by Trudy Loewen
BOLIVIA – On Jan. 9, 2020, an EMC prayer team of 10 people from across Canada met in Toronto with the purpose of traveling to Bolivia to meet and pray with each EMC and MEM missionary, listening to their heart for the ministries with which they are involved.
We arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, around 10 p.m. on Friday evening and were met by Bill Kehler, the field director of MEM. As we stepped out of the airport we knew we were no longer in Canada; the variety of sounds and smells and the heat and humidity at that time of day was astonishing.
We loaded our luggage onto a 20-passenger bus that was rented for our entire stay in Bolivia, driven by Solomon. After a night at the Hotel Continental we had a time of orientation and prayer with Bill Kehler.
We learned immediately that flexibility would be key to our time in Bolivia. Rain changed our plans for the day, but we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant and headed to Villa Nueva and booked in at the Bed and Breakfast for our first part of the week. We quickly came to love and appreciate the missionaries and local church leadership team in Villa Nueva.
Sunday morning was a baptismal service for a young man, and some of us from the prayer team were able to contribute to the service with singing and a children’s story while Ken Zacharias did the sermon in Spanish. While in the area we toured Guia de Paz (a recovery program), as well as La Roca (a children’s camp), and saw where Casa Mariposa (a home for abused women) had been in operation earlier. “Just as many people are struggling and needing help in Canada as here in Bolivia,” said one missionary, “but we feel the resources are less here in Bolivia so we plan to stay here another two years.”
Nancy Friesen, from Picture Butte Mennonite Church, gave us a tour of the school in Villa Nueva where she is very involved both with administration and teaching. We enjoyed a visit in her home and listening to the many stories of what she has already experienced in Bolivia.
We visited a radio station that has programming in Low German; it was just a small room above their home, yet many people can hear the Word of God in their language; and, although radio ministry can be lonely at times, we know it is a way of planting the seed and someday there will be a harvest.
Tuesday afternoon we left Villa Nueva and headed to San Jose and checked in at the Casa de la Amsted for the rest of our time in Bolivia. Hacienda Verde is a newer community, yet already has around 50 families living there. Benny and Ester Fehr from Mount Salem Community Church have come here, along with their children, to operate the radio station and they have many other opportunities to touch the lives of Low German-speaking people.
We spent some time with Benny and Ester, doing some sightseeing in San Jose as well as visiting homes on the Colony. We heard many stories. Some were heartbreaking, yet God is definitely working with them and through them. In Hacienda Verde the teachers were also gearing up for another school year. Classes are taught in Spanish, Low German and English. On Sunday morning our team was able to bless them with testimonies, children’s story, singing and a devotional.
Our ten days spent in Bolivia were a very rich time, and we thank God for the opportunity we had to meet the missionaries, see how God is providing for them, and to pray together for their ministries.
EMC Missions began ministering in Bolivia in 2013 after joining MEM (Mision Evangelica Menonita), a ministry to Low German Mennonites administrated by the EMMC and the La Crete Bergthaler Conference.
Trudy Loewen is from Morweena EMC.