Greetings from Bolivia!
To start with, we very much want to thank all of you who were praying for us during this last week's Bible cursillo (spanish for "a short course"). It really didn't turn out at all as we had planned, but by the end of it we were very confident that the Lord worked out everything as HE had planned. To start with, of the 30 or so people that we invited from other communities only five from three different communities came. Suddenly we had a very empty teaching hall. After discussing the matter with the rest of our team, we decided to open it up to the entire community of Taperillas. The outcome was very encouraging...altogether, there were on average 40-50 people coming over the 3 days and almost all of them came consistently. This really surprised us as now many are under alot of pressure to get their fields planted. Our national co-worker Felix and I taught together through the first quarter of the chronological Bible teaching, which took us from creation up through Cain and Abel. It is all material that has been taught in the church here over the last several months, but it is the rare person who has attended consistently enough to have heard it all. As it was, the core of the church here came out as well as several others who have not attended since the church fell apart last June. As well, several came from the community here who, for them, this is the first time ever hearing Bible teaching. So we are all very encouraged at the outcome and thankful for your prayers.
The guys visiting from other villages seemed very excited and assured us that they would be returning for the next cursillo in January. One of them is a full-time worker with one of the Bolivian national churches who is working in several of the Simba communities south of the Pilcomayo river, where to date there are only a handful of believers, if that. It is very probable that his ministry has been primarily in Spanish, even though he speaks another dialect of Guarani. (He was very interested in the literacy part of the cursillo, and this could help him greatly in learning better the Simba dialect of Guarani). He told us that next time he will try to bring many from his area with him. That is a real answer to prayer for us, as we as a team have been wanting to reach the villages south of the Pilcomayo for a long time but have not been able to so far. As well, the others who came virtually begged us to come visit their communities and teach as soon as next week. That is the hard part, as right now there just isn't time to be able to do that. It is all I personally can do to just stay on top of preparing to teach in the church here three times a week as well as begin making the preparations for the next cursillo. It may be possible for our coworker Felix to make the trip, though..please pray for him. The Simba have been taught for so long in Spanish that when someone comes along teaching in their own language, they (especially the older folks) really seem to grab on.
We also did an hour of literacy each afternoon and were encouraged at the positive response to that. We are thinking possibly of beginning a community-wide literacy program in January as well. We aren't sure how that will work out, as there are so many things right now competing for their time that it may be hard to be consistent for the time needed to complete the program. Currently, there are two work projects from outside which are requiring most of the men to put in many hours of work. We are hoping these projects will be completed by Christmas, so that all will be freer for both the literacy and Bible teachings we'd like to complete before leaving for our furlough this coming year.
Josh's week vacation from school fell during the cursillo week, which meant our family time was limited. However, we all greatly enjoyed the time we had, and he was able to help a little, along with Jonathan & Jesse, with some aspects of the cursillo. All three boys had a great time playing soccer with all the Simba kids nearly every day! Josh is back at school in Santa Cruz now, but will be home again for his Christmas break in just three weeks.
Well that's the latest from this part of the vineyard. May the Lord bless you all!
Warmly in Christ,