Update | Week Three

The fires in Bolivia continue to rage, and only seem to be getting worse. But as He always does, God is taking what it meant for evil and using it for His good purposes.

The fires are unifying Christians. Last Sunday, the 8th of September, a call went out for all the Christians in the Concepción area to meet together and pray for rain. Many showed up, and members of different churches joined as one body, praising the Lord and crying out to Him. It was a beautiful and powerful evening, and I pray it is only the beginning of the believers here uniting to seek the Lord!

Clamor por mi tierra

But these fires are waking up even unbelievers. This week, we had unbelievers tell us that the only way these fires will stop is if Bolivia repents and prays for rain.

Whatever the source of these fires, God is wielding them as His weapon to awaken hardened hearts. Still, I look out on the dry forest around me and can’t help but think that creation is groaning. I cannot wait for the rains to come and bring new life to the world around.

This week felt like it flew by! We went into Santa Cruz to get paperwork processed for my two year visa. Things went very well for the most part – and also made the licensing branches in the United States look good. 😉 Haha. Ultimately we were able to accomplish all that needed accomplishing – and we ate lunch at Burger King! That was something I never expected to experience in Bolivia. 😆

Friends of the Yoders also arrived this week for a visit, and brought along the science curriculum I’ll be teaching with! We’ll be studying astronomy, and I am beyond thrilled. 🌔☄️✨🌠🚀💃 The kiddos are pretty excited, too. The fun level at school is about to double, and everyone will be learning as it happens!

(Fun fact: One of my dreams is to become an astronaut, touch the moon, fly in a zero gravity space station, and infiltrate the world of space exploration with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)


Ways you can be praying:

  • For rain to return to northeast Bolivia, and that what remains of this drought would cause a mighty advancing of the kingdom of God in the hearts of the people, believing and unbelieving alike.
  • The Yoders have been waiting for over a month for electricians to come out and hook up electricity to their home (and consequently mine, haha), and they were only supposed to have up to a 21 day wait. Pray that the electricians would come!
  • For continued wisdom for me as I teach; wisdom to know how to use every subject to point back to Jesus, how to recognize and address every learning block my students come up against, how to fight spiritually for my students, and how to speak life and encouragement to them.
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It’s harder to teach creativity than it is to teach math, so I’ll consider this a good thing. 😂

Update | Week Two

School has begun for my three students! Our first week of school was great. I’m getting a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of my students and now I’m working through the challenge of how best to help each one. Please pray that the Lord would give me the wisdom and creativity of Heaven itself as I work to figure this out!

My three students

One thing that stood out to me this week was the love of the body of Christ. I have been so warmly and enthusiastically welcomed into the Yoder family (the missionaries I am serving and living with), into the school I am teaching at, and into the hearts of the children at the children’s home. The hospitality of everyone around me has given me joy in the love of God, reminding me of the rest and confidence that I have in Him. I don’t have to earn His love any more than I’ve had to earn the love of my brothers and sisters in the Lord here in Bolivia.

Much to my hearts delight, the school where my little class meets is also the school the kiddos from the children’s home go to. Every day I get to see those precious little ones. And I’ve had plenty of opportunities besides to enjoy them and play with them, since the Yoders administrate for the children’s home. It has so blessed my heart how these children have embraced me and are always so excited to see me!

My little corner of the schoolhouse (before the finishing touches)

Someone said this week, “Hospitality isn’t about inviting people into our perfect homes; it’s about inviting people into our imperfect hearts.” I’ve been thoroughly welcomed into the hearts of many here, and the Lord is helping me to learn to welcome others into mine. I’m excited for what I’ll continue to learn through the life of Christ lived out in my brothers and sisters in Him!


Please pray…

  • That I would have the wisdom and creativity of Heaven to figure out how best to strengthen my students where they are weak, encourage them where they are strong, and teach them to run to Jesus with every need, no matter how small it feels.
  • For an end to the drought and fires my part of Bolivia is experiencing. It’s worse than it’s been in several years, and with elections coming up in Bolivia in November, it’s being used as political leverage.
  • That I would be diligent in studying and fearless in practicing Spanish, and that I would quickly be able to have conversations with others in Spanish! (I do know quite a bit of Spanish, and can understand the majority of what is spoken to me, but I have a hard time speaking it still.)

¡Qué Dios les bendiga!

With love in Christ,

Olivia

This quote (that I found the other day on ililiastrotter.wordpress.com) beautifully expresses something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Something I want to live out. Something I so long to see instilled in my students. Pray that these kiddos would see that everything is from our Lord Jesus, and that they would do everything through Him and to Him!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36 (CSB)

Update | Week 1

“It’s okay to not be okay.” Those were the words a dear friend sent me off with. I needed that reminder at the time. Change is hard for me, and I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bigger change than the one I went through this week!

Surrounded by Spanish. Dirt roads, cold showers, slow phone service, no WiFi, no air conditioning, different plants and animals, new people, new places, new culture.

A street in Concepción, the city I am closest to.

And yet, this has been such a sweet and peaceful week in my soul that at times I’m tempted to feel guilty about it! It seemed to take no time at all for me to feel at home with my new family. The kiddos especially welcomed me in with such enthusiasm that it’s been overwhelming at times! I feel so very safe here, and so very loved.

So it seems that one of the first lessons God has for me is that it’s okay to be okay. It’s okay to be loved just because I exist – to not have to earn the love and affection of a family. It’s okay for things to not be as hard as I thought they would be.

But it seems like the lesson is also the fact that God will put us where He knows we were meant to be. God is not just shaping us; He is shaping the works He intends for us to do. As we follow Him in obedience in the everyday things He places before us, He will lead us into the works that He has prepared in advance for us. Every act of obedience matters, not matter how small, and obedience to Him is always worth it.

My schoolhouse, as seen from my house.

So far, the only fear I had that’s been realized is cold showers… buuuut I gotta have some form of hardship to fuel my prayer life, right? 😜

Other ways I’ve been blessed have been finding out that I understand Spanish better than I realized (though speaking it is still pretty difficult for me), feeling the spiritual love shared by believers I’ve just met, feeling God’s love for the children at the children’s home, being fed extremely well, having the best frappes ever, discovering I love Bolivian food (so far, haha), and getting to meet my first wild tarantula! (Yes, I like spiders. They are God’s handiwork, too! Someone’s gotta glory in that part of creation! Haha.)

  • Specific ways you can be praying include:
    • And end to the fires in Bolivia. It’s currently the dry season, so fires are normal, but they are worse than normal this year, and are being used as leverage in political situations.
      An amazing start to the school year! I long for my classroom to be full of the Spirit and power of God. I want academics to not be an end, but a means of pressing my student’s souls deeper into Christ.
      That I would be filled with the Spirit of God to be a living example of Jesus for my students and for everyone else I encounter.
      That I would be able to improve in Spanish quickly, and have the courage to mess up as I learn!
      For favor as we work on immigration paperwork for me.

    Let me know how I can be praying for you! Rest in the love and favor of our Lord Jesus. Brothers and sisters, you are loved with an everlasting love! And if you haven’t given your life to Jesus, I’d love to talk to you about how that everlasting love can be yours. ❤️

    God bless you!

    Olivia

    Prepared in Advance

    Is it not the same wonderful Fashioner Who fits us and our ministry together, and forms us through it with unerring precision, preparing us for the white stone and the new name which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it, eternity’s seal on the heavenly individuality of each. That eternal future will show how the Lord had need of each of us in our varying character, and how all that made up this earthly life fitted us for “bearing about” the special manifestation of Jesus entrusted to us, in which no other could take our place.

    Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Christ-life

    I feel like I’m surrounded by my favorite things! Kiddos and kittens and critters and brilliant, brilliant night skies! I’m not entirely fond of not having AC or warm showers, but those feel like small prices to pay in light of what I have gained. More and more, I am seeing how God has been shaping me for this very position I am in now; I hope to gradually share some of that backstory with you all eventually! (BTW, highly recommend Parables of the Christ-life!!! Free to download on Gutenberg.org!)

    …we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Ephesians 2:10, NASB

    Olivia Is in Bolivia! 🇧🇴

    Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You. I will praise Your name, for You have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. Isaiah 25:1

    The adventures have only begun! Pray that I would have favor with immigration and a smooth transition into the new life I’ll be living for the next while! God bless you all – and feel free to shoot me an email and let me know how I can be praying for you!

    Behold My God!

    “Olivia, I think it’s just so great that you’re doing this!”

    Over the last few months, I’ve had several people say things along those lines. It’s really sweet and really encouraging. They want to build me up by pointing out what they see God doing in me. Or sometimes, they’re just blown away by the fact that I’m doing what I’m doing and feel the need to express that.

    There is a secret as to how I’m able to give up so much and do potentially scary/uncomfortable things for God. But it actually has nothing to do with who I am. It has nothing to do with what a great or amazing or faithful person I am.

    Knowing Jesus

    In one of my favorite sermons, Knowing Jesus, Major Ian Thomas describes two cars. The first car is the ultimate rust bucket. It’s probably fifty years old. You can just see this thing driving down the highway and slowly disintegrating as it goes. In fact, when you open the door, it falls off.

    If I told you that I was going to drive that car from California to Maine, you would have reason to be impressed with the level of my faith. You’d have reason to be concerned about the level of my faith, even.

    But what if it were a new car? One with 650 HP. Fifty MPG. New tires, new everything. A squeaky-clean accident record and no history of mechanical problems.

    Would you be so impressed with my faith in this car if I told you I was going to drive from California to Maine in this?

    And what was the difference? The car. Because you knew what the car was like, you knew that me thinking it would make it cross-country wasn’t that impressive.

    Guys, if we KNEW our God, we wouldn’t be impressed by the faith of men. When we heard about the trust and confidence that others have in Him, our response would be, “Well, DUH.”

    Be Impressed with My Jesus

    The reason I’m able to do things that seem impressive to others is not because of who I am, but because of who God is. It’s because I know Him.

    He is my Provider (Phil. 4:19). He is always with me, and He, the Almighty Creator of the universe, is my Helper (Heb. 13:5-6)! He is constant and unchanging (James 1:17), and He will use everything for my good (Rom. 8:28). He delights to give good gifts (Matt. 7:11), and nothing will ever separate me from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).

    And that’s just the beginning! With a God like that, and who is so much more than that even, is it really so impressive for me to take any risk for Him? To do anything uncomfortable for Him? To give up anything for Him?

    When you see me, or anyone, do “impressive” things for God, don’t be impressed with us. Be impressed with our God.

    And you know what else? That is your secret, too. Your secret to living a life of full surrender to Jesus. Of doing risky or impressive things for God. Of venturing you all for Christ and changing this world for His glory. Know Jesus.

    …the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

    Daniel 11:32b, NKJV

    Chase after Jesus, friends!

    His and yours,
    Olivia

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