Pastor Gustavo, our district coordinator Eulalia, Ardell and I have been attending a new Methodist house church in the outskirts of Sacaba, near Cochabamba. The new congregation has moved from the mountains to the city for employment. We are helping them plant their new church that for now is a small unfinished room with a dirt floor. It is a Quechua church family of all ages. To see the life in their faces and their earnest desire to worship God is more than a privilege, it is a window into the joy of the Kingdom of God.
David has come to the library to receive encouragement and assistance with his homework since he was a little boy. He is now 10. Last week he began asking for a Bible and wouldn’t stop. Edwin gave him a New Testament and he held it under his chin as he walked out of the library, all smiles. Edwin then said, “I have to confess. I have been giving away our New Testaments every chance I can.” We hope to give every child who comes to the center a Bible by the end of this year.
Last week we had a chance to honor Ariel Quiroz for the years that he has been the coach of the Tiu Rancho baseball teams. It was a beautiful celebration.
This celebration coincided with a national tournament held in Cochabamba. Twelve Tiu Rancho boys played for the Cochabamba team. Teams from Santa Cruz, Tarija, Potosi, Sucre and Oruro all participated in the tournament. Our kids are between the ages of nine and twelve years old and they played their hearts out and won five of their six games and took third place. Every game was so exciting!
When the time came to thank Ariel, all of the children and young people raced up to him, almost tackling him as they surrounded him. They all immediately realized that they needed to do this in a more orderly manner and scampered into a line in front of him. Many jumped into his arms to hug him and thank him for his dedication and encouragement and love to each of them.
We began our Easter celebration with Maundy Thursday at El Salvador church. Pastor Gustavo had the pews arranged in a large oval with a long banquet table filled with fruits and breads. After we celebrated the Lord’s Supper we were invited to the table to share the food in fellowship as a congregation.
On Good Friday, Bolivia’s most important religious holiday, we had a united church service with the nine Methodist churches in the Cochabamba area. We divided into groups and we discussed the seven last words of Christ and then gathered as one group to share our thoughts. Each church presented hymns and choruses and then we shared a meal together with one of Bolivia’s finest foods, peanut soup.
Easter Sunday morning at 6:30am we had another united service in the garden of El Salvador Church. We celebrated the resurrection of Christ on this frosty fall morning and then warmed our bones with a breakfast of api and bunwelos (hot purple corn drink and fry bread). Like Methodists everywhere we remember the great and terrible crucifixion of Christ and his glorious triumph over evil and death. And we always have special food to eat.
Thank you Trinity United Methodist Church for sending such an excellent team to represent Georgia and Mississippi: Dianne, Paul, Michael, Kelly, Lil, Kathey, Tasso, Grethen and Carrie: All of us at the Tiu Rancho Center talk about you, share about our experiences with you, laugh about our time together, and especially miss you. We are so grateful to you for sharing your skills and your hearts with all of us.
The community of Cotani has a new church and it’s just beautiful! Luz del Pueblo. Light of the People. Theirs is the largest Methodist church in the Central District with over 140 members. Both services during the week are held in Quechua.
To buy the chairs for the church, each family sold guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are native to Bolivia, high in protein, and eaten mainly at celebrations. Today was a day to celebrate!
I am so very grateful that Pastor Gustavo, Gordon and I were able to organize a discipleship course for the young people in the Methodist Church in Bolivia. The course happened the third week of January. We were hoping and praying that 12 young people from the ages of 15 to 18 would be able to come, so when 24 showed up we were thrilled.
The course was incredible as we focused on challenging them in their commitment to Christ and to their churches.