Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gracias Hermanos and Hermanas!

As you can see from the title of my post I am now bilingual! What an amazing experience it was to travel to Bolivia again and this time with Joanne! I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayer support and their financial support. I am still trying to process everything but the experience was truly wonderful. My Spanish is definitely "FATAL" (this means bad in Spanish!) but God allowed us to communicate with the people in Bolivia through smiles and Abel, Diane, and Joanne , our translators. Sitting in church services in Bolivia was a wonderful experience because even though I only understood every 10th word I still felt the Holy Spirit working in my life. I can't wait to be able to communicate with everyone at Florida Norte in the same language in Heaven! In the meantime, I will try to practice my Spanish.  Dios te bendiga (sp) "God Bless"
                                                                                                         "Donde Esta...?" Hmmmm..........

In Christ,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thank you all - from Wendy

Well, I am home and settling into my routine again. As I was reading my devotion this morning, it said that if you look hard for God's hand in things you will find it. I saw God everywhere in Bolivia and in our activities with the Florida Norte church and people!  Yet, I know that I can go through my day here and not even look for God's hand. This is something I need to think about as I go forward. 

I have learned so many things and have taken another step forward in my spiritual maturity as the result of my trip to Bolivia. I also realized the critical importance of the Senders. Prayers especially are needed and are appreciated by the Goers. Thank you Senders for helping us and praying us through this trip - you were instrumental to our success!

I never thought I would be a Goer to Bolivia, yet I heard God calling me to this trip. I am so very thankful that I heard his voice and responded! Please consider being a Goer on a future OSLC trip. It could turn out to be wonderful blessing for you too......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We are home!!! From Barbara

We are home! We arrived home today after a long but "no hitch" travel schedule.  Yesterday was very sad, saying good-bye! I have to admit I was the teary eyed one.  The people of Florida Norte are dear, loving folks.

Sunday night their entire service was a celebration for us before we were to leave.  There were songs, many prayers, 2 dances (fabulous!), food, gift giving and lots of hugs and kisses.....some folks 2 and 3 times.  We felt appreciated greatly.

Most difficult of all was saying good-bye to the Pastor's family. We spent almost the entire week with them....they devoted themselve 100% to what we needed....food, rides, sightseeing etc. etc. etc.

We had to promise to see them again...their 19 year old asked me if he could climb in 1 of our suitcases....if only...

When we arrived at the air port there were about 15 members of the congregation there to wave us off.  They were still on the observation roof waving when our plane took off.

Our team has a new "team word".  On Saturday at the retreat we did a team building game with everyone using hula hoops.  It was great fun and very effective in their need for unity.  Their word for hula hoop is oola-oola.  So this is the new name for fun and enjoyable times.

I will sign off now thanking all of you for your prayers and donations...and wishing you an oola-oola day!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Hello friends and family!

Greetings for the final time from Cochabamba!  It's 6:30 p.m. here and we just finished a delicious Bolivian meal and will have a prayer service with Pastor Jaime and his family before leaving for the airport at 7 p.m.  Please pray for good health and safe travels over the next 24 hours or so.  God willing we will land in Boston late tomorrow afternoon!

THANK YOU for all of your prayers.  God has done mighty things here in our midst and it is a humbling gift to be a part of His mission.

Together in the Great Commission with all of you,

Well, that went fast!

It's Monday already and we have a nice SLOW day planned. We will meet with Pastor Jaime first thing this morning to go over some final information and give him the PCs loaded with files and materials (WARNING: more translation work is needed ahead). 

We have a little shopping in the concha to do today and will have an early dinner before we head to the airport and home.  We heard a lot of "hasta la manana" as we were leaving last night so I think our send-off committee will be large!

Last night was our final service and it was AWESOME!  I smiled the largest when we heard Elder Lalo talk about starting up a prayer ministry for them to begin to pray for each other. They talked about many other ministries they want to start up from the things they learned from us.

I come away phycially tired and spiritually energized. I am humbled by watching how God can work through his servants who are willing to serve Him. It is amazing to see him use his North American children to work in love with his South American childeren.

Thank you for praying us thorough this. Please continue to pray for us today for our safe travels home.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday, July 10th from Barbara

Good Morning!  I can't believe that we leave for home tomorrow.  I will miss all of the poeople I have met this week.  The Bolivian people are very friendly and welcoming.  My blonde hair has been a big attraction. We met a bride and groom o the street last evening who asked if they could take a picture with me!!!

Our hopes and goals for this trip have been far surpassed. We are amazed how hungry the people of Florida Norte are to grow their church.  We have done much work with the Pastor and Church leaders who have all had an opportunity to have their thoughts heard.  Each of our sessions and our all day retreat have been attended by many people.  Thank you, God! 

Pastor is a very bright and loving man (who also is a physician).  He has told us how much this has meant to him and has asked if he can skype once a month as a follow up.  Praise God!

Your prayers have been felt every step of our way.  Thank you all!!!!!!  Thank you to all of the senders who supplied funds and gifts for us to better serve the Church here.  Being here for the first time I now realize how much this all means.

We will see you soon!

Mmmm Joanne's amazing desserts even reach to Bolivia!

More team building, Why can't we get this hoola-hoop down?

Barbara working together with her team with a team building exercise!

Is it Sunday already?

It is hard to believe that we are coming to the end of our time here in Bolivia. God has truly been at work in Flordia Norte and with our team. The unity and bond our team has created with each other has been wonderful. We will have much to tell all of you when we return. Saturday's retreat was a wonderful experience as we shared and had the church do various team building excercises. I believe that they are now ready to begin to reach out even more into their community to spread God's love to the people. Maybe even through soccer!

Saturday evening we spent it at a restaurant called Dumbo's. My Spanglish caused much laughter but it was quite fun. The young adults have a tremendous love of God and their community and I am excited to see how they move ministries forward. After Dumbo's Abel and I were able to sneak away to a soccer match at the stadium in Cochabamba. We were only able to see that last 15 minutes of the game but it was really cool to see. Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera, Lo siento (I'm Sorry).

Sunday will be spent in worship with the people at Flordia Norte, shopping at the Concha, and lunch at the famous steak house!

Dios a bien diega ( God's blessings) I think!


Mateo and Miguel at VBS on Friday. Over 100 of the children who attended VBS were from the neighborhood surrounding the church and do not have a church home. Please pray that these children will come to faith in Jesus as their Savior.

The VBS kids at their closing program on Friday afternoon

Wendy teaching about discipleship at Saturday's church retreat

Florida Norte Church leaders assembling a puzzle as a sign of unity during Friday night's training. The puzzle was designed by Joanne Vermont!

Marcos teaching at the Leaders training on Friday night

The VBS teachers and our 4 team ladies eating ice cream at Dumbo's Saturday night! Talk about delicious fellowship!

Joanne sharing her testimony and how God is using her and the gifts He has given her to serve others. This was at Saturday's church retreat, where she also baked all the church people a delicious smore dessert!

Diane showing off her hula hoop skills at the church retreat! Go Diane Go!

Barbara and Florida Norte members doing a team building activity at Saturday's retreat

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8, 2011 from Diane

Greetings to all my brothers and sisters at OSLC,

We are here in Cochabama having a very fruitful experience. We are witnessing the Lord's hand at work everyday. Mark's soccer clinic has been very successful. The older children are always eager to play. This afternoon is the final day of the clinic and they are having a tournament. I don't know who are more excited in anticipation of this, the children or Mark and Abel. They bought Bolivian soccer shirts specifically to wear this afternoon. The children absolutely love Mark! He's a great coach. Children and adults have told him so. Abel is also doing a terrific job coaching. As for myself, I know little about the game and just translate what I am told.

Each day at the park Barbara, Joanne and Wendy have been doing a terrific job of keeping the children entertained by doing crafts with them, painting fingernails and faces, turning jump rope, etc. The children flock to them whether it is because they do not want to play soccer or if they are waiting their turn to play.

VBS has been wonderful. Jenny, the director (?) of Hora Feliz is doing a great job with this. She has incorporated into the program of arts and crafts, the use of pantomime and dance with the children performing. She also uses a lot of participatory music. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces from last and previous years. The children, teachers and parents appeared to be happy to see the Team. They greeted all the hermanos and hermanas warmly and with great enthusiasm.

At church it was the same. Everyone who enters the building or the construction area greets each and every person with a hand shake and a kiss on one or both cheeks for the women and a strong hand shake and arm embrace man to man. In my humble opinion, I believe that things are coming along well. Gracias a Dios. From an exercise that Wendy did with the congregation Tuesday night, there came well over a hundred sticky notes of actions that the members would like to see happening in the church over the next one to three years.

There is so much more that I am looking forward to sharing with you when we return.

Con amor en el nombre de Jesus Cristo,


Amazing by Joanne

Amazing. The word for the week for me. Amazing how Matthew keeps going and going and going. Amazing that we are TRYING to keep up with him! Amazing how God has provided strength for the team both mentally and physically. Amazing how the people of Florida Norte have welcomed us (I have never been hugged and kissed so much). Amazing how God has provided everything we need.

Last night Magda cooked for us - lasagna! Each bite was heaven. Truly. She also made us a salad and garlic bread. Matthew, Mark and Diane have had her wonderful cooking the last time they were here and last night was the first night we were able to have her come and cook. What a blessing it was to sit down as a team and enjoy a great meal.

Wendy did her final presentation last night and her strength in getting it done was amazing! She has been working nonstop this week and the final push last night went so well. Matthew did a section on ministry leaders and Diane did her testimony by herself in Spanish! And she was worried about her Spanish. The church leaders loved it! She was even told her Spanish was great.

Amazing - Pastor Jamie last night. He presented a model for Florida Norte and did it flawlessly (at least as far as us non Spanish speakers go! He used the slides that were projected with amazing skill. And was ready for questions after and no one had any. Amazing considering he was talking about changes in the church.

Amazing it is already Friday. Amazing that we have a packed day again today. We are going to do a little shopping and then this afternoon is full with the final soccer clininc and last day of VBS and then the final leadership training. Tomorrow is a full day retreat for the adults at the church and dinner with the young adults.

Hugs and love to everyone. I am so grateful for the prayers, we feel them all.

Diane sharing her testimony on Thursday night

Singing to our great God at VBS!!

Barbara and one of the babies at the 'Casa de Amor' Orphanage

The leaders of Florida Norte singing praises to God after Thursday's leadership training

Prayer requests for this weekend from the Bolivia Team

Please pray for:
*The soccer tournament and VBS closing program on Friday afternoon.  There will be many children at both events that have not yet trusted in Jesus as their Savior.  Ask God to open their hearts and minds to His love.

*Our final training session with the leaders is Friday night at 7:30 p.m.  This session will involve a unity prayer service we have designed that includes a beautiful puzzle that Joanne Vermont created.

*Thank God for Abel Zabaleta!  Abel arrived on Tuesday afternoon and it is such a blessing to partner with him in ministry.  He has been a fantastic team host and he not only translates for us but encourages us to grow deeper in our faith in Christ.

*On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. we are leading a retreat at an off site location for the Florida Norte young adults and other members of the congregation.  One of the main goals of the retreat is to encourage and motivate them all to serve in ministry at Florida Norte and in their surrounding community.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and shape the time spent at the retreat.

*On Sunday July 10 we will worship in the morning and evening at Florida Norte.  On Sunday evening Matthew and Abel will preach together and we will present many ministry resources to the Florida Norte congregation, including 2 lcd projectors, 1 laptop computer, many children's resources, devotions and more.

'Unity' from mateo

Thank you for your continued prayers!  The word for today, Thursday July 7 is UNITY.

*God has given our team a deep unity in our love for one another and our ability to partner together in ministry.  He is using the gifts and abilities of each person to serve the people of Bolivia and it is a joy to witness.

 *God has united our hearts and minds with Pastor Jaime San Martin and his family.  Pastor Jaime is the new pastor of Florida Norte church.  Pastor Jaime began serving in April (yes only 3 months ago!) and God has given him a great love for the people of Florida Norte.  Pastor Jaime is a man of integrity, vision, humor, grace and strong faith in Christ.  Tonight he was able to present a ministry organizational plan to his church after the past 3 days of workshops with our team.  Before we arrived in Cochabamba, he had been working on a strategic plan, mission and vision for the Florida Norte congregation, and the people of the congregation are beginning to embrace it and share their ideas and thoughts about reaching people for Christ in Bolivia and the world.

*The congregation at Florida Norte are asking for prayers for unity in purpose and reconciliation among past relationships where trust has been questioned.  The Holy Spirit has done a good work among them over the past year, but they have asked for us to continue to pray for unity among the believers. 

*God has given Florida Norte young teachers who are unified in their efforts of reaching children for Jesus.  This is VERY evident in their VBS.  The young teachers are creative, joyful, Christ-centered and committed to reaching children and families for Christ.  It is a joy to encourage and equip them.

*I have been to Bolivia four times (2002, 2003, 2010 and 2011). The people of Florida Norte are not just my brothers and sisters in Christ but they are my friends.  My heart is filled with joy when I see kids that we once taught in VBS now teaching VBS.   Thank you for allowing me to come and be united with them in our Christian faith.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7th from Barbara

Hi,  Everyone!  What a grace this trip is!!!!! The team, the Florida Norte Church, the children....all wonderful!

Yesterday was a miracle!  We came to bring an organizational plan to the Church to assure their growth and the ability to handle it. Wendy has been phenomenal!  Today the Pastor came to the Guest house and he, Wendy  and Diane and Matthew spent the day meshing our plan to the Florida Norte community needs.   It was amazing.  Pure God given wisdom. Later tonight the Pastor and Wendy will present it to the Church members.

Today we went to an orphanage to play with the babies....I did better than expected, I only fell in love with 2 of them!!!!!!!  We then went to VBS and had great fun.  Yesterday there were 140 children.  Ten years ago before we started coming here there was no VBS. God given grace!

Keep praying because God is certainly alive and well in Cuchabamba!!!!

Diane showing off her moves at VBS

Explaination of the Popcorn Turkey!

So it is now thursday morning and we are all getting ready to go visit an orphanage. Last night we had an amazing dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse! We ate many different kinds of beef and of course the best cuts were coming out after we were very stuffed. But don't worry we were all able to force it down!

At soccer today I was very glad to have Abel with me to help translate and organize the kids. I could have definitely used Hannah and Jake to help me demonstrate some moves! Maybe someday!We are all very glad that Abel is here to help Diane when translating. Today at VBS they had about 143 kids! Truly amazing to see how God is using Florida Norte to spread the gospel to so many children.

Ok, I am sure you are wondering about the popcorn turkey project. While eating an amazing meal at Pastor Jaime's house, I of course decided to show off my creative side! I made a Turkey out of paper that can be used to put popcorn in at Thanksgiving! Even though they don't celebrate Thanksgiving everyone got a good laugh.

Thank you all for your prayers and support, we can definitely feel God's presence on our team and with each day's events. 

Dios Sabe,


The finished product!

The popcorn turkey project in Bolivia!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The snow capped mountains of Cochabamba--the days are beautiful and in the 70's but the nights are chilly!!

Marcos and Abel leading devotions at the beginning of the soccer outreach on Wednesday

Joanne and adults and kids and teens at the soccer outreach today! The Florida Norte volunteers were serving their neighborhood by spreading the love of Jesus!

Mateo and the kids in the Florida Norte neighborhood

Working with Pastor Jaime and Abel on Ministry leadership structure for Florida Norte

Marcos and his Bolivian Girls Soccer Team!!!

Barbara, the woman who is giving and receiving the most hugs in all of Cochabamba

What day is it? Wednesday already?! From Joanne

2:20 on Wednesday and very few of us know what day it is! What a wonderful thing to lose track of time.

Our schedule has been very full but wonderful. Today we had another day of soccer clinics and fun with the kids. Mark and Abel ran the soccer clinic perfectly. Barbara, Matthew and I worked (or I should say, tried to work) with Gimp. What fun it was to see all the kids, boys and girls, of all ages sit and knot and weave. Barbara is a Grammy magnet, the kids come right up to her and hug her and love all over her. When we get home we will have to say "Hermana Barbara" in Spanish for you! I don't think any of us will ever say Barbara's name without the accent again! The kids ended back at the church for water and a prayer. Jenny, who is on the church leadership team has such a gift with the kids. I see a sea of little people which overwhelms me and she turns kid chaos into organized fun. Amazing.

Wendy and Diane worked with Pastor Jamie this morning on the leadership structure project. I am sure one of them will blog about it later. Tomorrow I will be glad to have both of them back with us when we do the final soccer clinic and VBS closing.

For those of you who know me, this trip alone is an act of God. I never thought I would ever be a goer. I have always loved being a sender but never thought God would have me be a goer. Words fail me to describe it all really. I am thankful for the opporunity to see this part of the world. I am overjoyed to know that no matter what language we speak we all praise the same God.

Love to everyone.

Barbara sharing the love of Jesus through bubbles!!!

Marcos sharing his testimony Tuesday night with the Florida Norte church leaders. He also encouraged them to always rely on Jesus for strength as they serve His Church.

Florida Norte Church Leaders grouping their ministries together in a ministry organization exercise on Tuesday night

Marcos teaching soccer skills at the Soccer Outreach Tuesday

The amazing graphic designer Joanne face and hand and arm painting in the park on Tuesday!

Diane and Barbara painting nails while the soccer clinic happened this morning

The team leading songs at VBS on Tuesday

Wendy and Wendy--the Bolivian girl in white is also named Wendy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's Soccer Time! A blog from Wendy

Today was our first soccer clinic and Mark sure was in his element!  We arrived on Bolivia time (a few minutes late) and had about 60 kids waiting for the soccer fun to begin.  there were kids of all ages and abilities. Mark quickly took charge and began organizing the clinic.  He began with a little devotion on what we say and think while we are playing and told the kids that they should ask "What would Jesus do?" when they might feel frustration. Next he broke everyone into two groups. While one group was working on their soccer skills with Mark, the other group wase with Barbara, Diane and Joanne getting their faces painted, their fingernails painted, blowing bubbles and jumping rope. I was the photographer for the morning until I became the office jump rope twirler with Joanne. Kids were everywhere!!!  We finished the morning with the kids practicing their newly learned skills in a competitive soccer game.

We went to Pastor Jaime and Ruth's house for a home cooked Bolivian lunch. It was outstanding!!!!!  We truly appreciated it and loved it. Joanne is going to try and get a few recipes to bring back. The soup was to die for.....

In the afternoon we went back to the church to watch the Florida Norte group conduct their VBS sessions. They had about 80 kids these last two days. Again, kids were everywhere!!  Matthew had us all lead the kids in a song with silly body movements. The kids loved it as we were singing and dancing and laughing and wiggling our various body parts. Jenny from Florida Norte led three child actors in a drama about good conquering evil. It was well done and was apparent that they had learned their early VBS lessons well.

Tonight we are back at church witht he leadership team leading them through a series of activities to help them develop a new church structure model that will enable them to reach their Vision of doubling in 2 years.

We continue to have small challenges and also to continue to see God's hand in all of the solutions as they present themselves.

More tomorrow....


Dear OSLC family and friends,

God is good, all the time!

*Our luggage arrived this afternoon!

*We had a fantastic leadership training with 20 + leaders from Florida Norte Church tonight.  The Holy Spirit was very present and working as we shared about leadership structures and the importance of church unity and everyone contributing to God's ministry.

* There were over 90 children at Vacation Bible School today!  And the Florida Norte teachers are leading the entire VBS!

*Our team has a deep appreciation of and love for one another.  God is enabling us to serve Him together and to serve one another.  Thank you for praying!

*You, our senders, keep praying for us and encouraging us!  Thank you for talking to our Heavenly Father on our behalf.

Please pray for...
*Diane to fully recover from some stomach issues.
*Our soccer clinic outreach tomorrow with the Florida Norte volunteers at 10 a.m. and then VBS at 3 p.m. and then the leadership training at 7:30 p.m.
*God to bring unity and joy to the people of Florida Norte Church as they serve Him and that He will work through our presentations with the leaders to continue to develop a strong, Christ-centered ministry
*the many children coming to VBS and the soccer clinics--that they may believe that Jesus loves them! 

Fun and Fellowship!! Look at those smiles!

Joanne and members of Florida Norte Church--Joanne is a wonderful encourager !

Barbara sharing about Godly administration of finances and people's gifts during leadership training

Wendy leading Leadership Trainging presentation on Monday evening

The beautiful people of Bolivia

Team at Cristo Statue overlooking Cochabamba

July 4th , Happy 4th from Barbara

 Let me begin with all luggage, including mine, has arrived in Santa Cruz.  All 11 bags will be on a flight to Cochabamba which will arrive here at 3:00 this afternoon.  Praise God!

Secondly, you have not lived until you are eating breakfast in the garden on the 4th of July while hearing Matthew sing all of our national songs in the shower!!!!!!!

Last evening was AMAZING!  We went to the Sunday evening prayer service at the Florida Norte Church.
We have never been welcomed so openly.  Every person, man , woman and child greeted us with a kiss and a hand shake and huge smile when we arrived.  Early in the service they called us up to the front of the church to introduce us by name.  Once that was done we began to sit down....but oh no that would not do.  They had us in a receiving line where they could each and everyone welcome us again with kisses and hugs.

The people of Florida Norte are Diane's special gift.  They adore her!  We get big smiles...the smiles overtake their faces when they see her.  Mark has all of the children mesmorised. Playing soccer is going to be great fun.

Pastor Jaime and his wife, Ruth and their children could not be nicer!  What a wonderful family!
More later...keep praying!
Love to all,

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rock, Paper Scissors!

Hello everyone,

Well leave it to me to figure out fun games in Spanish! I tried to teach the kids rock, paper, scissors and of course they already knew it. So after losing a few games to Pastor Jaime's son, Evan, they taught us a hand game. It was about10:00pm when we started playing the game while waiting for our food from Frankfurter's. We all had burgers and hot dogs which were quite good. In the the picture is Brenda, Evan and James who are Pastor Jaime and Ruth's children. They are just such wonderful kids and willing to laugh with us!

Thank you all for praying for us it seems like our luggage is now in this country, except for Barbara's bag! We are sure that it will come, Dios Sabe! God is continuing to bless us and sustain us, we will go shopping for some groceries today!

In Christ,


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Team with Pastor Jaime and family at Cochabamba airport

Arriving in Cochabamba

Safe in Cochabamba--luggage still in transit

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hello family and friends!

It is 5 p.m. here in Cochabamba and we are typing from the New Tribes Mission Guest House.  We arrived safely at 11:30 a.m. but our luggage is still on its way--we hope!  This is the first time the entire team's luggage (11 large duffel bags)  has not arrived on a mission field.  So today we went to the market to buy some essentials (you can imagine what those might be) and everyone's had a fantastic attitude--being simple and flexible!

This is a wonderful team and we are enjoying each others' company.   At Logan airport, Joe, the American Airlines gate agent, told us as we were finally checked in that 'Bolivia will never be the same.' Pastor Jaime, his wife Ruth and their 3 children James, Brenda and Evan picked us up from the airport and have been generous hosts to us already.  By the way, did you know that Abel Zabaleta is not yet here as was planned?  He will hopefully now arrive either tomorrow or Tuesday--maybe he will find our luggage along the way!  Tonight we are headed to worship with our brothers and sisters at Florida Norte.  We look forward to praising our faithful God with them and praying for our week's worth of ministry together.  It snowed yesterday and the Andes are snow-capped and spectacular.  The chilly air adds a little complication when we don't have many clothes, but God will see us through!  We have been saying often 'Dios sabe' which translated means 'God knows.' 

Thank you for your prayers.  Please pray for a good rest tonight, for our luggage and ministry materials to arrive tomorrow and for God's grace to sustain us during our days here in this beautiful nation.  Tomorrow we will meet with Pastor Jaime to finalize plans for the week, and conduct our first leaders training session in the evening.  Pray also for Florida Norte's VBS which begins tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.

Blessings to all!
The Bolivia Team