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


Killer Bravo said...

Hi Jodi and DJ! So excited to get you email and I loved see your pictures. What an awesome work God is giving you in such an amazing place. God bless your ministry! I was wondering what language they spoke in the highlands where you are. How long will you be there or is it a permanent move? Have you learned the language? What types of things does your ministry or you personally need that could be sent to you and where should it be sent? I will be praying for you guys. May God bring reasons to smile even in the hard times and may He show you His hand in the good. Hugs! - Kiana Binford

Emily Gibbs said...

Love you guys and can't wait to see you! More importantly, I am so blessed by your sharing. Thank you for the pictures, the encouragement to trust God so fully, and the simple stories like that of Negrito!