Being Salt and Light in the Time of Quarantine

Being Salt and Light in the Time of Quarantine

 Queridos Hermanos (Dear Brothers and Sisters)  

Bolivia is in day seventeen of total quarantine, after a week or so of partial quarantine. This measure is set until April 15, but some municipalities are already requesting it be extended and tightened as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As of now, Monday to Friday — those days being staggered based on the last number of our ID cards — from 8 am to 12 pm, one person per family can go out to buy groceries. Saturday and Sunday everyone stays in. Automobiles are restricted, so almost all movement is on foot.
I’d like to share with you how the pastors and congregation of La Trinidad are responding to this situation. Our mission is to “Be Salt and Light in Christ Jesus.” We are learning how to carry out this mission and share God’s love in times of quarantine.

Worship on Line: We are putting up daily messages, audio, and video on our church Whatsapp group and Facebook page.  This has been quite a challenge due to saturated signals and limited data plans. Yet, we are becoming more tech savvy and creative!  The mom’s Bible study is even growing as it meets each week virtually. Please pray for us as we walk through Holy Week together from our homes with soup and foot washing, Good Friday meditations and pan dulce, a movie night, and a Resurrection Sunday breakfast greeting and celebration.

Calls, Calls, Calls: We are reaching out to congregation members to see how they are doing spiritually and physically. We thank God for the technology that closes the social distances and even for the extra time for longer visits over the phone. As a pastoral team we are in constant contact with each other to coordinate needs and prayer requests. Our days are full.

The Salt Project:  The quarantine has created a particular financial crisis here, with people unable to work and no unemployment program. Government subsidies won’t reach many families.  After two weeks, some families have run out of savings and food. We have formed The Salt Project to get basic goods to needy families.

We have divided the congregation into zones. If a pastoral call reveals a need, the project committee approves the use of a small fund we have created from family donations. Then three things happen: we find someone in the zone who is able to go out the next day possible, an amount is transferred to that person from a congregation member´s bank account, and then that person buys and delivers the groceries.

Yesterday was Juan Cris’ day out,  and there were two needy families in his Sacaba zone. He got up early, rode his bike several kilometers to the bank, stood in a long line to use the ATM, got groceries for the families — including his own! — and delivered them, and then made it home by noon. Praise God!!  

We also helped an elderly woman living alone who is not a part of our congregation. Through various coordinated steps, Marcelo was able to buy her groceries and walk them to her house.  The family member who had contacted us wrote last night that her aunt was so happy and kept repeating that God hadn’t forgotten about her — a handsome young man had showed up at her door with food! “What a beautiful testimony of loving our neighbor and of the love of God for all his children.”

Today we are mobilizing to help three more families in need.  We are thankful that God is providing as we help others. I am heading up The Salt Project and coordinating other initiatives to address needs during the pandemic. If you would like to donate to this fund, please click on the button below.

God is showing us His purposes for us here during this particular time.  As always, it is to be salt and light, sharing Christ’s love with others by all means possible. Thank you for showing that love to us and your hermanos at La Trinidad. Thank you for your prayers for Thomas, who is healthy again and doing well. Please continue to pray for health and protection for missionaries and foreign worker families separated from each other due to quarantines and travel restrictions, and please pray for the congregations and communities where we serve.

May you continue to be salt and light in your own communities.

Tammy, Rusty, Maddy & Thomas

He’s got this.

He’s got this.

God’s business is putting things right.  – Psalm 11:7 (The Message)

I shared this verse with a member of our congregation and two other directors from the social services ministry of Cochabamba. Right before we went into a hospital room to pray last rites with a teenage girl. 

God is at work to put things right.

These three women who work selflessly for the well-being of the most neglected in society need to know that this is precisely God´s business so they do not lose heart in the face of so much need and injustice. Our world needs to know this as we read news that appears to indicate the contrary, with local  catastrophes and global crises. Families need to know this as we worry about what will happen tomorrow. I need to know this, as I struggle with aging and kids leaving home and congregation members struggling to grasp this very truth.

God is in the business of putting things right.  This is what it means to say God is righteousness.  This is what it means to preach that we have been justified by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  This is what we mean when we proclaim Jesus is Lord and will come again. 

This is what we prepare for in Advent – God’s putting all things right in Jesus.  

May we be confident in God’s work, even while we wait. 

May we have courage to share, serve, and love.

And may we not lose heart, nor become weary or indifferent, being assured that our labor in God’s business is not in vain.

He will do it.  He is able. He’s got this – and her and you and me. 

¡Qué Dios les bendiga!

Tammy & Rusty

Messy Church – Bolivian Style

Messy Church – Bolivian Style

We’d like you to get to know Messy Church – Bolivian Style.

La Trinidad goes to our neighborhood park and shares the Gospel with families one Sunday afternoon a month. The idea is to get the whole family engaged, get our hands dirty, and be the church. We call it Iglesia Abierta – Open Church.

A few weeks ago the lesson was on how to tend to the family – using the idea of how we care for plants.  Each family planted a seed, then at the next table they were given a plant and two pieces of paper for listing the names  of or drawing each person of the family on the plant. They got to keep the plant.

And we got to keep their names with the promise that we would be praying for them each week at La Trinidad.  It was a fantastic afternoon, and we were able to pray with each of the families there in the park.

The best part was last Sunday at La Trinidad.  We handed out the names and prayed for each person in small groups.  Then those names were posted on a prayer tree.  The whole congregation was involved! Our prayer is that these families will come to know the Lord and grow with us at La Trinidad.

Iglesia Abierta was started, adapted, and is run by lay leaders in the congregations, down to the lessons and activities themselves.  This is how God is moving at La Trinidad!  

We ask you to pray for the Iglesia Abierta ministry at La Trinidad and for our next activity on June 3.  Please pray with us that families will be transformed by the Gospel. As of yet, no family has visited us on a Sunday morning, but they are starting to look for us in the park on Sunday afternoons!  Please pray that we would know how God is leading us to also be transformed to better minister to our neighborhood.

¡Qué Dios les bendiga!