For one, Bolivia’s quarantine was extended, and at this point I’ll be staying in Bolivia until the start of June. My original flight was for May 19th, but due to current travel restrictions, trying to make that happen feels like a bunch of extra stress I’d like to avoid.
It was hard at first to think of having to wait longer to see my family again. But Jesus ministered to my soul in that time, from friends encouraging me and praying for me, to highlighting Scripture for me, like Colossians 1:11. But He’s also given me this sense of excitement for these extra weeks in Bolivia. It’s like a holy anticipation for what He will do. I’m not sure what He has in mind, but I know it can’t be anything short of wondrous!
We had lots and lots of rain this last week, which resulted in a few bridges being completely washed out! It also resulted in some fun during recess. Nothing like a raging creek to play in! 😃 Made me think, what if we carried that attitude when floods hit our lives? What if we played in the waters?
Last week was our last week of school! We celebrated Friday night with a very homeschool style closing program. It was a sweet night and a ton of fun. Now all that’s left for me is to finalize grading and get organized and cleaned up!
After that? Who knows! I certainly will have no excuse to be bored. I’ve been praying that Jesus will direct my steps and my heart and help me see what it is He is wanting to accomplish day by day. Maybe that will mean I spend a day alone with Him, maybe it will mean tutoring kids who are still in school, maybe it’ll mean something completely off my radar.
These last three weeks have had some intense moments. I’ve learned much about relationships, walking in unity and love, embracing difficulties as tools for good in the hands of God, and engaging in spiritual battle. There are chapters of my adventures here that can’t be shared yet. But believe me, God has shown Himself mighty and jealous on behalf of those He loves, and I have been basking in the glory of who He is and how He protects, provides for, and loves His own. He is so, so good, y’all!
Here’s how you can be praying for me:
Continued patience and long suffering with all joy as I wait for my chance to fly home
That God would continue to provide as quarantine restrictions can make getting necessities tricky sometimes
That God would prepare and bring the needed volunteers to the children’s home
That I would be able to live life to the fullest in the time I have remaining in Bolivia, and be sensitive to what God wants to do in and through me
That I would finally catch up on lost sleep 😜
Jesus is good! May you know His goodness to a deeper level than ever before!
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. 😅
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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,
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!
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.
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!
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!!!)
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.
The turmoil continues here in Bolivia. But I have a feeling then events of this last week will be in future history books. The president of Bolivia resigned on Sunday, and an interim president is currently in office. One might think this change would bring peace, but in some places of Bolivia the violence got much worse when President Evo left.
Still, peace is reigning where I am, and the local blockade is gone! It felt like a luxury to drive straight into town, haha. Things like this serve as excellent reminders of the blessings we take for granted. Gas and vegetables are still a bit iffy, but hopefully things will continue to settle down and soon return to a sense of normalcy.
In the midst of all of this, I’ve been learning a lot about commanding my soul. Like the psalmist who commanded his soul to hope in God (Psalm 42), wait upon God (Psalm 62), bless the Lord (Psalm 103), and praise the Lord (Psalm 146). I’ve been learning what it looks like to command my soul to not fear, to hope in God, to rest in the Lord. I always know in my head that I should do those things, but the recent uproar meant I had to actively choose them against a temptation to fear and despair. I praise God for the work He is doing, for how He is bringing good from what the enemy meant for evil!
One fun event from this last week was the closing program for the kiddos following Bolivia’s school schedule! That includes the kiddos at the children’s home and then a few from a nearby village. My students are following an American schedule, so we’re still in full swing, but we got to be a part of the clausura (closing program) still. I even got to join in singing a few songs for the program, which meant learning songs in Spanish and Latin!
So this week, things have been quieter at the school house. In one sense it gave us more flexibility, but with great flexibility come great responsibility, haha. More decisions for me to have to make. And recess can be a little sad without everyone else around. Pray that I would have the wisdom and creativity to use even recess to help grow these children into adults who love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength!
And also pray…
For peace and justice in Bolivia. Please pray that truth would reign and that the evil works of darkness would be exposed!
For provision of needed staff at the children’s home, and strength and endurance for the ones here.
May the Lord bless you all with a greater revelation of Himself!
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. 😉