Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 months later (Julie Marcum)

Today marks 3 months since the accident... a good time to post updates on how everyone is doing... again, in no particular order.

Miguel has been out of the hospital now for several weeks! The surgery I spoke of in the last update appears to have gone well. He is living with his mom right now, as he still needs supervision and care although he can walk, talk, and eat by himself. He has been to worship with us several times, and also to quite a few church activities. We have also set up a rotating visitation sheet and many church members have volunteered to take a morning or afternoon to sit with him so that his mom can get out. He seems to enjoy the time with the brethren and Josh feels that he is making some small improvements in his memory. His kids are still living with their aunt for the time being, but have been to Bible class a few times as well. We rejoice over the progress that has been made and continue to petition the Lord for his complete recuperation.

Bruno Vargas is out of his wheel chair and walking with the aid of a walker. He continues to go to physical therapy to work on his knee, but is slowly improving. Freddy's arm is almost healed, although he still is wearing a brace for support. Please continue praying for the Vargas family, though, as their family experienced another blow recently with the passing of their grandfather, Renan's father.

Camilla is now bandage and cast free. She is also undergoing physical therapy for her arm and will have another surgery within a few weeks of finishing her final exams.

Rebeca is walking great! She is of course still undergoing physical therapy as well. She is writing an article for the national church newspaper about her reflections surrounding the accident.

We are still searching for a permanent home for Wendy, who lost her daughter Ariana. We managed to find an apartment for rent, but are looking for someplace a little more permanent. Wendy continues to mourn for her daughter, but has found much strength and solace in the church body and in God, for which we are thankful.

Sunday was the birthday of Diana. Her parents, Jorge and Sandra, wanted to do something special in remembrance of her life, so we shared a cake and pizza and a slide show of her life. I was home that morning with a sick kid, but Josh said that service was packed with people who had known Diana. And Ariel, her brother, was there for the first time since the accident that morning! He is in a wheelchair now, but can sit up and move around somewhat, with the hopes of making a full recovery.

Jonathan and Rachel Sandoval have both started their first year teaching in Searcy. Rachel is doing well and enjoying her job. Jonathan's back is doing well, but he's having a lot of pain still in one shoulder. He went in for an MRI, which they decided not to do because of the metal plate in his back. So he will have physical therapy instead for a few weeks and see what kind of progress is made there.

Kevin got the casts off his feet but is still in his wheelchair. It will be a long slow and painful process of walking again.Alejandra, Josh and Rosa are all doing well. Rosa may have surgery on her nose in another few months.

Alejandra's bandages are off her arm and she is doing some physical therapy. Josh's injuries are completely healed. He is going next week to a missionary men's conference in Brazil and I am thankful that he is going to have some time surrounded by a lot of spiritual counselors.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for our family and our church body. God continues to work and be glorified here in Cochabamba, and we pray that the same may be true wherever you are living!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update July 28, 2009

Written by Julie Marcum:

I felt it was about time to give some updates on how everyone is doing.... in no particular order.

-Jonathan Sandoval seems to be moving around better every time I see him. He has been having a lot of pain in one shoulder and knee... They diagnosed it as tendonitis and he is receiving shots for a week. They are still getting the run-a-round from the insurance, very frustrating, but we're hoping to be able to pay his medical expenses soon so he can get the go-ahead from the dr. to travel, possibly as soon as next week.

-Rachel Sandoval arrived safely Stateside and is now in Searcy. She's found them an apartment and is getting ready to start teaching next week.

-Rebeca got the cast off of her arm and is still in considerable pain, but is moving around better with her crutches. Her school exams seemed to go well, but no news on the results yet. She was pretty consumed with studying there for a few days, but now I think the reality of everything is settling in and she is struggling emotionally to process it all.

-Miguel is out of intensive care and awake, but has some traumatic brain injury. He is struggling to remember faces and names and in a fairly childlike state. We would appreciate your prayers for a miraculous recovery in this regard, as no one can tell if his condition will improve. His family has contracted round the clock nurses to improve the medical care he is receiving at the public hospital. His kids are in the care of their mother's sister, but she has them fairly isolated, so please continue to pray for Abril and Diego.

-Alejandra got the stitches out of her arm and is going through some physical therapy.

-Ariel is home!!! His cochlear device was in La Paz as of Friday, and was being held up due to some paperwork. Pray that it arrives soon.

-Rosa will have surgery soon on her nose.

-Bruno and Kevin continue to be confined to the house - Kevin on bedrest, and Bruno to his wheelchair. Since Bruno's family lives on the 4th floor of some condominiums with no elevator, it is difficult to get him up and down the stairs.

-The conditions of the others (Freddy, Josh, Camila, and Bruno Pol) continue to improve every day.... bones are healing and soreness is gradually dissapating.

-Wendy and Gonzalo (Ariana's parents) found a new apartment and moved last weekend. They are thankful for their new place. Sunday was a difficult day for Wendy as it was Ariana's 17th birthday. We had a special tribute for her at church, ordered her favorite food, cake and a special video of photos of her life.

-We appreciate your prayers surrounding this Thursday, June 30th, which marks the one month anniversary of the accident. We are having a special prayer/memorial service at the church Thursday evening.

-And on a side note, I'm rejoicing and praying over 2 families far from us.... Matthew Bogard, a good friend of Joshua's, has been struggling with 2 types of cancer. His recent bone marrow transplant was successful and tests are looking good, but he needs continued prayers over the graft vs. host process. Also, the Schwambs, a family that are members of the church where Josh's uncle is on staff, just received a heart for their 3 year old little girl and she had a successful transplant!! Read the whole story at God is good... and God can work miracles! The verse I read today Mark spoke to my heart, "Have faith in God.... I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sin."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update: July 23, 2009

(By Julie Marcum on July 2oth)

-I want to thank you all for your prayers surrounding the counseling session on Saturday. It was a time of sharing and healing for the youth and their families... a lot of tears and questions, but I think all went away feeling a measure of peace. Joanne did an excellent job of facilitating, and she is available for another session in a few weeks - hopefully by that time, all who were not able to be there will be able to come.

-Sunday saw 3 of our youth that haven't yet been able to come to church worshipping with us. It was wonderful to see Bruno, Rebecca, and Jonathan among us.

-Please pray for Ariel, who continues in the hospital. He is confined to his stomach for now due to some bed sores that developed on his back and is struggling with some depression. His parents came to church on Sunday and tearfully asked for prayers and visitation on his behalf. Josh went on Sunday evening and had a good visit with him. Hopefully his cochlear device will arrive this week.

-Rachel Sandoval is flying out tonight - pray for her trip home, her time with her folks, her search for an apartment, and her first year of teaching. Pray for them too as they are separated for a couple weeks. Butch and Jonathan will probably fly out beginning of August.

-As for our family - we are hoping for a return to a degree of normality this week - although it seems we cannot avoid catastrophe more than 2 days in a row. I made another trip to the emergency room on Saturday, this time with Jana. I thought her elbow had been dislocated again (see previous post in Feb.).... Thankfully, it turned out to be fine (I was dreading the thought of a baby in a cast again!). On the way home, our car broke down and we've had problems with our water supply being very dirty. We had to clean out the cistern and get the pumps serviced, so we've been without water for 2 days. Thank you for your continued prayers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update: July 20, 2009

(By Julie Marcum)

- Jonathan Sandoval was discharged from the hospital on July 15. He is walking a lot more, but gets very tired after being up and around. He is recovering well from all of his cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises. His right shoulder has been bothering him quite a bit. His back is healing well.

- Kevin is at home and probably will be bedridden for quite some time.

- Josh Marcum still has some pain in his back.

- Miguel is much more lucid than he has been in the past week. They will move him from ICU to a regular room this afternoon, but the family will have a permanent nurse with him. He cannot open his right eye yet but is moving his right side some. He does manage to move the rest of his body to try and get comfortable. He recognizes people and asked Butch to pray with him when Butch visited. Once he is out of ICU, his neurologist will run additional tests to see what his prognosis is.

- Ariel has been a bit depressed the last couple of days. He had surgery on July 17 to repair his fractured pelvis. He has had to lie on his stomach since then. His cochlear hearing aid should be in this week.

- Rebecca (on crutches), Bruno (in a wheelchair), and Rachel were at church for the first time since the accident. It was great having all three of them there, and all of the youth were excited to see one another. Rebecca will be taking one of her med school entry exams tomorrow. Please pray for her as she prepares and takes her exam—there are about 1,000 students in her course of study and only 180 will be passed on to the next year. Also, school resumes this week for all students—be praying for the teens as they head back to school, and as some of them will have to study from home for a couple of months as they continue their recovery process. Also, please pray for Wendy (the mother of Ariana). Their landlords told them last week that they have to leave their rental house in a week. So, in the depths of dealing with her daughter’s death, she’s having to think about moving and finding a new house.

- The Cochabamba missions team and the church feel overwhelmed with blessings by the support, prayers, emails, and comments that they have received. They thank everyone for their financial and spiritual generosity toward them and the brethren in Cochabamba.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update: July 17, 2009

(By Julie Marcum)

-Jonathan was released on Wed. and it at home... although they sure had some frustrating moments trying to get him out! He is doing good, and glad to be out of the hospital. He even went briefly to a movie night they had on Wed. for the jovenes - something fun and light and normal. Keep praying for them as they try to get all the insurance stuff - Stateside insurance paying for international health care! - worked out.

-Josh went to visit Miguel again yesterday. He had been moved to a regular room, but had to be transfered back to ICU due to an asthma attack. He was very sedated when Josh saw him. Some family members are wanting to move him to a better clinic, and Josh was supportive of this, saying we could help with medical costs. (We have not been very impressed in all this with the public hospital!) While he was there, the family needed a knee brace (Miguel is becoming more active and even opening his eyes!), so Josh went searching for one... at about 10 different medical supply stores and ended up having to order one, being unsuccessful in his search. Interestingly enough, often hospitals/clinics do not have medications or certain supplies on-hand and family members must purchase them from local farmacies or supply stores.

-Please be praying for Rebeca. Her mom came to our Wed. ladies prayer time and she is doing better health wise, but has to take a final exam on Tuesday of next week. She is in her first year of university on a medical track.... So she is spending her recovery time studying. There are about 1000 students in her course of study and only 180 will be passed on to the next year. Also, school resumes next week for all students... be praying for the teens as they head back to school, and as some of them will have to study from home for a couple months as they continue their recovery process.

-Joshua also visited Bruno and Freddy Vargas and had a good talk with Bruno. Continue praying for them and the emotional state of all our teens.

-Josh got the cochlear device ordered for Ariel! Thank you for your prayers in all that process - it ended up that we couldn't order the free replacement, because more than 3 years had gone by since he had it implanted, but thanks to your generous hearts, we have enough to help his parents pay for it... we're thankful that he's going to be recieving it in about a week! Pray that it will arrive safely.-Please be praying for Wendy, the mother of Ariana. Their landlords told them last week that they have to leave their rental house in a week, so in the depths of dealing with her daughter's death, she's having to think about moving and finding a new house.

-As for our family, the girls are doing better, and although yesterday morning I thought Michaela had pink-eye, it turned out to be an insect bite close to the eye that had caused swelling and puffiness. Maybe things will normalize a little bit in the next week!

-We are daily overwhelmed (in a blessed way!) by the support and prayers and emails and comments that we've recieved. Thank you so much for your financial and spiritual generosity towards us and the brethren here in Cochabamba....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Update July 14, 2009

(Posted by Julie Marcum on their family blog)

-Jonathan is up and walking and has a great appetite... chances are he'll be released in a couple days. He has been visiting Ariel (who is in the same clinic, one floor down) and they have been playing video games together - I think it's put them both in great spirits!

-Ariel is doing good but will probably have to have one more surgery on his hips. Josh is still in the process of filling out paperwork and making phone calls to get his cochlear replaced. Keep that process in your prayers.

-Kevin has been released and is at home! His mom knew some people at the clinic where he was interned and they have loaned him a hospital bed.

-We found a good wheelchair for Bruno and - thanks to you who have given so generously - were able to purchase it with the intent of keeping it for future needs in the church as well.

-Pray for our teens and their families this Saturday. We managed to get in contact with a missionary counselor here. She has been in Bolivia for over 20 years and has her Masters in Counseling. She is doing a group debrief session at 3 on Sat. for the victims and their families. Pray that God will work through this time and that He will begin healing the many emotional wounds....

-We have been greatly encouraged by the support recieved not only abroard, but also within Bolivia. Another preacher from one of the congregations in Santa Cruz arrived on Sunday to show their love and support for our church body. He traveled the same road that the accident occured on, arriving here at 3am. He was bringing a donation from their brothers to ours, but sadly was robbed here in Coch. on the way to his hotel. Satan is at work, but our God is greater! Thankfully, he was not hurt. The brothers and sisters here in Bolivia have sacrificed so much for us, as have many of you in the US.

-Thanks for your prayers for our family. Josh's back is now feeling better... Jana is back to normal... Mom had 2 days not having to clean up any messes... But Eliana is now sick with the same virus Jana had, so we are dealing we more throw up, fever etc... Continued prayers are greatly appreciated.

-To finish things out... Butch Sandoval has posted some of his thoughts on their blog - and included some pictures of the girls who passed away that were taken at an orphanage just the week before... precious reminders of the sweet lives they led. I thought I'd post them here too... ( if you'd like to see these pictures please go to it was too long a process to pull them off her blog one by one to post here as well).

Friday, July 10, 2009

You will always be in our hearts.

I know that many have asked to see pictures of the dear sweet girls that lost their lives' in the bus accident. Gary put this banner together for the church in their memories and I thought that I would share it with you all. From left to right you see Belen, Diana, and Ariana. Please continue praying for the families of these precious girls as they continue to grieve their losses. And please continue to remember those still in clinics or at home recovering from their injuries, both physical and emotional. We pray that you know what a tremendous support you have been in prayer and correspondence. To those of you who have given financially, we know full well what a sacrifice it was for you to do so and we (and the brethren here) are forever grateful! God bless you! - Laura Bull

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Update: July 9, 2009

(By Julie Marcum)

Just wanted to keep everyone updated on the latest news and prayer requests....

-Josh is doing great, getting back into the saddle as they would say in OK... He started driving yesterday... says he's fine (of course the wife worries a little bit). He spent yesterday morning at the doc and visiting Kevin. Doc says he's healing nicely, but it'll be about a month till the ribs stop hurting. He's still pretty sore but walking around much better. Keep praying for Kevin - and for several of the kids - who will have up to 2 months bedrest.

-Josh also spent the better part of the afternoon at the forensics office. Each victim has to go in for a physical exam which will help the d.a's office (for lack of a better term) to prosecute the case. It was a frustrating Bolivia experience. He spent an hour getting the paper that he needed the dr. to write on and waited another 2 and a half and didn't even get seen! Then he found out he didn't have everything he needed - that he needed the original xrays and a report from the first hospital. So he had to go pick that up and has to be back at the office at 9:30am for his exam. Pray for patience as all of this can be a very frustrating cultural experience!-I spoke to Butch yesterday who went by to see Miguel. He said Miguel seemed to be wanting to wake up - tossing and turning - which is a good sign, but the dr.'s are concerned about a blood clot and so are inducing further coma until they feel better about that. Pray that the blood clot will dissapate or move so it will no longer be a threat.

-A group from Santa Cruz arrived yesterday to encourage the brethren here... We have felt a great show of support and love from all the churches around the country. They brought a collection of money - such a sacrifice for the people here -and news that one of the brothers is selling his car to be able to contribute funds to the people here. It is so wonderful being part of the family of God at times like this. We are so thankful for all the funds that are pouring in from all over! I am going to order Ariel's cochlear device today on line and have it sent to Josh's sister, Jenny, who will be coming back in a couple weeks. Thank the Lord with us that there is now a specialist here in Coch. that can calibrate it... they used to have to travel to Chile to have it done - and that is out of the question right now with Ariel's medical condition.

-The Bulls arrived safely on Tuesday - praise God!

-And finally, if I could request for our family, pray for Jana who started throwing up and having diareahea yesterday - I felt like I was at the end of my rope when I woke up having to clean up everything... She's still not feeling the greatest, but I have a dr.'s appointment today for her.I am hoping to be able to post some pictures later on of the crash site and some of our jovenes...Thanks again for all your prayers and support!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Update: July 4, 2009

Posted July 4, 2009 by Julie Marcum...

Here is the latest news and prayer requests....

-Jonathan Sandoval had his back surgery this morning. I talked to Butch a little bit ago and he said the surgery went well, that the doctor was pleased, and that JD was recovering from the anathesia. He should be in the hospital about another week. Then it will be between 20-30 days recovery/rest time here in Coch. before he can travel. He had a pretty uncomfortable afternoon and is frustrated like all our other injured from being laid up for so long.

-Rachel Sandoval had the stiches removed from her face and is looking much better.

-Alejandra was readmitted to a different clinic yesterday because of a fever - it appears they didn't clean the wound on her arm very well at the first hospital and they had to open it up, clean it out and stitch it back up. She was released this afternoon.

-Now that the initial shock is over, several of the youth involved are struggling emotionally. Please pray for emotional healing...

-Rebecca rallied today and was sitting up, talking, and joking with the visitors that came to see her. She said she's ready to play football! Praise God for her continued recovery.

-Miguel is beginning to move his hands and feet - a good sign!

-There may be some new legal developments involving the responsibility of the bus agency. The families are attempting to file some kind of civil action against the bus company and the police. There is the possibility that the bus company might bribe the police in the little town that has a checkpoint on the way to the camp in order to have a report that says all their paperwork was in order and that it was mechanical failure of the bus that caused the accident. A cousin of the Vargas family, who is a lawyer, is driving out tomorrow to file a claim to hopefully prevent this action. Please pray that justice will be done and that if the bus agency is responsible, that they will be held responsible.

-Please pray too for the recovery of Ariel's cochlear device. He is deaf in one ear and it has not been located with the rest of the stuff. We have heard that there was a box of cell phones and other such items recovered at the site, but it was not delivered with the rest of the baggage yesterday. It is very common here in Bolivia when bus wrecks occur that people loot the luggage in the process of rescuing the victims. Thankfully, this has not seemed to be the case in our situation. Pray that honest people have found this box and will return it and that Ariel's hearing aid (which cannot be purchased here in Bolivia) will be located.

-The Sandoval family suffered another tragedy tonight with the loss of his neice who has been suffering with cancer. Please pray for them as they deal with this loss while in the midst of all the other suffering and while far from family.

And on top of everything else - our maid just called to say she will be delayed another 4 days (she's already been gone 2 weeks) - and we just pulled 3 abandoned and half-drowned puppies out of the creek bed behind our house.... Never a dull moment!

Thank you for your continued prayers - we feel the love and support from all of you. And happy 4th of July.... It sure doesn't seem like the 4th here - very surreal.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Update: July 3, 2009

(Update from Julie Marcum)

We got home from the funerals about an hour ago after a long day of hospital visits, memorial services and graveside services. I wanted to update everyone on the new conditions of all our members...

Josh was released about midday. He is moving very slowly and in quite a bit of pain still, but was insistent about being released so he could attend the funeral services. It took a toll on him, emotionally and physically, but he is resting now with his medication and has no plans to go anywhere for a couple days. Riding in the car on bumpy roads is just too painful! He was able to speak at the graveside services and the memorial service, and although it was hard, I know the families greatly appreciated his effort and presence there.

Bruno Vargas had surgery this morning on his broken collar bone and it went well. He might also have to have some minor surgery on some ligaments in his foot.

Alejandra Moscoso was released from the hospital today. Praise God for her recovery!

Freddy Vargas was to have surgery on his arm tonight at 7pm to set the bone.

Jonathan Sandoval is scheduled for surgery on the compressed disk in his back tomorrow at 2pm. Thankfully, due to the location of the disc, this will be a low risk surgery. They will insert a couple plates to expand the disk back to its proper size.

Rebeca Chavez is out of intensive care! The surgery on her femur went very well, and was less invasive than they thought initially. Instead of having a plate and screws put in, she only had to have some pins. It seems that the other surgeries are unnessecary at this time. Praise God for answered prayers.

Miguel Vargas continues in intensive care in a coma, but is still showing positive signs.There was huge show of support at the memorial and graveside service today. It was a difficult time for the familes and friends of these girls and for those who were on the bus with them (Bruno Pol, Joshua, and Rachel were all in attendance). The Vargas family buried 2 grandaughters/cousins/nieces while Miguel continues in critial condition. Please pray for Miguel's other 2 children, Abril and Diego, who lost their mom a few years ago and now have lost their older sister while their father is in the hospital. Your prayers for all involved would be appreciated.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Medical Costs

We have had several people asking about the cost of medical care. The cost for each of our young people will be between $1,000-1,500. Right now, we have 10 in the hospital. That pushes our total need to $10,000-$15,000. In Rebecca's and Miguel's case the cost will be much more. Additional costs are funeral expenses and loss of wages. We really need to be concerned for Miguel's family. He is the primary care giver for his two remaining children. Butch did not mention that the bus company had any liability insurance which is not uncommon.

We have already received several donations which is very encouraging and humbling. We cannot express how grateful we feel for the amount of love and support we have received in the words of encouragement that so many of you have given us. Thank you.

How to help:
If there is any way that you could offer some help to these suffering families please send a check to the address below with "CBBA YOUTH" in the memo line:

Austin Avenue Church of Christ
1020 Austin Avenue
Brownwood, TX 76801

or if you prefer Paypal you can send your help electronically:

Update: July 2, 2009

Friends and Family, We wanted to give you the most recent information we have to date on the situation in Cochabamba. Julie Marcum recently posted this update on their familly blog and we're passing it along to you. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. And to those of you who have already committed to helping financially, thank you so much, on behalf of the team and the families that will be blessed by your generosity!

It is 12:00am... I am trying to sit here to compose my thoughts, knowing that there are so many praying and waiting for information. I just returned from a all night candle vigil for the 3 girls who died and their families. It was heart-breaking. This may be a bit disjointed, bear with me...

12 of our jovenes (youth) and 4 chaperones left yesterday morning for a 3 day trip to a camp about a 7 hour drive from Cochabamba. They are all on winter break and wanted to take advantage of the holiday. They contracted a bus from a local bus company that makes the trip regularly rather than taking the usual night time bus. After driving the road on our vacation last week, Josh felt it was safer to travel in the day. Yesterday about 4pm, we started recieving disjointed calls and information about a serious accident that had occured. Things were pretty sketchy until I recieved a call from Josh. He confirmed that the bus had rolled about 100 meters down a steep mountain. The top came off, it rolled over and over several times, some were thrown from the bus, others rolled down with the bus. Miraculously, one of the jovenes who wasn't badly injured was able to climb up to the road and hailed a taxi that was passing by. The taxi driver had a cell phone and reception (extremely unusual where they were at.) Within minutes people from a nearby village had arrived to help evacuate the injured. Half the group was taken to a nearby local clinic. The rest were loaded into pickups and ambulances and started back to Cochabamba. A Christian couple who was passing by took charge of collecting all the personal items and safe guarding them.

The last 48 hours have been crazy: little sleep, going from one clinic to another to check on the injured, back and forth from the house to check on the kids. The first group of injured arrived here around 8 pm last night; another group arrived around midnight, and the rest came in several hours later. My teammate, Katie, has been here with the kids, which has been a life-saver. I want to give you all status updates on how everyone stands at this moment, at least from what I know.

Joshua- He's got 3 cracked ribs and some heavy brusing and contusions. Should be released tomorrow. He's pretty heavy-hearted about everything.
Jonathan Sandoval
(son of our teammates)- Lots of contusions and brusing. A compressed vertebrae in his spinal column. They were talking about doing surgery tomorrow, but are now thinking it might be unnecessary and are going to run more tests. Please pray that surgery will not be necessary and that if it is, he will be in capable hands.
Rachel Sandoval (wife of Jonathan)- cuts on the face and some bruising. She was a trooper through it all! Sat with 3 of the girls after the accident and sang "Jesu Cristo conmigo va" to help calm them down.
Miguel Vargas (father of one of our jovenes who died) - in a coma in intensive care due to head injuries, but stable. Postive outlook on his condition. Does not yet know about his daughter who passed away.
Belen - Passed away. Daughter of Miguel, one of our church members. She was 14. She was caught under the wheel of the bus. Joshua was able to scoot down the mountain and sit with her until help came. She had such a servant heart and will be greatly missed by her family and all the jovenes.
Diana - Passed away. Belen's cousin. She was 17, a beautiful, talented young lady. Her family has been coming to church for the last few months.
Ariel - Diana's brother. He had surgery today on his hips/legs, but is in stable condition and recovering nicely.
Ariana - Passsed away. Daugther of Wendy and Gonzalo, church members. Lovely young lady, wonderful big sister.
Bruno Vargas - Broken collar bone, and other fractures. Recovering nicely.
Freddy Vargas - Broken arm. Was one of the last group to be brought in and is pretty shook up, but is recovering.
Bruno Pol - Minor bruising/contusions. He's the one who climbed up to the road for help. Joshua said he was so mature and brave - helped so much in all the rescue operations.
Kevin - cousin of Bruno and Freddy. Some broken bones, but recovering nicely.
Rebeca Chavez - was critically injured. A broken femur bone in several places. The leg was operated on today successfully. Broken hand as well and a broken rib that punctured her thorax. She'll have a couple more operations in the following days. She is in intensive care, but stable and with hopes of a full recovery.
Camilla - Daugther of a church member who is working in Virginia. Facial injuries and contusions. She was operated on today and pulled through nicely. Her mom is flying in from the US.
Alejandra Moscoso - injured neck/collar bone, gash in her arm. Recovering nicely.
Rosa - daughter of a family that has been coming to church for the last few weeks. Minor injuries/contusiones. Recovering nicely.

We are heavy hearted over our losses - many of our families are discouraged, worried, and grieving. But it was heart-warming to see the overwhelming support from the rest of our church. Many waited last night in the cold night air outside the hospital until past 4 am. Others manned the contact center and answered the many phone calls. Still others made the long drive out to the crash site with blankets to help bring back injured. Today every hospital waiting room was filled with our church members, there to encourage and pray.

And more than anything, we feel the encouragement of the many prayers from a far. Thank you - please continue to lift up our church, our youth, their families before the throne. The memorial service and burial for the girls is tomorrow at 3pm. And after that there will be weeks and years of trauma and grief to deal with. But God is with us. And we are thankful for the lives of those who survived and give thanks to God for the way He is taking care of them. Those who were involved in the rescue attempt were amazed that there were not more serious injuries. And I for one am so grateful to have my husband safe and well.

As far as the crash goes.... They were on a flat stretch of road with no oncoming traffic. Observers from the little village nearby said the bus was going too fast. Some reporters from our local newspaer discovered today that the driver, contracted by the bus company, did not have the necessary license to drive a commercial vehicle, and due to driving the course the day before, may not have had enough sleep. Both the driver and the assistant survived. We don't have any more information on them at this time. Keep them in your prayers as well.

Again, we are thankful for the many prayers and support. Roland and Carol Bowen, memeber of our sponsoring congregation, are flying in tomorrow to be of help and support. Jeff Forbess, who was in the US for his sister's wedding, is cutting his visit short and coming back tomorrow as well. Erik Reyes, our brother-in-law in Sucre, is bringing a group from the church tonight to help out. The Bulls have set up a website if you should wish to help in a finacial way. Many of our familes don't have the means to pay for medical/funeral expenses. Your help would be greatly appreciated in this way as well.

It is time for this tired body running on a little less than 4 hours of sleep since yesterday and a cup of coffee to retire. We love and appreciate all of you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

URGENT: Prayers Needed!

Dear Family and Friends,

16 people from the Cochabamba Church of Christ (Bolivia, SA) were on their way to a youth retreat when their bus went over the edge of the road and fell 70-100 yards. The bus, driver and assistant had been contracted for the trip. Of the group, there were 12 teens and four adults. As of last word, three teenage girls died in the crash. Two other people are in serious condition. Below is a listing of those injured and their current condition as of 11:00 a.m. on July 1, 2009. Please keep these dear loved ones and their families in your prayers. These families are in a great deal of suffering. They will continue to struggle with the tragedy, loss of life and financial burden for medical care. Read below for more information about how you can help.

Medical Update as of 11:00 a.m. on July 1, 2009:
  • Josh Marcum has possible broken ribs and is still hospitalized.
  • JD Sandoval has a compression fracture of a disc. He is in a lot of pain.
  • Rachael Sandoval (JD's wife) has cuts and bruises but is out of the hospital.
  • Miguel Vargas is in a coma and not responsive.


  • Rebeca Chavez (Pedro's daughter) has major leg injuries and is planning to go into surgery today.
  • Three teenage girls passed away in the accident:
    ~ Belen Vargas (We believe that Belen and Dina are cousins.)
    ~ Dina Vargas
    ~ Ariana Lastra
  • Other teens received medical care but have been released

How you can help:
First of all, prayer is what is needed most at this time. Please pray for spiritual and emotional strength. Please pray, also, for physical healing especially for Miguel and Rebecca who are in critical condition.

Many of our brothers and sisters in Cochabamba are poor and cannot afford to pay for the medical treatment. Miguel, who is in a coma and has already lost his daughter Belen in this tragedy, has two other children at home who will need care. This family has suffered tremendously over the past two years. Miguel's wife and the children's mother past away two years ago. If there is any way that you could offer some help to these suffering families please send a check to the address below with "CBBA YOUTH" in the memo line:

Austin Avenue Church of Christ
1020 Austin Avenue
Brownwood, TX 76801

or if you prefer Paypal you can send your help electronically: