Silva’s Final Update

NOTE:  We apologize for not updating our blog throughout the transition process we have walked through during 2018 but we would like to copy our recent email update that explains a little bit about the last few months. We have officially turned over the reins of Proyecto Libertad to the local YWAM Cartagena base.  From now on they will not be using this website or blog and this site will eventually be discontinued.

Dear Friends,

We’re writing to let you know how everything has been going since our last email in June and to give you a final update on the transition process that we have been walking through.  It has been a whirlwind of activity and emotions!

In regards to the transition, the YWAM Cartagena base leaders decided to send the staff and students of their current “School of Biblical Counseling” to finish up the lecture phase of their training in Bocachica, and to dedicate the final two months of their outreach phase taking on the reins of Proyecto Libertad while ministering in the community.

It was a gradual process at first, but then the momentum increased as each week went by.  We had to go through all of the “stuff” that we had accumulated over the last 21 years: filing cabinets, bookshelves, storage rooms, desk drawers, and computer files; cleaning out and throwing away anything that was no longer relevant or useful to the new team.  It was a very surreal experience for Jorge, Erika and me.  It was hard, but also cathartic and encouraging, to relive so many amazing experiences, and to be reminded of all the special people that the Lord had sent to us over the years to help make it all possible.

The new team of 25 people joined us for the first week of July, and over the following two months, we turned over the different areas of the mission, little by little.  First, the grocery shopping, then menu planning and running the kitchen, the staff living quarters and general operations of the mission, the office, the clinic, medical equipment and supplies, our apartment, etc…

On July 20th we invited 50 Bocachica friends and leaders to a farewell dinner to make our official announcement to the community, and introduce them to the new team. It was a special evening that gave us the opportunity to express our appreciation and affection for 21 years of living, growing and serving together in Bocachica.

Once things were squared away in Bocachica, we still had a lot of administrative legalities and loose ends to tie up in Cartagena.  It has been an ongoing process involving things like closing the accounting books, filing with the DIAN (Colombian version of the IRS), closing with the Health Department and turning over our patient files to them, closing bank accounts, transferring the titles for our Bocachica properties to the YWAM base in Cartagena, and other administrative and required legal processes.  It has been a bit overwhelming; however, slowly but surely we were able to check off the boxes on our “to-do” list.

We have also had to go through the same process on the home front.  Selling some of our furniture and giving away our appliances and the rest of our personal belongings.  We initially thought that we would be able to take our time with the whole process and stay in Colombia until the end of the year while we gradually said our goodbyes, and, hopefully, be able to sell our house by then.  However, we had an unexpected change in plans when we got a call that my mom had fallen and badly broken her ankle.  My sister-in-law was able to go to NC from Colorado to help my mom for the first 2 ½ weeks, which gave me time to speed up the process of packing and closing up loose ends as much as possible.  So, by mid-August, I had to go ahead and say my goodbyes and return to NC to help my mom.  Jorge stayed behind to finish the administrative duties with Erika and he just joined me here in NC on September 22.  Regarding our house, the Lord led us in a different direction and opened the doors to rent to some friends for a while until we are able to sell the house at a later date.

So, it is the end of an era for us!  Jorge and I were both already with YWAM when we met over 28 years ago. For the last 3 decades (28 years for me and 31 years for Jorge), our lives have been immersed in this mission organization which has served as a second family for us.  It is surreal to imagine not being a part of that anymore.  We are hopeful and expectant about what the future might hold, but we also want to be careful not to rush into making any major decisions or commitments until we have had time to process and receive clear direction from the Lord.  At this point, we aren’t sure if we will continue with YWAM in some capacity or perhaps consider some other ministry setting, but we trust that the Lord will guide us one step at a time.  This is the first time in our married life that we have been at a crossroads such as this; it feels a little bit unsettling, but also exciting and refreshing, to begin to entertain new dreams and possibilities.

For now, our immediate plans are to spend the next few weeks looking after my mom while she continues to recover her ability to walk (she is doing really well so far!).  In mid-October, we have been invited to Germany to attend the 10th-anniversary event of Worldwide Volunteers, the organization that sent volunteers to work with us in Bocachica for many years.  Proyecto Libertad was the first ministry to ever receive their volunteers 10 years ago so it is an honor that they have invited us to be a part of their anniversary celebration.  After we get back from Germany, I have medical check-ups in November and then, in December, we plan on heading to Mexico to spend the holidays with Jorge’s family.  Erika and a former staff member, Astrid, who was a major part of the clinic construction, will also be joining us there for the holidays; Astrid for 1 month and Erika for 3 months. We are really looking forward to that!!

In regards to our missionary support, the YWAM base in Tyler, TX, who processes our donations, have said that they will continue to process offerings and donations for us for up to 6 months (through the end of March) after our departure from Colombia in order to help us during this transition phase.  We have no expectations for our missions support to continue; however, if anyone feels particularly led in that direction, it will continue to be an option for a few more months while we transition off the mission field.

We so want to express our hearts of gratitude and appreciation for each person that has traveled this road with us!  It truly amazes us to look back and see God’s faithfulness in so many details, and to see how He brought together such a variety of people to play different roles on this team.  We have always been keenly aware of the fact that mission work is a “team sport”.  There are no star players.  Like in the body of Christ and in our own physical bodies, we need each member working together in order for the body to function as a whole.  That’s how it has been for us all these years and we are so grateful to the Lord for putting us on such a great team!  Thank you for taking this journey with us.

We have had the incredible blessing and privilege of being a small part of what God wanted to do in the history of the small island community of Bocachica, just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. In the process, He molded us, taught us, challenged and changed us.  And now we are hopefully expectant about the future because God is doing something new.  He is doing a new thing in Bocachica and in Proyecto Libertad, and He is doing a new thing in our lives as well.

Much love, Jorge & Karen

 

Advertisements

January Goodbyes

This month we have had to say some sad goodbyes!  Both of our doctores, Esther and Elisabeth are moving on to new ventures.  Their absence will be sorely felt and we will miss them very much!!  Elisabeth and her family arrived safely yesterday to their home in Norway and Esther will be departing for her home in Montería, Córdoba in just a few days.  We wish them all a blessed journey as they embark on new adventures and challenges!  We owe them many thanks for their loving and sacrificial service in Bocachica and all their hard work at getting the clinic open and in operation.  We must never doubt or forget this precious promise that God has given us in His Word:

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP)

thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

We love you and thank God for you!!

Opportunities to Serve!

Do you want to serve God by serving the poor? 

Here’s where the rubber meets the road!  

Our mission plan for 2018 is to focus on hosting medical outreaches.  However, we need more BEHIND-THE-SCENES MISSION STAFF to make it possible!!

URGENT STAFF NEEDS:

HOSPITALITY: Involves hosting, cleaning toilets, dusting furniture, making beds, making welcome cards, preparing snacks, helping in the kitchen, grocery shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, sorting, organizing, socializing, loving, serving!

MAINTENANCE: Involves, painting, repairing, fixing, unclogging, cleaning, hauling, heavy lifting, unloading, gardening, scraping, carpentry, construction, supply shopping,  loving, serving!

ADMINISTRATION: Involves bookkeeping, communications, photography, graphic design, paying bills, shopping, errand running, coordinating, organizing, loving, serving!

IN ADDITION TO HOSTING MEDICAL TEAMS WE WANT TO BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT MINISTERING TO THE CHILDREN AND YOUTH OF BOCACHICA!

YOUTH MINISTRIES:  Involves befriending, pastoring, teaching and discipling unchurched children and youth, organizing activities, sports events, home visits, and more.  We have kids all around us at the mission who are hungry for loving attention and guidance!  Spanish is required.

TRANSLATION:  In addition to all of the above, we will also need bilingual people who can help translate for the medical brigades.  The most common languages used are Spanish and English but sometimes we need translators for other European languages as well, depending on the team coming to serve.  This would not be a full-time position so you would need to be willing to fill other positions as well (see above).

Here at the mission we are mostly “Jacks-of-all-trades”!  We all pitch in where we are most needed at the moment.  So, for example, even if your official job is in bookkeeping or youth ministries, there will be times when you will be needed to help clean or cook or paint, etc… so the main skills needed are flexibility, a positive attitude and a desire to serve.

If you are interested in joining us, please write for more information.

 

Shifting Focus: Medical Brigades

By the grace of God, we have been able to keep the clinic in operation the past 1 1/2 years!  It has been challenging and stretching.  It has been a true learning experience on many different levels!  It’s been hard and fun, frustrating and exhilarating, discouraging and fulfilling!  We have experienced highs and lows but overall we can truly say, it has been a blessing!!

However, this month both of our medical doctors are leaving.  Elisabeth and her family are returning to her home country of Norway for an extended stay.  Esther has completed her 2 year commitment and plans to pursue furthering her education and studying a specialty, possibly in Ophthalmology.  Sadly, we came to the conclusion that we will have to close the clinic this month because we do not have any missionary doctors available to us nor do we have the funds available to hire.

Our initial plan is to close the clinic on a temporary basis, until the Fall of 2018, at which time we will re-evaluate whether we are able to re-open or not.

In the meantime we plan to shift our focus to hosting medical outreaches throughout the year.  In spite of the disappointment over closing, we are hopeful about this new direction!  We hope that this will actually give us the opportunity to have a bigger impact on the community by offering more specialized attention!  We also believe that this approach will also be more self-sustainable for us to manage with our limited resources.

We would love to have General Doctors, Pediatricians, Geriatricians, Internists, Gynecologists, Physical Therapists, Nurses, etc… join us for 5-12 day outreaches.  We have the infrastructure needed and one of our specialties has always been hosting teams, so we believe this will be a good fit to put our strengths and resources to work!

If you or someone you know might be interested in organizing a medical mission’s outreach for 2018 please contact us for more information!

We can adapt the outreach to fit the size and the skills of each team so even if you are just one person interested in serving short term, contact us and we can explore the possibilities!

First Visitor of 2018

Today we welcomed our first visitor of the year!  Johan, from Varsovia, Sucre, a town about 2 1/2 hours from Cartagena, has joined us for a couple of weeks to help us get ready for this new year.  Johan has felt the Lord calling him into full-time missions for several years now and after he fulfills a commitment back home, he hopes to join us, possibly in February, for about 6 months, before doing his Discipleship Training School (DTS) to embark on this new journey and direction for his life.  johan-desayuno.jpg

Navidad

We had a simple but special dinner to celebrate Christmas and the end of the year with our Mission and Clinic staff.  Everyone took turns standing up and sharing a personal word about their year.  We were blessed to hear how after some very difficult circumstances (deaths of close family members, financial burdens, etc…) each person  was able to testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of difficult circumstances.  That testimony and sharing time turned out to be one of the highlights of our Christmas!

Family Additions

Back in April our mission kitty, Leo, died.  Not too long after, this little lady showed up one day in the middle of a rainstorm.  We took her in and named her MISI.  We were waiting for her to get old enough to be spayed but one of her admirers beat us to it!  A couple of months later we had three more baby kitties join the family.  Unfortunately it was only temporary though, until we found homes for them.  Misi has since been spayed and is officially on duty as our cuddler and mission mice catcher!

A Bocachica Wedding

We were thrilled to participate in the wedding of Katrina and Jorge this past weekend. We have had the joy of watching Katrina grow up and become a beautiful (inside and out) woman! She graduated from our sponsorship program and then studied to become a Dental Hygienist. She now works with us at the clinic and in January will begin studying Health Administration at the University of Cartagena. The wedding was quite the event with a total wedding party of 141 people, including the Bride and Groom!!!!!!!!

Boyaca

Last week we traveled together to the department (state) of Boyaca to attend our Regional YWAM Conference.  Our keynote speaker was John Dawson, one of YWAM’s pioneering fathers.  It was such a blessing to get to know him a little better and be inspired by his stories and teachings!  After the conference was over, we went sightseeing to nearby Villa de Leyva, a beautiful and quaint colonial historical town in Boyaca.

An island mercy ministry of YWAM Cartagena