Wednesday, May 30, 2012


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.


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...

Bryan & Molly

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