Have you ever made up a Christmas box for the organisation Samaritans Purse… sometimes called operation Christmas child? I have many times both as a child and as a teacher over the years. And you think to yourself…. I wonder where this box will end up? who will be opening these presents near Christmas, what is their life like. But you never find out….
We went with Phil to a place called Huacareta (pronounced Wack-a-ret-a). It is in the jungle part of Bolivia, about 11 hours down dirt tracks and through rivers from Sucre. Phil often used to visit this place during his childhood with his parents and knows it well. We went to visit a small Christian community and to work at the school for a morning playing games, doing dramas and teaching bible stories. It was an amazing experience. The children were really excited to see us and to hear what were doing. We played with the parachute and did some team games. They loved it (and so did we).
But just as we finished a group of people arrived in a 4×4 with boxes from operation Christmas Child. They were distributing them all the way out in the jungle, miles and miles from anywhere. They gave a short talk about where the boxes had come from (Canada this time) and why the children had sent them. They sang some songs and then gave each child a box. It was amazing to actually see how it is done and to see how excited the children were to receive them.
Later I spoke to one little girl, called Lilly, about her box and she told me that she had lots of lovely things including a pink notebook, pencils and felt tip pens and proudly showed me her new toggles for her hair.
That day we travelled by horse back to different parts of the community. We also went to the little church that was built by Phil’s parents years ago. There was no electricity and no musical instruments…. just pick your own tune and sing it!!! We both shared our testimonies and presented a few dramas. The people are really shy and not used to seeing visitors. It felt like another world. But it was obvious that the church was a central part of their lives and that meeting together a few times a week was like a family. There were two little girls sat behind us on the benches and they both had little beetles in their hands. These beetles had glowing spots on their heads (like fire flies) and they were playing with them throughout the service.
We finished the trip with a visit to a small secondary school on the way home where we did a presentation of drama and a few games. We plan to take a small group of students from our church there in April to do some more mission work linking young people to a local pastor named William.