Friday, December 23, 2011

Holman Christmas Letter


Merry Stinking Christmas From The Holmans

It is December which means it is time for the best of us to write a Christmas letter to a lot of other people in order to make them feel bad for not writing a Christmas letter and sending it to us.  So, this is for all you that do not love us enough to send us a letter.  It is our annual Christmas letter!  This is the first one that we have sent out in 2011, so read it and weep.

This was a long year for the Holmans.  It has almost been 365 days since it started.  Wow!  So much has happened in that time frame…to choose what to report is to choose to influence…how do I influence you? 

I started a diet in January of 2011, and as of now I have lost, (-10) lbs.  I am not that worried though, cuz I still wear the same size socks that I wore in college.

We are now houseless but not homeless.  We finally sold our house in the States.  All we ‘own’ is a 22 year old truck and Bolivian made furniture.  It is weird, but kinda nice to actually not have anything.   

What we have learned from God this year…He has a heart for the poor, we don’t.  Time to change that.

We took time off of our “missionary” lifestyle and took a killer, super, once in a lifetime, make-Christians-sin-with-envy vacation.  We spent some money that I got from an inheritance and took a cruise with all 11 kids plus Grandma and Grandpa.  We also went to Disney World.  It was fun to see how the other 90% live.  Then back to Bolivia where the only cruise is when you have to cruise to the toilet a lot because of amoebas.

Speaking of amoebas, parasites, bugs, and other things that suck the very life out of you…the kids are doing fine.

We are officially out of the diaper phase of life.  We are slow learners, so it took us over 23 years, seriously.  23 years of diapers.  Denise did the math.  That is at least 41,630 diaper changes conseveratively. 

Leaving diapers made us think of teenagers…they whine without the poop.  Anyway, Denise picked up a pencil and told me that we are going to have teenagers in our house for 28 years.  That kinda tops the diaper change stat. 

Now is the part of the letter when I tell you about each kid and what they are doing.  I don’t have time to do that, so let me just sum it up. 

Boys, age 23 to 13, six of them, all alive and making weird noises, and laughing at bodily functions.

Girls, age 12 to 3, five of them, all alive and talking, and screaming out loud when they see new things like jewelry or hair ribbons.

Last Christmas we were in Virginia with a white Christmas. This year we are in Bolivia and it is the summer.  Last year we were in a six bedroom house in the wealthiest county in America.  This year the 11 of us are sharing a three bedroom apartment in the poorest country in the Americas.  Last year people were avoiding us because they were scared we were going to ask them for money.  This year people are asking us for money.  Other than that, things are pretty much the same. 

Love you guys!  Have a great Christmas!

Joe and Denise

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Short Term Mission Trips

Cochabamba

I am putting together a small handout to give to short term teams that visit us, and thought, "Hey, I will post it on my blog, maybe someone else can benefit from it." So here you go.

Why Do Short Term Missions? 
There is a debate in the evangelical church about the effectiveness of short term missions.  The idea is pretty straightforward and has two main points. The first one is financial.  If 10 people go on a s/t trip which cost $1,500 each, then they just spent $15,000—most of it going to an airline.  The argument asks the question, “Wouldn’t it be better to give a career missionary on the field a love offering of $15,000 and have the missionary use it to further their mission?”  

The other main objection to s/t trips is that people cannot understand and appreciate the culture of another people group and therefore truly be effective in a s/t trip.

Both of these arguments make sense, but they miss the purpose of a short term trip.  I do not believe that the purpose of a s/t trip is for someone with a ‘silver bullet’ to ride in and save the day by ministering to those poor lost souls in another cultural context.  I would go so far as to say that I do not believe that the purpose of the s/t trip is really, in the end, to minister to the target group of the career missionary.  They DO serve the people, but that is a by-product of the purpose.  It is a purpose, but not the primary one.  

As a long term missionary who BELIEVES in s/t mission trips, let me explain the purpose of your trip as I see it.  You can see these purposes in the verses below. 

1.    To promote and give the vision of world evangelism.

Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.        (John 4:35)


Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38) 

This is the most important part of s/t trips.  It opens up the worldview, expands the horizons, and gives a missionary experience to people.  A s/t trip allows someone to see the needs of others in the world, and to see themselves as God’s instrument to meet those needs.  In North American culture we are bombarded constantly with information and statistics about the pain and suffering in the world.  More than that, Evangelical Christians are given Bible lessons, shown videos, and hear messages about the lost, unreached people groups, pain and suffering.  The sad fact is, that instead of giving us a challenge, it has given us an inoculation.  We simply tune out the images we see on TV, and daydream during the missionary’s talk.  For most of us, the best case scenario is that we feel empathy towards the person in the photo/video; empathy that is lost as soon as the closing prayer or the next commercial.  Short term missions is, in my opinion, the most powerful weapon that is at our disposal to motivate people towards World Missions.  It bombards the senses, attacks our emotions, and knocks down our preconceptions.  The s/t person EXPERIENCES the reality of a lost world.  They smell, see, hear, taste, feel, and perceive the fact that God sent His Son for the WORLD, not just for middle class North America.  It allows them, in most cases, to see the huge disparity of wealth around the globe.  S/T missions shakes up the world of wealthy Christians (if you are reading this then you are one of the wealthy I am talking about—even if you do not realize it) and causes them to rethink how they spend their money in light of poverty and social injustice.  In summary, a s/t mission trip changes you.  Consider this fact.  Every long term, career missionary that I know went on a s/t trip before becoming, and in many cases even considering becoming, a career missionary.  I believe that this is the most important aspect of a s/t trip, and one that cannot be evaluated financially.  Short Term missions is an instrument of God to expand the vision of Global Discipleship.  He uses it to create senders, people who will financially support world evangelism, and to call others to become long term missionaries.  The primary reason that we want people to come to Bolivia on a short term trip is because we are praying for God to use our ministry to call 100 people into career missions.  This is the means to that end!  Come to Bolivia and you will stop hearing about the plight of the world and begin to experience it.



2.    To encourage and support the long term missionary.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1Thessalonians 5:11-14)


Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1Corinthians 15:58) 


Long term missionaries have a tough job.  It seems self-serving to be writing this, but it is the hard truth.  Missionaries are unappreciated and forgotten.  I asked 10 different missionaries this question: “What is the hardest part of being a missionary?”  All 10 of them answered with the same exact word—not even a synonym.  Add to this the fact that not one of these missionaries was in the presence of another when I asked, and not one of them even knew that we had asked the same question to someone else.  The answer?  “Loneliness”.  

I believe that s/t missions is an opportunity to EXPRESS gratitude and appreciation to the missionary.  It is a chance to let these forgotten servants of Christ know that their labor is not in vain and that you believe that no matter how insignificant they feel, both what they do and who they are is important. Sometimes a missionary can serve for years without a single convert.  Other times, the work that we do is completely one-sided where we are the ones always giving and after a while we simply feel drained.  We have all the problems that people in the States experience, plus the issues that come up from being in ministry, and add to that the cross cultural frustrations and obstacles.  We are thousands of miles from our parents, adult children and grandchildren.  This is compounded by the fact that many missionaries live next to or in financial hardship.   Since I am explaining what it is like to be a missionary, let me add one more thing.  When we go to the States, people avoid us (even previous friends).  I think this is because they are scared we are going to ask for money or maybe our lives are now so different that they feel that we don’t have much in common anymore.  Bottom line: it is emotionally hard to be a missionary.  I am not saying that it is not worth it.  Nor am I saying that all of the platitudes and the verses don’t apply.  What I am saying is that several times in the Bible God tells us to encourage one another, and this really applies to the missionary.

When you go on a s/t trip, you can encourage the missionary, strengthen them, speak affirmation into their lives, and help them catch their breath to stay in the game.  Think about this, affirmation is so important that on every occasion the Father spoke out loud to the Son, He publicly affirmed Him. You can do this by bringing them special treats, by bringing things to their children, by paying for a ‘luxury’.  You can write them nice notes, point out areas where they are like Jesus, and remind them of the difference in eternity that they are making.  Encouragement, appreciation, and affirmation is HUGE, and a s/t trip gives you the opportunity to do this face to face/heart to heart.


3.    To help those in the missionary’s people group.

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38)


For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)


This is the reason that most people think we do s/t missions.  As I said in the beginning, this is a purpose, but I think it is the smallest one.  However, while you are here, you can tremendously bless those whom Jesus died for. So what are you to do?  Take the heart of a servant.  Humble yourself and become obedient from the heart to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Seek to build up the least of these.  Strive to make the people group better in every area of their lives.  Do what Jesus did for us.  Step into their world, seek to see and understand their needs, and then in compassion meet those needs.  The key is simple: love them.  Love them as you love yourself.  You are here to serve.  The Biblical principle that you will discover is this.  The more you serve, the more you are blessed.

In summary, short term trips are incredible.  They can honor Christ and bless everyone involved. They can give a world vision to the short term person, encouragement to the missionary, and help to the people group.  If we place ourselves at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, then this trip will be one of the most important things that you ever do!  May God bless you!
 

Leia Mais…

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'll Buy Home For Christmas

Leia Mais…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adornments



Our table with a lot of ornaments laid out for strategic tree placement.

We spent over an hour looking for the right one.  We went in one store, out, and then in another, down the block, and up the block, to an ever ending chain of stores.  Almost all of the stores had the same products, with slight variation, so to my ‘man eyes’ we were wasting some time. However, to Denise’s ‘woman eyes’ there was the perfect item yet to be found.  I have to admit, that by the end of the hour I was ready to leave the hobby and stop being a collector.  Do you collect anything?  I have had friends that collected cereal toys, you know, the little cheap toys that used to come in cereal boxes.  He had over 1,000 unopened cereal toys and to be honest, it was kind of fun looking at them and remembering wanting that particular toy.  Another friend collected shot glasses.  He did not even drink, but he had this really cool display case of shot glasses.  Everywhere he went, on business or pleasure, he bought a shot glass.
We collect Christmas ornaments.  Although I voiced a little guy frustration at the process in the above paragraph, I really love the finished product.  For over 27 years Denise and I have collected ornaments.  Every vacation spot demands an ornament.  If we can’t find one, we buy a key chain that can function as one.  Every year, we have a family ornament made.  Each kid gets a special ornament with their name and the year written or engraved on it.  These ornaments have become such a treasure to us that when we sold everything and moved to the mission field, these were one of the only things we kept.  We took precious suitcase room and packed two bags full of bubble wrapped memories to take to Bolivia. We kept our Wedding China, a few antique quilts dating from the civil war, and our ornaments.  We took our ornaments with us. 
When we decorate the tree, it is a walk down memory lane.  There is the ‘Our First Christmas” ornament that is 27 years old.  We have had the privilege of visiting other countries, and each one has its place on the tree.  As we put up our tree, we are verbally, and then silently, going over our lives together.  Each child has their first ornament.  There is the year we all made gingerbread ornaments, and they are still here after 19 years!  Moment of honest, the coolness wears off on the kids after about 20 minutes, but for me and Denise, we take one sentimental journey after another. 
I actually think that I could extrapolate a biblical principle of remembrance and ssstttrrreeeetttccchhh it to fit what we are doing.  We are marking our lives together.  We are establishing memorials for significant events, the events that shape us.  It is not just fun, more than cool, it is life.  Do you have anything that you do that marks the moments that mold us?  If not, I highly recommend that you do.  It is so much fun to take at least two times a year, putting them up and taking them down, to remember our lives.


Leia Mais…

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Newsletter

I was going to upload my newsletter here to blogger, but it seems that you have to have a Phd from MIT in order to rescript, use an external program, blah blah blah.

So, just in case your interested and did not receive it via email, here you go.  Click on this link and you can download it.

https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D6440300_1908097_654554

Hope you enjoy it.

Leia Mais…

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Two Princes



The Two Princes
Once upon a time, in a land far away, lived a rich prince.  The prince was a nice man, and to be honest did not even realize that he was that rich.  You see, he had grown up in a rich family, living in a rich part of the land, and enjoying all the benefits of wealth and success.  He lived in the Land Of Opportunity.  Instead of seeing his wealth, many times he found himself looking at the kingdoms around who seemed to be wealthier and feeling somewhat cheated by life.

This prince lived in the Land of Opportunity, doing what he needed to be done and helping out his fellow rich countrymen as he could.  He knew that there were other countries besides his, and he had heard that some of them were even poorer than he felt, but his life was busy and other than hearing an occasional tale from a traveling peddler he had no time to wonder or wander.

Then, one day, he decided to make it happen in spite of his busy schedule.  He prioritized a trip and arranged for someone to cover his responsibilities during his absence.  He left his home and traveled past the other rich kingdoms into the land of the normal person.  This was strange to him, because he defined normal based upon what he knew as normal, rather than what truly was normal for the world.
 
The first thing that he noticed in Normal Land was that the people were hurting.  They lacked the most basic necessities.  As a matter of fact, many of the things that he had always thought of as a necessity were either unheard of or viewed as luxuries by the people in Normal Land.  He had thought that his life was harsh because he went two years without a new carriage.  These people had never seen a carriage.  He considered himself poor because his home was smaller than some of his neighbors.  These people wanted a roof.  In his country, eating was a social event, and food was tailored to specific tastes and occasions.  To his shame, he realized that his dog ate better than most families in Normal Land, and he was in shock to see naked people starving to death.

Over and over he saw that people in Normal Land needed food, clothing, education, shelter, water, and basic sanitation.  One night he took a piece of paper and figured out that the money he spent on entertainment in a year could save the lives of over a thousand dying people in Normal Land. More than that, most of the people in Normal Land had never even heard of the King of Kings and had no hope of entering the Eternal Kingdom.  The prince thought everyone knew of Him.  This seemed doubly sad because the Eternal Kingdom was such a wonderful hope for people living in such desperation.  If only they knew that this world was not the end, but that their pain one day could end.  

He returned to his palace (funny, he had always thought of it as a house until his journey).  As he looked around at the luxury, the excess, the comfort and the ease of life in his country, he vowed to always be grateful. His heart hurt with sympathy for those that he had seen.  He tried, and to some degree succeeded in being empathetic with them in their struggles, even though he truly could not comprehend what it meant to be hungry and cold.

From this moment on, he would not compare himself to those better than himself.  He would remember the suffering and the struggling of the majority of the world that lived in Normal Land.  He would no longer complain when a luxury was denied.  He would be happy with his wealth.  He would be glad that he did not live in Normal Land. 

So he did.  He was a happy, grateful prince living in luxury.  He remembered those poor folk in Normal Land, and thanked God that he wasn’t like that.

Meanwhile, as he was grateful for his luxury, appreciative of his wealth, and thankful for his blessings…millions of people were dying in Normal Land.  Normal People that could have lived off what he threw away every day.  Normal People that the King of King loved who were living in abstract poverty while he was grateful to have the money for his entertainment budget.

He was grateful. They were dead.

Gratitude is not enough. 

Empathy is not enough. 

Sympathy is not enough. 

They are all passive killers.

      Nearby, there was another prince that took a similar journey through Normal Land.  He returned home and vowed to be changed as well.  He was empathetic.  He was sympathetic.  He was grateful.  However he took things one step farther.  He began to GIVE out of his wealth.  He decided that he did not need a new carriage this year, or the next, or the next.  He gave the money he was going to spend on a new carriage to drill a well and provide clean water for an entire village.  He quit spending such vast amounts on entertainment and started construction on a church that would teach others about the King of Kings for generations.  He took a trip to Normal Land every year in order to encourage fellow human beings in their plight, to give generous gifts to ease the harshness of life, and to constantly renew his vision for the world.
      
      One prince was grateful.  The other was good.
      Which do you identify with?
      
      This is Thanksgiving.  How about we change the name to this:  

THANKS AND GIVING.

      Don’t just give thanks, out of your thanks, give.

Leia Mais…

Monday, November 7, 2011

Being There While I Am Here


I am so pumped!  For the next two weeks, I get to teach a Bible Study class at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Virginia!  That is my home church, full of my friends.  My focus during Sunday School will be on living a radical life, emphasizing world missions.

After Sunday School, I will continue preaching a series of messages called "Jesus and_____"  I have been in this series for about six weeks, and plan on spending another 2-3 months in it.  Each week we look at a place in the life of Jesus where he had a conversation with someone and see how He is speaking to us through it.

So, I will be teaching Sunday School, followed by preaching.  Super cool!

Oh yeah, the Sunday School class will be in Purcellville Virginia.  The preaching will be in Cochabamba Bolivia.  All I have to do is travel 4,015 miles in 15 minutes (the time between Sunday School and the sermon).  No problem.  I have done it before.  Well, not traveled over 4,000 miles in less than 20 minutes, but taught in two places around the globe at the same time.

This is what I am doing.  This week I am filming the Sunday School class.  (I am trying to keep it from being boring by incorporating different settings, videos, music, etc.)  I will email the video to the church on Wednesday.  They will set up a big screen projector and show the class for two weeks. 

In a couple of weeks, Denise is speaking to the Women's Ministry at another church during their missions conference.  She is doing it through Skype Video. 

This is just one of the ways that we are trying to accomplish both edges of our ministry sword.  We want to not only help Bolivian church leaders know God better and love Him more; we want to challenge and encourage churches back in the States to become engaged in missions. 

Technology lets us do both, while staying here.  We can be there, while we are here. 

If you are interested in having us speak at your church, homeschool group, Sunday School class, missions conference, etc., please send me an email.  We would love to do it!

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It Is Not On Demand


This is one of the most important items that we own, and one of the most important places in our apartment.  It is our Big Berkley water filter, and the three pitchers beside it are clean water.  We take the water from the faucet and put it in the top of the filter.  It takes about an hour before we have filtered water in the bottom.  That is our drinking water.  Because it takes an hour to get a gallon, and thhere are 11 of us, we have developed a habit that allows us to always have clean water to drink, brush our teeth with, and/or cook.  It is pretty simple.  Every time we go into the kitchen, we put water in the filter if it needs it.  We lift off the lid, look at the water level, and refill it if there is room.  This keeps the filter working, our clean water in good supply, and mommy happy.

This is also a great analogy to the Holy Spirit.  The Bible tells us to "Be filled with the Spirit".  Literally this means "Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit".  I am to constantly look at my life.  I should listen to my words.  I should examine my thoughts.  I can see how I treat my kids.  I can check out my emotions.  I can continually see in my life that Jesus died for me, and that I NEED to surrender myself to the love and power of the Holy Spirit.  It is a constant process, because as I walk through this fallen world in my sinful flesh, I have to run to calvary often to be purified.  The Holy Spirit leads me there.

How are you in the purified heart and cleansed thoughts today?  In our house, if we don't filter our water constantly, then we discover that when we need it the most, we are out of it...and it isn't INSTANT.  If we don't do this all the time, we have a problem.  We cannot wait until there is a crisis in our lives, and then say, "right now I will start living this way or that way" because the consequences of the crisis are still there.  We need to PREVENT the crisis by living under the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit now...when I don't FEEL like I need Him.  Keep on being filled.  Purify your hearts.  Cleanse your minds.

Now.  And Now.  And Now.  And Now.........

Leia Mais…

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beauty From Ashes



      I arrived at the church on Sunday to discover that instead of setting things up, fine tuning the sound system, and getting organized, we were doing damage control and itemizing what was missing. We had been not only robbed, but viciously and maliciously attacked by vandals.  I know that the church is on the front of the spiritual warfare that is engaged in the world, but this still took the wind out of our sails.

      The theft was limited to three guitars, but the destruction went beyond that.  They added insult to injury by urinating all over our sound board and frying it.  They slashed our drum set, and then cut the wires that enable us to do simultaneous translation of our service so that we can teach God’s word bilingually. Our church has not ‘offended’ anyone other than through holding to the Gospel in the midst of a catholic and a pagen society.  I guess that it is our offensive truth that caused the vandalism.  The theft I understand, but peeing on the equipment?  That is just hatred.  Hatred of God.  Hatred of truth.  Hatred of the church.

      We had our service thanks to the hard work of a group of Christians, but emotionally I kept struggling between anger, frustration, and pity.  Since then, I have spent this week praying about this, a principle of the Scripture came to me, and I believe that God is going to practically apply it in this case.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, (Psa 30:11)

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

       Here is what I am thinking.  What if God used this attack and turned it into a blessing?  My church is not wealthy.  We live in Bolivia, the poorest country in North, Central and South America.  We don’t have a lot of money to put into equipment, whether we are purchasing new items or replacing broken ones.  To be honest, we could use new sound equipment, speakers, microphones, cables, computer, etc.  We could use it, but don’t have the money to purchase them.  However, now we are in a position where we have to purchase some items.

      So, what if the end result of our robbery and vandalism…of this spiritual attack by the enemy…was that we came out better than we were before?  Wouldn’t it be cool if we did not just ‘replace’ our equipment, but ended up with GOOD stuff?  Wouldn’t it be a slap in Satan’s face if this malicious event ended up blessing the Kingdom of God?

      It can.  You can be blessed.  We can be blessed.  Cochabamba can be blessed.  Satan can be ticked off.  I have arranged with my home church in the States, Blue Ridge Bible Church, to receive money for my church here in Bolivia.  The purpose of these gifts is for our church to purchase needed equipment and supplies.  My prayer is that we end up with a lot of money, way more than we need to replace our equipment.  I am praying that we could reimburse the two men who had their guitars and pedals stolen, and then buy a better sound board, nicer microphones, and improve our speakers. 

      I am praying for beauty from ashes, for mourning to be turned into dancing.

     So, send your money to Blue Ridge Bible Church 770 South 20th Street Purcellville VA 20132.  Be sure and write on the memo, FOR CIC BOLIVIA.  We will give people a few weeks to respond, and then Blue Ridge will send a check for the amount to the Cochabamba International Church here in Bolivia.

      Let me make sure that I clarify something.  This is NOT a fundraising effort for me or my ministry.  NONE of these monies will go to the Holmans in any way.  This is a way for churches and Christians in America to work with a sister church in Bolivia and help her live out the victory in Christ.

In Jesus,
Joe 





Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Migrant Worker


How about a different perspective to all of my anti-immigration friends out there?  I am an immigrant.  I have moved to another country and am seeking to establish permanent residency there.  Because of this, I have a, shall we say, more rounded viewpoint of the whole immigration issue that is currently a political platform in the USA.  Let me give you a little insight.
If you look at that photo, you will see over 360 pages of documents inside.  I am not finished.  This three ring binder is 95% complete…for my ONE YEAR visa.  Before I get my permanent visa which gives me permission to live here as a resident-alien indefinantly, I have to get a one year, then a two year, then a five year visa.  Each visa cost money and entails a ton of paperwork.  I was thinking about writing an article making fun of some of the requirements (like I had to show that my Bolivian landlord had paid his last month’s electric bill…to get my visa…what does his electric bill have to do with me?).  But instead, I thought I would just talk about the process and maybe shed some light on an issue in the States.
I added it up, and so far I have spent $6,922 on my American and Bolivian paperwork.  That is $692.20 per person.  The Bolivian side of this has been $4672, or $467 per person.  Before I receive my permanent residency I will spend another $500/each.  It costs right at $1,000 to go from visiting foreigner to resident alien.
I am from the USA.  I have advanced degrees and come from a middle/upper middle class area.  I have resources and access to resources.  THANK YOU ALL OF YOU THAT SUPPORT US!!!!
I am from the wealthiest country in the USA, where the median household income is $46,326.  My point is this: I have a great backing and some financial foundations to stand on, and this amount of money HURTS.  I was shocked to find out that it was this much. To keep costs down, I did all the legwork myself, including five trips to Consulates and Embassies.  In spite of that, I am choking on the amount of money that it cost me to get my residency.
Now, are you ready for something?  If I were a Bolivian wanting to move to the USA, then I would have to spend MORE THAN it cost for a United States Citizen to move to Bolivia.  It cost more money to legally move TO the United States from here than it cost to move FROM the USA to Central or South America. The median income in Bolivia is about $1,000.  If I were migrating to the USA from Bolivia, I would have to pay over one year’s salary in American fees.  That would be like you paying $46,000 to move to Bolivia.
My first point?  It is not impossible, just highly improbable for the average person to be able to legally migrate in the USA from Mexico and South. (for more on this, such as the hype about the ‘free-loading’ and the ‘cost to the taxpayer’ see my earlier blog http://joe-holman.blogspot.com/2011/04/christians-and-illegal-immigrants.html )  Wherever you want to take this in your thoughts/arguments about immigration, take it and run.  It is just something to think about, and something that I have thought about a lot since I am in the process and incurring the huge financial burden of being legal.  I just find myself asking, “What would I do if I couldn’t live where I live, but couldn’t afford to move somewhere else?”
My second point is this.  We should all be migrant workers.  Our job is to move through this desolate place called earth, working our way to our true home.  Our King and our Kingdom is not of this world.  As a migrant worker, I should be constantly on the move THROUGH the land, not building a castle in it.  My home is not here.  My home is not now.  It is there.  It is then.  I am walking and working my way through this world.  One day I will be home, and my Father will welcome me into the City He has prepared.  I will lay all my burdens down.  I will enter into His Rest.  I will worship Him without sin in my life, my presence or the world.  I will experience true joy, true passion and truly experience experiencing for the first time.
This world is not my home, so why am I always so intent on behaving as if it were?


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