Merry Christmas from the SIFAT staff!We hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your friends and family. The SIFAT office will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will reopen on the 26th.
Are you catching the Christmas sales and shopping online? Many stores donate a percentage of your purchase when you shop using GoodShop. Click here to learn more. Each purchase you make will allow you to donate to SIFAT without adding to your total!
Greetings from SIFAT, Alabama! I should have written this a week ago, coming back here in the USA, IÂ slid backÂ toÂ the normÂ (?) of Â busy, busy Â and fast -track American life.Â Anyway, here isÂ to share with you my last couple of days in Bolivia, and also to share some of my reflection on myÂ 7 -month life in Bolivia.Â
I had a good visit with the family ofÂ IvanÂ Roman (a.k.a. Bully), as they had been a great host for me everytime I was in La Paz. I really enjoyed my time with their kids. Also I congratulate them with theirÂ new bundle of blessing, Anna Irena, theirÂ 1- month old baby. I was also blessed to have a little time of visit withÂ a couple of sisters in their Fellowship, Maria andÂ Naomi Ruth.Â
On my last evening,Sunday night, IÂ was happy to get together with the former dorm supervisors of Internado,Â Judith and Ruth. We had fun talking and reminiscing Internado memoriesÂ while having coffee in Calle Sagarnaga. We all then had to say good bye, with tears in our eyes, as we do not know if we will see each other again in this lifetime. I was thankful to the Lord as those two sisters have been my good friends. I told them, they were my first Boliviano friends.
I thought that wasÂ my last good- byeÂ inÂ Bolivia,Â but then another surprise.Â Monday earlyÂ morning, Isaac Paredes and hisÂ Â dad,Â BenjoÂ drove me to the airport. It was my a blessing to meet for the first timeÂ Mr.Benjo, anÂ ever faithful servant of God.Â
When I boarded the planeÂ for the flight La Paz-Sta. Cruz to Miami, just afterÂ IÂ buckled my belt and wore my shades,Â the Â long over due tears finally rolled downÂ Â my cheeks. It was I think from all the overwhelmingÂ mixed -emotions.Â Knowing it’s time toÂ go, I was of course very sadÂ to leave the children from Internado and to say good-bye to some great people in Bolivia who became friends.
I was also overwhelmed with God’s grace and good ness and IÂ kept telling myself, “Lord,Â I do not deserveÂ your goodness”.
Maria,Â aÂ dear sister fromÂ a church, asked meÂ something like, how I would remember Bolivia. Of course I said that Bolivia is a beautiful country and I like the diversity (it was true though).Â I told her that “BoliviaÂ people are the most beautiful and nicest people I ‘ve met”.Â They areÂ very humble, polite, friendly and kind.Â Now I understand whyÂ Ms.Sarah Corson just love these people.
I am truly thankful andÂ blessed with the way theÂ people of Ixiamas and La Paz had received me eventhough they did not really know me, a total stranger, from aÂ differentÂ culture and farÂ awayÂ place.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with the Internado folks.Â My time with the children of InternadoÂ was funÂ and exciting.Â EventhoughÂ it was not that long, my 7 month time being with the kids I hope had been a positive influence in their lives. It was fun to see them use the serviceÂ of computer with their studies. I know I didn’t do much, but at least they were able to be familiar with the use of computer. WithÂ my limited language,Â I still had fun times with the kids.Â IÂ theyÂ Â they had felt the love ofÂ ChristÂ in meÂ eventhough myÂ Spanish was not very good.Â Â They know that I will miss them, I’m just thankful that most of them left for home after the school year before I left.Â (At least, it was not too bad,Â Â they left first :))
I am grateful to all the folks, churches and individuals who have been supporting the work in Internado, Ixiamas for the past few years. The Internado (Boarding Home) has a unique opportunity to reach out and train the young people of Ixiamas and other communities around. I am blessed to work with Rachel and the staff at the Internado. Again, I am thankful to the SIFAT folks in Alabama for the opportunity they had given me to serve in Ixiamas.Â I am most thankful to all the staff of SIFAT for their prayers, love and support. I also thank the Lord for Ms.Sarah Corson who had been an inspiration, an encouragement and a friend especially during someÂ difficult times.
For those who have been reading my stories in the blog and had prayed for the Internado folks andÂ for me,Â thank you so much to yall!
It wasÂ a blessed andÂ funÂ year of new adventures being inÂ Bolivia.Â He has taught me a lot of things, and has changed me and space is not enough to write them all. The Lord bless yall!
Ciao to yall, hasta la vista!
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We have exciting news to share – the bridge project in Quesimpuco, Bolivia, has been completed! Bolivar Sanga, the SIFAT engineer overseeing this project, called right before the SIFAT staff sat down for Thanksgiving lunch on Wednesday, Nov. 26. He e-mailed some photos of the bridge to us, and we wanted to share these with you.
Thank you for your prayers and support during this project. By partnering with Bridges to Prosperity, we learned new appropriate technology to build this bridge with the community at a much lower cost than anticipated. Auburn UMC raised the money for supplies and sent multiple mission teams to help with the project. Mt. Bethel UMC’s first SIFAT team to Bolivia also served with this project.
Here are some of the photos for you to enjoy:
Attaching the decking to the bridge
The bridge is about 400 feet long.
It is 100 feet above the river.
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All the materials not available at the site had to be transported by hand from Quesimpuco down the mountain to the site. Cable, cement, sand and wood were carried on people’s backs for hours.
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This year, people will be able to safely cross the Chayanta River to reach the village of Quesimpuco, where they can attend church, receive medical treatment and go to school. They will be connected with the rest of the world, even during the rainy season!