Youth Olympiad and Retreat

Youth Olympiad

In this Thanksgiving season we are awash with gratitude. We are grateful to have the good fortune to serve here, and honored to ensure that donors’ gifts are maximally stretched and wisely invested.

Youth OlympiadYoung adults affiliated with the local Methodist church recently asked if the mission could help sponsor a youth “Olympiad” and a retreat. The new national Youth Director planned the Olympiad as a way for young adult Methodists to compete in sporting events, get to know each other, and share ideas.

Using a $150 mission grant, more than 40 young adults from the Copa Peninsula attended the three-day event in La Paz. They came home brimming with enthusiasm and toting two giant trophies. Among hundreds of competitors from all over Bolivia, our gang won the 10 km race, and both the men’s futbol (soccer) and women’s futsol (smaller field soccer) tournaments.

Youth OlympiadThe retreat, hosted by local young adults and supported by a $140 mission grant, was at the church near our house. Jeff and I helped cook two breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners for over 100 attendees. The two speakers talked about personal relationships and sex education – important everywhere, especially here, where the crude birthrate is over 30 percent. Nationally, Bolivians under the age of 15 make up 36 percent of the population, and violence against women is a growing concern.

The Olympiad and the retreat, which included an afternoon of soccer games at our zona’s conchita, really helped galvanize the young adults. They want our help to launch a new Wednesday night worship service. They’d like to meet at different locations every week to ease and share the burden of travel. They’d like to help plan the message, choose the music, and limit the service to just one hour, all in Spanish.

Youth OlympiadJeff and I would love that! Traditional worship services start anytime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. They include 12 to 20 songs, usually sung twice in Aymara and twice in Spanish. Readings and the sermon are in both languages. Prayers for confession, forgiveness, and healing each run at least 10 minutes, and always include kneeling and weeping. Most church-goers are 40 to 80 years old.

The young folks would prefer shorter, more upbeat, relevant-to-their-lives services. Church leaders, who are older, rather resent that the young ones don’t attend traditional services, so they’re loathe to indulge the request. Jeff and I consider that the five churches and three church plants are blessed to have more than 100 interested, enthusiastic young adults who want to be active in their churches. We’ll be investing more time and money – and some leader education – in this promising new development!

See the newsletter for more photos!

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