Before I left for Bolivia, I ran across this biblical quotation: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13. Little did I know, I would be holding God’s hand as well as the hands of most everyone on our team during this trip!


About two weeks before the trip, I injured my left knee at the gym. It was getting much better before we left, but after two days on the airplane, my knee became swollen and painful. I could still walk, but limped and could not do stairs without assistance.


In addition to impaired mobility from the knee injury, a few other experiences tested me. We were unable to get most of our medications through Customs at the Santa Cruz airport in Bolivia. Since I work mainly in the clinic’s pharmacy, this was very worrisome. What would we have to give to our patients?


Then, one morning, I lost my “brain” (my cell phone) on the bus going to our clinic. On another morning, I missed the bus.  Luckily, Sara S. was still at the hotel, and she called Mari Kay on her cell phone. The bus had been ten minutes into the journey to the clinic, but turned around and came back after me.


One night, I thought I was locked out of my motel room in San Julian as I couldn’t find my key. My friends were amused when I found it in my other pocket.


On the other hand, it was very exciting to be in a country that I had never experienced before!  We were embraced by wonderful Bolivian Quaker hospitality. They were so happy that we had arrived, and so willing to help us in our clinics. Team members chipped in, and we bought the essential medications we needed in the pharmacy. We still ended up seeing approximately 800 patients in our two clinics!


I realized I was able to do my job well in the pharmacy because I received the help I needed from God, my teammates and prayers from home. I enjoyed relating to the Bolivian people at the pharmacy window and practicing Spanish with them. One day, I teamed up with Margarita, our pharmacy interpreter, and gave a talk to our patients about hypertension.


All I had to do was reach out my hand and someone would come along and help me up and down stairs, carry my suitcase, and help me walk along rough roads, especially at night.  I was even able to make it up the daunting, stone steps on the mountainside of Sun Island to the Fountain of Youth!


So, I was humbled by needing assistance. I literally experienced firsthand the power of Love that helped keep me going. There was no room for fear, just profound gratitude and calmness because I had been holding God’s hand the whole time.


It has been five months since I returned home from this trip to Bolivia. My knee seems well healed and I am grateful for that. I am starting to prepare to go again in April 2017. I’m wondering what God has in store for me on this next trip?


—Margie Simmons