Tag Archive | Tarija

Our Trip to Tarjia

On May 13th, we traveled to Tarija, Bolivia, where we had a mini-vacation and a meeting to attend. For the first day and a half, we spent time exploring the city and enjoying the beautiful, green plazas. With a population of 170,000 people, the smaller, calmer city was a refreshing change from the busyness of Cochabamba.

In Tarija!

In one of Tarija's plazas

We attended a meeting on Saturday and Sunday with leaders from the Union de Jóvenes Bautistas de Bolivia (UJBB), the national young adult Baptist association. Hans is the official WorldVenture representative to the group and travels to their meetings a few times each year. It was interesting to see how the UJBB works and to hear what the local groups are doing across Bolivia. And it was great to get to know the leaders during down time – especially at night… the gals were up talking until 2:00am! (And I enjoyed every minute of it!)

Jovenes at a joint worship service in Tarija

All of the leaders went to a joint worship service with all of the Baptist young adult groups in Tarija. You can see that there were a ton of people there... not everyone had seats!

On Sunday afternoon we headed to Bermejo, on the border with Argentina, to visit missionaries from Argentina who are starting a church there. Hans met the family when he traveled to Bermejo in January, and I was excited to meet them. It was a great time of seeing their ministry and how God is working in their neighborhood, plus we had a blast talking with Marcelo and Ellie, and playing with their three girls.

The Nybergs and the Rios

With Marcelo and Ellie, missionaries from Argentina, who have been in Bermejo almost four years.

With the Rios girls

We had a blast playing with their three girls!


Grilled fish! Several members of Marcelo and Ellie's church decided we had to eat fish while we were in Bermejo, so they had a barbeque for us. The fish was amazing and the company was wonderful.

Crossing to Argentina!

Since Bermejo is just across the river from Argentina, we wanted to visit. Ferries just like this one make trips back and forth all day long to bring people to and from Argentina. We may not have done anything in Argentina... but now we have been there!

Hans and Marcelo

Hans and Marcelo, as we crossed the border!

Marcelo and Pablo

Pablo plays a song with a traditional Tarijeña melody at a prayer meeting, our last night in Bermejo. Just a few years ago, Pablo's life was filled with drunkenness like many in their neighborhood; now he's free from that lifestyle and an active member of the church. This is one of many similar testimonies of men and women in the church; lives truly are being changed by the Gospel in Bermejo!

Lindsay and church members

Church members posing for pictures with us after the prayer meeting. This is about half of the church; in the four years that Marcelo and Ellie have been working there, it has grown to over forty members, nearly all new believers.


More Camp Photos

Playing Soccer in the Guy's DormI mentioned earlier that the guys’ dorm at the jovenes camp in Tarija was a big convention building. Foam mattresses were brought in and lined the sides as beds, which left the middle of the building open for… soccer!  The two barn-style doors on either end made great goals.

The following is an entry from my journal one night:

All the guys are in a conference center about the size of an ice rink, beds around the edges.  Right now the guys are playing soccer in the middle.  Occasionally two or three players run into the mattresses on the sides chasing the ball.  I just stopped one with my hand.  I saw one guy, while sitting on his mattress, head a ball coming in his direction.  On one side of the building, a group from Cochabamba playing Uno ducks frequently because they’re sitting next to the goal (see picture below).  Occasionally whistles and shouts are heard when a yellow card-worthy infraction occurs, often cheering louder than when one team scores.

Guy's Dorm

Move Night: Facing the GiantsKeeping with the sports theme, there was a movie night one evening; Facing the Giants was shown.  I talked to a couple of guys about it; one had seen it three times, and the other five (he owns a copy of it).  They don’t understand much (if anything) of the sport of (American) football, but they do really enjoy the movie.

Interestingly, the scene that grabbed the most attention was the Death Crawl.

Here’s a few more pictures from my week in Tarija:

They ran out of brooms...

They ran out of brooms during cleaning duty, so we made do with what we had.

Makeshift Showers

Since the camp was at the fairgrounds, there were no showers, so they installed some temporary ones. Again, making do with what's available!

Saving Places in the Lunch Line

Everyone brings their own plates and cups to the camp - here, some creative campers reserve their place in line. I'm not sure how well it actually worked...

Tarija Jovenes Camp

One speaker encouraged us that worshipping God isn't just with music - it's how we live day-to-day. It's a message we need to be reminded of often.

Team Games and Icebreakers

For those who plan ice breakers and team competitions, you can learn a lot from the creativity of Bolivians!  Below are a few games that I participated in while at the jovenes camp in Tarija (ages 18-28) a couple weeks ago.  They didn’t have names when we played them, so I came up with some, but I’m open to suggestions!

All of these games are best played with larger teams (20+ members)

Move the Mattress

  • Materials: a small mattress for each team
  • Objective: Move the mattress, with someone on it, from one side of the room to the other, and back again.

Divide each team into two lines, sitting down, facing each other.  Set the mattress over the legs of the players on one end, and one player lays on top of the mattress. When the game begins, players pull/push/move the mattress down the line towards the opposite wall.  Once the mattress passes players, they need to get up and run to the other end of the line, so it can continue to the wall. Once the mattress hits the wall, it reverses direction until it returns to the starting line. Depending on the space available, this could be repeated multiple times.  If space allows, race two teams against each other.  If not, time each team as they go; shortest time wins.

Team Games

Read More…

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.

As a side note, the road from the altiplano to Tarija is… a little terrifying. A dirt road, usually two lanes wide and occasionally with guard rails, winds around the mountains. (Click here to see a map of the road.) A Brazilian company has been contracted to build a 2km tunnel to replace the mountain road. They had been drilling about 6 meters/day, which would have completed it in about a year, but they haven’t been paid by the government recently, so the work is stopped until they get paid. Thus is life in Bolivia.

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 thTarija's Green Parkse 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!

Visiting a Vineyard

Tarija Vineyards

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:

Waiting for Lunch

There aren't the resources available to provide plates, cups, and silverware for everyone, so all campers are expected to bring their own.

Guy's Dorm

Because it was at fairgrounds, there weren't dorms or cabins available. The guys were all put in a big convention room, with foam mattresses lining the walls. A very unique environment!

The Red Group Worshiping

The excitement and energy that the jovenes have during worship surprised and encouraged me. They were running, jumping, dancing as they worshiped God. It's a form of expression that I believe many churches stifle, and this camp is one of the few places for them to be able worship freely.

Water Balloon Games

Their energy also boiled over into the team competitions. After winning, the team would jump and cheer and chant. The teams made up their own cheers, like "Ole, ole, ole, ole, BLANCO, BLANCO" for the white team. It reminded me of pep band!

Afternoon Teaching Session

A direct contrast to the energetic activities was the three sermons a day. Yes, three! Well, one was technically a workshop, which meant it was in smaller groups (about 100), and the speakers asked a few questions to the group to make it semi-interactive. I was surprised, though, that at church when three jovenes who attended shared what they learned, they mentioned points from different sermons, from different people, on different days. So they may have gotten more out of the twelve sermons than I expected!

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.