Friday, January 28, 2011

Bienvenidos a Bolivia

We got here Thursday morning at about 9:00 am after an overnight flight. We had no problems with customs. They only opened two suitcases and didn´t find anything amiss. Steve and Helen, other missionaries, picked us up at the airport and carted us around for the day. We made it to the market, exchanged money, went to the TV station and met people there, started work on our 1 year residencies, took official government photographs, ate some little mangoes, came to the house where we will be staying for a little while, and eventually crashed under a mosquito net, exhausted. We´re staying with a family from South Africa at a lovely little place outside of town.


A city in the highlands near La Paz.


El Alto, the city on the edge of the plateau near La Paz.


The Yunga Mountains, on the way down from La Paz.


Our first look at the Lowlands, also known as the "Beni."

Off we go!

We just took off from the Miami airport on American 922 bound for Santa Cruz, Bolivia with a stop in La Paz as I write this. The last few days might be likened to taco salad, though we much prefer life to be a neat and tidy haystack. God has been good to us, giving us encouragement and peace. And He has listened to and answered the prayers of those of you who have been praying for us. Thank you!!
Quick Recap...

We moved out of our apartment in Michigan a week ago today and traveled to Tennessee a week ago Thursday. It was a very l-o-n-g trip (18hrs.) due to bad roads but God kept us safe and awake.

Our visas arrived last Friday, fixed and ready for travel.
Mailed off our marriage certificate...we found out Friday that it has to be translated, notarized, certified, and legalized (each step done at a different place) in order to get our 1 year residency/visas. Thankfully, Tara Swanepole, another GMI missionary in Bolivia, is in the States and is helping get those steps underway before she and her husband go back to Bolivia in mid-February.

We spent some time with Jeff Sutton, the Bolivia projects coordinator. He was in Collegedale and helped us with banking things. DJ also helped him with some maintenance on his Aerostar plane.

Then there were taxes to file... Who files taxes in January? ... Anyways, after tracking down all the necessary documents and revisiting the tax forms many times, we filed them this afternoon at 2:15 pm, 15 minutes before we left for the airport. Relief.

And we mustn´t leave out packing. The big question was DJ´s toolbox. DJ was advised not to take it, but could really benefit by having it down there. We still weren´t sure how we´d pack it. Wednesday morning when we were packing, DJ checked online and found out that we couldn´t take overweight suitcases (>50lbs) or boxes to Santa Cruz. The toolbox was both overweight and would need to be packed in a box. So it will remain in Tennessee.

The rest of our belongings were successfully packed into 4 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 backpacks. Although we had tried to weigh the suitcases at home, each one was over 50 lbs. by a pound or two when we checked them at the airport. God led us to the right check in clerk though, and he let ALL of them go with no charge or hassle! The next prayer is for customs in Bolivia. We are reminded that all we have is the Lord´s and that He knows what we will need. We trust that He will continue to be faithful as he has been and help us get through customs without lining the pockets of the customs agens unknowingly through ¨required¨ fees.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Visas

The last few days have been a scurry of goodbyes, packing, cleaning, and finishing up projects. With our trip to Bolivia less than two weeks away, the list seems to go like this: add two, scratch one, add two, and scratch another one. Nevertheless, God will find a way to make it all work out in His timing.

God's perfect timing is a good match for a lesson in patience. Our visas are a great example! In order to obtain a specific purpose visa, one must have a plane ticket and allow 2 to 3 weeks for processing. In early January we had been waiting for some donated money that was being sent to us for purchasing tickets. At the "3-weeks-until-leaving" date, the money still hadn't arrived. We tried to figure out what was happening and learned that the money was finally on its way (as of that day). We did a money shuffle (parents are wonderful :) and bought tickets. The next day we got the final pieces of our visa paperwork together and mailed the passports and papers off. We were happily surprised when they arrived back in a week! . . . upon opening the passports a small problem was found. DJ's passport had "Jodi Knott" written on the visa along with his picture and Jodi's passport had "David Knott" written beside her picture. Hmm, and it was stamped right in the passport! We couldn't help but chuckle. So they were sent back to the consulate and are being reprocessed. Lovely lessons in patience. . .
God has given us peace and lots of good friends and supportive family members to help us remember that when God wills for something to happen, we must leave it in His hands and trust Him with the results.

Bolivia, here we come!

God's call was clear: to take the gospel to the people of Bolivia through volunteer mission service.

In November we applied and were accepted to Gospel Ministries International. God has worked it out so that we will be able to leave at the end of January. We believe that God has a work for us to do in the highlands of Bolivia (also called the Bolivian "altiplano"). We plan to spend the first few months in the lowlands, however, helping further establish an aviation maintenance facility at GMI's recently constructed RedAdvenir media center just outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Our goal from there is to relocate to the highlands near Lake Titicaca and La Paz to begin medical, educational, and humanitarian ministries.

Please pray for us as we prepare to go. We'll try and keep this blog updated as best as we can!