Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out There with the Beams – July 2010

Dear Friends and family,

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:3-6) Paul says it better than I ever could, but we really do appreciate your partnership and your prayers for our ministry here in Bolivia. We also appreciate your visits. It is so much fun to host teams who participate directly in our ministry and share their personal faith with people in Bolivia. Last month Vanessa shared about the great work that the Brazos Pointe Fellowship team did renovating the Ruth and Noemi Transition House. The other half of the Brazos Pointe team went with me and our Agua Yaku staff to drill a well in a remote Yuracare community in the Beni department. It was our first foray into this department to drill water wells. Logistically, it is difficult to get into this area, but the need for clean water is so great we cannot ignore it. We drove our drilling equipment in several days before the team (16 hours overland) and then flew the BPF team to San Lorenzo de Moxos in two small chartered planes. From there it was an eight hour canoe ride upriver to the village of Villa Hermosa. The river was full of crocodiles, fresh water dolphins, and thousands of birds, making the trip anything but dull. The community has eight families and a small elementary school for the children. The Yuracare are hunters, fishermen, and farmers. While they earn almost no money from their farming activities, they subsist pretty well from hunting and fishing in the forest. They do not, however, have access to clean water or medical care when they get sick. During the last rainy season their village flooded and they lost all of their planted crops. They even spent several weeks sitting on top of furniture inside their flooded homes or in trees waiting for the water to recede. They have never had a water well, but instead drinking water directly from the dirty brown river or from the swamp that surrounds their community. It took Agua Yaku and the Brazos Pointe team only two days to dig a 100 foot deep well and install a hand pump. The water came out cool and clear. The families immediately began filling every container they could with water. The kids splashed and played in the water while the women washed clothes. After the well was completed we even had time to go fishing for piranha.

One of the best outcomes from the trip were the contacts we made with other communities in the area. After seeing the clean water in Villa Hermosa, other communities in the area wanted clean water too. The first week in July Carlos and Fernando, Agua Yaku staff, made their way back to San Lorenzo and then upriver to Villa Hermosa. From there, they hiked eight hours overland to two other communities called Nueva Natividad and Santa Rosa. These communities are on a river that has dried up during the dry season and the only way in is by foot or horseback. Village members carried the drilling equipment on their shoulders (including 100 lb sacks of bentonite-drilling clay) for the full eight hour hike. While Carlos and Fernando were drilling the wells a cold front passed through Bolivia (it is our winter) and the temperature dropped into the 30s for over a week. This is unusually cold for Bolivia. This extreme cold snap actually killed most of the fish in these tropical rivers. The rivers became a carpet of dead floating rotting fish. We saw news reports that many children were becoming sick after drinking water from the rivers with the rotting fish. It will take several years for the population of fish in these rivers to recover. While we cannot do anything too quickly to resolve the problems, we will continue to drill as many wells as we can so that people in these rural communities will have access to clean well water year round. Carlos is heading back in to San Lorenzo these week to drill more wells. Pray for Carlos and for a local missionary, Natividad, who has been working in this area for decades. We want to bring clean water and share the gospel message with everyone that we can.

We have also recently had a second Agua Yaku team drilling a well in a Mennonite community about three hours from Santa Cruz. We are drilling this well for a family who is holding Bible studies in their home in direct resistance to colony leadership which forbids colony members from reading the Bible or their own or holding Bible studies outside the "official" church. This family of new believers is being ostracized by the colony and has even been denied access to water. While Mennonite colonies in Bolivia have an outward appearance of "Christianity," they are more truly a pseudo-Christian sect operating under quite strange and oppressive rules. Four EFCCM missionary families are working in the Mennonite colonies, sharing the true gospel message of Christ and encouraging change within the colonies. We hope that Agua Yaku can provide much needed water for Mennonite families and will be another way that the gospel can be shared in the colonies in a non-threatening way. Neto and Eric have been heading up this project. Both are Brazilian Christians who came to Bolivia to work in missions. Neto has been working with Agua Yaku for about a year now and has become a quite competent well driller. Eric, a mechanical engineer by training, recently moved to Bolivia to complete a course with YWAM (Youth with a Mission). His professional background will prove quite helpful as we strive to improve our well drilling technology. We hope to bring him on full-time with Agua Yaku as soon as possible. We have also had the help of several Trinity International church members on this Mennonite well. A special thanks to you guys for getting muddy with us.

A quick update on the Ruth and Noemi Transition House for Girls: We now have four girls in the house. Three of them are pregnant and came to us through referrals from the Centro de Vida Crisis Pregnancy Center. The first baby was born last week and two more will be soon to follow. Pray for these girls and their babies. They may have a lot of spiritual, emotional, and financial obstacles to overcome, but nothing is impossible in the strength of our Lord.

Family update: Vanessa and Luciana just returned from a quick trip to Kentucky—a necessary trip to maintain their resident status in the U.S., but also a great chance to visit with Nathaniel and other friends at home. We will be trying to complete Vanessa's and Luciana's U.S. citizenship this year, so please be praying that all goes smoothly with this. It is a bit complicated because we spend the majority of our time out of the U.S. Nathaniel will stay in the U.S. this year. In a couple of weeks he will be moving to Durango, Colorado where he will be a freshmen at Fort Lewis College. He will be studying sustainable agriculture and will be a member of the cycling team (which consistently wins the U.S. colligate national championship). Tomorrow, Luciana begins tenth grade and Isaiah third grade at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. Pray for all three of our kids as they begin to find their place in this world and strive to grow in their faith.

Thanks so much for your commitment in partnering with us in this work in Bolivia. We covet your thoughts and prayers. Please feel free to contact us with specific questions about how you can help. We always need new financial partners. We would love to expand our reach those in need.

Danny and Vanessa Beams
EFCCM missionaries in Bolivia


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