The Knott's "March" 2019 Update
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The Most Beautiful Place

The noise caught my attention...

I had just heard it above the murmur of the mountain river in the background and the nearby chuckle of a rivulet running between the giant white boulders that dwarfed Severo’s thatched stone hut. I paused to listen. Small birds flitted through the flowering trees and bushes at the base of the cliff. In the distance behind me, lambs bleated for their mothers in the wide alpine grasslands that carpeted the glacial valley. The late-afternoon fog was thinning, revealing glimpses of the flawless blue sky and shafts of golden light were breaking through from the setting sun.
I was scanning up the face of the towering mossy cliff as the wild call echoed a second time. Black and white flashed through a beam of sunlight. An Andean Condor flapped its giant wings in protest to the swift pursuit of a mountain falcon. A moment later they were gone leaving me with goosebumps. It was confirmation of the feeling that had been growing for a while now. The feeling that this was the most beautiful place I had yet seen in the mountains.
The feeling had begun with my first visit to these valleys in March. I had reveled in the sunrise view from a bright green village crowning a spur between two deep gorges, each with their raging rivers, enormous grey cliffs and backdrop of snowy peaks.
Yesterday had been my first time up one of the valleys, past the natural hot springs, to the home of Severo and his mother Epifania. Not finding them home, we had rock-hopped across the river, passing long green pools where trout sped like luminous shadows. We had seen the neighbor from a distance, walking behind two pack burros. When we reached the stone corrals and huts where he lived, we found his wife weaving a colorful wool blanket in the sunshine. Epifania and Severo had moved to their higher pastures, the woman told us. After a brief visit, we continued on, finding another wide grassland with a boulder field at its head.
It was dusk when we reached the upper hut. Epifania brought out sheep skins and we all sat down. Paola, our PT, immediately set to work treating Epifania’s aches and pains while Severo showed us boys a deer hide and told us stories of the fox, puma, bear, and 7-lb trout. All too soon it was dark and time to go. We left audio Bible stories in Aymara with Epifania along with some vitamins and supplements. At 93 years old, a common cold could be life or death for her. I assured Severo that we would be back. Besides wanting to visit them, it was, after all, the most beautiful place I had seen in Bolivia.
Before parting we paused for a moment of prayer. Epifania slipped to her knees, frail 4-foot frame bent over folded hands. I could only wonder what she was praying for in her native tongue. What sorrows and joys had she seen in her nine decades? Where was her husband buried? Were some of her children buried here too? How many times had this valley been filled with the shadow of death? Despite being the most beautiful place in the mountains, it was still part of our fallen world.  I was grateful that somehow, in life’s best moments it had served as a lesson book that taught her of her Creator. A pale reflection of the real paradise - her true home that she longed for now...the most beautiful place of all. 
I will likely never live in Epifania’s valley. And even if I had the opportunity, the 7 lb trout are gone, fished out by strangers. The puma and condor are moving away to quieter, wilder places. A new road cuts apart what was wilderness just two years ago. Soon a 150ft-tall hydro-electric dam will flood the valley and leave no trace of the beauty that has been Epifania’s treasure for nearly a century. So as I drove away with a full heart, it was not for dreaming of living in this place. It was full with gratefulness for the chance to visit and remember, the reflection of things to come. And most of all I cherish the thought that I may one day have the chance to hear Epifania’s story in the language of heaven. 
“…Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

- DJ
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
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Ways God has Provided:

1. Funds for recent medical trips

2. Fifty+ flight hours on the Super Cub

3. Alex, part-time doctor on Staff

4. Forty Audio Bibles devices in Aymara

5. General project expenses
Upcoming Needs:

1. Airplane Operating Expense, (complete = $75/hr), 20- 30 hrs./month

2. Extended Medical Visits in City (covers costs of tests, lab work, specialist visits, etc. for those who we bring in from the villages) $500 - $800

3. Part-time Dentist on Staff

4. Monthly sponsor for Doctor and Dentist on staff, $400 each/month (stipend & housing)

5. Medical Trips ($500-$600/trip)
8 trips planned for July/August
Thank you Alex (MD), Ashana (PT), Rocio (MD) & Mario (District Pastor)!
MEDICAL TRIP - May (same villages as in March; story references both trips).
Thank you Paola (PT), Mario (Pastor), & Alex (MD)!
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Gospel Mission Aviation, Inc. · P.O. Box 2358 · Collegedale, TN 37315 · USA

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