Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Independence Day! 2-in-1 update

Happy Fourth of July! …albeit a few days late! We hope that you enjoyed your fireworks and parades. We made a potato salad and boiled field corn to celebrate!

Isn’t it true that God has his people in all parts of the world? We are very thankful for each of you and your sincere prayers for and faithful support of us and the overseas mission work that we are but a small part of. Here are mission updates, part 1 and 2. Enjoy the pictures!


Neither DJ nor I like deadlines, since they tend to push us into overwork mode. Our short time in Bolivia and the long fix-it lists for the three mission planes kept us hopping during May and June.

The first airplane we worked on was the four-seat, Turbo-charged Cessna 182 which we hope to put to work in the highlands of Bolivia. DJ, along with the help of the other pilot, Herman and pilot/mechanic, Steve, got the plane 95% finished. It lacks only a couple more parts to be brought from the States and final pass over the paperwork.

The second plane, a low-wing, four-seat Mooney, has been kept in a crowded, dusty hangar at the national airport in Santa Cruz. The push to get this plane done resulted in a 4:30 am alarm on weekdays and a 6:30-7 am departure in order to miss the morning traffic. We were both glad when the three weeks of work on the Mooney came to a close. Although the repairs were not quite finished, we knew we must leave in order to make our trip to the highlands.

The days in Santa Cruz were very busy with Sundays spent working on the house or helping build Sabbath school classrooms onto the back of the church. I stayed home most days, taking care of the puppy dog that “came with the house,” working more on house fix-its and improvements, and the regulars: cooking, cleaning, laundry, and a 5-10am market trip every Tuesday.

One highlight for me was a Thursday when I went to a Feria (a huge market, the vendors at this one sold used clothing). DJ needed shop rags, so I was going to see what ripped, stained sheets I could find. I met a lady who loaded me up with rag-worthy cloth for a very low price. The next week I returned to give her and her daughter some of my favorite religious books. I left with an invitation to visit them at their house! I hope to go some day.

Although we didn’t finish all the work on the airplanes, it was a blessing to be able to do what we could. We trust that God will finish them in His perfect timing; meanwhile we are excited to be taking a wonderful trip to the highlands of Bolivia (see part 2).

The aviation house and hangar in Santa Cruz
A panorama of the aviation property, runway off to the left
Herman cleans birds nests out of the wings
Yay, a finally clean engine!
All for a workbench!
Transition to working on the Mooney
Hmm, Glad Steve finally "broke down" and
bought a new chain and sprocket...
Braving the rain on the way to the airport
Working in the crowded hangar
House fixits....
So we bought these stools for the house...
but they were too tall so we cut legs off!
"Planning" for our trip to the highlands

The strong sun quickly warms the air and melts the icicles dangling from the leaky faucet outside. Off in the distance, a range of 20K ft. snow-capped mountains lines the eastern horizon. A dry, yet fresh breeze blows gently through our open door. Outside the gate, a large group of villagers have gathered on the dusty road for some kind of town meeting. I understand nothing they’re saying except the occasional “waleke,” which means ‘good’ in their native Aymaran tongue.

We are in Collana, a small village at 13,500 ft. above sea level, nestled at the base of some rather large hills across the high plateau from the eastern range of the Andes. Life is completely different here from in the lowlands. The dry climate results in bright, sunny days and little snow, but the absence of heat in the houses is very noticeable with lows of 10-25 deg. F at night.

I’m very grateful to be here, however cold and dry it may be. Expanding the mission work into the highlands of Bolivia has been one of our dreams for several years now. Ever since we came to Bolivia in January 2011, we’ve hoped for the opportunity to come and work here. God had a slight detour that we needed to take first (to Guyana, 1yr., and then to the US, 2 yrs.) in order to prepare our lives and characters for the work He has for us in the highlands. What a joy to finally visit!

We left Santa Cruz about a week ago on the bus. We spent the weekend at 8,500 ft. near the Adventist University in Cochabamba. We were blessed to see old missionary friends, make new friends, and hike up to a national park where we could see most of the city. This week began with a day in Oruro (unfortunately famous for Carnaval – Mardi Gras equivalent) and continued with travel on busses and minivans, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with certain parts of the big city of La Paz and finally arrive at some more rural areas. God has given us the opportunities to visit and pray for families with sick members, share lunches of new potatoes and fresh cheese, and learn how the people make “chuño,” a naturally made, freeze-dried potato that lasts up to twenty years! Honestly, I really like the highlands of Bolivia!

Our main purpose for this trip was to find out what kind of help the people here need. If they could benefit from an emergency medical aviation program, we would also need to find a place to set up our base of operations. Although we have yet to visit the remote villages, three and four day’s walk from any main road, we plan to meet with some people next week that will be able to give us more information. On a side note, we learned that the Adventist pastor for this area of the country has about 50 congregations under his care. The church members say that they can’t remember when the pastor last came to their church. There are definitely spiritual needs here; please pray that God will show us the best way to reach these special people.

There is a great need for more short-term and long-term missionaries to help the churches grow, to staff Adventist elementary and high-schools (the few that exist), and to exemplify missionary-mindedness and a Christ-like character to the people here (especially the young people). We look forward to the day when God will bring us back here to work with these people full time. Meanwhile, we are praying that others will feel God’s call and join us in the missionary work here in the highlands.

May God bless each one in the work He has given you to do!
Jodi and DJ

Beautiful Cochabamba
Our dear missionary friend, Villisa
Hike up the mountains behind the school in Coach
It's all on a wheelbarrow!
The Colorado-like views on the way up
We visited and prayed for "Grandma Felisa"
who is sick with cancer.
Where life revolves around potatoes

Potatoes drying in the sun

Stomping the soaked potatoes
to remove the skins.

Removing skins from the well-dried chuño
The white potatoes are called "tunta."
They come from the same potatoes, but are dried by a different
process which includes soaking in the river for several weeks. 

The local source of cheese and firewood
with quinoa bundles drying behind
The "campesinos" cook on cow dung fires with clay pots
Cow feed, aka field barley
The new barley harvest stored for the coming year
The Village of Collana
Collana town square
Centro Educativo Adventista San Marcos in Collana
Admin. bldg. at San Marcos Adventist School
The best-looking classroom..
Some run-down "staff" housing with beautiful
Illimani in the background
Early Sunrise
Sunrise over Illimani

House Comes With the Dog

Shortly after DJ and I arrived in Bolivia, we were given the responsibility of taking care of the aviation hangar guard dog. “House comes with the dog,” they said. Let me tell you what, though, I did not want to take care of this nearly full size nine month old black lab puppy. His behavior was out of control and he had this obnoxious whine that he used between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am until someone let him off the chain. Negro, as they named him, was supposed to be a guard dog for the hangar, but the truth was that nobody really wanted him. They were willing to feed him for the security benefit he could give, but I wondered how could he guard the airplanes if he was lose at night, running off chasing birds or playing with the neighbor dogs?

When DJ and I began to take care of Negro, it only took two nights to rid the whining - a bucket of water worked perfectly. Everything was hard at first – teaching Negro patience and manners when eating, playing, and walking. Discipline and consistency were in high demand. But, as the weeks went on, there was more time for love and less need for discipline.

Another missionary’s mom came to visit for a while and was always encouraging us to keep working with the dog. She would also remind us regularly, “You know he loves you!” So Negro became Negrito, ‘sit’ became a regularly obeyed command, and ‘stay’ was catching on quickly.

One day I heard Negro barking at something and went outside to find that the gate in the fence had broken and that our neighbor’s cows had come through. I let Negro off the leash, hoping he’d help me chase the cows back (since chasing cows used to be a pastime of his…). He did a great job and possibly had the best time of his life. He kept running back to me, jumping up high beside me before he returned to go after the next cow. He was so excited that he chased the cows much farther into the pasture than they needed to go! And I had fun too!

We took Negrito to the vet about two weeks ago to get a rabies shot and to get neutered: two things that we thought would better his life. Although no one knows why, our puppy had a bad reaction to either the anesthesia, the combination with the rabies vaccine, or to an unknown cause. During recovery from the surgery, Negro had a seizure and died a few hours later.

I’m sharing this not because it was the center of our mission work here; Rather, I’m sharing it because this experience taught me a lot about God. I have learned how to love more deeply; to love without reserve. All love comes from God, love that we receive and love that we give. I didn’t want to love Negro because his outward behaviors were hard to love, but as we began to show him love, he reciprocated it ten-fold. How could I not love the dog then? When someone loves you, it’s hard not to love them back.

God loves each of us so very much. He looks past our behaviors and sees what we could become if we loved Him back. People often offer superficial love, but God’s love is so much deeper and truer. Negro blossomed when, through the discipline, he saw consistent love. God offers us consistent love, all day, every day. Why not let Him love you and see how it changes your view of love?

Monday, July 7, 2014

God's miraculous timing and His sure providence

I just wanted to share an email correspondence that I had with a dear South African missionary friend a few weeks ago as an encouragement and as a testament of God’s providence and care for His children.

I had been impressed to write to Soné (Sue-nay) one morning, and when I opened up my inbox there was a short message from her. This was my reply…

Hi Soné,

I was just thinking of writing you too! What a coincidence. It was so very nice to see you and your family before you left for Grenada. Maybe one of these days we'll be in the same place for a longer time. Your friendship and warm welcome made the transition back to Bolivia again so much smoother and happier. Thank you many times over!

How are things going for you there? I wanted to email you and encourage you about the cost of food. I know that sounds funny, but I've seen it happen many times when people leave Bolivia (including us) and find the food prices far out of their budgets. But, the lesson we learned in Guyana was that God cares very much about what we need to be healthy and able to serve Him well. Therefore, He wants to and will provide for us.

We were not eating many fruits and vegetables in Guyana for several months because of their limited availability and high cost. Finally, when I was almost in tears, DJ and I decided to spend more money so that we could be happy with what we were eating and prayed that God would provide. And He did provide. When we started spending more money on food, we had more money to spend. In fact, when we moved from Georgetown to the Bethany village and were eating with the school, a similar thing happened and there wasn't enough money in the school's food budget for many fruits and vegetables. We prayed for extra money to help supplement the fruits and vegetables and God provided it. We just spent the money we needed to and always had enough for the other expenses we had. But it kept us on our knees asking for daily bread. It is such a blessing to have inexpensive food here in Bolivia, but please remember and be encouraged that God wants to keep you healthy and happy in Grenada too!


(note: Grenada food costs are at least double US prices and quadruple Bolivian prices…)
And Soné’s reply…

Hi Jodi,

I feel the Holy Spirit worked in a mighty way! The e-mail you sent me was so encouraging, when you mentioned that you wanted to encourage me with the food.

We have not been eating many veggies and fruits since we have been here, due to just not having enough money, and we were thinking and praying about this problem when we received this e-mail of yours. That was like a confirmation from God that we need to buy more veggies and fruit and as you say, to trust that God will provide.

Well, we went to buy some food on Friday, having in mind that we were going to spend extra on more fruit and vegetables. It was a wonderful feeling to buy all the delicious fresh things, and trusting and knowing God will provide. When we got home, someone handed us an envelope. It had more money in it than what we spent on food for the day!

We serve such an awesome God! May we continue to grow and serve our wonderful savior!
from Soné and family