1991 EXPLORATORY TRIP TO PERU & BOLIVIA - Part 6
Bishop Moses, Cynthia and I bade farewell to our new friends in Santa Cruz.
We returned to La Paz and shared our impressions and thoughts of Santa Cruz with Greg Blaxland and his wife Judy. Greg was disappointed at our decision to explore ministry opportunities in Santa Cruz instead of La Paz; he was planning to leave the work in La Paz, Bolivia in early 1992 and was hoping that I would take his place as Pastor of the congregation. This is an important issue in the mission field. Almost all responsible missionaries pray and hope for a replacement who can carry on the work. And Greg was keen on leaving the church in the hands of a pastor from a diocese, before his departure.
We were glad that our trip to Bolivia was coming to an end. The weather, the altitude sickness, the hectic schedule together with long energy sapping flights had taken its toll, on all of us, especially Cynthia. Bp Moses, the most seasoned traveller among us, always looked alert and fresh. I was beginning to miss Michelle and my 2 year old son, Elijah.
We left Bolivia and Peru on a happy note after having met up with our Bolivian brethren and missionaries from SAMS. Till this trip I had vague ideas about South America and most of my knowledge concerning the continent came from books and movies.
We left Bolivia for Peru, on the 23rd Octobre to meet up with Bishop Alan Winstanley in Lima, the capital of Peru. The Anglican Church in Bolivia was under the purview of the diocese of Peru. He gave us a quizzical look on hearing of our interest in Santa Cruz and did not appear to be thrilled about the possibility of my wanting to serve in Santa Cruz. He was also godly enough to not react negatively but to be open to the Lord's guidance.
He explained the necesity for a long term commitment in the field because of the need to inculturate oneself and to also have a good grasp of the language. He was therefore adamant about missionaries doing at least a 2 year term of 6 years! At that point I could only see us serving a term of 2 to 3 years. It was quite apparent that we had reached an impasse. We all decided to pray through the questions concerning future: would the Bolivian church acquiese to our request and invite me to begin ministry in Santa Cruz instead of La Paz? Would they allow me to serve for a period of 2 to 3 years? I remember Bishop Alan saying something to the effect that the Bolivian Church's standing committee would have to discuss our proposals.
The idea for the Diocese of Singapore to invest in Santa Cruz instead of La Paz was unexpected on the part of the Bolivian/Peruvian leadership. Clearly, from a human standpoint, the urgent need for missionaries was not in Santa Cruz but in La Paz. We had to discover God's will in this maze and to not force issues. We decided to pray for clarity in this cloudy situation, and avoid hasty decisions. I was also struggling with my weakness in languages: learning to minister in a new language (Spanish) was going to be a huge challenge.
And so our 2 week trip to Bolivia and Peru had come to an end. It was a tiring but rewarding experience. The fatigue from the past 2 weeks had taken its toll and we spent the major part of our journey catching up on lost sleep. I was personally looking forward to seeing my family as the plane landed in Changi Airport.