Today marks one year of living in the city of La Paz. We've experienced every season, every parade, and nearly every holiday. It has been a great place to get our feet on the ground, but there hasn't been a day when we've been eager to move out to the country.
Our medical trips in November helped us zero in on an area to start serving. This, in turn, has helped us narrow the search for a base. Every area we've explored so far has lacked at least one of the important elements on our list: road access both to a city and the area to be served, decent flying weather, and lower elevation. So as 2015 came to an end we were still in La Paz.
Upon arriving in Bolivia after our trip to the States, we hurried to get Samson back on the road. We had spotted another place on the map that held a lot of promise, and oh the name, Independencia!
Our hopes were high as we traversed the ridges and wound down into a narrow valley full of agriculture and Eucalyptus trees. As we pulled up to the town plaza we could almost taste the Independence on the fresh evening air despite cramped legs and necks. The distance from La Paz had been covered in about 10 hours, but our real interest was the in the said "3.5 hours" remaining to reach Cochabamba. If it were really only 3.5 hours, this cute mountain town would be close enough to a major city at lower elevation with an international airport.
The next day we arrived in Cochabamba much later than we had anticipated. Having averaged less than 15 mph for six hours over a less-than-average mountain road, we were fairly certain that Independencia was not going to work. In Cochabamba we took time to look at a property very close to the city that also turned out to be a dead end. Despite these apparent failures we encouraged each other as we retraced our steps. Surely God would have an open door soon.
A few days later, I was scouring Google Earth. The people we met on our medical trips had been surprised at our coming in from La Paz since they said that Cochabamba was closer at only 13 road hours away. It was hard to imagine how this could be possible. Had I heard wrong? The route through Independencia, like the one from La Paz, would certainly take 18+ hours. Besides, a dangerous and bridgeless section of river barred the way.
As I scrutinized the satellite images, I noticed another road cutting off from a pass that we had crossed just an hour or so outside of Cochabamba. This other road climbed to a highland area and ran north for miles on high ground. I traced it expecting to find a dead end at the large Sacambaya River. What I saw made me jump up and run to find Jodi, waving the phone wildly – a bridge! This must be the way they were talking about!
We are prayerfully exploring our options in this area of the country with hopes that it could be what God has planned for the project. If any of you would like to join us on a medical missionary backpack trip and try out that bridge, please let us know!
In December, the rest of our team joined with a group of high-schoolers from a mission school in the jungle for a special mission trip. They spent a week at the southern end of the altiplano in the town of Cotagaita where they assisted in a VBS, gave health talks, and helped in several important construction phases of a small Adventist church.
Sharing at AU with the Aviation Majors.
Blessings North of the Equator
It was truly a blessing to be north of the equator for a while. We were able to connect with family, old friends and new friends. When we share what God is doing here in Bolivia, it really helps us stay focused on His blessings.
So after four short weeks full of presentations and preparations for our return to Bolivia, we boarded a plane back "home." The ticketing agent was extremely nice and, after a bit of shuffling, let us take many more pounds of goods to Bolivia than is normally allowed on the airlines for no extra charge.
On our last trip the police pulled us over for going "110 km/hr" in an 80km/hr zone. We all chuckled a little as we explained politely to the policeman that his radar must have recorded something else as Samson's top speed going downhill is only 100 km/hr.
A few minutes later an embarrassed policeman told us he couldn't write us a ticket because he didn't have a pen.
Thankfulness often comes at the most silly of times!
We really appreciate your help and encouragement this past three months as we began medical trips into the remote villages! We wish you God's blessings as you continue in the paths He has for you.
This project is funded entirely by donations. If you'd like to be a part, we accept tax-deductible donations through Gospel Mission Aviation, Inc.
Donations can be given: - Link on the "Donate" page of our website - PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Check: P.O. Box 2358, Collegedale, TN 37315 Please include a note stating "Bolivia Highlands - Knott."
100% of your donations go directly to our project, less CC & PayPal fees (~3%). Thanks for being the wind in our sails and the oxygen for our fire!