Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014

Hello everyone,

I apologize that it's taken me this long to post anything on the blog, but a lot has happened since I last posted. I had to go to Argentina for my residency requirements a stayed in Salta a few days. It's a very beautiful part of the country and one that I had never visited before. It's full of natural beauty...mountains, valleys, vineyards and lots of historical and cultural information. From there, I headed back to Cochabamba, Bolivia to meet the rest of the group and to register several of our missionaries at the SDA college there. After that, we headed to La Paz where Amber and I applied for our Bolivian ID cards. Then, Amber and I headed to Peru to do a little sightseeing. We were able to visit Machu Picchu, which was absolutely wonderful!  They views from that high were simply breathtaking!  I learned a lot about the Incan culture and how it relates to the people living in Peru now. We then returned to Cusco, where we spent the day before heading to Puno, Peru on our way back to Bolivia. In Puno, we visited the floating islands of Uros. That was very interesting!  We spent Sabbath morning there and attended the local church. That was a blessing. Then, we headed back to La Paz, where we stayed until we picked up our ID cards on Monday morning. On Monday afternoon, we were on our way back to Familia Feliz via death road. :). It was a very long trip and full of "adventure", but we finally arrived at 7:30 am Tuesday morning. It felt SO good to be back home!!

I'd love to post more and pics from my trip, but unfortunately, my trip took a quick turn for the worse while we were on the bus to Puno.  Someone stole my MacBook and camera. :(. That's the reason I haven't been able to post anything here. All of my entries and pictures were on the computer/camera (along with all of my other files, information, pictures).  So I've had to wait until I got back to Rurre and to a public computer before I could update the blog. I ask you to pray for the person that took them. Also, please pray that The Lord will send the funds to replace them, as they were daily used for the work here at the orphanage, as well as at the Bible studies at the army base. I know God will provide.

So my posts may not be as frequent now, but please bear with me and know that I'm trying...but it's a bit more difficult for me without a computer. Thanks for understanding.

I pray God blesses you all i

Friday, January 3, 2014

December 9 - December 31

**NOTE: I apologize for the delay in posting these entries.  For some reason, it wouldn't let me upload the pictures until now, so that is the reason for the delay.  I did try several times, but no luck until now.  Hopefully, it will be worth your wait.  :)  God bless!

December 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Shondell!  :)  December is a full month of birthdays for the staff here at Familia Feliz.  

Today was another long day, but in a different way from yesterday.  Jodi and I were in town for 13 hours today!  I think today was the first time since I’ve been here that I had to eat breakfast, lunch AND dinner in town!  :(  We had finished all the grades in the system on Friday and only had to put in the students’ demographic info.  However, when we went to open the file, Jodi’s drive had a virus on it and it wouldn’t let us open any files.  I tried mine, but since we had used it on Jodi’s computer too, the virus was also there.  I really started praying because if we couldn’t get that file opened, we would have to put in all the grades again, along with all the 1600 comments!  :(  I really didn’t want that.  Plus, we would have to do it all today, as the grades were due by this afternoon.  I worked on the flash drives for about 45 minutes, trying to remove the virus and access the files.  Finally, I was successful.  I was able to access the grades and only a little information was lost.  Praise God!  

So I started inputting the demographic information for our students.  That is when the Lord performed a “little” miracle for us!  I was almost done with the information when the power went out in town!  As soon as that happened, I was worried because I was afraid the information I was putting in would be lost.  Power goes off fairly often here...and the computers stay on for a few seconds after the lights go out until the current that is in them is used up.  Well, before mine cut off, the lights came back on.  So I was able to keep working.  I was praying that the Lord would help me to get this done before the deadline, that He would allow the power to stay on.  Before I could input another student’s information, power went out again.  After a a minute, it came back on.  Then off again.  I was typing as fast as I could because I knew that my computer would use what little electricity was left in the “line” at any moment and cut off.  I only had about 8 students to go so I prayed as I typed.  This time it stayed off for about 30 minutes.  However, my computer never lost power or turned off until I had finished putting all of the information in, run the scan for errors and saved the files on the flash drive!  I mean, every other computer, light, electronic device in whole place was off, except for the computer I was working on!  There was no power anywhere in town, but the Lord heard and answered my prayer and my computer was fully functional for 20 minutes without any electricity!  It was connected to a Higher and more Reliable Power Source!  :)  It was a very humbling experience, and even now as I reflect back on it, I get goosebumps.  What an Awesome God we serve!!  I was able to get everything turned in on time.  Amen!  

Some of you know that I love to find object lessons in things.  I’m always looking around me, at situations, nature, etc. and thinking of an object lesson to relate it to.  I almost make a game out of it.  And in thinking about this experience today, the thought occurred to me that in these end times, things are going to be a lot like these computers.  The Bible tells us that the love of many will wax cold.  That good will be called evil and evil will be called good.  Men will be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God.  They will lose their power because they will disconnect themselves from the Power Source.  And as I look at the world today, and (as much as I hate to say it) even at the church and Christians, I see this very thing happening.  The Bible always tells the truth.  The love of many has waxed cold.  The power has gone out and the lights of many Christians have extinguished.  And at times, I can see my own “light” flickering and wanting to go out.  It is only by the Grace of God and His Mercy that it has not yet...for if left to self and the world, I would have no hope.  But my God is Faithful and He that started a good work in me will finish it if I will be stay connected to Him, my Power.  That is my prayer today, in a special way, for my life.  I want to stay connected with God at any cost.  For without His Power, I can do nothing and I am nothing.  What about you?  Is your light shining like a lighthouse on a hill?  Or is the flame flickering in the winds of trial and threatening to go out?  If that is case, I encourage you to, like the 5 wise virgins of Matthew 25, to make sure you have extra oil for your extra portion of God’s Holy Spirit that will ensure that you have power when those around you do not.  

May God bless each of us individually and do whatever is necessary to ensure that our lights do not go out!

Good night and God bless!


December 10, 2013

Today we put most of the metal roofing on the house, as well as started walling up the second floor.  We’re almost tomorrow or Thursday, all should be finished.  Praise God!  Aside from helping some with the construction, I had to work on a statistics report the Ministry wanted from us for this school year.  Hopefully this is the last document we’ll have to turn in this year.  

In the afternoon, we took the soldiers back to the base and spent some time in town online.  Since we didn’t have our day off on Sunday, we get that comp time in the evenings this week when we take the soldiers back.  

Well, talk to you all tomorrow.  It’s lights-out time.  :)  God bless you all!


December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Chris!  Didn’t I tell y’all this was a big birthday month for us?!  :)

Today was the last day we are getting the soldiers to help with the house.  We were able to finish 98% of everything today.  The roof is all up and there is only a small section of wall that needs to be put up on the back of the house.  Amen!!  We will put that up ourselves tomorrow.  It was a hot day, but everyone worked hard and well to finish as much as possible today.  And it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.  :)  It’s amazing to see how much the loft has opened up and how much extra space there is now that we’ve added full walls there.  I’ll post pictures of the work today and the “finished product” below.  THANK YOU all for your prayers!  And a special THANK YOU to those individuals and churches that sent the money to make this dream a reality for us and the children!!!  I know God has and will continue to bless all of you in a special way!

Some pics of us at break time.  A little R&R for me while Moises taught Gerald how to shoot a slingshot.  :)



December 12, 2013

I know I told you that December is a busy birthday month for the staff here at Familia Feliz (6 of us have birthdays this month)...but what many of you may not know is that December is a big birthday month for my family as well.  We have at least 7 birthdays in this month as well.  So today, I’d like to wish my cousin, Brandon Dumas, a very Happy Birthday!  He and I were born 5 days apart and have always been close.  I was able to call him and talk to him today, so that was a blessing.  Happy birthday again bud!

We were going to finish putting the wall up today but it started raining during the middle of the night and continued most of the it will have to wait.  About mid morning, a few of us headed into town to get groceries for the next two weeks, as well as to turn in the document to the Ministry and to start printing our report cards (the official report cards came yesterday!).  Sounds easy enough, right?!  I should know by now that nothing works out as easily as one thinks in his mind here.  :)  I spent several hours trying to configure the printer and align the text to be printed on the report card, without success.  On the government program, it produces a “template” to print the report cards (grades and comments), but it is not lines up right and on the preview screen, they didn’t put the report card template as the backdrop.  It’s just a plain white screen with the grades and student info on it.  So you have to move one line over, print it and overlay a blank report card over it to see if that line lines up.  If not (which was usually the case), you try again and again and again until it lines up.  Then you go to the next line.  Very tedious work and, like I said, one that I wasn’t very successful with today.  We’ll have to try again tomorrow.  While I was in town working on that, I received a message stating that Rebecca and Miguel’s dad had gone to Familia Feliz and was waiting on us to get back.  So Jodi and Warren went to talk to him and get the kids ready to go home with him for the break.  Then, we received a “new” boy.  He actually was at Familia Feliz a few years ago, but was placed with an Amish family.  But due to certain circumstances (which I’ll mention somewhat in a bit), they cannot keep him so they were returning him to us.  I can’t go into a lot of details on this blog, but it appears the boy was sexually abused as a child (not by this Amish family, but by who he was living with before he got to Familia Feliz) and, as a result, his behavior is...not appropriate and has caused some problems and concerns.  So, we had to go to social services and file the report, let him know that he is back with us and get the necessary documentation from them.  We have a meeting with them to finish tomorrow morning.  For now, Jorge is staying with me.  Please pray for this boy.  He’s 11 years old and also has some mental issues, along with the aforementioned problems.  Thanks.

This is Jorge.

So, it’s been an interesting day indeed!  But, by God’s Grace, we’ve made it through it safe and sound.  I pray you did as well.  God bless you, my friend!


December 13, 2013

It was still raining this morning.  I’m hoping rainy season isn’t starting just yet because we need to finish that back wall and we have to travel to Santa Cruz on Sunday.  If it rains much more, we may not be able to get through on the roads.  Please keep that in your prayers.  

We went to town again this morning to take Rebecca, Miguel and their father to the bus station, as well as to work on the report cards again and meet with social services.  The meeting went well.  We were able to get everything done and Jorge is legally in our custody again.  There are some little “hiccups” that we’ll need to work out.  We don’t have any of his legal documents (birth certificate, ID card, school records, etc.), so we’ll have to see about obtaining them.  But (and here’s the kicker), no one knows his last name it seems!  He doesn’t know it, since he was an orphan since he was 4 and has lived in and out of a few houses and on the street at time since then.  The Amish family he was living with said they were never told his last name and had very little information about his past.  So we’re going to have to see if we can find someone that knows his last name so that we can get the necessary documentation to get him enrolled in school here.  

Still no luck on the printing of the report cards.  :(  Jodi worked on them for over 4 hours today.  There are still problems getting them aligned properly.  So it looks like we’re going to have to work on them in Santa Cruz.  We’re going to talk with someone else that works at a school there and see if they can help us.  

We arrived back home just after Sabbath started.  How good it felt to be able to leave all cares and concerns “on the shelf” until another day!  God, in His infinite Wisdom, knew how much we would need a day of rest (physically and mentally) and I am so thankful for it!

I pray that you are blessed beyond measure during these sacred hours!


December 14, 2013

Happy Sabbath!  We divided up for worship today.  A few of us went up the road to the Nueva Esperanza church while the rest of us stayed on campus.  

It rained pretty heavily all morning.  After worship and lunch, I watched the boys for a few hours, fellowshipped with the other staff and spent some time alone in prayer.  It was a good afternoon.

We had worship to close the Sabbath inside, due to the rain.  This time, we decided to read a short Bible reading and then just sing several hymns.  We ended up singing for about 45 minutes.  :)  Towards the end of the worship, we started singing only Christmas hymns.  That was nice...sort of made it feel a little more like the Christmas season (as much it can feel like Christmas I guess in 100 degree weather in the jungle...:) ).  Then we had supper and finalized some details about our trip to Santa Cruz tomorrow.  I bade everyone good night and went home to pack.  

It’s off to bed now.  I’ve gotta leave for town tomorrow at 6:00 to run some last minute errands.  Good night and God bless!


December 15, 2013

Traveling here is ALWAYS an adventure!  I’m starting to think I may be jinxed or something...:)  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I woke up at 5:15, had worship and got ready to head to town.  Warren, Amber, Vilissa and I went.  We didn’t get back until 9:00 and the car was waiting there at Familia Feliz for us to head to Trinidad.  So we hopped in, had prayer and were on our way.

The driver had agreed to take us all the way to Trinidad, since there were 8 of us traveling and the car was full.  However, he changed his mind mid-trip and we ended up having to find another car to take us from San Borja (3 hours from Familia Feliz) to Trinidad around 1:00.  They didn’t have a van large enough for all of us, so we had to split up in two cars.  Ori and I went went in the second car with other people while Warren, Jodi, Nickisha, Wanatta, Amber and Gerald rode together.  We didn’t leave San Borja until 2:30 waiting our second car to fill.  Then the fun starts!

Due to all the rain this week, the usually very dusty dirt roads were now deep mud pits.  Our car was a few minutes behind the other car because we had to stop and get gas.  But, after about an hour, we caught up with them.  Then, our car started having problems.  The driver was going very fast and hit a few large potholes.  Turns out he broke two discs on the rear suspension and now they were almost dragging the ground.  Ori and I were sitting in the very back seat and the ride became much more uncomfortable from then on.  We had to go more slowly now and were left behind by the other car.  After about 30 minutes, we found ourselves in an area with a lot of mud and had to get out of the car and walk while the driver drove the empty car to make it through.  Or at least try to make it through.  He got stuck....twice.  The second time was pretty bad.  Ori and I tried pushing for about 30 minutes, but no luck.  We were covered in, socks, pants, shirt, hair, arms, etc.  The more we pushed and the tires spun, the mud more was flung on us.  Finally, the driver got out and asked me to drive while he pushed (he was a much bigger, heavier-set guy).  The driver of another truck that was stalled in the same area came over to help too.  We tried for another 20 minutes or so.  Finally, we were able to get it out.  The driver continued to drive the empty car passed the heavily mudded area before we (the passengers) got back in the car.  We ended up walking close to a mile.  

The problem with the suspension worsened, as pieces were dragging the ground.  It was getting dark now and we were in “the middle of nowhere” with no cell signal and a dying car.  But God never leaves His children!  An empty taxi passed us and we flagged him down.  After talking with our driver, he agreed to take all of us to the next town (San Ignacio) in his car.  What’s so strange is you never see a fully empty car on this road.  Cars only make the 5 hour trip between these cities if they have passengers and are full.  In all my travels on this road (which have been MANY), I don’t think I’ve ever seen an empty car.  But that our God for you!  He knew just what we needed and sent it just in time!  

We continued traveling the two hours or so to San Ignacio.  When we arrived, we were told we’d have to change cars again, as this driver couldn’t take us all the way to Trinidad.  So we had to wait about an hour.  We took advantage of the time to find someone to eat, since we hadn’t eaten anything other than crackers and chips all day.  Luckily, we found somewhere that had rice and french fries.  The leg from San Ignacio to Trinidad is about 2 hours.  But the driver told us it was taking cars about 4 hours to get there due to the roads and the fact that there was only one pontoon boat to cross cars over the river.  :(

I was finally able to get up with the rest of our crew.  They were in line at the second river waiting to cross.  They confirmed the time it took to get there as being between 3-4 hours.  If they made it in time to catch the last bus from Trinidad to Santa Cruz, they’d go ahead and do that.  There was no chance for Ori and I to make it, so we knew we’d be spending the night in Trini.  We left San Ignacio at 10:00 and finally pulled up in front of the bus station in Trinidad at 2:00 am.  Warren had stayed behind to wait on us.  The others had made it to the bus just a few minutes before it left and were heading to Santa Cruz.  We already had a hotel room for us and had texted me the location (it was actually right behind the bus station). We were exhausted and ready to be in a bed! But our little “adventure” wasn’t over yet.  As we were getting out of our little shuttle bus-taxi, a guy on a motorcycle pulls up (to pick up one of the ladies that was traveling with us) and as he’s pulling up, he just falls off the bike and the bike fell on him.  We quickly ran to help.  He was seizing.  We got the bike off and tried to hold him up and help however we could.  He was still seizing and foaming at the mouth.  After about two minutes, he stopped, but couldn’t get up.  He was very disoriented.  At this point, most of the bystanders had left.  Actually, only Ori and I stayed with the lady.  I sent Ori to the hotel (two blocks away) with our stuff since Warren was waiting outside for us (plus, I didn’t want our luggage with the computer, camera, documents, money, etc. out on the side of the road with us at 2:00 in the morning in the city).  I stayed with the lady and the man.  We were able to stand him up, but he couldn’t stand by himself.  A few times, he almost fell down just standing there.  There were no taxis at that hour, so lady called a friend to come and get them.  I stayed there until he arrived.  This wasn’t the first time the man had had seizures, so the lady was “used” to it.  It turned out, though, that he had been drinking earlier.  That didn’t help any.  The friend finally arrived and we got them on their way.  

As I walked to the hotel, I thought about the events of the day and how God’s Hand of protection was over us the entire time.  So much could have happened differently that would have resulted in injury to us had it not been for Him.  The same with this man.  In God’s love and providence, he allowed the man to be arriving and slowing down before his seizure hit.  Other than a small cut on his mouth, the man had no injuries.  Can you just imagine how different the outcome could have been had it happened while we was going 50 or 60 mph down the highway??  How many times has the Lord proved Psalms 34:7 true and sent His angels to protect us this week?  How many times just today?  As I entered our less-than-1-star-hotel, I was overwhelmed by God’s love, mercy and grace...and extremely thankful for a place to sleep (even though the water wasn’t working and Ori and I had to share a bed).  :)  We truly do serve an Amazing and Wonderful God that loves us more than we can imagine!’s late and I’m tired.  More to come tomorrow as we continue the second half of our journey to Santa Cruz.  God bless!


December 16, 2013

Don’t you just love it when you don’t go to bed until 3:00am and then your “neighbors” in the hotel start talking loudly and turn the TV up way too loud at 5:45, waking you and everyone else up??!!  I know I do!  :)  So....we didn’t get to sleep as much as we had hoped after all.  But no complaints.  We found a bus that was leaving for Santa Cruz at 9:00 am (the only one that leaves during the day...all the rest leave after 8:30 pm), and there were 4 seats left, so we quickly purchased our three.  

It was a LONG ride to Santa Cruz.  Normally, I do this part of the trip overnight, so I get to sleep most of the time.  But I can’t sleep during the day like I used to, so that made the trip go by a lot slower.  But God is Good and there were no “incidents” during this part of the trip.  We arrived around 7pm.  We headed to the grocery store to pick up stuff for food the next day, then went to the mission headquarters where we’re staying while in Santa Cruz.  The ladies already had supper prepared for us and boy were we glad!  We hadn’t eaten much of anything all day (as it’s very difficult to find vegetarian food options when traveling).  By the time we ate, talked a bit, got showers and unpacked, it was quite late and Ori and I were very tired (running on two hours sleep).  So, now, my’s good night.  It’s almost midnight and way passed my bedtime.  :)  God bless you all!


P.S.  I found out tonight that a very dear friend’s father passed away today.  My heart goes out to her and her family.  I sure would appreciate it if you would keep Shaundresa and her family in your prayers.  May our God of peace and love wrap each of them with His Presence and comfort them in this very difficult time!  

December 17, 2013

Today was a very special day, for a couple of reasons.  More about that in a few minutes.

After an interesting “incident” this morning at the dorm on the mission headquarters, all of us headed to town to do different things.  Ori had to go and start his visa process (police report, interpol report, medical exam, etc.) and Amber and I went to immigrations office to check the status of our visas.  Amber was told to come back after 3:00 to check hers.  Mine was done, though and my passport was returned to me!  That is reason #1 that today was a special day.  My passport has been in immigration for 4 months, so getting it back felt great.  But even better than getting it back was the fact that now, I am officially a permanent resident of Bolivia!  :)  At least for a year.  If you only knew the hoops you have to jump through and the time and energy it has taken to get this, you’d understand my excitement.  We went back after 3:00 and Amber’s was ready as well, so she was also very happy.  

The second reason today was special is because today is my 33rd birthday.  (Happy birthday to me!  :) ).  All of us went out to eat at my favorite veggie restaurant here in town for lunch and had a really nice time and some great food.  I was able to talk to some of my family for a brief moment, but internet wasn’t very reliable and I didn’t get to talk to everyone nor for very long, but that’s ok.  I got several emails from them.  Then, when I opened my Facebook account, my page was flooded with birthday wishes, kind words and prayers for me!  I was overwhelmed and humbled by it all!  THANK YOU all so much for making me feel so loved and special today!  It meant more than you know.

I am extremely grateful for this past year of my life that God has given me and blessed me with.  During the day, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my life, the good and bad times, the challenges and successes, achieved and unachieved goals.  And, like anyone else, there have been mistakes, failures, and moments I wish I could do over.  However, the blessings FAR outweigh the bad times and I could not help but thank and bless God for His goodness to me.  I also thought about what else I would like to do in my life...and there’s a pretty long list.  :)  But one thing lately has taken much more precedence than before...reaching others for Christ and doing what I can to hasten His coming.  Lately, during the past few weeks, I’ve questioned what else I can be doing for God.  Am I doing everything He wants me to be doing?  Am I reflecting His character the way I should be?  Am I putting His will, His desires, His ways ahead of my own?  The answer is no...not like I should.  Not like I could.  And the desire is growing to do more.  I’m not sure exactly what or how yet...but I’m praying about it.  You know, Christ was 33 years old when He was crucified.  33.  And by that time in His life (which, I must admit, seemed SOO old when I was younger!  That is definitely no longer the case!  :) ) the time He was 33 years old, He had accomplished His heavenly mission here on Earth.  He had fully fulfilled everything His Father had asked/expected of Him.  He had lived a perfect life, showed the love of God wherever He went and to whomever He came into contact and totally surrendered His life to the Will of His Father.  He gave His life for others, doing all that He could do to save them.  Amazing, huh?!  Today, I turned 33 years old.  How do I compare with Christ at this age?  Have I followed in His Footsteps?  Have I fully surrendered myself to Him and completed the mission that my God has given to me?  I regret to say that I have not.  But I am so thankful for a kind, merciful and forgiving Father that offers second (and third and fourth, etc.) chances to His wayward and self-loving children!  I remember, as a child, everyone would always tell you to make a wish for your birthday, which supposedly would come true if you blew out all the candles on your cake in one try.  :)  Today there is no cake.  There are no candles.  But I did make my wish.  I wish, more than anything, to be just like Christ.  To fulfill His will and purpose in my life.  To serve my fellowmen to the best of my ability through His Holy Spirit.  That is “all” I want.  Nothing else...for if I get this wish, then I have everything else.  The wonderful thing is, I don’t have to blow out 33 candles with one breath or do something almost humanly impossible to obtain it.  All I have to do is ask my Heavenly Father for it, for He has already promised to give it to me, and to all of His children.  All we must do is ask and follow Him.  Amen!  Thank you God for that precious and wonderful opportunity!  

I pray that each of us will make that “wish” today so that it can become a reality in our lives and Christ can come again SOON for His people, who will be waiting for Him.  

God bless you all! 


December 18, 2013

Today continues our December birthday marathon.  :)  Today, two very special people are celebrating birthdays.  The first is Oriel, my dear Guyanese missionary friend.  He turns 18 today.  Happy Birthday Ori!  :)

The second person is none other than my very own father!  :)  Happy birthday dad!  I couldn’t ask for a finer father or example of Christ’s love and character.  Dad is always there to lend a helping hand, offer advice (both solicited and unsolicited at times...:)  But great advice nonetheless) and to make me laugh when I need it.  He truly is a very special blessing to me and to countless others.  I hope you have an amazing day dad!  I love you. Ori had to do more paperwork for his visa and the rest of us hung out at the headquarters.  It was nice to get to stay in bed past 7:30!  :)  It was a relaxing day for the most part.

Tonight we had prayer meeting at the headquarters with the other missionaries that are currently on site.  Pastor David Gates was with us as well.  It was a lovely entirely dedicated to praising God through hymns and through personal testimonies of how He has worked in our lives.  Several of us went up front to share our experiences and God’s Hand working on our behalf.  It was a blessing indeed and encouraged all of us in our walk of faith.

I do have a very important prayer request I’d like to share with you.  We found out today that my grandmother (my dad’s mother) has pancreatic cancer.  There is a malignant tumor inside of her pancreas.  They will be doing tests tomorrow to find out if it has spread and how severe it is.  The doctor told her that they could do surgery to remove the tumor.  However, he stated that he didn’t think her body would be able to handle the surgery.  I also found out that my father’s cousin is in ICU on life support, as his heart and kidneys have failed.  He isn’t responding and they aren’t giving him much time.  So if you could please keep these two people, as well as all of our family, in your prayers, I sure would appreciate it.  Yet another reminder how fragile life is and of the desire for Christ to come and do away with sin, sickness, death and the like.  Take a moment to tell those that you love what they mean to you today.  Hug your kids, siblings, parents, grandparents, etc. extra today.  Appreciate all of the blessings you have in your life.  And may God help each of us to draw closer to Him!

God bless!


December 19, 2013

Today was a fun day.  We had an amazing breakfast (thank you Warren, Wanatta and Nickisha!!) of crepes, pancakes, oatmeal and fruit salad.  It was delicious!  Then, all of us headed to town again.  Jodi had a dentist appointment and then her and Warren were picking up their son and daughter from the airport.  They were arriving from Argentina, where they are both in college.  They were pretty excited, as this is the first year in four years that all four of them are together at the same time!  We’re all very happy for them.

The rest of us went to Cumavi.  It’s a type of flea market, I guess you could say.  They only have it on Thursdays here in Santa Cruz and it comprises several streets of the city, on which tents, tarps and tables are set up with new and used clothing, toys, hiking equipment, home supplies and almost any other product you can think of for sale.  You can find some really good deals here (three pieces of clothing for $0.70!).  We spent a couple of hours there, then went to the market to get stuff to make lunch.  When we returned to the station, the girls made a great vegetable fried rice.  :)

In the late afternoon, Warren, Jodi, Taylor and little Warren arrived.  It was my first time meeting little Warren and Tay in person (I have talked with them before), but we immediately hit it off and everyone had a very fun evening, full of laughter.  We really are a big family here!  :)

I called and spoke with my grandmother today.  It was great to talk with her.  They updated me on a few things.  All of the testing was completed and they’re waiting on results.  Then, next Friday, she has an appointment with the head surgeon to see if he’s willing to proceed with the operation to remove the tumor.  If so, my grandmother has decided that she wants to go through with the surgery.  So we’ll see what the tests and the doctor says and keep you posted.  Thank you for your continued prayers!

Okay...time for lights-out.  I hope you had a wonderful day today and that the Lord revealed Himself to you in a special way today.  May He continue to watch over and keep you and your family!  


December 20, 2013

Today is my brother, Josh’s, birthday.  Happy birthday Josh!!  The big 3-0!  :)  I hope you an AMAZING day bud and know how much you are loved and appreciated!  

We had a really good and fun day today!  After breakfast and catching a car into the city, we decided to do something that half of our group had never done before....bowling!  :)  There is one bowling alley here in Santa Cruz.  We were the only people there, so it was nice to have the place to ourselves.  It was a totally new experience for Nickisha, Wanatta, Oriel and Alana (Oriel’s sister who is visiting us for a few days while we are in town).  From the bowling shoes to picking your ball and figuring out the best way to “throw” it down the lane, it was lots of fun to see their reaction.  :)  And they proved to be rather good at it!  Here are some pics of our experience:

After bowling, we went to get lunch.  There was a vegetarian buffet just down the road.  Excellent food!  Plus, it had air conditioning, which was especially nice on this hot day!

After lunch, we headed downtown and got an ice cream.  Then, Jodi, Nickisha and Wanatta went to the store to get a few items for lunch tomorrow.  While they did that, the rest of us waited for them in the plaza there downtown.  It was a nice “park” and the city workers were busy decorating for the holidays. As we were sitting there, they started playing Christmas music, which was nice.  Made it feel a bit more like Christmas.  :)

After all the shopping was done, we headed home.  The heat was intense and we were all tired.  I was doubly-so because my allergies were really acting up.  I can’t even guess how many times I sneezed today.  So now, it’s off to bed and praying that tomorrow I’m good to go again.

Happy Sabbath to all of you!  God bless!


December 21, 2013

What a wonderful Sabbath!  We split up and went to two different churches today.  Warren and I went to a smaller church (Los Colorados) more on the outskirts of the city.  There were a lot of people there and they were extremely friendly, yet humble.  They liked to sing, so we had a wonderful “songpiration”.  :)  The hymns were beautiful and definitely set the tone for the service. David Gates preached.  The message was good, one that we, as a church, need to hear...less of self and more of God.  Increase our faith.  Trust in God.  He never lets us down.  He shared a few testimonies of how God has worked in his life and that was an encouragement to all there.  When we left church, I felt like I had enjoyed a small piece of heaven.  

After lunch, we all sat around and talked a bit.  Then we had a vespers service.  It was a lovely day, full of the blessings and Presence of our Lord.  I am so thankful for the Sabbath and the joy it brings!

May God richly bless all of you!


December 22, 2013

Today we decided to go to the zoo here in Santa Cruz.  Some of us had been there before, but several had not.  Plus, it only costs $1.30 to get in, so, why not go again??  :)  After the zoo, we went to a supermarket and got stuff for sandwiches, then headed to a beautiful city park to have a little picnic.  The name of the park was “Mango Park”, as everywhere you look are mango trees loaded with fruit.  So, here we are, three days before Christmas and we’re having a picnic in the park, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh mangoes! :)  Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit like that, huh?  :)  It really was nice, though.

After lunch, we all went our separate ways.  Some went to do some shopping, others to walk around downtown while yet some of us went back to the station.  When there, I did some things I needed to do (wash clothes, etc.) and then later, we had supper.  Overall, a very pleasant day.  God is Good!

Blessings to each of you!


December 23, 2013

This morning Ori and I were out early, heading to Interpol to finish one of his documents for his residency.  Once that paper is ready (hopefully by tomorrow), we can submit all of his papers to immigration and be finished with everyone’s visas.  After we left interpol, I had a little taste of home.  We went by a Burger King here...and while they didn’t have the veggie burger like they do the States, we did enjoy some onion rings.  :)

Then we headed back to the station for lunch.  I used internet for a while and then, as is becoming our tradition here, we spent a good portion of the afternoon in fellowship, encouraging one another and laughing.

God bless!


December 24, 2013

Well, here we are...the day before Christmas.  It’s amazing how quickly this year has gone by!  

This is my 7th Christmas here in South America and I must say, no matter how many I spend here, hot weather and Christmas just don’t go together!  :)  

We headed to town to get supplies and groceries for tomorrow.  We are all having Christmas lunch, potluck style, at David Gate’s house with the other missionaries.  After a few hours in town, it was back home to enjoy a restful afternoon.

After supper, we had a great time!  We played Bible Taboo.  That was fun!  I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.  :)

Well, off to bed now.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Please know that I’m praying for you as well.  May the Lord fill your life with His love and blessings!


December 25, 2013

Feliz Navidad desde Bolivia!  While this was, by far, the most different Christmas I’ve experienced, it was, perhaps, one of the most uplifting.  This was the first Christmas ever that I spent the morning making falafels.  :)  That was the dish that Nickisha and I made for the potluck.  And I must say, they turned out very good!  :)  While we were doing our falafels, the others were preparing coconut rice (a recipe from Guyana), as well as a pound cake.

We all met at David’s house around 1:30.  There were about 35 of us there.  We set up chairs outside, in a U shape, and enjoyed the breeze while we were together.  David started by reading Psalms 103, a psalms of gratitude, and then opened the floor up for us to share a praise of how God has worked in our lives this year.  We spent about half an hour doing this.  And as I sat there, listening to how our God has, time after time, come to aid of His children, working nothing less than miracles in their behalf, I couldn’t help but be amazed.  I mean, it really sounded like stories you would read about that only happen in “far away places”.  Yet, here I am, in the midst of all of these blessings.  As we looked about over the mission work this year, how money has come from nowhere when the bank account was empty, how one small pot of food fed over 50 people, how God’s Hand of protection shielded several of the pilots in a couple of incidents which could have proved fatal, you could not help but feel God’s Presence and appreciate Him in a new way.  It was an awesome experience!

Following this, we had our Christmas lunch...a what a banquet it was!!  There was so much food.  There were missionaries from the U.S., Venezuela, Guyana, Mexico, South Africa, Bolivia, and Puerto Rico there, so you can imagine the variety of delicious food we had! :)  Then, we continued our fellowship and took several pictures to commemorate the day.  

Pastor Gates and I

After lunch, it was off to call family and friends.  It was good to talk to so many.  Since we ate a later lunch, no one wanted to eat supper.  We were all still satisfied from our lunch.

Oriel, Nickisha, Wanatta, Alana and I went to the chapel and spent over an hour and a half just singing hymns.  It was the perfect ending to this day...worshipping our Lord and Savior through songs.  Even though there wasn’t a Christmas tree, lights, cold weather or the typical Christmas food, we still had a wonderful time.  And while this was the first Christmas in my life in which not a single gift was exchanged by anyone here, no one seemed to miss the gifts.  Perhaps that’s because we chose to spend the day celebrating the true Gift...our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   It was an experience that will not be soon forgotten.  

How about you?  What was your day like?  Were you able to spend it with family and friends?  Did you feel the Hand of God in your life in a new and different way today?  Did you take time out of the busy schedule, away from the crowds and distractions to spend time with your Redeemer?  I hope so...for that is where we find our richest blessing!

God bless you all!


December 26, 2013

Today was another early morning in town.  Ori’s paper from interpol was finished, so we headed to immigration to submit everything. After waiting about an hour for his number to be called, the immigration officer informed us that a number was left out of his passport number on two of the papers.  So we had to get that corrected.  We did that, got some lunch and then headed back to immigration.  Finally, after spending the whole day there, we were able to turn everything in and get his residency process started.  Praise God!

We left immigrations about 6pm and headed home.  We got there, had supper and are now about to head to bed.  The heat of the day really tires  you out.

God bless!


December 27, 2013

We left late morning to go to town.  Today was spent shopping for Sabbath, as well as taking Nickisha and Wanatta to the eye doctor.  But actually, Warren and Jodi also ended up getting new glass along with the girls.  That’s because it was only $11-$20 usd for a pair of prescription glasses (frames, lens, exam, everything)!  

We got home just before Sabbath and had nice, simple worship service to welcome God’s holy day.  I am thankful to be resting in Him on this special day.

God bless you!


December 28, 2013

This morning, we traveled to another nearby town for church.  It’s a small church that one of our sister institutions (Instituto Quebrada Leon - a medical missionary training school) helps support.  We met Dr. Kim, his family and several of the staff and students from his school there.  

We had a good sabbath school and song service.  Then, during the time between sabbath school and worship service, someone came and asked Warren if he could preach.  The person that was supposed to didn’t show up for some reason.  Warren, ever faithful, stepped up to the plate.  :)  He asked me to accompany him to translate.  They sang a few more songs, as he prepared his thoughts.  That’s when we found out that they also had communion and foot washing planned for that day!  So it was a full day indeed!

Warren gave an excellent sermon about staying in the faith, trusting in God and finishing the work. He based it on Hebrews 11:20-24 and Joseph’s request for his bones to be carried out of Egypt.  It was a really good angle.

After the sermon, we separated for foot washing.  I love foot washing in developing countries.  It’s so....simple.  We sat outside and prayed with/for each other (in some cases, perfect strangers) and encouraged each other in our walk with Christ as we followed the example of our Savior in washing each other’s feet.  Hymns were sung all the while.  After this part of the service, we went back inside the church for communion.  It is always a blessing to be able to participate in this holy rite, to remember my Savior, His love and sacrifice, and to seek forgiveness of sins and His loving blessing!  

We ended with a hymn and prayer.  Then, everyone greeted each other on the way out.  Dr. Kim and his wife invited us to spend the rest of the weekend at their facility, so we went back home, got some clothes and Ori, Gerald, Nickisha, Wanatta, Amber, Taylor and I traveled the hour or so to their place.  This is my second time here and I love it.  The scenery is just beautiful!  

Another wonderful and blessed sabbath day has come and gone.  The last sabbath of 2013.  How did you spend your sabbath?  Was it as much of a blessing for you as for me??  I hope so.

God bless you, my friend!


December 29, 2013

The day started with group worship at 6:50 am.  Dr. Kim headed out the service.  Then we had a delicious breakfast of whole wheat pancakes with brazil nut butter and fruit salad.  

After breakfast, we were asked to make lunch for everyone.  But not just any lunch...they wanted roti and curry.  That’s a very typical (and delicious) Guyanese recipe.  And since there are 4 Guyanese here, they figured it’s now or never.  lol.  So we made lunch for everyone (about 45 people).

The afternoon was spent walking around the property, talking with the students and staff and resting.  I wasn’t feeling my best, so I did a good bit of the latter.  After supper, we had worship again and then headed to our dorms for bed.

More tomorrow...

God bless you all!


December 30, 2013

Another good day here at Quebrada Leon.  Followed the same routine as yesterday, except our group helped with a construction project instead of kitchen duty today.  I wasn’t able to help because I am still feeling pretty bad.  

I spent the morning in bed.  Then, after lunch, a couple of the staff came to “examine” me and did some wonderful natural treatments with me.  They helped ease the pain a good bit, which was a blessing because I had been asked to lead out worship tonight.  I spoke about Luke 2:41-50, the story of Mary and Joseph losing sight of Jesus.  I recently read a commentary on this that really spoke to my heart.  I’d like to share a portion of it with you, as I think it relates a very important lesson for all of us today.

Meanwhile Joseph and Mary were in great perplexity and distress. In the departure from Jerusalem they had lost sight of Jesus, and they knew not that He had tarried behind. The country was then densely populated, and the caravans from Galilee were very large. There was much confusion as they left the city. On the way the pleasure of traveling with friends and acquaintances absorbed their attention, and they did not notice His absence till night came on. Then as they halted for rest, they missed the helpful hand of their child. Supposing Him to be with their company, they had felt no anxiety. Young as He was, they had trusted Him implicitly, expecting that when needed, He would be ready to assist them, anticipating their wants as He had always done. But now their fears were roused. They searched for Him throughout their company, but in vain. Shuddering they remembered how Herod had tried to destroy Him in His infancy. Dark forebodings filled their hearts. They bitterly reproached themselves.

Jesus was engaged in the work that He had come into the world to do; but Joseph and Mary had neglected theirs. God had shown them high honor in committing to them His Son. Holy angels had directed the course of Joseph in order to preserve the life of Jesus. But for an entire day they had lost sight of Him whom they should not have forgotten for a moment. And when their anxiety was relieved, they had not censured themselves, but had cast the blame upon Him.

If Joseph and Mary had stayed their minds upon God by meditation and prayer, they would have realized the sacredness of their trust, and would not have lost sight of Jesus. By one day's neglect they lost the Saviour; but it cost them three days of anxious search to find Him. So with us; by idle talk, evilspeaking, or neglect of prayer, we may in one day lose the Saviour's presence, and it may take many days of sorrowful search to find Him, and regain the peace that we have lost.
In our association with one another, we should take heed lest we forget Jesus, and pass along unmindful that He is not with us. When we become absorbed in worldly things so that we have no thought for Him in whom our hope of eternal life is centered, we separate ourselves from Jesus and from the heavenly angels. These holy beings cannot remain where the Saviour's presence is not desired, and His absence is not marked. This is why discouragement so often exists among the professed followers of Christ.

Many attend religious services, and are refreshed and comforted by the word of God; but through neglect of meditation, watchfulness, and prayer, they lose the blessing, and find themselves more destitute than before they received it. Often they feel that God has dealt hardly with them. They do not see that the fault is their own. By separating themselves from Jesus, they have shut away the light of His presence.

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.  (excerpt from The Desire of Ages)

Pretty powerful when you stop and think about it, huh?  What about you?  Have you lost sight of Christ?  Have the concerns and thoughts of the world taken the place that belongs to your Savior?  We must all carefully guard our hearts and mind and not allow our eyes to fall away from our Lord.  Satan is too ready to attack and has an amazing track record at leading many a Christian away from their Lord and to destruction.  Our only safety is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

May the Lord help each of us to actively seek Him and to remain by His side at all times and in all things!  God bless!


December 31, 2013

Well, here it year’s eve!  My mind still can’t come to grips with the fact that tomorrow will be the beginning of a new year.  Didn’t we just start this one a couple of months ago??  

It’s also a special day for another reason.  Today is Wanatta’s brithday!  Happy Birthday Wanatta!!  :)  

We left Quebrada today to head back to Santa Cruz.  I must say, however, that we really didn’t want to leave.  The environment was so peaceful and the people so friendly!  But we needed to take care of some things in town, so it was time to leave.  We were invited back, though.  So if it turns out we have to stay in Santa Cruz longer than we expect, then we will just take them up on their offer!  :)

After getting back to the mission station and unloading out things, we headed to town to run some errands.  I ended up coming back early though...still not feeling well.  I needed to rest a while.  Jodi, Wanatta, Nickisha and Taylor got back later tonight.  Warren, Ori, Gerald and Amber decided to greet the new year from downtown Santa Cruz.

We had a laughter-filled new year’s eve here at our little house at the mission.  Reminiscing on past events and introducing Nickisha to sparklers and fireworks (up close, anyway) were the highlights of the evening!  :)  All too soon, midnight was here and we ushered in a new year, while being extremely grateful for the one that just finished.  

Here’s a nice meditational thought for you to read, as we close out this year and start the new one.  

ANOTHER YEAR OF YOUR LIFE CLOSES TODAY. How can you look back upon it? Have you made advancement in the divine life? Have you increased in spirituality? Have you crucified self, with the affections and lusts? Have you an increased interest in the study of God’s word? Have you gained decided victories over your own failings and waywardness? Oh, what has been the record of your life for the year which has now passed into eternity, never to be recalled?

As you enter upon a new year, let it be with an earnest resolve to have your course onward and upward. Let your life be more elevated and exalted than it has hitherto been. Make it your aim not to seek your own interest and pleasure, but to advance the cause of your Redeemer. 2T 261

May God bless us all as we start this new year and may each of us draw ever nearer to our Lord!