October 26

October 20, 2013

This morning we went to the small church down the road and cleaned the property for our Pathfinder community service.  It’s an open church..really just corner posts and a roof.  The grass had grown very tall and you couldn’t see the church very well from the road.  The members are very few and poor, so we thought that would be a good community service project for the club.  We were able to get all of the area cut and most of it raked by the time we had to leave.  We’ll have to go back one afternoon to finish raking and burn, but it was quite a good feeling to see the difference our labor made.  Samuel and Edwin, though, were stung by wasps that had made their nest in the leaves of a plant...:(  But other than that, there were no other incidents.  I’ll post some pics for you to see.

We got back to Familia Feliz, took a shower and then those of us staff who had the day off headed to town.  I had a long list of things to do and, thankfully, was able to get all of it done (which doesn’t always happen in one day!).  Plus, I was able to talk to friends and family.  That’s always a blessing.  

Overall, it was a very pleasant (though hot and humid!) day!  God is Good!  May His blessings rest of each of you!


October 21, 2013

I want to start out today by wishing my youngest brother a very FELIZ CUMPLEANOS!  :)  Happy birthday Chandler!  (I won’t go into how old it makes me feel that you’re 25 now!  :) ).  

This morning, we finished a couple of additions to the documents we had to take to the Ministry of Education and then Jodi, Juan and I headed back to town.  Juan had to take the small truck to be worked on.  Part of the engine support had broken and, as a result, broke the fan.  (It’s always something with one of the trucks.  We’re still praying for new vehicles!!)  Jodi and I made copies of all of these documents, signed and stamped them and took them to the Ministry.  What a relief to know that this part is complete!!  Praise God!  We still have to update some information and grades in the computer system, but that won’t be too bad.  

We got back after supper, I took a shower and had worship with David.  Now, it’s off to bed.  I’m tired!  I went for a run today (as much as I hate to admit it, I must be’s been more than a month since I’ve gone running.  :(  Things have just been so busy that I haven’t had time.  But boy, did it feel good to run again!!  :)  But my legs are definitely feeling my skipping it for a month.)

Good night everything!  Peace and love to all of you.  God bless!


October 22, 2013

Guess where I had to go today??  Back to town!  Going to town is nice, but gets old when you have to go almost every day!  But we needed to turn in some more to the Ministry, I had to get some more groceries and get some quotes for wood for the roof we’re going to be replacing.  Things went really well and I was able to get a lot accomplished.  

I do have a praise report.  Our garden is thriving now!  And we have more bok choy than we know what to do with.  So we have started selling it to the market in town.  It isn’t much of an income, but it’s a great start!  :)

Nickisha and Wanatta showing off some of our bok choy.

Okra plants in the front and bok choy in the rear that we're allowing to go to seed.

Green bell pepper plants.

I was home by mid-afternoon and started working on the student folders and updating grades.  This is going to take some time!  But at least we are much more caught up now than before.  

For supper, the girls made an EXCELLENT pasta with pesto sauce and garlic bread!  What a treat!  :)  And today alone we harvested almost 100 bell peppers!  Amen!!  So tomorrow, we’re having stuffed bell peppers...can’t wait!  :)  I love how God is blessing our efforts in the garden.  And the kids are really enjoying seeing the fruit of the labors and being able to harvest and eat what they planted.

I went running again this morning.  I was planning on running the same distance I ran yesterday, but ended up running twice the my legs really are screaming today!  Plus, a few of us did some more cardio and exercises this afternoon, so I am more than ready for bed!  :)  I’m very thankful, though, to be able to feel this pain...there are many that cannot.  

I do have a urgent unspoken prayer request I’d like to ask you to pray about with me please.  Thank you very much.

Blessings to all!  Keep the faith and trust more in God everyday.  He’ll never let you down!


October 23, 2013

Today was another busy day.  I went running again this morning before breakfast.  My legs were quite upset with me, but it felt really good at the same time.  Plus, it is great “alone time” with God.  :)

I taught class today, but had to leave early because a man came to give us a quote on cutting the wood for the roof for us, so I had to go and talk with him.

In the afternoon, Jodi and I headed to town to pick up some items, price the metal roofing and talk to the Ministry of Education.  We didn’t end up getting back until 8:30, so it was a long day in town.  But not too bad.  Nothing that a cold tamarind juice couldn’t handle...:)

I pray each of you had a wonderful day today.  May God bless you in a special way.  Christ is coming soon....Get Ready!!


October 24, 2013

Fourth day in a row that I’ve gone running!  It’s really feeling good now.  :)

We didn’t have school today.  It was a student holiday (for our external students, at least).  Everyone on campus spent the entire morning cleaning the campus, cutting the grass, cutting trees and doing other odd jobs that needed to be done.  We worked until lunch and then another hour after lunch.  The kids really did a good job.  We got A LOT accomplished and the place looks so much better!  We were tired, though.  :)  That afternoon, we spent it talking and playing.  

About 6:00, one of the kids came running to my house to get me.  He said I had to come quickly and bring my camera.  ????  So, I followed orders and saw that everyone was had stopped what they were doing and were gazing at the sky.  I turned to was beautiful!!  It’s kind of hard to describe, so I’ll let the pictures do the “talking.”  :)  (You may need to double-click the picture to enlarge it to truly appreciate the beauty!)

Such a beautiful reminder of God’s Presence, Love and Craftsmanship!  We serve a Mighty God!  

Well, off to bed now.  After running and all the yard work today, I’m tired.  Talk to you tomorrow.  God bless!


October 25, 2013

Once again I got up early and went running today!  I’m kinda surprised at myself.  :)  

This morning was a laid-back morning for me, since I didn’t have class.  It was nice to actually have some free time to do a little reading, rest, etc.  

After lunch, I was in town again.  It’s the fourth weekend of the month, so all the internal students that live nearby can go home.  So we took those students to town and, as always, had some errands to run.  I stayed in town for the Bible study at the army base...which was a blessing, as always!  :)

I’m definitely looking forward to Sabbath tomorrow.  It’s been a long week.

Happy Sabbath!  God bless!


October 26, 2013

I know I’ve said this before, but I love Sabbaths here!  :)  Even though it was quite warm today, it was very relaxed and peaceful.  

We had service as usual and I received a blessing from it.  Jodi, Wanatta, Vilissa, Nickisha and Oriel had special music and did an outstanding job singing Psalms 121!  Wow...simply beautiful!

We had a wonderful lunch today too...and a special treat for dessert...carrot cake!  :)  

In the afternoon, a few of us volunteers chatted for a bit and then I went to my house to read.  It was a nice afternoon.  At 6:00, we were in our circle, closing the Sabbath as is our custom.  

After Sabbath, the kids played games, had supper and watched a documentary on the ocean.  I stayed for a bit, but then I had to go home to pack...I’m off to Santa Cruz again tomorrow.  

Talk to you soon.  God bless!!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 14 - 19

October 14-19

Okay...I must apologize in advance for this entry.  It has been an extremely busy (and somewhat stressful) week and I haven’t had time to sit and write every day as normal, so I’m having to combine the entries into one.  I do apologize, but it really has been very hectic.

Melissa, the founder of Familia Feliz, left early Tuesday morning for Santa Cruz.  All of her adoptions have come through and now, she and her adopted children are moving back to Canada.  We had a special dinner with them on Monday night and said our goodbyes.  It’s hard to imagine Familia Feliz without them and are sad to see them go...but we know that God has opened this door for them and we wish them all nothing but the best!  

Jodi, Nickisha and I have been working very meticulously (and for very long hours) to get our school records in order.  Unfortunately, records have not been very well kept during the past here.  If there were records, they were not filed at all, but kept in several random places around campus and several years were mixed together.  There were grades with no names...or if they had names, they were missing the year and/or term.  We were missing legal documents for some of the orphans, parental consent for some of the students...just a mess.  And everything has to be in order and we must have complete documentation for all children (for all years from 2007-present) before the school year ends in a month.  Otherwise, we cannot issue legal report cards to the current students this year.  So, needless to say, we’ve had our work cut out for us.  And I must admit...there have been some truly frustrating moments!  I really wish I could convey all of the hassle, confusion, etc. that we’ve experienced this week...just so you could understand.  For example, we had a legalized report card for a student in 2009 who was in the 2nd grade.  That student didn’t return as a student here in 2010, but did in 2011...only in 2011, he returned as a 6th grade student!  And we have an official and legalized copy of his 2011 report card stating he finished the 6th grade.  Now, what we can’t figure out is how he completed 3 school years in one year?!  But evidently it happened.  Just crazy stuff.  But, THANK THE LORD, we were able to finish the records and are taking them to the Minister of Education on Monday.  Praise God!

But that was only part of the “fun” this week.  I truly believe that Satan is attacking, after the Lord has worked so graciously on our behalf in the last months...especially after all of the praise we have been given Him this past week for Pastor Jorge and Amalia’s visit.  And he is attacking our kids.  This week, we’ve had a series of discipline the forms of lying and, even worse, stealing.  Some of the instances have been quite serious.  And as a result, two of our students were expelled for the remainder of the school year.  One of those was my Jorge.  :(  Words cannot express the sadness and pain I feel.  I truly, truly hate it.  And what’s worse, I’ve felt like a failure.  I keep reviewing things in my mind to see what I could have done better, to perhaps have changed things.  And two other kids (one of whom is my David) is on the verge of being expelled because of their actions.  We are still investigating things and praying for wisdom to make the correct decisions.  I can assure you it isn’t an easy task!!  Jodi and I have met and discussed these boys and the situations more times than I can count this week, aside from the general staff meetings regarding it.  But I know that God can turn any situation into a blessing and I am praying for just that in these cases.  Ultimately, we want these children to be model citizens, to love and obey God with all of their heart and to choose to serve Him.  Unfortunately, some of them haven’t learned that there are consequences to their actions.  So please, please keep the staff and these children, in particular, in your prayers.  May the Lord grant us greater wisdom than Solomon as we seek to resolve these issues in the best interest of all of the people here at Familia Feliz.  Thank you!

The Bible study at the army base was a blessing, as usual.  Jodi went with me this time.  It was her first time there.  She loved it!  And was quite impressed at how much the guys liked to sing and how involved they were in the lesson. It truly is a blessing and one of the highlights of my week.  God is Good!

So again, my apologies for combining a week into one entry, but I will try to do better next week.  Hopefully things will slow down a little.  Thanks for your understanding.  :)  And thank you very much for your continued prayers and support!!  May God bless you all in a very special way!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 5 - October 13

October 5, 2013

Today was a wonderful Sabbath!  Unfortunately, there wasn’t an Adventist church in Copacabana, though.  So since I couldn’t attend a local church, I did the next best thing...I attended my home church in Milledgeville, GA!   Technology is a wonderful thing!  :)  It was so good to see everyone’s faces and to hear the Sabbath School lesson and sermon.  I truly miss the Sabbaths with this wonderful group of people!  But it did my heart good to share service with them today.  After the service, I was able to skype with them and talk to each person.  That was a special blessing!  

In the afternoon, I took a walk around town.  It was a beautiful day.  Then, in the evening, I arrived in La Paz again.  I met up with my friend Samuel and am staying at his house tonight.  We ran a couple of errands and then went and got supper.  It was a great day.

God bless!  


October 6, 2013

Today, Samuel and I spent a good portion of the day at a local hotel in La Paz.  Samuel’s father is a pastor in Peru and he has been involved with the conference and mission field all of his life, so he has many contacts there.  Well, a friend of his (who works at the conference office) called him and said that 79 of the conference staff was going to be arriving in La Paz today and they needed Samuel to find a hotel for them to stay at.  So we went around, looking for a hotel that could accommodate a large group today and tomorrow.  We finally found one in their price range and made all of the arrangements and got everything set up.  This took several hours.  Then, we went to El Alto, a city just up the mountain from La Paz (a 10 minute bus ride) to the open market to do some shopping.  The market was HUGE!!  I mean, it was big!  We were there about 3 hours and didn’t even see 1/8 of the market.  And they had everything you can imagine...clothes, shoes, hardware supplies, kitchen and home items, pet supplies, fresh food, etc.  And the amazing thing is this market is only open on Sunday and is made up of small kiosks/tents and is completely set up and taken down every Sunday and Thursday.  It was a fun experience!  Plus, I was able to get a couple of things I needed for a fraction of the cost in Rurre.  God is Good!

Once back home, we got supper and then said our goodnights.  We were tired.  And Samuel has to start a new rotation at a new hospital tomorrow (he’s in his last year of med school) and I’ll be heading back to Rurre tomorrow.  So we both needed to get rest.   Talk to you tomorrow.  God bless!


October 7-8, 2013

Traveling here never ceases to amaze me.  I’ve come to expect for something to happen while I’m traveling, as it always does.  :)  But God is SO Faithful and always protects me.  It always humbles me to see His Hand over me as we travel.  This morning, I had to buy a couple of more things for our Pathfinder club before heading home.  So I was a little late getting to the car that leaves for Rurre.  As a result, I had to wait longer to leave and we didn’t leave until a little before 1:00 pm.  We get an hour into the trip and we have a flat tire.  The driver gets it changed and the spare put on and we set off again.  Then, a few minutes later, we get to a roadblock, due to construction.  The road was closed for 3 hours.  So we just sat there, waiting for it to open.  Finally, it did and we were off again.  This time, the danger didn’t come in form of a landslide or falling rocks, but in a driver that was in a hurry!  He was going 50-55 mph on Death Road...way too fast!  Every time we went around a curve, the tires (and one being a spare tire, mind you!) screeched.  You have thought we were in the Indy 500!  :)  We all asked him to slow down, but to no avail.  I just prayed and asked God to protect us.  There were several times when we came extremely close to the edge of the mountain.  But, again, praise be to God for His watch-care over us!  We arrived in Caranavi around 7:30 pm and then had to switch cars and drivers.  We left there around 8:30 pm for Yucumo.  No sooner had we started on the trip than we get to a landslide that had occurred earlier in the day.  Luckily, the work crew had been working on it for a while, so we only had to wait about an hour.  The roads were muddy, so we didn’t get to Yucumo until 2:00 am.  Then, at the police check point, the officer gave me a hard time because I didn’t have my passport.  I explained that it was in immigration, being process with my extended visa, and I gave him a copy of my passport, the immigration receipt (verifying this information) and a few other documents I had.  He was a bit upset because I didn’t have my passport copy legalized.  But, finally, let me go without any problems.  I was glad, too.  We get to the drop-off point and change cars again to head to Rurre.  I finally get to Familia Feliz at 5:00 am.  It’s been a LONG day and I was pooped!  I got in my house, brushed my teeth, changed clothes and went to bed!  I slept until about 9:30, then got up, unpacked my things and went to check in with everyone.

It is really nice to be back home.  The kids (and staff) were excited to see me...and I, them.  I truly am blessed to work in such a wonderful, family environment!  

In the afternoon, I worked on school records and grades with Jodi and Nickisha.  Then, I took a shower and got ready to go.  Sergio, the owner of Narguila’s (the restaurant in town that we always go to) invited us to his birthday party tonight.  We get to town and head to the restaurant, as I thought the party was there.  It turned out that it was at another place in town.  When we pull up, I was blown away!  There was a large tent set up (that enclosed almost the whole lot) and table and chairs, covered in cloth and bows, were nicely arranged on the lawn.  There were 8 cakes beautifully decorated on the front table, a food table up front, a pinata, etc.  It looked almost like a wedding reception!  He also brought in an Adventist trio group from La Paz to sing for us.  There were games, contests, singing, great food, and wonderful fellowship.  There were probably 125 people there.  It was a pretty big deal.  It started at 7:00 and we left a little after midnight, and they still had not played several games nor cut the cake yet!  But we have to get up early in the morning, so we couldn’t stay until the end.  But Sergio was so happy that we had gone.  He said that really made his day.  :)  It was a blessing for us as well.  We had a really good time!  

Familia Feliz Missionaries and our restaurant staff friends!

Me and Sergio, the birthday boy.  :)

But, now it’s time for bed.  I’m exhausted after all the traveling and today’s activities and I know that 5:30 is going to come all too soon!  Good night all!

God bless!


October 9, 2013

I started back teaching today.  The kids seemed to be happy to see me back in the classroom.  That’s always a good sign.  :)  I’m extremely grateful to Chris and the excellent job he did in teaching my classes while I was gone.  Thanks Chris!  :)

After lunch, Jodi, Nickisha and I worked on student records and past grades.  We are trying to update all of our records and organize things better.  This wasn’t done in past years and, to be honest, it’s a big mess.  But, through God’s grace, we are making big strides in improving.  

We had prayer meeting tonight and it was nice to share that moment with everyone here at Familia Feliz after being gone last week.  Vilissa had the devotional thought and did a good job.  She spoke about the power of prayer.  It was a very nice and timely reminder!  

So another good day in the jungle comes to an end. Thank you Lord for Your Goodness and Mercy towards me!  God bless you all!


October 10, 2013

Today was a busy day.  In school, both of my boys were disrespectful in class and refused to do what I asked them to do, so I had to send them to work for the day and talk to them.  Then, after my last class, Melissa informed me that both of them snuck out of the house last night after we had gone to bed and went to her house and said that I had given them permission to go over and watch a movie (which, obviously, didn’t happen!).  Melissa knew better and didn’t let them stay there but brought them back to the house.  I was so upset.  I’m not sure what happened last night and today to make them “rebel” like this, but we had to have a LONG talk today.  They’ve lost a big part of my trust now and, unfortunately, many things are going to have to change.  I think they realized the seriousness of it least, I hope they did.  Jodi talked to them too.  I’m praying for wisdom and for them to do what they are supposed to do.  I appreciate your prayers about this as well.

In the afternoon, Jodi, Oriel, Melissa, Emi and I went to town.  We had to run some errands.  I had to send the final well quotes to the organization that is giving us the money for the well, as well as email the pastor that is coming from the U.S. to visit us this Sabbath.  I also had to buy some things for the orphanage and talk to a few people.  So it was a busy afternoon.  And an very HOT one too!  When I got to town and checked my email, though, I received some bad news.  My uncle, Edsel Douglas, died yesterday.  :(  I wasn’t expecting that!  My heart broke.  I wanted so badly to be there for/with the family and felt helpless being so far away.  But all I can do is pray and ask God to do what I cannot do.  I’d appreciate it if you would keep our family in your prayers during this difficult time.  Thank you very much.

Boy, am I looking forward to that day when there will be no more death, sickness, sadness, hurt, pain, tears!  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  

God bless.


October 11, 2014

Today as a full day.  I got up, had worship, got the boys ready for school and then went into the kitchen to help there.  On Fridays, we always prepare Sabbath breakfast and lunch, in addition to the normal day’s meals.  And this Sabbath, we’ll be having guests here, so a little extra help was needed.  Tomorrow, Pastor Jorge Aguero and his wife, Amalia, will be arriving from New Jersey to spend the day/night with us.  We also invited some of the soldiers to come, if they are able.  So, in the morning, we got everything ready meal-wise that we could.  All of this, mind you, without any water!  Yep...after more than a month of not having any problems, we’re officially without running water again.  :(  Nothing.  Hopefully they will get the problem fixed by tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.

Then, in the afternoon, I headed into town to run some errands and to give the Bible study at the army base.  I truly love studying with these men!  Their enthusiasm and zeal for learning is quite contagious.  It was a very blessed evening!

I’m looking forward to tomorrow and all the activities it brings.  God is Good!!

God bless!


October 12, 2013

Wow!  What a day!  It was FULL of activities, responsibilities, blessings and even an injury!  But God is Faithful and True and to Him be all the honor and glory!

There’s still no water today.  :(  That isn’t what you want to happen when you have guests coming to visit and spend the night.  But God knows the situation and is in control...All things worked together for good, right?!  :)

Jodi and I went and picked up Pastor Jorge and his wife from the airport this morning.  Such a delightful and consecrated couple!  And when I have more time, I’m going to tell you how God worked things out for them to even come to our little place in the jungle!  There are no coincidences...God is ordaining events!  Just an amazing story, in my opinion.  

We got back to the campus during Sabbath school and I introduced them to the children and staff, then we dismissed to our separate classes.  That’s when I realized I was in charge of the adult sabbath school class today!  I was gone last week when the October schedule was posted, so I didn’t see it.  But God came through, as He always does, and we had a very profound lesson together.  

Jorge offered to have the sermon and we gladly accepted.  His wife also did the children story and everyone loved that.  The children behaved themselves very well.  :)

We also had one soldier come to spend the day with us.  There would have been more, but the water went out in town and they weren’t able to take showers and didn’t want to come without bathing.  So maybe next time.  But the one that did come thoroughly enjoyed himself.  Actually, he ended up spending the night with us and sleeping with the boys in the boys dorm!  :)  We had a lot of fun.

After church, there was a misunderstanding between some of the boys and one of them grabbed the broomstick and hit another one on the head with it, busting his head open.  :(  Armando has a nice little gash in his head, about 2-inches long.  Thankfully, it wasn’t deep and no splinters (from the broomstick) got lodged in there.  We cleaned it up, got it medicated with antibiotic cream and calmed Armandito down.  Turns out they were arguing over who ate an avocado!  lol.  Boys will be boys.  The funny things is, though, a little while later, the two were best friends again, playing as if nothing ever happened!  Oh, the lessons we, as adults, can learn from kids!

After lunch, the pastor and his wife had some needed down time after their long trip while the kids went on a short hike.  Then, Jorge and Amalia brought out all the stuff they brought for the!!  God is indeed SO good!  Let me share with you what they brought (that they and other kind individuals sent):
-School supplies
-Welch’s fruit gummy snacks
-Scripture lollipops
-Key chains
-Toy car for every boy
-Small baby doll for every girl
-Toothbrush and toothpaste for every child
-10 beautiful handmade fleece blankets, donated by Turn-About Ranch in Utah
-10 homemade wooded cars, also donated by Turn-About Ranch in Utah
-Four DVD’s of hymns
-One religious movie
-Deodorant, soap, razors, etc.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they were able to raise $1500 usd to replace on of the thatch roofs on the property with a metal roof!!  Then, they generously donated an additional $500 usd to help with our food cost for the month!!  Praise God!!  

You know, oftentimes it’s hard to truly appreciate someone else’s blessing, since we are not directly involved.  But let me just try to explain tell you how much of a blessing this was for us.  (It’s a good thing this is a written blog, as my eyes are starting to water up just thinking about God’s Goodness.)  You see, this month, we only had $597 usd in donations come in.  That means, we have $597 with which to feed, cloth, and maintain 41 children and 16 staff members for the whole month.  Add the that, the expense of gasoline, diesel, truck parts, water bill, light bill, etc. and it is very easy to see that there is no way that we can make it stretch that much.  We need at the very minimum $2000 usd every month to meet our needs.  That doesn’t include maintenance, repairs, medical expenses if a child gets sick, etc.  That’s just basic needs.  And we barely received a fourth of that.  Luckily, we had saved some from last month for this month, but it still wasn’t what we needed.  So we just prayed that God would meet our needs and we moved forward in faith.  [Side note --  you know, that is easier said that done a lot of times.  “Moving forward in faith.”  But when you have 56 57 mouths to feed for 90 meals and you only have $597 with which to do it, your faith truly is tried.  Truly!]  

Fast forward to this afternoon when the pastor presented us with these blessings and you can imagine the happiness and gratefulness we felt in our hearts!  But the truly amazing part about all of this is...the pastor and his wife wasn’t really supposed to be visiting our orphanage (according to their original plans).  They were coming to visit a child they have been sponsoring through an international organization for the past 3 years.  They wanted to visit and help a church or school while they were here and wrote/called several in an attempt to make contact and see how they could help.  They didn’t receive any response...from any of them!  Not one.  Then, he started looking around online for some institution that he thought might need some help. Somehow (he didn’t even remember how it happened), he found our website and sent an email, asking about us, our needs and if they could come and visit.  He didn’t even know that we were Seventh Day Adventist and part of the mission field! He was simply looking for someone to visit and help, however they could.  I received his email in our mailbox and responded, thinking the whole time that he knew who we were and had “planned” this trip.  The total opposite had been the case!  The Lord, in His providence, wisdom and love, lead this couple of our little place in the jungle, with the additional $500 usd we needed to make it through the month!  Amen!!  What a God we serve!  And on top of that, we got gifts and supplies for the kids and a new roof for the boys dorm!  God truly does take care of His children!!

And as if that weren’t enough, Jorge tells us that he is looking at starting a non-profit foundation to help needy children around the world and would like to continue to help and support us in the future!  Is our God Great or what?!  And none of this was supposed to happen, according to man’s plan!  But once again we see that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that before we even call, He hears and has answered our prayers!  Glory be to our God, now and forever!

We had AY service, then closed the Sabbath on the front lawn as we always do.  Then, we got all the kids together to give them their gifts.  I wish you could have seen the excitement and happiness on their faces!  They were on cloud 9!  :)  Everyone played with their gifts and then played games until supper was done...and then continued playing after supper, while the staff got to know our new family members a little bit better.  :)

It truly, truly was a blessed day!  And one in which I was constantly reminded, in a real way, of God’s watch-care over each of His children and how He always comes through and meets our needs!   I absolutely LOVE working in the mission field!!  It is so awesome to see God moving and working, in the small and big ways, to fulfill His will and His work in this time.  Thank you ALL for your continued prayers and support!

God bless you all!


October 13, 2013

Well, we said goodbye to Jorge and Amalia today.  We had breakfast, took some more pictures and then headed off to the airport.  They got checked in and Jodi and I waited with them until they boarded the plane.  We had a very nice conversation and were also able to record some messages for the church conference there in New Jersey, as well as for Turn-About Ranch and others that donated for our children.  We truly hope they know just how much we appreciated everything they have done!  Soon, it was time for them to board, so we said our goodbyes, thankful that the Lord ordained our paths to cross.

We then took the soldier back to the base.  He told me that he had a wonderful time and wants to come back and spend time with us again. He also said he’s thinking about coming and serving as a volunteer after his term in the military is finished.  Wow!  

We did a couple of things in town and then headed back to Familia Feliz, as it was our Sunday to stay on campus with the kids (with a couple of other staff members).

Thankfully, water was restored on campus late this morning.  (Praise God!!)  So all the kids washed their clothes and cleaned the houses.  Then, after lunch, Oriel took the boys swimming in the creek while the girls stayed and watch a video.  Then, later in the afternoon, Ori and I took all the boys to get coconuts.  We got 105 this time and I gave one to each child.  They love it when they get fresh coconuts!!  

By this time, it was time for supper.  Then, everyone went to their respective houses to get ready for bed.  I sent Jorge and David to take a shower and get things ready for school tomorrow and for bed.  As I was putting them in bed, Agustin came and wanted to talk to me.  We went outside and talked for 2 hours.  He needed some advice and also wanted some help on planning his first sermon.  :)  He has to preach next Sabbath and is a bit nervous.  He also wanted to talk about some issues his family is having.  We had a really good talk and ended with prayer.  Please pray for Agustin and his family.  I truly believe God is using him and has a divine plan for his life.  Pray for his siblings as well.  

Thanks again everyone for your continued prayers and support!  It means more than you know.  God bless!

P.S.  Armando’s head is doing much better!  No need for stitches and no infection.  God is Good!  :)


Saturday, October 5, 2013

September 29 - October 4, 2013

September 29, 2013

We had our weekly Pathfinder meeting this morning and then I headed to town with the staff that had today off.  It was a really hot day...102 degrees without the heat index!  :(  So we tried to make it as bearable as possible by enjoying some cold tamarind juice.  :)  I didn’t really have anything to do in town today, other than shop for a couple of items, so Elijah, Ori and I just hung out and enjoyed the relaxed day.  It felt good!  

Today as also Melissa’s birthday, so everyone was planning a “surprise” dinner for her (although she knew about it because they do it every year.  :) ).  So when we got back to FF, everything was just about ready.  Her day started early when her kids and some friends woke her up with a “Happy Birthday”serenade at 5:00, then picked her up and took her to the creek where they threw her in!  :)  It’s a tradition down here it seems (in Venezuela too).  So tonight, we just had a nice dinner with cake and brownies.  It was really nice.  

It got even better four of us grabbed Samuel and went to throw him in the creek too, since we didn’t do it for his birthday.  :)  Now THAT was FUN!  lol.  When we got back to the house, he was soaking wet...but enjoyed every minute of it, as did the rest of us!  :)

After this, Wanetta, Nickisha, Vilissa, Emy, Sam, Elijah, Ori and I played volleyball in the dark!  :)  What’s the point of having a glow-in-the-dark volleyball if you aren’t going to use it at night, right?!  It was the perfect ending to the day!

Another good day in the jungle comes to an to get to some rest.  I’m heading out to La Paz tomorrow, on my way to Collana to see one of our other mission schools.  It’s going to be a long trip, so I’ll need to get my rest now...:)

God bless!


September 30, 2013

Elijah and I set out on our trip to La Paz today.  We bought out bus tickets yesterday, but when we got to the station, we found out the sold our seats to someone else.  :(  So we had to wait for the next car to leave.  We only waited about 45 minutes, so it wasn’t too bad, but it was inconvenient.  We make it to the first stop (2 hours down the road) and then have to wait there for about 4 hours for them to get enough people to fill the car.  It usually doesn’t take that long, but it started storming while we were there, so not nearly as many people came out to travel.   :(  The good news, however, is that the rain cooled the temperature down!  (Praise God!)  We finally make it on the road again, but had to go much slower because of the rain, mud and pot holes.  About 2 hours into the trip, there was a roadblock due to construction.  :(  So we waited there about an hour.  We finally made it to Caranavi (the next big town) about 9:00 pm.  We decided to spend the night here and continue our trip in the morning, since we would get to La Paz between 1:00-2:00 am and that isn’t the safest time to be in the capital. :)  So we’re in a very primitive bathroom in the room, not even a power outlet!  lol.  Just beds.  But hey...for $2.85 USD a night, I guess I can’t complain, huh?!  :)

We’ll be heading to La Paz at 5:30 in the morning, so it’s off to bed now.  Good night!

God bless!


October 1, 2013

What do you get when you mix thunderstorms, mud, flooded road, falling rocks, landslides, road construction, Death Road and Divine Protection??  Just another day in the life of this missionary!  :)  It was certainly an interesting ride into La Paz today!  It stormed all night long and all morning and that made for very wet road conditions.  And when you’re already driving on a road that isn’t know for it’s safety features, it certainly makes you appreciate dry, paved roads!  Add to the mud and rain a combination of landslides and falling rocks and you’ve got a cocktail of disasters waiting to happen.  We had to stop several times because of road construction, flooded roads, landslides and/or falling rocks.  Three or four times a construction worker had to stop us while rocks fell and then give us the okay to pass by quickly before more started falling.  At one point, a rock fell and hit the car in front of us, damaging the tire/axle.  Thank the Lord, no one was hurt.  We made it safely to La Paz about 11:00 am this morning.  It was a very nice reminder of Psalms 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”  Amen!  I must say, though, the view from this road is simply spectacular!  Staggering cliffs, gushing waterfalls, lush foliage are a constant reminder of the Grandness and Awesomeness of our Creator.  As I contemplated the scenery around me, I couldn’t help but think about one of my favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art”.  Definitely able to see God’s love in nature on this road!

Here, our driver and a construction worker are moving rocks out of the road that had just fallen.

One of the many waterfalls we saw on the trip.

When we got to La Paz, Elijah continued his journey to Cochabamba and I came to the house of a local doctor/missionary to stay.  I got settled in, had lunch and then went out to explore the city.  :)  I also met up with a good friend that I’ve known for about 4 years now, but never met in person.  He went to school in Argentina with my sister-in-law and she introduced us.  His name is Samuel.  He’s from Peru but is studying medicine here in La Paz.  It was really nice to finally meet him in person.  He took me around town to look for some things that I needed to check on for the orphanage, then we went to a vegan restaurant for supper.  The food was excellent!!  After supper, we talked about what’s going on in the world, the signs of the times and how soon Christ is coming.  Both of us are convinced He is coming very soon.

A couple of pics of La Paz

Sam and I then called it a night and went our separate ways.  I’ll see him again on Sunday.  Now, I’m back at the doctor’s house, about to have worship and head to bed.  Tomorrow I’ll be making the 3-4 hour trip to Collana to visit the school, assess its situation and see how we can help them.  I’ll probably be there through Sabbath.

God bless!


October 2, 2103

Ever wondered what it feels like to be on top of the world??  Well, today I found out!  :)  

After a long night suffering with allergies (I woke up at 12:15 a.m. because of my allergies and didn’t get much rest after that...I think it was due to mold and dust in the room I was staying in.  :( ), I ate breakfast with Steve (the baker at the school I’m going to visit in Collana.  I rode back with him.) and then we set out on the 3-4 hour ride to Collana.  

As we were riding up the mountains, I started getting a really bad headache.  It was due to the change in altitude.  Thankfully, it didn’t last too long. We stopped by a market in Viacha to get some fresh fruits and vegetables.  Then, we continued the trip to Collana.  We finally made it here about 2:15 p.m.  I am literally on top of the world, as I’m 14,000 feet above sea level!  It’s pretty neat to think about.  :)  The air is thinner here and it’s a good bit colder too.  The views here in the Altiplano, though, are very pretty.  It’s a big trees, just grass, mountains, sheep and llama decorate the landscape around small villages made up of small houses made from adobe bricks.  In the background are the snow-capped Andes mountains.  Simply breathtaking!  Such a contrast to the drive up here on Death Road, with the jungles, lush foliage, waterfalls, etc.  Yet, at the same time, confirms and testifies to the Greatness of our God!  I’m extremely blessed to be able to experience both of these “worlds” within 2 days of each other.  

Once we got to the school, I got settled in my room and then took a tour of the grounds, talked with some of the staff and students and started trying to see how we can help support this school.  It’s really an interesting and historical site.  The church that is on the property was the second Seventh Day Adventist church founded here in Bolivia in 1922!  That’s pretty impressive!  And even more so when I consider what the living conditions must have been like 90 years ago in this remote and arid area of the country.  It definitely gives a new dimension to my view of mission work.  :)

Tomorrow, I’ll talk to the director, Walter, about their program, needs, etc.  I’m also hoping to go exploring the village and surrounding area some.  :)  

Well, that’s all for now.  I’m very sleepy since I didn’t get a good night’s rest last night, so I’m heading to bed early tonight.  God bless!


October 3, 2013

Okay...I underestimated this whole “high altitude” thing.  I went to bed at 7:30 pm (I was really tired!) and woke up at 2:15 with the worst headache I think I’ve ever had!  It was horrible.  And it wouldn’t go away.  I tried to go back to sleep, but that wasn’t happening.  The pain radiated from side to side and front to back.  It was a deep, throbbing sensation.  Finally, around 4:30, I was able to find an ibuprofen and took it.  Shortly after, the headache wasn’t quite as bad and I was able to go back to sleep.  I slept until 6:30, then got up and had my worship.  I had fresh fruit fro breakfast (mango, bananas, grapes and apples).  That was really nice.  

After breakfast, I met with Walter, the director of the school, and we talked for a long while.  He expressed their needs, goals, as well as current and future projects.  It was a very good and productive conversation I think.  It gives me a better idea of how to try to help the school. 

Later on, I went for a walk around town.  The scenery was beautiful and it was a fascinating little town.  I’ll try to post some pics for you to see.   

This afternoon, I left Collana and headed to my next destination...Lake Titicaca!  I’ve talked about this lake for years in my Spanish classes and, since I’m this close, I figured it’d be a shame not to see it.  :)  So I bussed down to Copacabana, Bolivia.  What a awe-inspiring bus ride!  I wish you could see the scenery here! Copacabana is a beautiful town, right on the shore of Lake Titicaca.  And the lake itself is a natural wonder!  It looks like an ocean, spreading almost as far as the eye can see, with it’s blue-green water contrasting the snow-capped mountains in the background.  Breath-taking!  

I'm on the bus, which is on a barge, crossing part of the Lake.

I got here just at sundown, so I wasn’t able to do much sightseeing today, but tomorrow I will have a chance to tour the lake and the surrounding area more and will fill you in on everything.  :)  For now, I’m perfectly content and feel extremely blessed to be able to visit a place I’ve always wanted to visit!  God is Good!

Views from my hotel room.

Some pics of my hotel room and the hotel itself.

The dining area at the hotel

Now it’s off to my worship time with my Creator, to thank Him yet again for His many blessings and this beautiful natural wonder that He created!  Good night and God bless!


October 4, 2013

Okay...I know I’ve said it many times before, but we serve an Amazing God!!!  What a wonderful and blessed day I’ve had!  As I sit here, welcoming in the Sabbath on the shore of Lake Titicaca, and reflect back on everything that I did and saw today, I find myself feeling extremely unworthy of such blessings from above.  God is Good!

The morning started out with worship, as usual.  Then I headed downstairs for breakfast.  Most hotels here don’t include breakfast in the room rate, but the one I’m staying at does.  (The name of the hotel is Hotel Utama, in case you are ever in Copacabana, Bolivia.  “Utama” means “home” in the Amyara language.  I highly recommend this hotel!)  I figured it would be a piece of fruit and bread, and I was perfectly content with that.  But boy did they surprise me!  They served me yogurt, corn flakes, a fresh fruit salad, bread (with butter and fresh-made jam on the side), a pancake, a fried egg with a tomato, a cup of hot tea and orange juice!  (I didn’t eat the yogurt or egg, but it was still way more than I expected...especially for not having to pay extra for anything! :) )  It was a great breakfast!  The hotel also has fresh fruit, water, hot tea and candies in the covered interior courtyard all day long for guests, free of charge.  I’m very impressed with this hotel.  And all of this for $20 a night...not bad!  

I left the hotel at 8:10 and headed to the port to take a boat to La Isla del Sol (Sun Island).  Here, there are several Inca ruins, indigenous communities and natural monuments.  The trip was about 2 1/2 hours by boat.  It was quite windy and somewhat chilly on the lake...but the views were out of this world!  Such Handiwork of our Creator!  I really wish I could adequately describe the beauty, colors, shapes, grandness of everything I saw today, but I cannot find the words.  And, honestly, I really don’t think the pictures do them justice!  At every turn, I was constantly reminded of the love of our Creator through His nature and creations.  An Awesome God indeed! 

A house built in the side of the island.

A Cholita woman washing her clothes in the lake.

Once we arrived on the island, I purchased my ticket to tour the island ($10 bolivianos...about $1.50 usd) and headed across a beautiful, white sandy beach that rivaled that of the Florida Keys and headed up the mountain.  Once of the first things that caught my attention was the clarity of the water!  I literally looked like a scene out of the Caribbean.  A deep blue and emerald color mixed.  And the backdrop of the plain mountains and snow-capped mountains...priceless!

Here are the pics from the Incan Museum on the island.

I walked about 45 minutes up the mountain to the Inca ruins.  There was a “magic rock” that they believed to have special powers.  There was also a sacrificial table, overlooking the “ocean” lake, where they sacrificed to the sun god.  Then, just beyond that, there were ruins of a labyrinth, build completely by local stone, that was just amazing!  I got some up-close-and-personal time with two burros that were roaming in the labyrinth too.  :)  

The "magic" rock

The sacrificial table.  A local native american is blessing a tourist.

A guide is giving a talk to a group around the table.

Some pics of the labyrinth:

Some of the handmade artisan souvenirs at the sight.

While I know that the beliefs and practices of these indigenous groups were not correct (and oftentimes were quite brutal and bloody), the history there fascinates me.  And as I observed the sacrificial table this morning, I wondered how many still today are sacrificing innocent people to their gods.  My heart breaks when I think about it.  As the wise king once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  These human sacrifices were common in Old Testament times as well.  I also wondered how many of us are making other “sacrifices”, trying to please God with our acts and works.  I’ve been guilty of it.  And 1 Samuel 15:22, rang loud and clear in my mind.  “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  It was a powerful reminder to obey the Lord in all things at all times.

After staying up on the mountain and enjoying the magnificent views for a while, I headed back to the beach we were dropped off on.  The bus was leaving at 1:30 to head to the south part of the island to see more.  I got back around 1:00 and had enough time to enjoy two avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.  Delicious!  

I was shocked to see this on the shelf at the small store here on Sun Island.  There is barely electricity, but Nutella makes the list of things to have for the tourists!  :)

While I was eating, a boy approached me and asked me for $1 boliviano ($0.15 usd) to buy and ice cream with, as well as $9 bolivianos ($1.30 usd) to buy a notebook for school.  He sat beside me and we talked for a few minutes.  He told me that both of his parents died and he currently lives with his elderly grandmother.  Whether this is true or not, I don’t know.  I know that it is common for parents to send their children, dirty and with sad stories, to tourists to try to get money.  But something about this boy drew my attention.  I didn’t give him the money, but I accompanied him to the store and bought an ice cream for both of us and we sat together and ate them.  (Btw, this was my first time eating a cinnamon popsicle!  That was the only flavor popsicle they had that didn’t have milk.  It wasn’t bad, actually, though!).  

Soon it was time to go, so I said good-bye to my new little friend and gave him the $9 bs. for his school notebook.  He promised me he was going right then to buy the notebook.  I can only hope he did...and I really think he did. If he doesn’t though, it’s ok.  I was glad to help him.  It funny though...I don’t even know his name.  But he will be in my prayers.
Once on the boat, I received an email (I know..there’s no escape from technology in today’s world!  Not even 12,000 feet above sea level, on a boat in the middle of the lake!  :)  But I was quite happy to have it at this moment) from a very dear friend that truly warmed my heart and put a big smile on my face!  He shared a miracle that God had worked on his behalf.  He could hardly contain himself in his letter and, knowing the situation, my heart leaped for him and I thanked God for His Goodness and love.  How it does my heart good to hear and see how God is working!  It truly increases my faith.  So that was another blessing.  :)

We got to the south side of the island, which was just as beautiful as the first, and I spent about an hour there before the boat left again.  At this spot, there was a beautiful “fountain”.  The water came from a spring inside the mountain and the Incan people made steps 60 meters high from the output of the spring to the bottom of the mountain.  They believed this water to give long life.  It was a truly beautiful monument!  I’ll post some pics, but again, they don’t do it justice!

Locals collecting the water for household use.

I bought some souvenirs here, as well, from the local people.  All handmade.  I love artisan souvenirs!  I was able to really talk to two of the ladies that were selling their handiwork.  That was nice.  They live off the sales of their work.  Being able to sit and talk with them really made the trip that much more meaningful.

Finally, it was time to head back to the mainland.  The ride back was just as marvelous as the ride out.  The water and mountains had a very relaxing effect on me and I was able to spend a lot of time in prayer and meditation.

I read a quote today that really stuck with me and I’ve been pondering on it all day.  It read, 

“We expect too little (from God) and receive according to our faith.”  

Wow!  Isn’t that profound?!  It reminded me of a story I heard a few months ago...

“King Alexander, the great and mighty conqueror, was known as being a very compassionate king.  Once a year, he set aside a day where he would show his compassion to the people.  Those in need would come and present their humble requests, such as clothing, food, medicine, etc., to the king’s servant who dutifully took them to the king.  One by one the kind would grand the requests.  It so happened that one individual cam and asked the king’s servant for a palace.  The servant thought this was a ridiculous request and began telling this individual that such a request could not be granted.  The individual went on asking, “I would like this palace to be fully furnished and, on top of that, I would like a banquet prepared so that I can invite all of my friends and family over so we can celebrate.”  The servant decided not to take this request to the king.  However, the king later asked the servant what the one individual had requested.  Because the king insisted on knowing, the servant shared.  The king listened very carefully and then said to the servant, “I will grant this man’s request!”  The servant was quite surprised and asked the king why.  The king replied, “Most people come to me with simple requests that could be supplied by others.  But this individual came with a request that only I, as the king, can provide.  This man makes me feel as though I AM A KING!”

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

So the question is, “Am I pleasing God with my faith?”  “Am I making Him feel like the King that He is?”  If so, then it should be clearly evident in the answering of my prayers, right??  God wants us to make Him feel like a King.  He wants s to ask for big things (according to His will, of course) and for us to have faith that He will give us what we ask for.  I want to share a quote from one of my favorite books, “Desire of Ages”, that goes along with this.  It says,

“The Lord is disappointed when His people place a low estimate upon themselves.  He desires His chosen heritage to value themselves according to the price He has placed upon them. God wanted them, else He would not have sent His Son on such an expensive errand to redeem them.  He has a use for them, and He is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him, that they may glorify His name.  They may expect large things if they have faith in His promises.”  (DA pg. 668.1)

Did you catch that last part (that I underlined)??  Go back and read it again.  Isn’t that a marvelous promise?!  “He is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him...they may expect large things if they have faith in His promises.”  Amen!!  So, if we have the promise of receiving large things from God Himself, why aren’t we??  It’s because we aren’t fulfilling the condition of the promise.  It says, “if they have faith in His promises.”  Matthew 21:22 says, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  Here we see, from the Word of God, the promise of answered prayers, which includes “large things.”  But the condition is there too...believing.  James 1:6-7 hammers this point even harder.  It says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.”

The Lord is more than willing, nay, He is anxious to answer our prayers and give us the desires of our hearts according to His will and for the glorifying of His Name.  If we are not receiving that, it is only because we are not exercising true faith in Him.  The promise is sure.  We must, however, fulfill the condition of the promise in order to receive it.  

This was a big blow to me today in some areas of my life.  I realize that I need more faith.  I need a greater faith.  I need to trust God implicitly at ALL times.  Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  If I want to have more faith, in order to receive the large blessings the Lord is waiting to pour out on me, which will prepare me for His second coming, then I must read His Word.  I must live out His Word.  But that’s impossible.  Humanly impossible.  But my blessed hope lies in “nothing is impossible for God.”  Through the Holy Spirit, I can achieve this.  I can live out His Word and, thus, my faith will be increased.  And that is my desire today!  I want to take God at His Word and claim His promises.  I want to receive all the blessings He has prepared for me.  I want to put a smile on His Face when He looks at me, for I want Him to see His Son in me. I recommit myself to God.  I seek forgiveness for all of the times I have not possessed the faith that I should have.  I also seek forgiveness for not making my God feel like a King and asking Him for only “nominal” things, because I thought the large things too impossible to obtain.  From now on, I will strive to remember who God is and, with the help of His Holy Spirit, will exercise a genuine and living faith in Him.  I have already asked Him for something BIG, something that seems impossible to the human eye.  And, as a small symbol of my new faith in Him and His ability to perform the impossible, I made a purchase today of something that can only be used WHEN He answers my prayer.  I want to walk in faith, because, like Paul states in 2 Tim. 1:12, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  Amen!

How about you??  Are you ready to ask for your fully-furnished palace and banquet?

Welcoming the Sabbath on the shore of the lake.

Happy Sabbath and God bless!