Where are we headed?
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a bustling city of more than 2 million people, the largest in Bolivia. The people of Bolivia are friendly and social, and many of them live in extreme poverty. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Drugs and child trafficking are also challenges there. Spanish is the primary language, with some areas speaking native dialects. But don’t worry, we always have plenty of translators with us if you don’t speak Spanish. If you do, major bonus!
Why are we going?
Because when a lot of us GO, God shows up…and we want to see what happens when we allow God to lead us. We have been going there for over ten years and we continue to go to support the work our partners are doing to provide fresh water wells and filtration systems to improve the health of people in Bolivia. We also partner with Compassion International there and to date we have established four Compassion centers and their churches. We believe that God calls us to be in relationship with the people of Bolivia even though they are far away. He has done some amazing things to improve the health, education, and spiritual welfare of hundreds of people since we have been investing our time in Bolivia.
Who can go?
Bolivia Compassion trips are generally for anyone—Crossroads people, non-Crossroads people, friends and family from out of town, people from all over the faith spectrum—who wants to see Compassion at work or experience another culture. The only requirement is that you are at least 18 years old, or 10 years old if traveling with a parent or guardian. And groups of two or more, like families or small groups, can sign up together. Due to the variety of activities that may be planned when the trip has an Agua Yaku focus, some Bolivia trips may have different minimum age requirements.
How much does it cost?
$2,400. This covers your flight, hotel, meals, work supplies and activities. Stuff not covered are things like souvenirs, snacks at the airport, passport fees (if you need a new one), visa fees, and vaccinations.
What if I don’t have that much money?
Join the club, we have a handshake. Close to 90% of people who have been on a GO Trip with us didn’t have the funds sitting in their bank account or stuffed in a mattress, but nearly everyone raised the funds. Don’t let money stop you. Raising money is actually a very cool part of this experience. We’ll talk a lot more about the financial stuff and help you generate ideas for how to raise funds. We also have an awesome website that helps with this process, and a little faith goes a long way. Have some and see what happens.
Get ideas for support raising
Is there a deposit?
A non-refundable deposit is required as part of your application for this trip and must be paid via credit card or ACH. Cash, checks and money orders are not accepted.
How do I sign up?
Go to crossroads.net/GO and fill out an application no later than the posted deadline. We’ll ask you all kinds of questions like if you’re part of a group, who you’d like as your roommate, if you smell and so on. To complete your application, you will need to pay your non-refundable deposit. Applications are not complete until the deposit is received. All applicants will be contacted once the application is received to confirm their trip participation.
What happens if more than enough people sign up? How do you decide who gets to go?
Sign ups will occur on a first come first served basis. Once the trip has reached its maximum number, sign-ups will automatically close and applications will no longer be accepted for that trip. There will be no lottery.
What work will I be doing?
On Compassion trips, we typically spend time at several Compassion churches or child centers playing or doing crafts with kids, encouraging the leaders, visiting nearby families’ homes, and anything else we can do to support the great work happening there. We also spend time working with our local partner, Agua Yaku, helping to provide clean water to those lacking that vital resource. Whatever we do, we promise it will be meaningful.
What if I can’t do the work?
While we hope to have jobs for all skill sets, ages and 5k times, please know that the trip can be exhausting. We will be on our feet a lot, getting up early, climbing in and out of big buses, and the 10 plus hours in a plane is an obstacle we can’t change. If you have concerns about your physical situation, please talk to us. We want everyone to GO, but if you ignore your physical limitations up front, you could end up being miserable.
Will I really get a chance to see my Compassion kid that I sponsor?
If you’re on a Bolivia Compassion trip, then yes! We set one day aside for everyone to spend time with their sponsored child (or children) at a park, pool, or some other fun location. How sweet is that?! Don’t worry, Compassion will also have translators on site to help comprendes español. (AKA, understand Spanish.)
What else will we do?
We try to experience the variety of Bolivian culture while we are there. You might attend a prayer or worship service, eat some interesting food, shop in a local craft market, and hear God speaking to you in ways you would never expect.
Will I have to preach or pray in front of people?
Not unless you want to. This trip is for everyone, regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey. But you will be challenged and have a ton of opportunity to grow.
What is the travel like?
You will fly on commercial airlines, most likely a mixture of American, United, and possibly the Panamanian airline Copa. It takes a full day to get there with several plane changes, sometimes overnight. Once we are in Bolivia, we get around in private hired buses (sometimes with AC, sometimes not), and you get to experience traffic and driving WAY more haphazard than L.A. or New York!
Can I use miles, fly in business class, or make my own travel plans?
Nope. We are taking this trip as one group with one mission. And that means we work together, eat together and travel in the back of the plane together. Because of the complexities of getting groups of people to South America, all of our travel plans are centrally booked (Thank God for travel agents). You may however, earn thousands of miles for your flights. So that’s kinda cool.
Where are we staying?
For most trips, we stay in a hotel similar to a two- or three-star property in the USA. It’s not fancy, but it is modern and comfortable and has (somewhat spotty and slow) wi-fi, a reliable breakfast, great coffee, private bathrooms, and air conditioning.
What is the food like?
Santa Cruz cuisine is pretty basic: lots of chicken, some beef and duck, loads of rice and potatoes, and a few cooked vegetables. Finding clean water is often a challenge, so we don’t eat raw, uncooked veggies or fruits that can’t be peeled (sorry salad lovers, no rabbit food on this trip). For drinking water, we always have copious amounts of safe, bottled water on hand. If you are a picky eater, or have a lot of food sensitivities, you should talk with us about meal considerations and options for bringing some food items with you. For those missing a taste of home, Starbucks and Papa John’s Pizza (the only U.S. chains we’ve spotted in Santa Cruz) are both a short walk from the hotel.
What about roommates?
Everybody on the trip gets a roommate. Married co-ed couples may room together, otherwise you and your significant other get split up for the trip (no shacking up on Crossroads time). If you have questions, come talk to us.
Is it safe in Bolivia?
Traveling abroad is different than in the U.S. Certain risks and hazards exist. Traveling and staying in groups is the best protection. We will always travel in groups, and we will always have people who speak the many languages. You’ll probably need to get some standard vaccinations to protect your health and we’ll have plenty of purified water available.
What will we do to prepare for the trip?
We will have a series of meetings leading up to the trip, where you will learn more about Bolivia, learn more about what we are doing, meet others who are going and just have a good time. Out-of-town people will have a GO Group Leader assigned to keep them in the loop via email so they don’t feel left out.
Anything else you really want to tell me?
If you want to take a vacation to Bolivia, then we encourage you to do so. It’s beautiful. That being said, this is not that trip. Deciding to go with us means you want to be a part of a mission to change the world. In pursuit of that group goal, however, you may not get to do everything you want to do in the way you like to do things. It’s a part of submitting to something bigger than yourself. But if you GO, we promise an incredible experience! We can do more together than we can as individuals.