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Cochabamba

Ministry at Centro Social Franciscano

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Victor Artaiz describes the ministries of Centro Social Franciscano, the organization where he lives and serves in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Franciscan Mission Service has provided its Overseas Lay Missioners the blessing of living at a converted convent in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Centro Social Franciscano has served the city’s community of people living on…

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With the Sheep

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a passage from the Gospel of Matthew, lay missioner Victor Artaiz considers his time on mission as accompanying Jesus’ sheep. Being here on mission in Bolivia since January 2022 has allowed me to review my journey, to contemplate my experience, and to discern future steps in my life. Being steeped in…

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Choosing the Lesser Ministry

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Ralph Anderson, OFS recalls his previous mission experiences and reflects on how God is calling him to serve in “lesser” ministries in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Mission is not something new in my life. My first experience was in 1966 with the Knights of Columbus. I was 12 years old, and we drove…

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Lent in Cochabamba, 2024

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…

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Walking Toward Christ, Even in Discomfort

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Ralph Anderson, OFS describes how Christ has been calling him to prayer in a special place in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I have been living in Cochabamba, Bolivia for seven weeks now. Things are very different here. I have spent time in Latin America throughout my life. My first mission trip was when…

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Nativity in Cochabamba

Editor’s Note: During the Christmas season, lay missioner Victor Artaiz describes the nativity scenes from his ministry sites and how they capture the simple joy of the Nativity. In spending my 2nd Christmas here in Cochabamba, the peace and simplicity of the Nativity really came into focus for me. In my ministry at El Abra,…

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The Mountains Above the Fog

Editor’s note: Missioner SarahJane Cauzillo shares a revelation she had about God’s omniscience and goodness after her first few months serving in Bolivia. I live in Cochabamba, the fourth largest city in Bolivia. We are in something of a fish bowl, surrounded by the mountains, and with all the emissions from cars, trucks, and buses……

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The Incarnate Christ in All I Meet

Editor’s note: Missioner SarahJane Cauzillo shares “an experience of letting go of my controlling nature, and learning to depend on others. Christ presented Himself to me in those who helped me along the way in my travels [to Cochabamba, Bolivia].” Lord, I am a stranger traveling in a brutal, yet wondrous land — far from the…

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Were You There: Stumbling and Rising

Editor’s note: In a follow-up to his post Libre Soy, recently-returned missioner Jeff Sved reflects on how he sees Christ’s struggles and stumbles on the Way of the Cross reflected in the lives of the friends and inmates with whom he served throughout his ministry. Were you there when Jesus stumbled for the first time?…

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Once Latina, Always Latina: A Returned Missioner Talks Race

Editor’s Note: FMS alumna Hady Mendez—recently returned from two years of service in Cochabamba, Bolivia—reflects on the role that race plays in her reintegration back from mission and in daily life in the United States. Hi again. It’s been a little over a year since my return from Cochabamba. So much has changed since then!…

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Oatmeal and Tomatoes

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan relates how sharing a Christmas party with two of the Bolivian women who work at the Cochabamba market has brought her to a deeper recognition of the blessings of their friendship. Every Saturday in Cochabamba is market day. In the outdoor markets of the city, things are cheaper, more vendors…

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Be Not Afraid: Waiting With Them

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares how fear of being an intruder and of not knowing enough about the Bolivian medical system led to a new understanding of what it means to walk with others through complex and scary situations. I stood on the corner feeling utterly helpless. I was supposed to be meeting four…

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Be Not Afraid: Meeting Myself in Solitude

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on how accepting silence and solitude led her to a better understanding of herself as well as the other people around her. There is a quote from the popular feminist author, bell hooks, that says, “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we…

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Be Not Afraid: Leaving ‘Me’ Behind

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares that when she first arrived in Bolivia, she was her own greatest obstacle and had to overcome the expectations she placed on herself. For this year’s Advent blog series, we  were asked to write about overcoming fear.  We hear the words “Be not afraid” so often in the Bible,…

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Tuesday Normal Morning

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares a poem that she wrote after an emotional visit with a patient at one of her ministry sites in Bolivia. With one of my ministries, Fundación San Lucas, I often have the challenging and formational experience of going on home visits to check in on various children or families…

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Come Grocery Shopping With Me

Editor’s Note: In order to provide a glimpse into her life in Cochabamba, Bolivia, missioner Catherine Sullivan takes her readers with her on her weekly grocery shopping experience. Every Saturday morning, my site partner Allison and I head out to do our weekly grocery shopping. With a list in hand (along with a price ‘guestimate’…

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Free to Have Less

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett shares how moving towards a simpler lifestyle has positively affected her in physical, spiritual, and emotional ways. I wonder about how complex we make the concept of simple living; I think about how entrenched we have to be in consumerist culture to buy more books to teach us about consuming…

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Telling Their Own Story

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on the experience of accompanying women in the Santa Rosa community as they tell their stories through a sequence of videos produced entirely by the women themselves. For the past year our garden project has been involved in the process of making videos participativos or participatory videos with the…

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Dancing Through the Doorway

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs shares how she’s been able to start forming relationships through teaching Zumba classes to girls who are survivors of sexual abuse. Upon arriving in Cochabamba, Bolivia, over seven months ago, I had no idea what kind of ministry I was going to get involved in. By a stroke of luck, during my six…

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A Buzz of Excitement in the Prison

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares her experience of the visit of the Virgen María de Urkupiña statue in one of the prisons in Cochabamba, Bolivia. A few weeks ago, my morning began the same way it usually does – I walked through the large green metal doors of the women’s prison, said good morning…

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Solidarity in the Climb

Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on finding solace during an emotionally and physically strenuous climb up a mountain. On June 21st, Bolivia celebrated the Andean New Year. For the Aymaran people, this marked the year 5524 according to their calendar. This day is important because it is the beginning of a new agricultural cycle.…

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Look For Her Eyes

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan in Bolivia shares how she stays hopeful during her daily practice of reading the news. One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through different news sources and articles, comparing stories and trying my best to keep up with the goings-on of the world. It is often how I start and…

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Making My Money Matter

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the challenges of living on a stipend in Bolivia and how it has made her more mindful of those around her who are struggling with financial matters to a very serious degree. When we signed on with Franciscan Mission Service as missioners, we knew that while we were…

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The Gift of Water

Editor’s Note: In a follow up to her last post about water shortages in Cochabamba, missioner Annemarie Barrett emphasizes the importance of gardens in the community through the story of one of the women in Santa Rosa. Recently I wrote about the severe water shortages we are currently experiencing in Cochabamba. The women in Santa…

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Introducing Eli

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares how a trip to the marketplace in Cochabamba, Bolivia, turned into an experience of solidarity and deeper integration into the culture. I have been working at Manos con Libertad three to four days a week for three months now. Manos con Libertad is a co-operative of inmates from San…

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Little Bits of Solidarity

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the notion of solidarity and what it looks like now that she’s on mission in Bolivia. Solidarity is a big, somewhat ambiguous word that we throw around a lot nowadays. We often talked during formation about how we were going on mission to live and work in solidarity…

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Same Water, Same World

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on her changed perspective on environmental issues, particularly water consumption, since she’s been on mission in Bolivia. I know that I have written about environmental degradation before on this blog. And I know that I have already shared stories about the lack of water that we experience here in…

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Love in a Suffering World

Editor’s Note: After accompanying her friend and fellow missioner through illness, missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on fighting through feeling helpless and finding assurance that merely being present is more powerful than we often realize.  For three months during our training for long-term mission it was repeatedly pounded into our heads that our main ministry was…

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Mileage, Motivation, and Ministry

Editor’s note: During Pittsburgh native Jeff Sved’s visit to the US he plans to run his first full marathon in May. In the last post, he answered questions about training for a marathon while in Bolivia. Today, he talks about he got into running in the first place. What do you like about running and how did…

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Marathon Training on Mission

Editor’s note: As fourth-year missioner Jeff Sved prepares for the May 1 Pittsburgh Marathon, he answers some frequently asked questions about his training. Jeff is currently serving in three prisons in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and hopes his participation in the marathon can raise awareness about how the prison rehabilitation system should be focusing on restoring relationships…

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Exporting Racism, Where Do We Stand?

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on the topic of prejudice in the United States and how it affects the rest of the world but in particular, how she’s seen it affect Bolivia. Since the beginning of formation with Franciscan Mission Service, I was taught that to follow the example of Francis of Assisi was…

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Letting Go of Desensitization

Editor’s Note: Missioner Jeff Sved reflects on the implications of the cross and its significance in today’s world. Today, Christians worldwide remember the death of Jesus. But let us not remove this execution from its context. Have we become so used to the “glorified crucifixion” that we fail to remember that Jesus was historically the most-famous…

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Letting Go and Expanding Your Capacity for Love

Editor’s Note: Missioner Catherine Sullivan shares how she’s had to shift her concepts of family life during her transition from her home in the United States to her new home in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I have always been very close with my family. They were my first prayers upon waking, my last prayers before sleeping, and a…

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Letting Go and Choosing the Adventure

Editor’s Note: Missioner Allison Dethlefs reflects on the journey of being at peace with the people and things she had to say goodbye to at home in order to embrace the new phase of life as an FMS missioner in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Every new beginning is an ending of sorts. Every time you set out…

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Letting Go of Being Thought Good

Editor’s Note: Missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on how her views of lay mission have changed since she first arrived in Bolivia and how the friendships she’s formed there have challenged and inspired her. Francis of Assisi was known to say, “We must bear patiently not being good and not being thought good.” The first time…

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Welcome Associate Director Meghan!

When she first met former Franciscan Mission Service missioner Nora Pfieffer, Meghan Meros had no way of knowing that this brief introduction to FMS would reappear several times years later. Meghan first met Nora in 2009 when the two were placed in the same small group during the Catholics on Call Conference at the Catholic…

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Comfort and Joy: Seeking out Nature

Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, missioner Annemarie Barrett reflects on the challenge of living in the concrete city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and shares how moments in nature provide a source of great comfort for her. One of the harder parts of living in a big city like Cochabamba is the…

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Comfort and Joy: The Cyclical Process

Editor’s note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, missioner Jeff Sved shares how his experiences of prison ministry in Bolivia have shown him how comfort and joy are often fruits of initial discomfort. Francis – brother, not pope – is quite a remarkable example when it comes to the relationship between comfort and joy. What…

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Some of My Favorite Moments with the Kids in Chilimarca

Editor’s Note: Missioner Valerie Ellis shares some of her favorite moments with the pre-school children she works with from impoverished families in Chilimarca, Bolivia.   When counting, it was commonplace for one little girl to say, “1…2…8,” so I asked her if “8” was her favorite number and she responded with a resounding, “Yes!” Since then,…

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To Bolivia and Beyond

Editor’s Note: Missioner Jeff Sved decided to co-write a blog post with his friend Billy to tell the story of a small plant and its significance. While I was a volunteer with FVM, we regularly had a retreat with the Franciscans at the Mt. Irenaeus community. During those retreats, I would spend much of my…

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Weekend Recap: Expo ReIncorpora

Editor’s Note: Missioner Jeff Sved shares a recent event from his time of prison ministry in Bolivia. Expo ReIncorpora: 1­st Feria Productiva de Recintos Penitenciaria (The first annual fair/expo of products made within the prisons.) To say this weekend was a success would be an understatement. Opportunities to sell goods other than inside the prison or at the…

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Prisoners doing Prison Ministry, Wait…What?

It was an interesting day at prison. I came as I usually do on Thursday morning to facilitate the faith-sharing group I helped to start last August. It’s been one full year since the day I decided to take the leap of faith. I saw the need for this group and there was a lot…

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Marching with Survivors of Sexual Violence

Editor’s note: Missioner Valerie Ellis describes two events she participated in for the recent Bolivian National Day to Support Victims and Survivors of Sexual Violence. As we began the climb through the mountains, so did the sun. When our trufi got high enough to see the snow, we took chilly pictures over the landscape of…

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Through the Eye of the Needle, Part 4: Realities of Cultural Imperialism

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Annemarie Barrett continues the special five-part series, “Through the Eye of the Needle: Unpacking White Privilege in the Journey Towards Racial Reconciliation” on how her time in mission in Latin America is shaping her understanding of racism and privilege.  I have lost track of the number of times that I have been…

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Through the Eye of the Needle, Part 3: Acknowledging Affluence and Structural Racism

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Annemarie Barrett continues the special five-part series, “Through the Eye of the Needle:  Unpacking White Privilege in the Journey Towards Racial Reconciliation” on how her time in mission in Latin America is shaping her understanding of racism and privilege.  For much of my life, I was not aware that I was being…

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Through the Eye of the Needle, Part 2: I Am Not A Saint

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Annemarie Barrett continues the special five-part series, “Through the Eye of the Needle:  Unpacking White Privilege in the Journey Towards Racial Reconciliation” on how her time in mission in Latin America is shaping her understanding of racism and privilege.  One part of my reality as a white person that I took for…

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NEW SERIES – Through the Eye of the Needle: Unpacking White Privilege in the Journey Towards Racial Reconciliation

Editor’s Note: Today lay missioner Annemarie Barrett kicks off a special five-part series on how her time in mission in Latin America is shaping her understanding of racism and privilege. Learn about the significance of the title. Every day I am learning more about what I do not know, my own ignorance. In choosing to…

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Black Lives Matter Bolivia

It was February 12th when I received the first email. The subject line was “First Steps Towards a Worthy Cause”. The email talked about coming together as a US community in Bolivia to voice our concerns around the racial injustices taking place all over the US. My first reaction? Why are we doing this now?…

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Street Art – Cochabamba Style

I’ve always been a fan of street art. After all, I grew up in NYC in 70s and 80s. The time when hip-hop was born and you couldn’t walk down a street or onto a subway platform in NYC without spotting a piece someone had worked on the night before. Admittedly, even though I loved…

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There’s More – Committing to a Fourth Year

It is official: I am extending my contract to stay in Bolivia for a fourth and final year. With this decision, I have a sense of excitement and joy… as well as a bit of relief. In my discernment, I had my pros for staying in Bolivia and my pros for returning to the U.S.…

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