Monday, December 24, 2007



A Christmas Carol poem

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge -

The shepherds went their hasty way,
And found the lowly stable-shed
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
And now they checked their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung.


They told her how a glorious light,
Streaming from a heavenly throng.
Around them shone, suspending night!
While sweeter than a mother's song,
Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth,
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.


She listened to the tale divine,
And closer still the Babe she pressed:
And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
The milk rushed faster to her breast:
Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn;
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.


Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
Poor, simple, and of low estate!
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
O why should this thy soul elate?
Sweet Music's loudest note, the Poet's story,
Didst thou ne'er love to hear of fame and glory?


And is not War a youthful king,
A stately Hero clad in mail?
Beneath his footsteps laurels spring;
Him Earth's majestic monarchs hail
Their friends, their playmate! and his bold bright eye
Compels the maiden's love-confessing sigh.


Tell this in some more courtly scene,
To maids and youths in robes of state!
I am a woman poor and mean,
And wherefore is my soul elate.
War is a ruffian, all with guilt defiled,
That from the aged father's tears his child!


A murderous fiend, by fiends adored,
He kills the sire and starves the son;
The husband kills, and from her board
Steals all his widow's toil had won;
Plunders God's world of beauty; rends away
All safety from the night, all comfort from the day.


Then wisely is my soul elate,
That strife should vanish, battle cease:
I'm poor and of low estate,
The Mother of the Prince of Peace.
Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:
Peace, Peace on Earth! The Prince of Peace is born!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


British and American Govts Warn their Citizens about Travel to Bolivia

Amidst growing tensions between the Government and the Eastern States, the Bolivian Roman Catholic Church have appealed for dialogue. The Church also pleaded that protestors avoid activities and provocative gestures which may result in violence.

Supporters of the government celebrate the approval of the new constitution of the country and eagerly await the campaign for the national referendum where the constitution will either be endorsed or rejected.

On the other hand civic leaders and elected officials from Eastern Bolivia have declared the proposed new constitution as illegal. They've come up with new statutes which gives them autonomy from the central government. These new statutes reflect the nationwide referendum which was held 3 years ago; it gave states the right of autonomous self rule. The new constitution, also mentions autonomy for the states but does not make provisions for the autonomy envisaged by the Eastern Bolivian states. This is a major source of contention, conflict and ill feeling between the central government and the leaders of Eastern Bolivia.

The central government might declare these acts of proclaiming autonomy on the part elected officials & civic leaders from Eastern Bolivia as seditious and secessionist. If a state of emergency is declared and troops are sent to arrest these leaders, then armed conflict might be possibility. God forbid such an outcome!

Cardinal Julio Terrazas and Archbishop Abastaflor (seen in the picture above), the top representatives from the Roman Church called for a press where they pleaded for all sides to avoid confrontation and violence.

Meanwhile the British and the American governments have issued travel warnings to their citizens about the security situation, or the lack of it, in Bolivia.

Bolivia in her recent history has stepped away from the brink in the midst of chaos and have always found temporary solutions which kicked the problem further down the road.

Are we at the end of the road or is there light at the end of the tunnel? Time will tell.

Bolivia is the Lord's hands! Have mercy on us oh Lord! Have Mercy!

Friday, December 14, 2007


excerpts of his speech captured below in a video clip

translated into English:

...we know that the government has put on alert 6300 troops. Don't provoke the people. Don't try to arrest leaders of Santa Cruz or declare a state of emergency. It will be like throwing gasoline on fire. I don't say this with belligerence. The people will never support such an action. Don't do anything stupid.


Government & Regional Civic Leaders On Collision Course!!

A referendum will be held within 90 days to endorse the new constitution which was drawn up by the constitutional assembly.

4 states (3 from the East and 1 from the Valley) in rejecting the legality of the new constitution have drafted a set of new articles which give them autonomy from the central government.

The government has declared the actions by the Eastern states of Bolivia as irregular, illegal and is sending troops to take control of national institutions in Santa Cruz, the centre of dissension in the East.

In the light of a worsening situation many institutions e.g the church, business interests, civic groups etc, have banded together and rejected violence in the nation.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Opposition Boycott The Final Sessions and the Vote of Approval

Its last!!

411 articles of the new constitution were put together and approved by the Constitutional Assembly 2 days ago. The nation will either reject or endorse the constitution through a nationwide referendum. Delegates from major opposition groups stayed away from the sessions, as a sign of protest, where the articles were voted upon.

How does the new constitution address the relationship between the states and the central government?

Well, 6 of the 9 states, from the valley and the East of Bolivia, have demanded a greater autonomy and a larger slice of the wealth generated from their respective regions. The centralizing tendencies of the current socialist government are at variance to the views of the leaders from the East and the Valleys. The new consititution supports state autonomy but not to the extent which the states have lobbied for. This will be a major flash point. Many organizations and leaders in Eastern Bolivia have already rejected the new consitution.

No one really knows what's going to happen next!

No date has been set for the referendum.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


- President Proposes a Referendum to Break the Impasse-

The deadline for the constitutional assembly to present a new constitution to the legislative organs of the nation (and then to Bolivia in a referendum) is next week - 14th of December. The opposition has boycotted the proceedings of the assembly because of disagreements over procedures and the margin of approval of the final text. The assembly has gone ahead and is close to approving a new constitution by a simple majority and not a 2/3 majority.

The governors of 6 states, from the valley and lowlands of Bolivia, are crying foul over the president's decision to reduce their alloted budgetary expenses and the way in which the new constitution was put together in the constitutional assembly. They called for strikes and civil disobedience. The whole nation has come to a standstill and the political process has broken down.

President Evo Morales has proposed a special referendum which would give the nation an opportunity to choose between his policies and the ones put forward by the governors from the lowlands and the valleys. This is a new idea and sounds like a way out of the crisis. Some in the opposition, as a first step, however, want the work of the constitutional assembly to come to a halt. The governors are laying conditions for the referendum.

Bolivia faces an uncertain future in an environment where there are no signs of concessions or meaningful dialogue.

Pray for us!!

Monday, December 03, 2007


I've been a fan of Bob Dylan since I don't know when.

The man's a genius when it comes to stringing words together. His music, most of the time, is not complicated and serves as a backdrop to the lyrics or should I say his poetry.

Here he is singing, Saved


Learning Spanish In Singapore

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Michelle and I were monolingual and not the best examples of proficiency in languages. We were unable to muster a decent conversation in our mother tongues. And so the idea of learning a new language, Spanish, a language we had never heard before, was very intimidating.

We were not gifted in languages. And so our hunt for language preparation began in Singapore. Some sense of Spanish, no matter how minimal, would help us before our arrival in Bolivia.

The existing courses were in a secular setting and expensive. I prayed for provision. Lo and behold the Lord answered in a week. Calvary Charismatic Centre, situated in New World, Jalan Bersah, sent a brochure which outlined, for the first time, a course in Spanish! I was of course thrilled.

We were staying in Tampines; the thought of changing buses and the long journey to Jalan Bersah was going to be a tiring affair. We decided to register for the course anyway.

One week before the beginning of the course, the Singapore Bus Service (SBS) started a new air conditioned service, no. 65, which took us from Tampines to Calvary Charismatic's door step! It was as if the Lord was urging us on to move ahead in faith!

Our instructor, Ruth Balch, taught us simple choruses and helped us with our pronunciation. I bought a thin black leather bound Spanish Bible from her. I remember the excitement of looking at words I had never seen before and the sense of being overwhelmed by the impending task of learning to preach and teach in a language other than English.

Compared to the 6 month inculturation/language course we took in Bolivia, the one in Singapore was a drop in the ocean. But in terms of faith building, the experience of God's provision of the course and the bus service were life changing. He does take care of the small things in our lives.

In retrospect, and this is a real irony: our inability to be proficient in our mother tongues pushed us to learn another language. We would probably be serving in ethnic based hokkien and tamil speaking congregations if we were effectively bilingual. The Lord's ways are mysterious.

Our decision to go was opening doors and removing obstacles, slowly but surely.

Sunday, December 02, 2007



The world is changing.

A Bolivian, Marcos Ledezma, gets trained in Singapore, an Asian country, with a view to mobilize the Bolivian Church toward mission be it within or outside of Bolivia.

Marcos graduated yesterday with a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies at Bethany International University after a year of study.

Marcos represents a new breed of missioners from the Global South. He, hungry to do God's will in missions, is connected to American based partners. Third world missioners face tremendous challenges in terms of finances and training. Hence the need for dynamic partnerships which bring the gospel to the unreached. Praise The Lord!!

I came to know of Marcos through a friend, Frank Teo (who also graduated with a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies). I went to Bethany and met up with him a few months ago. It was great to meet up with a Bolivian and speak Spanish in Singapore!

We hope to meet up with them on our return to Bolivia.

They leave for Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Tuesday at 11pm