Presidential Elections In Bolivia Oct 2020

As we have mentioned before, the presidential elections have been pushed back many times until now the final date has been set for October 18, 2020. Even amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there have been events and campaigning. During the months of Sept and Aug, it has been relatively calm because everything has been leading up to this moment. The Oct 18 election. It is a big moment in the history of Bolivia as it will determine which direction the country will go. The MAS political group is determined that Bolivia will become like the next Cuba. Their desire is to see banished ex-president Evo Morales return to power and support continual push towards Communism.

The US department of state security describes the situation well. “The first round of the election will occur on October 18, although the entire process is likely to extend for next several months. In order to avoid a run-off, the leading candidate must win either 50% of the vote, or 40% of the vote with a lead of 10% over the runner-up. Current polling suggests that this outcome is unlikely, meaning that we can expect a run-off election between the top two candidates on November 29. Inauguration Day, traditionally held in late January, is a hard deadline for the transfer of power. In the case of a contested election, or if there are alleged irregularities in either October or November, the electoral commission will likely try to resolve them by the end of the calendar year” .

Currently, seven candidates are running, although only three have significant support. Polling in first place with around 30% of the vote, Luis Arce represents the left-wing Movement for Socialism (MAS), Evo Morales’s political party. Throughout September, Arce looked to have enough support to win in the first round without a run-off, but since interim president Jeanine Áñez dropped out of the race three weeks ago, Arce’s lead has shrunken to below the 10% threshold. Comunidad Ciudadana’s moderate
candidate, Carlos Mesa, currently hovers at around 25% in polling, and right-wing Creemos’s Fernando Camacho polls third at 13%. Polls suggest that if the elections go to a run-off, many of the smaller political
parties will rally around Carlos Mesa as a main challenger to Arce. This frames the election as a referendum on last year’s ouster of Morales and the legitimacy of his MAS Party, which maintains a strong plurality even as the majority of voters oppose it. Internal divisions within MAS over party
leadership concessions to the Áñez government also threaten the historic dominance of the party.

The security concerns are at a higher level than normal. Large protests and possible violent outburst are very likely according to the US Embassy in Bolivia. MAS leaders and followers have not been afraid to resort to violence in the past and are prepared to take action if their candidate doesn’t win the election. “There will be massive down hall meetings as well as protests, strikes, and roadblocks related to a variety of issues. The duration of these possible protests is unknown. U.S. citizen residents and travelers should be prepared for potential grocery and gas shortages.” – US Embassy.

We have prepared the best we can. We have bought extra food, gas, a gas generator, and water to last us a few weeks. We hope it won’t last longer than that but it is really unknown at this point. We take comfort we are in the hands of our Sovereign God who reigns and is working all things out to His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). Please hold Bolivia in your prayers.

Thank You for Your Generous Heart

We want to thank you for the overwhelming response we have received to our needs and the needs of our ministry here in Sucre Bolivia.  Your generosity has inspired us in so many ways. Above all we give thanks to our heavenly Father who has filled His church with such concern and generosity to support the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have received letters offering encouraging support, we have received individual donations as well as church donations. We are really amazed. Thank you!

Because of the generosity of several churches and donors, the current debt of the school is down to $2,115 usd. That is really amazing from where we were before with over 6k in debt from this global pandemic. Praise God with us for this and pray the Lord would help us get to $0 by years end. Pray with us.

We have also received pledges and donations for homeschooling the boys and the generator we need to buy in preparation of the up coming presidential elections in Oct 2020. God is so good. Thank you all for the many blessings.  We pray the Lord would continue to use His church for His glory and honor throughout the world.

Reflections on the Book of Joel

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the book of Joel. In all honesty, I haven’t read the book much in my life. Sure I studied it in undergrad and in seminary, but passed it over as quickly as it came. I was lead to the book during my daily devotionals and found the book really profound. There is a lot of tension in the book of the “all ready/ not yet” coming of the kingdom of God.

The book of Joel reminds me of the coming of the Day of the Lord —a time when “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). God will judge all the injustice of the world first for the Jew and then for the gentile. After that great and terrible day,  God will make His home with His people. God will get ride of every sadness  and there will be no more death, sickness, racism, killing, or lying (Rev 21:4).  But sometimes that day seems far away.

I remember when Laura was giving brith to Nicolas here in Bolivia in 2015. I remember holding her hand as the life was draining from her  because the doctors couldn’t stop her bleeding. I thought these were my last moments with her. I prayed to the Lord of heaven and He answered me. I begged God for her life and he delivered.  God spared the life of my wife miraculously. The doctor still can’t explain it to this day. But since then, my wife has had all kinds of different medical problems. Yes God did a miracle, but did he provide only to allow her to suffer more?

I think about all the miraculous things Jesus did…. healing people and raising them from the dead. Yet, after their encounter with Jesus we don’t know how the rest of they life flowed. Surely there were moments of discouragement, perhaps sickness again and eventual death. Didn’t even Lazarus who Jesus raised to life, eventually die again? So even thought we see healing, the ultimate healing hasn’t taken place yet.

So now in our life, we see small glimpses of the kingdom of God. We see God changing people’s lives. We see addicts becoming clean. Marriages being restored and people coming from death to life in Jesus. BUT, our world is far from perfect. The coronavirus continues  to spread and devaste life.  Sickness of all kinds continue all around the globe. Porn usage continues to destroy marriages. Racism destroys our communities and keeps us from the real joy of deep friendship and fellowship with brothers and sisters of many different kinds of ethnicities. Sin, Satan, and sickness have not yet been destroyed completely.

And the call of Joel the prophet ochos today. We should all repent. ” Even now,” declares the Lord,  “return to me with all your heart,  with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  13 Rend your heart  and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God,  for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,  and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13). And the promise of God is when we turn away from our sin and the world, we will be saved. We are His sheep those whom he most certainly will redeem and he will welcome us into His Father’s house one day.  Jesus says,  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;( Jn 11:25).

And so we wait. We wait in the already, not yet. Even in the uncertainty in Bolivia of the pandemic which continues to kill more people we know… or the uncertainty of the looming civil unrest and possible war in October 2020… we wait patiently, committed to the task of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ until our last breath.

A visit with Laura’s family

For the third time in 6 months, we as a family left the house. There are still on a moderate quarantine with restrictions in Sucre. Most weekends we can’t leave the house but last week it was open and we went for a visit with the Ramos family. We live so close to Laura’s family  its been hard not seeing them or working with them during this time. We do a lot of ministry together and we praise God for that. But during the COVID crisis, our interactions have been very limited.

Laura’s sister Ruth and her family have made a complete recovery from CV19 and we were all able to get together as well for tea. Even the grand kids got to see each other  and play together which hasn’t happened in a long time.

All of us have been trying to survive this pandemic and the political unrest that has effected so much of life here in Bolivia. 2020 has been a very challenging year thus far and we we are nearing the end of Aug now.

We are trying to enjoy a bit of family time as in Oct it is expected to have more civcil unrest due to the presidential elections.

MAS Protesters and Police Clash in our Neighborhood

http://https://www.facebook.com/correodelsurcom/videos/582044339157762

 

The political problems continue to grow intense. Last night, the MAS protesters had a demonstration in our neighborhood. Only a small block away from us police and protesters clashed over the blockades of the socialist movement around all exits and entrances to the city. Our neighborhood has been filled with people lately protesting against the new government wanting elections Sept 6th instead of Oct 18.

It was an intense experience for us at our house as we heard people shouting and screaming but we weren’t sure what was going on at the time. People where throwing things and lighting off fireworks in protest.  The police apparently  had come to clear out the blockade at night but the MAS supporters resisted.  We have never had a scary event like this happen so close to our home. Bolivia continues to struggle with COVID and now adding the political problems to the mix honestly feels very overwhelming.

But we continue to do ministry and life despite these circumstances. We know God is working even when we can’t always see it.  Please pray for Bolivia, for justice and peace. We will continue to update you all as this progresses.

 

Socialist Protesters blow up a mountain in Bolivia

(From Correo de Sur: Highway we have traveled before demolished)

Well, yesterday’s news of the school closing because of the COVID pandemic and the financial crisis was very heavy. Today, things have turned for the worse politically. The presidential elections were pushed back to Oct and since then socialist advocates in favor of Evo Morales return have been violent in their protests. Recently, they have been blocking hospitals receiving air for COVID patients. The interim president Jenny Añéz has begged protesters to allow medical supplies to pass for people who are struggling with COVID to get the oxygen they need. In response to the president’s pleas, today protesters in the countryside took explosives and blew up a mountain (see image above) that fell down on a major high way where food and supplies where being shipped in-between cities. Officials are desperately trying to find a solution to get supplies around this enormous blockade caused by the collapse of the mountain .

(Correo de Sur: Hospitals need Oxygen urgently)

Protesters are calling for the elections in Sept 6th and want Evo Morales or someone from his MAS party to be elected. They don’t care if people die in their protest. This is a specific group of socialists (MAS)in the countryside.   The newspapers report that there are 55 different blockades all over the country in valors regions of the nation. Goods and supplies are having a hard time reaching the major cities.

So far this morning when I went out to buy food from the market for the week, I had no problems finding everything we needed. In the city of Sucre itself, there have been mild protests downtown but nothing we have seen yet here in the city.

Please pray with us as we continue to seek to be light during this time.

 

 

Vida y Luz School Closure for 2020

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the closure of the 2020 school year at Vida y Luz effective Aug 1, 2020. We have tried our best to continue this great ministry amid the Corona Virus  epidemic but we have come to a point that we are not able to continue to function.  This is sobering news.

(Students at Vida y Luz right before COVID hit Bolivia and Quarantine shutdown)

There have been a few reasons for this decision. The government announced Sunday the complete shut down of all K-12 schools, public and private. All students in the nation will pass onto the next grade and all students who were seniors in 12th grade  will graduate. After some push back from private schools, the government has allowed private schools to continue online education. However, for many private schools, including Vida y Luz, are forced to close down for the remainder of the year because we can no longer pay our staff.  For the last five months many parents have not been able to pay for tuition.  In the month of July, not a single family was able to pay.  Sadly, this enormous debt falls on the board members who were also teachers at Vida y Luz and no longer have a job.  Laura and I are also board members and we are trying to figure out a way to pay back our massive debt of 6,000 USD.   Some Christian schools are permanently closing their doors.  It is our prayer that we will be able to start again next school year in February, 2021.

(Gabriel and his cousins studying online at Vida y Luz during quarantine)

We ask for your prayers as we are in the process of figuring out what to do.  We are extremely grateful to those who have given to our ministry at Vida y Luz and those who fervently pray for the school.  It is because of your generosity and God’s grace that we were able to make it this far.  Last night, we had a meeting with the parents and we were overwhelmed by gratitude as they shared the ways their families have been blessed by this ministry.

Laura’s Terrace Garden

During this COVID crisis, sometimes finding fresh veggies has been difficult for us where we live. Laura has slowly been working on our terrace garden. We live in a very small house in Sucre so we have to use every little space available to us. The terrace gets great sun and its an open space where she can work. Plus it have a great view of the Andes mountains all around us.

We really like fresh organic food. Growing our own is the only way to really get organic here as most of the veggies and fruit are now sprayed down heavily.

In this container, we are growing broccoli, swish card, carrots and some green onions. It is winter season right now which is very dry. Its in the 60’s during the day and can drop down to 32 at night.

Here are are growing some strawberries in a raised bed. We also put in some more green onion, which I just love with eggs in the mornings.

In a pot, we are growing these massive broccoli. It so exciting to see it growing every day.

These pots are growing a variety of veggies and fruits.

Down stairs in our patio area, we have a small apple tree which gave fruit for the first time this year. We ate 18 apples from the tree. We also do our own compost down in the patio area and have a worm bin so cut down on our waste management.

 

Nico and Gabriel have both helped out in the garden and its been a joy doing it together as a family.

Gabriel is working on his photography, in which he took the majority of these pictures.

New Moderate Quarantine level Sucre 2020

Last week, Sucre Bolivia moved the quarantine from a strict level to a moderate level. I took our car, which hasn’t been used in 4 months, to get an oil change and a new battery. We might even have a little mouse in the car now. We are going to get it cleaned up for use again.

There are now buses, taxis and cars everywhere. It was a 4 month strict quarantine. The new moderate level allows people to leave their houses and open up work again. People can be out from 6 am until 4 pm Monday – Friday. On the weekends, everyone is supposed to be home.  Some government offices and buildings are still closed and there is limited travel between cities. But the reality is there is a lot more open then before as long as the new quarantine guidelines are followed. No churches are allowed to hold services and all large public gatherings are forbidden in the mean time. But at least we can leave our front door on a weekday.

So for the first time in 4 months, Laura, Nicolas, Gabriel and I left the house together and went to visit the school property and Laura’s parents and family. Wow, it was great to be outside in the fresh air. Its dry season as you can see in the picture above, but we were just happy to be outside.

The situation in Bolivia isn’t getting any better. COVID continues to spread rapidly. But Bolivians need to work again as people live on a salary of what they make daily.  Many of the poor are starving and struggling so the decision to reopen hopefully will help them. But the hospitals are still over run and people continue to die in the streets from COVID especially in larger cities like Santa Cruz and La Paz.

At our school in Vida y Luz, we have 3 teachers who have the virus as well. One of the grandfathers of our student died from it.  Their entire families are sick and infected now. Please be in prayer for them during this time.

Support challenge for Vida y Luz scholarship success

We are very thankful for the scholarships we are able to give students to continue attending Vida y Luz even during this time of quarantine.  Vida y Luz is completely on line and the children can continue to get a Christ centered Christian education from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade. We have 3 students again this year that we have raised funds for their education Ayelet (6th grade), Valerio (3rd) and Wilson (1st).

 

We praise God that we have been able to raise funds for Ayelet (6th grade). A church in Jackson Michigan has committed to give towards her scholarship. All the money has not yet been collected but they are hosting fund raisers to raise that support.

We are also grateful for an anonymous donor who was willing to match any donation up to $1200 for the boys scholarship. A church in Saginaw Michigan has committed to give towards Valerio and the anonymous donor then matched the gift 100%. Praise God with us! Especially in moments of crisis with COVID, the church continues to shine it’s light in the form of generosity. Thank you so much for partnering with us for the kingdom.

Students in this program are expected to earn a B average grade, show good behavior and their parents volunteer throughout the school year.   Each family pays  a monthly amount depending on their financial situation. These students not only get a good education but are introduced to Christ as well. Recently Valerio and Wilson wanted to confess their faith in Christ. Amazing to see the Lord calling these young kids to himself through the school. If the Lord leads, please give towards this life changing ministry.  Account # 150899 Vida y  Luz STUDENTS HELP