26 Dec ’11 – Scott Sterling
It’s been a long time since I have written. Here is what has happened:
We made it successfully to the United States. God chose not to allow us to bring our dog with us, and for good reason. It seems that there is a rule that airlines will not accept pets for transport if the temperature at any of the destinations en route have a temperature forecasted to be above 85 degrees F. This happened to us. Looking back, it was a blessing that we left Raisin behind because of the expense of bringing her back to Bolivia, and the additional paperwork. We were only in the U.S. for 10 weeks anyway. We were sad at first, but the time went very fast. This also allowed us to send some money back that we borrowed from a friend, and send a little more to help to a missionary who we left behind. I felt good about the outcome.
Arriving in Collegedale, TN we had $5 to our name but we were happy and in the hands of family. Our first goal for coming to the U.S. was to attend Min’s brother’s wedding. Bruce and Keturah were married in a beautiful wedding in Lake Lure, NC. They accommodated us well, and we had a great time with the family. Everything came together for the wedding, and they are now happily married.
Our second goal in the U.S. was to save up enough money to file for U.S. citizenship for Min. She has been a legal resident with a “green card” for several years. Jobs are scarce and the price for applying is $680. By God´s grace, the next day or so after we returned to Tennessee from the wedding, my mother-in-law received a call for me. She had a friend who might employ me if I call him right away! Sure enough, he was a tree worker who needed help working on several jobs. I started working the next week. Our time in the U.S. was a blur for me, every day either asking questions and making sure Min´s application was filled out correctly with all necessary attachments, or working to pay the application fee. God knew we would need a lot more funding than I could earn in that short time, so he sent donations from several sources to help provide for other needs, including travel, communication, and necessities for returning to Bolivia. I was even able to fly to Washington for a few days to have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents (a week before Thanksgiving). I hadn´t seen them in almost a year. One excellent testimony to God´s provision: Min´s paperwork was sent with the fee just two weeks before our target date to return to Bolivia. I had no money for airplane tickets and prices would only go up as the time approached. A missionary bought us two tickets knowing we would pay him back. I worked as I could for two weeks, and with some family help we paid him back and flew to Bolivia. While in the U.S. we gave mission updates in three churches, and saw family and friends when we could and the whole experience was a blessing.
We´re back again in Bolivia! I´ve been helping however I can, and getting our living area more livable. I put in shelves and a place to hang our clothes, and even installed an electrical outlet professionally with conduit and a junction box. It´s different here, because the buildings are made of cement and bricks – no drywall. A HUGE blessing this time was being able to bring Min´s electronic piano with us. She likes it a lot better than the ones available for her use here, and we can travel with it too.
I´ve been blessed to find a Bible study interest in the community next to our property. His name is Jimmy (doesn´t sound Bolivian does it?), and he drives a bush taxi. He is interested in Bible prophesy. My level of Spanish is just enough that I would attempt this on my own, and so far God had blessed. We covered Daniel 2 last time, and I plan to go through Daniel 7 next time. An unexpected surprise the last time was that he wanted to do the Bible study inside the little office they have where the bush taxis stop near our property. We ended up with an audience of four, and afterward they asked if I would teach English. I taught an English lesson and everyone wanted me to return the next week! His car broke down this week, and I really want to keep the study going so please pray that God intervenes to make sure it doesn´t fizzle out.
Min´s been giving piano lessons to five or more missionary kids here. Along with helping in the kitchen it´s a full load! We´ve been asked to be part of the music program at the Hamacas SDA church. At first we were hesitant, because we prefer our small church at Pedro Lorenzo. Hamacas is perhaps the largest church in downtown Santa Cruz with many members and many of them trade professionals. I found out it is also perhaps the most influential church in Santa Cruz. It may turn out as a calling though: Our ministry in Bolivia is a ¨supporting ministry¨ not funded or governed by the local SDA conference. This is not common here in Bolivia, and since its inception, our ministry has been looked upon with skepticism by the local leaders. We have wanted so much to work together with the conference while maintaining our own leadership and TV content to ensure the highest standards. This last year that door has opened. The new president of the Santa Cruz Mission of SDAs came to visit our facility and express the desire to work together as brethren! I believe the pastor of Hamcas was with him and some others. Now the Hamacas church has identified us as theirs, and our station director is in charge of the music program there. So we can see that by participating in the music program, we are strengthening the ties between our ministry and the local churches and knocking down the walls of fear!
I´ve not been flying lately. Our chief pilot is not here, and right now I am the only pilot. The planes should have permission to fly soon, but I´ll need to fly with another pilot for many more hours before flying on my own here.
Please pray for us, and one of our missionaries, Daniel. He had a motorcycle accident today. He is fine, but someone else was injured badly and he is not sure what the government will do to him. The injured person was taken off to the hospital by an ambulance.