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Pendel Music Team Heads Bolivian Musicamp
January 1-14, 2012
To Oruro, Bolivia


On New Year’s Eve, our team of eight, including Aaron Harris, Cathy Hayes, David LaBossiere, Bob Myers, Lisa Collier and David, Donna and Harold Burgmayer, boarded a flight from Philadelphia to Miami. We landed in La Paz, Bolivia (12,000 feet above sea level) at 6:00 am on New Year’s Day where we were greeted by Divisional Commanders for the Altiplano Division, Major Sixto & Aida Ali, and a corps officer from La Paz, Major Martin Aguilar.  We journeyed three hours across ”altiplano” (high plane) to a city called Oruro.

The Altiplano Division is one of two divisions in Bolivia. One hundred and twenty delegates, ages 13-25, come to its Divisional Music Camp. The first night, in a large open air space and concrete floor, the campers were very excited, not only to learn new things musically and to grow spiritually, as evidenced by the Biblias they carried. The Bolivians love to sing, and with great passion; horns, drums, and guitars are all involved in the worship!

After we auditioned each delegate for their majors, local staff typed furiously trying to organize where everyone would be placed. Following lunch, we hit the ground running.  Majors included Bandas (Bands) A, B, and C; Timbrels; Chorus; and Percussion. After majors, we headed right into electives: Guitar, Percussion, Piano, and a Leadership Group. A solid hour of theory came next, which most of us would agree was the hardest thing we had do all day because theory class, ironically, is where we needed the most words and continued to come up short.

Our first full day of classes was a true test of our fortitude and mastery of the Spanish language. Starting at 9:00 AM we had a total of seven hours of instruction. We broke for lunch at 1:00 feeling like we had worked a full day, even though we were less than halfway done.  The afternoon contained more rehearsals and then “free” time, which we used to prepare for the evening concert. In between classes, members of our group compared notes, evaluated our Spanish, and prepared for the next class.

Even at the end of a long day of teaching and playing, we were excited to play a full concert.  After four days in Bolivia, we had acclimated to the altitude and felt ready to play. We opened with the big band classic Malaguena which got the full attention of the entire audience.  The concert was a cross-section of the various styles of music played in Salvation Army bands (with a bit more jazz and Latin than average).  Highlights included Hanover Variations by Martin Cordner, the tangos Oblivion and Libertango by Astor Piazolla (arr. Burgmayer), and Gospel John. The audience was able to sing along with Arriba! by Brian Bowen and Samba: Fruit of the Spirit by Kevin Larsson.  The concert concluded with us singing God Be with You in Spanish. 

As we entered into our third full day of music camp, we started to adjust to the brisk pace.  The students remained hungry for musical instruction, often sharing after class their other questions or personal experiences. Each morning began with a devotional time at the flagpole where one of our team members led devotions through translation. We are presenting one fruta de espirito each day. Following devotions, announcements were shared, the Bolivian National Anthem was sung, and a worship chorus and prayer was offered.

The evening program was Noche de Talentos (Night of Talents) and included an energetic praise and worship band with ska-like influences, impromptu dancing while singing along with the band, scripture reading, and a wide assortment of talents shared by the campers.

Even though we were busy 7:30 am to 10:00 pm every day, it was fulfilling work. The students were eager learners and so well-behaved.  They brought their own bedrolls for sleeping on classroom floors of the school.  They also brought their own plates, cups and silverware.  After meals, they took turns washing their dishes in a huge bucket filled with (cold) soapy water, then rinsed in a second large pail of water. 

On our fourth night of camp, we attended Noche de Gala (Gala Night), a formal affair complete with a terrace of balloons, a multitude of photographers, cloth tablecloths, fresh roses and fancy folded napkins dressing the tables. After the praise and worship band, Scripture, and a passionate message by Mayor Miranda, our team sang two items: Hay Una Fuente (I Know a Fount) and Ve Dilo (Go Tell It). 

Saturday was the last full day of classes! The afternoon Music Camp Soloist Program featured twelve brass, vocal, and timbrel soloists.  Most had changed into their uniforms, illustrating a great respect for the uniform as it is worn whenever someone is to read scripture, share a testimony, lead a meeting or speak. The high-quality solos exuded great passion, dedication, and practica (practice).

Everyone dressed in CDM (Divisional Music Camp) shirts for an open-air at a park in town. The students marched through the streets led by a resounding drum line. What a joyful noise!  This caught the attention of many who followed them to the main square. All timbrelists were "on duty" and had several patterns and combinations that accompanied the Bolivian beats as we marched. 

When we arrived, the praise band "Revolúcion," from the corps here in Oruro, was set up and playing contemporary Christian songs in Spanish.  Their leader spoke frequently and with bold proclamations that we were from The Salvation Army Institute of Music and wanted to share our love for Jesus through our joyful music and presentations.  Several groups from the camp performed. The crowd particularly enjoyed our dixieland-style Go Tell it on the Mountain, which featured solos from almost all members of our group in a jazz style.  The students were ready with flyers, as well as requests over the microphone, to join us for the CDM Final Concert to take place in Oruro the next night. Clearly, the huge crowd, gathered in a major city park on a Saturday evening, heard the Gospel and became further acquainted with the Army in that city!

The Holiness Meeting was filled with many uplifting moments.  Having made many friends throughout the week, our team sensed the Spirit of God working. We shared solo offerings and testimonies, despite the occasional challenges with our Spanish.  Music is truly an international language. The altar was lined with so many that the five or six front pews were turned allowing many to give and renew their commitment to our Lord. Hallelujah!

That evening, the culmination of our week’s worth of music education came together in a Finale concert glorifying God! 

Monday – our last full day of camp
Around 10:00 a.m., the music campers spent the morning at a local swimming pool and we met at the Booth school to depart for a tour of the town. We walked to a local restaurant (very similar to our pizza shops here at home) that serves saltanias, a local Bolivian pastry that is filled with pollo (chicken, although sometimes also made with beef), potatoes, vegetables and broth. 

At our last night in Oruro, in a message provided by our very own Harold Burgmayer, we were reminded that we honor God by using our gifts for His glory.

Tuesday – saying goodbye
Tuesday commenced with a celebratory final camp meeting. Campers received awards from various majors and electives, as well as a charge to begin preparing for next year’s camp, while taking what they learned this week back to their corps. This final meeting put a wonderful benediction on what was a very packed full, but rewarding week of camp in Oruro.

Wednesday – corps visits
In the morning, we visited four corps in La Paz. In the evening, we played "Wally Ball," which is a fast-paced indoor version of volleyball that is best described as "pinball with people". It was a fun time of fellowship with the young Salvationists of La Paz. 

Thursday – DHQ visit
On Thursday morning we visited the DHQ facility.  There are just three officers - the Divisional Commander, the Director of Women's Ministries and the Program Secretary, plus one employee – an accepted candidate who serves as the secretary for all three officers.  Everybody does everything – finance, property, program, you name it!

That afternoon, we traveled to a more rural area to the Corcueamay Corps and the Yauichambi Corps, and then to Lake Titicaca (the highest lake in the world) on the border of Bolivia and Peru. In the evening, we played our final concert of the trip with closing words by Divisional Commander Sixto Ali and the singing of Total Praise by the congregation.

We thank you for your prayers and support, and we solicit your prayers for the Salvationist musicians in the Antiplano Division in Bolivia!

Musical Prayer Requests:
Continued growth of musicians throughout the year
Supplies and Instruments
Becoming a model program
Talented musicians remaining in the Army to train the next generation
Development of music leaders
Continuity of vision

Financial Prayer Requests:
The raising of funds for their continued outreach
Good use of resources
Permanent financial means



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