Monday, June 25, 2012

Reflections from Erika

Well its been two days since I got home and I am ready to go back to Bolivia. 
And no its not just because it is 5000 degrees in my house :) 
I cannot thank everyone enough for all the support over the past two weeks
and even before that.  This trip would not have been so successful without all of our
senders!  I think I can speak for the team in saying that we all had an incredible
time in Bolivia and seeing how much Florida Norte has progressed as a church was
encouraging and inspiring to all of us.  Though we have helped Florida Norte over 
the past ten years, I think we as a church can learn a lot from them. 
Please continue to pray for the San Martin family as their organization, dedication,
 love for God and faithfulness has been such a blessing to the Florida Norte church.
 Sometimes I think Pastor has a clone.  He really is running from his house to the 
clinic to the church nonstop so pray to sustain his health and energy! 
And please continue to pray for the people of Florida Norte. 
On the last night when we were hugging and kissing and hugging and kissing again
goodbye, almost everyone told me how they are going to continue to pray for our 
church.  We are their “familia”!! 
Muchisimas gracias una otra vez y Dios Bendiga mis hermanos y hermanas!
With Love, Erika 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kyle's Closing Thoughts

What a fantastic trip! The whole team really experienced God's presence in Bolivia through the Florida Norte Church. The congregation really made big strides thanks to the guidance from last year's team. The different ministries were really passionate about growing their specific mission as well as helping the church to reach their overarching goals.
The soccer ministry was a success as over 50 kids attended over the course of the week, of which half did not attend the church. We hope this evangelism tool can continue to be utilized by the church to help spread the Gospel to unreached kids.
The overall unity of the church was tremendous and our retreat really brought out the best of all ages. Everyone came together really well and had a lot of fun. Those that attended learned a lot about themselves and their gifts.
I really saw divine guidance in this congregation as they seek to move forward as a more unified and God-fearing congregation that seeks to help spread the Love of Jesus.


God's Faithfulness by Barbara


We are home!  After a day of travel made easy by God's grace we are safe. I have not blogged as much as some because of my not feeling well.  That in itself has shown me the power of Jesus.  I am in a foreign land with a foreign parasite and the amount of love and concern I was surrounded by was astounding. The team, the Pastor and his family, the congregation and all of you at could I not feel better!

The people of Florida Norte have a spirit that is unending.  No matter what you are discussing....Church conflict and goals or water balloons or taking a long survey on Spiritual Gifts....EVERY ONE from child to older folks are ardently involved with a spirit I envy.  They are 100% present to the moment. God is so Good!

I thought I would list the God moments we shared on this trip but we would be here all day.  Every day, every turn of our heads we saw them and lived them.  Clear also was their knowledge of and love for all of you, the congregation of their sisters and brothers of OSLC.

I can assure you that all of our congregation's prayers and efforts over the last ten years have multiplied mightily into the lives of so many sweet people of God who needed our friendship, direction and resources to build a fine Church, reach countless people in God's name and establish a direction for the future.  GOD IS SO GOOD!

With love and gratitude,  Barbara

Barbara and two sisters in Christ at Sunday worship services

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Hello from Miami. We are enjoying some more Spanish food in prep for our last flight back home. Thanks for your prayers! The team

Final Thanks

Final greetings from the southern hemisphere, It has been a wonderful time here in Bolivia and we are most thankful to our hosts at the Florida Norte Church, Pastor Jaime and his family's gracious hospitality, and the senders who made this trip possible. We made it to Santa Cruz and are now in the airport waiting for our plane back to Miami. Thank you for all your prayers, 2012 Bolivia Team

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kyle on Monday

It hurts to think that today is our last day in Cochabamba. It has been such a wonderful trip with the members of the Florida Norte Church. We have been tremendously blessed by their hospitality and loving-nature.
Saturday night, the team worshipped with Jovenes (young people). Afterwards we went onto the new roof of the church, made a fire, and roasted marshmallows. It was a wonderful time of fellowship as we shared jokes and stories and just appreciated being together surrounded by the beauty of Cochabamba.
Yesterday we went to morning church, sang songs and listened to Pastor discuss the meaning of Jesus being King of our life. The team got to spend some time with the Sunday School program which is mainly run by the Jovenes. It was fun to reiterate the lessons discussed during the week’s programs. We sang songs and just joined together on a blessed Sunday together in worship.
After church we went to a steakhouse with the San Martin family. It was wicked awesome, because the servers came around with huge pieces of delicious beef, pork, sausage, oh and about ten different kinds of beef too. Absolutely delicious!
Before the night church service I played volleyball with my 3 amigos from the 2007 trip (Raul, Ariel, and Alejandro) as well as with many members of the Florida Norte Church. Playing with them and sharing our lives with one another was certainly a highlight of my trip.
At the night service, we were blessed to hear many solo singers and traditional Bolivian bands play. Their passion and love were so very clear in all their actions. Matthew preached on putting on the armor of God to prepare ourselves for the good fight. At the close of the evening, gifts were distributed between us and the church. They blessed us with beautiful sweaters, sweater vests, winter hats, purses, and Bolivian soccer jerseys. We gave the church soccer balls, children’s bibles, devotions, puppets, and evangelism resources.
After they sang an early happy birthday to Mateo, the church lined up for final hugs and kisses: a very touching and cheerful time of thanksgiving.
Its sad to be leaving tonight, but it has been an unbelievable week here.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Florida Norte church's young adults with Kyle and Erika--the young adult service was Saturday night followed by a campfire complete with smores that we brought for the jovenes! (young adults)

Erika helping one of the hermanas en Cristo (sisters in Christ) fill out the spiritual gift survey at the church retreat.

God's faithfulness on Saturday at the church leaders retreat from Erika

Saturday evening, June 16

Hola mi familia!

Well it’s Saturday evening and I cannot believe we only have two more days here in Cochabamba!  Today was a beautiful and perfect day for our retreat with Florida Norte.  We all took a big autobus to a seminary oasis where we did a bunch of team building activities, took a survey on our strengths or gifts, praised Dios for our time together and, no surprise here, eat eat EAT!! 

We started off with the human knot which was quite a riot.  We had hermanas and hermanos jumping over the arms of teens to try to entangle themselves.  Hermanos talking to Kyle in Spanish and Kyle talking to his team in English, it was definitely a funny sight.  One team was at it for a good twenty minutes and we had to call it quits as they refused to give up... it was true dedication!  Next off was the water balloon toss which everyone loved so much we had to do it a second time after lunch.  The second time we got into single file lines and passed a water balloon to the last person in line who then had to throw the balloon over everyone to the first person in line.  I think everyone was rolling on the ground laughing when Mateo did not squat low enough and got a direct hit on his head.  Pastor even decided to join in, well we thought, but he decided to just launch water balloons at everyone.

Everyone was very into the surveys that we passed out in which helped distinguish each person’s strength.  There was about 70 questions to answer.  I think I was walking around for 30 min helping people fill it out and answering questions as everyone wanted to make sure they were doing it right.  Mateo then went through how these surveys highlight your strengths so that you can identify what ministries you should consider being involved in.  For anyone who has been to Florida Norte, it was no surprise to any of us that the majority raised their hand for the gift of hospitality J

Thank you everyone who has been praying for us.  As you can see through these pictures, Florida Norte has grown as a congregation in many many ways.  Their love for God is so strong and I feel so blessed to get to see it for a third time.  As I shared in my testimony today, I feel that the encouragement they give me is way more than anything I can give them.  I have also been blessed to get to meet the San Martin family and as Barbara says “you must be sick of us now because I am sick of us”.  Clearly they are dedicated troopers and I can’t thank all that Pastor Jaime has done for us both medically and spiritually.  Also James who has literally been with us every minute and has devoted this entire week for serving our needs and Ruth who helped me explain my nutrition lecture to the women’s ministry.  So please continue to pray for the San Martin family as their work here has been incredible!       

Dios Bendiga! Un abrazo fuerte a todo,


Barbara and some of the young adult leaders of Florida Norte at the church retreat on Saturday

Mateo getting hit by water balloon during team building exercises at Saturday's church retreat

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday in Bolivia from Barbara

Friday, June 15


Today Erika and I were honored to attend the Woman’s Ministry Meeting at the Church.  About 25 women meet to plan to do God’s work, to pray and to sing.  Erika provided a fantastic 20 minute session on nutrition.  The women ate it up.  They were taking notes and asking questions and were sorry that potato chips were not a healthy food.  We ended the session by giving them groups of vegetable seeds that Judy Terhune provided for us.(Thanks, Judy)  You would think we gave them hundreds of dollars.  And we told them that we have hundreds of these seed packets for them to use as an outreach to the neighboring community.  Again, it was like Christmas morning in America!  God is so good!  Love to you all, Barbara

Erika walking with some of the soccer clinic kids to the church

Kyle and James--brothers in Christ. James has been our translator each day. He is studying engineering at the local university and is fluent in English.

Pastor Jaime San Martin, Ruth, James, Brenda and Ivan--gifts from God to Florida Norte Church and our OSLC team

God is working--a testimony from Mateo

Friday, June 15 in the evening

Much love and many thanks to all of you for your prayers!  We are incredibly grateful for them and you are standing with us in this mission through your prayers. 

God has been extremely faithful!  The leadership training evenings have been refreshing and filled with the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.  God is growing this congregation in numbers and in love for Jesus.  Barbara has been a huge blessing in her teaching and encouragement, despite being ill.  She has persevered and is improving in her health—and we are so thankful that Pastor Jaime is also a Doctor.  She has still been able to participate in most of our team activities and has contributed so much.  Please continue to pray for her as we have three more big days of ministry ahead of us.

Kyle and Erika have done an outstanding job in working with some of the young adults of the Florida Norte church in hosting the soccer outreaches.  Many, many children and teens have come to play soccer and then for an hour long program at the church—and the number of un-churched children coming is almost half—so they are learning of Christ’s love for them as our theme is Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Kyle and Erika have also contributed in the leadership training sessions, orphange ministry, Erika shared about nutrition to the women of the church this afternoon, and both of them have bonded with the three children of Pastor Jaime's family (James who is 20, Brenda who is 19 and Ivan who is 14).  James and Ivan especially love Kyle and consider him a new brother. James has been a great translator for us during all of our ministry activities and Erika has been a gift from God as well--her Spanish es fantastico!

This is a fabulous team.  Barbara, Kyle and Erika love Jesus deeply and also love the children, teens and adults of the Florida Norte Church.  I am honored to serve alongside all of them.

Tonight (Friday night) was a special time with 25 of their church leaders as we took them out for ice cream at Dumbo’s restaurant and gave them each a daily Bible devotion, for which they were so grateful.  As a congregation they are committed to reach others with the love of Christ and live out His love among one another.

The people of Florida Norte send their love and prayers to all of you at Our Savior Lutheran Church and so many more who are praying!  Tomorrow is a day-long church retreat focused on helping them define their spiritual gifts and then sharing ways that they can use those gifts in service to God in the church and in the community.

A special greeting to the OSLC Guatemala team as you are preparing to leave on Tuesday.  We are praying for you!

We love you all!  Dios te bendiga!
Matthew (Mateo)

El Cristo

Barbara discussing Conflict Resolution

La Clinica de Futbol

Two Chicas

Barbara on Thursday


Many blessings are happening in Cochabamba!  Each day begins with our morning devotions and
encouragement of each other.  What a blessing Matthew is to everyone here.  The Bolivians are short, dark skinned people who see this tall, light skinned man and respond to him immediately.  He makes the children’s faces light up and the Church leaders eat up every word of his instructing. God is so Good!

One of my favorite moments was the orphanage visit where we were able to bring an hour of joy to several young girls whose lives have included sexual abuse and abandonment in the street.   The loving hearts of Kyle and Erika reached out to them like family, Matthews portrayal of the crazy peacock had them belly laughing….something they hardly do.

I want to send a message to the last year’s team, Wendy, Mark, Joanne and Diane,  If you have any doubt that we made an impact in the administration of this Congregation…..doubt no more.  They heard every word we said and have put it all into action.  They are so appreciative and have made so much progress in their Church being able to serve the Lord.  It is amazing!

Yesterday I got the blessing of doing the outreach in the park with the children, followed by the Church activities that are fun and welcoming to the children and give all of the team a place to shine.  Last evening the talk to the Church leaders was about resolving conflict.  Matthrew and I role played a conflict between us and the congregation loved it.  We used a model Wendy McAdam gave us of 2 ovals intersecting, one being my opinion and one being Matthews.  The overlap was the issues we agreed upon.  They were engrossed and offered several pieces of advice for us to solve our differences.  At the end of the evening one of the Church leaders came to Matthew and told him that this drawing was very meaningful and would help them in their future.

It is very clear here that we …the cureent and past teams and the congregation of OSLC…the are appreciated and loved and that what we bring them has helped them.  Last evening Matthew and I both thought that we want to bring some of what they have to teach us back to Topsfield.

To all you sender, mucho gracias!    Barbara