Let me give a little background… In 2005, Erik and Jenny Reyes and I formed a team to head to Sucre, Boliva. Bolivia had no Church of Christ missionary presence at that time although a team was also being formed by Jenny´s brother to go to Cochabamba, Bolivia. The three of us left the States at the end of the year with no support (a lot of churches felt our team should be bigger and I should be married) and headed to Mexico where Erik would visit family for a few months and I would take Spanish lessons as I didn´t speak a word before that. In January/Febuary of 2006, the Torres family, Juan Cabrera and Ivan Lastrigame (all Ecuadorians) joined of team and in September I finished the program I was in and joined the team in Ecuador with the last $50 that I had. Erik worked at the Quito Bible school as a teacher for a semester and I worked as a homeschool teacher for James Marcum and lived at the school. We kept looking for support but were ready to move to Bolivia with or without it in 2007. In October of 2006 SouthGate Church of Christ in San Angelo, Texas called us on a Monday to say they would be our sponsoring church for the team and provide a large chunk of the funds yearly. Unbeknownst to them the team had spent the last three days (Friday-Sunday) fasting and praying for a sponsoring church. The Reyes family headed to the States for a couple months to meet with them and get to know the church and to hunt up the lacking funds. Center Street Church of Christ in Fayetteville, AR. joined our team very soon after the Reyes went to the States. We all made a commitment to work in Sucre for 5 years with a 10 year goal. The team was in Sucre, Bolivia in May of 2007 and within a couple months we had opened El Camino (our contact center). During the next years a church was planted and grew. Even the team grew with the addition of the Iskenderian family (Bolivians from Santa Cruz) in 2010. Except for Ivan, who left two years after arriving to marry and work with the church in Santa Cruz Bolivia, our mismatched team stayed past our commitment time. The Reyes left in Sept. of 2015 (8 yrs), the Torres left in Dec. of 2016 (9 yrs), the Myers left in Dec. of 2019 (12yrs) and the Cabrera´s left in Febuary of 2020 (13 yrs) right before the pandemic hit everywhere. The Iskenderian´s continue working in the Sucre Church alongside the deacons of the church. Our supporting congregations stayed with us for the whole time and are continueing with us to start a church in Tarija.
(Welcome back to Sucre party on our first night at El Camino / contact center)
So there is a very condensed version of how the church was planted in Sucre and our connection to the church. It was very hard to leave Sucre and one of the joys in the sadness of having to set aside our goals and dreams of going to Argentina, was the fact that Tarija would put us in closer contact with the Sucre church. After the Cabrera, Torres and my family arrived in Tarija in Febuary and May we have been making plans to visit Sucre. Last week we arrived. We are staying in Sucre for two weeks and our time has been full and non-stop since arriving! (The reason this blog is late getting out!)
(People getting together to pray one morning; Pilar and Nicole on Sucre´s lions)
The church here has just recently started to meet in person on Sundays and we hope to be an encouragement to them and get people used to meeting again.
The first night the church gave us a welcome party witch brought tears to everyone, especially Mary and Pancho who had not been to Sucre since they moved in 2016. We´ve been invited to lunches, have had study times at El Camino/ church building, done a three day seminar last weekend on keeping your eyes on Christ ( in humility, in your church family and in the world), had get togethers for cooking and playing table games, talking with people every night until very late, and getting with friends who are not member of the church … and we have only been here a week. This next week will continue with much of the same. We won´t do another seminar but will have some studies and praise times at El Camino, eat with people and meet with the leaders before heading back to Tarija next Tuesday. It has been a blessing and although we are constantly praying that Covid does not run crazy through the church because of this time, it has been worth the risk as people here are getting sick emotionally and spiritually after being quarantined and separated for so long.
Valeria, who is 14, came and studied with me and Pancho during the week because she wanted to be baptized. She had studied with me back in 2019 for a bit before we left. She is the oldest daughter of Vicky who the Reyes met in 2015 during a survey trip to Sucre and who was one of the first people to meet with us in Sucre when we started the church in 2007 when Valeria was just under a year old.