Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Out There with the Beams -- October 2011

Hello from Bolivia again.  This is Vanessa writing this month.  I love sharing with all of you how the Lord is changing us, changing our lives and changing the lives of those around us.  As some of you know, we recently hosted a volunteer team from Brazos Pointe Fellowship in Lake Jackson, TX.  These ladies are obviously daughters of God, they are wonderful!  They can renovate, decorate, counsel, share testimonies, comfort, help save lives, and be beautiful all at the same time! Unfortunately, one of the Ruth & Noemi girls fell off a horse during our retreat, breaking a rib and bruising a lung.  She spent three days in the hospital.  It gave us a scare, but thankfully she has now almost fully recovered.  Even with the accident, we had an amazing time in Samaipata.  We laughed a lot, cried a lot (it was of course, all ladies) and hugged a lot!  For some of our girls, none of these things (laughing, crying or hugging) come easy!  Even for us as the staff at the Transition House, I felt like for a while we had lost the ability to cry!  And would just fall into a—do, do, do mode.  But not up there, not after we heard all the amazing stories, of people who have been broken and restored, let down by people or circumstances but picked up by God himself!  The only response was to happily and hopefully cry.   Even for me, for the longest time, crying has been a sign of weakness, I think “strong and mature children of God shouldn’t cry.” Plus seeing sad things everyday sometimes just hardens you.  So it was just great to cry and be held!

Also, during the retreat, one of our girls accepted Christ! Which is awesome!  It is the full circle in a way—for our girls to understand that all the help and encouragement they are receiving has one reason only and that reason has a name: Jesus.  Please pray for her, her name is Carolaen, that as she goes on, the hope of knowing her Savior will stick around! That she will be strong and gentle with her little girl (Sarita) and that her needs will be met by our God.  Our Juanita, is also doing much better.  She is the one who fell off the horse.  She is not back to work yet, but she is getting around faster and smiling a lot!  And God is showing her (without us preaching empty words) who her real family is!
When you pray for us, please pray for our future transition into the Alfarero building coming up this next year.  El Alfarero is a new ministry in Santa Cruz.  It is huge and exciting.  They are going to have a coffee house, Christian library, counseling center, pregnancy crisis center (Centro de Vida), nursery and conference center and us, the Ruth & Noemi Transition House, all in the same place.  They are located amongst most of the colleges in Santa Cruz.  Alfarero is a university student focused ministry, and the goal is to have 1000 people in and out every day!  I will be waiting tables, counseling, and serving with Ruth and Noemi, and I am very excited about it.  There are lots of advantages for our girls here in this new place: job opportunities, living in community with other Christian youth, having the easy access to the counseling center and the nursery and being able to serve as volunteers in the cafĂ©.  I believe serving others gives us significance in Christ! We do have some challenges though, one of them is that our family will grow!  We will have capacity for ten girls now! So please pray for our staff and pray that we will be able to hire a new person if needed.

Our Family:  Isaiah is having a pretty good school year. He has a wonderful teacher this year and we are learning how to parent a child whose brain works at light speed and whose emotions are proper for a nine year old.  Luciana is playing soccer for her school and managing to have excellent grades and a fun social life.  Nathaniel is in Dallas (man, do we miss him!) still working toward becoming a professional cyclist.  All three of them are our joy and there are no words to thank God for them.  Please continue to pray for their protection, not just physical but spiritual and emotional as well.
I am still struggling to become a U.S. citizen, and having to travel too much between Bolivia and the U.S.   Please pray I will be able to get it soon so that Luciana can go to college in the U.S., which is what she wants to do (that is coming so close!)  Pray for my next trip—still awaiting the date!
Danny and Warren (our co-missionary) have embarked on yet another project to create low-cost efficient housing; and are building an earth bag house at a Mennonite women’s refuge center as a model to figure out exact costs, procedures, etc.  It looks great!  And it is hard work!  I did it for two days and then I hurt in places I didn’t know I had, so if some of you guys want to come for a visit and a different type of work out please do! We would love to see you.
Another praise, after four and half years we finally have our one year residency visas for Bolivia (which are now only good for eight months) but we got them! I used to think that if adversity ever met us here, like money being short, or paperwork being difficult, that meant it was time to go, because surely God would provide everything the way I wanted it and when I wanted it, but then I read “The Heavenly Man” and realized that I was wrong!  All I can say now is that God specifically called my husband to Bolivia, to serve his people, and He called me to Him, and I want to live in his will because I love him, so for now this is where we are serving with all we have, and each one of you with your prayers, or visits, or financial support make it possible too.  So thank you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out There with the Beams -- August 2011

What a great, but chaotic, summer here in Bolivia.  We have recently hosted four volunteer teams in a row, and have another one from coming in a couple of weeks—and we love every hectic minute of it.  Many of you know we had planned on traveling to the U.S. this summer, but because of residency visa issues here in Bolivia, we have had to stay put for the time being.  We did make a quick, one week, trip to Kentucky to complete some paperwork for Vanessa and Luciana’s U.S. residency and citizenship applications.  I won’t bore you with the inane details, but please keep our immigration challenges, on both continents, in your prayers. 
Just a short note—and plea—concerning our financial needs.  First, thank you to everyone who has faithfully supported us throughout the years.  We wouldn’t be here without your prayer and financial support.  We know economic times are tough in recent years.  I think because of this we have lost a few faithful supporters and our donations are now below the level that we need to continue serving in Bolivia.  We love serving in Bolivia and don’t want to have to leave this ministry.  If you feel God’s leading, we would love to have new partners supporting us monthly.  It is easy to get started, just click on the big donate button up in the corner.  Now on to more interesting news. 

The Ruth and Noemi Transition House for Girls (from Vanessa)
The Ruth and Noemi House is doing well.  I don’t remember if I mentioned this previously, but the Centro de Vida (Pregnancy Crisis Center) that we work closely with has practically closed its doors because of financial shortfalls.  They have only kept one staff person and she has moved her counseling office into the Transition House.  So, as you can imagine,  with that has come some change.  We used to have capacity for six girls but now we only have capacity for four.  Although until not very long ago we had five girls and three babies!!  Two babies were recently born, praise the Lord! He is so full of mercy.  These babies almost didn’t make it, but now they have been born! One of them was given for adoption to a very sweet Christian family.  What a huge sacrifice of love this was for the mom though.  As I watched as this young girl held her beautiful baby girl for the last time and then gave her away to her new mom, I just praised God for his provision in my own life, allowing me to keep my little baby girl (who is now sixteen, can you believe it?).  The other baby has now gone home with his mom and grandma who came to the house and took them on good terms. 
We are grateful at Ruth and Noemi to have the privilege of serving God in the restoration of relationships.  All of our girls have huge problems—emotional, spiritual, financial, etc., yet I can see God’s incredible love as He has brought them to Ruth and Noemi and they are safe, at least for now.  It is a battle talking to them about God and trying to make them understand His unconditional love when all they have seen is the very opposite from people who were nearest to them.  Despite that, two of our girls have recently received Jesus in their heart!  I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you that somehow have helped us in this battle, support comes in so many ways, not just money!  You have listened and obeyed and believe me I know obeying is not easy. 
Personally,  I am learning to hang all the problems from work on the imaginary hanger outside the house.  I just give it all to Jesus, with those exact words, and when I come in, even if there are toys everywhere and a mountain of dishes on the sink, life is wonderful.

News from Agua Yaku—a water well drilling ministry (from Danny)
Agua Yaku continues to expand in scale and scope, drilling lots of water wells throughout Bolivia.  We recently sent a team to drill a well in the department of Oruro, high on the altiplano of Bolivia.  We have now drilled wells in five of the nine departments of Bolivia.  Our primary focus continues to be in the Guarani Indian communities in the Izozog region south of Santa Cruz.  We have had great success there both drilling wells and working in evangelization with local pastors and churches. 
Soon we will begin a partnership with a sister Christian organization that is doing river ministry in the Beni department.  More than 400,000 people live on the rivers in eastern Bolivia.  The only way in or out of their rural communities is by river boat.   There are almost no clean water wells in these communities.  Agua Yaku has the perfect, simple and transportable, technology to drill wells and provide access to clean water in these rural communities.   Visit our website ( and download our recently completed manual on how to drill using the Baptist method.  We hope many organizations and communities around the world can use this manual to begin inexpensively drilling their own water wells.  

Expanding into new ministries:  As you can see from the photos, we have been experimenting with a new building technique that will allow us to build, and teach others how to build, strong inexpensive houses in impoverished areas.  As it is in many parts of the world, affordable housing is a great need in Bolivia.  We ran across this building technique, called “earth bag building” or more formally, the “flexible-form rammed earth” technique on the internet and thought we would experiment with it a bit to see if we could incorporate it into our ministries here in Bolivia.  The current project you see in the photos is a house/office we are building in Pailon (an hour outside of Santa Cruz) on the property of the Casa Mariposa, a transition house for Mennonite women and children escaping oppressive situations in their colonies.  If you are interested in learning more about this building method visit: for a quick primer on the topic.  

We apologize for the recent scarceness of ministry updates.  That is either a sign of our laziness or busyness.  I would like to think it is the latter.  In any event, we promise to do better.  Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support.  Please write to us, or better yet, come for a visit to Bolivia.

Danny and Vanessa

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Out There with the Beams -- April 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from way down south.  Thanks for all of your notes, prayers, and support of our ministries in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  As we mentioned in our last update, we were planning on traveling to the U.S. for the summer break.  The key word is “were.”  Sadly, the paperwork for our Bolivian residency visas is progressing more slowly than expected.  If we attempt to travel in June, we would have to abandon our current application and would lose thousands of dollars in the process. So for the time being we will have to stay in Bolivia at least through June.  Pray for our Bolivian papers, as well as Vanessa’s application for citizenship in the U.S.  After so many years of immigration problems in the U.S., Bolivia, and Peru, we feel a bit like a family without a country.  

Agua Yaku Update:  We are gearing up for several volunteer teams who will be helping us drill water wells in several Guarani communities in the Isosog area of Santa Cruz.  A Canadian church team will be drilling with us next week, and then a team from Texas will arrive mid-June.  We have already drilled approximately 25 wells in three communities in the Isosog area and have at least that many more lined up in neighboring communities.  We are so thankful to have found a local Baptist pastor, Victor, who speaks Guarani and Spanish and is helping us spread the word about our project and set up the work.  We drilled a well for Victor and his family with a team from Kentucky last fall.  Since then he has become an expert well driller and indispensible partner to Agua Yaku in this area.  There has been a tremendous response to the Christian films we have been showing in the communities.  We often set up a laptop and projector (powered by a small gasoline generator) in the evenings and project movies on the side of churches or schools.  There is no electricity in these communities so a movie is quite an attraction with sometimes hundreds of people turning out to watch.  These gatherings are a great evangelistic opportunity to share the gospel. 
Agua Yaku is also recently beginning to partner with a fellow missionary in Cochabamba, with whom we will soon begin a well drilling project deep in the jungles of Beni and Cochabamba.  We will be working in villages that would normally require days and days of travel overland and by river boat; however, via a small airplane we can arrive within an hour or so from Cochabamba.  We will try to cut down the size and weight of our drilling equipment and pipes so they will fit in the airplane.  We hope that this experiment works out so we can bring fresh clean water to people in places that a big truck drilling rig could never travel.  

Ruth and Noemi Transition House Update:  Continue pray for Loly, the previous director of the transition house, who is having triplets!  She will have to remain in the hospital until the babies are born at the end of May.  Also, please keep praying for decision making; we think we have found a new person to replace Loly.   This time we have hired a person full time since now we have five resident girls—with three babies and one more on the way—and we are soon expecting the arrival of one more girl from Tarija ( a city in the mountains).  Our jewelry business is still progressing. The new girls are now learning to make things from the girls that were previously here.  God continues to teach us that the only way to receive healing for those who have been abused is to draw near to God and be repentant, to receive a spirit of courage, and leave behind the spirit of victims.  This is all only possible through the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.  Please pray that as our girls learn basic life skills they will also learn who God is and who they are in His eyes.     
It is so encouraging to know that you all are back home praying for us and supporting our ministries here in Bolivia.  We could not be here doing this work without partners like you.  If you have been reading our updates for a while and have been considering sending in some support, please click on the donate button and follow the links to the appropriate information.  Join us in our calling to share Christ’s love with the people of Bolivia.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out There with the Beams -- March 2011

Dear Friends and family,

Hello! This is Vanessa writing to you now.  I cannot believe March has already come and gone.  We had a great Christmas and New Year time with my family and friends in Peru whom we hadn’t visited for seven years.  I love my beautiful family and country and miss them a lot.
Nathaniel came here and went to Peru with us, so that was a very special treat.  Also Luciana turned 16!!  Can you believe it?

At the Ruth and Noemi things are going great.  But I am really sad to announce that our director Loly is having to quit after March since she is expecting triplets and she is considered high risk.  I am really sad to see her go, please pray for her and her family, for provision and good health. She has been very efficient and loving and also has been key to starting the jewellery and T-shirt business at the house.  We need your help with prayer so that the Lord will provide someone else to work at the house who loves Him and loves the girls as well. This letter is full of prayer requests.  We need prayer as well for all our girls, we have four right now.  Two of them have babies, one little boy and a little girl who was born two weeks ago, she is precious!  Another girl who is new and pregnant is struggling and has said she wants to leave.  And then we have our only one student who does not have any babies and has finished culinary school and has started to work at  a restaurant.  All of them need sanity and miracles for their lives.  Such  as the miracle of forgiveness, provision and families for when they leave the Transition House.
Sometimes I get depressed and overwhelmed thinking about the girls and their lives but Jesus reminds me that they are his and not mine.  Please remember to pray for Marizabel and her health, she’s been struggling with several issues and allergies.
I would like to tell you and at the same time praise the Lord for all our volunteers, without them and their hard work it would be impossible to keep sanity.  Our newest volunteer is Liz, she came from Canada and has been a real asset to the house.  She is very caring and hardworking and super easy going.  She makes beautiful jewellery too!  I just wish I could keep her.  Oh ya, the best part is that she does not speak Spanish.  Oh the things God can do that we don’t even imagine!I don’t remember if  I have mentioned this or not but Loly, Marizabel, Angelica,  and I are training to become counsellors. Our class, called Biblical Counselling, has been hard but at the  same time I have received a lot of healing through the class.  I don’t particularly see myself as a counsellor but we definitely need the skills with the girls so I can be a means of healing for the Lord.

On a personal note, we really need prayer for paperwork in general.  I went to the US last month to renew my U.S. residency and to apply for U.S. citizenship.   So pray that the citizenship is granted quickly and without any problems.  Tonight we are all traveling by bus to Salta, Argentina for a couple of days so we can begin again to apply for residency visas in Bolivia.  It is an overnight 18 hour bus ride from Santa Cruz to Salta.  Fun!

This summer we will go to the US to share with some of you guys about our ministries.  If you would like us to come speak in your church or to your small group, please let us know and we will put you on our schedule.