Newsletter 14

Can you believe we’ve been here for almost a year?… except our brief trip home for Ruth’s herniated disc. We want to thank you for all your interest and support in this time. We really appreciate all our friends and family near and far.

The Virus
So Bolivia was doing very well to avoid all Coronavirus news, but sadly the past few days there have been a number of cases here. The president took immediate action and closed the schools, universities, interdepartmental transport and international flights to and from Europe/UK. They said that there would be no visitors or volunteers at the youth rehabilitation centre until the end of the month. So we have an unexpected chance to catch our breath and have a bit of a break. Today we heard a new update enforcing a curfew from 19.00-05.00 every day and the ban on all sporting, cultural and social events. We are praying that everything is ok and all our friends around the world are able to stay healthy, especially the people in vulnerable groups. Bolivian health services are not great (as we found out last year) and facilities for isolation and quarantine are unknown. We had a couple of strange reactions from local people, who see us as foreigners and have stepped away from us or refused to serve us without washing their hands. But… loo roll is in plentiful supply. Happy days!



The Work
But on to the news… we have continued with all our classes and groups (up until Thursday). We love going to San Benito to see the girls who are so enthusiastic about doing drama. The Mosoj Yan group have had a couple of new additions, two new girls and one girl has had a baby this month. His name is Daniel and both are doing really well. The group of boys at Camino are enjoying the Alpha course – although three of the original group now go to school in the afternoon. The new kids are straight off the street so have a lot of ‘character’! The girls at Cometa have almost finished the Alpha course; we’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit and how best to read your Bible on your own. We have a core group of 12 boys at Cometa that tend to come to both the drama and the Alpha course. All are really responding well to the questions and are all more confident in sharing their ideas. We did a drama called ‘Light of the World’ and made friendship bracelets based on the ‘colour book with no words’ idea. The black represents sin, the white is cleansing, the red is the blood of Jesus, the yellow signifies heaven etc.

Wrist band

We are leading more Saturday sessions along with the team of volunteers. Charlie, who is the pastor of Kairos church, has come along to help with worship and group discussions. This month the themes have been prayer and faith. We were amazed that more than 30 of the boys expressed their faith after we led them in a prayer. The well-known picture of Jesus knocking on the door by Holeman Hunt gave a number of them a ‘WOW’ moment when they saw that they had to invite Jesus into their lives as there was no door handle on the outside. Those kind of moments make everything seem worthwhile.

The Family
The Familia Kairos church has been a welcoming place to invite young people to. As a way of getting to know more people better, we were asked to share on the family day out – which was a BBQ at a local cabin. Together we did an activity which involved teams building paper towers and showed how we each have a role to play in the team and this is an illustration of how we can each use our unique skills to serve the church. The interactive, reflective style went down really well and was quite new to many of the group.

Thank you for all your support and continued interest in what we are doing. We love hearing from friends and sharing news, so please drop us a message. Also if you want to send us a parcel that would be amazing.  Our postal address is Casilla 15, Cochabamba, Bolivia. South America. Label anything as ‘household items’. We finished our supply of Cadbury’s this week! (serves us right for SHARING WITH OTHERS!)

When it rains at church.
The church day out

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A couple of the final paper towers which was a team building illustration.
The tallest tower

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With David
No shortage here…
Baby Daniel

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Newsletter 13

February seems to have whizzed by in a bit of a blur… We’ve been really busy. It’s been ‘rainy season’ here, which means a couple of days of heavy rain and a few spectacular thunder and lightning storms. It’s all supposed to go back to normal at the end of this month, after Carnival and the crazy water fighting with balloons and spraying foam! But so far we’ve managed to dodge being a target (Dean insists it’s one of the advantages of having grey hair – they aim at everyone else!)

Our ministry work has been going really well. We are doing six regular presentations per week now, which keeps us rushing around from one place to another. The boys and girls at the rehabilitation centre are enjoying the Alpha course in Spanish. It’s incredible to see how they are now talking and sharing their thoughts more freely. They have got used to the structure and now volunteer answers and ideas. The topics we’ve been doing this month are about Jesus, the cross, faith and prayer. They particularly liked doing the ‘skittles prayer’ when they could pick a different type of prayer depending on what colour skittle came out of the packet.

A new group of boys have signed up for the drama course. They have been so enthusiastic and a few of the group who finished last year have been keen to come along to help. It’s funny to hear the boys explaining the meaning of the dramas to each other and hearing your own words being echoed back at you.

As planned, we have started going to another youth rehabilitation centre for girls in a district of Cochabamba called San Benito. This is for girls who have either lived on the street, and have been given the option to live in the centre or girls who have been using drugs, sniffing glue or addicted to alcohol. It is about an hour outside of the city. There are currently about 8 girls there, but it can house up to 20 and they are between 14-18 years old. After negotiating the journey, the gates and the four rather large growling dogs, we had a fabulous time with the girls, staff and even the cook joined in the games. They don’t get many visitors so they were so appreciative of our time. We are doing the 12 week drama course, where each week covers a different theme and bible verse. Some of the girls obviously have grown up going to church and one girl gave an amazing explanation of why she prays and about God’s grace. In those moments we just look at each other and cannot believe our ears. She was so excited to be able to participate in the drama and talk to her friends about what she believes.

A number of the boys and girls have left the rehabilitation centre over the past month. It is quite hard keeping in touch with them as their lives are chaotic and very transient. We’ve helped some with school supplies and materials they need to start college and one girl is interested in joining ‘Transformations’. One boy proudly told us he has a job in the big cinema and is a motorbike mechanic in the day (as well as studying at uni!?). Our friend Wilfredo came to our flat for dinner with his girlfriend and loved his Watford football shirt. He starts his third year of vet school this Spring.EBAE291A-27C4-4FE1-A26C-696CEE7AC1AE-1059-00000086C7077B8C

Catching up with Belen.
Putting out the recycling … Bolivian style


Church day out to a local cabin

We were delighted when our friend California asked if her could come to church with us. We have been visiting a number of churches to find one which is open and welcoming to the population we are working with. A church named Kairos from Santa Cruz has opened a small church plant in Cochabamba. They meet in a park, under a tree, sitting on the ground on blankets or on fishing stools. It’s very informal. There is usually a drum and either a guitar or ukulele. We are going to talk at their next family day out event on the 1st March.

Church under the tree. Family Kairos