MCC Bolivia- At this time it looks like MCC as an organization will not be affected by our visa problems, but they are under closer scrutiny from the government. Please pray that the government would be open and understanding about MCC's mission in Bolivia and that the visa process for current and future workers would be smooth.
A Bolivian co-worker with MCC had a scare right before we left in an unrelated incident. As in many parts of the world titles to land and property are often not clear. He bought land from MCC many years ago and has lived on the property in Santa Cruz with his family. This week the police came and told him that he was not allowed to live there. They were even taking measurements and told his wife that his house would be torn down while he was at work. Fortunately, it seems like the situation will be resolved by adjusting some fence line, but our friend was very shaken up by the experience. Please pray for Patro Garvizu and his family and also for all of the people struggling through the developing world with issues of land title.
Transition- Please pray for us during this time of transition. We feel like we've been in limbo for weeks now and it can be very stressful on our family. Pray for all the MCC staff that are working hard to find another position that fits us. Pray for opportunities to serve whether it's with MCC or in Texas. Pray for extra patience and grace with each other through this time.
Land Family Update
Well, the visa issues we mentioned in our last newsletter took an unfortunate turn. We were shocked and surprised to get a call from the Director of MCC Bolivia a few weeks ago telling us that immigration informed him that we needed to leave the country and would not be able to return to Bolivia for five years. We only had a few days to pack up everything in Charagua and say goodbye to the friends, neighbors and people with whom we had been working.
The morning that we tried to leave Charagua there was a blockade on the road to Santa Cruz protesting the government's treatment of indigenous people in the TIPNIS region (Here is a good article from the BBC explaining the situation). We waited all day and had decided to stay the night, when our co-worker found out that the night bus was leaving because the blockade was lifted until the next morning. So, we got the last three seats, but could only take a few bags. We left the MCC truck packed with all of our stuff at a friend's house in Charagua until we could figure out how to get it back.
We arrived in Santa Cruz early in the morning. In the meantime our Director was having lots of meetings in La Paz with immigration trying to figure out what was happening and get a better resolution. We ended up staying in Santa Cruz for a couple weeks while the process of meetings and waiting was going on. Lucas drove with another MCCer back to Charagua to get all of our things on a marathon trip to avoid the blockade again.
In the end the government refused to work with MCC and we had to leave the country. It is an unfortunate situation. I don't want to get into all the details. For 50 years MCC has brought workers into Bolivia a certain way and now the government is not allowing them to do it that way anymore. MCC does its best to follow the laws of the countries where they work, but in many countries, such as Bolivia, this is not always easy or clear and can change quickly.
We are very sad about leaving Charagua and Bolivia. We felt like we had made a home there and were really thriving. The work with Low German Mennonites and Guaranis was exciting, interesting and going well. We made a lot of good friends in our short time there, both on the MCC staff and in Charagua. We feel very blessed that under the circumstances we were able to say goodbye to everyone in a way that was meaningful and helped us transition.
So, we arrived back in Texas last night safe and sound. We are working on next steps with MCC. We might find another position with MCC in Latin America so we can finish our term. If we don't find a position that fits us we will move back to Waco to re-join our church community, Hope Fellowship, and continue our journey with them.
A lot has happened in a short amount of time. We wanted to let all of you that have supported us through your thoughts, prayers, calls, letters, packages and skype dates know about what has happened. We feel very well taken care of by MCC and will continue to let you know what the future holds for us as soon as we do.
Much love and many blessings...
Lucas, Sarah, Asher and Lydia