This has been going through our minds for the last month or so, but instead: ‘there is no water!’
If we start the story back at the beginning of November, two lovely ladies, Ilda and Dalia of the ecclesia here in La Paz, had their interviews for baptism… only for us to discover shortly thereafter that there were still no pools open due to all the Coronavirus restrictions! We spent a few weeks looking at different options: bath was out (as Ilda is going on 84!) so we were trying to work on a heated paddling pool option – that was going to be difficult, although doable. Private pools at hotels were also proving to be troublesome as there were a bunch of biosecurity measures preventing us from using them. Both Ilda and Dalia were very patient throughout all of this and finally thanks be to God, the government ruled that public pools could open again!
Our current efforts at electronic preaching began about six months before the pandemic began. They had been working on getting sufficient software to be able to put our classes and breaking of bread online live and recorded for those who were unable to attend in person. They use Uber Conference, as they are easily available with a single phone number that never changes and without need of a PIN number. Anyone can call the number Sis Cynthia Paiva de Lopez will be alerted when someone in online. In Mexico, the Internet service and data prices are still quite high for most of the population, but unlimited cell service, which includes the US, is readily available by all cell companies and not at high cost. Most brothers and sisters and students access with a Smartphone to listen to the classes. They also project the material being presented visually for any who can access by Internet. They choose not to show themselves in the videos, as it uses much bandwidth and too many are unable to sustain connection due to poor Internet services here.
Bro. Mark Carr asked me to accompany him this past January for a two-week pastoral visit to Guyana, South America. When we landed at the airport outside of Georgetown, the memories came flooding back of the time some forty years earlier, when I first set foot in the tropical mission fields of Central America and spent over two years living in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.
The Guyanese have right-hand drive vehicles and drive on the left-hand side of the roads, opposite of what most North Americans are used to. They also make very good use of their horns! I was thankful to be driven around as I, personally, would not venture to drive in Georgetown on my own, not knowing the area and especially due to the traffic and condition of many of the roads!
On Thursday, May 7, www.thisisyourbible.com student, Tom Davis, was baptized into Christ and became a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Ecclesia.
Behind that flat statement of fact lie some unusual arrangements. You see, Tom lives 2,100 miles or 3,300 kilometers from our meeting place in Kitchener, Ontario. His home is in Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia, a spectacularly beautiful town located in the South-East corner of British Columbia, on Columbia Lake. The nearest Ecclesia is at least a 4 hour drive away. In any case, due to the present necessity to “socially isolate”, it would have been just as complicated to have arranged a baptism at that Ecclesia. Tom eventually plans to relocate to be near an Ecclesia, but he is not sure yet just which one. Until that decision is made, we in the Kitchener-Waterloo Ecclesia, are very happy to have him as a member.
Well it has been just over four weeks now since Isaiah and I safely arrived at our apartment here in La Paz, Bolivia. It was quite the journey to get here and we were not sure that we would make it!
At the beginning of this year we were both in California visiting Isaiah’s family for a couple of months before heading to South America where we planned to start two years of mission work in Bolivia. All was going according to plan until right before we left when Coronavirus really started to have an impact worldwide. We were still planning on going in spite of this, but the day before we were due to leave, we found out that Peru had entirely shut down their borders. Our flight from the USA was routed through Lima, Peru to Bolivia and so had been cancelled. Finding an alternate route was not straightforward, as there are no direct flights between America and Bolivia and many countries in South America were due to close their borders within the next 24 hours – not giving us enough time to route through on our way to La Paz. Eventually we found a flight that stopped in Brazil and would get us to Bolivia.