Bolivia Volunteer Handbook

Printable Volunteer Handbook (PDF)

Hospitals of Hope Volunteer Handbook

Updated July 2014


Table of Contents


Contact Information

Hospital Information

Requirements for Serving


Raising Support


Recommended Reading




Arrival Information

Guest House Information

Notes on Expected Behavior

Guesthouse Guidelines

An Average Work Day and Week

A Note on Language: Translators and Spanish Lessons

General Information on Bolivia

Culture and Customs

Notes about Crossing Cultures





Staying Healthy

Returning Home


Telling Your Story

How to Mobilize Your Church . 29


Dear Volunteer,

Departure Day is quickly approaching! In just a short time, you will be on your way to Bolivia. We at Hospitals of Hope have committed this trip to the Lord and His leading and know you will be blessed as a participant. There are so many wonderful things to gain from this trip beyond just going down to lend a helping hand.

Keep in mind that our primary focus and goal in all the work we do is that the Lord be glorified. Please read all of the enclosed information very carefully. If at any time you have questions, please feel free to contact us.

This handbook contains a variety of information about life in Bolivia and the work you will be do­ing at Hospitals of Hope. Please take advantage of this information and the information provided in your Pre-Departure Guide to prepare for your trip. After your return home, please take the time to go through the Trip Debrief materials to help you process your time in Bolivia.

A couple of highlights:

Please be prepared to be flexible. Plans change and fall through frequently in Bolivia, and “Bolivian time” runs much more slowly than most of us are used to.

Bring along a journal and spend time journaling while you are in Bolivia. It will help you to process your experience, as well as to share with those at home.

Keep your eyes open for ways to serve, even if that means simply taking time to listen, clean the kitchen, or just patiently stand in line.

Be prepared to get out and stay out of your comfort zone. Life in Bolivia is often hard, discouraging, and uncomfortable. But, despite that, life in Bolivia can be joyful and fun. Come with an attitude of surrender, giving up each day, each hour, and each moment to our Savior.

Come ready to learn. The lessons you learn might not be the ones you are expecting, but they will be the ones that you need at that moment. Keep your eyes and heart open.

Thank you for your eagerness to serve with us in Bolivia. We're excited to have you join us!


The Hospitals of Hope staff

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Contact Information

Michael Wawrzewski
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Office: 316.262.0964
Fax: (316) 262-0953

Rudy Guzman
Bolivia Hospital Administrator (Speaks only Spanish)
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Hospital: 011.591.4426.1335
Cell: 011.591.7793.3751

Volunteer Coordinator
Cell: 011.591.6533-2830

Note for calling within Bolivia: While calling from a land line in Cochabamba, it’s not necessary to dial 011-591 or the first 4 listed: 011 is US calling code. 591 is Bolivian country code. 4 is Cochabamba city code. If calling from a cell phone and the number you are calling starts with a 4, you must dial that initial 4.

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Hospital Information

Our hospital is located in the community of Anocaraire, near the town of Vinto, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The altitude of Cochabamba is approximately 8,500 feet, which gives it a relatively temperate climate year-round. In the winter (June - August) or during the rainy season (December - February), it can be chilly, so, no mat­ter what time of year you come, be sure to bring clothes you can layer. (It does actually freeze at night in winter, so be prepared!) See the “Packing” section of this guidebook for more information about what to pack.

Our hospital has approximately 30 beds.The hospital compound also houses our guest house and a fire station, the home of the first and only Emergency Response Unit in Bolivia, which responds to accidents on the nearby mountain highway.


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Requirements for Serving


A current passport is required to enter Bolivia. If you do not have one and are a US citizen you may get the application at most US Postal Service locations. Please note that it usually takes longer than 6 weeks to get your passport unless you pay a rush fee, so please plan ahead and get your application in early. Passports currently cost $135 in the US. Hospitals of Hope will need to receive a photocopy of your passport before you leave to keep on record. It is wise to leave a photo­copy of your passport with your family and also to carry one with you, in case your original gets lost or stolen.


Bolivia is now requiring a visa for all US citizens. For those staying less than three months, these may be purchased in the Bolivian airport or at the local Bolivian Embassy. They are $160 at the airport in Bolivia. We strongly recommend getting your visa at the airport instead of mailing in your application.

You are responsible for making sure that you have all of the required documentation to receive a visa. Please check for the most recent information on obtaining a visa. At present, the requirements for US citizens are as follows:

  • Complete the sworn statement for visa application (available online at . You must also paste a full color passport size picture; 80% of the image must be of the face, no glasses. Further information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Exterior Relations at; link “Servicio al Ciudadano”.
  • Current American passport. (Please note that it must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.)
  • Copy of invitation letter from Hospitals of Hope.
  • Round trip ticket or copy of travel itinerary.
  • Bank statement or equivalent that shows economic solvency. (A copy of Credit Card - front side- will also be accepted. Please note that the validity of the document should be for at least the travel period). Parent’s or Legal Guardian’s Eco­nomic Solvency documents are accepted for underage applicants.
  • Visa fee: US$ 160 cash

If you will be staying for more than 3 months, HOH must make special arrangements for you to get a longer-term visa. There will be additional fees associated with this.



  • Yellow Fever (Required to get a visa to enter Bolivia)
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, and other routine vaccinations (make sure these are up to date)



  • Hepatitus A & B (recommended)
  • Typhoid (recommended)
  • Rabies (Recommended if you intend to come in contact with animals. We advise against playing with animals in Bolivia.)


Not Necessary:

  • Malaria medication is NOT NECESSARY.  It is only required in the jungle regions of Bolivia, which are not part of regularly scheduled trips). If you decide to visit the jungle, prophylactic malaria medication may be obtained in Bolivia.

Also see the CDC website at: Your insurance company may cover these shots.

Travel Insurance

All participants on Hospitals of Hope mission trips are required to purchase traveler’s insurance. Traveler’s insurance usu­ally provides emergency medical evacuation, baggage insurance, disability insurance, and some medical coverage. Be sure to check with your US medical insurance company to make sure that they will also cover you while you are abroad. If they do not, you must purchase medical insurance to cover you for the duration of your trip.

Medical Evacuation is necessary only when a medical emergency is urgent enough that a person needs to be flown from the region where they’re serving back to their home country for better medical care. These circumstances are extremely rare, but the cost is overwhelming without insurance. Because of this, it is a requirement for all Hospitals of Hope person­nel and volunteers.

Hospitals of Hope recognizes that there are many policies available. You are not required to purchase insurance from the companies we’ve suggested here as long as proof of coverage is supplied. Please carefully read all of the information provided by the insurance company. The following are a few companies that offer Travel Insurance:

Travel Protectors

Missionary Travel Association

Good Neighbor Insurance

Adams & Associates International
PO Box 5845
Columbia, SC 29250-5845
Tel: 803-758-1400
Fax: 803-252-1988
Adams & Associates User Name: hospitals
Adams & Associates Password: hoh

If you choose to use Adams and Associates, please follow these instructions: Once you have logged in, click on the “Inter­national Volunteer Program” link. On the ensuing page, click on the “Travel Insurance Enrollment” link -- this will take you to the enrollment form. You will have the option of paying online with a credit card, or just mailing a check after submitting the enrollment.

If you choose to use one of these companies, you may submit the application directly to them, and then send proof of the coverage to the HOH office. Some school insurance companies will cover this, and your regular medical policy may cover this, so please be sure to check with your own company too (note the Medical Evacuation part of the policy is essential).

Once you’ve arranged for your travel insurance, please send us the company name and policy number of the company with which you’re insured.

If you have questions about this requirement or the policy options, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Medical Professional Liability Insurance

All Medical Professionals (not students) are required to have Medical Professional Liability Insurance while volunteering at Hospitals of Hope. This is to protect our organization and you personally from medical malpractice lawsuits.  We recommend using

International Helpers (Guernsey) Trust
c/o RIL Administrators
Maison Trinity, Trinity Square
St. Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 4AT Channel Islands Telephone & Fax: +44 (0)1481 740 009

Visit their website at . Click on the "Enroll Online" button, and enter "hospitals" as the User Name and "hoh" as the Password. Rates range from 4 - 9 dollars a day depending on your profession. If you have any questions, please feel free to call them at (800) 922-8438.



All funds are required to be turned in to Hospitals of Hope before leaving to serve with HOH.

Medical and Dental Licensing and Permits

If you are a medical professional, HOH will need a photocopy of your medical or dental licensing before you leave to serve. You will need to bring two copies of this documentation with you, as well.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Passport (at least 8 weeks prior to departure)
  • Flight arrangements made and paid for (at least 6 weeks prior to departure)
  • Balance of funds paid to HOH (at least 4 weeks prior to departure)
  • Completed required vaccinations (at least 3 weeks prior to departure)
  • Sent copies of all required documents to Hospitals of Hope (at least 2 weeks prior to departure)
    • Passport copy
    • Travel Insurance (& liability insurance, for medical professionals)
    • Copy of immunization booklet with all required vaccinations
    • Medical and Dental licensing and permits (for professionals)
  • Visa requirements:
    • Visa application form
    • Passport-sized photo
    • Invitation letter from Hospitals of Hope
    • Copy of itinerary
    • Bank statement or copy of front side of credit card
    • Vaccination booklet showing vaccination for Yellow Fever
    • $160 cash for the visa
  • Cash or a credit/debit card (Visa is widely accepted) to purchase your flight to Cochabamba (about $65), and cash to pay the airport tax (about $2).


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Raising Support

Support for mission trips takes place in two equally important stages. The first is fund-raising; the second is prayer sup­port. Please keep in mind that both are necessary for a truly blessed ministry experience.

Reasons for Raising Support

People often don’t look forward to asking for money. However, there are a lot of Biblical examples when others received financial support. Please do not feel like you must come up with all the resources necessary for your trip. In fact, you are missing out if you don’t allow others to participate in your ministry by helping financially or through prayer. You also miss out on the blessing of learning to trust the Lord in faith that He will supply all of your needs. Raising support can also be a means to stimulate and encourage missionary vision in the body of Christ.

There are numerous examples in the Bible where the Lord used people to provide for His servants. Here are three great examples:

  • The Levites of the Old Testament were sustained by the tithes and offerings of God’s people. This was done so that they could focus their time and energy completely on serving the Lord (Leviticus 7:35, 36).
  • Nehemiah used financial support, even from nonbelievers. He prayed for a long time and then followed through by ask­ing specifically for what was needed. The Lord provided in incredible ways throughout the entire book of Nehemiah (Nehe­miah 2:1-8).
  • Jesus also lived on the support of others. Although He could have worked as a carpenter to earn money to support Him­self, instead He allowed others to participate in His ministry by providing for Him (Luke 8:3).

Faith increases as God is allowed to demonstrate His power. This is a chance for you to see what God can and will do in your life. It will enlarge your faith and increase your confidence in God and in what the two of you can do. Remember, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24).


There are many different ways to raise funds. You may want to look for books that give suggestions on fund-raising, par­ticularly for groups. Here are some ideas:

  • Be sure to let people know of your financial and prayer needs!
  • Contact your local church. Ask if they have budgeted for supporting individuals or groups on short-term trips or if they would assist you in that possibility.
  • Ask your work or school for assistance. Sometimes companies will provide a gift-matching program.
  • Make a flier. Explain who, what, when, where, how much. These can be posted at church, work or school (with permis­sion of course). Make sure the flier explains how to respond. Make it eye-catching.
  • Look for speaking opportunities.
  • Try to share briefly with your Sunday School class, Bible study group, church, or even your work or school if possible.
  • Write a short news release for your church newsletter, company news, school newspaper or local paper. Use photos when possible.
  • Let someone else ask for money for you. Share your financial needs with your pastor or mission committee chairperson. Ask if they can challenge others to help.
  • Host group fund-raising activities; even if you are an individual going, ask your friends and family to help you.
  • Bake sale or Cookout
  • Car wash
  • Garage sale
  • Silent auction-Local companies, stores, restaurants, hotels, and other organizations will often make tax-deductible dona­tions of their products or services. A silent auction can then be held to raise funds for the different gift packages provided by these companies. Please be sure that your church or HOH is contacted in advance in order to make arrangements for all necessary tax-deductible receipts.


The possibilities are endless!  And last but not least...

    Write a support letter

    This is the #1 way that funds are raised. This may sound intimidating, but this is a great opportunity for you to impact the lives of others as you share your commitment to serving the Lord by reaching out to those less fortunate than yourself. It also allows them to participate in this type of ministry, since many of our friends, families, and acquaintances would not normally get involved in a project of this nature. The best part is that when you come back you can share how you’ve seen prayers answered and God at work in your life and the lives of others around the world. Often on mission trips, you come back changed. This transformation is something you get to share with your supporters. What a privilege to have a reason to share with them exactly how God is blessing you and teaching you and using you to His glory!

    To whom to send a support letter:

    Support letters can be sent to a large variety of people. Don’t limit your fund-raising to just within your church or your fam­ily. Consider the people you come in contact with regularly but are outside of your main circle of friends. Consider how you may impact their lives as a result of sharing with them.

    Before writing your support letter, always spend some time in prayer asking the Lord what He’d have you share with your potential supporters. As you begin your letter, be sure to personalize it by writing their individual name. At the end of the letter you’ll also want to include a personalized note to the individual as a postscript. Make sure to include all pertinent information: who, what, when, where, how much, and—most importantly—why. Share the need of the people you’re going to serve. Share why you’re interested in going on this trip. Share how you will be a blessing to others and perhaps what you hope to learn from the experience as well. Also, be sure to tell them that you’d appreciate their prayer support.

    Include a portion of the letter or a separate card that can be returned noting any financial or prayer support they’d like to offer you. Be sure to explain that checks should be made out to Hospitals of Hope and that your name should not appear on the check, but rather on the form that is mailed back. If your name appears on the check, the donation will not be tax deductible. You will usually have better results if you include a stamped envelope already addressed to:

    Hospitals of Hope
    3545 N Santa Fe
    Wichita, KS 67219

    Sample Support Letter

    Dear Mark & Michelle,

    Saludos (Greetings! In Spanish)! I want to take a minute to tell you about an exciting opportunity I have to serve on a mis­sion trip in Bolivia. This summer from July 13-24, I will be traveling to Cochabamba, Bolivia in South America.

    Hospitals of Hope is an organization that provides much-needed medical and dental care to people in third world coun­tries. HOH has a hospital in Bolivia and works with many other organizations serving the community. As a volunteer with HOH, I will be helping at the hospital and will have opportunity to share the gospel with the patients in Bolivia. I am really looking forward to sharing my story of how Christ has changed my life through His transforming love and power!

    One way you can partner with me in this ministry opportunity is to pray for me. Please pray also for each and every life I will come in contact with. If you would be willing to pray for me every day while I serve on this trip, please contact me directly so I can send you further prayer requests and updates.

    A second way that you can partner with me is by supporting me financially. I need to raise $1400 to cover my travel, food, and housing. I would like to ask you to pray about being a part of my support team. If you feel led to become a part of my support team, please fill out the card below and mail it back to HOH using the enclosed envelope. If you have any ques­tions, please contact me at 316-278-1920 or email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

    Serving Him,

    Christina Williams

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Please make all checks payable to Hospitals of Hope, Inc. and attach this lower portion. Do not include the volunteer’s name anywhere on the check.


    Address:________________________City:___________________State:____ Zip: ________Phone:____________

    I/we would like to help support _______________________ by giving: $__________ toward his/her mission trip.

    Prayer Partners

    Prayer is the very best way to have a great impact overseas. It is the number one way to prepare for serving others. Not only that, but by bringing your needs and laying them at the feet of our Lord you learn to rely on Him for everything. He is the only One who can give you the strength and sustenance for each day. He’s the One that can help you work to your fullest potential.

    Trusting in Him to work through you and provide all your needs is actually the most freeing way to live. We need not worry because He’s got everything under control. All we need to do is walk according to His leading, serve to the best of our ability, and wait upon Him as He takes what we can give and turns it into something beautiful.

    It is important to ask for prayer before leaving to go overseas. Ask friends and family. Ask people whose Christian walk you admire. Find people who will commit to praying for you daily while you serve overseas. Put together a list of prayer requests, both for yourself as well as for the people you’ll be serving. Here are some examples of requests:


    Strength, energy, that all food will set well, formation of good friendships, having plenty of opportunity for time in the Word, growing in faith, sharing clear testimony, safety in travel

    Those I’m Serving:

    That the Holy Spirit would prepare them and draw them to Himself, for opportunities to share with the nationals, for an openness to the gospel, provision of their needs.

    If possible try to get together with your prayer partners before departing so they can pray with you and for you, too. Ask your church to have a commissioning service before you leave; this will be a blessing to your church body as well as to you and will allow even more people to be praying for you and your ministry.

    Follow Up

    It’s incredibly important to keep in contact with your supporters. As soon as you receive word back that someone has sent you money or has decided to pray for you, be sure to thank God for them, and then send them a personal thank you note. When you thank them, feel free to let them know some of your other prayer concerns. Be sure to send your list of prayer requests to your prayer team.

    Send a letter with photos or a personal postcard from the country where you served to let your supporters how your trip went. This allows you to share the amazing things God has done and taught you through this experience. It also allows your ministry to have an even greater impact, as it will challenge your supporters. It may help increase their faith if they’re believers, and if they’re not believers they may begin to ask more questions as they see God’s power and ability to work in and through your life.

    This may get your supporters interested in missions, as well. It helps you to continue to process all that you’ve experi­enced and helps you readjust to your home country as you’re able to share your story with others. And last, but not least, it enables others to know how to continue to pray for the ministry you’ve been involved in. The needs and the ministry will still continue after you leave, but the power of prayer is strong and this is a great way to continue in that ministry.

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    Recommended Reading

    Books on Missions, Evangelism, and Serving

    When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

    A Beginner’s Guide to Crossing Cultures by Patty Lane

    Amy Carmichael by Kathleen White

    The Case for Christ or The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

    Changing the Mind of Missions by James Engel & William Dyrness

    Get the Word Out by John Teter

    Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor

    On Being a Missionary by Dr. Thomas Hale

    Prayer Walking by Steve Hawthorn & Graham Kendrick

    Walking With the Poor by Bryant Myers

    Why I Am a Christian by John Stott

    Short-Term Team Leaders Guides

    Mac & Leeann’s Guide to Short-Term Missions by J. Mack & Leeann Stiles

    Short-Term Missions Workbook by Tim Dearborn

    Vacation With a Purpose by Chris Eaton & Kim Hurst

    Medical Guides for Developing Countries

    Handbook of Medicine for the Developing World by Dennis Palmer & Katherine Wolf

    Where There Is No Doctor by David Werner


    Lonely Planet Bolivia (or other guidebook)


    Great Fund-raising Ideas for Youth Groups by David & Kathy Lynn


    If you are a medical practitioner or student, we would rec­ommend that you bring both a medical Spanish book and a regular bilingual dictionary. We recommend that all non-Spanish-speaking volunteers bring their own pocket-sized bilingual dictionary and phrasebook.

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    At the time of this writing, you are allowed one checked bag and one carry-on on American Airlines flights to South America with no charge. There is an additional charge for a second checked bag. You are also allowed a purse or briefcase – these are not considered carry-on pieces. Please check with the airline for specific baggage requirements.

    Please also be aware that we sometimes we have items like medical supplies/medications, trip supplies, children’s items, etc. that we need volunteers to take to Bolivia. If we have items that need taken, we will distribute these items along with all proper documentation among the team members sometime before your trip. Please be mindful of this while packing. If we do not send you items to take, please consider bringing items to be used at clinics or orphanages (see the list given later in this handbook).

    Pack “smartly.” If you are carrying medicines, medical supplies or equipment, it is important that these supplies be wrapped in clothing or placed in your luggage pockets. We have run into customs problems on previous trips. The worst scenario is that customs agents will confiscate the donated items and then HOH staff will have to go through loads of red tape to liberate the donations. If necessary, HOH will supply you with a letter stating that you have been asked to transport medical supplies to Bolivia for Hospitals of Hope.

    Note when packing: Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere, so it’s seasons are opposite of those in the US. It doesn’t ever get really cold in Cochabamba, but it can be quite chilly at night. (It freezes at night during the winter, which is June – August.) Please bring sweaters and a jacket.

    For women, pants are fine, as are skirts. Shorts are okay, as long as they're not very short, but plan on wearing pants most of the time, especially if you are there in winter (the opposite of the northern hemisphere’s winter, remember!). Also, remember that the more skin you show, the more attention you will attract -- and it won't be the good kind of attention!

    Bolivia uses 220 volt power, unlike the US.  If you plan on using electronic devices, please bring the appropriate transformers.  Many laptop computers are able to use either 110 or 220 volt power; please check the label on your power cord to be sure.

    General Packing List

  • Passport
  • Bible, pen, journal
  • Bilingual dictionary
  • If you wear contacts, take your glasses along, too
  • Prescription medications (in their original containers)
  • Books to read
  • Good, compact medical reference book (for medical students or professionals)
  • Stethoscope, otoscope, etc, if you have them
  • Ministry materials
  • Water bottle
  • Electrical adapter/transformer for any appliances or equipment you bring
  • Toiletries - soap, shampoo, toothpaste & toothbrush, deodorant, etc
  • Travel pillow (optional)
  • Lotion
  • Chap stick
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Good walking shoes. Even your dress shoes should be comfortable for walking in, as you will be walking a lot in Bolivia.
  • Appropriate clothing and shoes for work, play and church
  • Clothes to layer. The temperature can be quite warm during the day and chilly at night.
  • Pajamas
  • Scrubs. The guesthouse has some scrubs available, but selection is limited when there are a lot of volunteers in the house.
  • Small kleenex packages to use as toilet paper. Most public restrooms do not have toilet paper.
  • Waterless hand sanitizer
  • Medium-weight jacket & a sweatshirt
  • Flashlight & batteries (optional but helpful)
  • Camera & extra batteries
  • Anti-diarrhea medication & something for upset stomach (such as PeptoBismol)
  • Snack food
  • Toys to play with children (example: balls, jump ropes, etc)
  • Musical instruments (optional). please pack carefully – it may be best to carry on! There is a guitar available at the Guest House.
  • Extra space to bring back gifts and souvenirs
  • A laptop, tablet or smart phone if you want to be able to use the wifi at restaurants. There are also internet cafes nearby (with computers with internet access, but no wifi available for personal devices). Internet cafes with wifi are available in downtown Cochabamba. Internet is not currently available at the hospital or Guest House.
  • A debit card, in case you need to withdraw extra money. A credit card can also be useful.
  • Extra spending money (new-looking cash). Crumpled or torn bills are not accepted in Bolivia.


Do NOT bring:

  • Clothing that could be seen as immodest (short shorts or skirts, strappy tank tops, 2 piece bathing suits, etc)
  • Flashy jewelry (nothing that would call attention to yourself)
  • Prized possessions
  • Too many clothes


    Optional Items

    The following is a list of items that are helpful and always needed:

    Medical Items

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Children’s vitamins
  • Tylenol and Ibuprofen
  • Non-sterile small and medium gloves
  • Sterile surgical gloves sizes; 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0
  • Sterile 4 X 4’s
  • Medical instruments of any kind (most needed would be instruments for small surgical cases)
  • Sterile betadine swabs
  • Sterile Sutures
  • Dental instruments
  • Dental supplies: lidocaine/epi carpules, amalgem, dental needles
  • Children’s antibiotics (no outdated medicines)
  • Adult antibiotics (no outdated medicines)
  • Adult vitamins
  • Laboratory supplies: Venipuncture tubes for CBC & Chemistry, microscope slides and cover slips, urine cups, or any other basic laboratory supplies or equipment.
  • Extra money to buy medications for use at outreach clinics
  • Children’s Items
  • Small toys (Happy Meal treats, match box cars, etc.)
  • Spanish Bibles & tracts
  • Bubbles
  • Children’s Christian Story Books in Spanish
  • Christian videos in Spanish (must be spoken in Spanish, not subtitles)
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Children’s hair clips, etc.
  • Please do not bring candy. Oral hygiene is a huge problem in Bolivia. If you would like to bring candy, please make sure that it is sugar-free.
  • Kids clothes & shoes — all sizes

    Last Minute Tips

  • It is best to pack liquid items in ziplock bags so that if they leak during the trip they do not get on your clothing, etc.
  • Make sure all your luggage and carry-on bags are clearly marked with your name, address & phone number.
  • Do not pack your camera equipment or other expensive items (ex¬stethoscopes or otoscopes) in your checked luggage. It is best to carry these items in your carry-on bag.
  • Take an extra set of clothing in your carry-on bag so that if your checked luggage is delayed, you have fresh clothes when you arrive in Bolivia.
  • If you take personal prescription medications, pack these in your carry-on bags and make sure they are in the prescription bottle.

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    Arrival Information

    You will receive your international tickets via email from the Hospitals of Hope office. You will purchase your ticket to Co­chabamba once you arrive in Santa Cruz.


    Before landing in Santa Cruz, you will be given an immigration card to fill out. List that you are a tourist and will be staying in Cochabamba. You should not have anything to declare. Please use the following address when filling out the customs report. (Do not try to mail items to this address.)


    Calle Anocaraire




    You will go through immigration in Santa Cruz. Make sure to collect all of your carry-on items and have your passport ready. Everyone on the plane will go through immigration, so follow the crowd. Your passport will be stamped at the immi­gration booth. Then you will be directed out of the immigration terminal area. Please note, if you are staying for more than 30 days, please be sure they stamp your passport for 90 days.


    Try to stay as a group when you go to leave immigration, but if you get separated, the airport is easy to navigate and you can meet at the ticket counter to buy tickets for your next flight. When you exit immigration, you will go through double doors into a large hall; many people will be awaiting the arrival of your flight as some will be ending their travel in Santa Cruz. Go through the crowd and to your right - you will walk down a long hall with signs pointing to the Domestic Gates. If you have questions, there is an information booth in this hall. Right after the information booth, you will see airline coun­ters. You will purchase your flight to Cochabamba here, at the BOA or Aerosur desk. A one-way flight should be about $65; it is just a 45-minute flight.


    You are automatically allowed one suitcase and the other suitcase will be charged according to the weight. The charge should not exceed $10 - $15. Once you have picked up your ticket, you will need to pay a domestic flight fee of 15 Bolivia­nos. (To depart from Bolivia, you will have to pay a $25 USD airport tax. You will do this at the airport as you prepare to leave the country.)


    Once you have purchased your domestic flight, go to the internet cafe and call the volunteer coordinator to let him know your arrival informa­tion 6533-2830 (cell).


    Once you arrive in Cochabamba, our volunteer coordinator or our driver will meet you at the airport.

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    Guest House Information

    While in Bolivia, you will be staying at the Hospitals of Hope Guest House, which is located 50 meters behind the hospital. The Guest House is comfortable and inviting. It is five thousand square feet, with eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms, and two half bathrooms. All bath towels, washcloths, etc. are provided. The bedrooms are set up dorm style with bunk beds. All bedding is provided at the Guest House (including pillows, sheets, blankets, etc.)


    During the week meals will be prepared by the guest house host or by you and your fellow guests. Please be ready and willing to help. Please let us know on your volunteer application if you have food allergies or special dietary needs; if you do not let us know this well in advance, we cannot guarantee to be able to accommodate you.


    Drinking water is available at the Guest House. You should bring a water bottle with you that you can fill each morning to take to any activities with you.


    For long-term guests, laundry is available and can be done at the Guest House. We have a small clothes washer and then hang clothes on the line in the backyard to dry. Laundry soap is provided.


    Please note that during Non-Daylight Savings Time, Bolivia is 1 hour later than Eastern Standard Time. During Daylight Savings Time, Bolivia is on Eastern Standard Time.


    You may receive calls at the guest house in Bolivia, but we prefer that you do not unless you are staying for more than 2 weeks. The guest house phone number is 011.591.4435.5879.


    You can access email and make phone calls at the local internet cafes, which are walking distance from the hospital. However, these cafes only have desktop computers connected to the internet, not wifi available for personal devices. Wifi is available at cafes in downtown Cochabamba. You can also bring a laptop, tablet or smart phone to connect to wifi at restaurants or at an internet cafe.


    Please note that mail in Bolivia is highly unreliable and we ask that you do not plan on receiving any packages in Bolivia while you are serving. That also means that it will not be a good idea to plan on mailing items from Bolivia unless the unre­liability is not a factor for you. Our mail is usually addressed and stamped and then sent back with volunteers to mail from the US.

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    Notes on Expected Behavior

  • The traditional Bolivian greeting is a cheek kiss between women or between a woman and a man. Men shake hands.
  • Don’t say anything in public that you wouldn’t want everyone to understand; many Bolivians understand English.
  • Please be considerate of others, wherever we are – in the house, in the hospital, or on a trufi (bus).
  • Please ask the volunteer coordinator before committing to any non-scheduled activities, to be sure that they do not conflict with any plans or go against Bolivian cultural norms.
  • Do not invite anyone to the house or to planned activities without prior permission from the volunteer coordinator. Be sure to ask before inviting guests for dinner, even if they have come before.
  • Don’t give away guest house property without prior permission, even if you intend to pay for it. It can be difficult or ex­pensive to replace things here.
  • Do not give large gifts to Bolivians without permission from the volunteer coordinator. We don’t want to cultivate a feeling of dependence or create jealousy. If a Bolivian approaches you and asks you for help with medical bills, refer them to Rudy, the hospital administrator.
  • Please be very cautious in how you relate to members of the opposite sex. We want to be extremely careful not to give the wrong impression.
  • Please be on the lookout for opportunities to serve, whether that means playing with a child or cleaning the bathroom.
  • We ask that you refrain from giving money to beggars. Food is most appropriate.
  • Please treat your volunteer work at least as seriously as you would take a job. Remember that you are “working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23). If you do not take your work seriously, those you are working with will not trust you with responsibility, you won’t be given as meaningful of work, and you will not be helpful to those you are trying to serve.
  • We are a Christian organization that desires to be a witness in all that we do. Bolivian Christians are stricter than those in many countries, and we ask that you abide by their standards. Therefore, HOH does not allow the use of drugs, smoking, drinking of alcohol, dancing, romantic affairs, or anything that can cause a bad testimony for you and for HOH.
  • HOH reserves the right to ask you, the volunteer, to leave at any time if we feel that any of your actions are not glorifying to God. Once that decision has been made, HOH will help you make the necessary arrangements for the next available flight home. If this were to happen, you would be responsible for any additional travel costs.


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    Guesthouse Guidelines

  • Don’t touch the shower heads; they are electric and may shock you.
  • Do not put toilet paper in the toilets; use the trash cans. Bolivian plumbing is very sensitive.  This applies not only to the guest house but to all Bolivian toilets -- and to many all over the developing world.
  • The hall bathroom is for liquids only – It gets clogged easily, and we don’t like mopping!
  • Be careful not to let food or hair go down sink or shower drains; they get clogged very easily.
  • Our stove is powered by propane and must be lit with a match. If you’re not sure how to do it, have someone else show you first. The proper procedure is to light the match, hold it by the burner, and then turn the burner on.  Do not turn the burner on before having the match lit.  To turn on the oven, open the oven, light the match, and put the lit match into the hole at the bottom of the oven.  Then turn on the gas.  If the match goes out without lighting the oven, turn off the gas while you relight the match.  Then try again.  If you light it improperly, it may cause an explosion, so please ask for help if you are not sure.
  • Don’t use the tap water for drinking or brushing teeth. Use the water from the bottle in the dining room.
  • After breakfast and lunch, please wash your own dishes, as well as any pans you emptied. Please sign up for after-dinner duty.
  • Don’t eat fruit or vegetables that haven’t been cooked or disinfected.
  • If you get sick, please let the volunteer coordinator know.
  • Girls should do no walking or running alone, unless approved by the volunteer coordinator. It is recommended that guys also walk or run in groups.  You should go in groups of 3 girls or 1 girl and a guy if going anywhere other than into Vinto. No walking or running after dark, unless approved by the volunteer coordinator.
  • If you are the last one out of the house, lock the door and hide the key. Make sure there is no one left in the house!
  • At night, the last one to go to bed should make sure all doors are locked and lights are off.
  • There is no switch for the porch light on the front porch; that is the doorbell! The porch light switch is in the hallway across from the front door.
  • Before plugging anything in, make sure it can handle 220 power or that you are using a transformer. You will be respon­sible for replacing any guest house or hospital appliances that you burn out.
  • Before borrowing items from others or the guest house, please ask first.
  • If the phone rings more than 5 times, please answer it. It just might be someone who speaks English.
  • Keep the doors closed. We don’t want to let in flies.
  • If you are staying for more than 2 weeks, you may use the washer. Have someone who has used the washer before show you how it works. You may dry your laundry on the clothesline around the side of the house. If you are staying for less than 2 weeks and want to use the washer, please donate $1 US to help cover costs.
  • The dog is not allowed in the house. When playing with the dog, please don’t allow him to bite playfully or to jump up on you; we are trying to break him of these habits!
  • If you are not sure how something works, please ask. If you break something you will be expected to take responsibility for the cost required to replace or fix the item.
  • Please keep your personal items picked up around the house.
  • Please use the same bath towel for at least 4 days.
  • If you take a shower, let it not be longer than 5 minutes. Please limit your showers to one per day.
  • Once you take a shower, please do not leave your personal items in the shower or on the counter. (If items are left out, they are considered fair game for all guests to use).
  • Please help keep the bathrooms neat.
  • Please hang your bath towels in your rooms.
  • You will be responsible for washing your bath towels, unless the guest house host makes other arrangements.
  • If you use anything, make sure that you put it back clean and in the proper place. If you don’t know where it goes, please ask!
  • The food in the house is for the volunteers only. If you would like to give food to others, you are expected to purchase it at your own expense.
  • Food that is provided in the house is safe to eat. The restaurants that are recommended by the guest hosts are also safe. Any other food items are at your own risk. (Please note that we cannot guarantee that a guest will not get sick, but you will be less likely to become ill if you follow our guidelines.)
  • Everyone is expected to help with meal preparation and cleanup. The volunteer coordinator will let you know when you are expected to help.
  • HOH has planned out a weekly meal schedule. Any meals not a part of the schedule are at your own expense.
  • Please do not leave personal items or clothing lying around, and please be willing to pitch in to help clean. Remember that you are on a mission trip, and part of service is being considerate of those you live with.
  • The day you’re scheduled to leave, please strip the sheets from your bed and place them in front of the laundry room.
  • Clean and sweep your bedroom and empty the trash.
  • HOH provides transportation to and from the airport and all planned activities. All other transportation is at your own expense.
  • We ask that no guys enter the girls’ rooms or vice versa. (Excluding married couples).
  • We ask that you attend devotions and other planned group activities.
  • Quiet hours begin at 10PM. Please respect this time for those who are sleeping or doing personal devotions. If you are up early or late, please be quiet!
  • When outside of guest house, please be sure to travel in groups of at least two or three people.
  • We ask that any music that is not played privately be Christian or non-offensive secular music.


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    An Average Work Day and Week

    Rounds at the hospital begin at 7:30 am, Monday - Friday. while Bolivians are not always timely, we should be timely in our hospital assignments, out of respect for the Bolivian providers. Medical students should plan to go to the hospital earlier to have a chance to review patient charts before rounds.


    Patient consults begin after rounds and go until noon. Volunteers will primarily shadow during this time. The longer you spend developing relationships with our doctors and the more enthusiasm you show for learning, the more they will let you do. Bolivia is a relationship-based society, and your involvement will depend on your willingness to invest in relationships, to ask questions, and to help in any area you can.


    Volunteers can also serve coffee to patients in the waiting room, provide administrative support, spend time with patients internalized in the hospital, or share their testimony with patients.


    Outside of the hospital, volunteers will help at a variety of other ministries, including orphanages and other hospitals and clinics. We also complete regular outreach clinics in the surrounding communities, going to or­phanages or schools to do checkups on the children.


    On Saturday, volunteers often have an opportunity to do some street witnessing in the Principal Plaza of Cochabamba where another Christian organization will be bathing & washing the hair of street children. (This takes place between 4:30-5:30 pm).


    Each week, the volunteer coordinator plans a variety of activities for the volunteers, providing opportunities for sightseeing, shop­ping, and building relationships with Bolivians. Most weeks will have very similar activities although the activities them­selves may vary. We ask that you participate in all planned activities. For those who stay for a number of weeks, some activities will not be required, such as sight-seeing of the same location multiple times.


    If you wish to take part in activities that are not planned by the volunteer coordinator, please ask for permission first, to be sure that your plans do not conflict with other plans and do not go against Bolivian cultural norms.


    Guests are expected to help with meal preparation as well as set up and cleanup of meals. For larger groups, volunteers will be placed on rotating teams.

    Free time can be used to check Internet or make phone calls from Internet Cafés. Free time can also be used for naps, quiet time/devotions, fellowship, games, etc.


    Other activities may be added depending on the teams, time, and finances of each group. Attending a local soccer game may be an option depending on the schedule. Some teams may plan on taking some sightseeing trips outside of Cocha­bamba (arrangements for these trips must be approved by the volunteer coordinator).


    If you have some specific ideas of something you would really like to see or participate in, please let us know as soon as possible so we may be able to make the necessary arrangements. Please understand that we cannot always cater to everyone’s desires, but we will do our best. Please plan on being flexible, too, because our schedule does change from time to time.

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    A Note on Language: Translators and Spanish Lessons

    If you do not speak Spanish, Hospitals of Hope can arrange for a translator for you. However, we highly recommend that you first try going without a translator – you will learn much more Spanish this way! You will be responsible for paying the translator. Translators generally charge 25 bolivianos ($4) per hour and can often be shared by a group. You will usually not need a translator for the entire day, and, if you are with other volunteers who speak Spanish, they are often willing to help translate. If you would like a translator, please let the volunteer coordinator know as soon as you arrive, even if you already marked that on your application.When there are large groups of volunteers, you will probably have to share a translator with others.


    Spanish lessons may be available for approximately $8 per hour per student. If you do not speak Spanish -- or even if you do, but have room for improvement -- we highly recommend taking advantage of this op­portunity.

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    General Information on Bolivia

  • Bolivia is a beautiful country with wide and varied terrain. Its people and its history are as unique and varied as its land.
  • The Inca Indians populated Bolivia until Spanish conquistadors took over control in the 1530’s. In 1825, Bolivia claimed its independence and took the name of its liberator, Simon Bolivar.
  • Bolivia is land-locked and found in the center of South America. It is about the size of California and Texas combined. It is bordered by Chile, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Its land includes rain forest and jungle, the tallest mountains in South America which are snow-capped, as well as deserts and even a couple of volcanoes to the west. The city of Co­chabamba sits at about 8,000 feet and is ringed by mountains. Temperature in Cochabamba will range from 32˚F at night to 70˚-80˚F during the day.
  • Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Because it is land-locked, efficient commerce and trade is a challenge. Agriculture is the source of income for about 50% of the population. Export crops include sugar, coffee, and cotton. Coca production has been increasing in recent years.
  • The population of Bolivia is around 9 million people. Bolivia’s people are still primarily indigenous. Although Spanish is the national language, most Bolivians also speak an indigenous language, the most common being Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani.
  • Due to the Spanish influence in Bolivia, the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism. However, the Catholicism practiced by many in Bolivia is really a combination of ancient indigenous beliefs, rites, and superstitions. Rather than adopting one religion over another, some Bolivians mix parts of several different belief systems.
  • Health care is considered to be poor throughout the country, but especially in rural areas. It is estimated that 5% of all children born will die during their first year of life. The average life expectancy is about 66 compared to 70 to 75 in most developing countries.


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    Culture and Customs

  • Time is perceived very differently in the United States than in many other parts of the world, including Bolivia. Sched­ules are much more flexible in Bolivia, and starting and ending events “on time” is not nearly as big of a priority. Do not be alarmed or frustrated if planned events fall through, or if you show up to an event and it does not start until much later. Relax and enjoy the change of pace!
  • Do not be surprised or offended if people stare at you, especially in rural areas. Bolivia is much less ethnically diverse than the United States and many other developed countries, so you may very well stand out. Remember, this is their country, and you are a visitor. Do not be offended if they are curious about you.
  • Many indigenous Bolivians are superstitious. (The main indigenous group around Cochabamba is the Quechua, although there are many other indigenous groups in Bolivia.) They may try an old custom to cure a sick person or visit a traditional healer before seeking modern medical attention.
  • Families are generally very close-knit and extended families often live together - especially in rural areas, which are usu­ally more traditional. Grandparents, parents, children, and often many aunts and uncles or multiple families may share a home.
  • Bolivian greetings: Women greet with a single kiss on the right cheek (when greeting both men and women). Men greet women with a kiss on the cheek. They greet other men with a handshake. Bolivians who are used to interacting with for­eigners may simply greet you with a handshake, as they will know that you are not accustomed to the cheek kiss.
  • Some questions that might be considered rude in your culture are not considered rude in Bolivia. Do not be offended if you are asked how much you get paid or how much an item cost. Although you should not be offended by such questions, it’s usually advisable not to share that information.
  • Many Bolivians are very friendly and enjoy having a conversation with people from another culture. They may ask many questions. If you have a question or need help, they’re usually willing to offer a hand.
  • A lot of Bolivians are very open to the Gospel. If you sit down with a Bible, don’t be surprised if someone comes over and asks what you’re reading or even directly asks you to tell them about Jesus. Take advantage of this opportunity!


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    Notes about Crossing Cultures

  • When you go to another culture, you are the strange one.
  • Avoid making quick or negative judgments.
  • Watch your facial expressions and your words (many people may understand what you’re saying).
  • Avoid making references to military/political issues or other religious groups.
  • Any time you are in a situation that takes you out of your comfort zone, think of the people to whom you are ministering.
  • Even if you speak Spanish fluently, expect there to be miscommunications from time to time. This is a natural part of cross-cultural communication.
  • Avoid flirting or spending large amounts of time alone with a member of the opposite sex.
  • Be considerate of your hosts’ time since they have a job to do. (They’re not your personal tour guides and translators).


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    Culture Shock

    Culture shock will always take place for those who are not native to Bolivia. Knowing that culture shock inevitably occurs allows you to be prepared in advance. It is a normal occurrence and nothing to worry about. The degree of culture shock one experiences depends on a variety of circumstances such as your flexibility and whether you have traveled in the developing world before.

    The duration of stay on the mission field will have a large impact on culture shock as well. The largest impact often is an appreciation for things of home, food, family, cleanliness, wealth, and physical possessions. This could surface as distaste for everything in the foreign culture, but this depends on one’s openness and willingness to immerse oneself in the culture as well as one’s attempt to appreciate the beauty of a different culture and its traditions.


    For those staying for more than 2 weeks, the chances of experiencing more culture shock is possible. A few different signs of culture shock are:

  • Homesickness
  • Boredom
  • Irritability
  • Need for excessive amounts of sleep
  • Stereotyping of host nationals
  • Irregular eating habits (very little or excessive amounts)
  • For the most part these symptoms only occur in phases until the volunteer is able to accept the current situation. Being open, flexible, and willing to talk through these issues is the best way to grow through culture shock quickly. Again, being open to learning about a new culture and trying to appreciate it will be one of the most helpful ways to experience a lower level of culture shock.

    Stages of Culture Shock

  • Initial Euphoria (the honeymoon period)
  • Irritation and hostility
  • Gradual adjustment
  • Adaptation to the culture

    One of the best solutions for culture shock is to know your host country. Learn as much as possible about your host country before leaving. Also, if you have questions about the way nationals do things, ask a local missionary or a Bolivian friend that understands. (Be sure to ask in a tasteful way so as not to offend them.) Remember to keep a good sense of humor. As always, make sure you’re also spending time in the Word and prayer—our Creator understands other cultures much better than we ever can!


    Often, culture shock is just as bad or worse upon return home -- Home may have stayed the same, but you have not. Be patient with those around you who have not had the same experiences. Remember that all culture have their good and bad points; you may just now be better able to see the bad parts of your own.

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  • Please be sure to ask permission before taking any pictures of nationals.
  • If a national asks you to pay them for their photo, do not take their picture but move on. (We don’t want to encourage begging.)
  • If you ask a national to take your photo, keep in mind that there is potential that they could steal your camera.
  • Try to get action shots rather than posed photos.
  • Have friends take photos of you serving as well.
  • Try to take photos that will help you tell the story of your ministry trip and what God is doing in the lives of the people you’re serving.
  • Try not to take photos of only the negative (such as poverty).


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  • The national monetary unit for Bolivia is the Boliviano - approximately 7 “B’s” to US $1.00
  • IMPORTANT- The spending money you bring should be crisp bills in good condition, with no tears or missing corners. Bills that are worn will not be accepted in Bolivia. It is difficult to use traveler’s checks or credit cards in Bolivia.
  • In the market only $100 bills are now accepted (and they cannot be from series C or B).
  • Your US$ are widely accepted in Bolivia in restaurants, the open market, etc. If you receive Bolivianos or US$ in change only accept your return change in bills that are in equally good condition.
  • $150 - $200 US should be more than enough money for souvenirs.
  • It is possible to get money from ATMs if you do not want to carry around a lot of cash. There is usually a small charge for using an international ATM. It is advisable to bring a debit card, in case of unexpected expenses. Do NOT carry your debit or credit card with you if you don’t expect to be using it that day; this just increases your chance of losing larger sums of money if you are robbed.
  • When bargaining, always remember that the seller has a bottom line price and they cannot afford to go lower no matter how much you argue with them. They do need to make a profit.
  • The first price an item is offered at is almost always higher than what it is worth.
  • If you are uncertain whether you are paying too much, ask one of the HOH staff.
  • Buying in quantity gives you the edge on bargaining.
  • Walking away may increase your bargaining power.

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  • Any bag you carry with you when out on the streets should be one you can hang on to, pressed against you in front. It should have a secured, zippered closure that cannot be easily reached into. We recommend that when you are out in the city you carry your money in a money belt, in a bag that you keep one hand on at all times, or in a front pocket that is tight, with your shirt or jacket overlap­ping it.
  • Do not carry anything on your back or in your back pockets. Never display your money on the street to count it, etc. Always put money away before exiting onto the street. “Norteamericanos” are often taken for very rich and are prime targets.
  • The people in Bolivia are very friendly and helpful. As in any large metropolitan area, just make it a habit to always be aware of those in close proximity to you. Always travel with two or more people. Don’t let down your guard, especially on the buses and out on the streets, in crowded areas.

    If you follow these simple suggestions, you can prevent potential problems and have a positive, en­joyable encounter with the people and culture.

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    Staying Healthy

    It is essential that you take care of yourself while serving in Bolivia! You may think because you’re only in the country for a limited time that you want to push yourself 110% all the time and do and see and serve as much as possible and never rest. Giving it all you’ve got is a great attitude to have, but don’t let it cause your downfall. Lack of sleep can make you sick, cranky, or unable to serve to the best of your ability. If that’s the case, you will be disappointed that you weren’t able to give more or do more or be able to enjoy your experiences to the fullest. Please take care of yourself -- even Jesus rested.

  • Make rest a priority! Be sure to go to bed at a decent time each night. Also, naps during lunch break are definitely acceptable and often recommended. In Latin culture this is called a “siesta”.
  • Drink lots of water. At a higher altitude your body needs more water than usual.
  • Eat well. This is not the time to diet! You will work off more food than you think since we’re at such a high elevation.
  • Watch what you eat. Try to stay away from foods not approved by your hosts.
  • Don’t go barefoot at any time. Some parasites can be absorbed through bare feet.
  • Avoid petting animals other than the guesthouse dog and try to avoid any insects you may see. If you do touch animals, please wash thoroughly afterward to avoid bringing fleas into the house.
  • Be sure to spend daily time in the Word and prayer. This will help you get through each day even when you’re not feeling very energetic.
  • Please be considerate of others. Even if you don’t find yourself needing a lot of rest, others may.

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    Returning Home

    As a result of your time serving on the mission field, you will never be the same. Think of all the ways God has taught you and all the things you’ve learned. Your perspective may have changed in a number of ways. The next few pages will help you to note some of these changes. It will also help equip you to share these life-changing experiences with others. Pray that the Lord will continue to use you when you return just as much as He did while you were serving Him overseas.

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    It’s important to review your experience overseas to understand how the Lord is working on you. He may have stretched you in many ways, perhaps even in some unpleasant ways. Readjusting to your home country may or may not be easy. It’s very likely that you will experience some reverse culture shock as you reenter your home country. It’s important to share with others about your experience.


    The questions here are just for personal reflection and should help you as you re-accustom yourself to your home sur­roundings with your new perspective.


  • What was the best part of this mission experience? What was the worst? Who made your mission experience special? Who made it difficult or unpleasant?
  • Before you left for this mission experience you had certain preconceived ideas and expectations. What changes did you note while you were on the mission field? Did any of these changes surprise you?
  • Think about the moment that you arrive back in your hometown and the people you will see. What will your friends and family notice about you as soon as you get back? How do you think they will respond to you? How will you respond to them?
  • Do you feel like your work overseas was valuable? Will anyone at home recognize your contribution and sacrifice?
  • Think about how this experience might impact you for a lifetime. Based on this experience,
  • How might you use your time differently?
  • How might you spend your money or resources differently?
  • How might you adjust your lifestyle?
  • Volunteers from World Gospel Mission mentioned several unexpected feelings upon their return home. Read through the list below and prepare yourself for many of the same emotions.

  • “I was operating on an emotional high during my trip, and did not expect a ‘let down’ feeling after I returned.”
  • “It was difficult for me to realize it was my perspective that changed, not others’. I expected others to also have a changed world view like my own.”
  • “I did not expect others to show a lack of interest in hearing about my missions experience. I guess others are not able to relate to my experiences as I wanted and some are just not interested.”
  • “It disturbed me to see so much apathy and lack of concern for the needs of the world. I had to watch myself that I would not become self-righteous or indignant over another’s lack of response.”
  • “I kind of expected to be treated as someone special when I got home. I had to realize even though I had a great time in a foreign culture, it did not give me the right to have everyone’s attention. Others were involved in the routine of daily affairs while I was away.”
  • “I was surprised at how much my own personal values changed. I was unable to measure the amount of change until I returned home. It really helped to define these changes and apply them to my daily life.”
  • ~Taken with permission from Gospel World Mission’s Work Team Manual

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    Telling Your Story

    When you return you may be asked by many people to tell them about your experience. Be prepared to share a short and interesting story about your time overseas. Here are some helpful hints when sharing with individuals in casual conversa­tion or with groups:


  • First, be sure to journal while serving overseas in order to remember well all that you’ve experienced. Choose to share some of the more unique experiences that give insight into your experience. Selecting a story that captures one aspect of your trip often gives more insight than a general overview of the entire experience.
  • Catch their attention from the beginning. Start with a sentence that will pique their interest. Use verbal pictures so others can envision the experience (colors, smells, etc). You will touch people the most when you share about the people you were serving. Share a story that depicts their needs or their compassion, patience, openness, generosity, contentment or other characteristic you’d like to share about.
  • Show photos. Allow your audience to focus on faces and see the smiles or tears of the people you served.
  • Share important lessons; ways God taught you or others. Accentuate the positive and encourage your audience to get involved.
  • Share any personal commitments you’ve made as a result of this mission trip.
  • When speaking to a group, speak loudly and clearly. Invite the audience to ask questions when possible (and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”).
  • When a time limit is given, be sure you don’t go over your time limit.
  • Last but not least, be sure to thank them for allowing you the opportunity to serve overseas and challenge them to action themselves.
  • Please share your stories and pictures with us! We always want to hear about how our volunteers’ time in Bolivia went—what went well, what didn’t, and how you’ve been changed. You can email us your stories and pictures at info@hospital­, or you can mail them to the following address:

    Hospitals of Hope

    3545 N. Santa Fe

    Wichita, Kansas 67219

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    How to Mobilize Your Church

    God often uses an overseas mission experience to awaken the church back home. Is the Lord challenging you and your church to do more? Have you considered opportunities where you and your church can become more involved in serving at home or overseas? Here are a few more questions to consider:


  • Who would you talk to about future mission involvement for your whole church?
  • How would you like this mission experience to affect the life of your congregation? How can you challenge and encour­age more missions outreach in your church?
  • What needs can you help your church to see, and how can you direct their efforts towards meeting those needs?
  • Get together with other missions-minded people from your church on a regular basis. There may only be one or two oth­ers meeting with you, but remember that God can use you as a catalyst to mobilize your whole church for ministry. Pray for more ministry opportunities for you and your church body. Continue to study scripture and pursue the Lord’s will for the role God would like you to play in ministry at your church.