Tuesday, June 16, 2015

God is moving mountains!!

June 13, 2015

Okay….I know I’ve said this before, but I apologize for this LONG delay in updating my blog.   :(  My computer crashed and I was without it for almost a month and a half. Then things just got really hectic at the school and there simply wasn’t a lot of free time.  But I will do my best to update you on most of what has happened during these last few months.  The challenges and trials have been numerous.  But the blessings and miracles have abundantly exceeded them.  God is Great!

Juan Jose, Manfred, me, David, Jesus, Sergio

  • On March 6, 15 students and a professor from Southern Adventist University arrived for a short-term mission trip.  They came to add a second floor and replace the thatch roof with a metal roof of one of the boys’ dorms, as well as work on a couple of other smaller projects.  (Praise the Lord!!)  They would only be here for a total of 9 days, so we had our work cut out for us.  We went ahead and took off the thatch roof and got everything ready for their arrival a couple of days prior.  From the day one, the challenges started.  Rain.  It rained Friday and their flight was delayed from La Paz.  They finally made it to Familia Feliz, tired, hungry and some nauseous from the altitude in La Paz.  We got everyone introduced and settled in just in time for worship to welcome the Sabbath. Since it had rained, we had service in the church instead of our normal circle on the lawn.  The kids immediately flocked to the new “teachers” and showed them all the love they are known for giving.  We had a nice worship, followed by our tradition “Happy Sabbath” greeting and hugs.  As soon as worship was over, Freddy (the professor in charge of the trip), the boys from my house and I headed out to the army base for our first meeting with them.  What an amazing experience!  I know I’ve said it many times before, but I love meeting with the soldiers!!  I always leave so refreshed and blessed by the experience.  We have been praying for this new group of soldiers and our meetings for two months now, asking that the Holy Spirit would already start to work in their hearts and lives and prepare them for the messages they would hear throughout the year.  And our prayers were answered…there were over 100 in attendance!  And not only were they present, they were excited about the meetings.  Of the three groups of soldiers we have met during our time at the base, this one was the most excited and anxious from the start.  Our meeting on Friday as a shorter one, mainly an introduction, song service and a short devotional thought.    By day, the Southern students worked on the roof of the boys’ dorm and painting the mural in our dining hall.  By night, one group held a week of prayer for our kids on campus while another went with me to the army base for the evangelistic series there.  We always see God’s Hand at work here at Familia Feliz, but we saw it in a very marked way last week.  First of all, more than 30 soldiers came forward to give their hearts to Christ at the meetings!  Praise God!  What a sight to see them making their decisions and responding to the call of the Holy Spirit!  It warms your heart like nothing else can.  Then, as I was taking the Southern group into town one day, we were all piled in the small truck (as the big truck is broken down).  As soon as we got into town, the driver’s rear wheel flew off of the axle!  We skidded down the road, as the axle ground into the asphalt.  Once the truck came to a stop, we all jumped out and made sure everyone was ok.  Thank the Lord, no one was hurt.  The axle, though, was on fire!  We got the fire put out and I headed into town on a motor-taxi to arrange for transportation for the group and to see about getting someone to fix the truck.  We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for always watching over and protecting us!  Words cannot describe all of the work done, memories made and blessings received from/with this group during their stay at Familia Feliz!  They definitely left a lasting impression here.  THANK YOU all again for all of your time, help, effort, sweat, and prayers!  :)

  • During the past two months, we have had about 8 students hospitalized.  Machete cuts, abscesses, UTI’s, dehydration, you name it.  Having to go to town twice a day to buy medication, talk to the doctors, update parents and check on the kids definitely proved a challenge in addition to everything else going on, but we thank the Lord for getting us through and for a speedy recovering for the students!

  • We lost several volunteers since my last post.  :(  They have returned back to their homes or moved on to other projects.  To Victoria, Jordan Alex, Jordan, Oriel, Victor and Ana, you have each been such a vital part to Familia Feliz and we are forever bettered for having spent time with you.  THANK YOU for your commitment, example, time and love for Christ that you have imparted to us!!  We wish you all the very best and look forward to having you come back and visit SOON!  :)  

  • We got a new volunteer.  Omar is from Santa Cruz, Bolivia and is a carpenter.  His is helping in our older boys’ dorm and will be teaching our Carpentry class.  We are happy to have him!
Omar and Janet

  • We got a new truck!!!!!!!!!!!!  Victoria’s church (Westvale Seventh Day Adventist Church) in New York has been fundraising for several months to help us get a reliable means of transportation and, thanks to their hard work, faithfulness and prayers, we are now the new owners of a Chevrolet Silverado 4x4, equipped with a winch and custom-made bed enclosure, with benches to accommodate for people!  We are more than thrilled to receive such a blessing!  A BIG THANK YOU to our brethren that raised the money and to all of you that have been praying with us for a truck!!  God is indeed Great and we thank and praise Him above all for His Goodness to us!

  • The students left for winter break on June 1st.  It always feels so empty when the kids leave.  Please keep them all in your prayers as they enjoy this time with friends and family.  Pray that they will stay safe and remember all that the Lord has taught them.
Some of our boys...

The girls having special music at church.

  • Last week, Jonatan and I were invited to go on a short-term mission trip to the house of four of our students.  They live in the Pampas here in Bolivia.  It was a four hour car ride, then a five and a half hour hike (in rubber boots no less!) through approximately 12 miles of pasture, bush, bogs, swamps and jungle to get to their ranch!  Needless to say, we were tired when we finally arrived!  :)  We spent a week there, sharing the Gospel with these new converts and their families.  There was no electricity or running water, but the absolutely sweetest pink grapefruit I have ever eaten!  :)  This family raises horses and cattle, so we got to see our students at work in these areas.  It was quite impressive!  They are 100% true cowboys, in all senses of the word!  Watching them lasso the bulls and horses was quite impressive!  I also had the privilege of riding a horse for the first time.  :)  Manfred, 13 years old, took me on my first horse ride…a two hour tour of their part of their property.  We rode through the cattle field, trotted through the river, and quietly walked through the coconut grove as we watched the monkeys play.  How many people can say that’s how the spent their first time on a horse?!  And I must say, my teacher was fantastic!  :)  The Pampas is full of wildlife.  We saw alligators, snakes, toucans, macaws, monkeys, capybaras, and more.  The only thing that topped the nature surrounding us were the moments we shared with our students and their family.  These kids had never seen a Bible before four months ago.  Never attended church.  Nothing.  And to hear them ask to pray before starting our walk or lead out in worship is the best feeling in the world!  I am so proud of their growth and their surrender to Christ!  It was definitely an unforgettable week!
Starting our 5+ hour walk.  :)

Our bathtub and laundry room for the week.  :)

The ranch where we stayed.

Jonatan with the skull of a crocodile the family killed when it tried to attack them.

Sabbath service out in nature...what a blessing!

  • Next week, we will be heading back to Torewa (the indigenous village we went to in January) on a mission trip with some of our students and students from the Adventist school in Guayaramerin.  We will be building them a new church, providing health care and conducting evangelistic meetings for both children and adults.  We will also be visiting neighbouring communities to talk with them about Christ and plant some seeds there.  Please keep this project in your prayers as well.  Thank you!

God is still moving here in Bolivia and especially on the campus of Familia Feliz.  We sincerely appreciate your support, words of encouragement and prayers!  Please keep them coming!  May the Lord continue to pour His blessings out upon each of you!