Mision Fronteras

Mision Fronteras

Mision Fronteras (Border Mission) is the name of a mission by DGFUMC members, Debbie Rissing and Jeff Wasilevich, in the Lake Titicaca region on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Working in one of the poorest areas of both countries, they are helping local churches become resource centers providing economic support and other services to the indigenous Aymara and Quechua people. Mision Fronteras was founded in 2009 through a covenant partnership between United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, and the Methodist  bishops of Peru and Bolivia. Visit their Facebook page for more details and read their blog for regular updates.

Jeff and Debbie in Bolivia

The People They Serve

The Lake Titicaca region of southern Peru and western Bolivia is among the poorest in both countries, populated by indigenous Aymara and Quechua, who, hundreds of years ago were members of the same tribe. Though divided by national boundaries, the people continue to share familial and cultural ties. Particularly because their governments provide little or no local human services, the people want to strengthen their local churches and use them as community resource centers – bases to improve their economy and health, and develop sustainable resources.

Generations of Aymara and Quechua have existed as subsistence farmers. They do not want to be dependent upon others. But global warming, high altitude (12,500 feet + ), and the extremely dry climate are progressively limiting the people’s ability to grow nutritious food for themselves and their families. It also adds to health threats. Incidence of pneumonia here is among the highest in the world, and increasing. Currently, about 1 in 13 children die before their fifth birthday. Similarly, the animals that families economically depend upon also suffer and many die, further threatening human survival. 

Goals and Objectives

Chani, BoliviaLed by the wishes and needs of the people in the Lake Titicaca region, the Methodist bishops of Peru and Bolivia, and representatives from First United Methodist Church of Boise, Idaho, laid out the primary goals of the Lake Titicaca Border


  • Grow and help strengthen the local churches, which also serve as community resource centers, through construction, renovation, and improved financial self-sufficiency;
  • Help strengthen church leadership;
  • Promote exchange between individuals and church communities in Bolivia, Peru and the U.S.;
  • Improve the health, access to health care, and public health practices of people in the Lake Titicaca region of Bolivia and Peru. 

As coordinators of this site, they help manage local work initiatives, and serve as hosts for local and U.S. individual volunteers and teams to further the goals of Mision Fronteras.

Recent News

Face to face with Evo and a bloqueo in 24 hours


I’d just finished teaching my Saturday English class when our local pastor, Juan Paz, surprised Jeff and me with an invitation to the 100th anniversary of the Instituto Americano, a very prestigious Methodist K-to-12 school, in Cochabamba.

It was clearly a “you-must-come” kind of invitation. The Bolivian Bishop, Javier Rojas, would officiate. And Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close pal of the bishop’s, might make an appearance! So we said Sure, we’d be delighted to attend.


Copacabana Cathedral altarBless the local vendors, who are patient with our rough Spanish. We teach them a little English. They love teaching us Aymara, the local indigenous language. We all laugh.

Two weeks ago, two of our favorite vendors, Roxana and Hugo, who live in a small apartment behind their tiny-but-packed-to-the-ceiling house wares shop, surprised us with a visit to our house. (Dang it: I had just stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a towel! I sorted myself out and joined them and Jeff.)

They surprised us again: Would we serve as godparents to their two teenagers?

In Latin America, this is a serious request -- and a hefty obligation for godparents. Roxana and Hugo said they want their kids to have “a second set of parents” to model the value of an education, hard work, and resourcefulness; to demonstrate a virtuous life; and to lead Katarina and Franzua toward a better life.


We said Yes.

'Even if I could afford nutritious food...'

'Even if I could afford nutritious food, I only know how to cook corn, rice and potatoes

From the High Andean Lake Titicaca region of western Bolivia and southern Peru: ¡Kamasaki! Aymara, the local indigenous language, for hello, how are you.

We survived the Andean winter (here, that’s June through August). We are fully settled into our home, and we’re ready for volunteers and mission teams. As site hosts and coordinators of the Lake Titicaca Border Mission, the people here need your help … This is the poorest region in Bolivia, which is the poorest nation in South America. Most indigenous people here survive on less than $2 a day, growing corn and potatoes. A few can afford to buy rice and pasta -- more carbs. But virtually no one can afford an adequate balance of fruit, vegetables and protein. In Manko Kapac, about a 30-minute walk from our home, a woman in her mid-20’s told us, “Even if I could afford (vegetables and protein), I only know how to cook corn, rice, and potatoes.”

Nuevo Año 5519

Hola and Felice Ano Nuevo!


Hello and Happy New Year from Bolivia!


Tuesday, June 21, we and many thousands of Aymara celebrated the Winter Solstice here, which also marks the start of a New Year for the Aymara – it’s the year 5,519.


How to Support the Lake Titicaca Border Mission

Mision FronterasThe United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries last week announced the new Lake Titicaca Border Mission Advance project number: 3021288. FUMC Downers Grove members Jeff Wasilevich and Debbie Rissing will serve as site hosts and coordinators of this mission site for 18 months, starting in May. All gifts made in support this mission are 100% tax deductible; those made through the church will receive Advance credit for the church and the Annual Conference, and will help the church achieve its Rainbow Covenant goals.

If you'd like to support this mission, checks may be made payable to: Advance GCFA. On the memo line, write: L. Titicaca Border Mission 3021288. Checks may be dropped in the collection basket, given at the church office, or mailed to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068 GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068 (if you mail your check, please note church number 51918 on your check to ensure FUMC gets Advance credit). To make a credit card gift by phone, please call The Advance at 888-252-6174. To make an online gift, please visit the Mision Fronteras donate page.

To learn more about this mission before Jeff and Deb fly to Lima on April 10, please attend one of the information presentations in room 213 on Wednesday, March 30, either from 9 to 9:45 a.m. or 7:30 to 8:15PM. They'll present a PowerPoint presentation on the extreme poverty and dire needs of the people near Lake Titicaca. To receive electronic newsletters from Deb and Jeff, please send your email address to jeffandeb@gmail.com. There is more information on the Mision Fronteras website.

Introduction to Mision Fronteras

Jeff and Debbie in BoliviaMision Fronteras (Border Mission) is the name of a mission being undertaken by DGFUMC members, Debbie Rissing and Jeff Wasilevich, in the Lake Titicaca region on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Working in one of the poorest areas of both countries, they will be helping local churches become resource centers providing economic support and other services to the indigenous Aymara and Quechua people.

To learn more about this project, how the Methodist Church is uniquely positioned to help, and how you can help, please attend one of their presentations at the end of January. Afterward, Deb and Jeff will offer samples of Bolivian and Peruvian food in Fellowship Hall.

Fellowship Hall
Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 12:15pm


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