31 October 2015

Letter from Mission Volunteers in Bolivia

Dear Friends and Family,
Sorry for the long absence of newsletters. Now that our restaurant, Pan America, is thriving, we burn about 70 hours a week just running the shop – it’s just the two of us plus a helper. On slow days and “free” days, we clean and restock, dash to La Paz a five-hour ride -
- for ingredients we can’t get in Copa, tend to mission projects, squeeze in music classes and practice time, attend mandatory neighborhood work days, as well as mandatory meetings, parades and
soccer games.

We are busy, but we’re very much enjoying the work (well, not so much the
mandatory meetings and parades), the projects and the people local folks with whom we work, and customers from all over the world. We continue as the second highest rated restaurant in Copa, with a 5-star Trip Adviser rating. Daily sales run 800 to 1,200 Bolivianos ($115 to $180, which is really good
money in this part of the world).

  
“great pizza, very friendly hosts”
Review of Pan America Bakery and Pizzeria Near corner of Av. 6 de Agosto & Calle Avaroa, Copacabana,Bolivia
Ranked #2 of 26 Restaurants in Copacabana 65 Reviews by Trip Advisor
Price range: BOB 7 - BOB 71
Cuisines: American, Pizza, Sandwiches,European, Delicatessen
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To help cover mission expenses, we decided to sell accumulated things at our neighborhood’s new, weekly feria, or fair. The first one was two weeks ago; it was a blast! Friends and neighbors tell us the Gringos’ stand has created a buzz throughout town: products from the States are HOT commodities!
After paying expenses, annual revenue covers roughly a third of the mission’s budget! In our first year of operation, the restaurant has given more than 90,000 Bs. (more than $13,000) to local mission projects.
Still, it’s not enough to cover the many projects in which the mission is investing. We’ll write about those a bit later in this newsletter.
Mission Fronteras Bests The UK, France and Switzerland!
What’s Up and Running
In addition to Pan America, here’s a quick round up of our current projects:
  •   8 functioning green houses, and within a week seeds will be
    planted in the ninth;
  •   Cuy (guinea pig) farm – now that it’s dry season and therefore
    harder to feed them, we’ve sold down to about 25 of the best
    breeders to start the next season;
  •   Quinoa project On their own accord, the original 120
    participating families have expanded the project by roughly 40%
    since its launch in May 2013.
  •   Four church/community centers are in various stages of
At a recent Round Table of Methodist Church leaders from all over the world, Bolivian Bishop Modesto Mamani reported that 11% of the church’s national budget comes from Mision Fronteras more than the United Kingdom and more than France and Switzerland combined!
construction. One is just getting started; two lack only fine work to reach completion.
 
The combined community latrine and kitchen in Chani is essentially finished, except for a bathroom, which we’ll leave to the local folks because the mission’s allowance for the project has been spent.
Big construction projects require big chunks of the mission’s budget. So far, we’ve covered much of those expenses with proceeds from Pan America. But the mission’s account now has less than $3,000 in it. 

If you’re considering making an end-of-year donation to Mission Fronteras, Advance # 3021288, we and the Andean folks we work with would surely welcome it. Please be advised that the General Board of Global Ministries has again promised to double gifts made on Dec.1, the annual Day of Giving.
    
Service projects:
  •   In April a volunteer mission team assessed vision and gave reading glasses to about 300 local people. Women recipients, who knit or crochet to clothe their families and earn a living, were especially grateful.
  •   In May we and volunteer Will Harris distributed school materials to about 400 students. Not all of them actually needed free school supplies, but we’ve learned that if we help only the truly poor, whose parents might withdraw their students for want of $4 for supplies, the poorest kids would suffer the ridicule of their slightly better-off classmates. So in such cases we let the rain fall evenly on everyone,” a local expression.
  •   We’re helping forge a partnership between Engineers Without Borders, Engineers in Action, and the leaders of Chiripaca, a rural village that has never had running, potable water.
Message excepts from a longer Mission Letter from Jeff and Deb.
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