December 2022
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God's Dream

Written by Rocio Mercado, B3 Team Doctor

"Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass" - Psalm 37:4-5.

Part I
The class was called “My Life Project.” It was one of the last classes of the missionary course in Quebrada León in 2020. The teacher asked us a question that made us all think: “What are your dreams/goals in life?” He asked us to write a personal list of 30 short, medium and long term dreams. Once done, he asked us to highlight a few of them from the list: 
            1. Which one will help me grow spiritually?
            2. Which one will help others to know Christ?
            It was then that the "big list" became small and took on meaning. Finally, our teacher gave us a big challenge; perhaps for some it seemed impossible. Dream up a life project, and at the end of the class each one would share with everyone their dream project, which would not only be with the purpose of saving others but also serve as a means of salvation for oneself.

Being a missionary doctor, I began to dream as big as I could…. Having Jesus as my model, the One who gave everything to reach those who seemed unreachable, I could not dream small. I thought of those who live in the jungles of Bolivia, in those remote communities of which I did not know the names. My dream formed into a healthy lifestyle center, where people could be attended not only with conventional medicine but also with those remedies that God gave us such as hydrotherapy, clay therapy, and teaching them how to eat in a healthy way. But above all, I wanted to serve people by showing them Christ’s love. I also dreamed of some boats, in which we could travel the rivers with my team to reach those in need of medical attention.
As I was writing out my project, I shared it with Ryan (we were only friends at that time) and he suggested adding an airstrip for a small plane in case some patient needed to be extracted to some larger city for surgery, etc. and he offered to be the pilot. He even offered to be the director of my project, (or our project?) something that at the time sounded very funny to me.

But I added his suggestion, and my life project was ready. I presented it as far as I had managed to dream up and even forgot that I had no resources to make it happen. So there it was, written on a few sheets of paper, without imagining that one day God would turn it into reality.
Part II

Two years later in May, 2022, I was in a boat with Ryan (then my fiancée) and the B3 team, navigating up the Beni river towards an unknown community in the Madidi National Park (The B3 Ministry was now starting to reach out to the communities in the MNP and they had invited us to be part of the first trip - everything seemed to be in line with my dream project from 2020). Here I was, excited to embark on this adventure! It was very hot and humid, and I hoped that the mosquito bites would not make me desist. After about four hours of travel, we entered a small creek, but because of the weight of the load we had to get off the boat and walk along a path while a few guys from the community took the bags by a small powered canoe. When we arrived at the community, I saw a small school and some wooden houses. The villagers offered us a place to camp, a place to cook with firewood and a place to attend the patients. There were even a couple of bathrooms with some curtains, but no shower and not even drinking water. (Everyone in the community uses the river water for drinking, cooking and bathing.) I worried about Ryan and prayed for him, thinking that the weather and the conditions of the place would discourage him. But God is calling us to serve here in the jungle and He will continue to fill our hearts with that conviction.
We began to see patients the next few days, some even walking from another remote community when they heard that a medical team was coming to provide free care. The people were shy: some came in large families with children, others were elderly, some young, all seeking medical and dental care. I ended the day exhausted, but with joy in my heart that no lack of comfort can take away, because being there and doing what Jesus himself did on this earth was certainly worth it—indeed, it is a privilege for which I have no merit. 

On Sabbath we worshiped in the small Adventist church, sitting on logs and boards, some singing hymns in T’simane (a local dialect), others in Spanish. That day the pastor gave a practical and simple sermon on unity, and after lunch there was a baptism at the river.
Before leaving to return to Rurrenabaque I asked Ryan, "Do you think this is our calling? And he answered me, “I have made a few trips to other communities in Bolivia, but since I arrived in this community, I felt so moved to help these people even though I had never seen them before... this is the ministry where God is calling us.” I replied, “This community is not even easily located on the map, maybe these people at some point felt forgotten living so far away from the city; but they were never forgotten by God, and He brought us here as a living testimony of His immense love for them, how much He cares for their health and His longing to save everyone.”

I could see how God in His love and mercy fulfilled the deepest desires of our hearts, something that I had written on a piece of paper years before and had seemed like a human dream, maybe even an impossible one; but it was written in the books of heaven for the salvation of many. Now we understand it was not our dream - it had always been God's dream.
Jesus loves you with tenderness too and wants to make HIS dream come true in your life. Will you let Him?

(P.S. Ryan and Rocio were married in August and continue to lead the medical team and coordinate trips up the river.)

His Timing, His Ways

Written by Ryan Kim,
B3 Medical Team Coordinator

Part I

I glanced at my watch as I made space for a few last things in the car. 8:10 AM. Good, I thought, we’re just a few minutes late. We picked up Marcia, the dentist, on our way to the “dock” at the river where we were supposed to meet at 8. After arriving, we met up with three graduates from Eben-Ezer who would help us on the trip. But where was Abel and the boat he had arranged to pick us up? I tried calling him, but he didn’t have signal. (There is no cell service in the village where he lives). I wandered down the river’s edge, looking for any sign of Abel or his boat, but no trace of either. What had happened? Today’s the day we decided on, we never changed the date since we decided on it…. Eventually I recognized a few people from Torewa Indigena, the village that we’d visited two times. They told me Abel hadn’t come down that day. Now what do we do? I asked myself as I returned to the waiting group. Doubts started to creep into my mind. Should we cancel the trip? How are we to find this new village by ourselves without any help? Finally after four hours, we found someone that would take us up river for a reasonable price, so we loaded our gear into the boat and we headed off. Finally, I thought as I dozed off, now that we’re on our way, maybe Abel is waiting for us somewhere on the river….

Three and a half hours later the skipper had brought us to the edge of the river. “The village is over there,” he said pointing to trees half a mile in the distance. I could hear music, but no other trace of the village could be seen. Again, doubts started to creep into my mind. Now what do we do? We came this far only to turn around and go back? It seemed that everything was against us from getting to the village. We only had a few hours of sunlight left, and I even started to consider the possibility of staying the night on the edge of the river. 

We walked the river bank, examining the opposite bank for any sign of path that might lead us to the village. No sign of any path, and the creek was too deep to cross unless we swim. The skipper was getting impatient. He had to get back to Rurrenabaque before it was too late. Finally, he told us to help him push the boat over the shallow part right at the mouth of the creek, and we went a few hundred yards down the creek before it got even shallower. But now we could see the entrance to the community! We unloaded our things on the edge of the creek, while one of the graduates from Eben-Ezer went to get help to take our gear the rest of way.

Later, talking to Abel, we realized it was a misunderstanding and a lack of communication. He had been waiting for us all day at his “port” on the main river close to the village, but we had been waiting for him in Rurrenabaque. 

Ellen White says, “Prayer is the channel of communication between our souls and God. God speaks to us through His word; we respond to Him through our prayers, and He always listens to us. We cannot weary or burden Him by our frequent heart to heart communications” (Pr 3.2). Are we communicating with God on a regular basis, or are we in a place with no “signal” and shut ourselves off from the blessing of communicating with God?

Part II

We awoke after a fitful night of sleep to a red sun peeking above the tall jungle trees. Our first day in this new village called Torewa Campesina. The village leaders had received us well the day before, and today would be busy attending patients. Soon, families started to come and line up for medical and dental care. Even a little monkey came to see us. After treating about 30 people in the morning, we had lunch and then waited for the second wave of patients. And then we waited. And waited. What happened to the villagers? We had seen them playing a soccer championship yesterday when we arrived. Once again, doubts started to creep into my mind. Why come when there are so few people and it takes so little time to attend them? I started saying to myself that we wouldn’t be coming back to this village again because it wasn’t worth it. 

That night, the three kids from Eben-Ezer prepared a kid’s program and so we joined them at the Adventist church. When we arrived, just a few were there, but people kept coming and coming until there weren’t any benches left to sit on. There were over forty kids and adults, all attentively listening! We sang, told them Bible stories and also gave them handouts to color. Even the adults were happily coloring!

At the end of the program, my heart was full. I realized that our work isn’t just to help their physical needs, it’s to help their spiritual needs too. We gain their trust by treating them physically, so that then we can teach them spiritually. They listen because we have already gained their trust and showed them compassion. “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” Mat. 25:40. God reminded me through this experience that the work isn’t about numbers nor is it about how many patients we see. It’s about reaching people for His kingdom, no matter how few they are. Even the least matter everything to God. What are you doing for the least of our brethren? What is it that God is asking of you?
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands

Plane Progress

For a progress report on the plane, see the November's "More Than Clean Teeth" update with pictures. It is currently getting painted in Georgia and should be ready for shipment soon.
THANK YOU for all the support you've given to this project in 2022.

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