One of the world’s highest elevation ecclesias 3,800 metres above sea level

In the August issue of The Christadelphian an article sheds a light on the ecclesia in La Paz, Bolivia, probably one of the world’s highest elevation ecclesias, sitting somewhere around 3,800 metres above sea level.

Top to Bottom, Left to Right: La Paz Skyline with Mount Illimani in the background, Palace of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, San Francisco Church, Mariscal Santa Cruz Avenue, Red Line of the La Paz-El Alto cable car transit system, Downtown La Paz.
Nuestra Señora de La Paz – La Paz (Spanish) – Chuqi Yapu Marka (Aymara): Top to Bottom, Left to Right: La Paz Skyline with Mount Illimani in the background, Palace of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, San Francisco Church, Mariscal Santa Cruz Avenue, Red Line of the La Paz-El Alto cable car transit system, Downtown La Paz.

La Paz is a city that seems to defy its surroundings. On first glance the area is inhospitable, and too difficult for a city – least of all the capital of a country. It’s full of valleys and mountains, the land rising from 3,000 m all the way up to 4,000 m with the Altiplano (Andean Plateau or Bolivian Plateau). Someone recently had the brilliant idea of cable cars as the main form of transport. It’s an ingenious strategy for a place that has to go over numerous cliffs, crevasses and steep ridges. Contrast that with the llamas, old indigenous cholitas (ladies) in bowler hats with brightly coloured aguayos around their backs carrying their produce, and all of it against the backdrop of snow covered peaks, and you can see why tourists flood their Instagram accounts with photos.

Brother Brydyn Melles who is now based in Santiago de Chile with Brother Andrew & Sister Shaye Yearsley, returned to Bolivia (from April 29 to May 9), and found it a really encouraging visit, even more so than last time he visited the place.

for years Christadelphians have tried to bring people to come to see that Jesus is the Way to God. What he can see in Bolivia now is the culmination of many years of hard work by different missionaries and other brethren who have come through. While it may not be evident on the outside, having worked with other ecclesias which have never had long-term missionaries, bro. Brydin can see the marked differences.

For those living in the United States or in Europe there are all the luxuries of the capitalist world. We also do know a certain culture and live in areas where going from one place to an other is mostly not so difficult. In our communities we may also often count on certain people do do certain tasks and have enough tools do do certain tasks. Things we take for granted in our own ecclesias at home, which seem to us so logical and self-evident are in fact not, if you’ve never grown up with them.

It has been a difficult time for the Bolivian brethren and sisters, not least because the last resident missionaries (Brother Shimon & Sister Joanna Spina from Perth, Australia) returned home last year, after finishing their stint.
The ecclesia had never known life without resident missionaries there to support them, so this was really a time of great transition for the members, forcing them to stand on their own two feet. There have been bumps and turns along the way (as evidenced in the Apostle Paul’s letters), but they were there when Brydyn Melles arrived (February 13 to March 17), eager to learn and progress in their walk to the kingdom.

Extent of the contiguous mainland of Europe

For the missions all over the world it is not possible to provide continually people from Europe, North America or Australia to come to help. Like several ecclesias at the European continent and like we in Belgium can not count on regular visiting preachers, we have to try to build up our ecclesia with very little support form outside and a shortage of funds.

So, while it may well be a challenging period for the Bolivian ecclesia without the support of long-term missionaries, they definitely have the ability to make the best of their situation, especially after so many years of ‘training’.

Anyway, Bolivia is such a popular travel destination (one we would highly recommend!).

For information, contact Brother Shimon Spina.

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Further reading

  1. Copacabana and Isla de Sol
  2. The highs and lows of Bolivia
  3. Bolivia
  4. La Paz
  5. 3 Days in La Paz
  6. La Pa – La Pa – La Paz!
  7. Strange stories: Bolivia edition
  8. Biking Down Death Road, the World’s Most Dangerous Road
  9. Cycling Death Road -Bolivia
  10. The Metropolis of La Paz and Why I Felt Like an Animal in a Cage
  11. La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rican Drivers, and a Central American Power Outage
  12. Sunburned on the Isla del Sol
  13. Riding like and with the Locals in Minibuses
  14. Above the Clouds
  15. From Castellano to Paceño
  16. Zoete steden, vieze steden
  17. 8. Olivia in Bolivia: Sucre, La Paz, Death Road, Copacabana
  18. A first time for fieldwork
  19. Copacabana, le lac Titicaca et l’Isla del Sol
  20. An Inhospitable Beauty – La Paz
  21. Tempting Fate at the Witches’ Market
  22. Take a Ride – Altiplano Bolivia
  23. My Childhood
  24. Lamento Boliviano: Cable Cars, Mine Shafts and Bolivar’s Giant Wooden Head
  25. Broken Teeth, Ancient Aliens, Llama Fetuses, and Wrestling Cholitas
  26. La Paz
  27. Huayna Potosi
  28. Ride and River – Bike

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