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

Hope | Week 41 Update

A week ago, I thought I’d be writing this update from the United States, and then taking a break from this blog while I enjoyed my time at home. Then my flight from Bolivia to the United States was canceled. Then I found out that there are no flights to the US currently available until July. So it seems my adventure in Bolivia is going to keep going longer than expected!

Some furry friends live at the mission base I’m staying at. They have a way of reminding me that I’m loved. 🐶

All of this was hard to accept at first. I usually don’t struggle with being homesick, but when my expectations came crashing down, I just wanted to be home. To see my family. To hug my dad on Father’s Day. To splash through a creek somewhere in Indiana.

And the challenge to my soul was this: choose hope.

The truth is, I have every reason to hope, and to rejoice, in the middle of disappointment. Ours is a God of redemption. He works out everything for good for those who love Him. His will is my sanctification and He is working good in me as I wait. He is sovereign, and none of what has befallen me is out of His control.

Even knowing all that truth, hope had to be a choice for me. I didn’t really feel like hoping at first. But as I chose to believe what is true over what I felt, what I felt began to match what is true.

I do have hope now – genuine hope. I receive my current lot and choose to rejoice in it.

And there are precious gifts I can rejoice in. I’m in a safe and peaceful place, surrounded by friends who love Jesus. I have WiFi and hot water (oh you guys, washing dishes with hot water is such a luxury you have no idea 😂) and access to a drying machine!!! I feel a bit spoiled.

My one big struggle is lack of responsibilities leaving me with lack of motivation. There’s definitely lots I could be doing! But I’ve been struggling with gathering the desire to do it. 😅 So you can pray for me there! And you can also pray…

  • That a flight would open up before July! Like, that it would open up this week! Tomorrow!
  • God would send volunteers to the orphanage.
  • That everything that God is wanting me to learn in this season, everything He is wanting to do in my soul, would be completely worked in me.

Dear Christian, precious in God’s sight, you are never forgotten by our Father and you always have reason to hope. May our Father shower you with His goodness!

In Him,

Olivia

Week 40 Update

Well, this week was definitely unique! One thing that made it unique was how unstructured my days were. Not that they were empty – though they certainly were less full than what is normal. I had the opportunity to continuing to tutor and love in general one specific girl, and though I’d never really seen that coming or expected it to turn out as it did, it was a privilege and a joy to my soul. I was reminded over and over that in my human eyes it sometimes seems like I’m accomplishing less if I’m giving my time to serving fewer people. But when we faithfully love those God has put in front of us, whether it’s many or just one, we impact eternity.

There was a bridge here. Then it rained. A lot. In other words, flooding washed it out. 🌊

On Memorial Day we had a wonderful American flag cake. We also visited the site of a washed-out bridge! We played in the forest nearby for a bit, and I actually felt like I was in a South American jungle! Surprise 😂

It’s blooming season for some of the trees! Here’s my schoolhouse, and the sign for the orphanage!

Sunday (the 31st) we had church and lunch in the mountain. We recognized Gina and Jesse, two volunteers who have been here for a few years now and are leaving on Tuesday.

And speaking of leaving on Tuesday… I’m gong with them!!! We have permission to travel from the US Embassy. We’re going to stay in Santa Cruz until Saturday, and then finally fly home! For them it’s an “adios,” but for me it’s a “nos vemos”! I’m coming back to Bolivia in August 26th! Lord willing. 😁

Had a kitten date with this sweet girl. It was everything my soul needed 🐱

Please pray for me and the others as we travel! You can also pray…

  • For a good transition home for us all (culture shock is a possibility haha…)
  • That I would stay sane for my first two weeks home when I’m supposed to quarantine. That’s gunna be rough haha.
  • That volunteers would come to HERO soon!

One week left! Still expectant for what the Lord will do, in this week and all the weeks to come, in Bolivia and in the United States.

Blessings in Jesus,

Olivia

Week 39 Update

School is pretty much wrapped up now! Final grades are put together and my classroom is all cleaned up. All that’s left are parent-teacher conferences! Er… conference. Haha.

My cleaned-up classroom ❤️

It wasn’t until I was staring at my clean and empty corner that I felt all the end of school feels. It’s always bittersweet for me. The joy and fulfillment of a completed year. The sorrow of saying goodbye to the way things were. The excitement for the year to come and all the good God is going to do in it.

So with all that finished, last week was very laid back for me! I was able to spend time tutoring one of the girls from the home, which gladdened my teacher’s heart. I’ve been able to read more (it’s really standing out to me how much the NAME of Jesus is emphasized in Acts! This feels so significant but I haven’t yet studied this out thoroughly). I’ve also been able to continue managing the media for the children’s home.

Took some pictures of the new pig pen this week for HERO’s Facebook. Couldn’t leave without a shot of me with my new friends. 🐷

We had a south wind come through on Friday and Saturday, and that meant chilly weather! Which also meant I got invited to have a movie afternoon with the girls at the children’s home! That was a blessing to my soul. I don’t see them as often with school being out, so I was very glad for the chance to spend time over there!

Still no clear indication of when I’ll be able to go home. I’m doing well despite that. I feel very safe and at rest where I am. I long to see my family, so that hurts. But God has been giving me His peace and patience. He has used friends and family to remind me that He loves me and He remembers me. And just as I expected, He is doing a lot in me with the extra time I’ve been given. And knowing Him, it’s only going to get better!

We visited a GORGEOUS spot on Wednesday night! A rocky cliff that overlooks the children’s home and more. We watched the stars and talked about the love of God and finding our identity in Him. It was everything my soul needed.

Here are some specific ways you can be praying for me and the ministry here!

  • That I’d be able to get home soon!
  • That I would be open for everything God wants to do in and through me in the week-ish that I have before leaving Bolivia
  • For continued safety of health for the orphanage and everyone involved
  • That new volunteers would be able to come soon! And that travel would open for the teachers to be able to come and continue their work.

Jesus’ sweetest blessings,

Olivia

Weeks 36-38 Update

Wow! So much has happened these last few weeks!

For one, Bolivia’s quarantine was extended, and at this point I’ll be staying in Bolivia until the start of June. My original flight was for May 19th, but due to current travel restrictions, trying to make that happen feels like a bunch of extra stress I’d like to avoid.

Bouquet my student gave me 🌸 Love the reminder of God’s bounty that the flowers of the field are!

It was hard at first to think of having to wait longer to see my family again. But Jesus ministered to my soul in that time, from friends encouraging me and praying for me, to highlighting Scripture for me, like Colossians 1:11. But He’s also given me this sense of excitement for these extra weeks in Bolivia. It’s like a holy anticipation for what He will do. I’m not sure what He has in mind, but I know it can’t be anything short of wondrous!

We had lots and lots of rain this last week, which resulted in a few bridges being completely washed out! It also resulted in some fun during recess. Nothing like a raging creek to play in! 😃 Made me think, what if we carried that attitude when floods hit our lives? What if we played in the waters?

Playing in the creek!

Last week was our last week of school! We celebrated Friday night with a very homeschool style closing program. It was a sweet night and a ton of fun. Now all that’s left for me is to finalize grading and get organized and cleaned up!

After that? Who knows! I certainly will have no excuse to be bored. I’ve been praying that Jesus will direct my steps and my heart and help me see what it is He is wanting to accomplish day by day. Maybe that will mean I spend a day alone with Him, maybe it will mean tutoring kids who are still in school, maybe it’ll mean something completely off my radar.

Some of the flood damage. And yes we drove over this thing 👍🏼

These last three weeks have had some intense moments. I’ve learned much about relationships, walking in unity and love, embracing difficulties as tools for good in the hands of God, and engaging in spiritual battle. There are chapters of my adventures here that can’t be shared yet. But believe me, God has shown Himself mighty and jealous on behalf of those He loves, and I have been basking in the glory of who He is and how He protects, provides for, and loves His own. He is so, so good, y’all!

Here’s how you can be praying for me:

  • Continued patience and long suffering with all joy as I wait for my chance to fly home
  • That God would continue to provide as quarantine restrictions can make getting necessities tricky sometimes
  • That God would prepare and bring the needed volunteers to the children’s home
  • That I would be able to live life to the fullest in the time I have remaining in Bolivia, and be sensitive to what God wants to do in and through me
  • That I would finally catch up on lost sleep 😜
Some pretty white flowers! I’m pretty sure these open at night and close in the morning… if anyone knows what they are, let me know! 😁

Jesus is good! May you know His goodness to a deeper level than ever before!

Because He lives,

Olivia

My High Places

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.

Psalm 18:33

I was pondering this verse the other day. My high places. Why MY high places? Why not just “high places”? Or “the high places”?

I won’t claim that I know what David himself meant when he wrote those words. But it got me thinking of mountains. Those things that seem too hard for me, those things that seem like I might never be able to overcome.

The difficulties I face aren’t all the same as yours. And it’s likely that the ones I face seem a lot bigger and more imposing to me than the ones you face, because those are the ones I personally confront. Those, in a sense, are MY high places.

Our God wants to set our feet on the tops of the impossible mountains we have to climb. He leads us in victory in Christ. In Him we are more than conquerors. And this is a reality He desires to live out in us! Whatever it is you face, our God is fully able to set your feet on your high places!

Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.

Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross

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