Bolivian missionaries make historic journey to help hurricane victims |

Bolivian missionaries make historic journey to help hurricane victims

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal South Reno United Methodist Church's the Rev. John Ruby and Margery Marshall, conference team leader, are working with a group from Bolivia on a Gulf Coast rebuilding project. The weaving and artwork behind them at the church is from a trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia, that they made in 2002.

When a group of Bolivian youth, all leaders of the Methodist church in the South American country, saw the devastation on the Gulf Coast following hurricanes Rita and Katrina, they wanted to help. Thanks to a South Reno Church, they are getting their wish.

For the first time, missionaries from Bolivia, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, will travel outside their borders and offer help to another country. They will join an international team of 17 people who arrive today in Moss Point, Miss., to help with rebuilding efforts.

Margery Marshall-Hall of Carson City is the mission’s team leader.

“These youth want to come and show the people on the Gulf Coast that they are thinking about us and we are in their prayers,” Marshall-Hall said.

The expedition is being funded by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and the South Reno United Methodist Church.

The Rev. John Ruby said the church has a connection with the Bolivian people and has sent five groups of missionaries to the country over the last four years.

“We were drawn to Latin America and our volunteer and mission coordinator suggested we consider Bolivia. We fell in love with the people and they fell in love with us,” Ruby said. “They have such a commitment to Jesus Christ and have taught us a lot about living with very little. That they are willing to share that with us is amazing.”

The walls of the church building, located at 200 DeSpain Lane, are adorned with the paintings and drawings of the local children received during the first mission to Bolivia in 2002.

“When we built our new building, we also raised money for a library in a little town in Bolivia. Their building dedication was the same week as ours,” Ruby said.

Marshall-Hall, who has journeyed to Bolivia several times, said she is proud to be a part of a mission that allows Methodist missionaries from Bolivia to leave the country to provide aid.

“We will be doing specific construction projects such as case assessment efforts on specific homes and other labor and tasks in the area,” she said.

The group will remain in Moss Point, which is about 100 miles from New Orleans and about 50 miles from Mobile, Ala., for two weeks.

“They are excited about coming to help. They want to repay some of the support they have received over the years,” Marshall-Hall said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.