12/24/2016: Change of Plans

Change of Plans

Bolivia

It was 12:52 am when my phone chimed. “Hello Mirta. You might say to Ruben to send the money with Herman? Also the anesthetics and needles that you gathered for the project. We are going to be here in Familia Feliz a week, and there is no anesthesia in town. I am in the middle of nowhere. I came looking for signal to send you this message.”

The mission plane that Mission Send Me uses to take dentists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to minister to the people in undervdevelped areas in Bolivia.
The mission plane that Mission Send Me
uses to take dentists, physicians, and other
healthcare professionals to minister to the
people in under develped areas in Bolivia.

It did not surprise me to receive a text message from Gabriela Garcia late at night. For three months we had been messaging in the evenings after she got home from her dental office, planning a medical outreach project to northern Bolivia. Gabriela had already scheduled a mission trip to Familia Feliz (Happy Family), a Christian boarding school in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, and she had a group of 20 people coming from an Adventist hospital to help. We decided it would be a great time for a few of us to add on a trip to Puerto Ustarez on the Guaporé River, the border between Bolivia and Brazil. I had been told on a previous mission trip that the people of Puerto Ustarez were especially needy, and I was excited to be able to minister in this remote location.

professionals provide dental and medical care.
professionals provide dental and medical care.

Plans had changed when an emergency arose in our family. My husband and I had traveled from our mission home on the campus of an Adventist television station in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to be with my family in Entre Ríos, Argentina. To make things more difficult, I was now in bed with gastroenteritis. Days before, I had given up hope of being able to make the trip to Puerto Ustarez—a decision that cost me a lot of pain and tears. Since informing Gabriela of my plight, I had not heard back from her and hardly knew what would become of this trip I had spent so much time organizing. How glad I was to receive her messages at any hour! It appeared that God had extra work for Gabriela to do in Rurrenabaque, and she needed the supplies I had put together for Puerto Ustarez. I didn’t mind. If God opened the way for us to go to Puerto Ustarez in the future, He would surely provide more supplies!

Right away, I began messaging friends back home in Santa Cruz. They were sleeping, of course, but sometimes when God reveals His plans we have to act fast! I explained to Ruben and Romina where to find the supplies Gabriela needed: a suitcase of medications, a box of Christian literature, another box full of Bibles, and a cash donation to help reimburse travel expenses for one of the dentists. Everything had to be at the hangar before 6:30 am so that Herman, our mission pilot, could take it to Rurrenabaque. Thanks to God, Romina and Ruben acted quickly and delivered all the supplies on time. It was beautiful to see the hand of God guiding despite seeming failure!

Soldiers lined up for dental care.
Soldiers lined up for dental care.

Planning medical missionary trips to the jungles in the interior of Bolivia is the work God has given me. The people of this nation, especially in the northeast, greatly need medical help. Bolivia is thought to be the least developed country in South America, with 45% of the population living below the international poverty line of $2 a day. A majority of the people live in primitive conditions and hold indigenous beliefs. Thousands upon thousands of the nation’s children lack access to healthcare and education. According to the Ministry of Health, at least 95% of Bolivians have cavities. In addition, many villagers lack basic knowledge of health and hygiene, especially in the preparation of food. As such, the risk of contracting infectious diseases is high.

Mission Send Me is the organization my husband and I began in order to orchestrate medical missionary trips to remote, needy areas of Bolivia. We take dentists, dental assistants, health educators, eye doctors and a physical therapist (myself) to do all we can to help the poor with their physical needs and in this way show them God’s love. We always find much work to do both in helping people with immediate health needs and in educating them in the prevention of diseases, including how to obtain pure drinking water, keep food uncontaminated and practice sanitation in their homes. Thankfully, these poor communities are eager for medical attention. They appreciate our help.

While caring for people’s medical needs, we distribute outreach literature as well—books about family, education, moral values and health. We are confident that God continues His work through these books long after we leave the community!

Although the trip to Puerto Ustarez with Gabriela fell through, God knew what He was doing. As a boarding school that provides assistance to orphaned, abandoned, abused or very poor children, Familia Feliz was just as worthy of help as any poor village we could have selected. The 617-acre campus, home to 60 students ages 5 to 17, is about eight miles south of Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. Six small homes host groups of 8–12 students assembled by age, gender and emotional/psychosocial development. The houses are built of concrete and brick, some with thatched roofs and others with metal roofs. The school classrooms, built from the same materials, are small, dark and poorly ventilated, making for difficult school days in the hot climate.

Bright smiles cared for by volunteer dentists.
Bright smiles cared for by volunteer dentists.

Professionals and assistants from Peru, Argentina, Bolivia and Romania came together to help this school and its community with medical care and building maintenance. The project was richly blessed with six dentists who provided free dental care for students of Familia Feliz, soldiers stationed nearby, other army staff and people of the community.

The Argentinean crew, 20 members strong, worked on remodeling and rebuilding the dingy classrooms. They replaced thatched roofs and did other maintenance work with donated supplies. In addition to their hard work on the facilities, they put on a week of prayer for the children. One of the brethren even held a workshop on prayer for the soldiers!

Although we had to be absent from the scene of their labors, we give thanks to God for having been able to aid this medical missionary project by helping to gather medical supplies, Bibles and religious literature. We give thanks that so many people were blessed by the volunteer efforts!

By the way, the trip to Puerto Ustarez has been rescheduled. I trust that God still has a great work for us to do there. I would like to encourage anyone reading this who may want to give a week or two or even several months to work in God’s missions: There is much to do! “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2. Please join us in the harvest field!

By Mirta Farias, missionary to Bolivia with her husband Miguel and their daughters. chemiclin@hotmail.com. For more information on Mission Send Me and to learn how to donate, visit www.missionsendme.wordpress.com.


07/25/2015: The Missing Fuel Cap

The Missing Fuel Cap

Bolivia

 

“Hey, did you know your fuel tank cap is missing?” Mr. Enrique asked when I pulled up in “Ogre,” our dilapidated Nissan Condor truck, to give him a jump-start. For ten years, Ogre has been our school bus, work truck, errand-boy vehicle, and, on occasion, ambulance. It has sustained the beating of bad roads and stumps of the chaco in the days when we used it to glean firewood out of our slash and burn rice fields. Ogre has since been retired from fieldwork and we try to coddle him and hope for a few more years of service. We have replaced the floor on the box bed and braced the sidewalls, which were beginning to sway like coconut palms in a tropical storm. But Ogre’s cabin is the worst now: the passenger floorboard has opened into a gaping maw nearly large enough to swallow a grown man’s leg up to the knee!

"Ogre", the dilapidated Nissan Condor needing a new cabin.

“What? Oh no!” It was a face-palm moment—yet another numbskull move to mark against my name! “I must have forgotten to put it back on when I fueled up yesterday afternoon! Aye, what a bummer!” I had placed the cap on top of the tank, and when the attendant finished fueling I paid and went my merry way. The gas station exit has a moat of deep potholes, and I assumed the cap must have surely fallen as I navigated passage to the paver stones of the main avenue. Oh Lord, you know that part is not going to be easy to find, and it probably won’t be cheap either! Please help us find it! I thought.

For the moment, I tied a plastic bag over the opening. I was sure that Ogre wouldn’t mind: he is no stranger to going capless! The fill spout for the radiator had no cover for the longest time, and for over a year the fuel tank opening sported a plastic bag secured with a strip of inner tube. Unfortunately, such uncivilized fixes lead to water and grit in the tank—a diesel engine’s nightmare. I didn’t want to repeat those problems! Immediately I called some friends who operate a food stand across the street.

Ogre's current cab.

“Tell the kids I’ll pay them a reward if they find the gas cap!” I told Nadia. But alas, even with such motivation their search was to no avail. Samuel went to town the same day and I asked him to look too, all without success.

I gave up any hope of retrieving the missing gas cap, and planned to make a trip across the river to Brazil to see if I could find a replacement, but the next few times I went to town I had so much to do that I never made it to Brazil. Then one day, while I was waiting for a shuttle car at the terminal, one of the taxi drivers approached me.

“Hey, you’re from the internado [boarding school] aren’t you?” I’ve waited for a ride enough times now that I recognize quite a few of the taxistas, and I knew this guy had taken us to the school before.

“Yeah,” I answered, expecting him to ask if he could enroll a daughter or nephew or some other relative.

“I have your gas cap!” he exclaimed.

“What? Really! How did you find it? Was it in the potholes by the gas station?”

“No! It was up there,” he motioned to a curve just up the road. “I saw it fall when you turned the corner. Then some guy on a motorcycle stopped and picked it up, but instead of chasing you down to return it, he went the other direction! So I chased him down and told him ‘Hey! That belongs to the internado!’ and he got an attitude with me and said ‘So? What’s that to you?’ I told him that’s not the right way to do things and he said, ‘Well give me ten bolivianos for it at least!’”

I was amazed. The taxistas in general have never impressed me as being either particularly honest or concerned about doing the right thing. Most of them are constantly scrapping with one another over passengers and are usually quick to take advantage of people. I was tempted to think that he was just making up the whole story in hopes that I would give him a reward!

Come on, you should give him the benefit of the doubt! You should always try to think the best of people! An inner voice reminded me. If he really only wanted to make money he would have just sold it like the other guy was going to do!

So I smiled and thanked the taxista profusely and gave him double the money back that he had spent to ransom the lost cover! The thought occurred to me that God turned the attention of just the right taxi driver at just the right moment to see everything that happened and return the missing cover! Praise Him! What a merciful God!

The Toyota Tundra will be put to good use.

We have been praying specifically for several new vehicles in order to expand our outreach program this year and for money to replace the cabin in Ogre. One day, when we arrived in town, Cornelio told me, “Hey, Sara found a truck for sale! How much money do you have?” Normally we don’t go to town on a Friday, but we made an exception this week to avoid going during carnival, an international, multi-day holiday when it is customary to bombard unsuspecting passersby with paint, water balloons, or even cow manure.

Cornelio called Sara over to show me the pictures. “Hey, that’s the truck I saw last week in the plaza by the mayor’s office!” I recognized the grey Toyota Tundra with the en venta (on sale) stickers in the windows that had caught my attention a couple of days ago. I wanted to write down the phone number, but I was passing on the back of a motorcycle taxi on my way to the bus stop and wasn’t able to read the complete number.

“How much do they want for it?”

“Fifteen grand!”

“Really? Does it have papers?”

“I don’t know. It has national plates.”

“Call me if you go to look at it.”

About half an hour later Cornelio told me to come to the plaza. The truck soon arrived and the owners let us take it for a drive. Based on our short test drive and limited inspection it seemed to be in pretty good shape. Toyotas are coveted vehicles in these parts because they last longer than the Chinese vehicles. Parts are also easier to get than other vehicles like Fords or Chevys.

Could this be the answer to our prayers? I didn’t know. Pooling our meager missionary resources, we had just about half the asking price. I am no expert in picking out good vehicles, but I know a God who is an expert in everything! We prayed and knew that God would answer in His time! If this was to be the truck, He would make it clear and provide the means. If not, He will have something better in mind for us!

Thank God, about a month later we were able to purchase the second school vehicle in the 11 year history of our school! Yes, it was the Toyota Tundra. God is good! A big thank you to all of you who played a part, with prayers and/or financial support! The kids named the truck Fiona which seems to fit her well because she is rather fussy, with a double alarm system that shrieks in protest at the slightest change in the established routine of operation! Errant soccer balls also bring forth cries of protest. However, she did manage to keep her composure when the whole school clambered aboard. After all, it was a photo shoot!

We are very thankful for the truck and we are praying for about $5,000 US to buy a new cabin for Ogre and $20,000 to buy a school van. We thank you for your support through your donations and prayers.

 

By Kody and Lyli Kostenko of the Bolivia Industrial School. tripleko@gmail.com. www.boliviamission.blogspot.com. Support to Gospel Ministries International, PO Box 506, Collegedale, TN, 37315. 423 473-141. www.gospelministries.org. Mark donations “Truck Cabin,” or “Van,” for Bolivia Academy Ministries.


11/22/2014: God’s Timing

God’s Timing

Bolivia

 

Last Sunday I was up at 4:30 am to get in some study time, because in an hour it would be my turn to help prepare breakfast in the kitchen. Directly after breakfast, I had a group of colporteurs to keep occupied until mid-afternoon. I did not relish the thought of packing books around all day under the hot sun, especially after already laboring for two hours over the cooking fire. By the time the water boiled, I had half-decided that we would stay on campus. I would have the kids work on their door presentations, which they still needed to memorize anyway. On the other hand, I knew the kids could use some practice in the field. I only have a few more Sundays here with them this year before I have to leave, so I need to take advantage of the time we have.

Getting the trusses to the main road.

But then I heard there were drunken festivities in Yata, our chosen territory for the day. Oh great, I thought. That is the last thing we need! I could already picture potentially awkward and even dangerous scenarios. That settles it. We’ll definitely stay here today! I was happy for what seemed like a completely legitimate excuse. But suddenly I was strongly impressed with the selfishness of my decision. Don’t those people need God just as much even if they’re drunk? My thoughts now took on a different tone. You know the holy angels are with you! You have nothing to fear!

So we went out and ended up talking to drunk people in three different houses. At the first house, a young man invited us inside. He had obviously been drinking, but he listened to us respectfully and was able to respond with a semblance of intelligence. Meanwhile, a toddler played on the dirt floor, occasionally looking up with wide, startled eyes. The man expressed interest in our materials, but said he had no money, so we prayed with him and gave him a pamphlet. After we left, Gina, the student I was working with, was teary-eyed.

“It is so different out here than it is in the internado [boarding school]!”

“What do you mean?” I was surprised at her emotion.

“Being in that house brought back bad memories.” She paused, and I waited for her to see if she would say more. “I am so glad I am at the internado! I am so glad God brought me here! I was thinking about leaving, but I don’t want to anymore. I want to stay here for all four years of high school! That man back there reminded me of my dad,” she added.

As we continued down the street to the next house, I tried to encourage her as my heart overflowed with joy to see the working of the Holy Spirit. Thank God! Even if Gina’s epiphany turns out to be the only reward for the day’s labors it will be worth it!

Bypassing the sign with the roof trusses.

At the next house, the ubiquitous heavy rhythms from a conglomeration of raucous party music thumped in the background.

“This music is awful!” Gina continued. “It brings back bad memories. I’d rather be at the school singing hymns!”

At the next house, two young inebriates sobered visibly as I presented to them some DVDs about the great controversy. They bought the whole set on the spot, and I could hear them playing it already as we walked to the third house where we sold Steps to Christ and Bible Readings for the Home to a very interested elderly woman while we also humored the conversation of her drunken brother.

Today we went back to Yata and sold nearly $100 worth of material in a couple hours of time. That is big spending for the little town of Yata, where previous efforts never netted much more than about a tenth of that amount. Even more surprising was the level of interest in nearly every home. I’ve never seen anything like it here before! Even those who were unable to purchase anything listened intently to our presentation and expressed a desire to acquire our materials. Praise God for His sobering Holy Spirit that is counteracting the foul inebriating spirits that have so long held this village captive!

Beginning to look like a church.

For years now I have been frustrated at what seems to me such slow progress of the gospel in Yata, including our delayed church construction project. But next month, the church will finally have a roof! A sawmill was built in Yata just last year, and it began operation a few months ago. The new mayor, Richard Cordero, has four of his kids in our school, and has promised to speak to the mill owner and secure us a discount on the lumber we’ll need for the roof. Another factor not to be ignored in all this is the flooding we’ve had this year all across the northeastern part of the country. I think God is using it to make people reflect. If a life’s worth of work and savings scan be swept away in moments, maybe it’s time to look for something sure and more lasting. Combine all that with this suddenly-heightened level of spiritual interest. Conicidence? I don’t think so. God always has His timing!

What a blessing it has been to be here helping the school year get off to a good start. We just had a short-term volunteer group here for a week to help put the roof on the church in Yata. That was some hard, fun work, and we are thrilled that we will soon be able to hold worship services right in Yata. There was a baptism this week and nine of our students and three adults from Yata, including the mayor, gave their lives to God!

“The timing of things may tell much in favor of truth. Victories are frequently lost through delays. There will be crises in this cause. Prompt and decisive action at the right time will gain glorious triumphs, while delay and neglect will result in great failures and positive dishonor to God. Rapid movements at the critical moment often disarm the enemy, and he is disappointed and vanquished, for he had expected time to lay plans and work by artifice.” Gospel Workers, 1915, 134.

 

By Kody Kostenko at the Bolivia Industrial School. Website: www.boliviamission.blogspot.com. Email: tripleko@gmail.com.

 


03/22/2014: When It All Seems Worth It

When It All Seems Worth It

Bolivia

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9.

Often there are moments in this work when I wonder if I am not really just wasting my efforts. In vain the classes, in vain the personal counseling, in vain the sweat, the prayers, the long hours. There is nothing romantic about being a volunteer missionary teacher at a boarding school like this one. It is hard, often thankless work, and at times there seems to be little progress to speak of. In such moments, God’s promises like 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Galatians 6:9 comfort and reanimate my spirit.

And then, every so often God lets me see or hear a little something that gives me the motivation to keep pressing on. Like what Henri told Cornelio. Henri is a freshman this year, a clear-eyed country lad from a village about 12 kilometers distant.

Bolivia Industrial School.

“Teacher, this place is different!” he enthused after seeing God provide food for us yet again. “God actually answers prayer here. You can see it!”

Recently my wife and I woke up to the sound of her cell phone ringing in the night. I wasn’t sure how long I had been sleeping, or what time it was.

“You answer.” Lyli handed me the phone. I didn’t recognize the number.

“Hola?” Nothing but silence. “Hola?” I tried again. I couldn’t hear anything. Finally, I hung up. The wrong number? A bad connection? Maybe just a prank call? The hour read 12:32 am, way too early for these kinds of shenanigans. I handed the phone back to my wife and rolled over to go back to sleep. It seemed a matter of mere minutes when the phone rang again, but when I looked at the time it was five minutes after one. I answered again.

“Is teacher Ruan there?” a young female voice asked.

“Teacher Ruan?” Who on earth could be calling, I wondered. “Teacher Ruan hasn’t been here for almost two years. He is working at another mission project now. Is there something I can help you with? Who is this?”

“That doesn’t matter. Sorry to bother you.” There was a click and then the dial tone.

Puzzled, I asked my wife who it could be, but neither of us recognized the voice. I was too tired to spend much time thinking about it. I was quite sure whoever it was wouldn’t call back again. Wrong. A few minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Teacher Kody, don’t be angry.” I must have been still waking up, because I missed her next words: “I’m about to do something bad.” Fortunately, Lyli was listening, too.

“I wanted to talk to Teacher Ruan, but since he’s not there, can I talk to you?” I was almost wide-awake by now and her plea melted my heart.

“Of course, I am happy to listen,” I assured her.

“I remember everything about the internado [boarding school] from the four years I spent there. I remember everyone, all my friends and classmates, Damaris, Joel, and Alcides. I remember the teachers, Teacher Helen, Clint, Mindy, Ruan, Monica, Teacher Keila. So many things I learned there, I should have paid attention. Oh, how I wish I could be there again. Someday I will come visit!”

By this time, I had narrowed down who she was to a couple possibilities, but the voice was still elusive. I sensed I shouldn’t try to press her too much, so I simply assured her of the love and mercy of Jesus, that He still has plans for her, and to not give up to discouragement and temptation, for we have a mighty Redeemer. I could hear her crying softly. When I offered to have prayer with her, she accepted. I know God gave me the words.

“Thank you, Teacher Kody,” she said.

“It’s nothing. If there’s anything else we can do, please don’t hesitate to call.”

Based on everything she told us, my wife and I decided it must have been Albricia, a student who spent her four years here but never graduated because of problems she got into during her senior year. She left the school and continued down the same road until reality slapped her in the face. Like so many girls here, she is now a single mom, facing the daunting task of raising a child alone. We continue to pray for her.

A few weeks after vacation, two former students, Max and Juan Carlos, came to pay us a visit. Neither of them could stop smiling and they ended up staying for almost two weeks, helping out in the fields and orchards and even teaching a few classes. They both took me up on the opportunity to share with the kids for worship, and Max accepted the invitation to preach on Sabbath. Their message in a nutshell was, “Take advantage of your time here, learn all you can from your teachers, don’t think that life is better out there in the world. We’ve tried it, and we wish we would have listened.”

What Max and Juan Carlos said sounds similar to a few speeches I’ve made in class this year. The message resonates with me especially, as I reflect on how God must look at me. I honestly don’t know how He is so patient. When will I learn to take advantage of God’s daily instruction? When will I learn to render complete obedience and to take His Word for everything it offers?

“Oh Kody, Kody, Kody! Hear the Word of the Lord.” Jeremiah 22:29.* That verse packs an especially powerful punch for me as I meditate on the almost exasperated urgency in that three-fold appeal. It reminds me of those powerful messages in Revelation 14, messages that we can’t afford to spurn. Oh, that God will cure us, that we will not be among the willful deaf! That we may claim His promise to give us the ear of the learned! (Isaiah 50:4.)

*I have personalized the original verse, which says, “Oh earth, earth, earth.” So you can put your name in there, too! That’s God’s plea to all of us right now. That’s what the flying, shouting angels with their solemn warning in Revelation 14 are all about.

 

By Kody Kostenko at the Bolivia Industrial School. Website: www.boliviamission.blogspot.com. Email: triple.ko@gmail.com


10/26/2013: Door-to-Door, Dogs and a Dream

Door-to-Door, Dogs and a Dream

in Bolivia

 

“Teacher, are we going to go canvassing tomorrow?” Abigail and Yarra eagerly bombarded me with questions as soon as I answered their knock on the door. “We heard the truck is broken, but we can pay for our bus passage!”

“Don’t worry, we are going.” Their enthusiasm made me smile.

The next morning, I made a plea for divine aid and gathered all my supplies. Again, there was a knock at the door and I opened it to see all five of my canvassers in a row, spiffed-up and ready to go. We prayed together.

En route to the bus, I had the kids practice their door-approach and presentation. When we arrived, the bus had just left, but no more than ten minutes more passed and a dump truck came chugging up the grade. We flagged it down and climbed up the narrow ladder and over the side, into the bed. It was dusty and noisy, but we were thankful for the ride anyway—even more so when we passed the bus, broken down on the shoulder about 20 minutes down the highway!

Colportuer.

In town, the dump truck turned and stopped along the curb and we climbed out. I approached the driver to pay our fare. To my surprise he only asked for 20 bolivianos ($2.89 U.S. dollars) for all six of us, a 33% discount from the going rate! Praise the Lord! I handed him the cash, along with a couple of tracts, and we went to survey the neighborhood.

Two entire blocks in this area were all inside a gated compound that serves as a base for naval officers. Could this be the place God wanted us to work today? How could we get inside? First, I assigned territories to the other teams and set a designated rendezvous time. We parted ways and my student Gadiel, and I, walked to the naval base. Just as we were nearing the front gate, I saw a uniformed officer driving out.

“Hurry! Let’s catch him before he leaves!” We caught him just at the gate and explained what we were doing. “Who can I talk with to get permission to canvass inside the compound?” I asked?

“Permission?” he smiled. “Don’t worry about it. You are free to go inside. There aren’t many people home today though, and watch for dogs. There are some biters in here.” He told us it was better to go around to the gate on the other side, which we did.

The chain-link gate to the naval base was slightly open, and Gadiel and I entered and went to the first house, apparently unobserved. As we approached, I thought I saw someone in the back, but we decided to try the front door first. When no one responded to our knocking, we cautiously walked along the side of the house. Rounding the corner, I saw a lady sweeping a walkway that connected to the house next door.

“Buenos dias!” I called as we approached. She looked up with an expression that was less than encouraging. I explained who we were and placed a number of materials in her hands. She didn’t seem to be processing everything I had said, so I simply asked her which of the materials interested her most.

“Well, it would have to be this one.” She surprised me by choosing Time of Hope (originally titled, When God said Remember, by Mark Finley). She invited us inside, and as Gadiel filled out a receipt, we chatted. Her name was Sandra Nagada, and she and her husband were recently stationed here in Guayaramerin. It turned out that she is an evangelical and her husband is Catholic. 
“It used to be very difficult for me,” she confided. “I was praying for him all the time. He would always come home drunk. I felt helpless. But God has answered me and my husband is much better now! He doesn’t go to church with me, but we don’t go out drinking, we just stay at home. So now the neighbors think we’re weird and don’t invite us to anything and I feel like I don’t have many friends. But it’s worth it to have peace in the home.”

“Wow. That really resonates with me. But I agree, it’s definitely worth it to make the right decision and be at peace. It’s like it says in 1 Peter 2:9: ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.’ When we don’t go along with what the world does they look at us as weird, but God has called us to be different and separate from the world!”

Bolivia Industrial School.

She asked what church we belonged to and we told her we were Seventh-day Adventists. She said there was a lady on the other side of the base who was Adventist, too.

“Your day of rest is Saturday, isn’t it?”

“Yes it is! But we didn’t come up with the idea to keep Saturday. God Himself is the one who blessed and made the Sabbath holy. Do you mind if I share a couple of scripture passages?”

So right then and there we did a study on the Sabbath. Sandra was listening intently and when she spoke again, her words took me completely by surprise.

“You know, it’s not by accident that you came here today,” she said. I felt a little thrill shiver down my spine. “I mean, what are the chances? First of all, you caught me at home today! Not only that, but I was outside sweeping, just at the moment when you came. Usually, if I’m in the house, I don’t answer the door. Last night I wasn’t feeling very well and went to lie down. As soon as I fell asleep I had a dream. It was the strangest thing, you won’t believe it, but in my dream somebody came to me and wanted to sell me a yellow book!” She looked down at the front cover of her new book, which pictures a large autumn tree, bathed in the golden glow of sunlight. I told her how glad I was that she shared her dream, and that I was also convinced our meeting had nothing to do with chance.

As we were leaving the house, a mongrel began to approach us, and Sandra shouted and chased it away. “Usually I keep him chained up because he likes to bite people!”

Gadiel and I continued to canvass the base, finishing at the Adventist lady’s house where we shared the story about her neighbor Sandra, and encouraged her to make friends.

The rest of the day passed quickly, and soon we caught the bus back to school. When I returned home my wife asked how the day went. I enthusiastically recounted my experiences. My heart overflowed with gratitude yet again to my mighty Creator God who saw fit to answer every one of my prayers that day. May His name be praised!

 

By Kody Kostenko. Website: www.boliviamission.blogspot.com. Email: triple.ko@gmail.com.

 


10/20/2012: Finding Yaneth

Finding Yaneth

Bolivia

“Fatherless and motherless children are thrown into the arms of the church, and Christ says to His followers: Take these destitute children, bring them up for Me, and ye shall receive your wages.” The Adventist Home, 167.

God has really been blessing us here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia! Recently, we were fixing up the house, using donated funds earmarked for maintenance. A group of young people from Brazil came over to help with the painting and brought with them a stroller for Yaneth, which will make it much easier to take her places.

Let me take a minute to introduce you to our littlest patient, six-year-old Yaneth, who came to us from a small town north of us. She was found in the trash where she had been left to die. After a two-week stay in the hospital, she was sent to us because we have much better health care here in the city. We took her for a physical therapy evaluation, and the therapist told us that she reacted to things as if she were a two-month-old. So we have lots of work to do with her. We take her to therapy at least twice a week and we are doing what we can at home with her, as well.

Yaneth cradled on Elisabeth’s lap.

At first, Yaneth was having lots of convulsions and fevers, which are now under control. She came to us weighing only 17 pounds and had to be on a feeding tube. When she started to eat, it took forever because she does not like to open her mouth very wide, and we had to burp her after each meal. It was like having a newborn baby. But now she is eating much better and even wakes us up in the night to eat.

She has a lot of health issues, including heart problems. We have to take her to a specialist who is trying to find out what is wrong with her heart, since it beats very fast. She is also very small for her age and has brain damage that we do not yet know the extent of, as well as other problems. When she got here she could barely move and did not smile, cry, and could not even hold up her own head.

“Divine love makes its most touching appeals when it calls upon us to manifest the same tender compassion that Christ manifested. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. He loves men and women as the purchase of His own blood, and He says to us, ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.’ Review and Herald, September 13, 1906.

Spoon-feeding Yaneth.

We have learned a little of her history. There was a worker at Familia Feliz, a Bolivian orphanage, who saw Yaneth when she was younger. He said that her parents are gypsies who belong to a native tribe and speak their own dialect. They gave her away to another family for unknown reasons. The adoptive family treated her very badly and made her live with the dogs (the dogs here are very unkempt). She was abused physically and sexually. At that time, she could run and play just like any other five-year-old girl. The worker wanted to adopt her, so he told the Children’s Defense about her, but by the time they were able to do anything the family had already moved away. The next time he saw her was after the Children’s Defense had taken her to the hospital after she had spent five days in the trash,

 

She now loves to play with her tongue!

left to die. She was found unconscious and had lung problems and a very high fever.

About a month after finding her, we heard her cry for the first time. Each new thing was so amazing for us, like her first smile, or the first time she sat up on her own. The first time I bathed her, the water turned brown because she was so dirty.

Yaneth now weighs 22 pounds and can stand up while holding on to something, and she can even walk a little, with help. She now cries, smiles and laughs. She loves to cuddle and be hugged and kissed. She is such a sweetheart!

 

A recovering Yaneth looking pretty in her Sabbath dress.

Her parents came to sign off Yaneth, so we could care for her, and they asked if they could also give us her four-year-old brother who was also in very poor health and also underweight. He came to us about a month ago, also weighing 17 pounds and is now 22 pounds like his sister, and is doing well.

“The world must have an antidote for sin. As the medical missionary works intelligently to relieve suffering and save life, hearts are softened. Those who are helped are filled with gratitude. As the medical missionary works upon the body, God works upon the heart.” Manuscript 58, 1901.

I feel very blessed to be able to take care of them. We are all very happy with Yaneth’s improvements, though the road ahead is long and hard. Please pray for her full recovery, and if you would like to help cover some of her medical costs please send your gifts of love. Thank you so much for your prayers and support of my work here in Bolivia.

 

By Elisabeth Mizner. Send your letters and tax-deductible gifts (with a separate note marked Bolivia Orphanage Children/Elisabeth Mizner) to: Gospel Ministries International, PO Box 506, Collegedale, TN 37315.

 

 


08/15/09: Travelling to Argentina and Bolivia

Dear saints of God around the world, Jesus is coming soon! Amen. Heaven’s mission is almost accomplished; angels are swarming constantly in busy activity in behalf of lost mankind, and we have a part in the salvation of other dear souls who need to see in our lives the reflection of Jesus’ love and kindness — may our God help us finish the work in order for Jesus to leave the Most Holy place in Heaven to come down here to take us all up with Him shortly!

As of the writing of this report, Pastor Domingo Núñez and I, along with a few other brethren from Argentina and Bolivia, returned a few days ago from a scouting missionary trip to the highlands of Bolivia. We had to travel more than 6,000 kilometers by bus in the height of summer in order to reach the heart of Bolivia, Cochabamba, Oruro and Sucre. As we started our trip, we passed through San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, Tucumán and Salta. Once we had reached the border city of Orán in Salta, we walked across a high river bridge to Bermejo, the border city in Bolivia, and then traveled three hours to a larger city called Tarija, which is the southern entrance portal to Bolivia’s highlands.
Bolivia has many climates within a range of forty miles; one can be in the desert with very high temperatures and travel for half an hour to a highland or mountain zone, where the temperature can drop thirty degrees or more! There are very arid zones, while others are totally tropical, such as Santa Cruz, close to Brazil and Ecuador.

Our destination, where we would be staying during the two weeks in Bolivia, was a place called Columi, a mountain area very cold and high, where we had to constantly wear jackets and extra cotton underclothes in the middle of summer! The scenery was fabulous with rolling mountains, lush trees and vegetation, abundant tropical fruits and vegetables, besides the most kind and loving indigenous Bolivian people, direct descendants of the Inca civilization who owned parts of Perú, Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile and the northern areas of Argentina. Their languages are Spanish, Haymará, Quichua and Guaraní.

We had been called to share our knowledge of present truth, Bible prophecy and natural health with a group of Evangelical churches and pastors in the area of Cochabamba. When we arrived and gathered together as a missionary group, these people called us to a meeting in Cochabamba to share our vision and our message with them. The one to call us in to the meeting was Pastor Germán Mamani, one of the organization’s top area administrators, serving one quarter of the national Bolivian area, the eastern portion. The initial meeting went very well, and they asked us to provide them with samples of our printed missionary literature and recorded DVD materials. We gladly provided two or three boxes full of our precious materials. They shared with us that they (all of the national pastors and youth leaders) were scheduled to attend a special pastors’ retreat to be held in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city, where they, their pastoral leaders, were going to share with all their other colleagues in the ministry our literature and printed materials with present truth. That is what they did, and the results were very positive. Now they want us to go back for the purpose of having a Present Truth Pastoral and Ministerial Training Seminar for all of the pastors — not just a few churches, but a national convention! Could it be true? God knows and will give the direction whether to advance or remain.

Many churches and congregations were visited, and we had the opportunity to share with youth, adults and children, pastors and music directors God’s present truth for the hour; and their receptiveness was inspiring and most encouraging. Many of them told us that they now knew the truth and from now on would follow God and His Commandments to the heavenly city! They asked questions about the Sabbath, Sunday, death, the law, music and much more. We shared boxes and boxes of printed missionary literature and they promised us to share it with many others. We now have to provide or ask God to provide a missionary to stay with them to teach and lead them along the way they should follow, the way of life and truth.

When I arrived back in Argentina, God had many local surprises awaiting. One of those was that one of our missionary brothers called us to share what was happening with two Evangelical Pentecostal congregations in Buenos Aires, who in less than a month have started to keep the Bible Sabbath, are not eating flesh meats or drinking alcoholic beverages and are accepting all of the present truth. Not only that, they are constantly distributing our tabloids and have started a late night radio program which is reaching far beyond their local boundaries. Last night over the phone, I had the privilege of greeting this dear brother in Christ, Pastor Luis Fleitas (ex-Evangelical pas¬tor less than a month ago! Praise the Lord!). Things are starting to move much faster as time moves on. We have to be ready to move along with God’s timing—may Heaven help us. This pastor has been offered, by someone, time on internet broadband radio for his program. Imagine — the stones are crying out with God’s end time message of love! All of these dear new brethren are asking our constant prayers in their behalf.

We see the urgent need to place amongst our new brethren sound and firm missionaries, consecrated servants of the Lord to be able to share and teach all these new groups who God is bringing in to the light of present truth all that we know and have received from God in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. These thirsty souls are very, very motivated to learn and practice truth, much more than what we have been used to seeing among our own churches! They are the eleventh hour workers who God has held back in position for this end time. Praise be to His holy name, He knows what He is doing to boost and complete His end time work.

As I was traveling back from Bolivia down to Argentina last Sabbath evening, God’s voice started to convince me that I had to stand right there, in the middle of that bus trip, and tell all of my traveling companions about natural health, the Three Angels’ Message, the Bible Sabbath and Satan’s Sunday; so I shot a prayer up to God and stood up, gathering my remaining missionary Ten Commandment tabloids and a few other Biblical booklets, and shared loudly the reason of our trip into Bolivia. I also shared that God had provided many healthy and delicious natural recipes, and for anyone who would be interested in enjoying them, I still had eight photocopies of recipes left with me. All of the sudden, many, many hands started to go up; all of my traveling companions wanted to have something! To make the story short, I had the opportunity to share and distribute more than 150 pieces of literature, all of what I had left over from our work in Cochabamba and Columi.

The bus then stopped for refueling or something else, and five or six people gathered around me to ask me questions on natural health, specific illnesses and their relationship with their eating habits. Later as we got back onto the bus, they asked me if I could share with them more on natural health, so we had a Bible study on health on board which, after an hour, changed to a talk on Revelation and Bible Prophecy! Praise our wonderful God, Creator and Savior! I still had two Bibles with me, which, of course, were shared freely and given to two of my traveling companions, who both told me: “This is the first time I have received a Bible, the first time I will read this Holy Book, and today is my best and most beautiful day for receiving God’s Holy Book as a gift.” Imagine what a privilege one has to hear and see all these wonderful modern miracles for the salvation of so many souls. The approximate number of people in the meeting on that bus was fifty-four to fifty-six people, precious and dear souls, for which Jesus shed His holy and most precious blood!

Our golden opportunity is now, when we still have liberty to utilize our valuables and money to advance God’s work. May we use God’s money and resources accordingly and in line with heavens plans and will. If you have little, some or much, in God’s hands even a penny becomes millions! Thank you for sharing heaven’s mission, to seek and save that which has been lost! Thousands will thank Jesus and all of us, who, as Abraham, looked for the Celestial City, our heavenly heritage! Amen.

By Billy Paúl.