Dear friends and supporters:
Greetings and blessings to each and every one of you from Bolivia!
The month of March was a busy one for us. On the first weekend of the month Starr and I participated in a worship and evangelistic event in the city of Potosí, the capital of another department in Bolivia that is about 2 1/2 hours away by taxi. We also were invited to the anniversary celebration of one of the churches there on Sunday of that same weekend (March 3). This city is a mining town. Under the Spaniards’ colonial rule the main mine on the edge of the city was the largest silver mine in the western hemisphere. The same mountain where that mine was is still being excavated, now centuries later, only mostly for other metals! At one time in its past history Potosí rivaled London in its size.
The end of the second week in March, Starr and I attended meetings of a large conference in Sucre on prayer and intercession. The featured speaker was a prophet from Brazil. On Sunday afternoon, March 10, I spoke on a local television channel for about twenty minutes. I addressed some of my remarks to young people, for this was a Christian program geared for young people. The next day, Monday, the Brazilian prophet spoke to Starr and me personally for over an hour. It was encouraging what he shared with us for our ministry.
The highlight of the month was Starr’s and my trip to Colombia, South America, where we spent just over two weeks, from Friday evening, March 15, until Monday, April 1 (the day after Easter). We so enjoyed our time there, being Starr’s first time back in 30 years, and my first time back since 1997 after making a two-week trip to Colombia that year. Eutimeo Perez picked us up at the Bogota international airport and we stayed with him and his family for over a week. He is the son of a fisherman who lived on the mission where Starr and I served the Lord in the jungles of Colombia for ten years. The last time we had seen him, he probably only was about 18 years old. Now he is about 48 years old! Other people whom we had known at the mission came to see us, and it was a wonderful time that we shared together!
In Bogota Brother Eutimeo’s wife took Starr and me over one afternoon to the home of Russell Stendal, an American missionary whose parents had an important role in helping to set up the headquarters for Wycliffe Bible translators in Colombia many years ago. He has been instrumental in bringing together leaders of the Colombian military and leaders of the guerrillas to try to work out some kind of agreement for peace (although it was unsuccessful). He graciously let us pick out some interesting books to keep that he was giving away.
While we were in Bogota, Starr and I spent time with Pastor Cesar Pastás, a precious minister of God whom we had met several years ago at a MorningStar retreat. He had us over for lunch and fellowship one Saturday, and the next day we attended a small congregation he ministers to on Sundays.
From Bogota, Starr and I flew down to Florencia, the city that was the nearest major city to where our mission was where we lived and worked. This city has grown a great deal and now we couldn’t really recognize it from so many years ago when we used to visit it from time to time. We spent a night there and visited with a number of people whom we had known from our years at the mission in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. It felt kind of like a family reunion!
The next day we flew back to Bogota and on to Cali, Colombia. This is perhaps the third or fourth largest city in the country. Pastor Hein Hoere, whom we had met in Bolivia had invited us to visit them there during the week leading up to Easter. We had a great time. His two churches had their annual conference. It was not big but it was a blessing. He asked me to minister several times over the course of four days. I was honored to do that. We stayed with Pastor Hein and his wife in their home that they built on the outskirts of the city. We flew back to Bolivia on Monday, April 1, the day after Easter.
Back in Sucre, Bolivia, we started up our weekly classes again on Thursday, April 4, in our living room. We continued with the classes through the month of April and into May up to Thursday, May 16 (with the exception of not having them on Thursday, May 2, as explained below). Pastor Hein arrived in Sucre on Saturday, April 20. He stayed at our home until the following Thursday, April 25, when he left Sucre to go back to La Paz. I preached in the morning service in the church where we have been attending in Sucre on Sunday, April 21. The day after Pastor Hein left, the Bolivian pastors in our church, a visiting pastor from another city, and I met to make some plans for a special conference in July in Sucre having to do with bringing pastors together from different parts of the country to plan for a major conference on revival in October or November.
I was invited to preach at a small congregation on Sunday, April 28, which I was glad to do. I ministered on what a divine visitation is and compared it with what a revival is. On Monday night, the next day, I gave a special class for those who wanted it because the usual Thursday classes that week would not be held due to a trip to La Paz that Starr and I were going to take.
On Wednesday, May 1, Starr and I traveled to La Paz, where we stayed for a week. I met with a men’s group there on Thursday night. The next night–Friday, May 3–I started speaking in a local conference at a small church in La Paz. I was speaking on what the Bible talks about as God’s plans for the last days.
During my time in La Paz I also ministered at another group (MAPE) I talked about in my previous report. This is the group of Christians who love the Jews and Israel and meet once a week on Monday nights.
Starr and I returned to Sucre on Wednesday, May 8. Thursday, the next day, we had our classes. On Friday Starr and I went to the government offices in Sucre where personal records are made and renewed. It was time for us to renew our I.D.’s showing we have permanent residency in Bolivia. That evening and the morning of the next day (Saturday, May 11) I attended a conference given by a minister from La Paz at a fairly new church in Sucre. Saturday night Starr and I attended an anniversary service put on by a new church started up just one year ago that is an outreach of the church in the city where we have been attending.
On Sunday afternoon, May 12, I gave an extra class for students who wanted to catch up to where the other Thursday class was. The next week was our final week in Bolivia before traveling to the U.S., so Starr and I had a lot of last minute things to do. On Thursday, May 16, I gave the last classes before we were to leave on our trip to the U.S.
We want to thank all of you for your prayers and interest in what we are doing. Some of you are contributing to our ministry on a regular basis, as well, for which we are very grateful. Thank you very, very much!!
We have two prayer requests for us during our visit to the U.S.:
1) For our time here (that we are now beginning, as of this writing), that Starr and I would be able to accomplish all that the Lord purposes for us to do;
2) Specifically, for my father’s needs, that we would be able to help him get organized in order to move out of his house (near Cape Cod, Massachusetts) into a two bedroom apartment by year’s end.
We love each of you and look forward to seeing some of you on this visit to the U.S.
May the Lord’s blessing be upon each and every one of you!
With much love,
John & Starr