By Janis H. Collins
On July 21, a team of 12 medical team members sponsored by Grace United Methodist Church in North Augusta left Atlanta for a nine-day Southeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Volunteers in Mission trip in Ancoraimes, Bolivia.
Because of the pandemic, it had been five years since we have been able to travel to Bolivia, and we found so much need and many changes.
Ancoraimes is a village that sits at 13,000 feet on the edges of Lake Titicaca. They had waited for us to come since 2020, and we were met with much celebration and by the bishop of the Bolivian Methodist Church, the Rev. Medardo Vedia Gutierrez. Gutierrez told us the indigenous people had almost given up hope that medical aid would be available to them.
The team worked for five days seeing a total of approximately 500 patients who lined up at our gates beginning in the middle of the night for a chance to see our doctor, dentists and eyeglass group. As each patient left our clinic with the medicines needed, we also gave out Bibles, sunglasses, eyedrops, warm hats and toothbrushes. They left with their hope restored that they are a people who matter and who are loved because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loves them, whose hands and feet we sought to be throughout the week.
As always, the team returned feeling we had received more than we could possibly give, and with hope of our own that we can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we reach out to others in need.
Team members included Ryan Collins, Joey Maroney, Trinidad Rice, Sawyer Jackson, Scott Jackson, Ryan Hendrick, Scott Collins, Jim Goettl, the Rev. Ashley Buchanan, Katie Krishon, Lisa Shull and Janis Collins.
While in Bolivia, Janis Collins was honored with an appreciation award for her 29 years of missional service to the Bolivian people, which was given by Bishop Gutiérrez personally in Bolivia. Once the team returned home, a slideshow of all the work done and recognition was given to Collins in Grace’s Aug. 13 11 a.m. worship service. Grace wanted to honor her and let the congregation know about the award she received in Bolivia.
Grace also let Collins and the congregation know she had been nominated for the Michael C. Watson Volunteer Appreciation award, even though she was not the winner. A copy of that award essay was presented to her that day.
Grace members thanked Collins for her continued commitment and support of leading Grace UMC to care for the least of these and making Christ’s love known to the Bolivian people and all people wherever.