Thursday, August 16, 2012

A week in Bolivia

I just got home from a week in Bolivia where there are many opportunities for training and encouraging  Christian leaders.

Here's a few highlights:

Adrian and Anita (CMS - part of the MOCLAM team, pictured) are now well settled in Cochabamba. They are doing really well at their Spanish studies and are teaching Creation to New Creation to a couple of their teachers from language school! There are good opportunities for Adrian to be starting a new CNC class with a few guys next month or so.

We met with representatives from a couple of different seminaries / denominational groups who are interested in using the MOCLAM courses as part of their curriculum. They are particularly interested because in Bolivia there are many people living in isolated rural areas for who studying at the seminary is virtually impossible. The nature of the MOCLAM courses makes study for these people a real possibility.

It was also amazing to hear about the "normal" life of a seminary student in Bolivia. For many of them, they have classes 6:30-8:30am and 7-9:30pm each day, and go to work in between so they can eat. They are really doing it tough.

In this context, an Australian guy, Nathan Spies, has started an organisation called 'Roots'.   Roots offers scholarships to seminary students so they can spend more time concentrating on their studies. They also offer mentoring and additional training. I was able to teach a one day seminar on Biblical Theology to the Roots group.

I visited a rural church in Tarija in the south of Bolivia. This church serves very poor people living in squats and reclaimed land around the city. It was good to hear of the challenges faced by such a different church.

Adrian, Anita and I had a great day discussing MOCLAM matters and brainstorming at the house of Andrew and Paulina Cox (CMS) in Tarija. Many ideas were developed and it was good to hear how the courses are being used in many different contexts.

I had a game of soccer at 2,600 metres above sea level. After about 3 minutes I though my heart might leap out of my chest it was beating so hard! (But I continued to play for the next hour of course - can't show signs of weakness you understand...)

One of the slightly odd things about going to Bolivia if there was a direct flight from Monterrey to Cochabamba or Tarija it would probably take about 7 hours (have a look at a map).
Monterrey to Cochabamba
But of course, there isn't a direct flight. In fact, my return trip was made up of 5 separate flights and took 29 hours door to door. I even got to have a happy reunion with my luggage 4 hours after I got home!

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