Showing posts from 2014

More Than We Ask Or Imagine

When I think of missionaries, the first things that come to mind are normally huts in the jungle, dirt roads, strange animals, poverty, and white people in outdated clothes. While these are not all untrue, most of them are stereotypes. MOST missionaries I know live in relatively modern cities, have access to internet, and wear fairly normal clothes.  (Fairly)

This year, working at Carachipampa, an international school in Cochabamba, I have often had to remind myself that I was not in the U.S, North America, or even the Northern Hemisphere.  As much as I love Bolivia, my life here is not extraordinary. I have good days and bad days. I have weeks that I am reminded of my need for the Lord, and weeks when I try to do things on my own. There are days when I see God’s hand working, and days when I try my best to trust that He is.

But, God HAS been so faithful to work and answer prayers, even when I can’t see it in the moment.
Several weeks ago, the seniors at Caracipampa decided to do a to…

Fin de Semana! Weekends in Bolivia!

For the last few weeks I have planned on sharing about what a normal weekend in Cochabamba looks like. However, the last three weeks have been so busy…. that hasn't happened. This weekend was equally packed, but oddly refreshing as well.

Friday afternoon one of the girls in my 1st grade class had a birthday party. The theme was unicorns, and we had possibly the most beautiful jello the world has ever seen.  In Bolivia, as far as I can tell, the prettier the food is – the better!

After the birthday party, I went with my friend Anita to look for a wedding gift for a couple from church. I am SO thankful for her friendship, and her sweet serving spirit. After finding a wedding gift, we made our way to the church to help get everything ready for the wedding.

We were not able to stay for very long though, because I had to get to the orphanage to stay with the girls overnight. At the girls house, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The Christmas tree went up last week, and ther…

A Buffet or Ingredients?

At my church in Cochabamba, the young single people are in charge of cleaning the church. Each week it is a different group, and this week it was my group’s turn. I was early (and by that I mean 10 minutes late) getting there, and so I decided to get breakfast for the rest of the group on the way. One of my favorite things about Bolivia is how relational everything is. Relationships are more important than finishing things quickly, so instead of getting right to work cleaning the church, we spent 30 minutes eating and talking.  After that we spent another hour or so cleaning, and then it was time to eat again. Cochabamba is known as the city in Bolivia that eats the most… just one of the reasons I love it. ;)

As we sat in a little circle eating bread and drinking Coca-Cola, we began to talk about traveling, and then that led to talking about being far away from home. Like most Hispanic cultures, until you get married – you live with your family. Especially if you’re a woman. I was qui…

Traumatizing Tramites

In Bolivia, the word for official paperwork is tramites. Most people just call it traumatizing, because that is what it is. If you don’t care about details you can skip the next few paragraphs, because the point is at the end.

In March I started the process for a year long visa to live in Bolivia. Four months later, after sending every important document I own, and calling ten times to check in on the status of the visa I had my passport back with a stamp in it, but that was just the beginning.

As soon as I arrived in Bolivia, I met the lawyer that works with missionaries in getting visas.  The first day, we went to the bank to make a deposit, and then to a narcotics office to get the forms we needed to prove I have no drug record. Several days later we went back to that office to pick up forms, and then headed to the Interpol office. I expected a scene from an action movie, but was dissapointed. After going to Interpol, I went to get my picture taken for all of my documents, and then…

How do you say.......

When I started to teach first grade, I also started to pray for someone else to teach first grade.

 It wasn’t that I hated it, but I was very overwhelmed. The idea of being in charge of 21 kid’s educations was/is slightly terrifying to me. The Lord has been faithful to remind me that He was in control, and this change of plans wasn’t a surprise to Him, but at the same time, I kept praying for someone else to do it.

Then, about two weeks ago, my prayer was answered, but differently than I might have expected. Instead of a first grade teacher, God provided a Quechua teacher, who was willing to help in first grade. Originally, she had planned to teach Quechua, but because she came later in the year, that position was already filled. Instead, she agreed to help in first grade!!!

Having help to teach first grade has made a huge difference! It is so nice to have an extra pair of hands in the classroom, or even just another adult to be able to bounce ideas off of.

About a week ago, we were t…

When Brownies Fall Apart – In Christ Alone

In Bolivia, I am incompetent in so many ways. But let’s be honest, no matter where I am there are lots of things I cannot do. In Bolivia, it’s just harder to hide these things. Anywhere from buying gas to make my stove work, to solving division problems Bolivian style, to butchering chicken, I am almost completely incompetent.

But, when it comes to brownies…. that is something I can do.  If you have known me for more than 3 months, I have probably made you brownies. They are one of my favorite foods, and making them for other people is a great excuse to eat them myself.

So when my church announced we were having a bake sale, I got excited. Not just because it meant there would be lots of sweets available, but because I felt like I had something to contribute! I made plans with some new friends to make brownies, and I was equally excited to be able to eat and sell them.

The brownies turned out deliciously, and I snuck a few from the pans as they were cooling. Then I started taking them…

All Things to All People

(Or at least a lot of things, to a lot of people.)

Growing up, I was very picky about what people called me. I never like to be called Dany, because to me that was a boy’s name. I remember very clearly telling my Grandma she was never allowed to call me that. Over the years my family and friends have come up with nicknames, only a couple have been used consistently.
In Bolivia, or really all of Latin America, Danyelle is pronounced Daniel, and is a boys name. I learned quickly that if I wanted anyone to understand my name, I would need to change it. Normally I go by Daniela, but this year it seems like I answer to just about anything. ;) Here are a few of the most common name I have here:
Danyelle: obviously this one speaks for itself. Only other missionaries call me this though. Dan-yell-e: Mostly government officials trying to pronounce my name on paperwork Daniela: The vast majority of people Dani: I’ve finally caved and am allowing this nickname. But to be fair to all who tried before,…

Going to the Palace

In the middle of the first week of school we had a miracle! A Bolivian Snow Day! Just kidding, it was just a day when public transportation went on strike, but it still meant there was no school. It was a huge blessing because it gave me time to plan for school, and time to spend at the orphanage with the girls!

Then Thursday afternoon, I got a call asking if I could take one of the girls (I’ll call her Maria) from the orphanage to court (also known as the Palace of Justice). She is in the process of being adopted, but because it is not certain yet, she does not know. The process to get everything approved is very long and tedious, and the social worker at the orphanage has been working on her case for the last 2 years. As of now, the court has assigned a family for Maria, but in order for the family to adopt her, many other things have to be in place. (I am learning a lot, but I won’t bore you with the details unless you want to know. :))
So Thursday afternoon I picked Maria up in h…

Teaching, Birthday Parties, and TACOS!!!!

What do those things have in common? Nothing really, except that they all happened this week!

The first week of teaching went much better than I expected, thanks to God’s goodness and provision, and so many people around me offering their time, wisdom, and prayers. Short of asking someone else to teach for me, I couldn’t have asked for more help this week. :P

On Wednesday morning we were learning about God creating the world, and I had planned to sing the song, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”  We started to sing, and we got to the part where we sing “There’s nothing my God cannot do.” As an echo I asked “For who?!”  The next thing I knew 20 students screamed “For you!” God has been so faithful all week to remind me that there is nothing He cannot do.

In addition to teaching this week has also been full of birthdays! On Tuesday night we celebrated one of the Tia’s birthdays! I made a cake, and the girls managed to get her to follow Bolivia…

Welcome to 1st Grade!

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
It is always interesting to see how God works. I have a tendency to plan out the way I think things should go, and then – most of the time – the Lord has different plans.
When I originally applied to come to Bolivia with SIM, I applied to come as the librarian at the school, Carachipampa Christian School (CCS). I knew God was leading back to Cochabamba, and this position was an open door. I studied Social Work, but I love to read, and God has used books over and over again in my life, so I thought, “Hey, I might be able to do that!” After praying and talking with many people, I applied and was accepted as the librarian!
Then about a month before I left to come to Bolivia, I received an email saying that during the past school year, a TRAINED librarian had come to the school and was planning to stay for the next school year as well! I was excited that the school would have a trained librarian, but unsure o…

Goodbye & Hello

The last two weeks have been crazy, but also great! It is hard to believe that two weeks ago I was anxiously waiting to see if my visa for Bolivia would come or not! I haven’t done a great job of updating you all since then because everything happened so fast, but I will try to give you a quick summary. (Just kidding, this is probably the longest blog I have written.)
Two weeks ago, I got word that my visa would come in on time to leave the 22nd, and the next day I was fully funded and able to buy a plane ticket. Obviously God’s timing was much better than mine, and He has been so gracious in the way He has provided through all of you! So thank you!
By the time I had a plane ticket, I was four days out from leaving. At first I thought I was crazy to try to leave that soon, but as soon as I started saying goodbyes I realized that four days might have been perfect. Because I had left the country for long periods of time before, I didn’t really think it would be hard to do it again. But…

Bienvenidos a Miami!

Bienvenidos a Miami!

Hello! As I write this, I am sitting in the Miami airport waiting for my flight to La Paz, Bolivia.  I have heard Miami called the Capitol of South America, and that definitely seems to be true. The airport still feels like the World Cup is going on – there are vendors everywhere, and the majority of travelers have jerseys! It is so interesting to be surrounded by so many different languages, and still be in the U.S.
This afternoon I went with my family to eat tacos one last time before entering the land of Taco-less Bolivia. After lunch, we went to the airport and my family and a few friends dropped me off. It was hard to say goodbyes, but also exciting to finally be so close to getting on the plane. My family and friends prayed for me, and I headed to security. I was the ONLY person going through the line, and had the nicest TSA agents I have ever met. I don’t know if I just got lucky, or if it helps to go through security with tears in your eyes. Either way, …

God is Good. God is in Charge of Everything.

Hello friends & family!

My original goal was to post a blog every week with an update, but the last few weeks I have had a hard time thinking of anything to write that would be interesting enough to read!

I don’t know that this is actually interesting enough to read, but I do want to be honest and realistic, and not just post when things are going really well (AKA how I want them to go). :)

Over the last two years, I have had the opportunity to work with pre-school and kindergarten age kids at church. Each week the kids learn a story that shows a characteristic of God. There are five main characteristics of God that the kids learn, and two of them are that God is good, and that God is in charge of everything. Those both sound like such basic things, but over the last year, the Lord has sweetly reminded me of areas in my life where I have not fully believed them. I don’t often doubt that He is able, but I do doubt that He knows and wants what is ultimately best. If I believe that G…

Bolivian Friends

During my time in Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people, and make great friends. Some of these were other volunteers at the orphanage, or with other organizations in town. These friendships were such a blessing, and on hard days at the orphanage I looked forward to going to get coffee, or going to the market, or even just be able to speak in English and not think before I spoke.  There were many days where just the sight of a familiar face that could speak English made me laugh instead of cry.

And as great as these friendships were, the Bolivian women who worked at the orphanage were some of  my closest friends. Living at the orphanage, I spent the majority of my time at the house. As much as I love children, and especially these children, there is something great about talking to an adult every now and then. :) These women taught me how to help in the orphanage, they told me the kids stories, and they encouraged me when I needed it. They helped me with everyday …

Celebrating God's Faithfulness

Last year on my birthday, I woke up in Bolivia at 6:00 AM, and opened a card my mom had sent in my suitcase. I kept the lights off in my room, because I could already hear the girls moving around, and I didn’t want to announce I was up yet. I opened the card and “You’re a Shining Star” started playing from the card. The girls all knew I was awake, and started to fill into my room. They had never seen a musical card, and were in awe of its ability to play music. Inside of the card, my mom had sent tattoos and nail polish, exactly what I wanted for my 21st birthday. But the girls loved it!

I convinced them we needed to wait until after church to celebrate, and as soon as we got home, my room became a nail salon/ tattoo parlor with a 5 second clip of “You’re a Shining Star” playing in the background.  All afternoon I painted little fingernails, and applied removable tattoos.  It was a very different 21st birthday than I ever imagined, but I couldn’t have asked for a better one!

This year…

Garage Sales

“Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

Over the last two weeks, I have spent 5 days doing garage sales. I have gained a very nice farmer’s tan, a good chunk of my one time needs budget, and a new understanding of this verse. Although I have by no means sold I all that I have, I sold what I possess, and what my friends, family, and strangers possess… :)

As I asked for donations, I was overwhelmed (along with my roommates) with the generosity of friends, family, and people I hardly know. Everyone had stuff they wanted to give away! My apartment in Denton became hard to walk in because it was so full of other people’s donations. Everything from clothes, to Mary Kay, to glow sticks, to purses, to paint ball equipment, everyone was SO generous.

A friend that lives off of a busy road allowed me to use her house, my roommate helped me transport things in her truck,…

This is a sign!

I know a lot people who collect things. Some things are normal, like coffee mugs, rocks, shot glasses, t-shirts, or even salt and pepper shakers. I am cheap, so I collect pictures of funny signs. Some of the cheesiest signs are church marquees.  I don’t know who comes up with them, but they usually make me laugh. Even when they’re serious.

But every once in a while, church signs are encouraging.  This last Wednesday was my last day of work, and as I left I got stuck in a HUGE traffic jam. For an hour and a half I waited as everyone had to exit the highway and take an alternate route. As I sat in traffic, I started to pray, thinking of all the things that need to happen in the next 2-3 months before leaving for Bolivia.  I was starting to realize that I was completely unemployed, and completely dependent on the Lord to provide. I was confident that I was where I needed to be, but at the same time, I was unsure of how it was going to happen.

Then as I was sitting in traffic, I noticed a…

En el amanecer y el anochecer!

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5
In the last few years, the Lord has often used stories and analogies to teach me more about who He is. I don’t know how many times I've read this verse, but when I really started to think about it, its pretty crazy, and also really vague. When God decided to make light - it happened. When he decided to make the darkness - that happened. It says that He separated the light and the darkness, but it doesn't really explain how that happened, and that’s okay.
As I was thinking about the sunrise and sunset, God reminded me that speed is not most important but our praise. I am by no means an expert on the rotation of the planets, or anything else really. But, I do know that God is powerful, and he easily could h…

Awesome Things I Didn't Expect!

“For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.” Isaiah 64:3

Hello friends!
I have been reading in Isaiah, and at the beginning of this week, I wrote this verse at the top of my planner. Even though I KNOW God is powerful and can do awesome things, I don’t normally expect Him to.

As most of you know, I am in the process or raising financial and prayer support in order to move to Bolivia. In the past when I have gone to Bolivia or Mexico, I knew I was dependent on the Lord for financial support, but I also felt somewhat capable of doing it myself. I have spent the last 5 years saving for the time I would move to a different country; however, as I have prepared to MOVE to Bolivia, my dependence on the Lord has been tested. No longer is it something I am able to do, but something only God could do-which is probably how it should be. :)

Anyway, when I went to training several weeks ago in North Carolina, I was told that the vi…

The Cost

Over the last few weeks, I have been listening to a song called “The Cost” by The Rend Collective Experiment.
The song is based on the passage in Luke that says:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a …

Hello from North Carolina!

For the next two weeks I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina for SIMGo! I will be learning more about support raising, meeting other missionaries, and learning more about what it will be like to serve with SIM in Bolivia!
Friday I left DFW and felt like a tourist in my own city! Airports are so exciting, and there’s something about them that makes me feel really small, but also more aware of how big God is. I ended up at the wrong terminal, so I got to use the Skylink for the first time in Dalllas! I got on the plane, and ended up in between a group of pastors from the East coast. It was so encouraging to hear them talk about how God has called them into ministry, and how He is working in the communities they are in.
I arrived in Charlotte, and a couple from SIM picked me up at the airport and brought me back to the residence hall. I will be staying with 17 other adults, and 12 children that are also in the process of going all over the world. So exciting! Several people that were …

SIM: Serving In Mission

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote! The Lord has been so gracious during the last few months to lead and guide, and I am so thankful for you all, the people He has used to challenge, encourage, and convict me along the way. While I was in Bolivia this last summer, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people working with many ministries. One of the organizations is called SIM, (Serving in Mission, or Society for International Missions – depending on the country!) SIM is a sending agency for missions that has about 1600 missionaries from more than 50 countries working in 65 countries around the world. One of the neatest things to me about SIM is that there are missionaries from countries all over the world, not just the United States! The orphanage I was able to work with these last two summers is just down the street from one of SIM’s missionary schools. I heard a lot about it while I was there, and when I came home, it kept showing up again and again. In Sept…