Weeks 21-23 Update

These last few weeks have been full! My apologies for the lack of my regular update; hopefully no one was concerned, haha.

Week 21

I started spending more time with the staff at the children’s home (*coughFINALLYcoughcough* haha…)! Admittedly, a part of it probably had to do with the fact that Susanna is here! But in any case, it’s been great to spend time with them in the evening, talking and singing to Jesus together.

This week, I got to drive into town and get groceries! Haha sounds pretty mundane BUT keep in mind I’m in Bolivia. XD It’s amazing how good and freeing it feels to drive when you haven’t done so in a while! And it was very encouraging that I understood and was understood by the people I interacted with. I’m definitely still far from fluent, but thanking Jesus for the progress that’s there.

Driving! The dim lighting and bumpy roads made a clear picture nigh-well impossible. (Note I’m driving and not using my phone like the responsible young lady I am. 😜)

My highlight this week was the precious love of my dad. The Yoders had a friend, Rachel, come visit, and my parents had sent her a couple of things to give to me. One of them was an amaryllis bulb. (Not entirely sure how that one made it through customs, other than Jesus loves me. XD)

At first I was a little confused. I thought it was really sweet that they had sent that to me, but I could quite figure out why they had. THEN… I found a Valentine’s Day card.

See, every year, my dad gives me flowers for Valentine’s Day. When I lived states away from home, I could always expect a call from a confused grocery store employee trying to figure out where to drop them off for me. (I had odd living arrangements haha.)

I figured this would be the first year I didn’t get my flowers from my daddy. But he wasn’t about to give up so easily! So now Mavis is growing and reminding me every day of my father’s love.

Mavis shortly after she was planted. 🌺

Which reminds me every day of my heavenly Father’s love. He gave me a dad who loves me, and He made sure that flower got to me safely. But just like my daddy, He delights to give good gifts, He delights to remind His children of His love, and He won’t let anything stop Him from getting those tokens of His love to you. He thinks about you more often than my dad thinks about me – which, believe me, is a lot!

Dear saints, never forget: God LOVES you!

Week 22

The before mentioned Rachel was a lot of fun to get to know! And was she a blessing to us. Joyce had just come down with dengue (which is what necessitated my getting the groceries the week before) and the timing of Rachel’s visit was perfect.

Also that week, a new volunteer came to the children’s home! Her name is Mey. She went to culinary school and is now the full-time cook for the children’s home! This was a HUGE blessing, so if you’ve been praying for staff, take a moment to praise the Lord for His provision through Mey!

Tuesday, Maria came (she visited us around Thanksgiving) with her boyfriend, and later in the week they were joined by others from a worship team they were a part of. It was so precious to have these believers (and especially Maria!) around.

They had visited to lead worship at a electricity party at the children’s home! The home has had electricity since mid-last year, but the civil unrest caused the original celebration to be cancelled. But finally it came! The party itself was edifying; getting a chance to see so many of the people God has used to do provide various things to the home, getting to hear the Gospel preached in truth and power by a Bolivian believer, getting to worship Jesus in song and in action alongside other believers. It was everything a celebration should be. 😊

The electricity party!

Yet I think my highlight this week was when the worship team prayed for us before they left. Jesus did a powerful work of encouragement in my heart through their prayers and their words of encouragement. And it challenges me to remember the power that can come from the prayers we pray and the words we speak! Brothers and sisters, let us not fail to take every opportunity to build up the beautiful bride of Christ!

Week 23

This week was a mix of very normal and very different in very good ways. 🙂 School was pretty routine (other than compensating for a water pump that isn’t working… but that accomplished feeling of cleaning bathrooms without any running water is pretty cool 😂). I got another new scorpion (fourth time’s the to charm? I promise animals in my care don’t normally die on me like this 😅). Still enjoying and taking lots of pictures of the kittens. 😸

A picture of the kittens. 😂

Last Wednesday was one of those different days in the best of ways. Jesus gave me a special gift of grace, an unusually strong sense of joy in His presence. While I don’t want to ever base my faith on feelings rather than on truth, I intend to always embrace to the full those moments when I feel to my core that Jesus is ALIVE and worthy of all my adoration.

Because… Jesus IS alive and worthy of all my adoration. Whether I feel it or not. So I’ll ride the waves of His grace when it opens heaven wide and makes the spiritual feel real, and I’ll ride those same waves when it gives me the courage to continue to live according to what I know is real, whether I feel it or not.

This weekend was also different. The Yoder family was away, so everything was so quiet! It’s been incredibly refreshing. But it also included several opportunities to communicate in Spanish, so the practice was great and again, understanding and being understood is very encouraging!

Here are some prayer requests! Please let me know if there are specific things I can be praying for you all. 🙂

  • For details to come together for the children’s home school as the time to start approaches!
  • For a smooth transition when their school starts up again.
  • For staff for the children’s home.
  • Spiritual protection and refreshment of soul for all the staff and kiddos out here.

May Jesus Christ Himself encouraging and refresh your soul today! Always, He is enough.

With love in Him,

Olivia

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated for this by TR Noble over at Inside Cup! I thought these questions sounded like a lot of fun to answer, so I decided to play. 😊 Thanks for the nomination, TR!

TR’s heart behind her blog is to strengthen the bride of Christ. Her posts cover a wide range of topics, but it all ultimately points back to making Jesus the absolute center of our lives!

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a way for readers to get to know the blogger better, as the blogger answers a series of 11 questions asked by the nominator. Here are the questions TR had for me!

1. What led you to become a blogger?

When I first began blogging, it was to be able to share with others what the Lord was working in me. I’m also naturally wired as a writer, so blogging gave me the opportunity to write out my thoughts on something, which in turn helped to make whatever I wrote about more real to me. I suppose it could be summed up as one way I could bless others with what God was blessing me with.

2. What is the story behind the name of your blog?

When I told one of my friends back in Colorado about coming to Bolivia, she told me I should write a children’s book, “Olivia in Bolivia.” I have lots of little fans now expecting to receive the first printing. 😂 It stuck and became what I called my future Bolivian adventure in my head. Seemed fitting to use it as the name of a blog of my adventures here!

3. What is the purpose of your blog, i.e. what is it about?

The purpose of Olivia in Bolivia is to share with the world what God is up to in my corner of Bolivia, to bless friends and family with stories from my adventures here, and to share my life with others in general. God has given me new life in Christ Jesus, and that life is meant to be poured out!

4. Who are you? How would you describe yourself?

I’m a Christian, and that in some way affects and defines everything else about me. Jesus has penetrated every part of my life and my decisions reflect that. I’m naturally introverted and wired like a writer. Those two together make written communication my favorite, haha. I’m a daughter and a sister. I’m a teacher and a friend. I communicate more easily with kids than with adults. I love being intellectually challenged and stimulated. My head has to be convinced before my heart can be, which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not. I’m walking every day with Jesus and watching how He weaves my little daily steps of obedience into a grand adventure.

5. What is your belief system? Do you believe in God? Why?

I love apologetics, so I’m excited to answer this question! There are several reasons I believe in God. Some of them are personal; that is to say, I wouldn’t expect someone else to take that reason and believe in God because of it. Others are more universal; those are the reasons I would give to an atheist if they ever asked me to prove to them there was a God. I’m going to just give personal reasons here. So these are reasons why I am convinced, but I don’t necessarily expect them to convince someone else. 😉

I was raised in a Christian home, and honestly the first reason I ever believed in God was because my parents told me He existed. As I got older, my relationship with God shifted from being parental to being personal. I began to decide for myself to obey and follow God, and as I did I saw Him at work in my life. My relationship with Him is very much alive. He guides me and speaks to me. So nowadays I don’t believe in God because of what someone else told me; I believe in God because I’ve experienced Him myself.

Another reason I can’t help but believe in God is because of the work I’ve seen Him do, the lives I’ve seen Him change, the multitude of testimonies from others who know Him. He is at work in this world, and you won’t be able to convince me otherwise! 😉

6. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If so, tell what that means to you.

Indeed I am! To me, being a follower of Jesus Christ means knowing Jesus. Everything ultimately boils down to that. Because I know Him I love Him. Because I know Him I trust Him. Because I love and trust Him, I want to obey Him. To follow Jesus means to journey through life with Him. Sometimes where He leads is scary. But it is always wonderful.

7. What do you do? Do you have a career outside the home, or are you a stay-at-home mom or wife, or are you a volunteer or a retiree, etc.?

I am a volunteer teacher to missionary kids – which I guess kind of makes me a missionary, too! At least I can say I live on a foreign mission field, anyway, haha.

8. What fulfills you the most? The least?

I am the most fulfilled when I’m able to see my life impacting someone else’s. I suppose that’s part of why I love teaching; I get to see students grow and learn as a direct result of what I’m pouring into them.

I’m the least fulfilled when something confuses or frustrates me. Moments when my students don’t understand something and I can’t figure out why they don’t understand or how to help them are the worst thing ever. But what’s neat is that being confused or frustrated often causes me to determine to figure the thing out, and when I’m able to push through and not give up, that unfulfillment will turn into incredible fulfillment in the breakthrough that follows.

9. What motivates you the most? The least?

The most? Discovering or understanding new things. The least? Normalcy.

10. What is the most important message you wish to communicate?

I’ve touched on this a bit already, but knowing Jesus is EVERYTHING! If you think you need more faith, then you need to know more of Jesus. Faith just makes sense when you know who He is. If you think you need more joy, knowing Him will give infinite fuel to fire your joy. If you need peace, love, patience, seek to know Jesus and these things will be the natural result! There is no treasure greater than knowing Jesus. I’d argue that the point of life even is knowing Him. Seek Jesus, dear friends! He has promised you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart!

11. If you were to die tonight, do you have the assurance that you will spend eternity with God in heaven?

Yep, absolutely, 100%! 😁


My Nominees Are:

Honestly this is my least favorite part of these awards, having to pick people to nominate. 😆 But I shall sorta play by the rules and nominate just three. 😜

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 (or however many) new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My Questions For You:

I loved Sue’s questions, so I’m mostly going to stick to them, though I changed a few things. 🙂

  1. What led you to become a blogger?
  2. What is the story behind the name of your blog?
  3. What is the purpose of your blog, i.e. what is it about?
  4. Who are you? How would you describe yourself?
  5. Why do you believe in God?
  6. What does it mean to you to be a follower of Jesus Christ?
  7. What do you do? Do you have a career, or are you a stay-at-home mom or wife, or are you a volunteer or a retiree, etc.?
  8. What fulfills you the most? The least?
  9. What motivates you the most? The least?
  10. What is the most important message you wish to communicate?
  11. What about Jesus do you treasure the most, and why?

Thanks again, TR; this was fun! Blessing in Jesus, everyone – and happy Thanksgiving! 🍽🦃🍁

The Lord Directs His Steps

This is part three of the story of how I ended up in Bolivia. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here!

Once upon a time, I thought teaching sounded like a trap. Like a job that would induce teeth-grinding, hair-pulling, frustrated sighs, and misery in general.

Yeah, I was that against it. Ha. And I’m so glad I was wrong. Toward the end of my first year of teaching, it became so clear to me that I had a gift for teaching and that it brought life to my soul. I was ready to spend the next several years, if not the rest of my life, teaching with the school and the students I had so learned to love.

And that’s when I received news that almost turned my world upside down. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I misunderstood news and that almost turned my world upside down. I thought that the school I was teaching at was going to close for good.

Death and Resurrection

Even though it ended up not being true and the school is still running to this day, the Lord did wonderful things in me through my misunderstanding. After school that day I went to my room and surrendered the place and people I do loved to the Lord. I realized that the reason it hurt so much was because I loved the people around me so much, loved my students to much; and I resolved them and there that I would love them more and more, even if it meant a greater pain in the end.

A little after that time spent with the Lord, I had a meeting with a mentor. She asked me how I was doing, and I broke down in tears. As she listened to my story, a verse came to her:

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9, NASB

I had planned my way, but now it seemed that the Lord was directing me elsewhere.

Her next question changed the course of my life, “Have you ever considered world missions?”

My dream of missions, that I had laid to rest, came blazing back to life. She gave me some information for a ministry in Nicaragua, and several months later I was connected with them.

Death to one dream resulted in the resurrection of another; even though the dream that I thought had died came back to life the next day when I realized the school wasn’t closing after all. And a year later, I was ready to go to Nicaragua for six weeks, and step into the beginning of the dream born in my soul over a decade before.

This Isn’t Over Yet

Then in the weeks before it was time for me to go, civil unrest broke out in Nicaragua. I wasn’t afraid; I knew that if it was to Nicaragua the Lord was leading me, He would see to my safety. But things grew worse and worse there until hospitals had to begin turning people away because they were so full. It was decided that I wouldn’t go to Nicaragua, two days before I was supposed to fly out.

I was crushed. But as I lay in bed, crying to Jesus, the Comforter brought Scripture to my mind: “You are good and what You do is good,” “As for God, His way is perfect.” The one verse that brought me the most comfort, though, was Proverbs 16:9. I had planned my way. Clearly, the Lord was directing my steps elsewhere.

One of the pastors in my life told me, “Olivia, this isn’t over yet.” For a while I clung to that as Gods promise to me that Nicaragua would still somehow happen. That the door would open again. But it became clear that that was a door I wasn’t to stand beside and stare at. It had closed, and I had to move on.

But it truly wasn’t over yet. Because the greatest disappointment of my life set everything in place for God to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all I had asked for or imagined. But I’ll save that story for part four. 😉

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