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> Hello, my name is Anne Rodgers. I am honored to be co-leading this trip with my husband Steve. I have participated and co-lead in national and international go-teams for the past 17 years. Steve and I had the privilege of joining the initial exploratory trip last November and are super excited to be joining Food for the Hungry (FH) in serving the community of Lajastombo, Bolivia. FH wouldn’t be there if the community leaders had not asked FH to partner with them to improve the overall quality of life for the people of this underserved area. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for our team of 11 people this April.

Connecting Kids

Hi!
 
My name is Ashley and I’m a part of the team going to Bolivia in April, and to say I’m excited is an understatement! I’m looking forward to building relationships with those we will meet. It’s so wonderful knowing that Blackhawk will have a partnership with this community for a long time and that we are learning and will continue to learn so much from each other.
 
The connections I’m the most excited about are connections with the kids. At Blackhawk, I work in Elementary Ministry. Over the last year, we’ve been dreaming of and implementing ways to connect the kids we have here at Blackhawk Church with the kids in Lajastambo. Connecting them will be mutually beneficial because we are hoping kids might get to know each other and form lasting memories that will help all kids (both at Blackhawk and Lajastambo) to love and serve others better and to get a bigger picture of the God who sees, knows, and loves them.
 
So far we’ve exchanged some videos and kids from both places have sent info about themselves to each other. We’re still at the beginning of this partnership, so I’m looking forward to dreaming of more creative ways to connect the kids with both the kids at Blackhawk and the kids in Lajastambo. Kids in both places are already making huge kingdom impact, so let’s help them use their God-given talents to bring glory to God as they get to know each other. Would you pray with me?
 
Cheers!
Ashley

  

“It’s Starting to Get Real!”

Greetings!
 
My name is Steve Rodgers. My wife Anne and I (along with Blackhawk’s Bolivia country liaison Tom Schwei) make up the leadership team for this April’s trip. It’s exciting to see how the team has come together as a unit through our planning, team meetings, and social gatherings. It’s starting to get real! Like the rest of our team, I’m busy checking our to-do list to make sure everything is in order. We do a lot of planning for these trips, but we never really know what God has in store for us until we are actually there. Anne and I made this trip last November, and we realized the number one requirement is: be flexible!
 
When we returned from our Bolivia trip last November, the entire team was so impressed with the work Food for the Hungry–Bolivia is doing in Lajastambo (located about 30 minutes outside of Sucre). Their ministry philosophy and goals are such a great fit for Blackhawk. It’s amazing to see what God has been doing through his dedicated, gifted servants in Lajastambo, and it’s an honor to partner with them.
 
My wife Anne and I are looking forward to ministering to married couples in Lajastambo through a marriage workshop. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and teachable hearts as we go and learn how we can partner with Food for the Hungry—Bolivia and the people of Lajastambo.
 
Stay tuned for more updates!

 

April 2018 mission team trip to Lajastambo is coming soon!

Hola!
My name is Tom Schwei and I will be traveling with 10 other Blackhawkers to Bolivia in April 2018.  First, I want to thank everyone who has supported this trip, financially and through prayer.  Your support of all kinds is absolutely necessary!  It helps fund the trip, shows God the large group of people who support the trip, and is incredibly encouraging to feel so well supported as a traveler on the trip.
Along with other men of Blackhawk, I recently read a book about various Christians who were leaders of our faith over the past 150 years (Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, and others).  One of these leaders said something along the line of – you can’t really feel and know poverty until you visit or live in a place with people day to day and see the conditions they live in.  I agree with this statement and it is one of the reasons I continue to be involved in mission trips with Blackhawk Church.  Each time I visit communities with whom we partner, I am reminded of how privileged we are in America and, in contrast, how most of the world really lives…and this inspires me to be more giving of my time and other resources in communities like Lajastambo, where we will be going in April 2018.
I have been privileged to go on Blackhawk mission trips to Honduras and Bolivia and each trip gives me a renewed sense of giving and serving others.  I’ve been attending Blackhawk Church since 2005 and I appreciate the opportunity provided to me to serve God and serve other people in many ways, including participating in international mission trips.  Thank you for your interest in this trip and in the people who will be traveling to Bolivia in April 2018.  Please continue to pray for the people of Lajastambo, the Food for the Hungry staff (who we partner with on the ground there), the team members and the Blackhawk staff who support us.
The picture is from a celebration of the opening of a nutrition center in Lajastambo in late 2016. It is within walking distance of many people (and one of five nutrition centers planned for the very spread out area of Lajastambo) to help primarily with children’s health issues.
Hasta luego!

Saturday

On Saturday, we met in the hotel lobby at 4:30am to start the journey back home. We were exhausted and bouncing between many emotions. We were missing our families and friends and excited to see them. At the same time we were very sad to say goodbye to the people from Food For The Hungry. We couldn’t be more impressed with FH and their mission and approach. I had a rudimentary understanding of their mission and approach before we arrived in Bolivia, but I leave extremely impressed. They are extremely organized and deliberate in their approach. In this sense they are like a machine. But I think we were most impressed with the staff and how they serve. After all, a great plan and approach is nothing without people that have a heart to serve people with love.

I was very impressed with the strategic plans or project plans that they would share. But what I will remember most is:

  1. How community members and leaders, unprompted, spoke of FH and how integral they are to their community.
  2. How we would run across kids by the side of the road that would run and throw their arms around an FH staff member and hug them with everything they had.
  3. How the mothers we met with in the nutrition centers would pull a FH member aside and ask for guidance on some issue they were facing.
  4. How the staff was so humble…there are amazing stories of extraordinary things that the staff was doing that wasn’t part of any job description but yet hit the bulls eye of holding their plans loosely and loving people the way Jesus modeled.

I now fully understand why Blackhawk partnered with FH in Bolivia. They match our ethos, have a great plan, a methodical approach, and have awesome staff. A big focus of these trips is to build relationships. In this instance we were able to build relationships with the staff. Each FH staff member has relationships with 200 families. We had the opportunity to build relationships with these people and mutually share and grow together. One of the most emotional moments is when the staff thanked us for helping and recharging their batteries. They are thanking us? They are telling us that we recharged their batteries? Are you kidding me?

We got to see the hands of feet of Jesus in action a very real way, in conditions and with obstacles that can and would overwhelm anyone. The most common question I expect I will get in the coming weeks is “So what did you guys do?”. If I sense the person wants the short answer I will say we worked alongside an amazing organization called FH that is attacking poverty in a variety of ways and I will share some things that we did with them. If I sense the person wants and will understand more, I might say we built relationships with staff who each impact 200 families. If I sense that they want more, I will tell them I saw two teams encouraging and helping each other in a way that would please Christ.

If you have been moved at all by hearing about FH this week, we encourage you to sponsor a child. This is FH’s primary source of funding and allows the amazing staff to call continue the incredible work they are doing. If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Food for the Hungry, email Maddie Blanchard at mblanchard@blackhawkchurch.org. If you want to sponsor a child of a specific gender, be sure to include that in the email. Maddie will get in touch with you about next steps.

Want to hear more stories about our time in Bolivia? Consider attending our Show & Tell on Sunday, December 10th at 10:30am! We’ll be meeting in room 205B at Brader Way and would love to see you there!

Carl

Friday

On Friday morning, it was time to pack up and say farewell to Sucre—our home for this past week.
We left our hotel at about 9:30am for the drive to the Sucre airport and our 11:30am flight to La Paz. When we arrived at the Sucre airport, we were greeted by about 6 Food for the Hungry (FH) staff who had come to see us off, complete with a farewell banner! The FH staff and all the Bolivians we’ve met take hospitality to a whole new level!
After the one-hour flight to La Paz, we boarded a bus and drove a short distance to a scenic overlook where the driver pulled over and we all piled out of the bus and hiked up to a viewing area. The view of La Paz from there was breathtaking (quite literally because the elevation was around 13,000 feet). La Paz is a vast, sprawling city with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop.
We wound our way through La Paz traffic and made our way to a luncheon put on for us by Juan Pablo (an FH staffer) at his parents’ house. Juan Pablo’s father is retired, but he was once a high-ranking military official and his beautiful home is filled with a lifetime’s worth of military memorabilia. The family fed us well (extremely well) and showed us remarkable warmth and hospitality. Over-the-top hospitality appears to be a hallmark of Bolivian culture.
After the luncheon, we boarded our bus and went to downtown La Paz for some souvenir-shopping. After we exhausted our supply of Bolivianos (local currency) it was back to the hotel for an early night in preparation for a 3:30am wake-up call to start the last leg of our trip home.
Saying goodbye to Bolivia and FH staff has been bittersweet. The relationships we’ve established here have gone deeper faster than any of us anticipated. So it’s hard to say goodbye, and all our farewell ceremonies have been emotional. But we look forward to seeing family and friends back home, and sharing stories of God’s tender mercies and remarkable provision for each of us.
Steve R
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Thursday

Yes, God did an amazing work to prompt Sonia to place her faith in Christ after we had a lengthy conversation following our marriage seminar. A couple days later, we went to her house to give her a Spanish Bible. The following day, Sonia and her husband and son drove over 40 minutes to join us at “walleyball” (a version of volleyball we played with FH staff on a handball court) to deliver a gift to me!  But she was given the greatest gift ever! As Susan asked, please pray for her and her family. (She is the first Christian in her immediate family and in-laws, with whom she and her husband live.)

Today was the first day that we did not need to leave by 7:45 a.m. so it afforded us a bit more sleep and time to debrief as we were all exhausted from a full day yesterday and walleyball ‘till 9 pm!

After finishing up cutting the PCV pipes used to support the fabric organizers, our team split into two groups.  One group headed to a community center in one neighborhood of Lajastambo where over 20 women learned how to sew on new Singer sewing machines. We sewed hanging organizers and made earrings and bracelets with beads. A second group drove to another neighboring community center to work with 30 middle schoolers to build wooden soccer game boards.  Both teams reported great success in building relationships and creating something they never made before!

After lunch, we met up with about 15 children (three were our team’s sponsored children) at the Cretaceous Park to play on the dinosaur structures and tour the park that contained life-size replicas of dinosaurs.  This park came about after many different footprints were discovered on the valley “walls” by a mining company and assisted by erosion of the tectonic plates that had heaved the valley walls upward.  It was most interesting!

In anticipation of leaving tomorrow, we had a farewell dinner with  FH staff.  I think I can safely say for the whole team that we are thoroughly impressed with the servant’s hearts FH staff possess for the people of Lajastambo, especially the children, and for each of us as their partners.  They gave us each an individually named gift bag with coffee mugs, which—when hot tea is poured into them—illuminated pictures of each of us with one or more Bolivian children!

Though it has been raining a little bit on some days, it’s not putting a dent in the need for fresh water in Lajastambo. They get water delivered to their houses only twice a week😔  But the people are clean, and when visiting, are willing to share their precious commodity by offering guests a cup of water.  I forget how blessed I am with fresh clean water available anytime with the turn of a knob!  Please pray for fresh water for these communities!

Looking forward to sharing more when we get home!

Because of His Grace,
Anne

 

Wednesday

First let me start by introducing myself since I didn’t do so prior to the trip. My name is Susan and I’m the Impact Director. Last year we launched a new holistic partnership with Food for the Hungry in Bolivia. This partnership has multiple levels: adult GO Teams coming alongside the goals of our partner here, relationships between Blackhawks children’s ministry and children’s Sunday school/groups here in Bolivia, and over 200 Blackhawkers signed up to be child sponsors. This trip was strategically planned after our Bolivia vision trip last year and the launch of our new FH Bolivia partnership. We are investing in this partnership for a 10 year run.

Now for the day. Juan Carlos gave the devotions this morning at the FH office.

He spoke of the greatest sacrificial servant -Jesus and that there’s no other way to provide service that God calls us to without knowing Him and having a relationship with Him of which the correctly motivated service to others flows.

That was a very recalibrating and great start to the day.

From there we headed to (location) to the inauguration of the new nutrition center. What a celebration it was! We were greeted by community members clothed in beautiful regional garments who grabbed our hands and pulled us into their cultural celebration. I think there is video of the Wisconsinites trying to find the beat, keep up and not trip over our own feet. The hospitality, beauty of the people, the land and the purpose behind our presence, was stunning. This very nutrition center was funded through part of Advent Conspiracy last year, 2016 and there we were today in front of it, blessing its new existence in this community and grateful to God for last years Advent Conspiracy that was focused on empowering hope. We were very honored to be part of the dedication service.

Water tanks for families.

We climbed up a hill to a beautiful spot where 25 families live and were able to be a part of a water tank dedication. These water tanks will help families have safe preservation of water.

Women’s Savings Groups 

After lunch we split in two groups and after picking up some cafe con lache we headed to different communities to visit women’s savings groups. We met with multiple groups of women and learned about their process and goals. We were so inspired! Steve gave some comments and shared that he’s never seen a savings group as inspiring. He then shared that in the U.S. we have a saying that seems very appropriate…”Girl Power”!   Sara and I were so moved by these women. Their strength and perseverance humbled us.

Walleyball

Walleyball with FH staff was the night activity. Apparently it is not only love, a smile, a laugh, that translate across cultures but also walleyball!

Finally, if the day wasn’t amazing enough, outside of the wolleyball court Anne lead someone across the line of faith tonight. Please pray for the woman who made this decision, for her journey, for her discipleship.

Please keep praying! Thanks for your part in this!

Hello to my Impact team and kisses to my husband Marty and my mom. Love you both!

Susan

Tuesday

We started out the day with beautiful sunny skies and a trip to the FH office for a short presentation. Afterwards we headed to Nueve de Marzo, a school on the outskirts of town which educates approximately 500 children ages K-12. We had the opportunity to work with a classroom of 6/7 year old children to teach English (they also taught us some Spanish!). We worked on the names for various animals and made sure to throw in each animal’s sound as well – think Lion “Roarrrrr”.

While at Nueve de Marzo we also juried an art contest for teenage students. The students participating in the contest were finalists from previous contests and represented several different schools. Students were to base their art around the idea of environment. We were to judge their work using four criteria: creativity/originality, technique, message, presentation. It was a challenging task given how good all of their work was! In the end, the top three students from each group (we had to split them into three groups) received a backpack.

After lunch we headed to Rio Jordan Church to make music with a group of children. We used musical instruments called BoomWhackers which are essentially plastic tubes of differing lengths, each length producing a specific note. Using sheet music with color coded notes (each BoomWhacker tube has its own color) we worked in teams of three (one adult and two children) to play Happy Birthday and Mary Had a Little Lamb. Each team of three was responsible for a specific note in the song. It was a very enjoyable experience with many, many laughs.

After BoomWhackers we participated in a clinic on hand washing. We were fortunate to have a pediatric surgeon on our team who demonstrated how to thoroughly wash one’s hands. Once all of the kids had a chance to try washing their hands using this new method we broke into smaller groups and went out into the community to show a few of the local residents what the children learned. It was a fun experience and well received by the community.

Steve and Anne R had a sweet home visit with their sponsor child Elizabeth and got to meet her mother and siblings. Elizabeth’s father is a pastor and was working construction at the time. They shared gifts, and meal, and countless hugs. Elizabeth, who is 7 years old, was so appreciative of the coloring books and pencils. Steve and Anne now have a second family in Bolivia!

Jon