Greetings from southern Bolivia!
We have been away from email access for too long, and have missed being in contact with you. While enroute to the annual NTM conference at Tambo, we were able to check our mail on a regular (ie. rather than via ham radio) server, and we found that many of your letters have not been coming through. So if you wrote in June or July and received no response, that is probably why. We're not entirely sure what the problem is, but a couple items to remember when writing us is that all messages must be in plain text, and must not have attachments. It's also good to delete our original message to you before sending your reply.
Much has happened since we last wrote. The wood for our house FINALLY arrived the day before we left for Conference. Thank you so much for your prayers. It was such a blessing to return last Friday to find the roof on--praise the Lord! There was no rain the entire time we were gone, so the house is dry inside, which is definitely another blessing.
The NTM conference was an excellent time of teaching, encouragement, and fellowship. Much of the teaching seemed to be geared to exactly many of the things we are facing in the Simba, and we've returned a little more prepared to face some of the challenges. A major challenge here is that the Simba look to the missionaries here for everything from money to decision-making (in church/ministry related areas), which is a very unhealthy dependence. One of the themes at the Conference was how to help the indigenous people to place their trust fully in the Lord, rather than in us. We'd sure appreciate your prayers in this area, as we sure need the wisdom and love of the Lord to know how to respond to the many requests that come our way.
Our travels were challenging, and we want to thank all of you who prayed us through the many miles. Of all our long trips, we've had a total of two without a breakdown of some type! We are so thankful to the Lord, though, that each breakdown has been repairable and we've always made it to our destination the same day (or night). We had the tie rod ends fixed just before this last trip back to Taperillas, so guess what broke enroute?! Bill is becoming great with the "farmer fixes", and was able to jack it back up into place and secure it there with a bent nail!
We arrived back in Taperillas to find ourselves in the center of a controversy here. It turns out the road company was here while we were gone, and were angry to find our house in contruction right where they want to put a new road. Both the missionaries already here and the community recommended we build there; however, they forgot that the road company had surveyed that area several years back. Our home is right against a very steep ridge, but the company is determined now to put the road back behind our house and up on a narrow "shelf". It could only be a narrow, hazardous road, but that is very typical for Bolivia....they like to build roads up high, thinking they will need less maintenance. We have to cross a mountain on our way to Taperillas on a road like that, with many hairpin turns and spots wide enough for only one vehicle; on this past trip, we had to back up literally into the side of the mountain (one crunched mirror) to allow an oncoming truck to pass with only centimeters to spare. We'd sure appreciate your prayers as decisions are made regarding this road. The land belongs to the Simba community, and it's up to them to speak up, but they are really only used to "bowing" before any Bolivian nationals.
In the meantime, we are busy here. Bill continues to work on house-building, and I'm preparing the homeschooling materials. The boys seem excited to be starting school next week, so hopefully that will last for many weeks and months! We hope to be in a routine soon, and able to begin our study of the Simba language.
Continuing in His grace,
Kathleen, for us all