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Lent in Cochabamba, 2024

Blog Headers 2023-24 (18)

Editor’s Note: In light of this liturgical season of Lent, lay missioner Victor Artaiz reflects on how he’s living the three pillars of Lent–prayer, fasting, and almsgiving–while on mission in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Not all of our mission camino is filled with smiles and fresh air, cobblestone walks and views of fresh flowers, mountainside vistas and koi ponds. This Lenten season of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting has found me in the midst of turmoil trying to resolve obtaining a 2-year visa to stay here in Bolivia and having to fight to obtain my monthly stipend which a local bank’s ATM chose not to provide. From trips to the Peruvian border 5 weeks ago to hours in line here in immigration today, the process of obtaining credentials to stay in this country has taken precious time away from ministry service and accompaniment. 

My Franciscan Mission Service formation leaders told me there would be days like these! Pivot and find a new perspective! Although I have not been able to visit with my brothers at El Abra’s maximum security prison without a carnet ID (ID card), we do communicate via WhatsApp on occasion and have an agreed prayer time at 6am each morning! My Lenten practice of prayer came to fruition in an agreed virtual presence with the men at the prison. 

An ongoing chapel-parish ministry evolvement in the hillside community of Los Molinos beckoned me to provide Lenten alms. I did so with a daily Gospel book containing the year’s daily Gospel readings from our universal Catholic Mass along with a short commentary/homily. Each family in the chapel community was given a copy which we also use during Bible study. 

I’m amazed that my age is long past 59 years, so I can actually eat meat on most Fridays during Lent! So, how should I focus on fasting? I came across this reflection (pictured below), which has become a blessing to me while waiting in long lines for immigration services and realizing how difficult life is for others here in South America and, of course, border regions in the USA and the European community. 

God finds a way to get our attention and shake things up a bit so we can obtain a new perspective, vision, and purpose in our daily walk when we choose to discern and leave it all in His hands. (Enjoy the photos that His Way provides!)

Question for Reflection: How has God invited you to pray, fast, and give alms in unexpected ways during this Lenten season?

photos from Cochabamba, Bolivia


After a 30 year career in international business and serving communities in Kenya and locally in New Haven, CT, Victor Artaiz is grateful for the opportunity to serve and accompany individuals living on the margins in mutuality and simplicity through FMS’ Overseas Lay Missioner program. Victor's ministries in Cochabamba, Bolivia, include addiction recovery services, accompanying men who are incarcerated, and serving meals to people experiencing hunger.