Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Arrival !!!!!!!!!!!

Hello to everyone. Katie, Jubilee and I would like to announce something very special. Today at 1:00 PM our time Frankie Malakai Forbess was born weighing in at 2.89 kilos (6.5 lbs). We don't know how long he is as they don't measure babies apparently. However the doctor says mommy and baby both are doing just great. The delivery went well and we are expecting to have them come home tomorrow afternoon. Jubilee got to see her new baby brother and she was in her own words, "soooooooo excited!". As soon as the cameras come home with the patients we will download the photos.

Love you guys and thanks for praying for the safe delivery of our baby boy. God is great!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bolivian News Update

Hey everyone. Let me run through some church news and prayer requests and then give an update on the political situation as I had promised.

  • Gary and Laura are expected back to Cbba tomorrow. Pray for their return.
  • I will be traveling to S. Cruz tomorrow to pick up Katie´s parents.
  • Little baby Forbess could be born any day now!
  • Please pray for new Christian Miguel, he seems to be having some struggles at the moment.
  • Bruno is doing a great job with our youth group and it appears that this ministry is really beginning to blossom. Our youth include: Bruno, Freddy, Veronica, Claudia, Roberto, other Bruno (son of one the Institute students), and other off and on visitors. Please pray that our youth group continue to go strong.
  • Please pray for this new year of opportunity in the ministry here in Cochabamba.
  • Thanks for your prayers!!!

Okay. Now for the political break down. Last night the dialogue between the president, his supporters and the opposition began. We watched quite a bit of it as it was broadcast live from La Paz. It was kind of like a family venting session of the whole nation. Each regional governor or prefecto had a chance to state his feelings and express the results they wanted to see come out of the meeting. After 7 hours, yep 7 hours of talking about what they wanted to talk about in the meeting, it seems that Bolivia is on its way to reconciliation. Perhaps not a complete reconciliation, but it seems that things are definitely looking up from where the nation was a month ago.

The prefectos who have been in strong support of autonomy reiterated that they in no way meant that they wanted to separate from Bolivia and that they wanted unity just as much as the federal government. This sentiment was especially expressed by Santa Cruz prefecto, Ruben Costas. Cochabamba´s prefecto was surprisingly pretty quiet throughout the meeting, but time may prove that was a wise decision on his part. The were was only one prefecto that really got personal. The remaining 8 prefectos did a fairly good job of being professional and mature. We continued to listen to hear the Vice President Linera respond to the statements of the prefectos and basically rebut any of the subtle or not so subtle criticisms they may have raised. During the time we listened, President Morales seemed to do a lot more listening than speaking but he did spend time emphasizing the growth of the economy and asked the prefectos to give ample time to his cabinet members and specialists in attendance who were to present facts and figures indicating the growth of the economy.

Well, we did not listen for the entire 7 hours instead we popped in a new movie with Denzel Washington about a debate team from Marshall, TX. (A very good movie by the way). This morning though on the news and in the paper, the initial meeting between Morales and the Prefectos resulted in three big decisions which they will continue to deliberate on.

First, they will reconsider a proposed change on the administration of regional profits made on the production of hidrocarbons. This change would regarding the use of profits would have been used to fund a pension of sorts for Bolivians over 60 years of age, but it would have dramatically cut the regional budgets by more than half thereby severely limiting the ability of regional governments to continue with services provided to citizens. The prefecto of Tarija, Mario Cossio mentioned that his department was already using the profits of hidrocarbons to fund socialized health programs offering free medical services to the needy. This discussion is a big point of contention however, because some departments produce a great deal more in profits than others and the sentiment of some is that the profits should be spread in a more judicious manner to include departments that do not see big profits from the hidrocarbons. The prefecto of Potosi made an interesting point by paralleling the current events to the history of his own department that saw the creation of some of the greatest wealth the world has ever known with the tin mines. Yet, now Potosi is among the most underdevolped and improvished departments of Bolivia because the profits of the tin mines were not enjoyed by the majority of Potosinos.

The next items to be considered go hand in hand and those are the questions of the legitimacy of the new Constitution and the legitimacy of the Autonomic Statutes that were drawn up in the departments of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando. The legality of the constitution has been questioned by many, but especially by the prefectos and inhabitants of those previously mentioned departments. The legality of the Autonomic Statutes logically has been questioned by the Morales administration because the statutes do not conform to the new constitution. Also a part of the conversation is a defense and explanation of the proposed Indigenous and Rural Autonomies that are a part of the new constitution. Understandibly for the people of some departments asking for autonomy, it is hard to understand why indigenous groups will be granted more autonomy while regional departments will not be granted the same kind of autonomy.

A little explanation on the business of autonomy follows. The autonomy being asked for can be somewhat compared to the autonomy that states in the United States enjoy. There are many things that are left up to individual states to decide while the federal government makes decisions that affect the whole country. In the United States as well, there is occasionally disputes as to what should be a federal decision or a state decision. In Bolivia as in much of Latin America there exists a strong tendancy of highly centralized government, that sometimes tends to overlook the specific and distinct needs of isolated regions or people groups. The regional autonomies look to rectify this tendancy to ignore isolated regions as the Indigenous Autonomies wish to rectify the tendancy to ignore or marginalize the indigenous or rural people groups.

Well to any poli sci people out there, please forgive me for any overgeneralizations. I hope that this gives our readers a better understanding of what is happening here. I also hope to illuminate the fact that neither side in this conflict is completely right or wrong. Please pray that our government leaders will continue in this spirit of dialogue and reconciliation. Again I truly believe that your prayers along with those of so many others are being heard. Praise God!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thanks for Your Prayers

Saludos (greetings) to all of you out there. Several of you have been asking for an update after the last blog update concerning the political situation here in Bolivia. Thanks first of all for your prayers. If you ever doubt that God is listening please know that He is, because the results are all around us.

I will make it short because I am sure that in the next week or so we will have a better idea of where things are headed here. However, let me say that the Christmas and New Year´s season was one of peace and happiness for our family. The city of Cochabamba has experienced no demonstrations of any kind since my last post. Things in the other cities such as La Paz, Sucre, and Santa Cruz have also been much calmer presumably because of the holidays.

This coming 7th of January there is to be a meeting between the president and the opposition leaders of the what is being called the -media luna- which means half moon. The "half moon" represents the departmental leaders of Santa Cruz, el Beni, Pando, Tarija and Cochabamba. Although Cochabamba´s departamental leader is an outspoken member of the president´s opposition that does not mean that all of the Cochabamba Department (like a state) is in support of the opposition. This is one of the main reasons for the conflict. The people in the rural areas and those who have migrated from rural areas to the cities tend to be more in support of the federal government represented by the President Evo Morales and the MAS political party. The opposition tend to more urban and middle to upper class. The opposition also has strong bastions of support in the eastern departments especially in the department of Santa Cruz. Unfortunately throughout the past two years regional, racial and socio-economic divides have deepened dramatically. Please continue to pray for the leaders of Bolivia that they may have the best interest of their fellow Bolivians in mind as they make decisions. Also please continue to pray that the works in La Paz, Viacha, Santa Cruz, Sucre and Cochabamba may not be hampered by the conflicts. Pray for the Christians in Bolivia that they may shine a bright light and bring honor to God our Father.

Another prayer request we have is not concerning Bolivia at all yet it is concerning Kenya. Living overseas has allowed Katie and I to see the world in a whole new light. We now know firsthand what it means to see fellow countrymen fight against each other in the streets. We also know how that affects people in their daily lives. Our hearts go out to the Kenyans, especially to our brethren there. Julie, our teammate, grew up in Kenya and we have been blessed to hear about the work her parents along with other missionaries and Kenyans have done in that nation in service of the Lord´s church. It, much like Bolivia, is a beautiful place with an even more beautiful people. Although we have not met them face to face or shaken their hands we have brothers and sisters in Kenya who are presently living through some very rough times. Let us all pray that peace reigns and that the Lord may protect His children who live in Kenya. Let us pray that the leaders of Kenya may also be blessed with wisdom as Solomon was so that they may lead their nation back into a state of peace. Let us pray that the work of the Kingdom be not hindered in Kenya.

p.s. No baby yet! Of course I would have mentioned it. We are still waiting. Katie´s parents arrive next week to help out. We can´t wait! We have the name picked out, and you will have to just wait and see what it is. Of course it was extremely difficult to find an suitable name to go along with a sibling named Jubilee Song but I think we did it.