Sunday school LaPaz

Last Sunday I was able to work with the children of our host church and it was amazing! The children were ages 2 years all the way to 11 years old, but it was still an incredible experience! We had so much fun together, and I was able to paint a Bible “picture story” with the “magic words” technique that Mark Luhnow taught me how to do at Twin Lakes Friends Camp! Using a Spanish Bible, a Spanish Bible story picture book, and a few words of my own we were able to do it entirely in Español! The children and the teachers were such a blessing to me, and using the story of the boy with loaves of bread and two fish, as well as the story of Jesus and the little children, the final message was that God has a special place in his heart for los niños, and that He can use even children to do many amazing things! I will do a second story this Sunday for the children ages 6-11! I am so grateful that both YCEW and our host church were so willing to let me come in and do what I love and work with the kids! Thank you for your prayers! With love, Emily Danforth

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Building Christ-like Relationships

We have been in Bolivia for just about five days now.  As we continue to communicate to people through multiple barriers, (language, cultural, etc.) one thing is becoming exponentially clear: people do not need to have many commonalities to build strong relationships.

In America, we see people establish foundations for their relationships on things they share.  Whether it be hobbies, political views, or shallow ideologies, many of the relationships we share in the states are started at a fairly shallow level.  A very minimal amount of relationships are started by two people trusting one another at a deep level and diving in head first.  The welcome, the friendship, and the trust that has been shown to our team has been demonstrated in so many ways at such deep levels, that it can be defined as anything but shallow.

In Scripture, Jesus exemplifies deep relationships by shattering stereotypes.  Jesus spent time with people he should not have been spending time with, at least according to the eyes of people whose vision was limited to social norms.   Examples of these people were encompassed in His disciples as well as other people with which he ate meals.  People like Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, and others were perfect examples of people that were frowned upon by the rest of society.

I use these encounters Jesus sought out to have with people to say that the locals here have embodied and lived out the example Jesus set for everyone.  We may not be social outcasts, but the church members, locals, and family members of our host homes have gone out of their way to lead a Christ-like example.  They have fed us hearty and healthy meals, given us more than sufficient places to sleep, and made every attempt to get to know us at a deep level.  They have not let cultural and communication barriers keep us from knowing one another on deep, Christ-like levels.  The effort they have made to accommodate our every need was nothing short of the effort Christ gave to people in Scripture.

The majority of American society tells us that relationships at a deep level that include these kind of barriers are not a possibility.  So why is it that our group has managed to build relationships at such a deep level, in a much more efficient manner, than relationships most of us establish in the states?  Because both sides have made an extraordinary effort to include Christ in the foundations of the relationships being built.

Our group has trusted the people from La Paz with our well-being for these two weeks, and the people from La Paz have trusted us with teaching the people of their church and the use of things in their home.  Relational depth does not require common factors to become deep; depth in relationships just needs a large effort and a heart of Christ to get there.  We have received this through the love and graciousness demonstrated by our hosts, and we only hope that we have come close to returning the same love and graciousness that has been shown to us.




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Two Views of Mission Work


imageToday our group left the town of La Paz and explored two religious communities in the Altiplano (high plain). After enjoying our first breakfast in our respective host homes, we all jumped into a bus and headed west out of La Paz and on through the city of El Alto. Over time, these two cities have merged into one, separated only by a near vertical 1,000 foot rise in elevation. The narrow steep climb was bustling with morning bumper-to-bumper traffic as cars passed within inches of each other. As we made our way through El Alto, the urban density eventually gave way to more sparsely spaced adobe and brick structures, which in turn gave way to the open fields and sage grasses of the high plain. After buying some bread and mandarins from street vendors we continued west to Copajira. This is the site of the first Friends Bible College, where many missionaries from our Yearly Meeting have served in the past. It was a great opportunity to learn of our team’s connection to a long heritage of service in this country.

After Coparjira we enjoyed lunch in Tiwanaku, where the adventurous amongst us enjoyed Llama. After lunch we drove down the street to visit an Incan archeological site. Our Bolivian hosts were able to negotiate half-price admission, claiming that we were all “descendents” of the first Quaker missionaries to the area!

At the Incan site we walked through two museums containing pre-Columbian monoliths and artifacts; as well as we were able to explore the grounds of several Incan archeological digs containing large high-plaza pyramid structures. As amazing as it was to see these historical communities, it struck many of us that we were also descendents of a very different and shameful type of Christian mission work in this country that destroyed or enslaved an entire race of people. The close proximity of Copajira to Tiwanaku, creates a strange polarity for Friends as they continue to explore the polarity of social justice and enforced dogma.

As we drove home, with the sun setting across the Altiplano and surrounded by a panorama of mountains and beauty, our bus was filled with hymns sung in English, Spanish and Aymara. Then, in a slow reverse from the morning, the open plain gave way back to the urban density of El Alto still bustling with traffic and noise and people. And in darkness we dropped off the edge of the city as our bus driver navigated a controlled decent into bustling city of La Paz. From there the weary missionaries separated back to their host homes and ate and laughed and enjoyed a far more intimate form of mission work as we visited with our host families.

Tim Burdick for the 2016 YCEW team

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The Plan

We met with the Friends leadership today to plan out the details of our time here.  Timoteo had already mapped everything out for us, we were able to sit down and finalize the details and discuss our options.

Here is a rough sketch, so you can have an idea what we’re up to, day to day.

Saturday July 25 (today)  Rest and recovery from travels.  Lunch and Dinner with Timoteo and family, and other church leaders.

Sunday July 26 – Church at the New Jerusalem Friends Church (i need to work on my Spanish).  first service 8:30-10, second service 10-12:30.  We are going to sing a song or two, we’ll see how that goes- it should be fun!  Emily Danforth is going to share a children’s bible story involving painting and really cool stuff that pops out of the painting as she’s telling the story, and more I’m sure.

Sunday afternoon, we will go to our host homes to settle in for the duration.  We’ll be staying at 2 homes in groups of 5 and 6.

Monday July 27  We will be visiting the Bible College established by Friends here many years ago when they bought a farm to convert to a school.  Tim Burdick is thrilled about this, as his doctoral thesis involved studying the early Friends Church in Bolivia.  I’m certain Tim will blog about this day in exciting detail.

Tuesday July 28  We will be participating in church services that last from 9-5 this day.  We have committed to joining in from 10:30 to 2, and will enjoy lunch with the church community.

Wednesday July 29  We will be visiting some archeological sites to learn about some of the ancient history of the area.  This should be very interesting and educational.  Many of us older group members are super excited about this.

Thursday July 30  We have a visit to El Alto, a neighboring city to La Paz, and we’ll be visiting a Friends Church there and enjoying the amazing views of La Paz from above.

Friday July 1  This day, we’ll be traveling to the jungle area for the day.  Many of the friends churches in Bolivia are in this area.  This is also a tourism destination because of the beauty of the area.

Saturday July 2 Lake Titicaca.  Seriously, look u some pics of it.  Amazing.

Sunday July 3 Church services with the New Jerusalem Friends Church, they’ve promised to put us to work this day.  Tim Burdick may be doing some preaching or sharing of some sort.

Monday July 4 A day to tour La Paz and ride a tram, there are some spectacular views.

Tuesday July 5  More exploring the city and hitting the markets for souveniers and gifts.

Wednesday July 6 We fly out at about 3:30 am and head to Miami for some debrief time.


God Bless,

Todd and the 2016 YCEW team





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The view from here.

imageOur ycew 2016 travel day went great.  No problems to speak of.  We made a tight connection in Miami and were hungry a few times, but got the food we needed and all all 4 legs of our trip went well.  We arrived at our hotel safe and sound thanks to our gracious Bolivian Friends.  We were treated to some spectacular night views on the drive to the hotel.

After a short night with about 3-4 hours of sleep, we gathered for a light breakfast with some amazing coffee, rolls, and eggs.

We then went to the hotel roof to soak in the city.  Here are a few pics, Lapaz is a beautiful city to behold, filled with warm souls.  We are grateful to be here.

please pray for us as we adjust to the altitude, we all have headaches, some are feeling nauseous and some of us need to make a bowel movement hopefully soonish.  Our spirits are high and we look forward to adjusting to the altitude and embracing our journey.

Thank you for your support, prayers, and contributions that make our trip possible.

God bless,

Todd and the 2016 YCEW team

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Bolivia or Bust!


A post by Zach Maurer, NWYM Summer Intern, Zach’s home church is Newberg Friends:

The team is off! With luggage packed and hearts filled with the desire to learn about other cultures, the Bolivia team is in the air to Peru then to La Paz Bolivia. Our hearts and prayers are with them.

Working behind the scenes has been a true delight. As I have worked as the Youth/Young Adult Summer Intern, I have watched and have been involved with the working hands that have made this trip possible . The long hours spent preparing the team’s YCEW journals to help guide their perspective at engaging a new community and encourage perseverance. The dreaded airline phone calls (at least for me navigating customer service webs) trying to seat the team together and make sure that the luggage arrives with them at La Paz with two separate bookings. The past few weeks were spent figuring out visas ensuring that the team will not only be able to enter Bolivia but will be able to reenter the U.S. There has been so much work and love poured into this trip to give the team the best possible experience. And seeing the team arrive at orientation made the work worth some of the headaches!

Seeing the team arrive one after the other at West Chehalem Friends Church with smiles as they were reunited after a month since the initial YCEW Retreat. We are excited for them to go and build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Bolivia!

Our blessings to you, YCEW Bolivia Team. May God lead you where he sees fit to shape you.



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Meet the Team!

LlamaYCEWYCEW Global, Youth (and young-at-heart) Challenged to Expand their Worldview, is an international short-term summer mission trip for youth and adults of all ages of the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends

This year will be the first intergenerational YCEW trip, having invited adults of all ages to participate with this program that is typically for high school youth. This summer the YCEW Global team will be traveling to Bolivia. The team will get to experience the culture through sigh-seeing, home stays, and worshipping alongside the Friends attending Iglesia Nacional Evangelico Los Amigos (INELA).

Please join the team that has been selected to go to Bolivia in praying that they will be used effectively in communicating the love of Christ and for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of everyone involved. Also join us in praying for the trip, logistics, and their travel to South America.

Along with prayerfully supporting the team, you can also support them financially. Donations can be made through our PayPal, just indicate that your contribution is intended for a YCEW team member. For more information on financially supporting YCEW Global, visit our page on the NWYM website.


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