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.
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!
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!
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.
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 😂
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. 😁
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.
School is pretty much wrapped up now! Final grades are put together and my classroom is all cleaned up. All that’s left are parent-teacher conferences! Er… conference. Haha.
It wasn’t until I was staring at my clean and empty corner that I felt all the end of school feels. It’s always bittersweet for me. The joy and fulfillment of a completed year. The sorrow of saying goodbye to the way things were. The excitement for the year to come and all the good God is going to do in it.
So with all that finished, last week was very laid back for me! I was able to spend time tutoring one of the girls from the home, which gladdened my teacher’s heart. I’ve been able to read more (it’s really standing out to me how much the NAME of Jesus is emphasized in Acts! This feels so significant but I haven’t yet studied this out thoroughly). I’ve also been able to continue managing the media for the children’s home.
We had a south wind come through on Friday and Saturday, and that meant chilly weather! Which also meant I got invited to have a movie afternoon with the girls at the children’s home! That was a blessing to my soul. I don’t see them as often with school being out, so I was very glad for the chance to spend time over there!
Still no clear indication of when I’ll be able to go home. I’m doing well despite that. I feel very safe and at rest where I am. I long to see my family, so that hurts. But God has been giving me His peace and patience. He has used friends and family to remind me that He loves me and He remembers me. And just as I expected, He is doing a lot in me with the extra time I’ve been given. And knowing Him, it’s only going to get better!
Here are some specific ways you can be praying for me and the ministry here!
That I’d be able to get home soon!
That I would be open for everything God wants to do in and through me in the week-ish that I have before leaving Bolivia
For continued safety of health for the orphanage and everyone involved
That new volunteers would be able to come soon! And that travel would open for the teachers to be able to come and continue their work.
Originally the quarantine in Bolivia was supposed to go until April 15; it’s currently set to lift on April 30. We’ll see what happens!
This extension has prevented volunteers from leaving the children’s home, who had planned to leave in April. They’re handling it really well, but please pray that God will open the way for them to go home!
My own flight home is scheduled for May 19th. Originally I’d wondered if elections would prevent me from flying on time, but now I’m wondering if the Coronavirus will instead! Please pray that borders will open up and travel within Bolivia will open again so that I can give my Dad and Mama a hug in May!
Meanwhile, God has worked a miracle in the midst of this nationwide lockdown – He brought house parents to the children’s home!!! Just like Him to put things together when it’s supposed to be the most impossible for it to happen! We are all rejoicing in what He is doing. But do keep the home in your prayers; a transition like this isn’t easy. There are good and beautiful things happening at HERO, but all the change isn’t easy on the kiddos. Pray for the wisdom of Heaven for the leadership of the home, that the peace and presence of Christ would rest there, and that the kids would adjust well and learn to love well through this.
As for me, things continue on relatively normally. A blessing this last week was that the kiddos from the home were able to come to the schoolhouse again! That made for a lot more fun at recesses, and my heart is always so happy to have more time with those precious kids. 😊
Sleep still isn’t great, but it was a little better this last week! Keep praying for me in that area; it would be great to be able to sleep well again haha. 😅
Exciting news though: I HAVE AN ELECTRIC SHOWER HEAD. 💃💃💃 In case you don’t know, that means that I now Can taken WARM SHOWERS. PRAISE JESUS. Haha seriously the only fear I had about coming to Bolivia that was realized was that I’d have to take cold showers. I’m grateful to have learned that I can survive such a trial… but I’m also glad that I don’t have to now haha! Haha I am genuinely grateful for the refining work Jesus did in my soul through that. But now I’m going to enjoy – and be forever grateful for – warm water coming out of a shower head. 🚿
Two weeks ago a small tarantula showed up in my room… so I named it Creep and caught it in a jar! ‘Cause that’s what you do with those, right? 😜 (Everyone says that I at least gave it an appropriate name. 😂) I then discovered that tarántulas are actually a mess to take care of so I left it go after a few days. Haha. But Creep was a lot of fun, and I’m glad for that gift from Jesus. 😁
Three weeks of school left! Which means three weeks left of my original commitment in Bolivia. So crazy to think about. Please pray that I can finish these last few weeks strong! It can be easy to lose steam as the end nears, but ours is a God who can make these last days the best we’ve had yet. I’m excited to watch what He will do!
And He wants to work wonders in your soul, too. May you know every day more and more of His love!
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.
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. 😅
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. 😅
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.
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.
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. 😁
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.
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. 😅
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!
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. 😊
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!
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. 😂
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.
These last few weeks have been full! My apologies for the lack of my regular update; hopefully no one was concerned, haha.
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.
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.
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!
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. 😊
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!
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. 😸
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.
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!
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. 🙂)
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!
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
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!
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!
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!
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!