Dear friends and supporters:
Warmest greetings to each of you! We hope everyone is well. Due to a series of circumstances we have not written to you for over four months. We apologize for this lapse of time since we last wrote to you, but we want to get you up-to-date with what has been happening.
Starr and I went for a visit to the U.S. in the middle of May, as we stated in our previous report. Our time in the States was a great blessing, as it always is. We were so glad to be able to see some of you as well! In the month of June we were able to be in Maine. There is a small house in the family there in Ocean Park, south of Portland. We try to get away there each year. There we can have some R&R and get caught up on some things that we haven’t been able to do previously. This year we had a special blessing! We felt to visit the Ogunquit Baptist Church in Maine, where Starr’s father had been the pastor many years ago, and my wife had some fond memories from her growing-up years. What a wonderful time we had. It was my first time ever and Starr’s return visit from a couple of years previously. We met with the pastor, Rev. Jeffrey Patnaude, and he took us over to see the parsonage across the street. Starr got to see first hand the changes in it from the years when she grew up there! We made this church our home church while we were in Maine. It was a blessing to us!
In the latter part of June we reconnected with some old friends, Mike and Vickie Fletcher, whom we hadn’t seen since 1983. It was also delightful to see again Vickie’s father, Paul Putnam, who lives with them. The last we had seen him was in the early 1990’s.
In early July we spent over a week visiting my (John’s) father, who lives south of Boston, Massachusetts. When we had planned to arrive at his house, he had Bed & Breakfast guests with him over the fourth of July weekend, but our friends, Al and Tish Jay who live nearby, let us stay with them for several days until the guests had left. That was a great relief!
My brother Scott, who lives in Seattle, Washington, flew out to be with all of us at my father’s for about five days. My other brother, Gary, who lives about ten minutes away from my father, was with us often. It was a great time all around. While visiting my Dad, Starr and I also were able to see our good friends, David and Annalou Jehle, at church and one evening for dinner at their home not too far away.
We had driven up the East Coast in our old car that we keep on the property of some good friends (Rick and Mary Chapman) who live in Fernandina Beach, just north of Jacksonville, Florida. After our visit with my father, Starr and I started our long drive back down the coast. On our way we stopped in Connecticut and saw Peter Hazlett, Starr’s brother.
On our drive we were blessed to stop by and see several of you. We visited Glenn and Cathy Blumhorst, who are friends of ours from one of the churches we have pastored in La Paz, Bolivia. They live outside of Washington, D.C. in Maryland. We also stopped in Richmond, Virginia to see a dear friend and minister, John Harris, who was in the VA Hospital there. He had had a severe fall earlier in the year in which he fractured his back and lost all sensation in both of his legs. He was expecting to be able to return to his home in North Carolina in a matter of one or more weeks.
In North Carolina we stopped and spent a couple of nights with our friends, Rodney and Laureen Daw and their son Nicolas, who live in Raleigh. While visiting the Daws, we also saw and had dinner at the home of another friend of ours, Linda Morrissey, who lives in the Raleigh-Durham area as well.
Following our visit at the Daws’ we drove straight through to Jacksonville, Florida. There we stayed with our friends, Sean and Virginia Killingsworth, for a couple of weeks. During that time we had last minute things to purchase and get done before I came back to Bolivia.
I arrived back in La Paz, Bolivia in an overnight flight on American Airlines on Thursday morning, August 4. Starr had flown out the day before to Seattle, Washington to be with my brother Scott and his wife Faith. She was expecting their first child. A week-and-a-half after Starr arrived, Faith gave birth on Monday morning, August 15 to a beautiful baby girl, whom they named Meriel.
My wife arrived back in La Paz on Saturday morning, August 20. I moved from where I had been staying with friends to the home of a sister in the Lord whom we had known ever since coming to Bolivia seven years ago. There my wife and I stayed for about three weeks while we were making arrangements to move to the city of Sucre, Bolivia.
In our visit to Sucre at the end of August and the beginning of September to find an apartment, the Lord blessed us by providing a nice one at a reasonable monthly rent. It has three bedrooms (one I use for my office), two bathrooms, a fairly large living/dining room, an adequate kitchen, a laundry area, and a small room to store things. We are very thankful to the Lord for providing this apartment, which possibly is the best one we have ever had since coming to Bolivia.
When moving day came, we left La Paz on a Thursday and traveled overnight by bus to Sucre, where we arrived on Friday, September 16. However, we had to wait until the following Tuesday for our moving truck to arrive with our belongings. Meanwhile we stayed at a hotel being run by a Christian woman who gave us a good discount.
We feel very blessed living now in Sucre. The atmosphere here is quite different from that of La Paz. The average daily temperatures are noticeably warmer than those where we used to live. There is somewhat of a small town atmosphere, as well. This city is only one fourth the size of La Paz in population, and you can feel a significant difference in the spiritual atmosphere. It is more peaceful here and there are not many demonstrations by crowds, in contrast with what we experienced in the other city.
Starr and I have come here to start a Bible training center. At this point we do not feel to start another church. We want to work with pastors and churches that are already here.
Some months ago I felt like the Lord showed me that, just as God’s people in the Book of Acts celebrated the feast of Pentecost on the day when it was to be celebrated according to their calendar, so we as Christians need to celebrate the Biblical feast of trumpets (which is a prelude to the feast of Tabernacles in the Bible) according to the correct time and date. Two of the Bible passages about this feast are:
The Feast of Trumpets
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.'” (NKJV)
Ezra 3:1-4, 6
3 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. (NKJV)
Starting on Tuesday evening, September 27, we began having a holy convocation, as the Bible calls it to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets. We started some twenty-four hours ahead of when the actual feast was observed this year by Jews (as Rosh Hashanah, their civil New Year). And we held it morning and evening each day, ending on Friday night at around 11:00 p.m. (the people didn’t want to leave, it was such a wonderful time in the presence of the Lord).
A week later, on Friday night, October 7 and until Saturday evening we held another event–a time of prayer and intercession for Bolivia and for all the churches here in this country. At the same time there were a group of Christian pastors and people in La Paz doing the same thing. In Santa Cruz two other groups were doing something very similar.
Now after these two events Starr and I have been able to recuperate and continue getting adjusted to our new living situation in Sucre. We are feeling very happy that we made this move and are getting to know our way around the city more and more.
There are a couple of prayer requests that we wish to mention now and we will be very grateful to you for remembering them in your prayers for us:
1) That we may proceed to open our classes of Bible teaching that we feel
called to do here in Sucre (so specifically that the Lord would help us prepare
and then be able to begin giving the classes in a schedule that works the best
for the pastors and interested people).
2) (Since we are not pastoring a church now–we are attending one pastored by a
couple we are helping–we have flexibility to travel back to La Paz and to Santa
Cruz in order to hold conferences there.) That the Lord would coordinate our
traveling back and forth to La Paz and Santa Cruz to help churches we are working with in
We regret that we have been so long in getting this BOLIVIA REPORT into your hands. We will do all we can to get back to a normal schedule of sending one out every month or month-and-a-half. Thank you for your patience.
We love and greatly appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you for your friendship!
In the Master’s service,
John and Starr