Friday, April 21, 2017

Floods, Failure and Faith




DJ & Jodi's March Update

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Floods, Failure & Faith


The rising panic I've been fighting for hours cracks and the narrowest trickle of thankfulness begins to seep through. I wipe a spot clear on the fogged windshield for what seems like the thousandth time. Through the driving rain I can just make out the shape of the Land Cruiser in the weak glow of the Suburban's headlights. It sits forlornly on the side of the muddy track, engine dead, lights out, for at least the sixth time in the 2 miles since we left the paved road.  This is the sign I asked for. At least I have a little confidence that God has His hand in this.


Mario and Alex brave the frigid rain to help me make a 10 point turn on the narrow road. We hook a tow strap to the Land Cruiser and climb back into the heater-less vehicles, wet and shivering, to head back towards civilization.

As the blurred lights of the nearest town grow slowly bigger in the windshield, I can't help but critique the decisions that have brought us to this moment. It was our biggest trip yet but the plan hadn't seemed particularly bold. Our goal: reach the two remote villages on the boarders of the Uyuni salt lake with a team of seven medical professionals. These 4x4 accessible villages are isolated 3 months a year by flooding. A week before we started the trip, I confirmed that the unpredictable seasonal rains had not yet begun. The fact that I had subsequently lost all contact with the villagers was a little worrisome, but less worrisome than the thought of breaking a promise. A sharp jerk on the towrope reminds me to focus on the present. Finding a dry place to sleep for 9 tired people and a safe place for the vehicles, needs to be at the front of my prayers right now.

A day and a half later, after fixing the Land Cruiser (another story altogether), we are back on the road, nearing the borders of the salt lake under a flawless blue sky. Llamas and wild vicuna feed on fresh greenery between the large puddles while flamingos wade the shallows, heads down, moving at the same rhythmic pace as the grazers. As we crest the last small hill, the flooded plain stretches to the horizon broken by conical adobe huts scattered here and there, each on a patch of dry ground. It is abundantly obvious that we never would have reached our goal two nights before. After two rainless days the water is only inches below the raised roadbed and in the lower places it covers the road for short sections. The confirmation of God's leading lifts my spirits. This would be no place for travel on a dark, rainy night.

By early afternoon we find ourselves only an hour or two short of our destination village and facing our first large section of water-covered road. It looks about six inches deep and 300 feet across. There are rivers ahead that we will need to carefully check for depth, but this appears shallow. Jodi takes the lead in Samson with two of the volunteers. A collective gasp rises inside the Suburban as the rest of us watch the Land Cruiser plunge into an unseen hole, water washing over the hood. After 10 seconds of eternity, the yellow jeep emerges from the other side in a cloud of steam. Grateful for being spared a hydro-locked engine and not wanting to risk the vehicles needlessly, I wade ahead with some of the volunteers to see if conditions are different farther on. What we find is conclusive: The road disappears into the flooded plains and the few locals braving the water on foot or motorcycle tell us that the rivers ahead are unpassable. There is no hope of the team reaching our destination villages without an airplane. 

On the long ride home there was plenty of time for questions.
Do we understand all the whys of not reaching our goal? No, but neither did Paul when the Spirit did not permit him to go into Bithynia.
Was God with us?  We have unmistakable evidence the He was.
Will we try again when God gives us another opportunity? Certainly!

I'm reminded of Paul's counsel to the Corinthians, counsel that we can all take to heart especially in the face of apparent failure.
 
"Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:58 
Please pray with us for God's continued leading and guidance in this project. And for an airplane.

P.S. Samson lived to fight another day with only a blown exhaust gasket.

DJ, Jodi & Hadassah

Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
GospelAviation.org

Super Cub
1st Phase:
Airframe Kit from Javron Aviation

$30,000 raised!

On our latest trip we drove 50 hours on back roads and slept out three nights. The airplane could have done the same job in one day with only 3 hours of flying.
Sponsor Part of the Rescue Cub

Vehicle

Campaign

$15,000 donated!

Goal reached! We are hoping to spend around $13,000 on a larger, diesel vehicle. The extra $2000 will cover tires and fix-ups. Please pray for God to show us His will and timing. In the meanwhile some friends have sacrificially offered to loan their vehicle when necessary.

Top Project Needs:

1. Airplane - Super Cub
We have streamlined our Super Cub Campaign and prioritized the most essential pieces to get this airplane in the air!  Help us reach our first phase goal ($27,000 remaining)
2. Paperwork Renewal to be able to be in Bolivia ($1,850)
Be a Financial Missionary - Sponsor an Item

 Thank You!
1. Medical Work ($500)

2. General Expenses

3. Super Cub ($30K)

Join our Prayer Team and see how God is answering your prayers on a weekly basis!

Sign up by clicking the link below:
Join the Prayer Circle


 ...and last but not least we had a BABY!

This project is funded by donations.


If you'd like to be a part, we accept tax-deductible donations through:

Gospel Mission Aviation, Inc.


Donate via:

     - PayPal: (donate2gma@gmail.com)

     - Check: P.O. Box 2358, Collegedale, TN 37315

Please include a note stating "Bolivia Highlands - Knott" or your project of choice.



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Friday, March 10, 2017

A Drought in Watertown




DJ & Jodi's February Update

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A Drought in Watertown

 

Where is Umamarca in all this fog? I stop to catch my breath, searching for the vague shapes of the packhorses on the mountain above. In Aymara the name means "the village with much water." During our October visit the village had been in an annual drought and we were scooping stagnant water from a small hole behind Pascual's adobe hut. Now it is February and the lush vegetation soaks us from the knees down as we switchback up through the darkening drizzle. There is no doubt that Umamarca will live up to its name this time.


The next morning, dry and warm in the mountain sunshine, I'm still thinking about water. The village leaders Pascual, Mario and Fermin are the first to arrive at the schoolhouse. While the dentist's first injection of anesthesia is taking effect, I pray with the team and we read from the Bible. Psalm 1 "…He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season…" and Jeremiah 17 "…Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…For he shall be like a tree….which spreads out its roots by the river…and will not fear when heat comes…and will not be anxious in the year of drought…" We talk about the living object lesson that we saw in the valleys we crossed yesterday with Fermin. The biggest, strongest trees grow down where the rivers run unceasingly. The men listen stoically and I dare not guess how they are receiving this.

As the stars come out, Alex and I sit in the dim light of a lantern with our generous helpings of potato soup. The rest of the group is staying with another family farther up the hill. Our conversation pours back over the events of the day. More than just the supply of water has changed here since our previous visits. This time our team arrived with the help of the village chief and his horses. Fermin has already promised help for the return trip tomorrow. Though this collaboration is a first for the people of Umamarca, that isn't all. Today Leandra's daughter asked for prayer over her newborn baby and Mario told me he wanted to be baptized! The way these pieces of trust and openness blindsided me is a reminder of how little I understand of this culture.

We both look up as the rough door bellows on it's wooden hinges and our host comes in. At 30, Pedro is the youngest man in the village, but I have some clues that despite his youth and quiet manner, he is a leader. He sits down next to Alex, and brushing off our attempts at small talk, uncharacteristically gets right to his point. "We want to be baptized." I try to find my tongue but he continues. "You know there used to be an Adventist church here; it has fallen down and there is nothing left. We have drifted away from God." Alex and I still haven't recovered from the first shock so he goes on, "My Dad was a believer before he died. I was baptized too. We want to come back to God.… The people are ready to rebuild the church."

He continues telling us of the days when Adventists walked hours from Quiñouma, Vacas and Vischachani to worship with the Umamarcans. As I listen to the thickly accented Spanish my mind turns back with painful clarity to our first visit in 2015 when we were almost turned away by the village leaders.

Suddenly the theme of water, that I haven't been able to forget for these last two days, comes clearly into focus. We had noticed how the rains brought new life and growth to Umamarca, ending the annual drought. But until this moment we were unaware of the gentle showers of the Holy Spirit, doing something far more wonderful in hearts and souls.

DJ, Jodi & co.
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
GospelAviation.org

Super Cub
1st Phase:
Airframe Kit from Javron Aviation

$26,000 raised!

On our last trip we heard a sad report of a life that would have likely been saved by a medical flight and surgery. Keep praying for this life-saving airplane to be a reality.
Sponsor Part of the Rescue Cub

Vehicle

Campaign

$15,000 donated!

Goal reached! We are hoping to spend around $13,000 on a larger, diesel vehicle. The extra $2000 will cover tires and fix-ups. Please pray for God to show us His will and timing. In the meanwhile some friends have sacrificially offered to loan their vehicle when necessary.

Top Project Needs:

1. Airplane - Super Cub

Soon we will be streamlining our Super Cub Campaign and prioritizing the most essential pieces to get this airplane in the air!
Be a Financial Missionary - Sponsor an Item

 Thank You!
1. Generator, Air Compressor & Portable Dental Unit ($3,500)

2. Vehicle ($15,000)

3. Super Cub (Ongoing)

Join our Prayer Team and see how God is answering your prayers on a weekly basis!

Sign up by clicking the link below:
Join the Prayer Circle


This project is funded by donations.


If you'd like to be a part, we accept tax-deductible donations through:

Gospel Mission Aviation, Inc.


Donate via:

     - PayPal: (donate2gma@gmail.com)

     - Check: P.O. Box 2358, Collegedale, TN 37315

Please include a note stating "Bolivia Highlands - Knott" or your project of choice.