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 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 5

Before coming to Bolivia, I learned quite a bit of Spanish. I can understand almost everything that I read, and the majority of what I hear. But for some reason, speaking it is very difficult for me! It’s like my mind goes blank when it becomes my turn to talk.

I’m surrounded by a lot of English due to my living situation. It’s not something I’m complaining about by any means, haha! However, I was feeling a restlessness in me about 10 days ago, a feeling that if I really want to make any progress in Spanish, I need to spend more time with people who speak it! I felt almost like I was sinking into a comfort zone, and I wanted a push to make sure I didn’t settle there! I talked to Jesus about how I was feeling, and asked that He would just show me what He wanted me to do about it.

The next day, before it had really even occurred to me to talk to others about what I was feeling, I was asked if I wanted to spend time with members from a local church! Which, yes, means they only knew Spanish! At times it’s awkward. It takes my mind a long time sometimes to piece together the words to say. But the people are showing such patience and grace toward me. I was assured that they understand what I’m trying to say even when I’m struggling, haha.

Since then, I’ve had several opportunities to speak more Spanish! Trying to explain games to kids, meeting neighbors, random weekends away spent with people who only speak German and Spanish… And all this without any striving or conniving on my part.

Our God is Jehovah-Jireh! He is so good to provide for needs that we feel in our hearts even before we think to ask for their supply. I’m excited for how I’ll continue to have opportunities to get to know the local people here and get a better mastery of Spanish.

Parque Piedra de Los Apóstoles – one of our fun stops this weekend

Fun story: part of getting a two-year visa in Bolivia is getting a medical report done. I got mine back, and in the list of health problems it said, “Obesidad,” Spanish for “obesity.” And in the recommendations, it said I should see a nutritionist.

At first I had this moment of, “Did they mix up my report with someone else’s?!” See… I’m skinny. I’m nowhere near obese… but it turns out that the term “obesity” can refer to any weight problem. So it was saying I’m underweight. XD One of the missionaries here pointed to an apple cake that was on the table. “There’s your nutritionist,” he said. No complaints here! 😂

One of this week’s science projects: the planets in balloon form!

I was able to play a few rap songs for my students this last week. (Beautiful Eulogy, anyone?!?) At dinner, one announced, “I love crap music!” We were all dying and she couldn’t figure out what was so funny.

All around, life here continues to be a joy, and that joy seems to only be increasing.


Please be praying:

  • For rain!!! We had a downpour that lasted a couple of minutes, but everything was as dry as ever only a few hours later. Praise God for that little storm – but we need so much more!
  • The water pump is acting up… please pray that it’s either “healed” or gets replaced! We haven’t had to go without, but we do have to be strategic.
  • With the electricity situation, it turns out that this area is only given a certain number of transformers per year (no transformer, no electricity). And they’ve already used all the transformers they can. The only way we could get electricity before December is if they removed a transformer from somewhere else. Or, of course, if God gets really creative and provides another way. Which He’s really good at doing. So that’s what I’m praying for. 😁 That, and for joyful hearts to endure the wait for this blessing. Haha.
  • That God would provide a couple to become the “parents” for the kids at the orphanage. All the kids there are in a safe place, but there’s no one in their lives to fill in that void. They have adult protectors and providers, but it’s not quite the same. So please pray that God would bring a couple who will lay down their entire lives to being the house parents for all the kids that come and go – and that it would be a Bolivian couple!

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