Who am I?

My photo
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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This week's entry is going to live up to the name of the blog. Just as ch'airo is a bit of this and that so too this entry this week. First of all, I am sorry to be so late in posting. I try to post on Mondays but this past Monday was busy. I had spent most of the previous week on a trip to Cochabamba, Mizque and La Paz, arriving home late Sunday evening. Monday morning was a meeting of the board of directors of the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center, the school where Mark attends and Niki works with the Discovery program. SCCLC is a school founded by three missions with the goal of providing quality education in English for missionary children thus making it easier for them to re-enter the educational system in the States. It has been operating for more than 20 years. All three of our older kids have graduated from SCCLC. During its history, the government has pretty much left us alone. But that is changing. The current government has its eyes on private education in Bolivia and is looking for ways to exert more control over the many private schools that supplement the public school system. The latest form of interference is in the way that private schools can and cannot charge for their services. So we are finding ourselves in a bind because our past way of doing business (which was never hidden from the authorities) is now no longer legal in some ways. So as a board we are grappling with how to resolve this issue. We will be losing revenue, having to increase costs to many parents and try to keep the government happy. Not an easy balancing act! Please pray for us as a board as we try to find an amiable solution that will be of benefit to everyone involved.

I should add that SCCLC is still looking for teachers for the next school year, especially in the lower grades. If you, or someone you know, would like to donate a year of time to help teach in a very unique cross-cultural situation, I would be very glad to hear from you. goelliott@cotas.com.bo

As I said, the week before that I was on a trip. Part of that trip was spent with Kevin and Lisa Hoffman in Mizque. There I was able to meet one of the pastors with whom they are working. That was a treat to be with them, even if they did gang up on me in Rook and win most of the games we played.

In La Paz there were two main items of business. One was to consult with the lawyer about getting our son Mark's Bolivian passport renewed and the other was to attend the national pastors' junta of our church. We have been stymied in our efforts to renew Mark's passport. When we went to do it, I mistakenly mentioned that he was adopted (big surprise). When they heard that they told us that there was a different list of requirements that we have to present. The problem, one of the documents that they are asking for we do not have because it was not a requirement back when we adopted. So now I have to turn in something that for us does not exist. FRUSTRATION. I have been consulting with the lawyer in La Paz who did our adoption to try and get this missing document. The big problem so far is that the court now has to find our file. Mark was adopted in 1997. All the files for each year are literally kept piled in huge piles according to year in a store room. We were supposedly paying someone to find the file last Saturday but have not heard anything so far. In the middle of all this I am trying to learn to practice what James says in chapter 1 about counting things as all joy. I would have to be teaching James when all this problem came about. Now I have to practice my own preaching.

Finally, I was at the pastors' junta along with James Wolheter. It was my first opportunity to see our new national church president, Vicente Ticona, in action. He did very well in running the meeting. He may not be as dynamic as some of our past presidents but his gentle spirit more than makes up for any lack. I was looking forward to having him with us at the General Conference in Minneapolis to represent the church, but that is not to be. The US Embassy will not give him a visa. He evidently does not have enough money or something to make his seem like a likely candidate for a visa. Another frustration. We sent letters assuring them that our institutions would be paying his way and making sure that he would return to Bolivia. But to no avail. How do you fight the US embassy? (Any one have contacts or ideas? I would like to hear from you.) I want to ask them whatever happened to "Give me your tired, your poor . . ."

Thanks for dropping by. I will try to get back on schedule in the next couple of weeks. This coming week may be sketchy. We have company coming (Molly Treiber, Bryan Canney and Jeremy Kochendorfer) for the next two weeks. But check back and see. I'll try to keep you posted.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Vision For Children's Ministry

This week I want to post a few pictures that come from pastor Juan Navia. He is in charge of a new outreach to children -  establishing Bible Schools in our local churches for children. These Bible schools are both evangelistic and discipleship oriented. Please pray for Juan in this ministry that is already producing positive results in a number of our La Paz churches.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Too Many Cooks . . .

It has been said that too many cooks spoil the broth, but that was not the case at Niki's cooking class last Friday afternoon. She had been asked to demonstrate how to make some "American" desserts at the Santa Cruz district meeting of the women. So she chose three simple desserts that would be possible for the ladies to make at home with limited resources: papaya crisp, no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies and finger Jello. She began with the papaya crisp. Niki asked for volunteers to help mix it up. The first line of business was to wash hands.

Next the papaya had to be peeled and cup, the topping mixed up, syrup boiled and everything put together.

The finished product was soon ready to go into the oven.

No one turned down the opportunity to sample the finished product. In fact, there was none left to bring home.

Next up were the no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. After mixing the ingredients together they were cooked on top of the stove.

The cookies were then spread out on waxed paper to harden. The waxed paper proved to be quite an item of interest. While available here in the super markets, it is not a common item. The women were quite interested in the texture of the paper, having never seen anything like it before. The cookies were then enjoyed by everyone.

Finally it was time to make finger Jello. The women helped to mix up a batch of it but there was no time to allow it to set. However, Niki had prepared enough ahead of time for everyone to have a sample. Bolivians eat a lot of Jello like products, but usually the Jello is kind of runny and often is eaten in a long, slender bag much like a freeze pop. So the idea of hard Jello was a novelty. What do you do with finger Jello?

                                         You pat it.

                                          You squeeze it.

                                         You put it on your face.

                                          You eat it.

All in all it was a very successful two hours and the proverbial good time was had by all. Pray for Niki as she continues to have interaction with the district women in the months to come. Also pray for the ladies as they seek to serve God faithfully at home, in the market and wherever they find themselves.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's Hard Being A Woman

Last week, Niki had the privilege of speaking to the Santa Cruz district women. Her topic was, It's Hard Being a Woman When . . . The women attending were encouraged by her sharing from the story of Esther. I came along to lend moral and technical support to the meeting, as she showed a video on the life of Esther before teaching. I also helped fill the role of baby-sitter. Wherever there are women there are children, so I brought along coloring pictures from the life of Esther to help entertain the kids that were there while Niki spoke. Now tomorrow, Niki will be teaching again, but this time how to cook some "American" desserts - Oatmeal No-bake Cookies, Papaya Crisp and Finger Jello. Niki has agreed to teach several sessions during this year and to also help with additional craft/activity items. Please pray for her as she works with our district women that her ministry to them will be effective and encouraging to them in their walk with the Lord.