YWAM Tarija – An Early Childhood Centre

Here I am in Tarija, staying at the YWAM base here. This base is not like many of the bases of YWAM in that it does not run courses or training. What it does however is something very important for the community. Run by one woman who is occasionally assisted by temporary helpers, this base provides a free educational service for poor families in the neighborhoods.

teaching in a group
Stephanie teaches the days of the week through a dance.

on the blackboard
Young girl working on the blackboard with chalk.

Many of the children that come to this centre have terrible stories about their family life. Others have lived in poverty and never been given the opportunity to experience the learning opportunities of the rich. Most families do not have electricity in their houses, few have water, and some eat from the garbage dump to survive. These are families in massive risk. A great number of them are “mistresses,” women on their own with one or more children to try and keep alive.

The goal of this centre is to provide these children with both the educational and relational experiences they need to be able to succeed in life. And it is doing a remarkable job too.

Mercedes working with the children
Mercedes works with the children both together and individually.

Stephanie working with a girl
Working one-on-one with the children.

Here are some photos of the children as they work away in the centre, learning and discovering things that they had never had the opportunity to do before. If you would like to help them out, then I am certain that Mercedes would be very pleased to have you along. Obviously, being in a Spanish country means that being able to speak Spanish would be an advantage, but is not essential. Contact me and I will pass on your request (translated if in English). I have had a lot of fun working with the children during my time here and I am sure you will find your time here rewarding.

young girl cannot speak
An older child that still cannot speak more than a few words.

Girl playing with plasticine
Young girl building hand skills in plasticine.

alphabet puzzle
A young boy works on getting his alphabet letters in the right place.

girl painting
A young girl working at the painting table.

Church in the Plaza – Cochabamba

It was only one day that I was able to spend at the orphanage, and by the evening of that day I had returned to the church where I would stay the night before leaving early the next day for La Paz.

Christ statue on hill
Although not all, many of the cities in South America have their own statue of the Christ up on top of a nearby hill.

That night was the last night of an Easter campaign in the plaza, run by this large church. As a guest, I was invited to join them in this large event. When I got there, it turned out to be church in the plaza with lots of dance and drama for the people that came by. People also moved through the crowd passing out tracts about Christ.

the church
The building that houses the large church that looks after the orphanage.

After the event and returning all of the gear that had been used during it, I returned to my small room in the front corner of the church. The church had fed me and looked after me during my short stay here, and had even purchased my ticket to La Paz. Now I was in a guest room inside the church building, yet more evidence of their generousity. Sleep came quickly at 1am in the morning. Tomorrow would be an early start.

the plaza
The Plaza of the Flags, where the church service was held, on the main street of Cochabamba.

looking at event over flowers
The plaza was surrounded by rich beds of flowers everywhere.

girls dancing
Some girls dance before the crowd to a Christian song.

preacher preaching
Preaching to the crowd that has gathered, as seen from the other side of the main

A Country Church Service – Entre Rios

On my last day in Entre Rios, after the plumbing had been fixed and the leadership training had finished, we all climbed into a couple of cars and headed out to a small church in the country to celebrate together.

church service
Fineke teaching in the church.

The day was wet and raining, and the rivers had risen significantly to the point of cutting off the town along the main routes. We squeezed virtually everybody into the two four-wheel-drives that we had, putting the remaining two into a taxi to get them out along the 30 minute journey.

squeezed into car
Squeezing people into the 4wds.

Continue reading “A Country Church Service – Entre Rios”

Moto Roto

Ya estoy en Saenz Peña, Chaco. Un tercer de la viaje completado. Empujé por 3 horas a llegar como 12 kilometres. Un amigo me encontró y me tiró hasta aquí. Por eso estoy aquí. Ha sido un viaje muy lento. Pero estoy llegando.

Que pasó? Se rompio la moto cuando llegué al pueblito de Pres. de la Plaza. La arreglé pero todavía no anduvo entonces la empujé hasta Machagai. Allá me encontró Sergio Astarloa y su equipo y me tiró hasta Saenz Peña donde la pusé en un taller para arreglarla. Lo haran mañana.

Otro cosa que pasó estuvo que el tanque de nafta, que remplazó el tanque que estaba que perdió nafta, tiene corosión adentro y esta bloqueando el pase de nafta. Entonces cada 15 minutos estaba limpiando el pase de nafta y el carburedor. Aún entonces, no anduvo más que 40 hasta 50 ks por hora.

Así anduve lentamente. Por eso estoy en Saenz Peña. Y mañana se arreglaran mi moto y espero que llegaré por la boda de Isaac y Natalia en Salta por la noche.

Moto roto me pusó aquí. Moto arreglado me llevará a Salta mañana.

Leadership Training in Entre Rios

When arriving in Entre Rios, I was expecting a journey into the jungle for several days and perhaps helping out around the mission a little. What I did not expect was to be involved in a three day training course for leaders. But this is what happened.

Fineke teaching
Fineke, a lady from Holland that lives and works in La Paz, Bolivia, teaches us.

After two days of solid work on the plumbing of the mission building, and getting most things finished, the leadership training course began and I was invited to participate. A course originating from the John C. Maxwell organisation with a view to training a million leaders, the materials and the course was of very high quality and completely free.

Present for the training were over twenty pastors from the townships and communities in the mountains surrounding Entre Rios. This was not all of them, but it was a great portion.

Playing with child
Keeping the children occupied during the teaching was a constant task.

The first of six courses over a period of three years, this course provided the basics of leadership. Topics such as working with people, prioritising your time and resources, planning, basic leadership qualities, and other essentials were touched upon. The next course will be in August, but it is unlikely that I will return to Bolivia, so to continue the course I would have to find out where it is happening in Argentina.

The group photo
Most of the pastors and leaders that were present for the leadership course.

Playing guitar
Relaxing and playing guitar after the course has ended.

Plumbing in Entre Rios

When I got to the mission here in Entre Rios, I was first shown to my room and then shown how to use the shower. It was not that the shower was hard to understand at all, just that there was no water in the shower. To get water for the shower I needed to go outside and turn on the mains tap.

chipping away concrete
Making a path through the concrete for the pipe.

After inquiring about why the situation was like this, I was told that there is a great amount of water being lost underground through the pipes. This could be seen clearly by the amount of water pouring out of the ground and pipes at the lower part of the building on the downhill side.

Rather than live with things as they were, I offered to help out with the re-plumbing of the place. I told them that I was a qualified plumber by virtue of one of my good friends being a plumber (just as I am a qualified electrician because my cousin is an electrician – runs in the family you see). Also having re-plumbed my house also helped.

The original tap
The original tap that needed to be opened to take a shower.

All of the materials were present, and a small portion of the pipes had already been joined, although were not in place. With a bit of planning and work, and help from Guido, we had almost the whole place plumbed within two days. After this, there were only a couple of extra things to do, such as running water to another small bathroom that is hardly used and fixing the kitchen tap.

During the last few days there has been a leadership teaching running all day which has limited what I have been able to do. There are a couple of leaks still to be corrected, and some burst pipes that I have managed to fix too, including one that filled the storage room within seconds. Putting in some taps here and there to be able to cut off the water to different sections and fixing the leaking taps and toilets are also on the list.

toilet with burst pipe
The pipe on this toilet burst, filling the dining room with water.

dining room floor
The dining room filled with water.

Even now the place is tremendously better than it was before. One of the ladies came up to me and thanked me tremendously for what we had just done with the plumbing. She told me that the plumbing had been in disrepair for a whole year. They had been getting so desperate that they were considering paying a plumber to fix the problem – something that was far beyond the meagre budget of this small mission.

finished product
The pipes in place and finished (the old tap no longer works).

When things like this happen and I am able to help out, I often consider it as though God had placed me in this place for that very reason. Perhaps not, but in any case I have been able to help these people in a very practical way.

burst pipe
The pipe that burst, filling the storage room within moments.

Missionary Conference in Virasolo (The Conference)

Having arrived at the church, we were shown to our rooms. Mine was the pastor’s office, converted to a bedroom with two beds. The girls lived in a house attached to the side of the church. My room was located in the middle of everything. Next to our dining room, immediately behind the stage wall to of the church, and above the kitchen and meeting place for church members.

The facilities were basic, providing the necesities, but their hospitality was excessive. We were always fed with newly cooked food, even if there was enough left over to make another meal out of it, and were given enough drink to quench even the driest of thirsts. There were always people around to make sure that we were comfortable and to check if we needed anything else. And people were always available to show us around the local area, which they did. But they were never overbearing or crushing. I felt very comfortable here.

Having organised myself for the night, I wandered into the main church building, following a narrow hallway with several doorways on the right leading into the auditorium. I choose the third and enter into a large area filled with over a hundred people. The opening service had begun.

The church that held the Missionary Conference.

The First Night
During the course of the night, each of us were introduced to the people attending, making our way to the front to say a few words and then returning to our seats. Nancy spoke that night, about Missions and the importance of it. My turn would come the next day when I was to speak at a workshop at 10am.

Exhausted after the meeting, I turned in for an early night almost immediately afterwards. No sooner had I fallen into bed than there was a knock on the door. Upon dressing I discovered that it was somebody concerned that I would not be able to get out to the toilet without a key for the outside door. They offered me the key and left. I quickly fell back into bed again. Half an hour later there was another knock on my door. Again, after rising and dressing, I open the door to another person checking that I was able to get out to the toilet that night should I need to. I assured them that all was well and that I had a key so they could rest easy. Then fell back into bed.

The normal hour for sleeping is normally close to midnight, so these calls from people around 11pm were very common and they would have expected that I would be still awake. I wasn’t, and at a few minutes to midnight, a persistent knock at my door finally dragged me out of my deepening sleep. Upon rising, I discovered the the group who had been making a bunch of noise downstairs, almost directly underneath my room, were now leaving. I thanked them for informing me, turned and grabbed my newly given key, and followed them out, bidding them farewell and locking the door after me. Sleep came very easily.

Delivery Day
It was only a little after 6am that I awoke to my alarm. Underneath my room I could hear noises and movements of a number of people. Things were scheduled to start at 8am, so I wanted to be sure that I would be ready in time. A quick shower and I was ready to go and it was still only 6.40am. So after some morning routines I join the people downstairs for some mate and a chat. At around 7.15am I overhear some worried ladies talking about how the two girls have not yet risen. The girls rose only shortly afterwards.

Around this time, one of the men rises and announces that he is going to search out some “facturas” for breakfast. These are sweet croissants and other concoctions from the bakery that make for a very standard breakfast here. Then looking over my way, he offers me a ride around town to show me a little of the place. I don’t wait for a second invite and quickly climb on his scooter for the ride. We head down the streets looking for an open bakery.

Heading out to the bakery on the bike.
Continue reading “Missionary Conference in Virasolo (The Conference)”

Missionary Conference in Virasolo (Getting There)

“Rob,” the message came to me with urgency, “the taxi is outside waiting for you.” I had been talking with my friend Lehman about plans and ideas and had lost track of the time. Mostly packed, I quickly stuffed my computer and associated bits into my bag where they would fit and then raced out the door, concerned that the rush may have meant I had forgotten something. It was too late now anyway. Our bus was leaving in 25 minutes.

When I reached the taxi, Norma and Nancy were already there waiting to go. Throwing my bags into the boot, I climbed into the front and we were off. The taxi wove us through various pathways and roads on our way there. Leaving our area, we bounced and bumped along the badly eroded dirt roadways at speeds approaching 20 kms per hour. It was only once we reached the main roads, surfaced in asphalt, that we could travel at the regulated 60 kms per hour.

My view in the front seat was obstructed by a plastic sign jammed into the upper corner of the windscreen on my side. It contained the phone number of the taxi company and proved to be the perfect size to reduce the vision from my right eye to virtually nothing. So I found myself leaning left and right as we weaved our way through the meandering traffic just to see anything. It was just after 1.40pm in the afternoon. Our driver was pretty crafty in the paths he chose, and managed to cut through a service station, and squeeze through tiny gaps in the traffic to deliver us at the bus terminal with only minutes to spare.

The bus was waiting for us down the other end of the platform and after checking our bags into the storage space underneath the three of us clambered aboard and found our seats. I was seated on my own, next to a woman that managed to sleep for most of the journey. This was not the comfortable buses with wide seats and a food service. Those buses only travel between major destinations. Our destination was small and local, and our bus was narrow with two seats either side and an aisle that was filling up fast.

As a local bus, if there were people wanting to get onboard then it stopped. If people wanted to get off then it stopped. There were designated stops for the bus, but they were more of a guideline than a hardened rule. I guess these were the places that people knew to wait for the bus at least. As more people got onto the bus, there were no seats left for them to sit, so they just stood around in the aisle, bags at their feet.

People of all sorts were on our bus. From the local gaucho cowboy with his big belt, felt hat, and traditional clothing, to two modern girls decked out in the fashionable tight jeans and loose top typical to this part of the country. A father and son with their shopping for the week stood in the aisle saying nothing, while a middle-aged mother of three or four (it was hard to tell for sure) spent most of her journey telling the kids what they can’t do and should have done.

Five long hours later and we roll into the township of Virasoro, our destination and home to the Fourth Missionary Conference (of Virasoro). As soon as we had gotten off the bus and retrieved our bags we were met by the pastor and ferried in his car to the church hosting the conference.

We had arrived.

Looking at True Riches

Jim Baker (on video) teaching students at a bible college in the United States started teaching on Revelations but was sidetracked down this issue of True Riches. What follows is my brief notes on what he had to say, based entirely out of scriptures in the Bible.

1 Cor 13:1-13
(1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and or angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (2) and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

(4) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. (10) But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (11) When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (12) For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

(13) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is not by works, it is our relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 12:24
Unless a [seed] falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone;

That’s why we are lonely… You have to die daily!

Matt 16:24
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Mark 10:17-25
(17) Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (18) So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (19) You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” (20) And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” (21) Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (22) But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (23) Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (24) And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! (25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I used to teach that the eye of the needle was a gate in Jerusalem that was so low the camels had to kneel down and crawl under. That is not true. The eye of the needle is just that. Anything is possible with God.

Mark 4:19
…and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

People are following teaching that itches their ears.

Luke 1:53
He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.

Luke 6:24
But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.

Luke 8:14
Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

Luke 12:15
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Luke 14:33
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Luke 16:19-25
(19) “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. (20) But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, (21) desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. (22) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (24) Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ (25) But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

Everytime there’s a bad guy it seems to be a rich man.

Luke 19:2
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.

Luke 21:1-4
(1) And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, (2) and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. (3) So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; (4) for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 are often quoted and well loved. An interesting omission from them is that they do not mention anything about “things” or money. There is no “blessed are you if you have lots of money”.

Matthew 5:1-12
(1) And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (2) Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

(3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (4) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (5) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. (6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (7) Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. (8) Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (9) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. (10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Watch out for a different Jesus or Gospel or Spirit.

2 Cor 11:4
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!

The phrase “you may well put up with it” is in effect saying “you may as well put up with it”. This is made clearer in verse 20 where it says, “For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.”

Galatians 1:6-9
(6) I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Matthew 4:4
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “

A misused verse
Some have used 3 John 1:2 as a verse to indicate that God wants us to prosper financially. Here John writes that we may prosper in all things. The word “prosper” here is Euodoo in the Greek. This comes from Eu which means good or well, and Hodos which means road, progress and/or journey. So this combined word means, to be in good health on your journey. This is highlighted by reading the same word translated in Romans 1:10 as “find a way”.

3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Rom 1:10
making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

1 Tim 6:5-12

Lk 15:12 Prodigal son – “give me!” (proverbs)

Act 8:15 give me!

Ps 106:15

2 Kings 5:1-27 Naaman seeks healing from Leprosy

We must seek God – not man. Jesus – not miracles.

Ezek 34:1-10

1 Tim 3:1-8

Vision: Cattle herded without any skin on them. Raw and bleeding they walked past. God said that this is His church, this is what has been done to them.

Tit 1:10-11


Long horn sermons – a point here, a point there and a lot of bull inbetween.

A Brief History on Jim Baker
Convicted of crimes while running a huge evangelistic ministry, Jim Baker spent a number of years in jail. It was during this time that he came to realise this was not God’s punishment but rather His mercy.

These years were the sweetest years of his life, says Jim. He wrote down everything that Jesus spoke in the Bible, abbreviating it into short sentences that still conveyed the main theme of the passage where possible, and then memorised it all. “It was only then that I began to realise just how wrong I was.” It was during these years that he came to realise just how wrong he was, how wrong his teachings on financial prosperity were, and how shallow his relationship was with God. During these years he came to know God in a completely new way.

When I saw Jim Baker on the video he was a different man, a broken man. He presented only the Bible and stayed away from teaching on his ideas or thoughts. He was passionate only about one thing, and that was for people to know God more.

I’ve graduated – Can you believe it!

Well I’ve finally made it. I graduated and have finished my course.

Reflecting on what I went through during the last five months, there were times that I thought I would not make it. Moments during the course when it was all too much, or my feelings would rise up and cause me to think it would be easier to continue on without this training.

But it has been valuable training, and I am not one to give up on any commitment that I make. So I stuck with it. It wasn’t easy either. Sometimes our cultures clashed, and sometimes our understandings were not the same. At times I could not understand the methods used, but I know that in the end it was all worth it. I changed. Well, at least some things have really changed.

Continue reading “I’ve graduated – Can you believe it!”