Firstly a change of plan. We should have flown to Cochabamba yesterday to meet up with Mario and Helen Ponce but the flights were cancelled on Tuesday. We actually fly out tonight (Friday) at 5pm. 10pm UK time. The reason seems to be that they closed the airport for 2 days for essential repairs. You would have thought they would have known about the close down for a while and they wouldn't have accepted the original flights in the first place. I was trying to think of the chaos if they just suddenly announced Glasgow airport was closing for the next 2 days. When the pastor of the church heard of our forced change of plan he said "Welcome to Bolivia!"
We had a really productive meeting with the Board of the Foundacion yesterday morning. It was good to hear their goals and some of the very real challenges facing them over the next few years. They continue to seek to provide health care to a society who just cannot afford the basic things most in the UK take for granted. At the same time they are passionate about reaching the locality with the Gospel through their community and sports activities. The numbers of children and young adults they are coming into contact with each week is a real encouragement. Even more encouraging are the lives that are being changed and won for Christ.
They do face some huge challenges in the coming months and years and they are depending on The Lord for a way through. They would appreciate the prayer and support of those in the UK who are familiar with the work of Totai. In summary the challenges fall into 3 categories.
1/ Wisdom for the future - over the medium term there are some big changes which might take place with staff/volunteers moving on and potential changes to the basic structure of how they are funded. The board wish to stay true to their very simple aim of providing health care to those who cannot afford it and they will have some tough decisions to make to ensure this continues. They are looking for guidance and wisdom to help them make the right decisions.
2/ Good relationships.- The work of the Foundacion is at its most basic a people based operation. Many are involved in the provision of health, sports and community education and like most organisations who depend on their people for delivery there are tensions and differences of opinion. It's vital for the Foundacion, as they seek to live for Jesus in the community, they reflect His character and love. Prayer is needed to help ensure these natural tensions are resolved in a spiritual way and are not damaging to the testimony. This is a constant ongoing need and one which the Board works hard to maintain.
3/ Funding for essentials outside budget.- the running of the Foundacion each year is budgeted and well run. God supplies their needs through giving from many supporters from across the church worldwide. The Board are incredibly appreciative of this. Unlike a traditional profit based business they don't have reserves or capital set aside for one offs or replacement of essential equipment.
We have been able to pick up from our visit that they have 2 such needs at the present time.
A new audiometer - one of the vital pieces of equipment for the Foundacion is their audiometer. They have an old one from the UK which can't be relied on as it needs calibrated regularly and bearing in mind we are 6000 miles from the UK that's not as easy as it sounds (pardon the pun). They have borrowed one from the municipal hospital but they really need to replace their old audiometer with one they can buy in Bolivia which will include the regular calibration.
This is a real need for the Foundacion at the present time.
Health campaigns into the community. - Each year the Foundacion looks to go into the community around Trinided to take basic healthcare to groups who don't necessarily visit the Foundacion Totai building but still have the same basic health needs which they can't afford. These campaigns are stretching the annual budgets but are seen as vital in the aims of the Foundacion.
All three challenges are occupying a lot of the Board's time and prayer life at the present time. As I write about these challenges I'm reminded of a CT Studd quote I read just a few weeks ago.
"Christ wants not nibbles of the possible but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity and wisdom of the almighty Saviour. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it. Are there lions and scorpions in the way? We will trample them under our feet. Does a mountain bar our path? Saying, "be thou removed and cast into the sea" we will march on.
We were able to spend a bit of time relaxing at a very quiet lake in the afternoon with Craig looking after us and we ended our last night in Trinidad at a bible teaching meeting with the church that uses the Foundacion building. John spoke from Titus 2. Building the church person by person. A picture of some of the church is attached.
We ended our evening in a local restaurant where some of us had alligator- not Ruth though. She took the fish.