The whole Canadian team along with members of the Familia Feliz. /SUBMITTED

Submitted by Rochelle Warner

For me and seventeen other Canadians, six of whom are from the Robson Valley, the new year of 2023 started out with a dream come true. After months of planning, fundraising, and praying we were finally able to actually go to the South American country of Bolivia and put money and muscles to work! 

We started our journey in Calgary AB, on Jan. 3rd. We saw the sign for Familia Feliz, the orphanage we were going to live and work at, on Fri. Jan. 6th. It had been a full four days since we had begun our journey. We were so thankful to make it!

After resting on Saturday, our group and other volunteers from Bolivia began work on Sunday. Our workday schedule included worship and breakfast from 7:00-8:00 am, then work from 8-1:00pm, lunch for an hour, and then work again till 5:00pm. We were each assigned to a crew where we worked for the month. 

The first group worked on replacing the roof, rafters, and drop ceiling of the orphanage’s church. People on this crew from McBride included Daniel Warner, Marcus Chernipeski, and Christian Blixrud. As they started that first week it looked pretty much impossible to finish all that they wanted to. Many problems kept showing up, such as the walls needing to be braced and many bats living and leaving their feces under the tin roof. Through all of these obstacles the group continued to pray and move forward as quickly as possible. Miraculously, by the end of our time there they had completed all their goals.

The second crew had the goal of building two new septic tanks/systems. Those on this crew from McBride were Beth Thompson and Rochelle Warner. The first step was to dig out all the pipes of the existing system by hand. Next a backhoe dug the holes for the new tanks and the trenches for the overflow lines. Then the work of cement mixing, brick laying, putting in the pipe, and backfilling began. As the first system was finished everyone held their breath as the first toilet flush to the new system took place. Then much rejoicing as everything worked just as it should! 

Warner and Thompson show off the process made on the new septic system.

The third crew worked on painting the school classrooms and two houses. Then they finished sealing up these buildings by painting their windows and door frames and putting up screens. In this crew were McBride residents Laura Corbett and Tashy Kirby.

Corbett and Kirby work along side locals to brighten up walls around the complex.

By the end they had amazingly completed all their painting goals and were able to come and help the church crew scrape, clean, and paint the whole inside of the church in about eight hours! 

Other activities that our group was able to enjoy included going swimming in rivers and a lake, going tropical fruit picking, touring the city of Rurrenabaque, making new friends, going to a waterfall, leading the whole group in a week series of prayer meeting, and spending lots of time with the nearly 40 children who call Familia Feliz home. 

As I reflect on this trip I realize that through God’s power we could be successful in completing all our goals. This includes the physical goals of building and also the emotional, spiritual, and mental goals of encouraging and uplifting the people to keep going with the good work they are doing. 

Our whole group wants to extend a big thank you to our community of McBride and the surrounding area for helping this trip to happen through all your prayers, financial support, and encouragement!

If you would like to learn more about our trip or see pictures, please feel free to reach out to one of us who went on the trip. Thank you again for your support.