Sunday, March 01, 2009


On February 17th Jorge and I spent the day running errands in Cartagena. It was a good but busy and tiring day. Finally, around 2:30, we had time to stop to take a lunch break. We went to eat in the food court at the new shopping mall in Cartagena. We were sitting and talking about the fact that it was our 12 year anniversary of having arrived in Cartagena to start the ministry, Proyecto Libertad! Jorge was sharing with me about some feelings of discouragement he has been having lately, frustrations, etc... and then his cell phone rang. I think he even thought twice about whether he would answer it or not because we just wanted to eat in peace. He did answer though and it was our German staff member, Martin. He had just gotten off the phone with his pastor in Germany and it turns out, to make a long story short, that there is a factory in Martin´s town, called MTU that makes marine diesel engines. We had been talking with Martin and his pastor about the possibility of them helping in some way but nothing seemed to have come of it. Until that day when the call we received was to tell us that the company has decided to donate a brand new motor and generator for the boat!!

Just hearing one end of the conversation brought me to tears! Tears of relief, gratefulness and joy!!! Those tears you cry when you feel like God finally shows up and does what you thought He´d said He´d do but you had wondered if you heard him right in the first place because the years pass by without much light shining at the end of the tunnel.

In 1998, with the help of Haw River Christian Church in Haw River, North Carolina, the ministry was able to purchase the M/N Perla del Mar, re-naming her the M/N Libertad. Our vision has been to renovate her with the purpose of traveling to isolated island and river communities, taking the two hands of the Gospel!

Initially the boat was used to transport personnel and materials back and forth from the mainland to the island community of Bocachica. Not too long after the purchase our "guard" organized and facilitated the robbery of major parts of the boat's motor rendering her out-of-service! Later the boat was towed to a private dock and there she sat for several years as we made occasional repairs.

One leap in the right direction was made when we were able to fiberglass the boat's hull with special donations made from a church in Germany and a Bogota hospital. In 2002 we took the boat to Bocachica where she has been at anchor ever since. In 2003 we received more special donations designated towards boat repairs and were able to put her in dry-dock once again to replace rotten wood curves in the inner shell as well as doing maintenance to the outer hull. 2005 brought blessing with the return of staff member and carpenter, Martin Hakenjos. Martin took a lot of initiative to help raise funds for the continued renovation of the boat and since then, slowly but surely, the boat has been brought back to life.

In 2008 we had another big setback. A year earlier we received a donation of about $8,300 usd designated towards the purchase of the motor. This was a huge step forward for us but it still wasn´t enough to buy the motor so after a year without seeing any progress, the donor asked us to return the money they had given. So, as you can imagine, we felt like we took a huge step backward when our boat fund dwindled back down to what it had been before!

In spite of discouragement and obstacles our dreams for the boat were kept alive and we have been eagerly looking forward to the day we can make our maiden voyage, taking the ministry of Proyecto Libertad (medical, dental, community development projects, evangelism and discipleship, etc...) "on the road" so to speak, reaching out to other needy island and river communities!!! Now, after 11 long years, we can see the light shining bright at the end of the tunnel!

On March 3rd we are scheduled to take the boat back into dry dock to do some urgent hull repairs. The process of getting the motor and generator shipped from Germany will probably take at least another 3 months or so. At that time we will have to put the boat into dry dock again for the installation process.

We would also like to let everyone know that all the money that has been donated towards the boat project over the last 11 years will be used to cover the installation and dry dock expenses. Even though the motor has been donated, we still need these funds to finish the process!

We want to share our joy with you as we know many of you have played a part in making this happen through prayer, donations and encouragement!! And we also ask you to continue to pray for all that lies ahead with the shipment and installation of the motor and all that goes into making that a reality.

To see photos of the different stages of the boat renovations so far, click HERE!


MamaBear said...

That is fantastic news! I have never asked this question before, but reading your post I am wondering, what EXACTLY did you have in mind for those boat excursions in the way of the medical aspect?

Jorge and Karen Silva said...

Initially, medical outreaches...taking medical professionals, meds and supplies into the remote villages and offering medical and dental care.

Andrew Burnett said...

What a blessing! I continue to pray that your boat will soon be ready to serve the people of the region with the love of Jesus!

Sandi said...

Wow Karen.....great news. I am so excited to see what God will do through this boat ministry.
I was just remembering some of our times on the Good Sam and CM. Seems so long ago doesn't it?