Mudslides in Cochabamba Department

My wife mentioned this to me last as we were going to bed.

She said she wished we could be there to help during this time of crisis. I realized that, for many Bolivians, every day is a crisis because they lack food, shelter, clean water, and other things we take for granted.

Several times on my mission, I had experiences that brought into stark relief the differences between the way I lived in California and the way Bolivians lived. Once, we held a “Noched de Hermanamiento” (Fellowship Night) in a tiny adobe chapel in Pampahasi, a little village perched on a hill overlooking the city of La Paz. My companion was in bed with an IV in his arm, so the welfare missionaries and I took a taxi up to Pampahasi to show a filmstrip called “I’ll Build You a Rainbow.” Most Mormons have seen this filmstrip about a boy whose mother dies, but she promises to watch him from the skies and “build you a rainbow” to remind him that she’s always there.

The place was packed: the room in the rented adobe house was probably fifteen by twenty feet, with a swept-dirt floor, plastered walls painted a dark teal, and a dais made of wooden shipping pallets. A decrepit piano with half the strings missing sat in the corner.

At the end of the filmstrip, the hermanas were teary-eyed over the orphaned child in the filmstrip. I stood in front of the crowd and explained how God had a plan for all of His children, and then I asked if there were any questions. They came quickly.

“Do people in the United States really live in houses like that?”

“Do people there really have that much food in their refrigerators?”

“Does everyone have a nice car like that boy’s family?”

I hope someday my wife and I can return to serve the people there and help in a small way to alleviate the hunger and the misery.

More about the mudslides (it’s in Spanish): Deslizamientos dejan 5 muertos y 10 desaparecidos


4 Responses to Mudslides in Cochabamba Department

  1. Tim says:

    My wife was just in Bolivia a couple of months ago helping to start and infant and mother sponsorship program

  2. Camille Biexei says:

    This story hurts my heart. I have been thinking a lot about how the Church presses these trusting people, impoverished people, people who struggle to provide basic necessities for their children, to pay their tithing. They are told to always pay God, which is the Church, first.
    Recently, the Church announced that it plans to build another mega-mall and luxury apartment complex in Philadelphia similar to the City Creek complex in SLC which cost an estimated 3 – 5 billion (the Church has never disclosed the actual amount). I wonder what “reason” the Church has for building this time. City Creek was supposedly to “clean up downtown SLC, close to Church Headquarters”.
    The LDS Corporation is fabulously wealthy and does not need the pittance from these 3rd World peoples, but the leadership continues to demand it. I suppose that is because they cannot make exceptions to their rules, lest the lies be known for what they are.
    I do not want to hate the Church, but sometimes I do, in spite of my efforts to let go of the anger and hurt, the sense of betrayal, heal and move on.

    • runtu says:

      I understand how you feel. I don’t hate the church, and I don’t feel angry anymore, but you are right that, for the most part, the church recruits converts to take from them, not give. I look back on my mission and feel ashamed that I didn’t do anything to help lift those people even a little out of the misery and poverty. I’m glad the church has welfare missionaries, but that’s a minor focus, not the main one. My wife did a lot of good on her mission, but I wish I had too.

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