We wrapped up boot camp early this morning (Saturday), and Pastor Quisbert came to get us with a mini-bus equipped to deal with all of the luggage, including a helper that works with the driver on such things. Our plan is to visit the Valley of the Moon, since it’s pretty close to the seminary here. It’s the best opportunity to see a truly unique geographic wonder. The park is really a desolate place, with little pockets of green tucked among the grotesque shapes formed by erosion on the mixed clay soil. The scenery is fantastic and contorted, and the path snakes its way up and down and around and over through two different loops. One takes about 15 minutes, and the other 45. It only costs 15 Bolivianos (about $2) for us to go through, and it’s worth every penny. There are views of the Andes foothills all around, too. They usually have a traditional musician somewhere around the park, playing Andean music on traditional instruments. Sure enough, as we finished up the first short loop, we ran into the guy for the day getting set up. This started a chain of events that is absolutely awesome.
When I saw the man lay out his instruments and get ready, I thought it would be interesting to see what he would do if I started to sing in Aymara. When I kicked in with an Aymara hymn, his head snapped around and his face lit up and he literally ran back to me and started jabbering away at me in Aymara, and then Spanish. Turns out that he is a Christian, knows those hymns well, and we sang one or two together for a few minutes. The man, whose name is Valerio, talked with us for a little and then asked us to stop by where he would be on the path before we left, and we would sing more as a witness to anyone who might be around! Well, we continued on our walk through with that plan in mind then. It so happened that the young man who helped our driver had decided to come with us on our walk, which is kind of an unusual thing. Usually, people that you hire to drive you around just stay with the car. In this case, the driver did, but Ronald wanted to come with us. The singing we had done at the beginning of our 45 minute loop (if we hadn’t done the shorter one first, we would have missed Valerio) had made an impression upon him. He began to ask some questions, and Pastor David evangelized him all along the way. He was very thoughtful. There was a place along the path where someone had offered an offering to Pachamama, the ancient Incan goddess, and PQ and I stood there and prayed by the path for the Lord’s victory in that place. At the end of our walk, we found Valerio and sang some more songs with him as a bunch of tourists stood around and watched and listened. As we prepared to head back to the car, Ronald suddenly stopped us on the path, and with tears in his eyes said that he wanted to receive Jesus right then and there! David and I prayed with him there on the path, Valerio joining in, and Ronald prayed to receive Christ as his savior. It was awesome. Our prayer for the Lord’s victory in that place had been answered!
The rest of the day I think we were all pretty much walking about a foot off the ground. We were so in awe of what the Lord had brought about in the morning. We arrived back at the church in time for some lunch and some settling in. The people here have been very busy preparing the church to receive us, including doing some extensive remodeling of the living and ministry spaces that will serve them well in the growing ministry here. The new building is coming along very nicely, and a new kitchen and upstairs room has been added, as well as the old sanctuary being turned into two rooms (being used while we are here for sleeping quarters for the girls). We’re going to help do some painting and other work while we are here at some point.
In the afternoon, we were treated to a wonderful presentation by the children who participate in the OANSA (Spanish AWANA) program. They sang for us, recited verses, and showed the work that they had been doing all year. It was great to see them doing so well. Our Grand Island Bible Presbyterian Church sponsors their program, and they are doing their best to get the most out of the curriculum and resources to reach their neighborhood kids and families for Christ.
After the OANSA program, we had some down time before the evening Welcome service that was planned. The folks were very secretive about it all, they had something special up their sleeves for us. It really was a wonderful service, with maybe 100 people in attendance. The singing was a blessing, greetings were exchanged, brief testimonies from us given, and then the big surprise was unveiled, which was the presentation of floral garlands to each of us by pairs of children dressed in the traditional dress of each of the departments (states) of Bolivia. It was really beautiful, and very touching to see how much they poured out their love and welcome on us. What an unforgettable and blessed day. Thanks for your prayers!