In early January 2015 at a winter retreat in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming I presented the vision of a short-term mission trip to Bolivia to the youth of Grace Bible Church of Laurel, MT. As we left the mountains, I had a hope that many students would buy into a potentially life-changing opportunity.
A year and a half later, 15 high school and college students and 5 other adults were ready to embark on a 48 hour journey to Cochabamba, Bolivia. After much prayer, preparation and packing, our plan was to partner with JJ and Randi Guerrero in doing basketball camps and communicating stories from the Bible to the youth of Cochabamba.
JJ met us in Santa Cruz and traveled with us by plane from sea level to 8,300 feet in the mountains. After a short rest, JJ and Randi opened their home to us and introduced us to several students and staff associated with their main ministry, Ciudad de Refugio (CDR). These students would be extremely instrumental in helping with interpretation during our interaction with the youth.
We did four days of camps in two different suburbs of Cochabamba; one in the morning, one in the evening. JJ planned the camps near two Evangelical churches so they would have opportunity to maintain connection with the students after the camps were finished. We had to be flexible as we realized our efforts were not as effective as we hoped in teaching basketball. We adjusted and learned, making sure engaging with and loving on kids was our priority in order to model God’s love for them. We ended our camp with an invitation to “follow and obey” Jesus and many students indicated a desire to do so. Our last day of camp, we fed burgers and chips to the students at the churches in order to encourage the church in following up. These were emotionally rich moments as we said “goodbye” to youth we had shared physical and spiritual food with. Our hope is in the power of the Gospel to bear fruit in these young lives.
JJ and Randi had planned some days of relaxation following the camps. These days gave opportunity to experience the ministry at CDR, explore the market, climb to the Christo, and enjoy some rest before the long travel home. Through our entire stay in Cochabamba, we were well taken care of by our wonderful hosts!
What started at a winter retreat in the mountains of Wyoming ended with joy filled tears as we left the mountains of Bolivia. JJ, Randi, Alyssa, Addison and Rocky along with the other missionaries in Cochabamba and staff of CDR made our experience in Bolivia enjoyable and life-impacting. Our hope is to return with another team in the near future and would encourage you to consider doing the same!
If you are interested in being part of a Faith Adventure to Bolivia, Brazil, New Mexico, or Liberia, please contact Pat O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org 503.342.3588) for further information. Teams are forming now for 2017-2019.