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 café. 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!