Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From Bolivia with Love

Hello all!
It has been a while! Sorry about that. We didn't have internet access in Santa Cruz and when we came home to Sucre the internet in our apartment wasn't working either. Life has been busy!!!

First I will tell you about the Zone Visit and then I will update you on our new congregation (YAY!!!)
Over the weekend literally thousands visited Bethel for the special tour.
This is the line inside the gates of Bethel, it went outside the gates and around the corner. 
You had to stand in line for a very long time. 
 This is Edward and Joyce Howard. They've been in Bolivia for around 20 years now.  They know Ross and Debbie Miller (and say 'Hi' when you guys read this) and also the Bokers. They used to serve at Bethel but she had chemical sensitivity so they moved to the middle of nowhere. He said they helped build the Bethel branch and could give us an amazing inside tour ;) They were so cute and encouraging. We were standing in line and he tapped our shoulders and started interviewing us. He kept telling us about how we should move here. They serve in the Yungas and told us how amazing their territory was. He made sure we exchanged phone numbers and offered to email us a Quechua presentation. The cutest ever.

 A lot of displays about the website

 Cartoon about Lot's family
 (Paradise and New World)

This was a picture on the board for the dining hall-- its the couple that hosted us at Bethel! 
We sat next to her at morning worship. (Bob and Kathy Golden)

The next day we had the Zone Visit at an outdoor soccer staduim. It is super hot and humid in Santa Cruz (glad we aren't there for 3 months- I'd die!). Elise was mad because while in Santa Cruz she was never sick and I was whereas in Sucre I'm always healthy and shes always sick. Can't win.
 They had a talk specifically encouraging brothers to reach out for privileges. They said the average congregation should have 5 elders and 7 ministerial servants. Based on that- Bolivia is short 600 elders and 800 ministerial servants. Crazy!!!

 Giant screens to show the speaker
 The brother on the left is translating for the Australian brother on the right
We sat on the edge in the sun but we all had umbrellas.
 I got a wee bit of heat exhaustion because I'm talented like that

The Zone Overseer was a Branch Committee Member from the Australia Branch. His name was Winston Payne. His talk was 'Find Happiness in the Peace of God.' From what we can tell it was very similar to the talk by the Bethelite back home! He used Psalm 102:1-6 which uses a pelican to illustrate a depressed person. He used this theme throughout his talk because he was very familiar with pelicans. It was cute, he would say 'When you feel like a pelican..." when talking about when we are sad. He had many illustrations and stories. Here are some highlights from his talk
  • 3 things are necessary for a person to come into the truth: to be searching, to have the right disposition, and Jehovah has to open your heart. Personal study and family keeps our hearts open so that we stay in the truth. 
  • Spirituals goals are special because they are between you and Jehovah alone. Plus they will never come to an end. 
  • An older sister was walking with a 5 year old in service. The little girl asked her 'Are you one of the 144,000??' The sister smiled and said 'No I am going to live on earth forever with you!' And the little girl got sad and quietly said 'I wont be there.' The older sister asked 'Why do you say that?' The little girl said 'I am too naughty.' 'Well you do you pray to Jehovah to forgive you and ask that he help you not be naughty?' 'Yes I do!' 'If you continue to do that you will make it.' The little girl was thrilled and thanked her for telling her that. The Brother said the moral was 'Don't tell your children that if they're naughty they wont get into Paradise-- it will give them anxiety!' 
  • A Servant of a wealthy man was on his death bed. His master came to visit him. He asked his loyal servant 'What can I do for you?' and the dying man said 'Give me one more day of life.' The master was shocked and said 'I can't do that, only God can.' The dying man said 'I have made a huge mistake- all of my life I have served you instead of God and now, here I am dying and you can't do anything for me. I should've been serving him instead'
  • In Singapore our work in banned. All men have to serve 3 years and 3 months in the military. One man served 3 years and then was offered a scholarship to go to university in Australia. He took it. There he learned and was baptized. He still had 3 months left to serve back in Singapore. He went home, explained to them why he couldn't finish this service because of his Bible based conscience. For the next year he had to sit in the commander's office from 8am-5pm every single day. Then they decided he was to spend the next 3 years and 3 months in prison. Which he did. So total it was 3 years in the army, 1 year in an office, and 3 years prison. Now our faithful brother is happily serving in a Bethel Branch with a clean conscience.
  • There was a young couple studying in Australia. They had a baby and moved to another city where they never continued their study. One day the baby got sick and they took it to the hospital where soon after it died. They nurse asked where they they wanted the funeral. The parents were sad and said they had no religion and no family. So the nurse gave them a brochure with a list of Ministers who preform funerals. The mother asked why Jehovah's witnesses weren't on the list. The nurse got upset, threw the brochure on the ground, and left. The couple then left the hospital, went to a phone box, and found the phone number for the Kingdom Hall. They called the brothers and explained their situation. The brother told them to stay put and they would then come meet them. They made all the arrangements for the baby's funeral. Because there are so many funerals in the cemeteries in Australia, each funeral is only allotted 20 minutes in the facility. The day of the funeral the couple showed up early. The mother saw the facility packed with people because of a funeral. She began to cry saying 'That person was so loved. My baby won't have anyone mourning it. I have no family.' Just then the brother walked up to her and asked why she wasn't going inside. 'Because there is already another funeral going on inside there.' And the brother said 'No, that is your baby's funeral. Those are all Jehovah's Witnesses, you are a part of our family now'
We realized after spending days in Santa Cruz that we are so blessed with Sucre. We were so happy to be home! Although the airport in Santa Cruz has a Cinnabon (I had 2 I was so excited--- really miss food)

The story: Last week Congregation America had meeting on Friday and we were going to miss it because of the Zone Visit so we visited one of the other congregations- the Congregation Sur. It is the congregation that has the special pioneer from Britain that helped us get to Sucre back when we were in the States. To our surprise there were NO other foreigners/need greaters in that hall besides him! Congregation America has around 18 need greaters. So many that we rarely work with anyone who is actually Bolivian. So before we left for the visit, we emailed Karl Mitchell (special pioneer for 20 years in Bolivia) and asked what he thought. The title of his email was 'Join Congregation Sur?-- Absolutely!' He said they have a bigger territory and less people out in service, and just a greater need in general. Since then its been a whirlwind. We found out that this week was their CO visit so we had to study and run to meeting yesterday. Including us there were only 5 white people at meeting- the CO and his wife and Karl. We met the CO and his wife (German couple) and told them we switched congregations and the CO told us it was a great idea because the congregation really had a need. We felt so validated!! We do feel bad that we are leaving behind the other congregation but we will see them around a lot- memorial, pioneer meeting, and assembly are all coming up next month. We went out in service this morning and had a great time! They have service meetings every day (even one Monday night which is unheard of here) and a great response in the territory. Tonight we have the Pioneer Meeting with the CO. We will take pictures because all of the auxiliary pioneers get to sit in for the whole thing!
Stats: 16 pioneers. (some are in an isolated group out in Villa Serrano which is 5 hours away)
2 Elders in Sucre (2 in isolated areas)
75 publishers
(Total of 10 out in isolated areas that are technically part of our congregation)

Well that was a long post. Sorry.

We've been here for a month now!! 2 months to go. Crazy, no?

Hope everyone back home is excited for memorial campaign and has signed their slips for auxiliary pioneering! Last night at meeting they had a big stack of applications to announce :)

Elena y Elisa


  1. I can't help it - every time I read your reports, I just want to give you both a big hug!

    1. Awwww!! I wish we could give you a hug too!!

    2. I get one every time I check you blog --

  2. I loved the experiences you shared from the zone visit and I am a firm believer that you two will continue to be blessed as you put Jehovah first and not comfort or ease. Keep up the good work!

  3. Jehovah is truly blessing you all. With your "here I am, send me" attitude, He is making sure that you are truly experiencing the need-greater life. Just a question -- since you have moved to a different congregation, different territory, do you still get to study with the little ones at the day care?

    1. We talked about it and remembered when we were told 'you are pioneers and can do whatever you want' hahaha that was quoted out of context but we think we will continue the study. It's still close to us and we dont think anyone else would want it right now. Plus we finally got the kids to trust us and feel comfortable enough to talk to us.

  4. Hello, I know this is an old note, but I am so glad I happened upon it. I have been so looking to get in contact with the brother and sister mentioned in your blog: Edward and Joyce Howard. They came to Georgia a few years ago and showed a beautiful video of Bolivia and were explaining how there was a great need there. They were encouraging ones to come. I am planning on visiting there in December and would very much like to get in contact with them for some information, not sure if you can help me too. I will be there for at least month this time.