Sandy in Bolivia
Organized by: Sandra Shaker
EVENT DATE Aug 01, 2015
If you know anything about me, you know that Latin America has a very special place in my heart. When you combine that with my love of the Coptic Orthodox church and serving in it in various ways, you can probably understand how excited I am to be visiting the church in Santa Cruz for the first time!
Santa Maria y San Marcos Coptic Orthodox Church was consecrated in 2006. But the Coptic Orthodox mission in Bolivia started almost a decade earlier, when the Pope was made aware of a few Coptic families that lived there. Although the first priest was sent there to serve those families, today the congregation is made up of 600+ Bolivian members and quickly growing.
Besides having a church (and a few other churches in the surrounding area), the main compound includes a bakery, day care center, medical center, and computer lab and library, and there are more properties that will be developed into other uses in the future. There is also a registered non-profit, Love and Hope Bolivia, that provides several of these services. I will be there to help with these ministries and other tasks as the church needs. This is one of my favorite things about the Church--that while caring for its members spiritually, it does not ignore individuals' needs for health, employment, a place to stay and play, and obtain other services. This combination of spiritual food and social justice is what I think the global Church does best!
Another thing that is very important to me is the sustainability of mission trips. Unlike other trips or forms of aid that focus on short-term benefits (such as dropping off food and gifts or building homes or other projects that the people that live there can do on their own and even make a living off of), these services are offered year-round. The individuals and other groups that serve in Bolivia come throughout the year, ensuring that when groups leave, projects and initiatives do not just end. There are permanent clergy and servants that committed to the Bolivian church, and I merely see myself as a helper for a short-time. This gives me confidence that the work in Bolivia is being done responsibly and will have the best chance of creating the most positive change for people in the area.
The airfare itself will cost me about $1000. In addition, I need about $200 to fund accommodations, making my ultimate goal $1200. Anything I make past $1200 will go directly to the Bolivian church as a donation. Thank you very much for reading this and for leaving a donation if you so choose!
P.S. For more information on the Coptic Orthodox Church in Bolivia, please visit www.orthodoxbolivia.org and www.loveandhopebolivia.org.