Thursday, May 2, 2019

Bolivian Friends--100 Years!

I’m just back from our family trip to Bolivia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bolivian Friends Church (INELA). And celebrate we did—both on the macro level of the whole denomination and the more micro level of our family. Although I’m still physically recovering from the trip (only one more round of antibiotics!), this is a good time for reflections and memories.
Celebrate is something the INELA knows how to do. They had rented the government sports coliseum on the upper city. After a two-hour, two-mile long parade of some of the church’s 200 congregations, around 7000 Andean Quakers filled the building for the Easter Sunday celebration. (Some leaders were actually disappointed that the anticipated 11,000 didn’t show. It seemed like a great crowd to me!)
The four-hour celebration filled the building with music, speeches, prayers, pronouncements, and lots of smiles and hugs at the end.

 With Hilarion and Agustina

Mario Surco, now an old man, was the first INELA national missionary in the 1960s.

Girl friends, Teodora and Solome

Hal with another dear old friend, Francisco Tintaya, twice INELA president in the 1970s and 80s.

Jim LeShana, NWYM superintendent, and Hector Castro, INELA president

Kristin sitting with her friends

For our family—David, Kristin, Hal and me—the whole two weeks was a time for memories and renewal of old friendships. Hal and I, with one-year-old David, arrived in La Paz in January 1972. Kristin joined our family in 1973. We all feel like Bolivia was the place of our growing-up years. When we left in 1989, David was 19 and Kristin 16-years-old. This place is still home to them. And this was the first time in the last 30 years we were together in La Paz.

View from our Airbnb in downtown La Paz, a perfect central place to receive guests and from which to launch out on our excursions

Behind us, the city at night

 Visit with Juana Ott de Mamani

In the New Jerusalem Friends Church with Jesus and Paulina Torrez

Kristin's friends had great fun dressing her up as a cholita.

Dinner with the extended Gutierrez family

With my old prayer partners, Susan Espejo and Ruth Galeb.

David was invited to give a major presentation. What a joy to support him.

What a joy to share this experience as a family.
Thanks be to God!

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