“Here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”
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!
The ecclesia met in the center of town early on Tuesday morning (24th November) and what an exciting time it was… this was the first time that everyone had been together and seen each other since March, and what better occasion than to watch two more people commit their lives to the Lord! We gathered down at the poolside and did a reading together before Dalia and then Ilda entered the water. For a bit of background, Dalia is Ilda’s granddaughter and so it was very special for them both to be baptised on the same day! For Ilda, it was a big deal, because for one, she cannot swim and so was afraid of the water, and then secondly, she has been quarantining at home since March, and so this was a big outing for her. All this doesn’t even take her age into account as well! The look on her face though afterwards was just pure joy. She and Dalia were both so excited, and the ecclesia (as well as the angels, our Lord Jesus and our Father!) were all rejoicing with them.
Sis Magaly, (daughter of Sis Ilda, and aunt to Sis Dalia) was telling us how her mother, Ilda, had always been a staunch Catholic. “Who would have thought that my mother would ever want to be baptised?! But God has His timing.” He sure does! Apparently Bro Sami (Sis Dalia’s brother, and grandson to Sis Ilda) was giving Ilda classes, and even though Magaly lives with her mother, she didn’t realise this was going on for quite some time, until Ilda finally let her know that she was interested in the Bible! Dalia was also at the same time sharing with her grandma what she had been learning in bible classes herself. Dalia became interested in the Bible after returning to Bolivia in 2017 after several years living in Israel. Her brother Sami invited her along to some bible talks and she says that she found it fascinating to read about all the places in the bible that she already knew personally! As they say, the rest is history. Their family (Sis Magaly, Bro Sami and now Sis Dalia and Sis Ilda) are a great testimony to the fact that you never know what God’s plan is, so all you can do is sow the seed!
Not only were we able to spend time together as an ecclesia at the pool, but afterwards we returned to the ecclesial hall; after a short talk and welcome to the new sisters, we shared a meal of salteñas (essentially savoury Bolivian meat pies). There was a lot of chatter and laughter; it was clear how much we were enjoying being in each other’s company again!
Coronavirus restrictions are still affecting life here, though not to the extent that it was previously. We now have no curfew or restrictions on the days that we can go out, but masks are still very commonplace, and people still don’t meet together as much as they did before. The ecclesia has decided for now that we will go back to meeting together in person (it has been over Zoom for the last nine months), but at this stage only every second week. It is so different meeting in person rather than virtually! While the internet has been a huge blessing this entire year to keep up communication and connection with brothers and sisters, it has been wonderful to start meeting together and really getting to know our brethren here in La Paz on a different level. They are such a wonderful bunch, and we know that Sis Ilda and Sis Dalia will be such a great addition. Thanks be to God for His unfailing love toward each and every one of us!
Written by Bro. Isaiah & Sis. Rosie Tunnell, Mission Couple in La Paz