Greetings to you from Bolivia!
We hope this finds you well and enjoying God's blessings in this new year. For most Simba as well as much of Bolivia as a whole, Christmas and New Year are just a good excuse to drink to excess. In spite of that there are a few "candles burning in the darkness", for which we give thanks. The little Simba church here decided to have a Christmas Eve service, as well as a Christmas morning service with a meal together afterwards. Then in the evening they got together again to watch a video on creation that our co-workers were showing. They don't get to see movies very often, so for them it is a real occasion. We are reprinting the small hymnal that someone translated eons ago in the Simba language, and while going through it we discovered several Christmas songs there that nobody here has ever heard before. So we as a family practiced some together, then sang the Simba rendition of "Come All Ye Faithful" for them. We are enjoying having our eldest son Joshua home with us for the holidays and he has been enjoying having a couple weeks with no school work.
The biggest news and item for prayer is that, starting this Monday, we will be teaching a literacy program here in the community. This is the first time there has ever been any kind of organized literacy program in the tribal language and we have high hopes. However, we well realize that to do anything in this community on a long-term basis requires a certain level of consistency that is often very difficult for the people to maintain. It seems we are constantly competing with so many things that are pulling our tribal friends in different directions...everything from community meetings and work projects to soccer tournaments in other communities. Because there is no source of income in the community itself, many have left recently to look for work elsewhere (inc. our best translation helpers)...some temporarily and others permanently. But we have to start at some point and we are hoping that there will be a good turnout, especially those who are believers. Please pray for them that their desire to learn to read will translate into being consistent--the literacy classes will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon. Please pray for Kathleen, too, as she will be doing the lion's share of the teaching.
As well, these same distractions have made it difficult to continue on a consistent basis the teaching in the church . We have done all we can to help those interested to attend the services...because our community is very long, I have been driving to the far end to pick up several folks who want to come to the mid-week services, yet because of the late hour and distance wouldn't come. Even still, on any given weeknight (we usually meet on Wed. and Fri. nights) it is anybody's guess who will be there. There are a few who have been very faithful to come and listen to the Bible teaching. Among them are Pedro Rivera, Pedro Flores and Porfidio Flores. Please pray for them...they are very likely the men who will be the future leaders of the church here in Taperillas.
In the meantime, I (Bill) meet every morning with Pedro Rivera to work on language, finish up the first phase of the Bible Chronological lessons, as well as continue with the revision of Mark if there is time. Our second cursillo is scheduled for the 24 - 30 of this month, and so we've been working on preparations for that as well. The encouraging thing is that our co-worker Jack Russell is planning to be here from then until some time in mid-march. He also can teach in the tribal language and will be able to teach in the next two cursillos. That should lighten the load somewhat.
Well that is most of the news from here...we trust that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is keeping you close and revealing more and more His ever tender love and care.
Warmly in Him,
Bill and Kathleen Mann