En tanto que somos una comunidad de mujeres creadas a imagen de Dios, llamadas a convertirnos en discípulas de Jesucristo, y fortalecidas por el Espíritu Santo, nos comprometemos a crecer en la fe, afirmar nuestros dones, apoyarnos las unas a las otras en nuestras respectivas vocaciones, involucrarnos en el ejercicio del ministerio y la acción, y promover la sanación y la integridad en la iglesia, la sociedad y el mundo.
As a Community of Women
created in the image of God
called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit
We Commit Ourselves to
grow in faith
affirm our gifts
support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and
promote healing and wholeness
in the church, the society, and the world.
My community of women increased on the visit to Bolivia. This was an experience of a lifetime in many ways: the opportunity to meet with and share experiences with women from one of our companion synods and the opportunity to share this experience with new friends from Montana.
This visit was unique only in that the delegation was comprised of all women. This was at the request of Pastore Presidente Emilio. Our itinerary and agenda were set to maximize meeting with women. We met with women in many different settings: worship, crafts, school and after-school programs and at a retreat attended by women from all over the country of Bolivia.
This retreat was special is many ways to me. For all that we learned about the women of Bolivia, we discovered much more about ourselves. This retreat was held at the Jessica Crist Retreat Center, a place that was on my bucket list to visit. Women from all over the country of Bolivia attended this retreat. While Spanish is widely spoken in most places of Bolivia, Aymara and Quechua are also spoken. Even without speaking any of these languages, communication was not a problem. At the retreat and in our last worship service in Bolivia, conversations and liturgy was translated from English to Spanish to Aymara or Spanish to Aymara to English. Laughter is the universal language. We had lots of laughter, especially when the ladies were trying to teach us how to paint on fabric. We are having our efforts made into a wall hanging to be displayed at the Synod Assembly. Some of us will be put to shame by the fabric paintings which were given to us as a gift. They also tried to teach us an indigenous dance. That was easier than the painting.
But what I learned most at the retreat center was how much we share, their hurts are our hurts, our faith is their faith, mothers wanting the best for their children, learning to do crafts for fun or to earn money, being proud to be a Christian and a Lutheran, what a comfort it is to know that we are saved by grace alone. Food, Fun and Fellowship abounded in Bolivia!
We were not tourists in Bolivia but every time we left our hotel we were immersed in the culture. Learning to cross a street (successfully), seeing a person ride a donkey – as a means of transportation – people bathing and doing laundry in a stream, sitting on a wall in the square, seeing the billboards welcoming the Pope, demonstrations and parades on the street., watching and listening to soccer matches outside our hotel room.
Two things left their forever impressions on me. The first was worship. Both Sundays we were in Bolivia Bishop was Crist was asked to deliver the message. We were welcomed as special visitors and made to feel at home. The other was the importance of education. The Evangelical Church in Bolivia fills a vital need. While education is mandatory, there are not enough schools for all the children. Without the IELB many children would not have the opportunity for an education.
Ten years prior to our visit to Bolivia, the Montana Synodical Women hosted two ladies from Bolivia at our Biennial Convention in Billings. We were able to reconnect with one of these ladies – Berta at both the retreat center and during a visit at our hotel.
Do I want to go back to Bolivia? Yes. There are still places I want to visit and events I want to see.