This past weekend we had the pleasure of participating in a weekend conference with the rest of the ITM family. It was an encouraging time to refocus, worship together, and hear what's going on in the various areas of ministry. This is the first time we've been able to spend time with many of our teammates since arriving in Bolivia in 2019, due to political unrest followed by COVID-19.
Our first year in Bolivia was a difficult one due to the isolation we were forced to experience. Protests, civic strikes, and COVID-related restrictions have kept us at home and out of fellowship for much of the year. It has been easy for us to be self-focused, thinking about our own situation while assuming that everyone else on our team is doing fine. After all, many of them have known each other for years, and those living away from the city are not subjected to the same restrictions that we are. Surely we are the lonely outsiders and everyone else is doing just fine, right?
We realized this past weekend that we are not the only ones struggling and feeling isolated (shocking, I know!). We came here knowing that a big part of our ministry would be supporting the Bolivian (and American) missionaries who are working out on the front lines in the remote communities of Bolivia. But we didn't feel that we were yet in a position to do that well—not knowing the team, still feeling like outsiders, and being limited in our Spanish ability. But this weekend we discovered that those barriers are not as real as we have made them out to be. We had been waiting for people to reach out to us, but maybe we should have been the ones taking the initiative all along.
In just a few days we have begun feeling much more connected to our brothers and sisters who serve alongside us with ITM. We have gained confidence in our communication and realized that the language barrier doesn't have to prevent us from encouraging and spending time with our Bolivian teammates. Our perspective has shifted, as we have begun to look outward, asking how we can help encourage others. And in the process of doing so, we have found that our own needs are being met as well.
Please pray for us as we continue to look for opportunities to encourage our team, and others in our community. We trust the Lord that as we take our eyes off ourselves and serve others, that He will also care for the needs of our family.
There were several other things that stood out to me during the conference, and I hope to share them with you in the coming days and weeks. I hope it will be an encouragement to you, and give you further insight into our life and ministry here in Bolivia!