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

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

Week 20 Update

This last week marched by pretty normally for me, but this last weekend was delightfully different! One fun event that took place during the week was a group from YWAM in Chile coming by the orphanage to bless the kiddos. I missed it, but by the stories I’ve heard and pictures and videos I’ve seen, I can tell it was a great visit.

Another fun little thing is that I’ve been able to teach everyone a tune for Juan 3:16 that I learned from a Spanish teacher at the last school I taught with! It’s fun to think of God storing up little things like that in each of His children, ready to be pulled out and bless those around them.

Now, Friday this week was a BIG day! The first thing I got to do was help pick up a friend of mine who came to volunteer at the children’s home! Susanna loves Jesus very much, and she will be here for the next three months. Keep her in your prayers as she pours out to see the Kingdom of God advanced in these precious kids!

Susanna and me!

I almost had the chance to donate blood for a very sick little girl, Valentina, on Friday. Long story short, the donation ended up not being needed, and she passed away that afternoon. It was a heavy thing, and it felt odd to be carrying the emotions of that along with the joy of having received Susanna. One thing I kept thinking about all afternoon was that creation is groaning. Things are not as they are meant to be. The world is messed up. But one day, Jesus will return and fix it all. Come, Lord Jesus!

Our last stop on Friday was Ventura mall to pick up my carnet (ID card)!!! So I’m officially officially a Bolivian resident now!!! (Again, not a citizen, just a resident. 🙂)

Maracuyá – aka Passion Fruit flower. This stunning flower is just growing in the Yoder’s front yard!

I got to enjoy the bus ride home with Susanna. It was a joy to be able to talk to her about mutual friends and hear about how things are in familiar places. As I was thinking about the comfort and security that comes with familiarity, I wondered what it would look like for Jesus to be all the familiarity I needed. What would it look like to go into the most unfamiliar place, but still feel at home because I knew Jesus was right there with me? Because I felt the familiarity of His presence and guidance, recalled the familiarity of His Word?

Always, Jesus is enough!

Three-week-old kittens cuddling with each other. You’re welcome. 😏😸

Please be praying…

  • For a good transition for Susanna and unity among the staff at the children’s home
  • For those who loved Valentina as they grieve her loss
  • For continued wisdom and inspiration for me as I teach
  • That God would bring staff and teachers for the children’s home

God bless you all abundantly!

In Christ,

Olivia

Embracing Jesus | Week 19 Update

Happy New Year, everyone! 🎆

I got to celebrate the arrival of 2020 by camping with the Yoders! It was a ton of fun and a refreshment to the soul. And there was something so profound about waking up to the dawn of the new year on a mountain in Bolivia. I don’t know what all God has in store for 2020, but I can’t wait to watch it play out. He only does wondrous things!

Sunrise at Las Alturas

This last week, it hit me how much I was missing and at times physically craving the comforts of home. Things like soft carpet that allows you to lay comfortably on the floor whoever you want. Air conditioning to give you relief from uncomfortable temperatures. Being able to communicate with ease with anyone I met. Having access to WiFi almost everywhere – being able to use the internet as I teach and being able to watch as much YouTube as I want.

(Okay, technically I COULD watch as much YouTube as I want. I would just be paying for every megabyte of it, haha…)

I think the coming and going of the holidays made me miss such things even more. What I didn’t realize was that I had started to close myself off to what the Holy Spirit wanted to do in me because I was feeling sorry for myself. Unintentionally, I put up a self-defensive wall. Not that doing so unintentionally makes that less of a problem.

A friend spoke into my life, and God gave her the discernment to realize what might be going on in my soul. When I brought all of this to God, He accepted my repentance and brought me into a beautiful renewal of soul.

Choosing to embrace the miniature hardships, rejoice in these little trials, and thank God for the minor discomforts I’m feeling, gave fresh wind to my sails. It’s as if once I chose joy, Jesus gave me an over abundance of it so that I wouldn’t run out as I spent it. 🙂 When you think of it, do pray for me that I would embrace all that God has for me in this season (while also exercising the wisdom of not forcing myself to embrace any difficulty that isn’t necessary).

Oh friends, when we embrace HIM, the result is always LIFE!

Here is a two-week-old kitten. Because nothing says life like a kitten! 😸 Muffin’s babies 🙂

One special moment this last week was when one of the girls from the children’s home stopped by to give me a scorpion to replace Screwtape! It had been crawling across their kitchen floor, and since I had recently lost Screwtape they thought of me, haha. I still haven’t figured out a name for the new one yet… 🦂

A volunteer for the children’s home will be arriving on Friday this week! I’ll be going into the city to pick up my Bolivian ID card when she comes. She’s a dear friend, so I’m very excited for that! Please pray for safety for her and us as we travel, and a good transition for her and the kiddos and staff at the children’s home!

I knew I’d been accepted into the family when the dogs started following me on walks.

Also pray…

  • For staff for the children’s home!
  • For provision of teachers for the orphanage’s school
  • For spiritual protection and discernment for me and the Yoders
  • For fresh inspiration as we near the halfway point of the school year!

May our wondrous Jesus fill you with His life as you embrace all that He is!

With joy in our Jesus,

Olivia

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