April 2022: Happy Easter!
Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download our Easter 2022 letter.
Recently, students in a one-room school on the way to Quesimpuco, high in the Andes of Bolivia, listened intently as the teacher explained the lesson. The school is near a small river, so that they could have water. Their parents had made the mud bricks and built this school. Because they had a building, the government sent a teacher. What joy they had felt when the teacher walked into their village the first time to start classes! Many children in this isolated district lived too far away to walk to school, and this handful of 35 students felt blessed, indeed, to be able to have the opportunity to attend. The teacher and students were all proud of their school!
It is the rainy season in Bolivia, and flash floods are not uncommon. On this day, the students tell us that lightning struck the mountain peak nearby, and deep thunder followed. The light in the room darkened as dark clouds rolled in. The wind began to roar past. The teacher told the children, “A bad rainstorm is coming. You must go home quickly! The river could flood our school!” The children lost no time, as they ran home as fast as they could.
March 2021: Easter in the Andes
Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version. We have shared this story in the past, and it is a good reminder that we can have an Easter celebration no matter where we are.
Written by Sarah Corson, SIFAT Co-founder
The truck climbed slowly up the narrow ledge of the Andean road, cutting sharply to make the hairpin curves in Bolivia. At least two dozen hitchhikers joined us in the back, crowded with the produce, furniture, chickens and other cargo. It was the Saturday before Easter in 1985. We were hoping to get to the capital in time to go to the Easter service the following morning.
This had been the longest, hardest trip ever coming up the Andes Mountains. It took us 46 hours to drive 200 miles. Every time we got stuck, everyone helped dig the truck out, although we only had one shovel. The rest of us used our hands to dig out the mud in the tracks. Five times, a tire blew out along the way. It rained, and our sleeping bags and clothes were wet. Finally, at 3 a.m., we reached a pass in the Andes some 16,000 feet high. The cold was bone-chilling. Suddenly, the truck stopped. A wheel had lost some bolts and was about to fall off. We could go no farther. One of the church leaders walked down the road in the snowstorm and found a small hut where a sheep herder lived. The man got out of bed and welcomed us. We crowded in and, grateful for a roof, lay down on the dirt floor littered with sheep dung. As usual in the area, the sheep herder had no heat for his house. In the freezing cold, we huddled together on the floor. The sheep herder’s daughter slept with a lamb, and when he jumped up and walked among us with his warm coat of wool, he was welcomed. For a few minutes. he lay at my head, and I buried my face in his wool, thankful for the warmth.
Medical Team Supplies Help Dr. Ruth Noemi
Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to that month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.
Written by SIFAT co-founder Sarah Corson
An urgent call came to Benjo from Dr. Ruth Noemi Mamani in Quesimpuco, Bolivia. Because this is an isolated area, we had hope that the coronavirus would not reach this place, which Tom still calls “the end of the world.” But, a group of youth from Quesimpuco had gone to Chile and Argentina to find work. As the outbreak started, they rushed to get home, crossing the border illegally. They made it home, but brought the virus with them. Dr. Ruth Noemi did not have gloves, masks or protective gear for the health workers helping her.
Quesimpuco: A Renewed Motivation in Bolivia
Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail articles with our contribution statements. You can download a copy of the article to share with your church or civic organization.
March 2020, Written by SIFAT Co-founder Sarah Corson
Benjo Paredes and Ken Corson started CENATEC, a Christian nonprofit, more than 42 years ago. He has led the way to take the Gospel to thousands of Bolivians, taught seminars, helped 85 villages get clean water and helped thousands of people have more food to eat. But, the years have taken their toll.
Benjo is 80 years old now. His son Isaac had taken Benjo’s place as director of CENATEC, because Benjo was getting older and had back trouble. Some days, he could hardly walk. Dimmed eyesight. Joints swollen with arthritis. His whole body was just worn out from more than 40 years traveling a 500-mile circuit over the rugged Andes Mountains. He had given most of his life to help his people. He could do no more.
Bolivia: Mt. Bethel UMC Update 2
The Mt. Bethel UMC mission team is currently in Quesimpuco, Bolivia. Each year, a group of men from Marietta, Ga., look forward to spending time together serving the people in this remote Andean village and sharing during devotions. SIFAT’s executive director Tom Corson, administrator Terry Haynes and board member Art Stephenson joined this team. Bert Blanchard, a former team leader, could not go this year, but he has been sending out daily updates he receives from the team to family and former team members. Bert’s updates include photos, descriptions and stories from previous years that will help you understand the landscape and culture of the area. For more information on SIFAT’s work in Quesimpuco, download our latest update here. For the first half of the Mt. Bethel team’s week, click here.
Wednesday, October 28
The team finished the irrigation pipe work that could be completed and are planning to spend more time getting to know the families in the village. They completed the work faster than expected with the help of their new friends. He said there was one woman in particular who was carrying large stones down to support/protect the pipes that no one from the US could keep up with.
They have been enjoying time together in the small-group atmosphere: sharing devotions, cooking meals and playing cards. Wayne Hiott is leading the music and songs. Andy Rogers is leading worship, devotions and setting the tone for their spiritual nourishment.
Today, they were planning to spend more time playing with the kids, and Art Stephenson was to share a devotion with the people of Quesimpcuo about his experience with NASA.
Thanks to the past 20 years of support by SIFAT and mission teams like this one, the kids now have clean drinking water, more nutrition in their diet, a school, a medical clinic, and they get to worship and hear about Jesus Christ. Before, none of these things were possible. You can see the impact in one generation already. The kids are taller and healthier than their parents and have many more opportunities to use their gifts to support a bright future for the village.