Friday, April 28, 2006
This picture I took from my hotel window in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was absolutely gorgeous! It reminded me of the time when Moses went on top of the mountain to speak with God and a cloud covered the mountain. He was up there for 40 days and nights and when he came back down, people were worshipping a golden calf. What an incredible letdown for Moses. Here the Jews had just been led out of Egypt where they were slaves and now they were worshipping an idol!! How quickly they had forgotten about God. Then I thought of myself and and my life and how quickly at times that I've forgotten about where God has brought me from and what He has done in my life. I thought about how quickly I have at times ran to the things of this world to find meaning and security and comfort instead of running to the One True God who created me in the first place. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for His interceding in my life. There have been too many times in my life where I have had idols in my own life that have come before God. This verse and picture was a good reminder for me.
At this time in Bolivia, it was Carnival time - a 3 day celebration of their country. Many things happened during these 3 days and much of it was not good. On TV I was watching all the celebrations taking place in the main cities and it was all too evil. So much drunkenness. In one drunken orgy, a father had shot himself in the head in front of his family. People were on the streets leaving their sacrifices of urine, blood, and animals to Mother Earth. Devil dancers and witch dancers were in parades chanting to the Devil and to evil spirits and casting curses on the crowds around them. And they called this all a celebration. It made me want to cry for them all and to pray for their souls. God help them. Of course this was the worst that I saw - not everything was that terribly bad. You couldn't walk on the streets without young and old throwing water balloons at you. But, I felt very protected - I prayed all the time while I was out that I would not get hit and I never did. God was so good! :-) I always had my camera with me and I didn't want it wrecked. God continually answered my prayers of protection. He is so faithful!!
This statue was in Cochabamba as well and stood on top of a mountain that was surrounded by the city. It was HUGE! As I stood there and looked up at it with the heavens surrounding it, I was reminded me of the devotion I had earlier. It was about how God is so faithful and keeps His promises to us and we can lean on His everlasting arms. There's an old hymn about leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus and how we have nothing to dread or fear. That was often on my mind while I was alone in Bolivia. "I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, Leaning on the everlasting arms." That is the rest of that verse to that song. What a promise to hold on to. It is so blessed to know that we don't have to wander through this life alone. We will always have Jesus - but we have to choose Him. God doesn't force Himself on us - we can choose. But the decision to choose Him is the best one we could ever make - the alternative one is not one we would want to explore.
When I was in Tarija with the Loewens, we had driven to a vineyard. It was a lovely drive and there was a small town that we had to drive through. Watching the children in the streets and other people working, was so good. It was all so interesting. Being in this vineyard it reminded me of the harvest - God's harvest. People here were getting ready to harvest these vineyards and they need much help. So does God - the harvest is great but the workers are few. God doesn't want anyone in this world to perish - He desires everyone to choose Him but He needs willing servants who will share His love to a hurting world. So many are lost and are desperately trying to find other ways to God and to heaven and want to badly to be dependent on themselves - to do it all themselves and to do it their way, not God's way. God doesn't want any of us to be alone. His way is best but He doesn't force it on us. He wants us to choose Him, to choose eternal life, to choose His Son who died on the cross to save us of our sins. This vineyard was ripe for harvest and there will be a time when this world that we live in will be ready for harvest as well - will we be ready?
I love this verse! Another one that I had in my mind much of the time. Of course stupid things would run through my mind: would I ever make it back home, would I see my husband and my family again, would I want to stay here forever, would I make it out of the country...... It's sickening the stupid thoughts that can run rampant in one's mind if you let them. So, at times like that, I would choose to hold on to the truths that I found in the Bible. This was one of the best truths at that time. I knew deep in my heart that God did not bring me to Bolivia to die, his plans were not to harm me here. He brought me here to bring people hope and encouragement and to have me pray for them. He brought me here to be a blessing to those around me and to take pictures and bring them back home to be a blessing to my parents and others. When I prayed, I knew God was listening and He wanted the best for me. What a wonderful truth that I could hold onto!
Oh, how I loved being up in the clouds. I felt like I was in in a part of Heaven. It always looked so heavenly up there!! :-) It was another world. I could just imagine the angels jumping around on the clouds making the thunder roll or the clouds bounce around. :-) I am always thankful for the beautiful pictures that God puts into my mind at times and this was one of those times. It looked like a city up here - a pure white city without any spot or blemish. This is what our hearts look like when we've confessed our sins and asked for forgiveness - Jesus then cleanses us white as snow. What a day that will be when He will come in the clouds and every eye will see Him and every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. (Philippians 2:11) What a day that will be!! There won't be any faking it then - that'll be for real.
So many times during my travels on the plane and other modes of transportation, all I could do was TRUST FULLY in God because everything was out of my control. We may like to think that we can control our day, but if God has something in mind that we don't, watch out - then stuff happens. So, this verse meant so much to me. I knew that He did not bring me to Bolivia to harm me in any way, but to show me things that would help me to grow in Him and TRUST in Him more fully. He knew the plans He had for me there, I did not and so it would have been foolish for me not to put my TRUST completely and fully in Him.
I knew that at anytime, anywhere, I could pray to God to help me through and that I could have confidence that He would hear me. That gave me so much comfort and reasurance each day. I could approach His throne of mercy and find grace whenever I needed it. He was looking after me. :-)
All of the flowers were so beautiful there and so much in bloom. It was absolutely gorgeous!! The beauty was too much to behold at times and hard to take in. How do you capture something on camera and tell the whole story? At times it's nearly impossible. So, the least I could do at times was to take a photo and give you just a glimpse of what I was seeing and feeling in my heart.
When we were at the falls, the beauty was incredible! Again, how could I capture what I was seeing? God created such a beautiful world for us to take care of and enjoy. To be in a place like this, so serene, peaceful and surrounded by beauty was a wonderful place to be. Water is a symbol of refreshment, cleansing and life. Rivers were flowing and washing everything in it's path. That is such a picture of what Jesus has to offer us through God's free gift of salvation. He cleanses us of our sins when we accept Him and His death and resurrection. We know that He is alive in Heaven today preparing our eternal home with Him. We can have confidence and know that we WILL go to Heaven when we die if we believe in Him. John 3:16 "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life." WOW! It sounds so simple. Let's accept the simplicity of His message and stop making it so complicated. Let's jump into those "springs of living water"!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Anyway, we went to this one store that is owned by a friend of Dorothy's and got just a wackload of stuff from here - she gave us a good deal. Helps to know people, doesn't it?? :-) This picture below shows a man who makes these blankets with the little handheld weaver! Incredible beauty! What a gift God has blessed Him with! I brought home one of those blankets that he had made. It's cool to have this picture.
These were other little shops that we bought some stuff in. The leather in Bolivia is beautiful and so soft. We got some necklaces here and other stuff. It was a cool place - lots of palm trees and picnic tables surrounding the bases so you could sit and eat. It was full of these wee little shops with beautiful handmade items. I enjoyed getting stuff here.
After shopping, Dorothy shipped me off alone in a taxi for a 2 hour ride. I had no idea where it would take me. I just knew I was going across a river to stay a week with Dave & Lisa Janzen and that I was going to visit some of the Mennonite Colonies at some point. What I didn't know was the sites I would see and the bridge we would have to drive across. Amazing!! This was a one way bridge so one side of the traffic always had to wait until the other side finished crossing but if a train came, both sides of the traffic had to wait for the train to cross. It was so interesting!! But crossing it too many times, you would grow tired of it very quickly. :-)
Lightning reminds me of Jesus coming back to earth to reign forever. There's a verse in Matthew 24 that reads "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (verse 27) That is how Jesus will return, in a blink of an eye and we will know He is coming. It is so important to have the confidence that He is living in our hearts, that we accept that He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave to live forever. If we do not accept that truth, we will not have eternal life. We can have the confident assurance that we will go to heaven to be with Jesus when we die if we only believe in Him and accept God's free gift of salvation. Accept Him today if you haven't already.
I may have just been in Bolivia but nothing beats our SK Redneck community!! This is SK Rednecks to the core! I came across these fellows while driving back from Spiritwood. They were having a blast!! I stopped, gave them my card and asked if I could take some pictures. It was no problem. I told them I'd be putting them on my website - they were also put in the Country Press last week. :-) Absolutely hilarious!! The press called it Slush Skiing - inbetween snow and water skiing. I thought that was a pretty good title for it. The guy was getting a 'little' wet and a bit cold but he was lovin it though!! Thanks guys for letting me share these pictures with others.
After we left the salon, we headed off to a 5 Star hotel to attend a Ladies retreat with over 40 other missionary ladies. What a wonderful experience that was! What a beautiful bunch of godly women!! After the experience that I had on the colony visiting my uncle and sharing God's love with him, I felt like I was a missionary too. But after spending time with these missionary women, being involved in some of their lives for a time, I was reaffirmed that I too was a missionary. Even though I wasn't abroad in some foreign country, I was still a missionary right where I was, where God put me. Each one of us can be a missionary for God - right where we are. If we allow Him to use us to minister to others around us, showing them His love and forgiveness, studying His word and living for Him; we are in His mission field. That is so exciting!! :-) I am His servant and I am loving every minute of it. Is it always easy? No, but He is always there with me.
Lisa and I had lots of good laughs together. Here was a time in her home when a couple of young schoolteachers were doing a German skit. We had just had supper together and now we were enjoying some music and laughter. These two young people did an excellent job performing this skit for us. It's so good to be able to laugh at good clean humor. :-)
One day we had gone into Santa Cruz to have a visit with Lisa's brother and go for supper. It was a wonderful day together with her family. Dave & Lisa are wonderful people with beautiful kids - they have a huge heart for God and for the Mennonite people in Bolivia. They have a wonderful ministry and they set a godly example to those around them. I miss them. :-( It would be wonderful to see them again sometime but if I don't see them again on this earth I know that someday I will see them in Heaven. :-) That's the best 'Meetin Place' outa this world!
Here we are at my home for the next week (above). This is the Radio Station (below) about 1 1/2 hours from Santa Cruz - it is near the town of Pailon. Jake & Dorothy Fehr mission is running this radio station to bring the Gospel to the Mennonite and Spanish people with both Spanish and German speaking programs. I believe Dorothy does an hour on Sunday afternoon with an English program as well. I was so blessed being here. It was a beautiful place to stay - the grounds were gorgeous. There was a mission team from Manitoba staying here at the same time that I was. They were helping Dave Janzen build a new church for the Mennonites that leave the colonies. Some land had been purchased where homes will be built with Habitat for Humanity for Mennonite families that leave the colonies as well.
Here is the current church that Dave & Lisa Janzen have started for those Mennonites that leave the colonies. They have had exciting growth in the church and are looking forward to having the new church built.
Below is the school where the Mennonite children attend. Each building is a classroom where they are educated - they also learn Spanish in these classes. It is simple and they are so happy. Lisa took me here before I ventured out to the colonies. I loved to see the children working and playing in their black and white uniforms. They were so precious! :-)
Monday, April 10, 2006
Dorothy met me at the airport with another missionary couple who were new to the city. We went out for frapachinos and went to her place. What a beautiful home God has blessed them with! It was such a blessing to stay with her and to get to know here more. There are such wonderful Christians all over the world and it's so neat to meet so many.
The next day, we went souvenir shopping and what a blast that was. Dorothy showed me how and where to hide my money because people 'bump' into you all the time and swipe your purse or wallet. I never had $2,000 Boliviano implants before - ha! ha! ha! That was so hilarious!! :-) What a hoot we had! I got some wonderful souvenirs (I don't know if that's spelled right or not but oh well.) :-)
Santa Cruz is a large city and there's so much to see, but I didn't stay there too long because Dorothy shipped me off on the taxi by myself to go and stay at the Radio Station by Dave & Lisa Janzen's place. More of my journey to take place there. I had no idea what we would have to drive across to get there - an incredibly unique bridge - but I can see how the people out there are tired of taking that bridge every time they want to make a trip into Santa Cruz. :-)
By the way, this silly program won't let me upload more pics so I'll try and do more pics in another one.
Okay, so here's the remaining pics that I was not able to get on the previous story that I shared of touring around the countryside of Tarija.
These first 2 are pics of the vineyard - the grapes looked delicious! :-)
These are pics of the hike that we took to the falls - what a beautiful day that was!! Absolute quietness and beauty surrounded by God's creation! :-)
So, that's all for this one folks - it won't let me upload any more pics on this section. :-)