Gulf Winds has been a continual partner of International Cooperating Ministries (ICM). This year, weâve been blessed with the opportunity to go on an amazing journey to Bolivia to witness Gods work as done through the hands and hearts of ICM and the miracles that are happening each and every day. Amazing churches have been built, prayers have been answered and testimonies have been given â all because of the power of Godâs love. Below we have included testimonies and photos from some of our GWI Team Members that went along on the trip.
I was brought up to believe in God but as we grow older we tend to get caught up in everyday life and forget to stop to give thanks for all we have. Or to even take a few hours of your time during the week to praise God for all he has done for us and given us. Yes I pray every day but No I donât attend church on a weekly basis nor do I follow by what the bible says daily, but hoping to change that. Â This trip to Bolivia opened mine and Johnny eyes in many different ways, we came back thinking and feeling different. The people we met and saw were all a part of that change. Our relationship is different, better! Not only did this trip allow us to see a different side of the world and the opportunity ICM and our contributions have given the people of Bolivia, but it gave Johnny and I a better relationship. We visited many churches, I went to church and praised god more in those 4 days than I have done in a year! I looked at how happy everyone was and the joy in their faces, even in the poorest of communities we visited. These people looking at you, attending to you, giving us thanks about what we were doing for them but now I think about it and I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity to feel and see life differently. Very grateful Johnny and I we able to take this trip together, I can say one the best trips we have taken.
– A testimony from Maggie Gallegos and Johnny Puentes, GWI Team members
It seemed like hours moving from church to church for our tour that day, as the weather was horrible.
The monsoon had hit Santa Cruz, Bolivia; the rain fell in buckets and lighting was streaking across the sky.
The outskirts of the city were underwater; roads were flooded and the ones not paved were solid mud.
I remember thinking that I was glad that our bus driver was so cautious. He would turn around and wait before moving through the deep water in the streets.
The bus ride was also very rough and bumpy that day. We finally pulled off the main road heading toward a small village.
We drove down a muddy mess that was so bad we would not consider it a road in the United States, even a Texas Ranch would have a better road.
This little village had very pretty flowers along the road, it was one of the only villages that I remember taking pictures of the flowers. Very large Crown of Thorns which had bright red flowers like the blood of Jesus.
We were passing little cottages that had rags hanging in the windows and doors.
Skinny dogs were among the children but did not seem to be playingâ¦ they appeared to be half starved and not moving around much.
We got out of the bus, picking a path through the mud trying to get to the other side of the âroadâ to the church.
A woman was outside sitting on a bench; scrubbing clothes on a washboard in a plastic tote, but her dog got really aggressive when we tried to look through the bushes and speak to her.
On the left side of the âroadâ was the church, the building was erected and was painted but there was no windows and doors in this building either.
Behind the Church was the most beautiful and perfectly shaped tree I have ever seen. It had a very thick trunk and the umbrella was symmetrical.
We walked into the church and the entire village greeted us. Children were carried on their Motherâs back in brightly colored blankets that were slung over their shoulders and the children sat in the blankets â like a backpack. Their big black eyes showed up brightly against the colorful blankets. All ages were carried from little babies to children whose legs hung down on their Motherâs backs. The church had just been painted a light orange color the night before. They worked all night to finish. The people had plastic lawn chairs lined up in the church which they seated us on. The presentation of music, testimonies and preaching began.
During this presentation I looked up at the unfinished church and the thought occurred to me that once they finished this building, the people in the village would have a place they could huddle together during the winter and maybe find protection from storms like we had been experiencing that day. This church would function as a place or worship, a community center and a place where the whole village could gather. Â People were coming from all around the area to see this building that was a shining example of GODâs love. It also solidified the Pastorâs position in the village with a great respect. This building was greatly changing lives and the people now had something to be proud of, they could see a very different future.
We were told that the tree behind the church was a Mango Tree and the village had picked and sold 6,000 mangos that year to help pay for the church.
The tree was so beautiful that many of the group were taking their pictures around this perfect tree.
I remember thinking how GOD multiplied seeds and this was a great example of his goodness and exceeding abundance. The pastorâs father had prayed before him and now the son was praying for a new church building. This village had prayed for over 40 years for a new church and ICM ministries had finally built this Village a new church.
We got to witness the answer to 40 years of prayer.
– A testimony from Lorinda Draper, a GWI Team Member