By Courtney Mathos, missionary to Bolivia
My language school teacher recently took me to her hometown of Patamanta, Bolivia, which is about 30 minutes outside of La Paz with a population of about 3,000. Most of the people are of Aymara descent and speak both Spanish and Aymara. Because of its location and altitude, the climate can be very harsh in Patamanta, with a strong heat but also stinging cold. While there, I wore a t-shirt, sweater, and vest during the day and a heavy jacket in the evenings. To sleep, I wore slipper socks, sweatpants, and a hoodie, under at least five heavy blankets.
Despite the cold, I learned much during my weekend of being fully immersed in Spanish and Bolivian culture. The people of Patamanta are a village and help each other out as much as possible. Young people call everyone tío (uncle) or tía (aunt) out of respect. The family I stayed with opened two small stores in their home to help the community. One store sells food, drinks, snacks, and other grocery items. The other store is a small pharmacy that also sells school supplies.
More importantly, I learned of the great need for the gospel in Patamanta. In a town of about 3,000 people, there is not one, single church or anyone preaching the gospel. As I got to know the family I was staying with, they started asking me questions and telling me about what they believed in. I was asked, “Do you believe in animals?” I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this question before! They explained that many people in Patamanta trust animals, spirits, and even demons to guide and help them through life. Romans 10:13-14 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
How will the people of Patamanta hear about a God that loves them and sent His Son to die on the cross for their sins if no one goes and tells them? Who will go? Who will tell them that animals, spirits, and demons can’t hear them and won’t help them? Pray with me for more laborers for Patamanta and Bolivia!