2017: The Year Ministry Became My Mistress…But Then Did Something About It!

I write this year-end recap from the very room where Margarita as a single mother used to sleep with Mateo and his abuela in two twin beds. Margarita is out visiting with a childhood friend, Mateo is running through the neighborhood as loud music blares in the evening sky and baby Victoria has long been asleep in a crib at the foot of the bed. The water turns from brown to clear every so often as it flows from the showerheads and taps; it’s an interesting setting to say the least, but to be here in this moment is such a gift. The privilege to return to Colombia for Christmas this year with my family after the last 12 months is nothing short of a gift from God and we don’t take it for granted. As much as we hope for needed rest and relaxation following the past year in ministry, we sincerely seek and pray for God to shed light on His next steps for us in ministry as a family. 2017 wasn’t an easy year, but it was full of God’s perfect hand at work in our lives. Finding plane tickets 70% off the very night Mateo and I prayed to see if we could surprise mom following her completion of an intensive workshop is not something we believe is a coincidence.


Christmas In Colombia – A gift to be able to have Victoria meet her great grandmother and extended family!

We concluded our initial commitment in Bolivia with South America Mission this past August, but felt called to commit to at least one more year in helping the mission field recover from years of crisis and loss. Our lives are in our Maker’s hands and we pray this time to disconnect from the busyness that marks our lives back in Bolivia, can provide the space and time necessary to also be still and listen to Him who leads us as we close out 2017 and look ahead. We have no idea what the future holds as we hear the news of doctors protesting against injustice back home being thrown in prison, but we do know and trust the unwavering character and redemptive purposes of our Lord.

2017 was a year marked by a few of the ‘guiding life principles’ my father did his best to instill as I grew up: the importance of family, perseverance in the face of adversity and to have a critical mind, but be a part of the solution. The longer I spend on the mission field, the deeper my appreciation grows for the family God has blessed me with (even as ‘dysfunctional as we were at times) and the difference His redeeming grace made on the security and confidence that I experienced in home life as a child. To say I took it for granted might be an exaggeration, but the truth is I never realized how special it was to grow up in a healthy home.


All this to say, I am thankful to God for providing me with two loving parents that play a huge part in the man I am today, the husband and father who succeeded and failed in so many ways this past year, but was prepared for such a season as the one we just experienced as a family in 2017. Here’s a quick recap of these past 12 months as we express our gratitude for giving us the privilege to serve and live cross-culturally in a missions context as broken, but redeemed children of the living God.

Q1 2017

We kicked off our new year driving 5 hours out of the city with our fellow missionaries to retreat as a body and be fed from the Word of God surrounding the theme of ‘New Beginnings’. It was born of the idea of turning over a new leaf from the crisis response recent past our field had experienced and the regaining of confidence in our almighty Lord instead of operating in fear as a community. Margarita was a trooper at 7 months pregnant with the bumpy roads, but it seems like Victoria likes driving on rough terrain! After those initial 5 days to kick of the year together, I was invited to chaperone and help lead the senior missions/grad trip for the SCCLC students. After sitting in meetings and behind my computer for long stretches in hopes of getting our mission back up to date with its government reporting, the opportunity to travel, share late into the night with students and be the first up each morning was a breath of fresh air. My heart and passion lays investing in young men and women, so while most would have seen the demanding schedule as one that would promote weariness, Margy was happy to see her husband return home refreshed and recharged.

Margy turned over her role as campus doctor as she was mandated to bed rest near the end of her pregnancy, but continued to stay busy with online courses in the areas of health and nutrition. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was trying to take advantage of the last moments before Victoria entered our lives and the unknown change that was about to come. I was speaking at Youth Mission rallies, preaching in various cities, coaching basketball and as serving as the president of the SCCLC board to help establish a new governance policy manual to reflect the Vision and direction God has developed for that ministry. While trying to manage all this and my interim role as field leader for Bolivia, deep prayer and reflection led me to step down from the role of Strategic Director for the areas of Evangelism and Discipleship for the South America region. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the desire to help focus my efforts on improving on the ground ‘front lines’ ministry provided a God given peace about the decision.


Enjoying the increase God has blessed the Tse Family with this year! =)

March 10th, the long awaited arrival of Victoria finally came at 8:10pm that night. Señora Oliva, Margy’s mom and Mateo were with us that day at the local clinic and it was a surreal moment. From the significance of her name that God gave us during a time of being robbed and receiving frustrating news, to the role God has had for her in the healing in Margy’s life – it has all been incredible. I don’t want to make any parents out there irritated by saying my daughter sleeps through the night and is full of joy, but she has been an absolute blessed addition in so many ways to our lives and home.

Q2 2017

As much of a planner as I am, life on the mission field always throws curve balls. Seriously, I’m the type of guy that had his taxes done the second week of January in anticipation of Victoria’s birth so as it not to be a distraction, but rather a clinical procedure to just electronically submit the first day online filing opened up. 5-days before a short-term missions team arrived to Bolivia, yep I was called upon to lead, coordinate and care for them. I did it with joy, because it’s what I love doing, but there were moments where the lack of resources both human and financial on the mission field caused us frustration and anger this past year. In the first week of my daughter’s life there were days where I was home for only minutes to see her before having to run off and tend to other duties. This really spoke to the brokenness of our field that had experienced, but also what drove us to commit to help be a part of the change in culture and direction for our mission here in Bolivia.

The truth of that last statement is that I fulfilled one of my worst fears earlier this year that I had prayed against prior to getting married. I never wanted ministry to become my mistress, but with all the hurt and brokenness I saw around me, I let it happen. There was so much to do and instead of realize my own limitations and humanness I wanted to soldier on, be an example and try fix some of the systemic problems in any way I could. I fell into one of the enemy’s traps for those in ministry; I lost sight of my primary ministry, which is my home. Our marriage suffered because of my long hours and when Margy received me with cold and angry arms (because of my error in priorities) I only threw myself deeper into my work.


Treat to be able to have opportunities to also coach a sport I love and my son at the same time!

This was all leading up to the conclusion of our initial 2-year term commitment in Bolivia before potentially being reassigned, but with the return of our director in question and with all the work undone I could only pray to ask God to convince my wife to stay in Bolivia. I had given her very little reason during the months of March-June to want to stay beyond our initial commitment, so I literally sat down and said to God, “If you want us to stay here, you’re going to have to move mountains and be the one that convinces Margarita. I’m committed to serve You in ministry Lord, but I don’t think that means I need to sacrifice my marriage and drag Margarita along. We entered marriage with the vision of serving together and despite how bad things are, I still pray that you will fulfill that vision!”

Whaddyaknow? Margarita approaches me one day and says, “you know we can’t just leave when Dan (former field director for Bolivia) returns. You can’t just throw everything back on him, that’s not right and we need to stay and help.” This is what I fell in love with. A woman who has every right to declare that she wants out of Bolivia and that I’ve led poorly in our marriage and ministry together, shares her thoughts and beliefs out of a deep fear and reverence for our Almighty God. #humblewifebrag

Q3 2017

Kirk Ogden, South America Mission’s Executive director flew down to help discuss potential leadership transition following Dan’s return. It was projected that I would step in as the new Field Director, but I only accepted based on one condition. Realizing the damage I was doing to my family as interim field leader and examining all the responsibilities and roles that our policy manual outlined for the field leader, I asked for the authority to re-write and re-structure field leadership policy. In short, I was asking the authority to build a team. After examining all the responsibilities, it appeared to me that only a very few select individuals would ever be able to handle all the pastoral, cultural orientation, legal and even financial roles that are outlined and that a team of individuals with different gifts might be a more appropriate structure.


I don’t know how she does it caring for a new born baby, but she manages to put together workshops, share her testimony and impact lives with a passion God has given her!

This is exactly what we did during the third quarter of this past year. Develop, implement, assess and adjust what will hopefully be a healthier model of leadership on our field that could potentially be a blessing for other fields. We envision a structure that allows for redundancy to occur so that the whole system doesn’t breakdown when the unexpected happens and to help facilitate the training of future leaders. We’ve just begun what we hope is the rebuilding a culture of excellence and accountability that is focused on the Gospel. We’re still working things out, but my team of Dan (the former director) and John Bremer (retired Air Force colonel) is one that I am thankful to serve with in this next season of ministry as field director for Bolivia.

Q4 2017

This quarter has sort of been the ESPN turning point of the year and I hope looking back one day that is remains as so. Margarita and I were given the opportunity to join a weekly marriage group to work on our relationship in September and it was an answer to our prayers. I shared to our field the very first week that it was presented that I potentially would serve in the new role of Field Director about our struggles in the past year and hoped our transparency in weakness, but also God’s power through grace would serve as the platform for my leadership. The course just concluded a few weeks ago and it has helped us get to a much healthier place along with identifying some of the harmful habits we had engaged in and how to replace them with fruitful ones that will be a blessing to our children.


Blessed to not just celebrate another year of life that God has given me, but also another one of marriage with this amazing woman!

God also opened doors as Margy bounced back from her pregnancy with astonishing results. Her passion for nutrition, educating others and crafting her lessons around the redeeming work of God in her life brought invitations from local fitness centers. She masterfully has performed a few workshops around the city, inspiring women and men about the gift our bodies are from God and how to care for them – it has been an unexpected opportunity for ministry, especially in light of the recent government attacks on it’s countries own medical doctors

As October wrapped up I flew to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, to hand in the last of our reports and bring our mission here in Bolivia all up to date with their mandated requirements. We headed into November and our new leadership team flew to the home office in the Carolinas for our annual leadership gathering and S.A.M board meeting. We were able to present some of our struggles; victories and vision for our ministry context in Bolivia and the Board of South America mission official approved my role to serve as the Field director for Bolivia. Upon returning, we received my parents for two weeks, as they were able to celebrate various occasions with us, but most importantly meet their grand daughter for the first time!


Thankful for these 2 amazing parents God has given me. What a treat to see them meet their grand daughter after 8 months of waiting!

We worked hard to end the year well as I also am serving as part time administrator for our field, (please pray for God to send more excellent workers, the harvest is plentiful!) and as Mateo wrapped up his last final exam on the 22nd, we were able to fly out to be with family here in Colombia for Christmas!

I’ve only been able to skim quickly over the year God has given us and brought us through in 2017, but I pray it serves as a token of our appreciation to all of you who have prayed, encouraged and given out of your generosity to give us this privilege. We are all called to serve as Christ’s ambassadors wherever we are at, for this season Bolivia has been that context for our family and we are grateful for His faithfulness each step of the way. May you all have a fantastic and rich time closing out 2017 tonight and from Colombia the Tse Family wishes you all a Feliz Año Nuevo!


Champagne Taste with Lemonade Money


Thank you for all your support and prayers. God brought our son home and his sister was thrilled to Mateo back that first morning.

I often think we can observe people with passions that cause them to act in a way that is peculiar or even crazy to the outside perspective. That same ‘craziness’ which can drive some people nuts is also the trait that proves to be attractive to others. One of the things about me that I know that has irked my wife is my ‘optimism’. Optimism in the sense of dreaming big for a better and amazing future, despite how bleak the current situation may be. At the same time, I know full well it is also what attracts her to me as I seek to be obedient to God’s redemptive call in and through our lives.


Shalom as the bible speaks of for all of creation one day, fills my head full of amazing imagery. With a childlike imagination, you can only guess how my mind may fantasize and see the potential, even if it only scratches the surface of how deep the goodness and design of our God for His universe is. Some days, this can seem crazy, really crazy for Margarita when we witness injustice, blatant corruption and brokenness around us as we serve here in Bolivia. While we call this place home during this season in our lives, but it still remains a foreign land where many of the accepted norms seem so incredulous to us.


Beauty from ashes – it’s been a journey, but Margy is using her passion for health to build bridges and educate others on the body God gave us #blessfitness

In 2015, we arrived to the mission field here in Bolivia as a family during a season of crisis and disorder. To be honest, some of it was due to the changing political climate and the difficulties as a Christian mission learning how to adjust, but another part can be attributed to our lack of intentionality towards positive change with the possibility of a longing for how things were. In either case, the bleak context in which we found ourselves as missionaries ultimately came down to the consequences of sin.

Sin. The very reason we should be here right? Not to let it shape our perspective or leave us jaded, but rather to be vessels of God’s love and truth that turns sin on its head! I think the transitions we’ve witnessed first hand over the last two years might be hard to imagine, but out of the original 37 men, women and children that were serving here when we landed just over 2 years ago, only 5 of them were in country as we completed our 2 year term last month. Five. That’s a little crazy if you think about it as you’re not even accounting for all the history and experience that left this country in the form of career missionaries, but also the general lack of resources, both human and financial that exists in missions worldwide.

Margy teaching

She may not be able to practice medicine, but she can empower students at the local Evangelical University! (They all thought she was a new student=P)

Now you can picture a little better the overall frustration for Margarita in coming to Bolivia to serve. Not only does she still not have her medical license recognized by the government in order to serve through medical missions as per her advertised purpose in coming here, but the promise of a team and mentors also quickly vanished due to varying circumstances. Couple that with a husband who keeps trying to encourage and see a better future ‘if we just do our small part to be obedient in the present’ and you can imagine some of the many conversations we’ve engaged in over the last 2 years.

After only 5 months of living in this new country as a missionary, I was asked to serve as the interim field chair and received very little orientation when my time came to actually step in and do the job. I had to learn on the fly, and despite the frustrations and feelings of being lost, I knew deep down that the Lord didn’t place us in this situation by accident, but rather He had been refining and preparing us for the challenge all along.


Can you believe this munchkin is 6 months tomorrow!

Many of you know we travelled last year and prayed about returning to Bolivia after discovering the good news that Margy was pregnant while weighing the risk of returning to South America with the Zika situation. We even struggled through that decision following our returning, when one ultrasound check up showed Victoria’s head circumference had dropped from over the 60th percentile down to below the 3rd. Nonetheless through the struggles of transition and personal suffering, God sustained us and allowed us to see a little of His plan for our field. Shalom. Not just for our field, but for this country.

“We keep going because brokenness still mars the beauty of God and the people He loves and created.” Earlier this year as Margarita and I looked ahead to our initial 2-year term coming to an end and the Field Director for Bolivia returning after 14 months of Home Ministry Assignment in the States. Margy approached me and said something I never would have expected. There were times during our first 18 months here where Margy wanted to purchase one-way tickets back to Canada or to Colombia, but she said, “When Dan (our field director) comes back, you know we can’t just move and leave him all alone with the task of caring for this field? I can only commit to one year at a time, but we need to stay and continue to be a part of the change.”

I guess my craziness and optimism rubbed off on her a little! I will be honest, there was so much to try and tackle over the last year, from non-functioning leadership teams, broken finances and legal paperwork that span a decade prior to my arrival and even a lack of accountability or awareness of our ministries, that I chose wrong at times and placed the ministry over the love and care of my own wife. She saw me pour myself into trying to be a part of working towards a better future that God had painted for me over this field and country, and while it drove her nuts, it also inspired her despite my failings as a husband. I thank the Lord for His grace and mercy over us. Your prayers over this last year have helped us endure and bring us to this point.


I may stick out like a sore thumb, but I continue to be amazed at what God can do when we are available to be used for His Glory!

This past Wednesday, it was officially announced that I would serve as our field’s new country director for South America Mission. While in reality my role won’t change too much from what I was engaged it over the past 12 months, the quote, “the longer I serve my God, I realize how big He is and that I’m not Him,” resonated as I found the need around me, much greater than my capacity more often than not. That being said, going forward we will restructure field leadership to be comprised of a team, because despite the lack of human resources on the field we know we need each other in this battle to support, care and sharpen one another if we desire to move forward in a wise manner. My prayer is that with this new leadership team, we can honor God in excellence as we continue to serve here and be a part of bringing God’s Shalom to His creation. Oh, and surprise, surprise, the good Father has been faithful too. As of the writing of this update, we now have an exciting team of 35 children, women and men who are faithfully serving God here with their lives and for the sake of the cross.

There is still much work to be done, but we have that vision of God’s Shalom for all of creation as our guaranteed future. In the world of missions it may seem like we only have lemonade money compared to outside world, but when you serve the almighty God, I think it’s good practice to operate with champagne taste. After all, Jesus Himself was considered outrageous, crazy and controversial in His time on earth, but to this day He remains astonishingly attractive in a dark and broken world.

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Blessed to serve alongside this team. Please keep us in your prayers as we do our best to answer the call in a manner that is worthy!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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:



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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

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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.


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


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.


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


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!


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)


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:


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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′


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.


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.


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′


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.


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



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.


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.


“…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!)


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