A team of 14 adults and teens traveled to Bolivia June 25 to July 3 to serve missionaries. Members of the team, organized by Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church in Sperryville, took part in 3 projects: painting homes, providing a Vacation Bible School for the children of missionaries while parents attended an annual Spiritual Life Conference, and providing music for the conference. The missionaries they served were involved in ministries including helping women to escape from prostitution, working in orphanages, and teaching miners and Quechua people about Christianity.
Joy Heddleston, missions mobilizer for SIM, helped organize the international mission excursion. She coordinated the response to the request for help from the group of missionaries which serve across Bolivia. Joy works SIM’s national office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Other team members included: Dr. Richard and Carolyn Smith, Bill Boelte, Joshua and Hannah Kleppinger, Brandon Smith, Jimmy Bailey, Emma Carrico, Joshua Gottbetter, Heather Kilby, Rev. Jon and April Heddleston and Bret Heddleston.
While in Bolivia, the group visited Cristo de la Concordia, the 108-foot statue that towers above the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Cristo, Christ of Peace, is the largest statue of Christ in South America — actually three inches taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ statue. On the return trip to the U.S., the team visited Bolivia’s capital, La Paz. While there, the team experienced shortness of breath as a result of the city’s high altitude, which is around 12,000 feet.
Other Bolivian highlights included seeing llamas up close, touring a school, and enjoying traditional Bolivian food, including freeze-dried potatoes, squash soup and many delicious local fruit juices. Visiting during the southern hemisphere’s winter, the weather was in the 60s and 70s during the day but as low as the 30s at night.
The children at the VBS were taught songs, made crafts, learned Bible truths and experienced treasure hunts, obstacle courses and water balloon play. The younger children performed songs, while the teenagers there presented a melodrama on the last day of the conference. One missionary parent presented to the team a video of the ministry sutisana.com, which helps women escape prostitution. The women learn how to create purses, shirts, and other items, many of which team members purchased.
Emma Carrico, one of the team members, posted this comment on Facebook after arriving home the day before America’s Independence Day: “Couldn’t have picked a better first day home from Bolivia than the Fourth of July. This past week made me appreciate my country so much more than I ever have. Despite how messy our current state may be, I couldn’t be more proud to be an American. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for all your support, our week serving in Cochabamba was so much more than successful and fulfilling. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.”