Saturday, March 11, 2006


What a good week this has been. Not only have I been seeing the sites in Tarija, but also all around the country surrounding here. We've gone for a number of drives and have seen many things. It is all so beautiful - we are so surrounded by God's incredible creation. The area around Tarija here is known as the Drumheller of Bolivia - it is the badlands capital area of Bolivia. It is astounding! The mountains surrounding the area are high but with no snow - snow is never on these mountains. It has rained quite a bit this week and so everything is so lush and green. It hasn't rained too much though, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to go on these drives. The above 2 pictures are of the lake by the dam. It was not very high right now so there was absolutely no water coming out of the dam. When the water is high, the crops and land near the water will be completely flooded. You'll notice at the top picture that part of the farmer's land and crop are in water but not all of it. The people always plant very close to the water and hope that it never floods too badly.

We had driven to this one park outside of Tarija where a family was washing clothes and having a bath. The little boy was completely naked and having a blast. The picnic shelters were bamboo shelters and the picnic tables were made out of stone and cement. In one of the shelters, a homeless man was sleeping on the cement. Other people were having picnics and cooking food over the fires. Many have their meals here because they don't have a kitchen to cook in. It was all so interesting to watch but it also made me so thankful and grateful for what we have at home - thankful for all the things we take for granted; sinks, washing machines, drinking water, stoves, fridges, bed, name it - we take a lot for granted.
Along the road, you would see these colorful little drink and snack stands that you could buy something at - they were always bright colors. It was neat.

One day we had gone out to the vineyards to see the grapes. I had never seen a vineyard so close before - it's beautiful! The grapes looked real good. We drove through this small rundown town to get there and so I took a few pictures there as we drove through. People live so simply there and very down to earth with none of our gadgets that we are so used to back home. Again, I could've just watched them for a while because it was all so interesting. While we were out there, the storm clouds were gathering and you could see storms happening in the mountains surrounding us. Everywhere you look when you're out in the country, it's like you're driving near Drumheller with all the canyons and ridges. It's beautiful!

On Friday, we had taken a hike up to some falls not far from here. What incredible beauty! It was so quite and serene - just breathtaking!! We were the only ones on the trail. They had me hopping rocks, jumping over falls, and wading through the river and walking on narrow rugged mountain trails. The city girl was out in the country - the real country, all rugged and quiet. And was it ever hot! I really enjoyed that time even if it was very stretching for me - jumping those falls and hopping those rocks were completely out of my comfort zone. I was quite nervous at times but they were very patient with me and didn't laugh at me too much. :-)

Well, today I said good-bye to many people here. It was a day of mixed emotions for me. Tonight, after church many of the people took me out for burgers for a farewell. That was very nice - I enjoy all of these people so much. They've made me feel so welcome and I've felt like part of their family. They prayed that someday I will come back because now I have a family here as well. That's the beautiful part about being a part of God's family - it's worldwide!! It was good to be with them one more time before I leave. It's always hard to say good-bye and yet I know I will be seeing my family at home soon. But first, I must complete another adventure that God will take me on. That will be to spend a week near Santa Cruz, Bolivia visiting relatives that I've never met on the Mennonite Colonies. My dad is really hoping I'll be able to find his brother that he hasn't seen in 46 years and the good Lord willing, I hope to do that for him. It should be good. So far this whole trip has been in God's Hands and it will continue to be so. God knows exactly what is going to happen and so I know I just need to trust in Him to take care of me through this next week's adventure and to get me home. I am looking forward to the second part of my journey here to Bolivia. Thank you for your many prayers for me back home. I have felt many of them and I know God is here with me and also looking after my family back home while I'm away. A verse that often comes to mind in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you you hope and a future." In my devotions the other day I read about how God looks after those who put their trust in Him and He cares for those who love and obey Him and how we will be rewarded for trusting in Him (1 Peter 1:3-9). Those verses were very comforting to me. I do love God so much and I desire to live for Him. There are times that I fail at obeying Him but I keep on getting up when I fall and I try again. He is so faithful at loving me through the difficult times and forgiving me when I repent of my wrongdoing or my pride. His Hand is always there to guide me through and I love to find out what He has planned for me each day. God is good!

(Sorry folks, I've tried numerous times to put more photos on this section but it's just not workin. I'll add some photos to another section as a continuation of this one. :-) I'm just not enough of a computer genius to figure out why I can't add any more pics.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Life here in Tarija is very interesting to me. There are so many things to see, so many different people to watch, it is such a different and unique way of life than I am used to. I have so enjoyed watching the
children walking to or from school in their uniforms, the babies wrapped in blankets hanging on their mothers backs, the women dressed in the traditional dress, the young boys pushing their carts of goods to sell on the street, the seamstresses sewing on simple sewing machines in their small shops just off the sidewalk, the women with long long hair in braids hanging down their backs, the women who sell fresh fruit and veggies on the streets..... It is all so interesting to me. It is good to see so many people trying so hard to make a living, so many own a cart to try and sell something or fix your shoes, or backpacks....

One hike Colleen and I had gone on, we had climbed up a hill that overlooks the city - it had a strange looking statue at the top and a graveyard. This graveyard was your typical graveyard with the graves beneath the ground, but usually here in Tarija, the dead are put in cement boxes and laid on top of the ground. It will be interesting to see one yet. Down this one side
street, there was this couple sitting outside of their home and they just looked so in love. I had Colleen ask them if they would mind if I took their picture. The lady laughed nervously and straightened her hair. I took the picture and then showed them. In English, the man said 'thank you.' I really enjoyed taking that picture.

One time when we walked through the square, there were young girls with colorful dresses on promoting the grapes that are grown around the area. It is now grape season here and the grapes are ready to be harvested. It'll be interesting to go to one of these vineyards sometime this week. The square was also full of pigeons and small children running after them. You could buy some seed to feed the birds and it was so enjoyable watching the children run after the birds and making them frantically fly away. It was hilarious!! I could've sat there for a long time watching all the people milling around, talking and relaxing.

On the 7th, we had gone on a drive and a hike and God gave me some wonderful photos to take - many with my other camera so right now I can't put them on this ite because they are on film and I have to wait for another 3 weeks before I get them developed. This is a long time to wait for me to see these pictures. That is always a test of patience for me. :-) What beautiful country we were surrounded by. I just couldn't get enough of the beauty around me and was so extremely thankful for the opportunity to go on this drive and to see more of God's incredible creation.

On another drive we had taken around the city, we had gone to a beautiful garden which had numerous, beautiful flowers. We got many great shots. There was also a young mother with 2 little ones - they were precious. Larry asked her if I could take a picture of her children and she gladly agreed. Her little boy then called after us and asked us if they could somehow get a copy of the picture. Larry took this opportunity to tell her about El Candelero and she's going to come by there sometime to get this picture of her kids. We planted a seed - it was such a good feeling to know that God will be using this photo to introduce her to the Gospel when she walks into El Candelero. That was so cool!

Earlier in the week, I was asked to share part of my testimony at a prayer meeting at El Candelero on Monday night. That was very good for me - if was different because my English had to be translated into Spanish so that it could be understand by the people that were there. I always love to share what God has been doing in my life and where He has brought me from. It was very unique in this situation because Colleen and her family are people from my past that have had great influence in my life and have been a wonderful example to me of a Christian family and a true Christian friend. It was very good to share that with these people that Larry & Colleen are ministering to and sharing the Gospel of Christ - people that they are trying to reach for the Lord - people that they are doing the Lord's work for. I was honored to be a part of that prayer meeting even though most of it was in Spanish. It was not important for me to understand every word because God hears it all! It was a very unique, wonderful experience.
I was also honored to have a couple of my SK pictures used in church during singing - it really moved me to see my photos (God's photos) being used across the nation to help in spreading the Gospel and reaching the nations for Christ. It brought tears to my eyes because I had always had such a desire to serve God in any area I could with the gift of photography that He's given me. What a blessing it was to see the photos with Spanish praise songs up on the screen and hearing these wonderful voices singing their praises to God - it was beautiful! God was there! He was moving in that service and it was an honor to be a part of it.

Today, I had gone with a young gal, Nineth, from El Candelero and she had shown me around the city some more. She is learning to speak English so it was good for her to practice with me. We had gone to
a park near the airport - she said that was the airport for the rich and the bus station was the airport for the poor. That was funny. :-) At this park there was a large painted board picture/statue of
the Pope overlooking part of the city. There was a really nice park
for kids with a large dinosaur slide - my kids would've liked it. There were a couple of ladies selling some deep fried pastry type thing - it reminded me of a large rollkuchen from back home. When we were coming away from there, the side street that we were driving down had a group of small children playing. We stopped and they came running up to the car wanting me to take 'foto's' of them. The were so incredibly cute!! I got out and took pictures of them and they just giggled as they saw the pictures of themselves on my camera. They didn't want me to stop. :-) My friend took one of me with the group of kids - they were so sweet.

Another park she had taken me was on the other side of the city and overlooked a poorer area of town. This one was called Tarija la Linda and had a large statue of a horse and rider overlooking part of the city. At the time that we were there, there was a man cleaning it. It was very beautiful.

One morning, we had driven through a large marketplace in a poorer part of the city. Was it ever busy!! There were people everywhere! We hadn't gotten out of our vehicle, we just slowly drove through. I got some pretty cool shots though. It was all so interesting. It amazes me how many people will try their own businesses. You name it and they will try and sell it - from shoes, to clothes, to beads, to fruit, to drinks.....Many, many try to sell something. It is good.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Well, after spending an unexpected night in Miami, I arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia. What a beautiful city! A wonderful I met on the airplane gave me a ride to my hotel. I've met angels who knew Spanish and English and could help me with the Spanish speaking people here - it's been so exciting and fun!

I still can hardly believe that I am here! The picture on the right is from my hotel room in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I had to spend a night there unexpectedly but God looked after me so well. The pic on the left is the square park downtown Cochabamba. It was very hot here today, at least 30 degrees if not closer to 40. I got a bit of a sunburn too.

In the middle of the city is a mountain - the city completely surrounds this mountain and on top of the mountain is a HUGE white statue of the Christ. I spent a few hours with a wonderful couple, Lenard & Daniela, who are friends of Larry & Colleen's - Lenard works for Compassion International in Cochabamba. They've been here for 2 months working in this ministry. It was absolutely beautiful from up there - you could see the city all around you! I loved it! It was so peaceful.

I've had a number of people tell me how much they were praying for me travelling alone here to Bolivia and I truly felt those prayers - I was not afraid and did not feel alone. It has been such a wonderful adventure/journey God has been bringing me on here. I've loved every moment of it! The most comforting thing to know in all of life is that God has completely everything under control. He sees it all! I felt out of control of my flights and my destination times, but God sure had everything worked out each step of the way. It's been absolutely wonderful so far! God is so good!!

I got to Tarija on the 28th instead of on the 27th like I was supposed to, but that is okay - it's been too good of an adventure to think about or to complain about the flight mishaps.

It's so incredibly beautiful and warm. Last night (Mar. 2) we had a thunderstorm - it is super loud!! Because of the mountains surrounding Tarija, the thunder just roars and vibrates around you even though the storm isn't close - car alarms go off all around you when it thunders. It's a beautiful sound though - storms at times made me uneasy but here it just sounds beautiful - I've never heard it like this before.

Colleen and I had walked downtown together and I got so many cool pictures. The streets are so narrow and everyone drives so fast - no speed limit, no right of way, driving through stop signs, no seatbelts, pedestrians don't have the right of way, and just very aggressive driving. Roger would have fun driving here I think. :-)
On Wednesday night, I had the privilege of going to a Bible Study that Larry leads with 6 business class couples. The home that we went to, the couple were from Sweden, and they had 2 Great Danes and a 'baby' Great Dane! What massive dogs! They kept smelling my armpits. :-) They're huge!! What a beautiful home they live in. One thing I need to get used to out here is that everyone's home is surrounded by a large stone wall. You can hear the noises around the neighborhood, but you can't see out - it's like you're continually in a fortress. Very private but at times you feel boxed in. Being in this Bible study was a very unique experience - totally Spanish, Colleen translated some to me so I could catch parts of it but it was interesting the words that I could understand. Some Spanish words are very close to how we say them in English. I really enjoyed being at this study. The Spanish language is quite beautiful.

Last night we went to El Candelero - the Coffee House that Larry & Colleen are a part of as ministry here. It was full of college/university students playing board games that they rent out, playing ping pong, eating, listening to loud Christian music and visiting. I really enjoyed it there! What a unique ministry! A couple of university girls that we there were practicing their English with me - it felt so neat to contribute something and to help/bless someone.

It's still hard to believe I'm here. I know I said that earlier, but that's how I feel - it's amazing to experience such a different culture, a different part of the world. It is so cool! God made so many beautiful places in our world and so many different races/colors of people - it's all so beautiful!!

During my devotions this week, the passages that I read in the Bible seemed to be written just for me the whole time that I've been travelling here. While I was in Miami, I read Deut. 33:26-27 "There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you." God's strength is unlimited! My own arms can hold a child, a camera, give a hug or help a friend, but they are very limited and my strength is limited. But, through Christ, I can do anything - it is He who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And that is exactly how I have felt these past few days. There's an old hymn called Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and it says in there "What have I to dread, what have I to fear. Leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms." No matter what challenge I face or fears I feel, God is near and ready to take charge, He is in control of each step that I am taking. He is looking after me and He is looking after my family back home. I have great peace and I have no fear! Praise God!

Another passage that I read this week was Psalm 145:14-21 and verse 18-20 reads "The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him." God has felt so close to me during this time. As I was in the plane, I would look out to the clouds in the heavens in amazement of His wonder and beauty! I felt so looked after by Him through the wonderful people (angels) who He sent my way. Hebrews 4:16 says "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." I have needed my Lord, I would not have been able to do this on my own. He has helped me overcome fear and anxiety for those do not come from Him, those feelings come only from the enemy. God is a God of peace and He has given me such peace. Back in Ps. 145 verse 19 it spoke about how God fulfills the desires of those who fear him. God knows my hearts desires and when they fall in line with His will, He gives me those desires. He has been so good to me in bringing me here and being here with me experiencing this wonderful journey. I thank you God!!

One more passage that really spoke to me this week was Psalm 31:19-24. Verse 20 says "You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues." Verse 22 talks about how in sudden fear we cry out to God and he hears our cries for mercy and he answers our calls for help. God is so faithful! There have been a couple of times I felt fear - when things were unknown and I found out that I had to stay for night on my own in a strange city, and then it happened a 2nd time, I felt fear at the beginning. But then I prayed and I read this, and God completely took it away. That's what He does, He takes our fears away because fear does not come from Him. Verse 23 says "Love the Lord, all you faithful ones! For the Lord protects those who are loyal to strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the Lord!" God always knows where we are and He knows what is going to happen before it even happens and He knows the outcome of situation. I would be a fool not to put my trust in him when He sees and knows it all. God has always known where I was and He knows where I am now. There is absolutely no place at all in this world where He does not see our need and hear our cry. We are to have courage and He will strengthen our heart. My strength and my hope is in the Lord, there is no more place more secure than in his arms. No one is more secure than the one who is held in God's Hands - that is the absolute best place to be!

I praise God for how many times this week His Word has spoken to me. 1 Timothy 4:13 says "Focus on reading the Scriptures, encouraging the believers, and teaching them." The Word of God stirs the believers heart when it enters the believer's ear. We need to take time each day to read God's Word and pray and to listen to what He might say to us to guide us on our way. God speaks so clearly through His Word - if only we would take the time to listen. The are such rich rewards when we choose to follow God and obey His Word. It is the greatest blessing to be in His Will.