Learning to Receive

After my last blog update, the reality of one of the lessons my wife and I learning down here on the field revolves around the idea or learning to receive. This may sound ludicrous to some, “you’re a missionary, all you do is receive in order to give yourself to others!” While this may be true, there is a very deep sense of our humanness that still wants to hold on, that still wants to feel ‘in control’ despite our need to be in deep submission and in love with our Saviour as we serve abroad. Margy and I love to serve, but the reality is that sometimes we have struggled to accept being served well.

I  previously touched on the the conundrum we’ve faced here as missionaries who’ve had an increasing amount of responsibility place on our shoulders. At the same time you all deserve to be kept in the loop, updated and communicated with as you have sacrificially given of yourselves to give us the privilege that we have to serve here in Bolivia. Thank you for your patience and faithfulness to the ministry. In light of the realities we face here on the field and the lessons God is teaching us personally, allow us to share a letter/update we’ve received from a fellow missionary & friend: 

Harry Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” I realize I’m starting off a post to a predominantly Canadian audience with a quote from a US president. From the get go, you should know that I tend to make cultural missteps like that. So do a lot of missionaries.

My husband and I have only been missionaries for six short months. My husband was a fighter pilot in the US Air Force and I was an attorney. Just this year we came to Bolivia to serve with South America Mission where we have had the privilege to serve with Sam and Margy Tse.

18209417_10100884834742043_2325006479362744344_o

Sam, Margy, Mateo and Little Miss Victoria

In some ways, I still feel like a bit of an outsider looking in at this missionary world, sort of like an imbedded reporter. One thing I’ve noticed is that missionaries struggle to share with their supporters. There is an inherent conflict missionaries face. Supporters should know what their missionaries are doing, but no one, least of all missionaries, wants to brag about their accomplishments. It’s a Catch-22.

So now you’ve got two particular insights, thanks to my undercover reporting: 1) missionaries, especially new missionaries, make a lot of cultural missteps; and 2) missionaries face a Catch-22 when deciding how and what to share with their supporters back home.

This leads me back to that Truman quote, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” This quote immediately brings to mind the Tses and their service here in Bolivia. My family has personally been so blessed by them that I have asked to write to you and share with you. I imagine this takes Sam and Margy well out of their comfort zone, as they are both humble and service-oriented. They’ve agreed to let me write this, as long as Sam retains editorial control. (To which I say, don’t do it, Sam!)

I’m sure as friends, family and supporters, you are already well aware of how they both seek to glorify God in all that they do. But I wonder how much of the day to day, “in the trenches” stuff you actually see. I’m sure there is so much more than what I’ve personally seen, but I would like to share with you from our family’s very grateful perspective. Because we have been in the trenches with the Tses and you deserve to know: You are backing the right horse.

Did you catch that? Yep, I used a horse racing analogy in a missionary prayer letter. So let’s start with the obvious issue of what the Tses have to deal with: people like me.

In case you aren’t aware, about one year ago, Sam was named the “Interim Field Chair for Bolivia.” It’s a pretty fancy title, but what it essentially means is that just after 6 months of serving and adjusting to a new country, he was asked to step in as the boss…of all of us missionaries in Bolivia.   This means he has the responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day operations, from the minute details to the major decisions. Back in Canada, this would be a massive undertaking. In Bolivia, “massive undertaking” is the tip of the iceberg. Along with all the intricacies of a young blended family, life is much harder in Bolivia. To be clear, not all missionaries fall into the “people like me” category, but I think it’s fair to say that Sam finds his plate overflowing on the personnel side. I’ve seen Sam step into the role of father figure, administrator, teacher, legal advisor, financial counselor, strategist… as I write this, I realize I could fill a page with descriptors of his different roles.

img-20170326-wa0007.jpg

Sam leading a short-term mission team… add chauffer to that list!

It is not an exaggeration to say that Sam has resuscitated our mission field. I want to be careful not to disparage anyone who came before, as I believe it was in large part due to external factors. But, for whatever reason, this mission field was in a pretty sorry state. Sam has diligently and tirelessly worked to revive, reorganize and revitalize our field. I know that our family would likely not have remained in Bolivia, were it not for the Tses and the improvements they have made. To be clear, there are many wonderful and hardworking missionaries here who are doing good work. But frankly put:

Leading and serving those who serve is a demanding and thankless job. It is a job that Sam is doing exceedingly well.

Apart from his field leadership, I’ve seen Sam preach in a large Bolivian church with such passion and God-driven truth that nearly one hundred Bolivians came forward to pray for God to use them for His service. I’ve seen him touch the lives of the many Bolivian and missionary kids with whom he interacts, whether through coaching or other volunteer positions. They respect him and want to emulate him. He is an incredible role model and mentor for many, many young men.

19030759_10100906610568113_1632595199052149982_n.jpg

Sam preaching at Iglesia de la Familia Church

Margy. likewise, is sharing her gifting with our field. Of course, her primary ministry is their two beautiful children, Mateo and Victoria. But Margy also has an impact that is literally life saving. She is a highly skilled physician who has, in a volunteer capacity, helped many others. Recently, my in-laws came to visit. Unbeknownst to them, my mother-in-law was infected with West Nile Virus just days before their flight. It is a life-threatening illness when it affects the brain and requires critical early intervention. Margy made a house-call and immediately had my mother-in-law admitted to the hospital. There, for ten days, Margy selflessly oversaw and coordinated her care. She spent hours providing medical care without even the hint of payment. She even ensured continuity of care after my mother-in-law was transferred to a US hospital.

Margy saved my mother-in-law’s life.
Words fail to express the depth of our gratitude.

18557297_10100895019406893_2598576970703398779_n.jpg

Margy at the hospital with my mother-in-law.

Margy is also volunteering with a Christian-based fitness center to provide nutritional and fitness counseling from a biblical perspective. She will soon begin teaching as a “visiting professor” (meaning unpaid) at the Bolivian Evangelical Medical School. I have seen first hand how she is able to connect with other professionals who are seeking the Lord. She has an innate ability to connect in this way and I look forward to seeing how these positions will segue into other opportunities for her to share with and impact others for Christ.

I could go on, listing all the amazing ways that the Tses are serving those around them. But, since I’ve already quoted a US president instead of a Canadian Prime Minister and used a horse-betting analogy to assure you that you’re supporting stellar missionaries, perhaps, I would do well to err on the side of brevity.

It has been a privilege and a blessing to serve in Bolivia with the Tse family. They have impacted our lives, the lives of the other missionaries and the lives of countless Bolivians through their incredible selflessness. Although it is mighty presumptive of me (I told you I make a lot of missteps), I think Truman’s quote can even be improved upon to reflect the genuine Christian spirit in which the Tses serve:

 It is amazing what you can accomplish when God alone gets the glory.

 That is the very heart of the Tses’ ministry and we have been privileged to serve along side them.

Thank you for sending them here, for supporting them, for loving them, encouraging them and for praying for them. You are indeed backing the right horse.

A grateful sister in Christ,

Laurie Bremer

Want to support the Tse Family?

They need both prayer and financial support. Click the link below to see their official SAM missionary page and to donate:

CANSAM DONATION PAGE

SAM USA DONATION PAGE

Confessions of a Missionary

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”

Philippians 2:6-7a

baby chest

I’ve always been one that has problems sitting still, I think God knew exactly what I needed to slow me down in a good way =)

Meekness – strength under control. Jesus was described as meek, an intriguing contrast to what mainstream leadership portrays. Often we default to the outspoken or confident approach when we picture strength. I think there’s a strong argument for those who have a calm confidence and a deep sense of identity, especially if that identity is rooted in the Lord. Often the meek and their thoughtful actions are left in the shadows, ignored or even unnoticed, but I’m learning that is probably their preference.

Serving as interim leader for our missionary field here in Bolivia, I have the privilege to witness many of my colleagues who ‘operate in the shadows’ here away from their families and the communities where they call home. When I first began as a missionary, everything was new and different. Being single, there was more than enough time to document, write and share online about all the ministry that was happening and the growth that God was masterfully orchestrating in and through my life. Now, my role is different, I get to encourage, shepherd and brag about those who have followed the call to live out Christ’s example of meekness here in Bolivia.

IMG-20170502-WA0010

With all the time I now spend behind a desk or at legal meetings, investing in young men’s lives through basketball has been quite life giving. Thank you Lord for your provision!

On the surface, it might seem that said ministry and growth have slowed down if you go by what I’ve been able to post on social media or write about on this blog. From where I sit, reality would look a lot more like the opposite of that assumption. It’s an interesting conundrum as a missionary. The more experienced you get, the more opportunities God opens up for you as you walk in obedience, but truthfully this translates into a lot less time to share about it all. I deeply appreciate all of you who have still continued to support the ministry faithfully through your prayers and finances – it is not lost on me the reduced frequency to which I have been update and write. All the more do I grow in appreciation of our Good Father and His people who sacrificially support our family as we daily seek to serve Him here in Bolivia. Sinceramente, Gracias.

Speaking of those who serve sacrificially without much acclaim and in light of most of the world outside of Bolivia celebrating a certain holiday this past weekend, I have to acknowledge strong women. As I witness my wife tirelessly care for and love our new born daughter, I am floored by the magnitude of what mothers are called to when nurturing and cultivating a young child. I have often said, when given the spotlight, that any great ideas that I may share, likely have come from a strong and godly woman in my life. It’s not just lip service, it’s the plain truth as I know how limited my male brain is!

IMG_20170508_064319_225

Praise God for a community of His people to pray and encourage us during this phase of little sleep =)

Five days after my daughter Victoria was born, we have been slammed as a family in terms of responsibility and ministry. Much of it was out of our control, but we deeply knew that it once again was God placing us in a situation that was far beyond our capability, so that His power would be on display. We recently just passed the 2 month mark of life for our new born child and in those short 60 days, we’ve had to organize, lead and host a 2-week youth missions team, receive, orient and process immigration for 8 new missionaries, preach at a youth rally, lead weekly field prayer gatherings, coach a JV boys basketball team to the championship game, conduct a random drug search, serve as Board president for our international Christian School, and somehow learn how to navigate our field through unforeseen corruption and imprisonment.

Did I mention that we have a new born baby and are trying to delicately balance the attention she needs with the needs of Mateo, who also just celebrated his 14th birthday on which he received noticed that his name change had hit some unexpected obstacles back in Canada? Don’t get me wrong, I have handled the last 60 days at times in a manner that has been less than desirable in my opinion. With all the pain, hurt and corruption that ministry here in Bolivia comes with, there were moments of difficult learning on how to balance it all with my family life. There was one day that I’m ashamed to say, I saw my 3 week-old daughter for a total of six minutes! You can only imagine what that type of burden and responsibility does to your family life and marriage. I thank you for all those who have been praying over God’s protection for our family and those who have taken a personal interest in caring for us as we do our best to learn and serve in this new life stage.

bday

Can’t believe this Mataeto is already 14. A privilege to be a part of his life and see him grow!

There were moments where I felt sick and stuck. It felt like from every angle the enemy has been trying to distract or discourage me. Trust me, you couldn’t pay me enough to take the job I have now if it wasn’t where I know God has placed and called me for this season. Tons of thoughts have passed through my mind, “since the New Year, our support has dropped $500/month and I’m about to receive a baby into this world??? There’s no time to write home, God what is your plan in all of this??? I need to be strong as a leader, but I never desired for my family to suffer as I struggle to learn to balance it all.” Right there is where I was reminded of God, His sovereignty and the meekness of Christ. To sit quietly in His presence and rest in Him because He has all that is out of control for me….under control. He has been more than enough, but has shown me that personal change also needed to take place.

I might sound crazy, but serving in the context that God has led me to at this point in my life is actually a gift. To be continually stretched beyond my capabilities, but see God provide in extraordinary ways is humbling and inspiring at the same time. Who would of thought that the team we hosted right after Victoria’s birth would be able to bring down all the gifts you all graciously showered upon our child and family? Do I dream of comfort and stability that I often ‘see’ on social media, of course, I’m human, but with that I say thank you. Thank you for giving my family and I the opportunity to experience and share God in this way. Thank you for being the community that faithfully walks alongside us as God shows His power and glory through the weaknesses and limitations that we have as humans in a way that is completely counter-cultural.

IMG_20170322_094600

I may not be able to give my son much in the material sense, but the experience and joy through relationships he experiences through short term teams has been a gift from God.

When I told people that we saved up money & our travel points to fly my mother in-law to Bolivia to live with us for three months, I got a lot of crazy looks. Not a word of a lie, it was one of the best prayerful decisions I think we could have made (despite the awkward naked moments that come when you live together for 3 months!) Family is so important during those times of transition and bringing a newborn into the mix is one of those game-changing moments in a family’s life. As missionaries, we leave our comforts, friends and family back home and that means little support when things like a new-life are thrown into the mix.

I mentioned Mateo turned 14 earlier this month, well back when he was a baby, Margarita was a single mother who was in medical school, writing her exams with bloody bandages 5 days after her C-section. Do you know who was there serving in the shadows to support baby Teo and my wife? My mother-in-law. In a culture where infidelity and brokenness has marred the original design of family that God has created, it is also the perfect setting for God’s intent through family to be a statement. People may wonder how we were able to be sustained and serve in so many ways over that last 60 days, while still caring for a new born – let me be the first to tell you it was an example of the Lord’s work through the gift and purposes of family.

bye

How am I supposed to say bye to these two beautiful faces every morning! #blessed #family

Señora Oliva, was a gift from God as she joyfully served, cooked, cleaned, sang songs and filled our home with laughter for 3 months. She patiently waited for the baby to come and was an incredible emotional and spiritual encouragement to Margarita as the hurts of the past came flooding back with the pregnancy and birthing process. God not only allowed us to be a part of ministry because of family, He did ministry in our own lives. Healing took place as we witnessed and walked together, despite our mistakes, as a family unit bonded by the love and example of Christ. There in the dark shadows of our very own brokenness, Christ’s blood was and is doing its redemptive work.

The life and possible purposes of God for a single missionary versus that of a family unit look and are quite different. I am slowly learning and seeing that it’s not better or worse, but rather profound and purposeful in a new way. Family is teaching me a deeper understanding of Christ’s meekness and I know full well it is broadening my ‘tool box’ as a child of God and missionary here in Bolivia.

 

 

Lessons from Leadership

17436243_10100860513616773_5948538470937599297_o (1)

Baby Victoria – Her name is a reminder that our God is Victorious – 4 weeks old today!

It may be odd that the first blog update that I’ve had the time to write this whole year isn’t focused on Victoria, our new baby girl, but I believe stories of God’s work in the lives and hearts of people are even more exciting. Don’t take that the wrong way, I would love to write about the emotions and lessons God is teaching our family as we bring a newborn a child into this world together – but there is a time for everything. For now, I’ll need you to just to trust me that those stories and time will come.

For now, I want to share about some of the challenges, struggles and victories that God’s allowed me to experience during my first 7 months as South America Mission’s interim field leader for Bolivia.

1. While God demonstrates His power and Sovereignty through crisis, it’s only part of the journey to His greater plan.

Why am I using valuable word space to write that reminder? Some of you are aware of the struggles of injustice that we are facing as a body down here in Bolivia, but let’s be real – if we are truly following God’s plan for redemption, we are to expect suffering as part of the process. Often, the enemy distracts us with the ‘crises’ at hand in order for us to lose focus of the grandness of the Lord’s almighty purposes & plan.

As missionaries, one of the facts we must even remind ourselves of, as dumb as this sounds, is that we too are just sheep that Christ is shepherding. Sheep aren’t the smartest creatures! We are weak, susceptible to the enemy’s tricks and need to daily lean on the strength and wisdom that comes from our Lord. I believe that as sheep, we can easily fall in love with the drama and excitement that comes with walking through and seeing how God responds during times of crisis. Have I ever been guilty of this? Yes. Let’s be real, with all the exciting media we consume through movies & TV shows, I think there’s a part of us as missionaries that think moments of crisis provide much better material to be writing home about and that it might actually garner some attention and prayer.

team

Thank you for your prayers over the team from Pacific Academy! Praise God for their step of faith during their Spring Break.

Yes, while God does bring a community and His children together through difficult times, I strongly believe there is a beauty in the consistent, daily walk of faith as His children. Albeit, those stories may not be as attractive as the ones that involve injustice, corruption and imprisonment – they also contribute greatly to the end game of God bringing shalom to all of creation.

The splendour of our God on display through trials and crisis is amazing, but needs to be placed in the perspective of the overarching plan of redemption. We as sheep cannot let it be the pinnacle of our lives and ministry on the mission field or we will fall into the trap of the enemy and never be a fully effective part of the greater plans and future the Lord desires!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

Zaco1

Praise God for technology to bring past and present together for His Glory!

2. We need to dream big for the Lord and pray expectantly.

The missionary life is full of comings and goings. After this upcoming summer, we as a field here in Bolivia will only have about 20% of the same members from those who welcomed our family upon our arrival in August of 2015. (Maybe we’re the problem!) The reality of this fluidity and changing dynamic on our fields doesn’t only affect our families, children and missionaries – we can never underestimate the impact it has on the many national partners we serve with and build relationships with.

Enter a man named Zacarias or Zaco as we like to call him. He has worked with South America Mission in some capacity since 1987. He was trained up through mission centers and equipped in the Word through a biblical discipleship model and has impacted many lives with the Gospel as the Lord’s redemptive work was done in his own life.

As the years went on, leaders changed, missionaries came and went, but Zaco remained faithful. He put up with all the different leadership styles, not always understanding, but consistently faithful doing his job with integrity. From maintenance, to gardening and even mail pick up, Zaco served missionaries in any way possible that was within his scope of ability, with a heart to help support Kingdom ministry.

As the times changed, things became more automated and a shift took place from more long term missionaries, to short term individuals. Zaco’s responsibilities grew smaller and he began to feel more and more disconnected with the mission as the long-term relationships he once had and cherished slowly disappeared. In addition to this change, Zaco’s wife contracted a chronic disease, which they’ve been fighting together for more than a decade. All this led to a bitter and angry heart in our brother Zaco, one that continued to harden to the point where threats to sue the mission for financial gain were considered.

SAMzaco

The work of God in our lives – 6 months ago, I’m sure this nice gentleman wanted to fight me =)

In August 2016, I, Sam Tse, came in as an excited and hopeful young interim leader without any of that backstory. I arrived to slowly witness an angry elderly man who seemed have the financial future of what I’ve just been handed the reigns to, in his hands with little to no options for a solution at my disposal. “You just need to wait until he passes away,” was some of the wisdom and ‘encouragement’ that I received. Meanwhile, I was forced to watch our mission’s financial situation further deteriorate affecting the very well being of our ministries and was asked not to touch a ticking time bomb in the form of my brother Zaco.

For those of you who know me, I’m not scared of what may appear to be the impossible and I sat Zaco down in my office to better understand the situation. Let’s just say the charm that God has sometimes blessed me with in the past was of zero benefit during that first interaction. If anything it felt like this elderly man wanted to punch me in the face. Once again, the optimist in me didn’t give up and I committed to the Lord to consistently meet with Zaco on the basis that beyond employer and employee our bond begins as brothers in Christ.

Over the next 6 months there were ups and downs, but a mutual understanding began to take place and even greater was the work the Lord was doing in Zaco’s heart. As he opened up about his struggles, frustrations and even fears – The Gospel became our stronghold and hope. I witnessed a hard, bitter heart slowly become soft. Sure, in the corporate world, waiting 6 months for a solution to an important problem isn’t quite acceptable, but this was God’s redemptive work in Zaco’s life and that I had to trust that in keeping in line with His priorities, God would provide a solution for the problem that I inherited.

prayer zaco

A time such as this…a privilege to be able to pray over and walk with our brother Zaco as a community.

Ever so often I would check in with our legal counsel to receive advice and I would ask him the question, “If I could pray for a legal miracle regarding this issue, what would that look like?” Even his answers to me would be lined with doubt, but it didn’t stop me from praying in faith that one day those prayers would become a reality.

You see, this whole time I said I wouldn’t write about my daughter in this blog update, but this is how it all ties together. This burden for the future of our mission and even more so for the heart of a dear brother was one of the items I placed before our Heavenly Father to please take off my plate prior to the birth of my daughter. We welcomed her into this world on the 10th of March and exactly one week beforehand, our dear brother signed a document that legally ended over a decade of risk to the mission in hopes of ending the ‘working’ relationship in a way that would honor God.

I was able to call our lawyer and share of the testimony of the Lord’s work in doing the unthinkable and 2 days before Victoria was born, we were able to acknowledge and pay tribute to the many years of faithful service that Zaco had invested not just into the mission, but into God’s kingdom work.

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

-Psalms 5:3

17240666_10100853083416953_5873795632040222283_o

Victoria Grace Tse – Born March 10th, 2017 – Weighing in at 7lbs 9oz =)

 

Reflecting On His Faithfulness – A Visual Review of 2016

As a new year draws near, I believe reflecting back at how God has worked in and through your life isn’t just a good practice for missionaries, but for each one of His precious children. It provides a reminder of our Savior’s faithfulness, especially during a time where the distractions and busyness of life can wear down on you. To tell you the truth, with my new role as country director for Bolivia, I’ve had to be careful not to get discouraged and fooled by the immense amounts of work that is on my shoulders. Reflecting on how the Lord has worked has been a good practice to lift my head and remember that His burden is light and that He’s in control.

With all that being said, my time is being pressed from all sides so I’m going try an more efficient route and take a visual approach to sharing and reviewing 2016. My prayer is that for y’all, our beloved community, this update will be a testament to how God can accomplish so much more than we can dream or hope for. Thank you for making this all possible with your own acts of obedience and faithfulness in prayer and support!

12525601_10100596773788503_7758511350497637697_o

January 2016: After a rough Christmas of extortion and a car crash, Sam began the year teaching a worldview course at the Santa Christian Learning Center. It was great to see students question their faith & see how a biblical worldview when approached from a logical manner is by far the most solid & comprehensive when it came to answering life’s questions!

February: The journey to legalize Margarita’s medical license continues with lots of paperwork and little progress. That being said, she still sought out ways to use her knowledge and gifting despite her discouragement helping out the local community, organizing medical donations and visiting young women.

February also marks the month of the crazy carnaval celebrations here in Latin America. The perfect opportunity for the local church and school to use the time to gather and invite people to instead focus on the abundant life that Christ offers. (Left: Church camp/retreat & Right: SCCLC family day event)

13138855_10100643788650343_2520435047729091066_n

It was a busy start to the year as well with a FRALIC gathering. Indigenous leaders from around South America gathered here in Santa Cruz Bolivia to hold a conference of equipping and encouraging leaders in the changing context in which the minister. What a beautiful image of the Gospel impacting the global church!

Spring ’16:

IMG_20160227_112528

March brought various events of youth being gathered together. The first 2 weeks we held 2 separate retreats for the Jr. then Sr. high school students we work with. Margarita and Mateo attended the first week, then Sam tagged in to be a councilor for the second week.

IMG_20160313_225126

Right after camp, we had the privilege of hosting and serving with the team from Pacific Academy, while they came down to Bolivia on their Spring Break!

13063245_10100635390320663_2404365780887978534_o

One of the marks we want to be part of our identity is prayer. At our school, we continued this desire by inviting teachers and parents to early Saturday morning prayer meetings to uplift the ministry before the Lord in the midst of the changing and challenging political climate in which we’ve been called to serve.

13055050_10100637077798943_710748566391585063_o

After the school’s coach was let go, guess who got the call to step in…you guessed right. It was a welcomed invite with my passion for investing in young men as well as love for the game. We went from worse team in the league to making it to the Championship game!

13227695_10100650496417923_7404591088159731685_o-1

Spring time back home is actually the cold season here. It was also a season where our Proclama ministry invited various leaders from the local church to a breakfast for the persecuted church. Another step in helping the local church grow from a receiving church to a sending church!

13087176_10100640470225493_1164796379287467514_o

Mateo turned 13 just before summer rolled around and we kept growing and trying to learn how to make ‘abroad’ feel like home =)

Prior to our travels to Canada, Sam helped get our administration and offices here in Santa Cruz, up to date with government reporting. Along with the trip to La Paz, Sam was able to meet some of the leaders of the SEBITES church association with whom we partner in the nation’s capital region.

Summer’ 16!

The start to our summer was what I would describe as another ESPN turning point in our story and journey as missionaries. Prior to our departure, Margarita received all her legalized docs from Colombia…over 500 pages, only to find out that she would be denied the change to legalize her license here until October of 2017 (In hindsight, how perfect is God’s timing with baby Victoria on the way!) With that unexpected news, we headed off to Canada to claim M&M’s permanent residency! 30 hours after landing, all of their documents identifying them as persons in Latin America were stolen from our vehicle and we were left with travel plans and no documents with only 4 weeks to find a solution. God not only provided all the documents to be replaced, but provided work for Sam (and even Mateo) to do during night shifts that paid for all our travels to Asia as Sam attended the 2016 gathering of Lausanne Young Leaders and Mr. Tse shared with his growing family (yes, our baby was conceived by this point!) a part of his heritage and the Gospel’s legacy in our family…in China!

13668681_10100694411072603_3415843845818851143_o

What a blessing from God to share our heritage with Margy and Mateo and for us to see the very place my great grandmother received the Gospel from missionaries in the 1800s! Then to visit the very church my grandmother went back to plan in communist China in the 80s!

13920271_10100702194015523_3037642273140942852_o

After a miscarriage scare in China, we arrived to Indonesia for the YLG conference. We saw our baby girl for the first time via ultrasound and committed to the Lord, despite whatever risks lay ahead in Bolivia (Zika or political) That we’d return to the field together as He had called us. 

Fall 16′

14047234_10100708993214873_8624602359786545813_o

Mid August, the Lord brought us back to the field to kick off a new season of ministry with a new group of missionaries. Sam began his new role as field director for the field of Bolivia and the immense learning process began! Thank you for all your prayers over his life and leadership.

Sam’s leadership involves a lot of learning through relationships and visits. He was invited to the nation’s capital to encourage the local churches and to preach at two different congregations celebrating another year of God’s faithfulness at their churches. It involved a lot of prayer and listening to partners such as our church planters in a marginalized area of the city, plan 3000 and our SAMAIR aviation ministry as we seek how God wants to direct our paths for the future.

14889981_1836735956561685_8667779451899001929_o

With fall, a new school season began. We focused on the persecuted church during a spiritual emphasis kick off week to help the students understand the challenges many other believers face around the world and how we can participate as a global church.

15000859_10100770288847933_6607061596917900940_o

While Sam travelled to the home office in November to present at Board meetings, Margarita exemplified our desire to see South America reached with the Gospel by Latin Americans! Here she is speaking at a missions gathering after 3 months of studying and preparation at a missional theological night course.

Our desire is to see the Gospel become living and through that see communities transformed. What an opportunity we had with families and their kids to impact one of the welfare communities in our city where a single mother would lose her home if she didn’t complete the building in the allotted time.

Winter 16′

15156874_10100780291502533_5638759577575403327_o

Here’s our baby girl who’s about the change our world in the early part of 2017!

The last couple months have been full to say the least. A lot of re-organizing, continued learning and vision casting for our mission here in Bolivia. We need to never rest on our laurels and seek the One who has sent us in order to be faithful to the calling He’s placed on our lives. Sam has been busier than ever…sorry for the less frequent updates and social media posts! Despite all this, we continue to see the God affirm and move in amazing ways.

15585430_10100801700518693_6772020477816951562_o

Instead of legal meetings, leadership gathering and sitting behind a desk – this past month Sam was able to take a hour out each day to disciple young men in the area of their sexuality. What a gift when one young man raised his hand during Sam’s teaching, “Teacher, wait! Does this mean that we as men can be unfaithful emotionally and not just physically?” 

It’s moments like that, which make the sacrifice of ministry so rewarding. When we get to see the truth of God’s word flip a switch in someone’s thinking or even better in their heart!

We have no idea what 2017 has in store for us, but we thank you for your faithfulness this past year in supporting the ministry through your friendship, financial investments and most importantly prayer. May we look to Him with great expectation as He is the One who goes before us and leads us in His redemptive work!

Feliz Navidad and Happy New Years from The Tses in Bolivia!15591458_10100803773165093_2651704850715325744_o

Heartbreakers

15156874_10100780291502533_5638759577575403327_o

Our baby girl @ 25 weeks! What an amazing journey of faith it’s been to lean on our Heavenly Father as we prepare to bring another child into the world!

A man I look up to and in some sense is a mentor to me once said, “Sam, leadership isn’t about not disappointing anyone, but rather wisely choosing whom you will have to disappoint on any given day.” Wow, not the most inspiring words to hear as a young man, but words that are full of experience and truth.

I’m sure you’ve heard me share about how much life has changed since the early days when I first began this blog. From exploring South America for the first time as a 24 year old single man in a coastal Colombian paradise, to now serving with my family in the heart of Bolivia.

Currently, when comparing ministry to that first chapter in Santa Marta of almost spending each waking moment on the streets and with the peoples God called me to, dramatic change can also be observed. I now serve as South America Mission’s strategic director for Evangelism & Discipleship across our fields in addition to my responsibilities as interim country director for Bolivia. One way all this change has affected me is; compared to the days of Colombia, where walking 8 to 12kms in the hot sun was a norm – I can’t eat like I used to! Sheepishly, I’ve admitted to myself that my diet has had to adjust accordingly in avoidance of long-term consequences. I now spend more time behind a desk attending to conference calls, pastoral meetings, sermon prep and a variety of paperwork that is required of me to carry out the work the Lord has called me to during this season.

1507407_10100204190498563_1246169012_o

3 years ago we were officially united as a family. Who knew the adventures God would have in store for us!

You can imagine how much more I now need to lean on our Almighty God to stay faithful to my prayer that expresses, “may ministry never become my mistress.” I began placing this prayer before God as I prepared to lead the family God blessed me with almost 3 years ago. Have I failed? Yes. Has that same desire, to keep my home and family the first ministry God has charged me with, disappeared? No. I’ll tell you the truth; this new level of responsibility to fill two director roles has not come without a learning curve. About a month ago, Mateo woke up to a beautifully pregnant Margarita expressing one Saturday morning, “you’re helping others 24/7, but I need you!” It was a wake up call, because even though I try to be intentional with my family – I need to continue learning to be sensitive to what will always be a dynamic home. It doesn’t come without it’s frustrations (mostly due to my pride), but boy am I glad God gave me a wife in Margarita that rarely ever avoids tough issues and “beating around the bush” isn’t in her lexicon.

Despite all my failures and shortcomings I have seen God’s faithfulness in my meager offerings unto Him as I try to do my best. One such case has taken place over the last six weeks. You all may remember that on June 9th, Margarita & Mateo were able to finally become Canadian permanent residents. It was one more step that God has allowed us to take in becoming a family. The next step for us after registering with all the necessary government agencies was the potential name change of Mateo. An option to change his last name from that which is on his birth certificate, “Romero Campo” to my last name of Tse was only more in focus after the difficulties we had trying to leave Bolivia this past summer. Government rules state that no name changes can be requested until 3 months have passed after receiving PR status in Canada. Therefore with my travels at the beginning of November, we had the opportunity to submit the necessary paperwork if Mateo so desired to change his last name.

If there is one month in recent memory where I’ve felt incredibly vulnerable, it was this past October. Leading up to my trip, Margarita & I approached Mateo letting him know of the opportunity that came with my travels stateside.I never want to take anything away from you, especially if you feel your last name is one of the last things that connects your with you biological father. In the case you do decide you’d like to change your name, would you please write a letter for us sharing why?” You see, for the Canadian government any parent changing their child’s last name needs a hand written letter if that child is between the ages of 12-18. Sure, I could have taken the Chinese dictator position and said, “hey, you live under my roof, eat my food – you do what I say!” and make Mateo write what I wanted him to, but instead I waited and prayed. I struggled during that month and I even caught myself wanting to push Mateo away so he couldn’t hurt me as much. It was crazy, yes I have this baby girl that is growing inside of Margarita, but it was this tan little knucklehead from Colombia that has my heart in his hands.

pk702800005005

“…it was this tan little knucklehead from Colombia that has my heart in his hands.” =)

I’m impatient by nature, just ask my mom – I’ve been like this since my childhood. It wasn’t until 3 days prior to flight northbound, on Halloween morning that Mateo handed us a letter. Well, let me let his letter speak for itself: (*remember, this is a kid who didn’t even speak English three years ago!)

mateo-name-change-lettermateo-name-change-letter2mateo-name-change-letter-3

After reading that, my words cannot add much as Mateo’s letter speaks for itself. Whether it’s leading a field or your own family – what a blessing it is to know our Heavenly Father is in control if you let Him. What peace & joy is available despite our weakness and the only ability we seem to have is to choose ‘whom to disappoint’.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

Grambo is Off The Market!

img-20161015-wa0007-2

Felicidades Graham & Janeen!!!

Missionary life can get hard around times of holiday celebrations or big events when everyone back home is gathering together and you find yourself adjusting to a new land or culture. You know I enjoy technology, so despite the sadness I felt by not being able to be at my best friend’s wedding last night,  a few friends got together an allowed me to encourage him via video. Here’s the message:

 

God Bless Graham & Janeen!

United in His Great Story

Group Picture.jpg

Leaders & mentors united from around the globe through God’s great story #YLG2016

This was the theme that permeated throughout the Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering (YLG) this past summer in Indonesia, but is one that continues to deepen in my own life with each baby step taken before our heavenly Father. It is an understanding that goes beyond the cerebral and into the very fiber of who we are as God’s children going about our daily lives on this earth. We were made for a purpose, a redemptive purpose in this fallen world that is so much bigger than ourselves. The beauty of serving an almighty and sovereign God comes from this unifying perspective. During a time where racial tensions and conflicts abound, His redemptive plan brings us together as God’s beloved children. There is hope for this broken and hurting world, because as Christ followers we know that evil is conquered in the end. That leaves us with a question as we stare in the mirror, “what part am I being invited to play in this grand redemptive story?” A question that we each need to earnestly answer and then live in reflection of our understanding, which is the true privilege of being invited to participate.

Before I continue any further about YLG and the impact my time in Indonesia has had even in the first 6 weeks back in Bolivia, I need to acknowledge someone in my life who has modeled this selfless life of seeking to be obedient to God’s invitation regardless of being a sinful man in a fallen world. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not the most eloquent, gifted or intelligent person by any means. He’ll even be frank that despite his short comings, he’s let his own pride and accomplishments blind himself from the work of the Lord in his life, but it’s that authenticity and refining that the Lord’s done in His life that has spoken louder than he can imagine. He’s demonstrated the transformational power of God’s grace in his own life to me in such real ways, that yes I’m once again in tears as I reflect and write this entry.

IMG_20160724_191533.jpg

Father & Son in the motherland. Thank you pops for always thinking outside of the box when it comes to leading family and seeking God’s purposes!

 

Dad you have aged gracefully and are a testimony to how God’s plan for our lives has no boundaries. When my logic thinks you should save money for your future, without hesitation and godly conviction you blazed forward to share Christ’s love with your daughter in-law and grandson. You hear that YLG was moved from Kiev to Indonesia and there was no question in your mind to share the greater story of God’s work in our family and the heritage we have in him with your newfound family. When I was discouraged by all the obstacles and wanted to give up, you were there to push and encourage me. You gave and gave and gave. Yes, you sacrificed financially without even thinking twice, but you left the love of your life for over a month at a time in your lives when the question marks of health are looming bigger than ever before. You even fought with me on this trip, stood up for us in a country where we understood nothing and took every opportunity, literally even ones that didn’t exist to share God’s love with all those around you.

Mateo Basketball.jpg

What a blessing to be able to explore and share China with my son. @NIKEbasketball courts GuangZhou making friends.

To the world you may appear odd and even some might say crazy, but my family and I know that’s because you understand. You understand that Christ is your first love and it’s only Him that we can find true contentment – so why not go all out, right??? Thank you for sharing with Margarita & Mateo the mother land of China, how missionaries in the 1800s brought the Gospel to our family, and even the country of Indonesia, where you and mom fell in love. Thank you blessing our family with first hand experiences that we could have never have dreamed of, because a family built on His Word is a priority to you. Your execution and ideas might not be traditional, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love, miss and are so thankful for the way you demonstrate a life led by the Spirit to us!

IMG_20160810_125549.jpg

Lausanne YLG 2016

The conference as you may know was the gathering of 2-5 selected representatives from over 160 nations out of thousands of nominees. The first YLG conference took place in 1987, the second in 2006 and by God’s grace I was present at this years gathering. The heart of this gathering did not arise just to gather future leaders in Christian mission work, but to also connect the generations as we seek to be obedient to God’s missional mandate. Allow me to share the heart of the YLG movement in a 4-fold structure:

  1. The Gospel for Every Person
  2. An Evangelical church for every people
  3. Christ-like leaders for every church
  4. Kingdom Impact in every sphere of society

The YLG conference is meant to be so much more than a one-time event. Its purpose is to serve as a springboard for the Younger Leaders Generation (YLGen). YLGen is a ten-year commitment to walk alongside YLG2016 participants through regionally based mentoring, networking, and cutting-edge missional resourcing. The vision for YLGen extends beyond the 1,000 participants at YLG2016 to also connect many more emerging leaders in the generation who are passionately committed to God’s mission.

YLG.jpg

Just a snapshot of God’s global beauty of connecting young leaders through the Lausanne initiative #YLG2016.

From my experience during the 8 days at YLG the most valuable takeaways for me include the inter-generational relationships and connections with other peers in my region and areas of mission influence. In no way am I saying it was not a joy to find rest and being fed from the Word with world class expositors or worshiping together with 160+ different nations, but as a young person the wisdom that is available through older brothers and sisters who have gone before me is priceless. One quote that Ravi Zacharias shared at the conference is, “you are a generation that thinks with your eyes and acts with its feelings!” captures for me one of the greatest weakness of my age group. Yes, we have many strengths and opportunities, but there is wisdom in learning and working together with those who have gone before us. This aspect of the YLG conference is one that I am most appreciative of.

The idea of mentorship wasn’t just a great idea that was thrown out, but rather very intentional time was carved out for you to meet with potential mentors one-on-one to connect and pray over future partnership. I was very blessed to meet two fantastic leaders, Mrs. Anne Grizzle out of Washington, D.C and Mr. Jim Chew from New Zealand, whom already have been quite intentional in keeping in touch to mentor and shepherd me as I grow in leadership. What a gift!

IMG_20160801_110009.jpg

You never know how God’s going to write your story. With pregnancy scares in China who would of thought our first time seeing our baby girl in Indonesia!

How has YLG played a part in the call God has placed on my life as new interim field director for our mission in Bolivia? What I can say is that upon my return to a field that has been ravaged by crisis and injustice over the last 5 years, is that God has given me joy. A joy and an excitement to enter in as country field leader for South America Mission at a time where my worldly perspective would normally just react, “No. This is beyond crazy”. To know that the problems and challenges that face me each day (those I’m aware of and the ones I still have no clue about!) are way bigger than me, but a God who is greater has crafted this as my invitation to participate in such a time as this. As we’ve taken steps forward in this journey, this clearer perspective of joining in, being united in God’s greater story has been more than evident. Through our community the love and encouragement has poured in as we’ve returned to Bolivia with an extra Tse family member in tow. Now through the same accountability and resources that YLG has provided for me as a leader, may I too be serve to be a blessing in the same manner to our field. Thank you for all your support and love, may we continue to be united by Christ’s love in the grand story as we serve together!

img_20160728_135338

Back to landlocked Bolivia, but God let us enjoy a 5 day vacation in the islands of Jakarta this summer! Thankful for all the little and big ways He cares for us.