Who am I?
- gordon elliott
- Monrovia, Liberia
- I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
No offense meant to Julie Andrews, Rogers and Hammerstein or María van Trapp, but wild geese that fly may be one of their favorite things but I find nothing favorable about wild goose chases myself. Today, for instance. I had a fairly defined list of what I needed to do, in order.
Monday, December 7, 2009
As every good Christian knows, an important part of Christmas is Christmas cookies. At least in our house. And we think that is one tradition worth sharing so on Saturday we invited the wives of our Santa Cruz pastors to our house to make Christmas cookies. Niki and Lisa Hoffman had prepared the dough ahead of time so it was ready to be rolled, cut, baked, decorated and eaten. I, being a male, was not invited to the party but I managed to crash it every little bit to take pictures and hassle the ladies a bit. (They love it.) However, no one offered me a cookie!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The following article was written for an edition of the Challenge several months ago but they did not use it. So, not to waste my creative talents, here it is . . . (I tried to include a picture but the server wouldn't let me. What is it about me and my writing, anyway?
“You have been selected to provide an article for the Spring issue of the Challenge. The theme is ‘Finding Contentment in a World of Chaos.’ Don’t be late!” My first reaction on reading that sentence from the office was panic. There is always panic when I am selected to write. But then I wanted to throw up my hands in resignation. Chaos! They want me to write about chaos! Where in the world will I find an example of chaos in
Friday, November 13, 2009
Victor Choque is one of our pastors here in
I am 42 years old and am married to Rebeca Apaza. We have three children, two sons and a daughter. I was born in
They put an IV in me with vitamins and three days later transferred me to a regular room. They took blood samples to analyze. The results came back that I had multiple myeloma. The doctor told me that I should have another test done with a specialist. That other doctor confirmed that I had multiple myeloma. The doctor also took two bone samples and the results from tests were the same, multiple myeloma.
I began treatment with different medicines. The doctor also prescribed radiation treatments but the Workers’ Hospital has no facilities for radiation treatments. They were going to transfer me to a private hospital but it was going to cost 5,000 bolivianos ($715). My wife went to talk to the social worker and was able to have the price lowered to 3,500 bolivianos ($500). Next we told the president of the [
While I was in the hospital the missionary, pastors and brothers and sisters in Christ came to visit me, always encouraging me with words and prayers, asking God to make me well. In March I was released to go home but was unable to walk. I had lots of pain and was required to rest at my house. One night I began to have chills. At I began to vomit and my wife had to find a way to get me to the hospital where I was again admitted to the emergency room. In there they did various tests on my blood, urine and saliva. The tests came back showing that I had pneumonia. I again was given a unit of blood and my strength came back.
After being in the emergency room for five days I was again put into a regular room. I began to receive radiation therapy every day. One day after having a treatment, I was very weak. I was being treated for multiple myeloma and pneumonia but my lungs were not getting any better. The doctor gave me a new medicine and put me in a room by myself. I was there until the month of April. I continued to receive the radiation treatments but also needed to have 30 antibiotic shots, three a day for ten days. But the hospital did not have the medicine. When my wife went to inquire how much they would cost to buy them, they told her that each shot would cost 300 bolivianos ($42.85) or a total of 9,000 bolivianos ($1285) for all of them.. My wife and I were both shocked to hear how much they would cost. We both began to cry and I asked where we would get enough money to buy the medicine. But my wife said, “No, Victor, I will find the money somehow.” Days went by and we asked God to help us find the money and to be able to get the medicine at a lower cost. One day, my wife found the medicine at a pharmacy with a price of only 100 bolivianos ($14.30) each. I gave thanks to God. We bought the medicine and within ten days of having been given the prescription the doctor began the treatment.
As a result of the radiation treatments, my blood cells were dying and I was not the same. I was unable to eat. The doctor suspended my treatments because of the effect it was having on my blood. The multiple myeloma was advancing and I had to receive two more units of blood plus a unit of plasma. I also had to receive in my stomach shots of white blood cells. I asked God to let me live or die, whatever he wanted.
My physical state was not like before. I was completely skin and bones and had no energy. The doctor gave me another medicine for the multiple myeloma and did more blood tests. The tests showed that I was also anemic. The doctor told my wife that she should be prepared for me to die at any moment. When she heard that she began to cry. When I saw her crying I also began to cry. Together we began to ask God for help, as she told me what the doctor had said. As we prayed I began to think about the things I used to do – play, dance, laugh, and work. And I felt very sad about my children, the youngest of whom is only six years old.
I was unable to eat meat because my teeth were loose. I could not chew healthy food like meat and dry foods. I cried out to God to give me hope to live. I never lost faith. I was able to finish the treatment for the pneumonia. They did tests and took x-rays and found that the pneumonia was gone. I gave thanks to God, but I still had the multiple myeloma.
The doctor said that I needed to find blood donors because I needed two more units of blood. I received one unit and then the other. Every day I asked God to give me life so that I could again be with my family. And the day came when the doctor discharged me.
In May I could not move. The doctor did not want to continue treating me. They brought me home. I was all but dead. I could hardly even talk. On seeing my wife and children I cried. And so I was for three days. But I began to eat a little. Every morning I would wake up alive and give thanks to God. My teeth began to grow strong again and I began to recover my strength. I went for another blood test and was told I needed another unit of blood. I asked the brothers at church if someone could donate a unit of blood. I also asked God that I wouldn’t need to have more blood. After doing another test, it showed that I did not need the blood. I gave thanks to God.
I was dead but now I have been revived. Today I am living and can walk a little bit with the help of a cane. Each month I have to return to the hospital for four days of treatment. And so I always give thanks to God.
Note: It is quite common for the families of hospital patients to have to find medicines and supplies for their family member. Victor is covered by the national health system which only pays for doctor services and room charges in state run hospitals. It does not cover medicines and special treatments. If you would like to contribute to Victor’s continuing needs, (his monthly medication runs about $150) donations may be sent to Evangelical Church Missions,
Monday, November 9, 2009
On Saturday we hosted the pastors of the district at our home. Since we now live in the mission house again it is an easy thing to do as it is quite well set up for hosting. Seven of the invited pastors came. So we are improving, last time we had 6. We began with the food, simple fare this time, sausages, chips, salad, jello , koolade and cookies. Of course they like to eat. But after the eating the real business began. First I read a couple of emails that had come from the national church president asking for information and reports from the district that had not yet been sent. Then I introduced them to some great new evangelism tools that we have been able to get for use. Finally, the big question of the day was, who is going to be the new district president. Our annual conference session is this coming weekend and a new president needs to be elected, No one really seems to want the job. The guys that are pastoring don't like the idea of leaving their churches for a different position. The outgoing president does not want to continue on. So quite a long and loud discussion took place. (It had to be loud as we were outside on the covered patio but it started to pour down rain so you had to speak loudly to be heard.) Although no final agreement was reached, it was good to have had the chance to talk over the different possibilities before the conference session. Pray with us that God's choice will be discerned as our pastors and church delegates meet together this Saturday and Sunday.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Yesterday, November 1 and today,November2, is the celebration of Todos Los Santos here in Bolivia. Todos Santos is the celebration of the dead. In the Ayamaran mind, when someone dies, their soul (ajayu) must begin a journey to its eventual resting spot. Until it reaches the place of rest, it must be helped by the living. If it does not receive the help that it wants it can then take vengeance on the living and cause untold problems, suffering and death. On November1 at noon the souls of the dead return to the homes of their relatives. The family must make adequate preparations for the return of the souls. A special table is prepared with all the favorite foods and drinks of the dead person. Coca and alcohol are also a very important part of the offering. In addition there are special breads (t'ant'awawa) shaped in the form of people, sometimes with the face of the person pasted or painted onto the bread. Also there is bread shaped like a ladder. All these items must be arranged in a very specific way on the table. At noon the family gathers to await the arrival of the soul. The day is spent around the table, eating, drinking and praying to the dead. On the next day the whole event is removed to the cemetary where the food is again spead out, but this time on top of the grave. The family gathers there until noon when the souls return to their journey. After three years of faithfully completing these obligations, the soul is then ready to go to be with the other dead and join them in becoming a type of god. The living family members celebrate the completion of the three years because now they will not be bothered by the soul of the dead person. It is a system that is based on fear, not love. Now I am sure that for many Bolivians much of this has become an empty ritual that is more social than religious. But the truth remains, that many Bolivians are enslaved by their fear of the dead. Satan uses this fear to keep people enslaved. Often people will see their dead relative alive somewhere but it is in reality demons playing tricks. These people, more than anything, need to hear of the victory of Christ over death, Satan and demons so that they can become free of fear and live in the knowledge of God's great love for us in Christ.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Liberty School was a special project of our national church here in Bolivia. It was started some years ago under, shall I say, false pretenses. The brothers had the idea that a school would not only serve the community (which needed the school) but also would be a source of revenue for the church. So under those assumptions, the Liberty School was opened. Part of the expectation has been met. It has proven to be a ministry to the neighborhood. With monthly fees running less than $15, Liberty has been able to offer the poorer families of the area a private Christian education. The parents are happy with that. They like the values that the school has instilled in their children. But the other half of the expectation never came to pass. Charging $15 a student will never transfer into revenue. Rather than generating revenue for the church, the school has cost money over the years. (Now I could have told them that would happen but who listens to me, right?) So now the school is in a big bind. It needs around $50,000 now to do much needed maintenance and build a new classroom building. The church is struggling with what to do with the school. Do we keep it going or shut it down? One thing is certain, without an influx of money there will be no choice. Please pray for the leadership of the church as they struggle, wrestle, fight with the future of the school. Pray that if it needs to continue that somehow God will provide what is needed.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I was in La Paz a couple of weeks ago to do some business. I had stopped to allow a shoe shine boy to polish my shoes. (Shined shoes are a thing in Bolivia.) I began talking to the "boy" who was shining my shoes. Actually he was 18 years old and his name was Denis. He doesn't know anything about where his family is. At age 10 he was taken to a children's home to live by his parents. There, they were given an evening meal, a bed and breakfast in the morning. Then they were all turned out onto the street until evening. At about age 15 Denis left the home and began living on the street. Now three years later he is still on the street and shining shoes to earn enough to eat. He is going to school and hopes to be able to finish high school. He still has three years to go.
My heart went out to this young man. What hope does he have for the future? And then another thought came to me: where would our son be if he hadn't found us and become a part of our family? Would he be like Denis, living on the street, always scrambling for enough to eat? Thankfully, I don't have to know the answer to that question. What would have been is not in our realm to know. But what about Denis? Will he find something to give him hope? Will he come to ever know the love of God in Christ for him? Will he ever know that God will not kick him out on the street or abandon him? I can only hope so.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
MOnday mornings have been sung about, written about, analyzed and everything else. This is Monday morning and it has been far too atypical. The air conditioning in the car has not been working right (I guess that global warming has hit my car) and I decided that I should take it in to get it fixed. Everything is fine, they said, except that it is not cooling like it should. Could I come back in the afternoon? That's when the real mechanic will be in. Next it was to the Bolivian Evangelical University to check on paying a scholarship for one of our students there. True to form, I didn't end up having enough money for what we need to pay. But it needs to be paid today or he will be booted out of class. Could I come back in the afternoon? So I guess that pretty much lines up the afternoon. Flexibility. It is a great word that summarizes the number one trait you need living in Bolivia. Yes, you need a call from God (extremely important), Bible training, cultural sensitivity, a heart for people etc. But if you're not flexible none of that will get you very far. Is God flexible? I think so. We are studying Genesis in our Sunday School class. When things went wrong in the world God didn't just throw up his metaphorical (because God is spirit and technically has no hands)hands and quit. Instead he became flexible and adjusted to the current situation. Expulsion of man from Eden, the flood, the tower, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all examples of God's flexibility until he brought the final solution, Jesus and the cross. So I guess if God could wait thousands of years of being flexible I can wait a few hours. Maybe I should get out the old Gumby doll while I wait. Talk about flexibility!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
This past Saturday we had the Santa Cruz district pastors over for a taste of American style pizza (that means pizza without corn, asparagus, eggs among other things). Six of the invited ten were able to come. We had a good time sharing and laughing together. Kevin and Lisa Hoffman came to help put the pizzas together and then Kevin shared some of his testamony with the pastors giving them the chance to know him better. I had planned to show them a video after eating but instead the conversation turned to a discussion of the necesities of having some form of active discipleship training going on in each church and especially with new converts. That led into a very open and honest discussion about the Bible Institute program here in Santa Cruz and what we are doing that is right and what we are doing that is wrong. I thought, "this is worth more than a video", so the video had to wait. There would never have been this kind of frank discussion at a formal business meeting of the district. So I thank God for the day with the pastors and pizza. Now we'll have to see what we can get if we serve them fried chicken, taters and gravy.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Who would have thought that partying would be a major element of a missionary's ministry? If this secret gets out, the mission is apt to be over run with applications!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
How do you make decisions? I hate making them because they are so hard to do and I fear making the wrong choice. Now big decisions are ok, like are we going to move to Iraq? Do I rob a bank this afternoon? But its those little decisions that bug me. I always am the last to place my order at a restaurant because I can't decide, chicken or beef, breakfast or dinner. That's why at my favorite restaurants in Bolivia I only order one thing, pork at Don Miguel and Fetuccini Gratine at MichaelAngelo. So today I had to make a decision do I go to church or not?