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La Paz, Bolivia

I spent the last week of my travels in beautiful La Paz, Bolivia. This place enchanted me from the moment I arrived. La Paz is high in the Andes Mountains and literally built on the mountain slopes. With altitudes ranging from 10,000 to over 13,000 feet above sea level you often have to stop and catch your breath as you climb the steep streets.

Beautiful La Paz

During my time in La Paz I stayed with PC(USA) mission co-worker Sarah Henken. Sarah is the PC(USA) Regional Liaison for the Andean region. This means that she keeps up with what is going on with partner churches and organizations of the PC(USA) in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. She also oversees the PC(USA) mission co-workers working in these countries and helps foster relationships between PC(USA) congregations and our partners there. I enjoyed spending the week with Sarah, getting to know her and her work.

With Sarah Henken

I also had a chance to visit with PC(USA) mission co-worker Chenoa Stock. Chenoa had been a part of my mission training before going to Zambia, so it was great to see her again. Chenoa works with the Joining Hands Network, which is known as UMAVIDA in Bolivia (UMAVIDA is short for Uniendo Manos por la Vida – Joining Hands for Life). We were able to visit Chenoa’s colleagues at UMAVIDA, Miguelina and Cleo, one afternoon which was a special treat. UMAVIDA is currently working to address water safety and environmental concerns, which are a serious problem due to mining that has been taking place without proper regulations. They also work with youth, conducting a water school and sending youth to the international youth congress in the region. Cleo coordinates the local efforts and is heavily invested in the work of UMAVIDA. I was very moved by her passion to protect the resources of Bolivia and equip the next generation to take better care of their environment. Cleo is also a dedicated advocate for women’s rights. In Bolivia, 8 out of 10 women have been victims of violence – that is a staggering 80 percent. Cleo strives to speak for these and to restore the hope that has been lost for a better future among Bolivian women. I was honored to meet this woman who loves her country and fellow Bolivians. Please pray that UMAVIDA would find the resources it needs to continue their good work.

Miguelina, Chenoa, and Cleo at UMAVIDA

I enjoyed seeing the sights in and around La Paz. You have seen my two previous posts about El Día de los Muertos and Lake Titicaca. The city of La Paz itself was also amazing. We explored the city - visiting the oldest church, walking through the markets, enjoying lunch out at a few of the cafés, and enjoying the view from several scenic overlooks.

On the top of the oldest church in La Paz, Iglesia de San Francisco

Waiting for the bus

My last day in La Paz was a Sunday and we joined a local Presbyterian church for their worship service. The congregation was small and meets in an apartment. The folks were full of joy and very welcoming to me. Even through the language barrier I could understand their warmth and love. Please pray for this little congregation and their pastor, that they will continue to seek and follow God faithfully.

The Presbyterian congregation I visited on Sunday

As I left La Paz I was sad to go so soon, but also excited to return to the States and to spend some time with my family. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey, I hope you have been able to share in my adventure! Stay tuned for one more post as I return to the States and Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Adios, La Paz!

Posted November 10, 2012


It never occurred to me that a visitor might be so impressed with the beauty of La Paz ! The setting is hard to beat. But what, pray, is a "water school"? who attends, and what are they taught?

Kathy H on December 16, 2012

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