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

Week 29 Update

Since this is the hot topic right now, yep, coronavirus is in Bolivia. From what I hear, things aren’t as crazy here as they are in the States, but schools and large gatherings are cancelled. We’re waiting to see if the hoarding starts up here… But for now the biggest way I’m feeling the impact is that the kiddos at the children’s home are doing school at home for now. Which means it’s just me and my three students at the schoolhouse again…

Wednesday last week was a very special night. The church we attend locally came out to the children’s home for a night of worship! It was such a sweet thing to come together as the body of Christ and remember that church isn’t a building, but a body.

Worshipping Jesus

Immediately after the worship night, I headed to Santa Cruz! Several errands were run, visits with friends were made, and I got my back adjusted by a skilled chiropractor. 😁 (I had a lot of pain because one of my ribs had shifted. It is now where it belongs again haha.) I also got to sit in Starbucks for hours and work on the newsletter for the children’s home. That was a welcome luxury. Anytime y’all wanna become more thankful for ordinary stuff, spend seven months in a country less developed than your own. It works wonders for your sense of gratitude. 😅

Mocha blanca frappuccino 😋

What else has worked wonders for my sense of gratitude has been my inability to sleep well for the last two months. Please pray for me. I’m feeling hindered because I’m so tired, like I cannot live to the fullest the life God has for me. Yet I am confident that He will not waste a moment of this trial. Still, please pray with me that this trial will come to an end soon. Pray that throughout it, I will grab hold of the grace I need to comport myself as the twice-born, royal daughter of the Lord of the cosmos that I am. The attitude of Heaven can be harder to carry when you’re tired. 😅

Also pray…

  • For inspiration for me to know how to make recesses enjoyable for my students when the other kids aren’t around
  • For staff for the children’s home!
  • For sanity and justice to reign as Bolivia handles CoronaVirus

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts! He loves you, and He is worthy.

Jesus makes such beautiful things ❤️ A flower in Santa Cruz

His and yours,

Olivia

Drawn to You | Week 28 Update

Last weekend was beautiful.

I got to tag along with the Yoders on a trip to a city called Camiri! They went to drop off a young man named Juan Luis at the Facultad Bíblica de Camiri (a discipleship school) and make connections with the missionaries that run the institution.

The Camiri crew

Last year, I had joined the Yoders on a different trip, one where we accidentally ran into the Facultad Bíblica while they were on their end-of-semester tour. There was this overwhelming sense of foreshadowing, like God was going to do something significant with this connection. It was such a fun thing for me to be able to be a part of that trip and this one, being able to experience the foreshadowing and then the coming to pass!

The missionaries that we stayed with over the weekend treated us on Sunday to a trip to a creek and waterfall! It was absolutely gorgeous and right up my alley. Made me homesick; it was exactly the kind of adventure my brothers and I enjoy the most together. At the same time, I was enchanted by the fact that I was skipping through a sandy creek in the jungles of South America. Dreams do come true. 😁

River sunrise in Camiri

During the weekend, God really highlighted Audrey Assad’s song, “Drawn to You.” On weekends like this last one, it’s pretty easy to feel drawn to Jesus. At the same time, He sweetly reminded me that no matter what has happened to me in the past, I’ve always been drawn to Him. And He seemed to promise me that no matter what, He will always draw me to Himself. And on my part, it was a chance to say to Him again, “Whatever comes next, Jesus, I choose You.”

The rest of this week was a bit of a blur, in part because of how tired I’ve been all week. I’ve been struggling with sleep for quite a while now but it seemed even worse this week. Friday morning I wondered how I’d be able to make it through school. I had to really grab hold of God – yet His grace was sufficient. This trial is not at all a fun thing to go through, but I am so grateful to God for what He is doing in my soul through this.

Playing soccer at school!

One fun thing I’m praising God for is my Spanish has improved a lot in the last week! It was like something clicked last weekend on the trip we took with Juan Luis. Learning a new language can be a discouraging thing at times. Most of the time, progress is slow. But I’m going to enjoy this gift God has given me and try to use it to the full! When you think of it, do keep praying for my Spanish learning. It’s getting better, but there’s still a looooooobg way to go. 😅

Please also pray…

  • That I would begin sleeping well again
  • For staff for the children’s home

May your hearts be ever drawn to Jesus!

In Him,

Olivia

Weeks 25-27 Update

Here I go again, not posting for three weeks. 😅 One of these days I’ll get back into the habit…

Week 25: Feb. 9-15

The second full week of February was full of water! I got to experience the REAL rainy season downpours. Ponds were overflowing, which resulted in the road being washed out in one place. But thanks to local men and the guys working at the children’s home, a beautiful bridge now graces that spot. It did make going home from school interesting, though; there wasn’t a way across yet. So one of my students lead me through the brush, around a pond, and back to the road again. It was quite fun. 😁

Less fun was saying goodbye to my casita mate, Tania. I miss her a lot, but I’m also so excited for everything God has next for her!

Tania and me outside our casita 🏡

We had our 100th day of school this week, so we had ice cream and brownies to celebrate. It was wild to think that a year before, the Yoders and I were just barely getting to know each other. It’s always fun to look back and remember where God has lead me!

And then came Valentine’s Day… remember the flowers my dad had sent me? They peaked at just the right time! It felt so much like my Heavenly Father decided to make it a gift from Him as well. 😊

The flowers my dad sent me as they appeared on Valentine’s Day!

Week 26: Feb. 16-22

This week, school started up again for the children at HERO! Recess is a lot more fun for my students now that they have friends around to enjoy it with, haha. 🙂 God so beautifully provided teachers. One is the pastor from the church the home attends. I love so much the thought of these kids’ pastor being able to invest so much in them!

Praying before the first day of school

The other teacher is my new casita mate! She speaks only Spanish, so I’m excited to have many more opportunities to practice as I get to know her more.

We had an unseasonal south wind (called a sur) come through! Imagine a cold front bringing 60 degrees in the middle of a midwestern summer in the United States and that was close to the equivalent. It was nice to enjoy the cooler weather for a few days!

Week 27: Feb. 22-28

This week began with Carnaval, which can be compared to Mardi Gras, though much more widespread. It’s a weekend of constant partying, throwing paint and water balloons at people, getting drunk, and over all making sure you get all of your sinning out of your system before Lent. Many churches will have camping trips that weekend to get away from all of that.

After three days of this, many of the children of those partying are suffering from lack of care. I was able to go with the children’s home to give soup and water to whoever would come for it. Things like this always remind me of Jesus’ words – “And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 (CSB) What a promise!

The children from HERO didn’t have school on Monday or Tuesday, so for recess one day my students and I made a bonfire! Moments like that always make me feel like a successful teacher. 😂

I wanted to share a picture of the bonfire but apparently iCloud is holding it captive or something. 🤷‍♀️ So here’s a really cool picture of the children’s home as seen from the barn instead! 😜

We had a really significant weekend this week, but I think I’ll save those stories for my next update. 😉 In the meantime, please be praying…

  • For staff for the children’s home.
  • I lost a lot of sleep this last month, and I’m pretty tired for it. Pray not only that I would sleep well, but that I’d be able to catch up on what I lost!
  • Soon will come the time to make decisions about what I’m going to do next year. Pray for me and others involved in that!

May your hearts find rest in the unwavering faithfulness of Christ.

Blessings!

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

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!

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. You could replace the word “school” with anything worth doing. What glory it would add to every moment of life if I did it with this singing in my heart!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36, NASB

(P. S. – sorry for the sloppy handwriting 😂)

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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