Journals
Posted on March 16, 2020 Ministry Life and Personal Update!
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Dear friend,

On May 25th, 2019, I wrote my first newsletter to you about how I was putting down roots in a new culture and ministry. I can say with joy in my heart that I can see some of those roots growing as friendships start to form. I feel that I’m finally making Bolivian friends! I have learned so much from them and continue to have a better cultural understanding. One of the big cultural experiences was experiencing the holidays here in Bolivia.

New Year’s Eve celebration at my church was definitely something I have never experienced before! First of all, I’ve never been to an all night vigil. It’s not something we American Baptist do in the Pacific Northwest. Second, I was a part of a drama. I can’t even remember the last time I was a part of a drama in front of a large crowd of people. It is definitely not my thing. But I was a tree! How hard could that be? ha!

The vigil started at 10:30pm. We started with worship and prayer, a sermon, communion just before midnight, the countdown to New Years at midnight. Then dinner was served at 12:30am. My small group was the last to perform in the talent show (we got on the stage around 2 am)! Believe it or not, the church was still packed with adults, children, and babies sleeping.

Our drama was based on the July and August wildfires that destroyed the Amazon basin in Bolivia and what our Christian response to caring for creation. It was a very moving performance.

We won 1st place!

Ministry Updates:

In October, I sent out a video to all of my partner churches talking about this new ministry opportunity. I hope a lot of you got to see it. If not, this is what I talked about in the video:

I have been working with my colleague, IM global servant Barb Bolick to be trained in her Talita Cumi girls club program curriculum. She invited me to be a collaborator and writer on the project. We will be piloting it in Santa Cruz. I have written lessons and designed art projects for the girls. I continue to collaborate with her and our editor on a weekly basis.

Our original timeline has been adapted a bit because of the civil unrest in Chile and in Bolivia that occurred last Fall. We are pushing forward and designing curriculum for it to be ready by then end of 2020. Barb will train two leaders who I will identify by November 2020. The school year ends here in November so we think this will be perfect timing for us to train Bolivian women and to pilot our first club in the beginning of the school year in February 2021.

God has been making way for these clubs to begin! These clubs will make an impact in the lives of the at-risk girls who attend. Did you know that 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before they turn 18 years old in Bolivia? With one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in Latin America, we want to change these statistics. Research shows that the only real way to create change is to reach the girls in their pre-adolscent years. The girl’s clubs in Chile have help decreased the rate of teen pregnancy in the communities where there are clubs. This project is a program based in the positive youth development with the emphasis of empowering vulnerable young girls. They offer a safe place for at-risk girls from ages 8 – 12 years old each week. Each club provides spiritual, social and academic mentoring through virtue lessons, Bible studies, nutrition classes, art projects, service projects and so much more!

Thank you for those who have already given to help launch this ministry! I’m thankful for your enthusiasm and partnership. If you would like to give towards Girls Clubs please mention on your donation that it is for Sarah Nash-Specifics. If Specifics isn’t mentioned then it will be deposited into my general support.

Myself, J.D. Reed, and the planning committee

I was asked by the ABO (Eastern Baptist Association, part of the Bolivian Baptist Union) to co-lead a Pastor’s Retreat for pastors in the department of Santa Cruz back in September. We had it planned for November, but had to reschedule it to April 2020 due to the civil unrest. But now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we will have to reschedule it again. Please pray for the team of Bolivian pastors who are a part of the planning committee that we will have clear discernment on when to schedule this retreat.

In picture left to right: Alberto Coarite (President of the Bolivian Baptist Union), J.D. Reed (IM Global Servant), Marcos Baptista Viruez (Executive Minister of ABO), myself (IM Global Servant), and Gumercindo Benavides (Director of UBB mission).

Early January, I had a great meeting with the Bolivian Baptist Union leadership. This was a great introduction and talk about the possibilities of Fundación Proyecto de Esperanza (House of Hope) can work together to empower pastors and train local leaders to help build God’s kingdom in Bolivia.

Dengue Fever Epidemic in Bolivia:

There were more cases of Dengue in January 2020 than in the whole year of 2019!

I was one of those cases! Dengue Fever is one of those tropical illnesses that I knew was common where I live. Unfortunately, even with the use of the bug spray, I still got bit by a mosquito carrying the illness. It’s a terrible sickness that includes high fevers, joint and bone pain, and pain behind your eyes. Not everyone that gets Dengue has to go to the hospital, but I did because my fever wouldn’t lower and I couldn’t keep liquids or medicine down. I was extremely dehydrated.

I spent five days in the hospital. It was my first time being hospitalized in my life. I was thankful to be in a great hospital and received excellent care!

I had friends stay with me some nights and had day visits from other missionary friends, my Bolivian church pastor and his wife, and Wendy (my small group leader). Rhonda Reed, RN, MSN, was my nurse before the hospital and after I was discharged. She was a huge blessing for me and help me understand the doctors when I was too tired to focus.

Thank you all who saw the posts from my MPT and myself on my Facebook page and were praying for me while I was sick. I am 100% and have fully recovered from dengue fever! Praise be to God!

Personal life update!

I’m excited to share with you that I’m engaged!! My boyfriend, Luis, of two years proposed in February while was I was in WA for a planned vacation. We appreciate your prayers as we plan our wedding and our life together. Luis is in the application process with International Ministries to become a missionary. For many who have walked the journey with me you understand the process. We will get married this summer and he will move to Bolivia afterwards.

He will be studying Spanish and working with me in ministry as a volunteer until my first term of service ends. Then, we will return to the States for my home assignment and will transition from a single missionary support to a couple missionary support team. I appreciate your prayers for us and for his discernment with International Ministries.

Luis planned a very romantic proposal. Part of the proposal included this plate he painted for me of Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting. On the back of the plate said “Will you marry me?”

My best friend Jessica took beautiful engagement pictures of us.

More pictures:

My friend Wendy and I took a few girls from church out for ice cream.

My sweet missionary friends threw me an engagement party in March! It was beautifully decorated with sunflowers (my favorite flowers). Please excuse the bad picture quality.

Prayer requests and praises:

– Pray for our world in the midst of this pandemic of COVID-19. May God give wisdom to all the scientists and medical professionals treating patients and finding a vaccine!

-Praise be to God that I have fully recovered from Dengue Fever. It was a long three weeks!

-Pray for my family as we grieve the loss of my younger cousin Shane who passed away in the beginning of March.

-Pray that I will find a Bolivian graphic designer to add graphics to our Girls Club curriculum.

-I’m thankful for my language helper who is helping me advance my Spanish.

-Pray for the upcoming Presidential elections here in Bolivia on May 3rd. These are new elections since the one from October 2019 was nulled.

-Pray that Luis’s flight to Bolivia in April will not get cancelled due to COVID-19. This will be his vision trip to Santa Cruz and see my ministry first hand.  Also, he is coming to celebrate my birthday! 🙂

Thank you for your prayers and faithful financial partnership that enables me to do the ministry that God has called me to! Please know that I am praying for each one of you. May God’s Spirit be with you and protect you from COVID-19!

Blessings,

Sarah