Monday, August 6, 2012


This past Friday I (Bryan) celebrated my 28th birthday, but I received the best early birthday present a few months ago when I found out we are EXPECTING!!! We are extremely excited to share this news with you now and appreciate your prayers. Molly is doing well and is staying very healthy. We found a great doctor here in Santa Cruz and are looking forward to meeting "Baby Canny" in February 2013. Look for updates here on the blog and on our Facebook group. Thanks so much for your constant love and support. 

Blessings, 
Bryan and Molly

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another 2 month recap

A missionary's life is rarely set to one consistent schedule and that seems to suit us just fine. Now it is true that as of late we have gotten into more of a pattern with directing the New Hope Tutoring Center Monday through Friday afternoons from 2-5. It is also true that interspersed with our daily routine are many surprises and changes of pace. Occasionally the changes of pace can be frustrating like waiting in line for hours at the immigration office just to turn in one more paper for our VISAs. Or trying to figure out a new route downtown because of a blockade or some road construction. My friend, John Behrens, once told me that Minneapolis has 2 seasons, winter and road construction. Santa Cruz is similar, but more like sandstorms and road construction. It is clear we're into the windy season when at the end of the day my beard feels gritty and stiff. 

But enough about the unwanted. In the past 2 months we have had some very welcome pace changers. I finally got some of the pictures transfered from our camera onto our Facebook group. You can find those albums HERE . Please Enjoy. 

The albums give a brief glimpse into a few events over the past couple months. 

1. Work and Witness team from Faith Evangelical Church in Billings, MT. 

     This group brought such diverse personalities with them and we were ready with just as diverse a schedule. You can see in the photo album that we did a little bit of everything including construction, VBS at various churches, a district women's ministry, music ministry, helping at New Hope Tutoring Center a few afternoons, and of course some sight seeing. We felt a great connection with this group and truly enjoyed sharing our lives with them for the 10 days they were with us. I thought it was pretty cool that God looked at even the minor details and included a couple of fellow Chicago Bears fanatics on this crew. Mike and Jonah you cheer from Montana. I'll cheer from here and our cheers will meet the ears of the team in the middle in Chicago. 

2. Gordon and Niki Elliott celebrate 30 years
While the work team was here they made a very sweet and hilarious tribute skit of Gordon and Niki's "love story". You can see in the work team photos how Gordon and Niki were almost rolling on the floor laughing. After the team left we had the privilege of hosting another small party for them at our house with some of their friends from the missionary community here. The highlight of the evening was when we played "The Not So Newly Wed Game" with the Elliotts and 2 other couples. All the couples were good sports and we had a great time. 

3. WGM Retreat
Every year World Gospel Mission Bolivia extends an invite to Evangelical Church Missions Bolivia to attend their annual retreat. This year it was hosted at Rio Selva resort just about a half hour outside of Santa Cruz. The whole week was a very enjoyable time with good guest speakers, music, and relaxation. We were lucky that it coincided with the Bolivian school vacation so we were able to close the Tutoring Center for that time. I apologize for not getting more photos of the whole week. Perhaps I can borrow some from some other Facebook albums. Check back on the FB group often for updates. 

4. Volleyball Tournament
On Saturday July 7th we hosted a Volleyball invitational tournament at the district lot. We gave invitations to all 7 district churches. Teams were required to pay 30 Bolivianos (approx. $5) to enter. The days leading up to the tournament had been kind of rainy and cold, but we still had a decent turnout and everyone had fun with some light-hearted games. I refereed most of the day and Molly sold snacks. All the money went back into the ministry of New Hope Tutoring Center. 

Well after 2 weeks of vacation for the Bolivian schools we are back to our regular schedule each afternoon at New Hope and continually appreciate your prayers. One main prayer concern right now is for some more volunteer tutors for each afternoon. Occasionally we'll have an afternoon where just Molly and I are trying to handle 50 children. You can see how that can get a bit chaotic. 

We are so grateful for your prayers and support. None of this is possible without your partnership. We truly value each and every one of you. 

Thanks for checking in.

Blessings to All, 
Bryan and Molly 

1 Praise the LORD, all nations! 
Praise him, all peoples!
2 His love for us is strong, 
and his faithfulness is eternal. 
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 117 1:2

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MILESTONES

April and May are months that mark some very important milestones for us. 

April 15, 2012 = One year of ministry together in Bolivia

April 14, 2011
All our bags were packed to the very last pound that regulations would allow. My guitar case was securely (and perhaps excessively) taped and ready for the "fragile handling" of the airline employees. We had our tearful hugs and goodbyes and headed toward the security checkpoint. As I set my wallet and shoes into the bin I realized a couple things. The next time I'd put money in that wallet it would be Bolivianos (currency of Bolivia). And in 3 connecting flights later, those shoes would be stepping out onto Bolivian soil which we would then be calling "home". 

I still remember the deep peace we had getting on that plane out of the Omaha airport. This wasn't a peace that had just come naturally. In the months leading up to our departure Molly's father and my mother were both diagnosed with a similar form of lymphoma (Cancer of the lymph-nodes). This hit both of our families very hard. It was truly one of those catalyst moments when God asks that toughest question. "Do you REALLY trust me"? God was calling us to an important ministry to the people of Bolivia and asking us to leave our families in the palm of His hand. By stepping on that plane we were saying to God, "We trust you to be fully in control just as you always have been". Praise God both Molly's father and my mother were able to receive chemo-therapy treatments and have been in remission for many months now. We still find ourselves faced with that question from God. "Do you REALLY trust me"? In fact we're faced with it often in the midst of our next milestone.

May 5, 2012 = 2 months directing "New Hope Tutoring Center"

If you receive The Evangelical Challenge magazine then you may have read our article in the most recent issue. It talked a little bit about this new ministry that we are diving into. God has blessed in great ways as we have partnered with the Santa Cruz District of the Bolivian Holiness Church in reaching out to a community in need. Several years back, Molly formed a vision in her mind of a tangible way to reach and teach Bolivian school age children. That vision has really taken shape in the last several months. On March 5, 2012 we had our opening day at Nueva Esperanza (New Hope).
That first week was filled with a bit of chaos as we tried to get all the children to fill out registration forms, take pictures, and to get acquainted with the schedule of the center. Several things have been tweaked since those first days, but we have fallen into a comfortable and familiar day to day.
We show up right around 1 pm in order to set up all the tables, chairs, and boxes with materials for teaching. The center is officially open from 2-5 pm Monday through Friday, though some kids start showing up around 1:30pm. The tables are divided by grade level and on an ideal day we are able to have one volunteer at each table. We have a good core group of volunteer teachers from a few of our churches, but we constantly pray for more people to step up to the challenge.
The basic schedule is homework assistance from 2-3:30 with varied game breaks,which Bryan leads, for each class. If at 3:30 there are students completely finished with their homework they are rewarded with the "activities table" where they can color or play with a variety of different board games. At 4:30 we have daily devotional time which is lead by one of our volunteers and then we end the day with a small snack (usually kool-aid and cookies or fresh fruit).

Here are a few highlights from the past 2 months
Cleaning up the lot before the first day




Molly teaching the devotional during the first week

Look how they hang on her every word

Group picture in front of the sign

Another one with the sign and a handful of volunteers


Fellow missionary Gordon Elliott volunteers 2 days each week
and here he is leading the devotional

An "interesting devotional illustration" for the story of Samson

Giving directions for games with the 3rd and 4th graders



Ernesto just being silly

Bryan and Moises working on Math homework

Doug Burrows having a "deep conversation" with one of the 1st graders

Puppet show on Day of the Child

Behind the Scenes


Giant colorful parachutes are always a bit hit



Doug Burrows helping make self-portrait puppets

Boys with their self portrait puppets on Day of the child.

Molly and Doug serving snack

Bryan drawing a picture for his "buddy" Leonel.

and the most important milestone...

May 29, 2012 = 2 year wedding anniversary
You know how sometimes you look through an old yearbook or just see a couple walking down the street and think, "How in the world did THAT guy get THAT girl?" Well speaking as "THAT guy", I'm not asking questions. I'm simply enjoying how incredibly blessed I am to be spending my life with the most amazing woman I've ever known.


CHICKEN FOOT IN YOUR SOUP???

On March 25th we helped with a "Feria de Comidas" (food fair) organized by some of the volunteers from our New Hope Tutoring Center committee. They had the idea to raise money to help cover costs of the daily snacks at the center. A Feria de Comidas is a Sunday lunch generally with 4 or more plate options and of course Peanut soup for appetizer. Each of the churches is invited to participate and sell tickets to their congregation. These events are a fairly common fundraising technique here in Bolivia, but before that weekend we had only gone to eat the food. This time we had the privilege of helping prepare all the food as well. We went to Dios Es Amor (God is Love) church Saturday evening to start the prep work. Granted the kitchen was a bit different from a church kitchen you might find in the states, but we all worked together, made some great food, and had some good laughs. The prep work started Saturday evening with some new experiences for us. Molly cut off her first chicken head and peeled skin from chicken feet to go into the soup. I was asked to taste test the marinade, but this was after the raw pork had already been dropped into the large container. It was one of those moments were I said an extra prayer of protection as the marinade touched my tongue and went down my throat. I had no ill effects. Our work was not finished Saturday evening. We went home to try to get to bed some what early in order to head back to the church at 4 AM to continue food prep. I was so vigorously peeling my potatoes on Sunday morning that I broke my peeler. I grabbed a knife to continue the job, but our friend Valeria quickly diverted me to washing lettuce duty. I knew our friendship was growing when she was blunt enough to say, "It's just faster if I do it".  So the morning was going smoothly and all the food was smelling delicious. Then the phone orders started coming in. We have seven churches in Santa Cruz and some of them are in the same general neighborhood or mile radius of our district lot where we would be serving the food, but there are a few that are across town. We agreed to make deliveries to two churches. The ladies put together the orders and I hopped in the car with Pastor Paulino (Pastor at God is Love Church). We were a ways down the road when my cell phone rang and Molly informed me that I forgot to take the box out of the car that held the spare change and food tickets to use at the district lot. For some reason I thought we'd be back in time and this wouldn't cause much of a problem. However, traffic was backed up on one of the roads we were on because a city bus and a cargo truck had a pretty severe collision. We got to the first church a bit behind schedule and it took a while to get  the correct change , from the "church treasure", for the meals. As Paulino and I were "cruising around town" we unwittingly had left our wives in the lurch and caused a bit of chaos back at the district lot. Without the tickets and proper change there was no way to keep all the orders straight. When Paulino and I arrived back from our deliveries, everything seemed to be in fairly good order. People were sitting at tables enjoying their food. I even saw some of the children who regularly come to the Tutoring Center, there with their parents. Paulino's son Nelson had the sound system hooked up with some nice background music. Everything appeared to be in order until I stepped into the "serving area" and was brought up to speed on what had been happening over the past hour. The ladies were all very forgiving for my forgetfulness and oversight (althought I'm sure they will tease me about it for years to come). I remembered later that Molly had mentioned to me about the box and how I needed to take it out before I left....Ooops. 
Well I learned a few lessons through this experience. 
First: Listen extra closely to your wife at all times. If needed, take notes. 
Second: (and I kind of already knew this...) Bolivians can cook some seriously amazing food in some seriously simplistic settings. 
Third: God can smooth over the chaos and make some really amazing out of it. 


Enjoy these photos...















Blessings, 
Bryan & Molly

Friday, March 16, 2012

Roadblocks (physical & spiritual)

 Have you ever felt like Satan was trying to get in the way of something great happening in your life? Perhaps a job opportunity doesn’t work out or a deal on a house falls through. Maybe you’ve continually given into the same temptation and wonder when God will just “free you from it”. It is in these times when Satan can try to manipulate our thoughts to doubt our own strength and even worse to doubt God’s power in our lives. I was recently reminded of just how important it is to take control of our minds in difficult situations.
            Each year the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC) has a 3 day long Junior High Camp and week long High School Camp. Molly and I both counseled at Junior High Camp. It was an incredibly fun couple of days. The mosquitoes were out in full force. The showers were ice cold. The bed was rock hard with a paper thin mattress.  And I had forgotten about “camp cologne”. You know that interesting mix of sunscreen, bug spray, and Axe deodorant? But all these things make camp so memorable. Yet the truly valuable memories will be of the great sense of God's spirit during the sessions. Junior highers might not always be the most vocal about what God is doing in their lives, but it was certainly clear that many of them were doing some serious thinking about their spiritual walk.  
 

            The following week I went to counsel at High School camp while Molly stayed back in Santa Cruz preparing details for “New Hope Tutoring Center” which launched on Monday, March 5th (more about this ministry in upcoming posts). It was clear from the moment we drove out of Santa Cruz heading for the campground in Buena Vista that there was a spiritual battle going on for the hearts of the youth. God had something great planned at camp and Satan was throwing up his roadblocks (quite literally).
            It just so happens that on the very day we set out for camp the Association of Motorcycle Taxis had organized a series of roadblocks all along the way to Buena Vista. Not only were there roadblocks ahead of us, but also shortly after we passed the airport on the edge of the city, the motorcyclists closed a roadblock behind us. We were stuck. We couldn’t get to camp and we also couldn’t head back into town. Roadblocks are fairly common things in Bolivia. They are organized for different reasons, but generally act as a way to protest a new local or national law. In this case the motorcyclists didn’t want to pay overdue fees for operating without licenses and helmets for the past several years. It is hard to explain this civil struggle to a High School student running low on “bus snacks” and patience.
            As we were waiting out the situation and figuring out our next step I kept thinking how incredibly grateful I was not to be the “man in charge” for this outing. I owe a ton of thanks to Mike Banks, former World Gospel Mission missionary to Bolivia, for agreeing to come back down from the states for two weeks to plan, organize, coordinate, and be the speaker for camp. Mike spent 19 years in Bolivia so he is far more familiar with these possibly stressful situations and he handled everything with a calm and collected nature. Mike brought with him a former SCCLC student, Ben Cooper, to help with games. It was great to get to know both of them. 
            There were many things that unfolded as we made our way toward camp. 
We took an alternate road around
the blockade and got stuck
in the mud and were pulled out
by a tractor

We got to the other side of the roadblock only to find out there were several more roadblocks all the way to our destination. We were able to get some lunch in the town of Montero. We found a local park for the youth to get out and relax for a bit. It was getting later and more apparent that the blockades were not going to lift. We made the decision that we would have to spend the night in Montero.


 Mike made the hotel arrangements while Ben and I got supper for everyone (fried chicken, rice, and french fries of course). As I laid my head on the pillow, I thought back over the day. The normal trip from Santa Cruz to Buena Vista is about 2-3 hours and we had been on our journey for almost 14. Sure I had my frustrations throughout the day, but then I thought that God must really have something great planned for camp if Satan was working so hard to keep us from getting there. I thought how utterly impressed I was with the attitudes of the youth. Through all of it they were united, upbeat, and resilient. Little did I know just how much more this resilience would be shown  in action.
            Early the next morning I got a call from Mike letting me know that we had a chance to get through to Buena Vista because some of the roadblocks had been taken down. We got the buses loaded and got on the road. Everything was smooth sailing right up until the city limits of Buena Vista. There was still a remaining roadblock on the bridge at the edge of Buena Vista. This resilient group was determined to get to camp. Everyone grabbed their stuff, got off the buses, and started walking. 

In total we walked 4.5 kilometers (approx. 2.8 miles) to get to the other side of the roadblock where we met up with vehicles to take us the rest of the way. It was nearly 24 hours after we had left the school in Santa Cruz when we finally arrived at the campground.
I'm sure as we all set out for camp we anticipated the great things God was going to do when we got there. None of us were prepared for all the lessons He had to teach us along the way. I'm sure satan had this picture in his head of us all getting frustrated and being at each others' throats. He wanted to cause division and get us distracted. God turned all of that around and made this group more united and focused. It has encouraged me to constantly keep my eyes open for all the lessons along the way instead of just focusing on that destination up ahead. What is God teaching you in the stressful moments? Are you able to have joy in the midst of chaos? My prayer is that we can all get to that point and give all glory back to God.







            




Monday, January 23, 2012

OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET

I just recently finished an enjoyable read of the first book in C.S. Lewis’s celebrated space trilogy, “Out of the Silent Planet”. You may be feeling like that is exactly where this message is coming from since my last blog post was at the end of August.
            As we start 2012 I want to make it a goal to do better with frequent updates both on the blog and on our Facebook group. We will use “Canny Chronicles” to post articles and pictures of recent events at least once a month and use “Bryan and Molly in Bolivia” (facebook group) for weekly prayer requests, praises, and day to day updates.
            We feel really privileged to be serving on the mission field in an age of so many technological advances. We don’t plan to get a Twitter account to let you know our every waking move, but we do want to stay closely connected with our network of support. We value each and every one of you.
            We will be sending out a hard copy prayer letter in the next month with some photos and ministry updates. We will also have an article published in the next issue of The Evangelical Challenge. Hopefully the news and updates don’t get redundant for you. One of the biggest items on our update list is the tutoring center. We have talked about this ministry vision before and the reality is getting closer and closer. Our desire is to have things up and running by the end of February or beginning of March, but there are still a lot of details that need to fall into place. We would really cherish your prayers for more volunteers, construction at the district lot, wisdom, patience, and organization of supplies and for God’s hand to be on this project. We will keep you posted as things continue to move forward.

I wont try to cover everything in the last quarter of 2011, but here are a few highlights.
Bryan helping to lead worship at High School retreat 
Fellow Evangelical Church missionary, Aaron Brakefield, visited from Brazil as the special speaker for Spiritual Emphasis Week and High School retreat for the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center








Molly helping serve food for a Bolivian youth/young adult retreat in Cochabamba

Bryan leading worship in Spanish for the Cochabamba youth retreat



Avelino and Josefina celebrate 50 years of marriage!!!

Us with the happy couple
An orphanage near our neighborhood had "friend day" one Sunday and we got to spend the whole afternoon with these sweet brothers. Burger King, the arcade, visit to the pool, and brownies back at our place. We know how to spoil 'em. 

Juan de Dios (John of God) is the life of the party

Erwin taking a turn head first



A high school student reciting her team's "Christmasgram" during our "Elf: the movie" themed Christmas party.

Eating spaghetti with maple syrup...
If you've seen the movie then you understand


We tried to visit the sand dunes with our past 2 work teams and this was as far as we got this time. Thankfully as we waited for the truck to come pull us out of the "river" we got a nice game of pick up soccer going. 


Bending rebar for the ceiling supports


Leading singing (in Spanish!) at the afternoon Vacation Bible School

Pastor Felipe and another church brother fitting the forms to pour concrete columns
Tito is excited about laying some brick

Happy and smiling team from Roberta, Georgia. Thanks for all your hard work.
We miss y'all. 




Thanks so much for checking in again. I know that was a brief overview, but I hope it helped you see a snapshot of some of what life looks like for us here in Santa Cruz. 


Looking forward to a great 2012 with you,
Bryan and Molly Canny

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