Jovenes Camp in Tarija
We were told to be at the seminary at 6pm to load up the bus. Since I’m beginning to understand the Bolivian concept of time, I figured we’d leave around 8. And so I was surprised when the 52-seat bus pulled away from Cochabamba, filled with 55 jovenes (roughly ages 18-28). The fact that there were three people without a seat for the 18 hour trip didn’t surprise me, but the fact that we left at 7:00 did.
Considering the bus we took to Fichicachi, this was a luxury bus. There were still some broken seats and other signs of wear, but it was a much more uneventful and comfortable ride (meaning, we didn’t have to get out and push the bus up a hill). I woke up to see an incredible 5:45 sunrise over the mountains, and I think I slept more after the sunrise than before. After a stop for breakfast, we started making our way from the altiplano (plains) up then back down the mountains, ending in the city of Tarija, settled in a valley similar to Cochabamba. Cochabamba is known for being a green city, with a lot of parks, trees, etc., and I was surprised at how much more green Tarija was. A beautiful city!
We spent a day in the city, with a trip out to see Tarija’s well-known vineyards and wineries, then were brought to the Tarija fairgrounds, where the Baptist Jovenes’ national camp was held. This is an annual five-day camp, with each of the nine departments in Bolivia rotating as hosts. Last year it was in Cochabamba, next year in Potosí.
Even though Tarija is one of the less-central locations in Bolivia, there were a record 450 in attendance, including two busses from Cochabamba and one from Argentina. My role was not to preach or lead any groups, but just to attend, observe, learn, and get to know some of the jovenes. And I would say I was successful in that.
A few observations:
How to pray:
- One of the guys from Cochabamba that I’ve gotten to know lately came up to me a lot at the camp, with questions or just to talk. It’s exciting to see this relationship develop as he’s been confiding in me recently. Please pray that this relationship would continue to grow and be fruitful.
- I met with several of the the national jovenes leaders while in Tarija. Please pray for their ministry leading jovenes throughout Bolivia, especially as they try to unite a country that is so isolated by the terrain and poor roads. (To give you an idea of the challenge, Cochabamba is located in the middle of Bolivia, and it’s an 18 hour bus ride to Tarija. It’s just a 50 minute flight between the cities, but most can’t afford the $65 flight.)
- Dan, our supervisor, officially moved me from the orientation phase to the ministry phase. Praise God for how I have learned and adjusted to life in Bolivia. Pray for guidance as I begin more formal ministry, both with jovenes and our team’s administration and leadership, yet continue to improve my Spanish.