A Poem | On the Fear of Failing Again

I was pondering tonight the ongoing consequences of past sin. One of those consequences can be a lingering temptation to go back. There are sins I’ve overcome by the grace of God, but an ironic temptation to fear comes over me when I feel a pull toward old sin. It’s a fear of falling and failing again.

I wrote this two and a half years ago when this fear was very strong. It came to mind tonight, and I wanted to share it in hope that it might be a blessing to a brother or sister in Christ. My dear fellow believers, your sin is defeated and need not be repeated. There is hope. There is victory in Christ. And there is no need to fear.

Fear
clouds
the mind.

Blind, I can no longer see
Promises made to me
Much less believe
I can be received
After this.

Fallen once again
Into that same besetting sin
I thought that I was done
I thought that I had won
But today, I lost.

I tremble when I feel
This temptation – my Achilles’ Heel
Just the thought of its call
And I’m convinced that I’ll fall
When it rises.

The freedom of yesterday
In a moment ripped away
All the strength I had gained
Gone, and I’m left maimed –
Could I ever recover?

And what if I do?
What if I’m healed only to
Fall again?

For one such as me
What hope could there be
For victory?

I am a slave to this sin
When it rises within
I will fall again.

My eyes become blind
As I set my mind
On the kingdom of dark
And on the stark
Weakness I feel before it.

It is true; I am weak
And the outcome is bleak
If this all depends on me
There will never be
Freedom.

But
it
doesn’t.

When I remember the Lamb
Who overcame – the I AM
The Lion of Judah, the First and the Last
The Kingly Messiah before whom all cast
Their crowns.

The Christ, seated at the right hand of God
All things under His feet, who descended and trod
The depths of temptation, but never gave in
Man of Sorrows who anguished but never did sin
To the death.

He can never fail
He must prevail
At His glance darkness flees
Temptation falls to its knees
And sin dies.

For those born again,
This same Christ lives within
And greater is He
That is in me
Than he that is in this world.

Now
I have
a choice.

My mistakes scream at me
That I’ll never be free
That I’m a slave to temptation
And obedience is my obligation –
But these are lies.

I know in my head
That my old self is dead
My sin has been nailed
To the cross. Where I failed
Christ won.

But in my heart it feels
Like the lies are so real
Like maybe they’re right –
So thank God for the Light
Of Scripture.

He who trusts in his heart
Is a fool. With a start
I realize
In believing lies
I was calling God a liar.

So to myself I will die
My feelings I’ll deny
And instead of trusting in them
I will look unto Him –
The Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Temptation will come again
But I’ll fix my eyes on Him
As the dust begins landing
You will see the victor standing –
Not I, but Christ.

“My daughter, believe
What I have spoken; receive
The truth.

“Make your choice
To refuse the voice
Of lies.

“Is the power of the grave
Or My ability to save
The greater?

“Your sin is defeated
And need not be repeated.
It is finished.”

Update | April & May

And our school year has come to an end! It’s a weird feeling as the end of school draws near; the pressure of needing to finish on time increases at the same time that the workload decreases. Which makes it feel like the amount of work that needs to be done doesn’t really change at all, haha! But once again a year of school has been completed, and my soul rejoices thinking back on God’s faithfulness throughout the schoolyear.

Early on a new challenge that I faced was handling all the emotional things a girl goes through when her crush asks her to be his girlfriend! I definitely was not expecting it to change my whole world as drastically as it did. But the Lord has been, and continues to, strengthen my soul in unexpected ways through this. And I must say, it has not been an unpleasant experience. Vale la pena, as they say… Especially when there is a lot more gozo than pena! Haha 🙂

All that to say, it felt at times like I lost my equilibrium in teaching early last semester, and I didn’t really realize it until I was able to visit home for Christmas. The Lord used that break to build me up and give me a reset of sorts. Then when we began our second semester, every one of my student’s grades went up, and trended upward until the end!

I feel like one overall theme the Lord grew me in this year was attitudes. Part of this was learning how to discern attitudes in my students, such as when someone genuinely needed help versus when someone was being lazy. Part of this was learning to help them by refusing to put up with bad attitudes. That can be hard for me sometimes as it requires a level of confrontation. But loving my students means not letting them stay stuck in states of mind that will hinder them!

And all this focus on attitudes came right back around to me. Am I grumpy? Lazy? Complaining in my heart? Feeling impatient? Giving in to frustration? The Lord lead me through a lot of preaching to my own soul and repenting before Him when my own attitude started to get bad. I definitely have more practice to go in this area, but I am so grateful for the lessons the Lord taught me this year in ruling well over my own soul.

Now I am in the United States and will be here until August! Please pray for me that this will be a restful time and that it will be a productive time as well. But ultimately, pray that God will accomplish everything He wants to accomplish in me and through me during my time here.

Pray that Juan Luis and I will be able to communicate well during my time in the States! Being away from him will definitely be the hardest part of my time in the States. God gave us a sweet gift of lots of time together before I left Bolivia, for which I am so grateful! But it did make it harder to leave! Once again… vale la pena. Keep praying that God will be glorified in us, use our relationship to further His Kingdom, and give us clarity in regard to our future together.

God has continued to provide and prepare the way for the children’s home! The Yoders are also in the US this summer, but God beautifully set things in place for their trip, getting volunteers where they needed to be and providing for major projects to be finished and major problems to be resolved before the Yoders left.

One specific moment was when the brakes in the children’s home’s Tundra went out… in the first place, God kept everyone safe and kept the road clear when this happened! Then in the process of fixing the Tundra, the mechanic found other issues that might have been just as disastrous were they not taken care of right away.

The day that happened, I found myself the only adult around, so for a few hours I got to be the boss of the children’s home! Which was uneventful and pretty simple, haha, but it was a cool feeling and kinda fun to be able to say that I was in charge of an orphanage… 😏

Pray that my Spanish wont deteriorate while I’m in the States! Though I’m sure that Juan Luis will continue to give me plenty of opportunity to practice. In the last couple months, I’ve been very encouraged to notice ways that my Spanish has improved. I’m even able to share the basics of the Gospel in Spanish now! And when I got to visit Juan Luis recently, several people I got to meet were impressed with my Spanish abilities. Often as one learns a new skill, others around you can see your improvement better than you can. It was so very encouraging to me to realize how my Spanish has improved! There’s still a lot to learn, so keep praying for me as I continue mastering it!

God bless you all abundantly this summer!

His and yours,

Olivia

Three Month Update

Hello, world! 😅 Part of me thought that when my boyfriend moved ten hours away to study, I’d have so much more free time and be able to keep up with my blog. Apparently not. 🤷‍♀️🤪😂

February’s highlight was going to my friend Maria’s wedding! We stayed in a beautiful cabin on the same property that the wedding took place on. The wedding itself was gorgeous and unique. Maria and Limber wanted very much for their ceremony to be a picture of the Gospel. Maria and her bridesmaids came in first, singing about Christ’s return and the church waiting faithfully for Him. As Limber walked toward the entrance, a shofar blew and his groomsmen ran out to meet him. That moment gave me chills! It truly was a blessing to meditate on Christ’s return and the coming wedding day of the Lamb.

See the money pinned to the groom? A custom among the highland people in Bolivia is to pin money to the bride and groom!

But really, my favorite part of that weekend was getting to spend it with my boyfriend. It was a crazy emotional ride – at first he was able to come, then quarantines were going to prevent him from coming, then he was able to come again… haha. In the end, all of that made me even more grateful for the chance to be with him (especially on Valentine’s Day!) and recognize that the time I have with him really is a gift. And our Father delights to give us good gifts! 😃

Later in February I got to visit the community where Juan Luis was born. And much to our delight, we discovered that an aunt of his is caring for his two youngest siblings! He had been fighting to get them a better situation for months. Praise God for how He has provided! Pray that those two little ones will come to Him as their Heavenly Father.

Playing with the new profe 👩‍🏫

In March we had our 100th day of school, and a middle- and high-school teacher arrived for the children’s home! We’ve been very blessed by the help and presence of this sister in the Lord.

One weekend, a street race went by the house! There was just about every kind of vehicle you can imagine zooming by on the dirt road. We stood at the end of the driveway and cheered as cars passed. There was something very exciting about being so close to such speed and power!

We’ve had a lot of baby animals recently. Calves, piglets, and kittens!

In April, four more kiddos came to the orphanage. This is always very bittersweet. We are so glad to welcome them and have the chance to love them, but our hearts break that their situation was such that they had to come to an orphanage. Pray that God would fully heal them, and that they would be built into world-changers for the Kingdom of God!

We also celebrated the Día del Niño! This is celebrated kind of similarly to the way Morher’s Day or Father’s Day is celebrated, but with the focus being on the children. And in Bolivia, it’s a big day! We had a half-day of classes and spent the rest of the school hours playing games and enjoying snacks.

My students and me 😃

It was also this month that it dawned on me how much my Spanish has improved! I can read smoothly and understand what I’m reading without effort, though it’s not uncommon for me to come across a few words that I don’t know. I no longer feel the need to rehearse in my mind what I’m going to say to make sure I have all the words that I need. (Which means that occasionally I get partway through a sentence and then get very stuck. 😅) Building relationships with those around me who speak Spanish is getting easier and more enjoyable. Aaaand I recently discovered that I can speak Spanish well enough to share the Gospel! I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving to the Lord when that realization dawned on me!

Most likely I’ve been able to do all these things for a few months now. But sometimes as one is learning a skill, it’s hard to notice one’s progress. It just hits you one day: Wow, I’m so much better than I was a year ago!!! But it takes many, many little steps to travel a distance. I’m learning once again that it’s okay when the only progress I can seem to make it slow progress. I may not realize how far I’ve come as I’m going, but some day I will look back and be amazed at the distance between where I am and where I started.

Toborochi tree in the plaza – the flowers are gorgeous!!!

Now there is a lot on the horizon! Hopefully I will have a moto soon, and in a bit more than a month I will be in the US again! We have two weeks of school left as I write this. The Yoders will be visiting the US this year as well, but I’ll leave about two weeks after them and return about three weeks before them as my visa will expire if I’m out of Bolivia more than 90 days.

Please pray for a good end to the school year and smooth and safe travel in May.

God bless you all abundantly and fill you with the knowledge of His will!

His and yours, Olivia

Update | December 7-January 23

Happy 2021! 😊 School days in mid-December felt loooong and draggy, but that’s usually the way it goes when everyone knows that a break is coming soon! We took three weeks off for the holidays, and I was able to fly to the US to spend Christmas and New Year with my family and friends in Indiana. 😃

It was a refreshing vacation! The Lord used it to renew my focus and inspiration for another season of loving Him and loving those around me. I was reminded of the sweetness of fellowship with Him and filled with such a desire to know, love, and obey Him. Time spent with my friends and family was so sweet, and the Lord crowned it all with His own blessings.

Then when I got back to Bolivia, the blessings continued! Starting with getting to see my favorite Bolivian again. 😁 I got back to Bolivia and right away traveled with Juan Luis to Camiri for a reunion/retreat at the Bible school he attended last year! Fellowship there with other siblings in Christ from all over Bolivia was so sweet. I was encouraged by one sister’s passion for missions, by hearing older women speak words of wisdom and truth (I wanna be like them when I grow up 😄), and by the love, kindness, and patience that the believers there in general showed toward me in those moments when I needed help with Spanish.

The teaching over the weekend focused on the fruits of the Spirit, but the session I was most encouraged by was when the guys and gals split into two groups, and hermana Silvia spoke to us ladies about walking in the Spirit. What she shared was so full of truth that I needed to be reminded of! The flesh and the Spirit are at war with one another. When I feel that battle, it shouldn’t discourage me; rather, I should be encouraged knowing that this battle is evidence of the Spirit of Christ living in me! Walking in the Spirit means loving God, and loving God means seeking to truly know Him through spending time in His Word and prayer; and loving God means obeying Him. Reminders like these were exactly what my soul needed before another season of seeking to build the Kingdom of God in the ways that He has set before me.

Now I’m back home again in my casita, back in the swing of school. We’ve had an amazing start to this semester; so far every grade the students have received has been higher than their average grade from last semester! I’ve discovered some small ways to pour more into my students. My prayer is that God will continue to be my strength and inspiration as I seek to give these guys the best that I can. Jesus is so worth it.

Please be praying for me to have the grace I need to teach the best that I possibly can. Pray that the children’s home would have all the help that it needs as it is soon to be without all the extra volunteers! Pray for God’s continues guidance and protection in my relationship with Juan Luis. And as decisions begin to be made in the next few months regarding what this next year will look like, pray that I would have God’s wisdom, clarity, and peace.

Sweet blessings in Jesus!

Olivia

October and November 2020 Update

These last two months have been fast and full! I really can’t believe the last time I posted an update was October 4th. 🙈

School looks a little bit different now, as the children from the orphanage have finished their school year! We celebrated with a small closing program and then a day at the pool! So things are a lot quieter at the schoolhouse nowadays, though it can be nice to have the greater flexibility! Please be praying for the leaders of the children’s home as they work toward getting the next school year figured out – finding teachers and administrators most of all!

I’ve continued to see God’s faithfulness in my classroom through the daily challenges that come up. I can testify that He gives grace and wisdom, patience and endurance, everything we need for every task that is put before us! In recent months I’ve had discouraging days where it seems like there’s a wall between my student’s understanding and my ability to explain a concept. But every time that I lay these things before the Lord and seek His wisdom and help, there is breakthrough. He hears!

One of those beautiful, rare moments when everyone is silently working on something

I also recently experienced a small breakthrough in my Spanish! It seems to me a regular thing for a student to reach a place of desperation in their studies. It’s as if they spend time growing in their understanding of a concept until they reach a place where they can’t progress without some kind of breakthrough, some new connection, being made in their brain.

I had reached a place where it felt like I wasn’t progressing, though I knew there was so much progress to be made. I knew I needed a breakthrough, but had no idea what to do – except express my frustration to the Lord and ask Him to bring that breakthrough.

The next week, I dreamed in Spanish for the first time! Then my Dad made a comment about how my Spanish seems to roll off my tongue more easily than it used to. And suddenly I noticed I was understanding conversations more easily than before, and was able to speak more easily than before. Praise the Lord for this breakthrough!

😁

One of the many reasons I am very thankful for that breakthrough is that it has made getting to know Juan Luis even more fun than I already was. 😁 Having to guess less and being able to express my own thoughts with more ease makes communication a lot more enjoyable, haha! Although I also recently learned that as we were first getting to know each other, I once accidentally told him I like snakes more than I like him. 🥴🤦‍♀️ I was trying to say I like snakes more than he likes snakes… ah well. At least now he knows. 😅😂

It has been so fun the way that dating Juan Luis has opened Bolivia to me in new ways. But I suppose that will always be the case when you have a native showing you around and sharing their world through their own eyes! He knows a lot of the local names for plants and birds and animals, which is a ton of fun for me. 😁 We’ve been able to share very Bolivian meals and visits, and I am learning so much more about what life is like and what the mindset is like for the people living in our area. Pray that we will be a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a blessing to his friends and family and everyone we encounter!

Juan Luis also brought me a scorpion a few weeks ago. My last one died while I was in the US. I feel like I’m doing something right if my boyfriend is bringing me scorpions. 😏😂

Chillin’ with the critters on a day that I found myself home alone

Speaking of the US, I’ll be there for about three weeks over Christmas! I’m so excited to be home. Please pray that everything stays open enough for travel to go smoothly, and that I’m able to prepare well in the meantime! I started feeling this week that “vacation is coming why am I HEREEEEEE” sensation at school this week if you know what I mean. 😂 Lack of desire to work and having a harder time focusing. But He giveth more grace!

As an update on the political situation here, things seem pretty calm now. The Movement Toward Socialism candidate, Luis Arce, is now the president of Bolivia. There were attempts from parties opposed to President Arce to start protests and shut things down, but they didn’t have much support. They weren’t very strong and didn’t last very long. So now please be praying for Bolivia’s new president, and wisdom for the church as it encounters new laws and rumors of new laws in the coming months and years. And praise God for the relative peace that Bolivia had during the last election and transition of power!

Thank you all so very much for your love, support, and prayers. God bless you abundantly!

His and yours,

Olivia

Pray for Bolivia! 🇧🇴

Hello, dear friends!

So this Sunday is the primaries for Bolivia’s presidential election! The joke going around is that everyone enjoy these last few of Bolivia’s peaceful days… 😜 Please keep Bolivia in your prayers as it heads into this election. We’re expecting crazy and exciting times to ensue afterward, no matter who gets elected.

Pray for peace and justice in Bolivia. Pray against corruption, and that corruption would be exposed. Pray that the man who would honor God will be elected.

Pray for safety for Bolivians who have to travel to vote, and safety through any kind of protesting that might come after the election. Pray for wisdom for all of us.

Pray that the church in Bolivia will shine like a city on a hill in the midst of any coming chaos. Pray that hearts will be opened to the Gospel, and that faithful men and women of God will be found preaching the Gospel to those who have ears to hear.

Thank you all so much!

With confidence in our God and excitement to watch what He will do,

Olivia

Highlights | Weeks 3-6 update

Aaaaand suddenly a month flies by without me posting any updates. 😅 Some major events have happened in the last month! I’ll hit on the highlights. 😊

I spent two days taking care of all the Yoder kiddos. We went to school halftime those days, but that was enough for me with five kids (one of them a preschooler) to juggle! Haha. I was pretty wiped by the end of just two days, and it was very clear to me why God intended families to have two adults and not just one. 😂 But one night, the youngest Yoder started singing into a fan with a song he was making up on the spot. “Does Jesus love me? Does He, huh?” Yes, yes He does! my heart cried out. And oh, because of the love Christ has for these little ones, I will gladly be spent for them! May God give me His love for those around me!

Always my favorite place to have recess 😁

Another evening, as I watched the children from the orphanage play, I was overwhelmed with how precious they are. It frustrates me that I can’t express with words how precious these children are! But I was overcome with sorrow. Why, why don’t these children have families? I understand that evil men choosing their own selfish desires are why they lost their families. But where is the church of God? Where are those parents who love Jesus and can love these kids? Where are those who recognize the preciousness of these little ones enough to lay down their lives to care for them?

This frustrates me to no end and it’s something I talk to God about a lot. Sometimes all I can do is cry in His presence and ask over and over, “Why?” I pray that this is not just my human compassion but something coming from the heart of God. I trust God, even though I can’t understand why the God who owns all of creation has little ones who are lacking so much. I know He will redeem everything the enemy means for evil. But I also know that His good intention for the world never included a child outside of the love and care of a mom and dad of their own. It’s hard to process and something I don’t understand. But in the midst of all of this, I can’t help but praise God for the hope there is in Christ. He will come again and right all wrong. He will make all things new!

The kiddos invited me over to their fort for cookies. I was quite spoiled. 😂

A few recent highlights at the children’s home include:

  • Two young Bolivian women coming to help for a while! Trudy and Ana. Please keep them, and all the staff at HERO, in your prayers! These two will be here until December and January.
  • The home got a milking machine! This has long been the dream of all the boys there who milk twice a day. 😂 It doesn’t really speed things up, but it does mean that every single boy doesn’t have to milk every single time now.
  • We had a huge party for the coming of spring! It was so much fun! It was a beautiful evening full of food, dancing, and the children learning how to be ladies and gentlemen.
Me and my escort for the primavera party 😊

Aaaand well, I’m biased, but for all that, the goings on at the children’s home weren’t quite as exciting as the most recent highlight in my life…

I have a boyfriend! 😁💃

His name is Juan Luis and, yes, he is Bolivian! Before I ever came to Bolivia I said I’d never have a Bolivian boyfriend. I didn’t think I’d be able to speak Spanish well enough to get to know anyone, and I thought I wouldn’t have any opportunities to get to know any Bolivian young men in the first place. God must have been laughing… 😂

Our friendship began back in February. He’d been away at a discipleship school for the last seven months, but we stayed in touch and got to know one another. The day after he came back from his school, he asked my parents for permission to date me. They said yes; then he asked me, and I said yes!

As we’ve shared stories about how God has brought us individually to this point, I’ve been amazed by His clear leading. Though we don’t yet know where He will lead us in the end, it’s such a precious and reassuring thing to know He has lead us thus far.

Please do be praying for us! Pray that we will be able to communicate well. It’s getting smaller every day, but there is a bit of a language barrier between us. Pray for wisdom, understanding, and patience for both of us as we navigate differences in culture and differences from having very, very different upbringings! Pray that the light and life of Christ will be seen clearly through us, and that our relationship will create open doors for sharing the Gospel. Pray that God will be glorified in us and that every step we take will be steps of obedience to His direction and His way of doing things.

Juan Luis and me 😁😊

God bless you all abundantly!

His and yours,

Olivia

School Starts Again! | Week 2 Update

A new school year has begun!

First day of school!

We had to start a day later than originally planned because I wasn’t ready. 🙈 Though at the same time, we originally weren’t even expecting me to be able to get to Concepción until September 2nd or 3rd… so maybe we started early. 🤷‍♀️😂

It was a great first three days back! I’d been a bit nervous about trying to balance four students all studying four different grades, but so far things have gone really well! Pray that God continues to give me inspiration and energy to juggle these students with excellence.

PE 😁

One fun moment this week was when a student tried to trick me into chewing half a jalapeño. I escaped that one unscathed thankfully. 😂 Another moment I found amusing was when one of my students asked, “Miss Olivia, how do you spell ‘the’?” I answered her question, and immediately another student asked me how to spell “binomial nomenclature.” The quirks of teaching grades 1-7! Haha!

One blessing has been the mildness of this dry season. Last week we had a downpour, something unheard of in August! The annual forest fires are here, though. We await the summer rains with a confidence that they will come. It’s a profound thing. Let us anticipate the promises of our God with the same confidence!

The view from my casita. Mostly bare trees with a few flowering to remind that spring is coming, and that even in the midst of difficulty there is reason to rejoice! The haze is from forest fires.
  • Pray for another good week of school! That I would have the energy, inspiration, and grace that I so need to teach well!
  • The children’s home will soon have two new tías working there! Pray for a good transition for them and for those at the home, and for spiritual protection and fortification for them!

May God bless you abundantly and faithfully guide you into all truth!

Because He lives,

Olivia

Back in Bolivia! 🇧🇴 | Update

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Two of my students and me! 😊

What a blessing it has been to be once again with the people in Bolivia that I have grown to love so much. There have been several times when I’ve just paused in my soul and rejoiced in the fact that I’m here. Thank You, Jesus!

These feelings are probably stronger due to the battle I had to fight to get back. About a week before my flight I called the airline to make sure I had all the information I needed, and the first thing I learned was that the date of the flight had been changed. 🥴 That was the beginning of a long string of stressful events.

Things aren’t nearly as brown this year as they were when I arrived last year! The schoolhouse as seen from my casita 🏠

The worst was trying to get my Coronavirus test results. I tested as soon as I could and got a negative result, but the documents I got back didn’t have all the information I needed, and there was literally nothing anyone could do about it. With four days left before my flight, I had to find a different place to get tested and pray that the results came back in time!

God provided, but when my results did come back (two days before the flight), the website wouldn’t load them. I had to wait until the next day (the day before my flight) to call the clinic, and the phones to the clinic were down. 😳

Finally I was able to call another office within the same company, and the man I spoke with was able to download and email me my labs (negative again!). But goodness, it seems like something really didn’t want me to come to Bolivia. And honestly, I find that thought rather exciting. 😏

This guy showed up my first night back. A little gift from Jesus. I’m home! Haha

I didn’t always handle stress well in the week leading up to my flight. There were many times I gave way to anxiety and bad attitudes. 😬 I knew at the start that I wasn’t walking in victory, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Then a friend sent me Proverbs 16:3.

Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.

NASB

As I meditated on that verse, I realized I had been acting as if everything depended on me. Which also meant it was all my fault if it went wrong. I was adhering strictly to what I thought success and victory would mean, instead of walking in obedience to Jesus and leaving the results with Him. I wasn’t committing my works to the Lord.

It took a few hours of repenting and choosing again and again to let things rest in His hands, choosing to trust Him no matter the outcome, choosing to truly expect that He would work all things together for good, whether “good” was what I wanted it to be or not. But as I chose obedience, my emotions began to follow suit. I had peace and rest where there had been stress.

We enjoyed a day at the lake on Friday. So beautiful and such a refreshment to the soul!

It became clear to me again something I already knew: I can always choose to obey Jesus, no matter how strongly I feel like I can’t. And obedience is a CHOICE. It’s determined by what I will to do, not by what I feel like doing.

It wasn’t fun to go through all that stress, but I am thankful to God for that trial and all that He worked in me through it. There was this moment in the airport, as I finally had all the paperwork in order, that this spiritual feeling of rest overwhelmed me. It was as if God was letting me know the battle had been won. No problems from here on out (as far as getting to Bolivia, haha…) I was home.

And so it was.

The fires aren’t nearly as bad this year as they were last year, but they are there. The sky is constantly hazy from smoke.

Here are some specifics you can be praying for me!

  • A good start to the school year. I have four students this year, which means teaching four grades instead of three! I expect the first few weeks to be a challenge, though I also expect to find a good rhythm soon by God’s grace. 🙂
  • God’s direction, and that I would have confidence in God’s direction, throughout this next year. That I would know what opportunities and responsibilities to pursue and which ones to turn down.
  • Continued improvement in my Spanish (and encouragement as I pursue this 😅). Praise God it’s a looooot better than a year ago, but I still have a lot to learn.
  • That my focus would be fixed on Christ and my driving motivation would be love for Him and then love for those around me.
  • For God’s grace as I continue working through the ins and outs of raising financial support this year!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Olivia

Counting the Cost | Weeks 42 and 43

On Friday, June 12, my grandpa died, and by every earthly estimation, I was trapped in Bolivia, with no way to be home with my family as we mourned his loss. Guys, this was hard. This was so hard.

It was sudden, but it wasn’t necessarily a complete surprise. Because of how he was doing before I’d left for Bolivia, I had considered the fact that I might never see him again. I surrendered that into Jesus’ hands. For me, it was part of counting the cost of choosing to follow Him to Bolivia.

Sunset in the city

That day I spent a lot of time thinking and processing. I lay in the grass at the mission base, staring at the clouds, thinking about counting the cost. Thinking about how any time the Lord leads us to a place away from home, there is the chance we will never see loved ones again. Thinking about how counting the cost was going to entail a lot more surrender than I had once imagined. Thinking about what Paul says in Philippians 3:

…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:8, NASB, emphasis mine

Suffered the loss of all things. Sure, there were a few people I’d surrendered to Jesus in my heart before I left for Bolivia. People I’d left in His hands. But… all? Olivia, if it literally cost you every person you loved, would you still go after Jesus?

I wrote a song last year. The chorus to it became a real challenge to me.

“Yes, Jesus! Oh Jesus, I choose
To follow You, no matter what I lose
‘Cause I have everything when I gain You
So though it cost me everything I’ll sing anew
Yes, Jesus!”

I don’t know what it’s going to cost me. But as far as I am able, I surrender all. Only let me have Jesus.

My grandpa

That I may gain Christ. Among us single people, there’s a common temptation to decide to do things God’s way so that He’ll give us a spouse, and if we stay pure and walk in His ways and “make Him our focus,” we get disappointed when no special someone comes our way. Something similar can happen here; surrendering all so that God will give us some grand adventure, so that we’ll become the heroes the next generations look to. I’ve felt this pull.

But all of that? It’s loss compared to knowing Christ. May knowing Him always be my motive and my goal. May I seek Him for Himself, not for what I’ll get out of Him.


I write these words from my home in Indiana. Monday, June 15 I was told there would be no seats available in the plane. Tuesday, June 16, I was flying home. The Lord truly gave me a miracle that day, and I was able to be home for my grandpa’s funeral.

Our God is always good.

As I spend time with friends and family, this will be my last (relatively) normal update for a while! Though I may write some about culture shock and things that have stood out to me in adjusting back to life in the United States.

I can’t thank you all enough for how you have prayed for me and supported me in other ways! I was truly prayed home. Now pray me back to Bolivia! Haha. 🙂 Pray…

  • For God’s continued provision and protection for the children’s home and those caring for it
  • That I would live my “vacation time” to its fullness and God would accomplish everything He desires to work in me during this time
  • That I’d be able to go back to Bolivia as planned!

Sweet blessings in Jesus!

Following Him,

Olivia

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