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 him...be 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.