Didn't we JUST do this? Didn't I just get through the process of going through papers, throwing things away, selling all (Ok, like 90%) of our belongings, packing, saying goodbyes, showing our house to strangers at a moment's notice, and hi-tailing it to another country? Surely it must have been only months ago. I know it's not possible that this journey started 4 1/2 years ago, and that I went through this same process on the other side of the equator over 2 years ago. It can't be.
|Olivia w/2 of her beautiful Bolivian friends who are being adopted by another missionary family|
Alas, yes, it has. And our time here in Bolivia is very quickly coming to a close. It is a very strange and awkward and emotional season for me - for us. We are faced daily with the battle of choosing to "be" here and make the best of our last weeks or choosing to do one or many of the thousand little things that need to be done in order to leave on April 30. We want to make these last days count, to have fun, to enjoy Bolivia, to be used by God, to be productive and make an impact, to "leave our mark" so to speak. We want to seize the last little bits of opportunity we have to help, to serve, to travel and see parts of this beautiful country yet unseen by us. However, we can't do it all. I've just come to this conclusion. There is no way we can accomplish all we'd love to in the next 7 weeks! We simply have to give our time to God, to ask for his guidance daily, and trust that He will allow those things to happen that HE wants to happen and that He knows need to happen.
|2 of our precious Bolivian students from youth group|
So, we are deep in the throngs of preparing to leave. It's unbelievable what we have accumulated in just 2 years here! The word is definitely out that we are leaving, so folks have been asking to look at and buy all of our stuff. We will be having official "sales" towards the end and are quite confident that we will not have difficulty getting rid of everything. This process is hard and sometimes grueling (for me, Shay) and more emotional than I expected. It is sad to be leaving a place that has become very dear to our hearts, but we know God still has great plans to use us for Bolivia's sake! Of course, the hardest part is the thought of leaving the people. We have made some incredible, amazing friends here - both Bolivian and other missionaries - and it will be heartbreaking to say goodbye.
|Jude loving on one of the sweet orphan babies at Casa de Amor (just 1 of 1,000's in Cochabamba alone)|
As we prepare to leave, we continue on with the youth ministry and music ministry at CIC. We are preparing to leave well and are seeking ways to transition the leadership of these ministries to new leaders and volunteers. Please pray that it will be a smooth and flawless transition for both and that the folks who have already committed to help will be faithful and blessed by God to do what needs to be done.
|A man from the small village of Tarabuco in their traditional native dress|
We have heard that "re-entry" can be hard, even after a short time, so please pray that God would prepare our hearts and minds and attitudes for the change. Our lives are forever changed, our perspectives new, we have seen much and felt much during this journey. We hope that these experiences will cause us to love more, serve more, hope more, and help move others to action. There is so much pain, hurt, poverty, sickness, and perverseness in this world. We cannot be simply content to sit in our comfortable suburban homes and live our busy activity-filled consumer minded lives while there are 80 year old women living on the streets, newborn babies found in riverbeds and dumpsters and cornfields, pre-teen boys washing windshields to earn pennies to buy glue to sniff, 1,000's dying every day without Jesus. We. just. can't.
Lord, show us what to do and how to live.
With much love, blessing, and hope -
Shay, Lowell, Aidan, Liam, Jude, & Olivia
P.S.!!!!! TO OUR FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS:
|A despedida (going away party) we hosted for our dear friends, The Gordons, who are moving on to ministry opportunities in Colombia|
We want to humbly remind you that we are living on full support through May 31! Our account with Ripe For Harvest will be open and active until then. Lowell will not begin receiving a paycheck until June with Lifepointe Church in League City. If you would like to give a one time financial gift to help with our transition back into life in the states (we will need to purchase 2 cars, clothing, and an entire house full of furniture :O!!!) please feel free to send a check to Ripe For Harvest (w/tax deduction) or to Robert Ballew (w/out tax deduction).
Ripe For Harvest World Outreach Lowell Ballew
P.O. Box 487 c/o Robert Ballew
Monument, CO 80132 P.O. Box 293
Acct. #304 Frost, TX 76641
|Aidan learning all about Bolivian history at Casa de Libertad in Sucre, Bolivia|