Seizing Opportunities by Faith

Uncle David’s 2nd Quarter Frontlines Report

Uncle David’s Message

The Most Difficult Trip

“What is happening to South America?” I asked myself as I planned my trip North from Bolivia, across Brazil to Guyana and on into the US. After 22 years of flying these regular routes, all the variables are changing. One country will no longer allow humanitarian planes to fly into the country. Several countries have had airport closings. Another is suffering from truck strikes and a lack of fuel all over the country. One border crossing was closed allowing no one to cross over. One strike on the ground stopped any vehicles on the road and made it impossible for the fuel truck to refuel the plane.

“Do I cancel the trip and speaking appointments, or do I go forward and see what God will do to open the doors?” I wavered between these two options for a few minutes before selecting my default option during the last 22 years, “GO FORWARD”. “Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before, and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, “Go forward.” We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet.” ChS 234
So off we flew into the thick of the problems, strikes, and blockades. God immediately began opening the doors in answer to our prayers. Here are some examples:

  • Two of our school motorcycles were allowed to come to the airport and then were able to get us near town
  • We were allowed to walk between the trucks and striking lines with our suitcases.
  • Immigration officers came into the office and stamped us out of the country although warning us the borders were closed to everyone.
  • A man approached us and asked us how he could help. He said “All things are possible.” I asked him, “If all things are possible then get me some fuel across the striking lines to fill the plane.” He immediately took me to a man that got the fuel, negotiated with the strikers and took the fuel to the plane so the plane could return back to base. I was astounded how he could do that when everyone told me it was impossible. Later I discovered he was the labor union boss.
  • The same man then took us across the river to Brazil with a little boat and a very diverse route.
  • The Brazilian immigration officer stamped us into Brazil though there was a sign on the door saying the border was closed.
  • We were then informed the entire road was going to be sealed so no vehicles could proceed North. It was advised that we take a taxi right away before the road was closed. So we contracted a taxi to carry all six of us for nearly 4 hours to Porto Velho where our airplane was waiting for us at the airport. It was late at night and the driver kept falling asleep and almost ran off the road several times. So I told him to get some sleep and I drove the taxi. The Lord helped us all arrive safely at 1am.
  • On the flight North to Manaus the left Nacelle tank fuel pump wouldn’t transfer the fuel to the main tank. When we landed, we had to transfer gas with a little bottle, a lengthy process, but it worked. The airport then closed the runway for 3 hours delaying us further. Though weary, we arrived safely in Guyana at 1am.
  • Another airport closing in Puerto Rico plus an engine issue I had to fix complicated the journey into the US, but we gratefully arrived at midnight in Collegedale, Tennessee in time for me to catch the early morning flight to Idaho for my speaking appointment in Boise.

Looking back, Aunt Becky and I agree that this was probably the most difficult trip across South America in 22 years. Greater difficulties will probably be forthcoming. We must work while it is day before night cometh when no man can work. Please place all your energies in God’s work today. The blessing will be yours and you will have great joy and no regrets.
 

From the Frontlines, Uncle David

 

Frontlines Mission News

Medical Mission Trips to the Highlands, Bolivia

Dear Friends, It’s been a long time since I’ve written a report on our mission trips. Writing and taking pictures are not my forte and I would be so delighted if my Heavenly Father would send me a person who loves to do those things! 

My friend Babi and me

My dear friend, Babi Cristea, was longing to do a mission trip to the Andean highlands of Bolivia. We decided to go between January and March because it’s warmer and it’s so beautiful to see the flowering potato plants, wheat fields, and colorful quinoa plants. 

Waiting for the bus in La Paz

Collana Boarding School dining room 

The Collana boarding school we’ve been supporting asked us to bring our medical team. This is a mission school, as most of the students are not Seventh-day Adventists, and many are not even Christians. We decided we would also invite the community members to our health fair. 

Arthur (Romanian Translator) waiting

The ‘Sardine Express’ fully loaded

Babi Nurse (Romania) 

Dr. Daniel (India)

Coordinators Dante & Janet (Bolivia) 

Clement Therapist (Guyana) 

David Dentist (Peru)

Emma Dental Assistant (Romania)

We were quite an international group: two trip coordinators (Bolivia), two doctors (Brazil & India), two dentists (Peru & Bolivia), two nurses (Romania & USA), two Romanian kids (dental assistant & interpreter), a pastor (Romania), one medical missionary (Guyana), one nutritionist (Venezuela), a young lady who taught the children during the health fair (Bolivia). The son of the school baker at Collana also jumped on board. He was a great help running errands, taking pictures, and praying with patients. A 76 year-old Bolivian lady also joined us, which proves you are never too old to help! It was a great team and we had a wonderful experience!

Pulling teeth on a village woman 

Over 150 people came to the health Fair 

Over 150 people went through the health fair. We saw a lot of eye problems, including growths on the conjunctiva, and cataracts. I told the people I would try to find an eye doctor for our next mission trip! The village radio station made the announcement to invite everyone to come to our health fair. To our surprise, people from five other communities showed up! We decided to divide the Bibles we brought evenly between them. How I wished that we had brought more Bibles since many people were disappointed that they didn’t receive one!   

It’s a miracle that this little boy survived, a power line nearly electrocuted him. 

He’s grateful to God and desires to be a preacher one day.

The case that touched me the most was a little scarred-up boy with no hands that walked with a bad limp. Several years before he was playing with a metal rod and accidentally touched a power line. It is a miracle that he survived. He told me that he is so grateful that God saved his life. He wants to dedicate his life to God and be a preacher. That brought tears to my eyes. I’m hoping we can arrange for him to have some surgeries that can improve his life! 

 Nutritionist Yoraima (Venezuela) giving health talks to the students

Clement, Yoraima, and I had the opportunity to talk to all the high-school students. Clement talked about marijuana and how to say “No” to drugs. Yoraima shared health principles, especially nutrition, and I talked to them about courtship and marriage. It’s not easy to talk to kids that age, but I got their attention when I told them my own love story and how grateful I am that God gave me such a great husband. Putting God first in your life and following His principles is what makes a great marriage. 

Pastor Norbert (Romania) with Stephen (the baker from the school) and myself 

The school treated us so well, finding beds for all of us, preparing great meals, and loading us down with fresh bread and granola from their bakery. They were sad to see us go, they hugged us and begged us to come back again. Lord willing, we will return soon…with the ophthalmologist! 

Callisaya altiplano 

We were all glad to reach our next destination safely. The members of the little church of Callisaya were so happy we arrived! We planned to sleep in the local school’s open-air gym, but it was a lot colder than we had anticipated and the church took every one of us into their homes! 
 
We saw many interesting medical cases! We recommended these patients to go to the hospital in La Paz, but every single one didn’t want to go! Many of them are very poor and don’t have the resources and hospitals there are nothing like hospitals in a first world country. For example, if the doctor prescribes a medication, the patient has to get his own medication. The hospitals are so short staffed that patients don’t have help to go to the bathroom. Some of the hospitals don’t even provide food, sheets, or gowns. Because of this, it’s important to have a family member with you; however, many of the hospitals don’t allow someone to spend the night at the hospital. So if the family is from a village far away, where can they go? Especially if they are very poor? We are praying that the Lord will help us get our own hospital/wellness center. We long to nurture these people spiritually while they are sick!  

Yoraima giving lectures to the community

Health Fair at Tupac

 First we gave a lecture on the eight natural remedies to start seeing patients. We worked until almost 10 pm the first day. The next day we worked until noon before catching our bus. Sadly, we weren’t able to finish seeing all the patients. They thanked to us so much for coming, and asked us to please not forget them and to come back again someday soon! 
 
Now let me tell you how God provided for this trip! Honestly, I didn’t have enough money, but we bought the Bibles, we made granola and crackers, bought some other supplies. Then we got enough money to buy the medical supplies. The day before we were to leave we were able to buy the tickets. A few days later I felt something in my backpack; it was a plastic bag with a wad of paper. Puzzled, I pulled it out and discovered that the wad was 300 Bolivianos! Only in heaven will I discover how that appeared in my backpack. God is so good!   

Group selfie going home

The bus with the picture of Jesus 

will take us back home 

After the mission trip ended, Daniel, the young doctor from India, hugged me goodbye. He pressed an envelope into my hand, explaining that his missionary parents had sent it as a gift for our medical work. When my friend, Mirta (Farias), hugged me goodbye, she said, “I think I will have to cancel the mission trip I planned. I haven’t received any donations.” She was planning to go to the Mamoré River with the medical team after they got back from our trip. “How much do you need?” I asked. “One thousand dollars,” she looked sad!  “Don’t give up yet,” I said as I hugged her back. “We still have 2 weeks. Let’s keep praying!” Gingerly I opened the envelope and immediately tears came to my eyes. You guessed it…it had $1000! What an awesome God we serve! 

The cook wanted to take a picture with us dressed in her clothes. We had to wrap the skirts around us twice, and keeping those hats on was a bit tricky, but we had fun! 

These four ladies cried when I gave them Bibles they were so thrilled! I have to admit I cried, too!  They had walked for about an hour to get where we were. Their smiles are a little crooked because  they all had teeth pulled, for which they were also very grateful. 

We want to thank all our donors for their generosity.The seeds are being planted and will bear a rich harvest! If you would like to accompany us on one of our mission trips, please communicate to the information below. 

Project Needs:

Volunteers:  Dentists, Ophthalmologist, Doctors, Nutritionists, Medical Missionaries who are able to pay for their own trip/expenses.

Other: Bibles, Literature, Medical Supplies, Food, and a Van for transportation 
 
You may write to me at becky@gospelministry.org (be sure to put Mission Trip in the subject line), or call our GMI office at: 423-473-1841, or send a What’s App message to +591-721-89333 (best option). We would love to have you. Most of all, thanks for all your prayers, because it is only the Holy Spirit that can give success to our feeble efforts. 
 
Thank you so much,  Becky Gates

 

Mission Life: Long-Term Missionaries

Mission, Send Me

Mirta, Lara, Sharon, Miguel, & Karen Farias

THE STORY OF MIGUEL, MIRTA AND LARA

Mirta and I have been married for 28 years. God blessed us with three talented and beautiful daughters: Sharon, Karen and Lara. We decided early to prepare our daughters to serve people in need as missionaries abroad. But we never imagined that God would call us first!

Since I was a little boy, I had a strong desire to be a pilot, and God led me to read many stories of aviation medical missionary work. We are certain that God was leading us through many places, preparing us for what His purpose was.

In August, 2014, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the International Pathfinder Camporee, God offered us the mission field through Gospel Ministries International (GMI). After speaking with Pastor David Gates in one of the Oshkosh hangars, we offered ourselves as volunteers. We didn’t expect that he would say, “I need you now in Bolivia”.

We didn’t expect this so fast, but we were sure it was the answer to our prayers. When we finished the chat in the hangar, I was speechless for a moment, thinking, “What can I say to my wife standing beside me?” I was at a 90% yes I want to go, but what about my wife and our girls? I just shot a prayer saying, “I won’t open my mouth trying to convince Mirta that we should go.” Immediately she asked, “What do you think?” I said: “Well, I think we should go but you… I don’t know about what you think.” The Lord impressed her as well and her answer was, “Well… let’s go”. God answered amazingly!

This decision was very painful for Mirta, because this involved leaving our two oldest daughters studying in the US, Sharon (19) and Karen (17). Lara was 13 and so she came with us.

That Friday night, Mirta ask God for a sign of confirmation. Together we asked in prayer that if we could find Pastor David and his wife Becky in the middle of 50,000 young people at Sabbath morning in the big convention and talk with them, it would be the sign. So we went with our group of pathfinders, 20 people with our folding chairs to the field were all the pathfinders club meet together. Mirta decided to go around with the Argentinian flag. And I sat down in my chair. An American man stopped beside me and asked me in perfect Spanish if I was from Argentina. In our conversation I asked him, where he had learned the perfect Spanish and he said “Bolivia”. Oh I said, “Maybe you know Pastor David?”, and he replied, “Yes he is my brother-in-law and he is sitting there,” two rows behind us! God clearly showed us that Bolivia was our next destination! This was the first miracle and they continued.

In February 2015, we arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at the Red ADvenir Channel. We had challenges one after another. We lived in a very poor neighborhood for the first three months next to the campus because the campus didn’t have enough lodging. We had to walk 1.25 miles(2 kilometers) every day to work at the channel and sometimes we were very tired.

At the beginning, being volunteers without any salary was difficult. I remember one day we only had 12 bolivianos and we needed to get the last 100 dollars from an ATM for our food and basics. I went with Lara to the city’s ATM to do a withdrawal. I put the Card in it and the transaction was made but the machine didn’t give us the money. I got very frustrated and angry! I called Mirta and explained what happened and asked her to please check the bank account to see if they took the money. She was very nervous, the internet was very slow but it worked and she saw that the money had been taken out of the bank which means we lost all the money.

While she was trying to get online into the bank account someone had knocked at the door. Mirta was so upset at the time that she thought, “I’m not going to answer the door.” She was sitting on the floor in the living room with the computer on her lap because we didn’t have any furniture and the person continued knocking for nearly 8 minutes. Finally, Mirta heard the man’s voice calling and recognized that it was another missionary named Miguel.She felt ashamed because she acted in that way and she went to answer the door. Miguel said, “I have something for you” and he gave Mirta 300 bolivianos ($44 dollars). Mirta was amazed at how God was taking care of us. That money was a week’s worth of food for the three of us.

This happened so many times. One time we didn’t have anything in our refrigerator and no money. That evening we asked God for help, knowing that He will answer our prayer somehow.That night we found two bags of food at our door. God is a God of perfect timing! He sent“Angels” to help us. In Ephesians 3:20 Paul says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” We are learning to depend on God. We know that if we leave things to God’s control, it will turn out a lot better that we expect.

Medical missionary trip to Boqueron with the equipment, the only communication 

with the community in rainy weather is through these old train tracks.

Helping in The Community of Boqueron

Checking blood pressure in one community

There is a great need in Bolivia reaching the isolated communities which most of the time need an airplane to reach because the roads are too bad and the trips would take days. Three years have passed since we accepted God’s calling to go to the mission field working in medical and mechanical areas.

Dentists Fidel & wife Liceth working in the San Ramon community to the Chimani communities

On the banks of the Mamore River with Dr. Alex delivering Bibles and the Steps to Christ

Doctors Alejandra & Leonardo doing medical attention & deworming all the children we met

Mirta is now working to prepare Medical Mission Trips into the heart of Bolivia. In October 2015, we did our first Medical Mission Trip on the Mamore River. It was a shocking experience for Mirta, she saw so many needs in the different communities. There was a lack of medical attention, not enough nutritional food, correct hygiene, or Christian literature. She decided to set up our website and begin the Mission, Send Me Projects, to prepare mission trips to the jungle.

Miguel working with the tractor at the Health Center at Red Advenir Campus

Miguel painting the tires in the field 

with the kids from Red Advenir

By God grace, in September 2017, I received a Private Pilot License which I began November 2015 thanks to Pastor David Gates and Brianna’s Wings of Passion Foundation, (who sponsored the course). Many times I was discouraged for so many draw backs!)

Mirta decided that we needed to pray intensively. Every early morning we walked to the runway and we prayed for God’s interventions. We continued every morning until God answered! The difficulty with the school, weather, and my job vanished and on September 21st I finished with all the tests for my license.

Miguel and Brandtley working in the hangar

The second missionary medical trip to Mamore river, with the doctors, Alex, Leonardo, Alejandra (psychologist), Mirta (Physiotherapist), David (dentist), Miguel and Brandtley

Medical trip to the north of Bolivia. Igor (nurse), Cristina (teacher), Herman (pilot), Emily (dentist), Katerine (medical missionary) and Mirta

Dec.2017 trip to Las Chimani Communities

The airplane I will fly is at the Trompillo Airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. A mechanic is working on the maintenance and painting the new number for the Bolivian registration. My dream is to fly emergency evacuations from remote areas to hospitals in order to save the lives that would not have access to medical services. I also want to provide routine services such as carrying different supplies like food, medicine, clothing, building materials, tools and mail to other missionaries and people living in these areas – wherever God sends me. I don’t see any other future except working in these kinds of projects.

If you are thinking about becoming a missionary, we encourage you to put it into prayer. Ask God to prepare you for such a mission and He will prepare you! God took Moses into the desert for 40 years to prepare him for that big work leading the people from Egyptian slavery. God is preparing us and will prepare you too! 

Today, we invite you to pray for Bolivia and for all the different countries where there are missionaries working. Also, special thanks first of all to God and to the people through these last three years that helped us in the work by prayer and/or financial support.

Blessings,

Mirta, Miguel & Lara Farias

 

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“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”

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