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

By Faith | Weeks 17-18 Update

Started out school last week with the kiddos bringing what I’m pretty sure is the most venomous caterpillar in the world to school. #boliviaproblems Ha. They knew not to touch a fuzzy caterpillar, so they coaxed the beautiful little thing onto a stick so that they could show it to me. They know I love things like that.

A species of giant silkworm moth caterpillar (I think haha). Kinda looks like a grub with sea anemones growing out its back.

We ended the week with a make-shift snow party; I brought white balloons to school and we had a snowball fight, made snowmen, and attempted a snow fort. It was a lot of fun and made for a great last day of school before Christmas break!

Christmas week started with a trip to Santa Cruz to continue my immigration paperwork! I am officially a Bolivian resident!!! I’ve had questions about that; it’s not citizenship. I’m still a foreigner, but I have permission to stay until December 2021.

The offices for getting my ID card are located at a beautiful mall – Ventura. It was literally one of the nicest malls I’ve ever been in. It felt more like I was in California than in Bolivia!

Ventura Mall

We have just one trip left to finish up all the immigration stuff, and that’s to pick up my ID card. What a good feeling it will be to hold that in my hands!

Tuesday, Christmas Eve, was the day for Christmas festivities. Lights and snowflakes and Christmas trees and presents adorned the living room. (It’s always amusing to me how even the Southern Hemisphere decorates with snow at Christmas.) I got to decorate Christmas cookies with the kiddos in the morning, which was a big mess and lots of fun!

Tuesday night we celebrated Jesus and exchanged gifts. Phil talked about some of the difficulties Mary and Joseph probably faced for the sake of God being born into this world. It made me really think, what difficulties am I willing to face, what misunderstandings am I willing to walk through, for the sake of seeing the life of Christ born in me and in those around me?

Feliz Navidad, Concepción 🎄

Christmas was an odd day for me. It simply didn’t feel at all like it was Christmas. We went swimming. In the middle of December. As a girl who has spent every single Christmas in the North, I was having to accept by faith and not by feeling that it was, in fact, December 25th. Ha. But what was cool about that was the reminder that my faith in Jesus is like that; not based on wishful thinking or on what I feel, but based on rock-solid reality.

Thursday I got to play with some of the kiddos in a newly-restored sandbox! It was lots of fun and brought me back to my childhood, haha.

Yay sandboxes!

The family cat had her kittens on the 21st! 😻 But then Screwtape died on Christmas Eve… 😢 Haha. 😜 C’est la vie!

Jesus is up to a lot right now. Comfort zones being shaken and difficult decisions being faced. But as always, He is taking and will take it all and turn it for our good and His glory. And I can’t wait to watch Him work.

As you pray for me and the work being done in Bolivia, please especially pray for staff for the children’s home. It’s pretty much a desperate need at this point. I do believe there are people out there God is preparing for this work; pray He will bring them here quickly!

You can also pray…

  • For endurance and wisdom for the staff that is here; that they would have abundance of grace for everything they have to carry, but wisdom to know how to do it best and do it in a way that doesn’t leave them burnt out.
  • For a good week back to school! Four days of classes this week; we have New Year’s Day off.
  • That the rainy season rain would finally come in earnest! It’s certainly raining a lot more than it was a few months ago, but it’s not quite into rainy season mode yet…

I so love and appreciate all of you. Have a wonderful New Year! May our God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing!

Blessings in Jesus,

Olivia

Waiting | Week 15 Update

It seems like the theme God highlighted for me this week was waiting. This having been the first week of Advent, it seems fitting! 🙂

It was also timely, because I did a lot of waiting on Monday and Tuesday! We went into the city of Santa Cruz to FINALLY continue my immigration paperwork! The blockades had prevented us from moving forward with it for about a month and a half… whiiiiiiiich meant I spent about two weeks as an illegal immigrant. 🤷‍♀️ That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say. 😂

Anyway, doing stuff like that means looooots of waiting. There was also a lot of needing to change paperwork and plenty of chances to practice patience. But I kept thinking about how Jesus never wastes anything. He had a purpose for every second we spent waiting or running around or resisting the temptation to bang our heads against a wall for a while. Making us more like Himself, giving us an opportunity to glorify Him by waiting the way Jesus would.

The plaza in Santa Cruz

In the end, we left Santa Cruz with all my paperwork submitted and the fine for being two weeks late paid. There are a couple steps left before everything is finalized, but I’m pretty much good to stay in Bolivia for two years now!

I got to also escort a couple home who are visiting for the next month to help with the children’s home. That was fun, despite one of the wheels on the bus going flat. They don’t go round and round so smoothly when that happens. 😆 Anyway, having them will be a huge blessing for our under-staffed children’s home!

A very broken bus wheel

That was just the beginning of this week’s blessings. Wednesday night… the electrify got connected!!! We wasted no time turning on every single light in the house and hanging up Christmas lights. My living quarters aren’t wired yet, but it’s amazing to have electricity in the main house!

Hooking up the electricity to the house! They leave the last little job for the homeowners to do.

Saturday was very special. A group from a colony down here visited the children’s home and brought dinner with them! After dinner we sang as they played music for us, and after that they gave a beautiful new pair of shoes to each child! It was like an early Christmas!

I even got to have an early Christmas… one of the guys who came had been trying to sell a guitar. He got to the place where he wanted to give it away, so long story short, I now own a guitar!!! I’d been playing others’ guitars, but I’m so excited to have my own. I named him Benedict. If you want some amusement, go look up what Benedict means. 🎸

Me and Benedict

Then the night ended with me teaching the girls at the home how to do the Virginia Reel. It was SO MUCH FUN. It dawned on me later that I had taught orphans how to dance. Jesus, thank You!

One other fun little note from this week: I’m going to start taking over writing newsletters and updating the Facebook page for the children’s home! If you’re curious, check out Hogar El Refugio Oasis on Facebook. 🙂

Here’s how you can be praying…

  • For the elections coming up in January.
  • For staff for the children’s home – especially a couple who will lay down their lives as house parents for the kiddos.
  • For continued wisdom and inspiration as I continue to teach.
  • That the last couple steps in my immigration paperwork would go well; for favor with the officials we work with and safety as we travel.

May Jesus richly bless you!

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! 🍽🦃🍁

Update | Week 13

Well, the unrest continues. After five weeks, it feels like a normal thing. Although the difference now is that the blockades and protests are by people who want Evo Morales back instead of those who wanted him gone. Please keep praying for peace in Bolivia; but pray for a peace that does not come at the expense of justice. Bolivia does not need peace that comes because those who are in the right surrender to those who are in the wrong. Pray that truth would reign and darkness would be exposed.

And thank you so very much for your prayers for Bolivia. God hears them. You are helping to move Heaven.

Urania moth

I saw the most beautiful “butterfly” ever at the start of this week! Then the next day, I found one at the side of the road that let me hold it!!! Jesus loves me, guys. Haha. I found out that it’s actually a moth. But either way it is an incredible piece of our Father’s handiwork! How He must love beauty, and what an eye He has for it!

Watercolor birch trees!

School is still going well. Recess is getting hard, and it’s been surprisingly wearing to not have the other teachers around! I guess I hadn’t realized before what a blessing it was to be able to stay in from recess or things like that. Yet “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,” and He’s definitely giving me all the grace I need to make it through each day.

(BTW – DEFINITELY look up the poem “He Giveth More Grace” by Annie Johnson Flint!!!)

One highlight from this week was leading the kiddos in making watercolor birch trees! If you’d like to try it out yourself, you can find instructions here: http://afaithfulattempt.blogspot.com/2011/09/autumn-birch-trees.html?m=1

A rainbow over Concepción

God is continuing to teach me to command my soul – to command it to not fear in the midst of the storm in Bolivia. To command it to rejoice even when the future is uncertain. To command it to love even when I’m tired. And though I don’t necessarily prefer being in situations that require such commanding, I am so grateful for the way those situations are being used by God to strengthen and build up my soul. When you remember the good that God will bring out of any situation, it seems you can face everything with a joy and peace that pass understanding.

Watch what my God will do, y’all.

And you can be praying…

  • For peace and justice in Bolivia; for truth to reign and darkness to be exposed
  • For wisdom for me in managing well my classroom
  • For staff for the children’s home
  • For things in Bolivia to stabilize enough to make it easier to travel around the country and to and from the country

And let me know if there’s any ways I can be praying for you! 😊

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

With love in Him,

Olivia

Update | Week Three

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

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

Clamor por mi tierra

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

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

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

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

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


Ways you can be praying:

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

Update | Week Two

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

My three students

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

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

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

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


Please pray…

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

¡Qué Dios les bendiga!

With love in Christ,

Olivia

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