Friday, June 16, 2017

From the Field Friday: Bolivia

I love the letters that Compassion sends out every once in awhile. At this point, I think I have discovered a pattern with these letters. It seems they come every two years. In 2013, we were sent letters from individual project directors. In 2015, we received Step Into My World letters, that told us what it is like to live in various regions in the world. In the past, I have posted both of these letter series on my blog.

This year, Compassion has mailed out letters from the director of Compassion in each country. These letters are titled From the Field. And because I love alliteration, I will be posting one of these letters each Friday morning. The letters were sent to me in alphabetical order, so I figured I may as post them in this same order. I don't have kids in every country that Compassion works in, but pretty darn close!

My series starts with Bolivia, where I have two boys; Jhon & Rodrigo


Dear Kayla, 

My name is Mario Vasquez and I've been working with Compassion for about 30 years. I started as an errand boy and 21 years ago, I became Country Director for Bolivia. 

Mario Vasquez Planting a Church in Bolivia 

Thank you for your support to change the future of Rodrigo and Jhon, through your faithfulness. Sponsorship is God's tool to shape and transform lives. There are two groups of heroes; the first are this great host of sponsors and donors who give their money in faith. The Bible says that whoever gives to the poor lends to God (Proverbs 19:17). The second is the staff at the child development centers who work daily with the children, providing them a safe environment where children can come to know God's purpose for their lives. 

A Compassion Staff Member and Her Class

In Bolivia, the main challenges children face rise from a lack of role models in their families. Most of our children live in overcrowded conditions with few basic utilities, vulnerable to all kinds of dangers. The older children take care of the younger, because their parents go out to work. Many also suffer violence from their own parents under the pretext of discipline. Sadly, in Bolivia, exercising violence against the most vulnerable is part of the culture. Schools and health centers are far away. Thus, the child development centers become an oasis for the children. 

A Large Bolivian Family in Front of their Small Home

There is significant difference between children who are sponsored through Compassion and those who didn't have the opportunity  to participate in the program. One sponsored child completed her university degrees; she helps her family, supports her church, and is now mentoring other children in the program. But she sadly sad that none of her other siblings completed university and that the eldest already has a family and too many responsibilities. She finds it difficult to fulfill. 

A Single Mother with her Five Children 

The work that the churches and the centers do is highly valued in the communities. For example, we encourage churches that have been working with us for a long time (15 to 20 years) to plant other churches and centers in areas outside the city. These new churches are welcomed in the new communities. The community leaders look to them with much hope for all the children in the area. 

The sponsor-child relationship is invaluable. The letters help their self-esteem grow incredibly. I heard the testimony of a young woman who has a birthmark covering much of her face. When she was a child, she was bullied by other children, who called her a werewolf. But a miracle happened, because her sponsor did not stop writing and telling her she was beautiful. This encouragement through letters helped her so much that the girl has come to feel comfortable with her birthmark. She is now a professional who works with other young people, helping provide training. 

A Boy Writing a Letter to his Sponsor 

I can see the fruits of this ministry. I remember the faces of children at the center, and now I see them all grown up: pastors, doctors, and other responsible people. When I learn that they are faithful people, no longer living in poverty, who see their future with hope and optimism, I see God's power. My goal is to give to Bolivia citizens who represent God's kingdom well, who are good children, good parents, good husbands and wives, good bosses, good workers, and good citizens - men and women who desire to serve others and not just serve themselves. 

A Boy Receiving a Medical Check-Up

This ministry works to expand God's kingdom. It is not an easy task. Please pray for your children and all children in Bolivia who live in poverty and vulnerability, so that God give wisdom to all of us working to do His will. 

Happy Compassion Bolivia Kids!

Thank you for your support for Rodrigo and Jhon, which is fundamental. I would like to encourage you to keep on supporting your children, knowing that your investment is invaluable. 

In Jesus, 
Mario Vasquez


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