June 2021

I’m pleased to announce that plans for the transition house are progressing nicely. Last month the ministry was approved by the state of California as a non-profit organization. The official name of the ministry is “La Casa de Rut,” or in English, “Ruth’s House.” 

I chose the name Ruth’s House because it evokes themes of love, dedication, accompaniment, and worshiping God in unity. Ruth told Naomi: “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Ruth’s House will not only offer a physical place for the young women from Talita Cumi to sleep and eat, but a home where they will be guided spiritually, emotionally, and relationally as they pursue their educational goals. This guidance will be done by a live-in guardian based on the Titus 2 model of an older, mature Christian woman guiding younger women.

A board of directors for Ruth’s House has been formed which includes me and:

Alex Rivero: Executive Pastor at Nueva Vida/The Bridge. Nueva Vida is my sending church.

Amber Schlosser: Director of Development for My Refuge House, an organization that restores survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse in the Philippines. I used to work with Amber at Salem Media Group.

Gretchen Wagner: Missionary who served 40+ years reaching the unreached in Cochabamba, Bolivia and South Asia.

Jennifer Fowler: U.S. Board Member of Talita Cumi, and my mother.

Warren Nelson: Vice President of Pacific Southwest Association of The Gideons.

I am excited with the team that will be leading Ruth’s House through the initial launch and hopefully for years to come. Each one brings a distinct God-given skill set that will serve the young women and the ministry well. 

Please pray over three very important decisions that must be made regarding Ruth’s House. The first is a place for the young women to live. I am hoping to find a place close to Talita Cumi.

The second is the raising of funds. I’m thankful for those of you who reached out to me after my last newsletter expressing an interest in donating. This month we should have everything in place to begin receiving donations. I will let everyone know once that component is up and running.

The third prayer request is for the live-in guardian. I believe that this is the most crucial part of the entire ministry, so please pray for wisdom and discernment as the board and I seek to find a woman to guide the girls.

I’d also like to ask for your help in the immediate. I need someone who would be willing to volunteer his or her time this month to help me launch a website for Ruth’s House. I already have the domain name reserved and a significant amount of the content, but I need someone who has expertise in WordPress to help me create a professionally polished website. If this is something that you can do, please respond to this email. Thank you.

We’ve had a number of exciting days at Talita Cumi. I’ll leave you with a few of the highlights: 

We recently had a garage sale that featured baked bread products, chocolates, and drinks, and also arts and crafts like bracelets, purses, pillows, and necklaces, and items like coffee cups, water bottles, and t-shirts from our new silk screen printing workshop. All profits go to each child’s personal account. 

A fellow missionary and I treated some of the older girls out to a coffee shop with its own art gallery. The girls loved it.

I treated a few kids to ice cream in celebration of our first place win in a competition.

Thank you for your prayers. I will be returning to the U.S. in July for a visit. I realize that COVID might be a complicating factor, but I’d love to see as many of you as possible.

May 2021

I would like to bring you up to date on a very new and thrilling ministry development.
Approximately a year and a half ago the Lord opened my eyes to a serious, unaddressed need in the lives of the children at Talita Cumi: those who age out of the children’s home at 18 years old lack a comprehensive transition plan. Returning to their families is not an option and few foster families are willing to take them in. We struggle nearly every year to find a safe and loving home for the children to live. As a consequence, too many children leave Talita Cumi (and children’s homes in general) and lack firm spiritual, emotional, and financial support to survive in the real world. Too many of these young adults make poor decisions that perpetuate their poverty and put them back into abusive relationships. The Lord placed this burden on my heart.
After careful consideration, prayer, and conversation with my close confidants, pastor, and ministry partners, I’ve decided to launch a new ministry that will provide a transition house for girls who are leaving Talita Cumi. Starting in 2022, eight girls will leave the home over a five-year period.
My mission is to provide a safe and loving home for young women who have graduated from Talita Cumi and guide them in Jesus Christ to become spiritually, emotionally, and financially self-sufficient and independent while they pursue their educational, relational, and career-related goals.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that those of you who are supporting me with offerings and prayer will join me on this new journey. You are the body of Christ to me, and without your partnership I would not be able to launch and sustain this project.
This coming July I will step down from my responsibilities at El Alfarero (where I teach English) and I will be serving more actively at Talita Cumi while working to launch the new ministry. This project involves several parts, and I have a few key prayer requests that I’d like to share with you:
1. I am currently applying for a non-profit 501c3 designation in the United States so that I can start to raise funds for the project. Please pray that this paperwork process goes smoothly and quickly.
2. Please pray that we can find a house to rent close to Talita Cumi.
3. Please pray for a Christian woman or family who will feel led to live with the girls and love them as their own daughters.
I’ve been asked about whether a transition house is in the works for the boys. At this point, no, because there are far fewer older boys at the home than girls and the oldest boy at the home now doesn’t turn 18 until late 2023.
Thank you for your partnership and helping to make this moment possible. I look forward to sharing new details with you as the process unfolds.
Blessings and grace be with you,

The children made a sign and cards for me for my birthday.
A few of the children are learning how to use Adobe Premiere in our new serigraphy (silk printing) room. The children will learn how to print logos on items like coffee cups and t-shirts.
It has been raining a lot lately.

April 2021

The biggest news of March was the 20th anniversary of Talita Cumi. It was a delightful night full of worship songs, special messages from children and adults, a skit, a dance, and a quartet from the children, and people from the U.S. joined us via Zoom. One of the most pleasant reflection points was considering how many people, by the grace of God, have given so much to the home in its 20 years: the numerous aunties, directors, volunteers, short term missionary groups, long term missionaries, board members, donors and prayer warriors. Talita Cumi exists by God’s mercy and it was astonishing to consider how collaborative the effort has been. My sense of the home now is that it is on track for more profound spiritual growth for the children and more exciting educational opportunities as well. For example, the home recently built a serigraphy room for the children where they can learn and develop the skill of silk screen printing: putting logos on hats, t-shirts, and coffee cups.

The children continue to learn by Zoom, and are receiving a burdensome amount of homework. Fortunately, we’ve been able to take them on trips to the river and the park on the weekends so they can run around, explore, and enjoy nature.

My ministries at El Alfarero (The Potter) continue to march forward virtually. I’m currently team-teaching a course called “Transformational Discipleship.” It’s a two-month course that I teach every year. It focuses on what it means to be a disciple of Christ and how to disciple others. It also includes a rigorous, inductive study of 1 Thessalonians, which is one of my favorite components of the class.  

In the spirit of the 20th anniversary celebration, I’d like to thank all of you who continue to pray and support the children’s home. Thank you, and grace be with you.

March 2021

February was a month of settling back into a more normal routine. 

As I mentioned before, El Alfarero has launched a missionary school called Ayla that equips Latin Americans for the missions field. As a part of the students’ education, they are required to take English classes. I’m currently teaching six students who recently finished their first of five modules. I am pleased with their grammatical advancement, but I’m even more glad for their deepening spiritual formation. I asked the students to reflect upon how the biblical sections in the English curriculum have changed their walk with the Lord thus far. Here are a couple of responses:

“My relationship with God has diversified because now I try to understand his Word in another language, but I want to continue to feel in my heart the same sense that I have when I read it in my native language. Biblical texts have been key because I delight in reflecting on the message they present about Jesus and the attributes of Our Father.” (Cindy from Columbia)

“I thank God for this ministry that not only deals with the intellectual part, but is also reflective on the spiritual part, incorporating verses in its teaching. One of the passages that touched me the most is that of Psalm 1 because I want to continue to be a blessing for others, my family, and the pastors and missionaries that we support.” (Yvan from Bolivia)

The children at Talita Cumi are in full school mode. Most of their schooling is via Zoom and they work on their homework in the afternoon with on site educators. Their education spans from English and French to mathematics and natural science. Some of the girls are going to a nearby institute to learn the art of tailoring, like Ana in the photo below.

My time with the older boys has grown and intensified, not just through extracurricular activities like sports, work outs, and shared meals around the dinner table, but also through devotionals, mentorship, and other intentional one on one chats. I find that one of the greatest struggles the boys have is knowing how essential a relationship with Jesus is to their lives in the here and now. There are numerous frustrating moments, but also miraculous breakthroughs.

For example, a nine-year-old boy recently shared with me how sad he is about the death of his mother. He told me that when he’s sad, he prays to God. I prayed for him and reminded him of Jesus’ love. A 13-year-old boy recently insulted one of the younger boys in a most destructive way, but then of his own accord sought forgiveness not only from the boy he hurt, but also from others at the home. These unexpected heart inclinations of seeking help from God in prayer and seeking reconciliation through forgiveness remind me that the advancement of the kingdom of God is often invisible to our eyes and so often blessedly inexplicable: “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.” (Mark 4:26-27) 

Please continue to pray for my English students’ language studies and that one day they would proclaim the gospel with all conviction and boldness in other areas of the world. Please pray for the salvation of the children and that all of the workers and I at the home would be given spiritual wisdom and boundless patience to love the children.

February 2021

There is a lot to be thankful for in the month of January. Last month my parents and I painted three bedrooms and the living room in the boys’ house. Several of the boys were excited to participate in the process as well, not only painting, but sanding walls and cleaning the ceilings of cobwebs. The result is a warm atmosphere with fresh, vibrant colors and Bible verses. Here are some before and after pics:

Three middle-aged boys sleep in this room. Juan Pablo on the left helped out a lot. On the right side is Luke, a missionary who did the artwork. The verse says, “Nothing will separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39)

The little boys sleep in this room. The verse says “I can do all things in Christ.” (Philippians 4:13)
Some of the youngest boys painting their living room.

Next Tuesday marks the day of my parents’ departure and their 65th straight day in Santa Cruz. In that time, we split all 28 of the children at the home into seven groups that we invited over to my house for games, a snack, pool time, and conversation. It was a unique time to get to know the children better on a more individual basis. We listened to the children’s dreams and reminded them of their worth in Christ.

Now that the dust has settled from the holidays and the children are returning to school (via Zoom) my vision is to carry on with the mentorship of the older boys. I will be focusing on teaching them about what it means to be a man of God: walking courageously with Jesus, protecting the defenseless, lifting up the downtrodden, and learning how to be a strong and humble leader. Please pray that the Lord gives me wisdom in this area and that the boys’ hearts are opened to the truths of Scripture.

The Talita Cumi team, my parents, and I.

I am excited to announce that El Alfarero launched its missionary school called Ayla. Ayla’s mission is to provide transcultural training for Latinos in accordance with the heart and character of Christ. We train Latinos in Bolivia and beyond who will take the gospel to far flung areas of world. My part in this training is to teach English. I am instructing six students representing two cities in Bolivia and another from Colombia.

My dream is that one day my students will bring someone to the Lord utilizing the English skills that they learned and developed in the course. Please pray that I can stay creative teaching with Zoom and that my students not only advance in their ability to speak English, but also are challenged and grow in their faith through the course.

Thank you for your continued prayers. My sincere hope is that one day some of you will be able to visit me in Bolivia and share in the joy of serving at the children’s home, Talita Cumi, and witness firsthand all of the exciting work being done at El Alfarero.

January 2021

After a most extraordinary year that saw a pandemic touch and transform nearly every area of our lives, and for many brought significant challenges and sadness, I’d like to take a moment and share with you the ways that I’ve witnessed the Lord’s mercies in my ministries in 2020:

~ The Lord protected all of the children at Talita Cumi from the virus and restored to full health two of the tías who contracted COVID.
~ A number of the tías’ husbands were out of work due to the pandemic, but the generosity of donors made possible a disbursement of bonuses to keep their families afloat.
~ The national quarantine put in grave jeopardy the survival of El Alfarero, but thanks to the generosity of donors, the organization continues to move forward and minister to the community.
~ El Alfarero developed curriculum and formed a team for a missionary school that will receive a partial launch this year and a full implementation in 2022.

I am grateful for all of your “above and beyond” donations and prayers that lifted up so many children and ministry partners the past year. 

In December we carried out a successful shoe campaign for the kids.



Christmas was a festive time for all of the children. They decorated Christmas trees and the home with their own handmade crafts and had a big Christmas dinner. The children sang songs and dramatized the birth of Jesus.

Christmas play about the birth of Jesus.
The girls performed a special song.

Christmas in Bolivia is typically celebrated with loads of food (pork, beef, chicken, rice, vegetable salads, potatoes, and much, much more) late on the 24th, countless fireworks at midnight, and then hugs, kisses, and gift opening around 12:30 AM. All of the children from Talita Cumi spent Christmas outside of the home, mostly with the tías’ families. My parents and I hosted six children (two sets of three siblings).

Christmas dinner with Jhon, Yamil, Yessica, Geraldine, Jennifer, and Benjamin.

My parents have enjoyed their time with the children: swimming, playing at the park, eating snacks and meals, making Christmas decorations, and playing sports. 

My mom (in pink) making Christmas decorations with the girls.

Thank you for sustaining me in the Lord with your prayers and offerings. I pray Paul’s prayer for the Philippians over you: that “God will meet all of your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” in this year, 2021. 

Grace be with you,


December 2020

I hope that all of you had a pleasant Thanksgiving with family and friends.
The last six weeks at Talita Cumi have been some of the hardest that we’ve experienced since I started volunteering at the home two and a half years ago. In the space of six weeks, we received five new children, all of whom were transferred from another children’s home that the state shut down due to widespread abuse. The prior home provided no structure or discipline for the children, meaning that we inherited children who are behind in their studies and chafe at carrying out basic responsibilities and respecting authority. Three of the new children ran away, but thank God we found them within 24 hours. Please pray for these little ones (aged 9-11) who are struggling to adapt to our home and are acting out. Our mission remains the same: to love and protect them and teach them about Jesus Christ. It’s a tough road right now, but we trust in God’s mercy and providence: “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

Carmelo (left) and Efren (middle) ran away from the home together.

Another tough moment was the premature departure of two children due to grave misconduct. While I am in agreement with their removal, it did not make saying goodbye easy. Although they have been removed from our influence and safe keeping, I am comforted by the fact that despite all trials and tribulations in life, Jesus never abandons those entrusted to his care: “I shall lose none of those He has given me” (John 6:39).

Matías (left) was removed from the home. I hope to visit him in his new children’s home during Christmas time.

Despite the great challenges faced at the home, I’ve seen great strides in educational capacities and spiritual growth in the children. A number of them express a greater desire to know and pursue a relationship with the Lord. One young boy recently told me that he’s concerned for his family members because they don’t know Jesus and are not ready for the second coming. With respect to their education, many of the children are participating in special workshops and online courses related to photography, graphic design, computer skills, and English, while two of the older children are participating in internships outside of the home.

A few children were treated to ice cream for their educational achievements this year.

One particularly special moment was having the older boys over to my home to talk about sexual purity. This was the first of additional monthly chats that we’ll have as part of the mentorship program. In the future I’d like to touch on other topics like biblical manhood, personal identity in Christ, and the fruit of the Spirit.

A chat about sexual purity with the older boys.

In regard to my work at El Alfarero, next January I will be teaching English as part of the missionary school that we are launching. Enrollment is open to Bolivian missionaries, ministry leaders in Santa Cruz, and anyone else beyond our borders who desires to be sent out as a missionary. It’s exciting to see how Bolivia once was a receiving nation and is now transitioning to a sending one. It’s a joy to participate in that transformational process.

The team that will be leading and teaching at the missionary school.

Please pray for wisdom and clear direction as we launch this new missionary program. Thank you and grace be with you.

November 2020

My prayers are with you as you head to the polls today to vote. Bolivia recently held a presidential election that has cast a dark shadow over parts of the nation. Even though Evo Morales has been living in exile due to election fraud last year, his party still won the recent presidential election. This means that his former economic minister will be installed as the next president, and Morales has promised to return from exile on November 11. Numerous residents of Santa Cruz claim that the recent election was fraudulent and have set up blockades throughout the city, which has significantly stymied traffic. Please pray for the nation as it moves forward in this time of uncertainty.
Talita Cumi endured great challenges last month. One child was removed from the home due to behavioral issues and three new children arrived (two brothers and a sister). The arrival of three new children has been exciting, but was somewhat overshadowed by the oldest brother running away from Talita Cumi, escaping to his former children’s home. Thank God we found him within 24 hours and he is safe, but he has still yet to return to Talita Cumi due to the bureaucratic process involved.

Below you can see Efren (9 years old, far left) and his brother Neymar (10 years old, far right) reading the story of David and Goliath. Neymar escaped from the home.

Efren, skipping rope below, has adjusted more quickly to the home. Please pray that the brothers and their sister come to a salvation in Jesus Christ.

The brothers’ sister, Lisvania, (11 years old, with the pink and red flowers in her hair) seems to be doing just fine. She’s making new friends and learning her way around the home.

One delightful experience was the celebration of Ana’s quinceañera (15th birthday party) which is one of the most special birthday parties for a girl.

On an entirely different note, last week I filed my paperwork to become a permanent resident of Bolivia. If all goes according to plan, I should receive my permanent residency within three weeks. Indefinite residency gives me more freedom of travel, broader legal rights, and the ability to obtain a driver’s license that would allow me to drive larger vehicles with up to 10 passengers (such as the vehicle at Talita Cumi). The residency visa also strengthens my ties to Bolivia. I can cast larger visions and invest more confidently in long term ministry goals and projects. Please pray that this paperwork goes through and that I receive my indefinite visa.
I’ve decided not to return to the United States this year. The ongoing pandemic would complicate my ability to meet with supporters, my church, friends, and family. As many of you are aware, I hold an annual Bolivian-themed get together, and the virus would make that and other reunions quite difficult and potentially dangerous. I’ll miss seeing all of you, but I’m considering a month-long visit in July of 2021.  
Thank you for following my updates. I appreciate your prayers and continued words of encouragement. Grace be with you.

October 2020

September was a good month. I mentioned in my last newsletter that I was going to launch a new mentorship program for the older boys at the children’s home Talita Cumi. The mentorship program is called Jethro, named after Moses’s father-in-law who guided him through a burdensome era with the Israelites. The program is underway and I’m already seeing good results. I’m mentoring the two oldest boys at the home: Luis (17 years old) and Lider (15 years old). Please pray that as the mentoring continues our trust will deepen, the Lord will grant me wisdom, and the boys can grow in godly maturity.

Lider (far right) is one of the boys that I’m mentoring. In this picture he’s giving a presentation for Santa Cruz’s Independence Day.

We recently held a wonderful evening for the older girls at the home called “For Princesses Only.” It was a gala event that reminded the girls of their preciousness before Christ. He is the King of Kings and that makes them princesses. The specific message of the evening revolved around guarding one’s heart (Proverbs 4:23). Each girl received a rose, a card with encouraging words, and was prayed over by a tío or tía at the home.

I’m praying over Geraldine (13 years old).

The children rarely leave the home due to the ongoing pandemic, so a recent adventure to a retreat center was very welcome. The children rode a zip line, played soccer and volleyball, and swam in the pool.

I continue to teach English at the children’s home. The children have learned greetings, numbers, telling time, and adjectives. They’ve nearly completed memorizing John 3:16 and my desire is to move onto other verses in the future. The kids are excited to speak English with their sponsors and other visitors from the U.S.

My work for El Alfarero continues from home due to the pandemic measures. I’m working on English curriculum that will be part of a missionary course sending Bolivians and other Latin Americans around the world. Mission agencies are already expressing a lot of interest in the program. Please pray that we can launch this project next January.

Please keep Bolivia in your prayers as the presidential election nears (October18). It is a deeply divided nation and a lot hinges on the outcome. This will be the first election since the dictator Evo Morales was removed from power a year ago. Please pray for a peaceful transition of power. 

Thank you for your prayers.

September 2020

So much has happened since my last update that it’s tough to know where to begin. I started teaching English classes at the children’s home, Talita Cumi. I have one class of four boys and another class of six girls. I asked them why they want to learn English and their answers were a pleasant surprise. Many children responded that they want to speak English with their sponsors in the United States and Canada, and communicate with mission teams that come down to the home. A few children also said that they would like to get a better job later in life and travel. Right now we are focusing on learning common words, basic grammar, and memorizing John 3:16.

The children have been cooped up in the home since mid-March due to the pandemic and the quarantine. Although they can’t leave, they’re staying busy with online courses and other virtual workshops. In addition to playing soccer, volleyball, and tag in the courtyard, the home recently acquired a 12-foot trampoline. The children jump on it constantly. Even I get on it with the kids, bouncing them well above my 6’3 height!

I’m excited to share that I will be launching a mentor program at the home. A pastor and I will be mentoring five older boys (ages 13-17) one day per week. Once a month all of us will gather together to discuss challenging topics like personal identity, dating, and manhood. Please keep this project in your prayers as we need wisdom, discernment, and perseverance. My vision is to expand the mentorship to the older girls in the future, pairing them with their own female mentors.

I continue to teach an online course, Transformational Discipleship, with other team members from El Alfarero. I also continue to develop curriculum for an English course for Bolivian missionaries that will launch next year. One recent update is that I will be teaching one of the two courses. I’m pleased to help play a role in sending out Bolivian missionaries.

Please continue to keep the children of Talita Cumi and El Alfarero in your prayers. Times are still difficult with a grave economic slump due to the quarantine and severe medical challenges. Adjusted for population, Bolivia’s death rate is twice that of the United States. Moreover, we are in a heated and violent election season. Please keep the nation in your prayers. If you’re interested in learning more about the political clashes and pandemic turmoil, read this NY Times article.

On a more pleasant note, we recently celebrated Bolivia’s 195th anniversary of its independence.

Thank you for your prayers. If you support me financially, you should have received an email from Mission Stream apprising you of updates to their website. If you have any difficulty logging into your donation account, please let me know. Thank you!