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

Grateful | Week 14 Update

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it felt like Jesus decided to give me a bunch of extra reasons to be thankful this year.

Monday, I made a new friend! Maria lives in Bolivia and loves Jesus with all her heart. I loved her and felt loved by her from the moment I met her – but I’m finding that isn’t too uncommon when meeting my brothers and sisters in Christ. What made my friendship with her especially encouraging was that she speaks very little English. Guys, I made a friend in Spanish! Haha. 🙂 I had lots of opportunity to speak to her, and be humble and admit when I really didn’t understand what was being said, and be humble and make mistakes when trying to communicate with her. But overall it was very encouraging, because I was able to communicate and connect with her much more easily than I thought I’d be able to! Maria was a gift from God – and the encouragement with my Spanish was an extra on the side. 🙂

The encouragement continued when THE ELECTRICITY TRUCK CAME!!!

The electricity truck that came. It’s blue. 💙

Remember the electricity being prayed for back in September? They told us that they wouldn’t have any more transformers in until the start of the year. When all the blockades went up, we wondered if it would even be that soon. But lo and behold, a shiny new transformer now rests on the Yoder’s property! I’ve never seen people so excited for a transformer before – though I think I had never been so excited for a transformer before myself, haha. This week they will inspect and hook us up officially. LET THERE BE LIGHT! 💡

That same day, the decision was made to finally process my immigration paperwork! With danger from riots and blockades, well, blocking, we hadn’t been able to work on that for almost two months. As I type this I’m waiting for Interpol to open so that I can pick up paperwork saying I’m not a criminal in any other countries. I’m not expecting that report to be too exciting. 😅 Anyway, it is going to feel amazing to finally have that visa!

Thanksgiving, we got the day off of school and celebrated with some of Phil’s family that live in Bolivia. It was a sweet time with amazing and beautiful food.

An American Thanksgiving in Bolivia!

On Friday the staff at the children’s home got the day off, which meant we spent the day there! It was fun to share lunch and dinner with them and spend some extra time with those precious kiddos.

So it’s been a sweet and refreshing week for me. God is faithful, always, but when things are going well and it feels like the heavens are opened to shower down blessings, I’m sure it blesses His heart to see His own delighting in their good Father who gives good gifts. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, I pray God will comfort you with the reminder that He is good, all the time.

Blessings in Jesus,

Olivia

P. S. Here’s how you can be praying this week!

  • That the final parts of my immigration paperwork will process smoothly and quickly! Hopefully the paperwork will be done by Christmas and I’ll had an ID card after New Year’s.
  • For truth and justice to reign in Bolivia; that things would stay calm and peaceful. Elections will happen again in January, so be praying that they will go better this time ‘round!
  • Provision of staff for the children’s home.
  • Continued creativity and wisdom for me as I teach.
  • That the floodgates of Heaven would open up and send down a true rainy season on Bolivia!

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. 😉

To My Comrades

Comrades in this solemn fight – this awful conflict with awful powers – let us settle it as something that cannot be shaken: we are here to live holy, loving, lowly lives. We cannot do this unless we walk very, very close to our Lord Jesus. Anything that would hinder us from the closest walk possible to us till we see Him face to face is not for us.

Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary

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