OPERATION HARVEST
P.O. BOX 1410, Burbank,  CA 91507-1410  |  info@operationharvest.org

Intro |   The Boat Project  |  An Update on Sebastiana
Christmas Distribution '08 |  Soup Kitchen | Hope for the Hopeless 
 While Bethlehem Slept |Celebration in TiquipayaRoadblocks Again?
Christmas Project 
 
Staff Profiles 

 

     We want to welcome the Alseths who are a new staff family  working under the ministry of Operation Harvest in Bolivia. 
For more information, check out our staff profiles.

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 The Boat Project

     For many years the Lord has given us the vision to have a ministry among the unreached peoples in the river areas. It was always a dream to have a boat that would go up and down the river, carrying people, supplies and most of all the good news that there is hope through Jesus Christ.

     About 1 1/2 years ago, a church in Burbank, CA (Emmanuel Burbank Church) was led to raise money to help build this boat. It is a long process in Bolivia, unlike the U.S. to get these types of projects going but we are thankful to God for His provision of funds as well as people who are willing to come down and work.

     In June, a team from Canada will be going to Bolivia to continue to help in this process. There will be 6 men and 4 women who will devote their time and energy to the vision the Lord has given us. After that, another team will come down from this same church in Burbank to help with the final touches and then the boat will be ready! A real missionary boat.

     If you are interested in donating funds towards this project, please be in touch. If you would like to take part in a team that would help in the construction of the boat, please let us know. Or if you'd like to bring a team down and preach/teach along the river areas in the boat, again, please get in touch with us.

     Up above is a photo of the base of the boat and here are a few photos similar to the boat we are building  so you will get an idea of what we're trying to do. Thank you in advance for your prayers!

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 An Update on Sebastiana

     First, our apologies for what seemed to be a never ending 'fight' with getting the website up and running again. We're still not completely sure of what happened, but we do thank you for bearing with us and being patient.

     Some of you may be wondering how Sebastiana is doing. For those who do not recall, her home was washed away in a flood about three years ago. In the midst of the torrential current that took her home, she also lost her baby girl. We so happened to be in the area doing relief work by giving out blankets, food baskets, clothes and toys to some of the many families that had been devasted in the flood. As we were packing our car to leave, we encountered Sebastiana and her story has forever changed our lives.

 

     During the last several years we have seen God move through individuals across the world who have given their time and money to help this family get back on their feet again. A couple from England, Gordon & Evelyn Hutchinson, were moved with compassion for this family and helped to raise funds to put them into a 'home'. An organization from Scotland (Orkney Helping Hands) helped to provide nutritious food for them. We are very thankful for the many prayers that have been said for this family and we ask that you would continue to lift them up to the Lord.

    These photos were taken during a visit from Gordon & Evelyn. They were encouraged as we were able to help provide them with school supplies and bless them with prayers.

Thank you for your prayers, cares and funds to help Sebastiana and her children. We are making a difference, one family at a time.

 

 

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 Christmas Distribution '08

This year for our special Christmas Project Shine Bright we were able to go to a community that is located about 2 1/2 hours from Cochabamba. We climbed over and around three mountainous areas before reaching our final destination of Lapiani. The drive was colorful, bumpy and seemingly never-ending but it reminded us of how the Lord has made everything beautiful. We drove through rivers and over rocky spots, past waterfalls and llamas...climbing higher and finally reaching an altitude that we guess to have been at least 13,000 ft. above sea level. With the lack of oxygen from the high altitude we were battling with headaches, dizziness and a bit of nausea. But we had finally made it.

We put all our 'ailments' beside us and began to organize the food baskets that we had brought to give away to the poor families. The boys helped to pump air into the soccer balls while the rest of us organized the toys and baskets. This year we were privileged to have two Canadian families join us for our outreach. It was a fun experience I'm sure they will never forget.

Soon the time had come to deliver the gifts. The kids were divided into groups of boys and girls according to their age. The boys were given soccer balls, trucks and army men. The girls were given dolls of many varieties. They tried to hide their shy smiles but we knew that they were blessed. This may have been the first Christmas present they have ever received. The Gospel message was shared in Quechua and a team from a local church played games and did a puppet show for everyone to enjoy. We could not have done this without your prayers and gifts.

We thank each and every one of you who donated so that we could bless so many families with toys, baskets and blankets this year.

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  Soup Kitchen in Champa Rancho

Many years ago Brazilino and Marilene came from Brazil with a vision to start a church and help the poor. The church has been in function for several years now. Previously, they had run a soup kitchen on Saturdays only as there was not enough funding nor staff to help them.

Just recently with the help of Orkney Helping Hands in Scotland, this vision has come to pass with a soup kitchen. Now children come daily and are blessed with a nourishing soup on Monday through Thursday and on Friday they not only get soup, but they get a 'main course' as well. There are as few as 40 kids and as many as 100 kids. Each day the numbers vary. When the children leave school they come to the soup kitchen for lunch. Some kids return to their home first to get their younger siblings and then come.

You see, in Bolivia school is only half a day. So they would return to an empty home where there may or may not be any food waiting for them. Most likely there would be no adults or supervision. With the soup kitchen not only are we providing a nourishing soup, but the staff are Christian and have a spiritual influence in their lives.

The area where this is located is called Champa Rancho. You would not know it is there as it is behind the airport. It is an area where people make bricks. Most of the children live in adobe huts with usually no running water or bathrooms. In school the children are taught to wash their faces, brush their teeth and wash their hands.

Please pray that the Lord would provide a larger facility for the soup kitchen. The long term vision is to open up a children's center in this area as there are none. God is able so please pray with us. And a special thank you to Orkney Helping Hands for helping to fund this soup kitchen.

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  Hope for the Hopeless

Almost one year ago, this mother lost her baby in a flood that swept through her home and washed it away. Not only did she loose her precious baby, but she lost her home as well. We helped her to get on her feet again by fixing her 'fruit cart' and getting school supplies for her five children. She is a single mom, struggling to provide for her family. Alone. They relocated 'temporarily' in a small room that was built underneath a basketball court. There is one door only. No windows.
No running water. No bathroom.

Now, a year later we have gone back to visit in hopes that she was not living in the same 'hole in a wall'. To our disappointment, she was. With heaps of unwashed laundry and dirty dishes, we entered their home. Sadness grips my heart as we realize the dim reality of this poor family. Pictured above with only three of her children, she is making 'cement' bags. That is her primary source of income and provides her with about $10 a week.

Amidst the poverty, she has hope. She and her family go to church and trust the Lord that He is good, and He is with her. It was a joy to see her and her kids smile, knowing that although they have nothing, their hope is in the Lord!

***Note: We are happy to update you that Sebastiana and her children were blessed by a couple from England who felt led in their hearts to help them find a new home. They have been relocated to a different 'home' now where they at least have a public bathroom they share and a room that has windows. Thank you Gordon & Evelyn for your generous hearts in raising funds to help them find a home. They will never be able to repay you, but you have blessed them in unimaginable ways!


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  While Bethlehem Slept

The Cochabamba International Church Drama Team performed "While Bethlehem Slept" which was written by Terri Motz. With cast members from the U.S., Canada and Bolivia, it was quite a fun venture to give a little twist to the Christmas Story and go back in time to feel what it might have been like when Jesus was born.  The unexpected news was first brought to the shepherds on the hillside, how strange. And then Jesus was born in a manger...and from a virgin. The Good News of Jesus' birth certainly has a story to tell and the drama team did an excellent job of portraying what might have happened so many years ago...

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  Celebration in Tiquipaya

The Children's Center in Tiquipaya had 11 graduates this year from Kindergarten. They practiced long and hard to put on a special presentation for their parents.

 Afterwards, they went back to the center to have an 'open house' with the parents to see all the crafts and projects they had worked on throughout the year. (In Bolivia, the school year runs from February through November.) The center is open through December and then we have a special Christmas party/Graduation Celebration. You can hear the children squeal in delight with their new gifts and treats.

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Roadblocks Again?

We thought it would be fun to throw in an interesting photo of something that happens quite frequently down here. This photo was taken just a few blocks from where some missionaries live. When the people can not get in agreement over an issue, they block the roads and don't let anyone go to school, work, hospitals etc. until they have come to agreement again. Of course, the children are always happy to have a 'random' day of vacation in the middle of the week!

Pray for peace in Bolivia!

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        Bolivia

 Bolivia is known as the 'Tibet of the Americas'-the highest and most isolated of the Latin American countries. It has two major indigenous groups (Quechua and Aymara) as well as several smaller ones. Bolivia is the most 'traditional' country in the South American continent. A land with about 8,725,000 people (2004-CIA Factbook) of which fifty to sixty percent of the population are of pure Indian blood. The official literacy rate is only 75% although children from 6-14 are required to go to school.

According to statistics, 95% of Bolivia's population are Catholic but these belief systems are mixed with the Inca and Aymara beliefs and is turned into an interesting 'religion' of many different doctrines, superstitions and rites. Although the coca leaf is the source of cocaine, it is chewed daily by many Bolivians. Bolivia is known as the world's third largest cultivator of coca after Columbia and Peru. They believe that 'Mama Coca' is the daughter of Pachamama (mother earth) and it is believed to drive away evil spirits from the home and work fields. Sacrifices to  Pachamama are made in order to cause a good crop or apologizing for disturbing the earth by using plows and tractors. (including coca, alcohol, and the blood of animals especially of llamas.)

 Please remember to pray for Bolivia and it's people and traditions. Only God can do a miracle, but you can help by praying! <top>

 

 

 

      Christmas Project "Shine Bright"

 

Today was the day! We started out our morning around 5am and were headed out the door and on the road by about 7:30am. A car load of toys, food and blankets had already gone ahead of us and we were caravanning with another Nissan Patrol like our own. These are the only types of vehicles good for the roads we were about to experience! The first part of our trip was just leaving the city heading towards La Paz on a paved road. I thought, "This isn't too bad!" We drove about an hour on a paved road...and then we hit the dirt. And the next 2 1/2 hours of my life I prayed more than I think I ever had....non stop.
 
After having bounced for over an hour on very dusty road we stopped in a huge dry river bed. I wondered why we were stopped and the people in the other car pointed at the truck that was up on the hill and coming down. He explained that it was ONLY a ONE WAY road and we had to WAIT until the truck was down at the bottom and MAKE SURE there was no one else coming down the road. I thought that was interesting because even on the 'one way roads', there is usually enough space for another car to pass. So we waited and waited. We watched as the truck went around and around the mountain, finally making it to the bottom. As the truck came closer we could see the people packed into the back of it, standing close to each other, holding on to the side.
 
Finally we made it to our destination! The people were very colorfully dressed with many of them wearing very brightly colored, pointy hats and black rubber sandals (made from tire). I didn't realize it at the time but we had gone up several more thousand feet in altitude and must have been at around 10-12,000 feet altitude. There were no trees but the mountains were green from the recent rainfall. The only bushes there were, had been/and were being used for 'firewood' and kindling.
 
As we were now within blocks of our meeting place, the children began to run after the car and jump up onto the back of it. I could only see about a dozen 'houses' (little adobe shacks, many of them with thatched roofs) so I wondered where we were going to get the 500 children we were expecting. Amazingly enough, they came out of the woodwork! (or shall I say, adobe-work) They kept coming and coming and coming. I tried to count them but it was a little hard with so much movement, but I still estimate that we had at least 650 people in attendance, including the children.
 
Gustavo shared in Spanish about the gospel and the real 'meaning' of Christmas and what Jesus had done for us. It was all translated into Quechua as the people didn't speak very much Spanish, if any at all. After that there was a special 'typical/traditional' music prepared by the people. Some men had 'home made' wooden flutes that they played a 'traditional'  carnival type song and dressed in their native costumes. Then there were other children singing and dancing with little tiny guitars and very brightly decorated costumes with hats, feathers and various other types of decorations. I think there were about 10 groups of people who had prepared something special for us. It was all done in Quechua so we didn't understand much, but even my children were interested in it!
 
Then began the fun! We weren't sure how to divide the mass of people into groups to distribute the toys, blankets and food. Finally, we decided to divide them by age group and they all went onto a 'basketball' court by age and waited for their gifts. We brought 'panetonnes' (fruitcake) and gave them to all the people who had participated in the special dances and songs. Then we gave out food baskets to all the families from the church as well as the ladies who were working hard to prepare 'bu˝uelos and api" (refreshments) for the masses. We THANK THE LORD that we had enough toys for each child to get one. THANK you for participating. After that we called all the 'widows' and were able to give each one a blanket. It was a wonderful time and I know that it was because of your prayers and generous gifts that we were able to give toys, food and blankets to this very remote village.
 
As we were leaving the village, one of the Bolivian men driving with us told us that was the FIRST gift these kids had EVER received. I do believe it too! Kids from the ages of 1-12 were able to receive something. These people are so poor that even if they had 'money' for a gift, they would have to use it to buy food or clothes for their families. Most families have several children (like 4 or more), and many of them are single parent families either because they are widowed, or because one of the parents has left. One family was of 5 children and both of their parents had died. They were being raised by some other family member.
 
It was a blessing to be able to give to these people and share with them about the love of Jesus. There is a small Quechua church (about 15 families) that meets on a regular basis. Please pray that these families will grow in the Lord, and be open to share with their neighbors and friends (who are spread apart in the mountains) about the good news of Jesus.
 
 

Thank you for caring for these ones. God does!

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