It’s Only the Beginning
I don’t think it really hit us until we were thousands of feet above the ground, flying over California, and getting “comfortable” for our fourteen hour flight to Central Asia. Tears began to fill my eyes as the realization of what our team was doing and the gravity of how much we would need the strength and guidance of Dad on this trip started to sink in.
Upon arrival to our location we were rushed into an elevator by a woman and were loaded into a van that would take us to our first destination, our hotel. We were all very jet lagged but also very excited as we passed huge skyscrapers and tried to communicate with our driver through technology and hand signals. We ended up staying at a local’s hotel and called this our home for the first week. Chopsticks, no contacts, unfamiliar land, and tiredness made us turn to Dad for strength and for Him to lead us on. We learned to cook rice and noodles in our hotel rooms, a little hesitant to eat what didn’t look recognizable on the streets, while short-circuiting the power in the hotel…. Oops. Exploring was breathtaking and the cultural differences were shocking as we tried to become accustomed to the culture and love on the people the best we could.
At last we met Jason, a gift from Dad, that led us to soup filed dumplings, an amazing skyline, and the hope that we were here for a reason. We were invited to our first fellowship where it was refreshing to look upon the One we serve and become more dedicated to the mission and cause. We celebrated Easter weekend as a family, with Jason of course, feeling the call of Dad to stay in our first city yet another week. There’s no doubt in my mind this will be an experience of a lifetime and we will learn that giving is better than receiving.
Michaela Ragsdale – DTS Student, January, 2015
Hey its Katherine giving you an update on our first week here. So before we even left the country we were blessed in the Belize City airport. While sitting in the airport we sat near a couple who were eager to hear where we were going and the things we were going to do. After talking to us, they decided blessed us each with $20 U.S for dinner that night in the Dallas airport because of how excited we were for American food.
We arrived at the Vieux Fort, St Lucia airport about 1 pm the next day. As we were going through the immigration line and were called to the stand the lady had a name tag on her shirt and instead of a name there was a verse written on it and it read Ephesians 3:17. We were so surprised to see this because Ephesians 3 has been the passage that we have used as a theme for our outreach. It was such a reassurance to our team that God has gone before us is anointing this trip and has joined with us to spread His love to the people in this country.
The week started slow, some of the girls weren’t feeling well for a while Thursday we had a Bible study at the house where people from the community are welcome to come. It was fun to get to know some of the ladies in the neighborhood and hear their life stories.
One day I went down to the river behind the house and sat on a big rock praying in the quiet when a man came down the hill to cross the river. He greeted me, saw that I had my Bible beside me and asked me what I was doing. I asked him if he was a Christian and his words were “I guess so” he said hesitantly and then asked me if id read something from Bible. So I did and we had great conversation of about Gods love for us.
Easter Sunday we got the opportunity to speak at a local church. We were greeted and welcomed by each person that came that morning. While in church we shared our testimonies, put on a skit and most of us got to share something, all in all it was a great experience and the a lot of the church members were touched by what we had to share with them. Then in the evening we went to a different church where Rachael daughter of the couple we are staying with had a Easter play that they had been working for a long time. It was a long day and we were ready for bed.
These are just a few of the many opportunities and experiences we have had during our time here so far. God has been working through us in all kinds of ways, from a simple conversation with someone, to stepping out of our comfort zones and speaking in front of a local Church. I can’t wait to see what else God has planned for the next 6 weeks to come! Keep watching as we continue to update you weekly with stories and the work we are doing her in this beautiful country.
Katherine Peters, DTS – January, 2015
Hi, from Bolivia! Still enjoying warm weather and eating great food. Though some of our days were long, we were able to serve alongside different ministries while making tons of memories and building relationships.
We got the opportunity to transform “The Cave” which is the local church youth room. By cleaning and painting we took a room made from old horse stables with crumbling walls and running rats and turned it into a welcoming place for them to meet.
Hello again from Bolivia! We are half way done with outreach, and our whole team cannot believe it. In the last 3 weeks, here are some things y’all have missed:
In our final week in La Paz, we worked at a Boy’s home for street kids. It’s a ministry in the mountains of Bolivia called Kaya. They take boys off the streets of Bolivia and give them a permanent home, food, and a family of other boys just like them. We built relationships, laughed, and played a lot of soccer with them. The saddest part was that they creamed us “gringos” every single time. They were half our size and age, and won over and over. Mostly we just got to have fun with these boys and reflect Christ’s value and love on them as much as we could.
We also got an awesome opportunity to partner with a shoe shining ministry in La Paz. In the city, there is tons of discrimination against shoe shiners that earn their money on the streets. The shiners wear ski masks, hats, and hoods, so that no one will see who they truly are. We got to shine shoes alongside them, wearing all of the things that they do. It showed us all how distorted value is in the world. That God’s heart breaks for these people because He says “Child, you are mine. You are valued because i say you are, not because of who they say you are.”. But the truth in that is He says that to every single one of us. Our value is determined by our King, not by the world. It was such an amazing eye opening experience as we were all pushed outside of our comfort zone, in order to see more of God’s heart for the value in all people, no matter where or who you are.
After a 10 hour long bus ride, we finally arrived in Cochabamba, which means “eternal spring”, for more reasons than one. The culture here is a bit less “busy city” like, than La Paz, and there is a chiller vibe. There is much more green because of the drop in altitude. Mountains still surround the city, but these mountains are green and lush, rather than brown and rocky like in La Paz. The food is amazing (stay tuned for pics on the next blog post). There is a saying that goes like this: ” The people in La Paz eat to live, but the people in Cochabamba live to eat!”, which is so true.
Since being here, we have helped with maintenance jobs on an orphanage for girls called “Daughters of the King” that is opening very soon. We have also served at a Kid’s Club in a much poorer area than where we are staying. It was like a VBS for kids here. It was equally sad and joyful to spend time with these kids, while seeing the reality of how they live. We served them bread and juice, which for most all of those kids, that is all they will eat for the weekend. Aside from that, we got to play with them and just love on them regardless of the high risk of catching lice from them all. I remember driving there knowing that it would be rare for a kid to not have lice, and that we all should pull up our hair. I began to think “oh no, I don’t want to get lice! I wont get too close.” Then Jesus spoke so boldly to me and reminded me of how he was the one who pursued the hearts of lepers. He was the one who sat with the lame and sick. He was the one who broke down boundaries of value by showing people that they are worth it no matter what. Right after that, my attitude changed and my heart broke for these people instead of holding them at arms length. As we had to go, all the kids were hugging us and running after our car laughing, and the last thing any of us could think about was getting lice. All we could think about was the joy that each one of those kids taught us, even with having so little. I would go back there in a second if I could.
Our whole team has been learning that choosing freedom is a daily choice. That every day we wake up, we fight alongside Jesus to walk in the healing that He gifts us. Please be praying for us to celebrate our own personal small victories and that we can continue to be empowered to fight. Also please pray for health, and constant joy to be willing in every single opportunity God gifts us in these last weeks.
All our love from Bolivia!
Shea Salisbury – DTS September 2014