Monday, December 15, 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things that come to mind are normally huts in the jungle, dirt roads, strange animals, poverty, and white people in outdated clothes.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 toy drive to provide Christmas presents for children living in poverty. The original plan was to take the gifts to the jail, where many children live with their mothers.

The kids in my class were so excited to be able to give, and were very generous in giving of their own toys, as well as buying new ones. (Or their parents were very generous. ;) ) Almost 120 gifts in all were donated!! Then, because of logistics, it was decided that taking the gifts to the jail was not the best option. However, there was not a backup plan for the donated gifts.

Then, one of the teachers at the school, that also happens to host the Bible club/ Happy Hour I am involved in got a visit from a man he barely knew.  He told Richard that he lived in a very poverty stricken area outside of the city, right outside of the garbage dump. They wanted to know if there was any way Richard could help with Christmas gifts for the children of his neighborhood. Richard asked the man about how many gifts they would need, and he said about 120! The exact amount of gifts the school had collected. Is God not faithful to provide?!?

The man was not a Christian, but he also asked Richard if we could put on a Christmas program of some kind to teach the kids about Christmas. What an amazing invitation to share the good news of  Jesus’ birth, and the gospel. Saturday afternoon after the Happy Hour/ Bible Club’s Christmas program, Richard and his wife Gladys asked the group of teachers if we would be willing to do the same Christmas program again for the neighborhood of Kara Kara on the outskirts of the city dump.
Kids from Casa de Amor at Happy Hour!

Saturday I learned how to make buñuelos, and then helped make 300 of them!

Around 300 kids and mothers came to the Happy Hour last Saturday for the Christmas program!
Sunday afternoon I got the chance to go with Richard and Gladys to the neighborhood to meet with some of the leadership of the neighborhood, and plan for the event. As opposed to my everyday life here, I felt like a stereotyped missionary. We traveled on rough dirt roads, avoided the sheep on the side of the road, passed by makeshift houses, and I won’t  even bother trying to defend my wardrobe. When we arrived, everyone came out of their “houses” to greet us, and the kids looked like it was Christmas morning. (Which it almost was.) The man that invited us took us through the neighborhood, and called all of the women to come out of their houses to meet on the “soccer field”.

The field was littered with broken bricks and rocks, and marked off by old tires. One little girl hid behind her mother’s skirt and looked at me like I was an alien. I smiled at her as our host spoke to the mothers in Quechua, and her face lit up. After the introductions were made, the little girl came up and told me her name was Noelia. I asked her what she liked to do, and she told me she had a doll that looked like me… which I assume just means she is blonde.:) As I talked with Noelia and several of the other girls, I was reminded of what a great God we serve. Here in this forgotten neighborhood outside of Cochabamba, the Lord is at work. He loves these kids, and has not only provided toys for Christmas, but He is the reason for giving toys at all. He came to earth, and gave us the gift of His son. He made a way through Jesus to be forgiven and loved, and made right before God. And now, He has opened the doors so that the entire neighborhood of Kara Kara might come to know Him.

Please praise God for the crazy ways He has worked everything out to be able to go to Kara Kara this Saturday. Please pray for good weather, and more importantly, that God would begin to soften the hearts of the kids and mothers, and even fathers that will be there. Please pray for relationships to be built, and for people to come to know the goodness, love, and mercy of the Lord.

*** Although God has provided for gifts for the children, we would love to be able to buy sugar and possibly other household staples for the mothers that come as well. If you feel led to donate to help meet this need, I would love to talk with you more! **

Monday, December 8, 2014

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 there is a general sense of excitement in the air. Because school is out, the atmosphere is much more relaxed at the girls house. We had a bracelet making party, and a beauty salon for the girls.  I thought they would be thrilled to get pedicures and put their feet in bowls of warm water, but they looked at me like I was crazy. Lesson learned.

In the morning, the girls slept until almost 7:00. It was a miracle! We made pancakes, the girls were excited to have something besides bread for breakfast. :) As we were getting the girls ready for the day, we found that one of the girls, Raquel, had had an accident the night before. That meant she needed to have a bath, so she proceeded to walk around the house sreaming and crying. One of the other little girls Jhosi took this opportunity to remind us all of some biblical truth from a song that the girls sing at a Bible Club every Saturday.
“Allá en cielo, no habrá más llanto, ni más tristeza, ni más dolor.” Or in English, “In heaven there will be no more crying, no more sadness, no more pain.”
To see both of them together was ironic and made me laugh about a crazy morning.
Why would you ride a tricycle WITHOUT high heels??
After breakfast I headed to the wedding at the church. This is only my second wedding to attend in Bolivia, but it was much different from the first. It started about 40 minutes late, and almost no one was there.  By the end of the service there were almost twice as many people. It was a beautiful ceremony with lots of music and surprises for both the bride and groom!

After the wedding it was time for Horita Feliz (the Bible club). Next week will be the last week before we take “summer vacation”. We will have almost 300 kids and their mothers. We will be giving out Christmas gifts, but more importantly , we will have the opportunity to share the gospel, and the good news of Christmas.   Please pray for the Lord to prepare and soften the hearts of everyone who will be there on Saturday!
The 2-5 year old class at Happy Hour!

Learning the Christmas story
 After Horita Feliz, some friends that used to work with Casa de Amor and are now in the process of adopting children in Bolivia had asked if I could babysit for a little while at their house. They have a beautiful house up in the country, and were also planning on having some friends for church over for pedestrian day the next day. On Pedestrian day there are no automobiles of any kinds allowed on the road. The plan was for me to take the kids back to the house, Rudi and Carla got to go on a date without their 6 kids, and then they would pick everyone up from the church to come back to the house.

Getting all of the kids back to the house was an adventure in itself. There were 7 of us, and we had to take two different trufi’s to get back. At one point a kind Quechua woman stopped me, and wanted to tell me something.. surely about the fact that I had 6 white children with me…. but she couldn’t speak Spanish, and I couldn’t speak Quechua, so I am not sure what she said.

As we were heading back to the house, I mentioned to the kids that we should play a prank on the people that were coming from church. They loved this idea, but their ideas were a little over the top. Think acid in their cookies. I quickly nixed that idea, and suggested we short- sheet the beds instead. They had fun (and so did I), although I’m not completely sure how well it worked since no one really complained in the morning!

In the morning we had cinnamon rolls…. a huge treat! Since there was no church, several of the guys from church played guitar, and several of the people in the Booher family played violin, and ukulele.  We sang songs mostly from the hymn book, and it was so nice to be able to worship together. After “church”, it was time to eat and play! We had a barbeque, and I got to spend some time playing with the girls. We played hide and seek outside in the fields of flowers, and attempted to play leap frog. (It’s not as fun as I remember it being.)
View from the house!
After lunch I let one of the girls "fix" my hair. She was happy with it....  
When lunch was ready, I ate WAY more than I should have. But it was all just so good! It was so peaceful looking out over the city, and with no cars on the roads, the smog of the city was almost gone. It was a much needed day of rest, and remembering why I am here in Bolivia. I am so thankful for the hospitality of the Booher family, and the example they are for so many of what it looks like to love Jesus and love others. Please pray for favor in their adoption process, as well as peace for them as they wait!

Monday, November 3, 2014

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 quiet as I listened to the conversation, and then one of the guys that lived with his family pointed out that there were two of us that didn’t live with our families who weren’t saying anything.

Immediately the verse from Matthew 19:29 came into my mind, and I was overwhelmed by how true it has been.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my names sake, will receive a hundred times, and will inherit eternal life.” 

Since Saturday morning, I have been constantly thinking about that verse, and God’s goodness. In SO many ways, God has provided just what I needed and more.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 talks about how there is a time for everything, and a season for everything under Heaven. I have been studying Ecclesiastes, and listened to a sermon that talks about how we like to take the different seasons and look at them like a buffet line. (You can listen to that sermon here.) Yes, I’ll take some birth, some planting, healing, building, laughing, dancing, gathering, embracing, seeking, loving, and peace please. No thank you to the dying, killing, breaking, weeping, mourning, etc….

But these verses aren't a buffet, they are ingredients. Nobody likes to eat flour, but we all like to eat cake. God is always in control. These aren't things that just happen randomly, they are ALL things God allows to happen. God allows the bad, because he can use it for his glory, and our joy. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, Solomon ends this section by saying, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into the hearts of man, yet so that they cannot find out what He has done from beginning to end.”  

At this moment, I am filled with thanksgiving. Tomorrow, or in ten minutes, I might not be. But I am thankful for this promise, that God’s ways are bigger than ours, and in time EVERYTHING will be made beautiful.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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 to a notary to have several forms stamped. Several weeks later, we went back to Interpol to pick up the forms, but there was another problem. A week after that, we went back again - this time with no problem at all. Except that the pictures had been misplaced, so we went back to take pictures again.

Another very important step in the visa process is making sure you are healthy. Luckily, there is a one stop shop where you can be x-rayed, have blood samples drawn, be examined by a doctor, and have you teeth “examined” (looked at).

After this we went to another office – FELCC- to have forms signed proving that I do in fact live where I say I do. However, the man wasn’t there, so we would have to come back another day. After going in vain to FELCC, we headed to Transito, where I think I proved again that I live where I say I live – I’m not completely sure what that was for.


When I tried to go back to FELCC, there was a marathon blocking the roads, and so I walked for a couple of kilometers, trying in vain to get a taxi. Three hours later, I arrived, and discovered another missing document. Thankfully the lawyer talked the man into letting him come back later in the week to bring the form, so I was able to sign.

After this, all of the forms were sent to La Paz to be approved. Several days ago I got word that documents were back from La Paz, so today I GOT to go to Immigration to finish up the process. We arrived at Immigration about 9:30, and waited in line to have the documents approved. The man reviewing my forms was very thorough, and found a mistake on one form. He informed us we would have to go back to the Transito office and have them correct the form. We walked outside and the lawyer looked at a group of taxi drivers standing outside, and asked  “Okay, who wants to take us?” I felt like I was in a movie, they all jumped up and started fighting over who would take us. After being serenaded by a Spanish version of “My Heart Will Go On” in the taxi, we arrived at transito to find about 50 people waiting in line. The lawyer went right to the front and asked them to please fix the mistake. I was amazed when they obliged!

Twenty minutes later we were back at immigration, and the man reviewed all of the forms again, and this time approved them and gave me my fine for taking longer than 30 days to obtain the visa. HA! They gave us a form to take to the bank to pay the fee, and then when we got back, we could continue with the process. We arrived back at Immigration, and two people before my turn, they announced that they would be closing for lunch for the next two hours. We could come back at 2:30. So close, yet so far.

After lunch things went smoothly, and we finished the last (supposedly) part of paperwork. Because I had a lot of time on my hands, I started to think about how different the process would have been without a lawyer. He knew what he was doing. He knew where we needed to be, what forms (for the most part) we were supposed to have, and he already knew most of the people in the offices because he does it so often. He was my voice when I didn’t have any idea what to say or do. As frustrating as the process could be, I wasn’t worried, because I knew that he knew what needed to happen next.
And then I started to think about how Jesus talks about our “advocate” In John 14-16 Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—….. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—“ In 1 John 2:1it says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

So while I am not looking forward to doing any of this paperwork again for the two year visa, I am so thankful for the way God has used it to show me what it means to have an advocate- to be able to be humbled in feeling completely helpless, and to allow someone else to help!

Since I wouldn’t wish tramites (paperwork) on my worst enemy, (or maybe I would… :)) I pray that you would be encouraged to think about what it means to have an advocate  in Jesus, and would learn to depend on Him only!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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 talking during recess, and she mentioned that her husband was in Peru teaching Quechua, and she was looking for students to tutor to make a little bit of extra money. I had been planning to start Quechua lessons, but I had been too busy to go out and schedule lessons. As soon as she mentioned teaching Quechua, I began to pray about taking lessons from her!

This last Wednesday I had my first lesson, and it went much better than I expected. She is a great teacher, and I am enjoying learning.Here are some of the things I have learned:

Nuqa kani Daniela. My name is Danyelle
Nuqa yachachik kani. I am a teacher. (haha)
Imaynalla kasanki. How are you?
Walliqlla kassani. I am doing well.

As we worked on some basic vocabulary, I began to think of the places I would need to know. “How do you say church?” I asked. She thought about it for a while, and finally told me there was no word for church, because there were no churches for the Quechuan people when the language began.
I am so excited for the opportunity that the Lord has given to learn the Quechuan language, but even more, to begin to learn about the culture. I am so thankful for the way God has provided not only a teacher, but also a new friend. Please pray for wisdom and patience to learn, as well as opportunities to practice!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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 out of the pans. I had a little trouble getting them out of the pan in one piece, but I managed to salvage most of them, and the rest of the crumbs I put in a bag to share with the other young people at church.
Before.....


Then I got to church, and somewhere between my kitchen and the bus ride to church, all of the brownies had decided to melt together into one nice big pile. Somehow the brownie pile got brought out to the table where desserts were being sold, and everyone looked at it curiously. Brownies aren’t common in Bolivia, but even if they were, they weren’t recognizable as brownies. Someone asked why we had meat at the bake sale. Everyone was very kind, but it was ugly nonetheless. Was is a tasty pile of brownies? Yes. Was it pretty? Not at all.

So as I sat in church feeling incompetent, I began to pray, asking why it was such a big deal to me that I made ugly brownies. And I felt the Lord begin to put the words of the song In Christ Alone on my heart.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

It wasn’t about the brownies, it was about where I was looking to find my identity. Was my worth and value in how well I could make a dessert, or in who Jesus is? Was my identity found in how well I can bake, or in what Jesus has done? Do I depend on other people’s opinions, or is Christ solid ground in my life?

So as much as my pride dislikes being unable to do things for myself, I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me to a place of humility (humiliation), and that in that place, He reminds me that I can stand in His love. That it doesn’t depend on what I can do or can’t do, but who He is. And how freeing that is!

I know you don’t read this to hear a sermon, but because I am so thankful for this lesson in my life, I want to encourage you to think about what you look to for identity and security. Is it solid ground?

I am thankful for you guys! Please let me know how I can be praying for you as always!

p.s. if you want a really good and ugly brownie recipe let me know. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

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, it sounds better in Spanish.
Tia Daniela: Tia means Aunt in Spanish, and the kids at Casa de Amor call all adults  “aunt or uncle”
Tia Danielita: The kids and women at the orphanage when they need a favor.  Adding “ita” to the end of a word is like a term of endearment.
Tia Nani: The kids who have a hard time saying Daniela.
Tia Daniela Guapa:  Occasionally some of the younger girls like to add “guapa” or “good looking” to the end of my name. Of course I don’t mind, but it should probably be noted that it is usually little Jhosi who is blind that calls me that. ;)  
Tia Hiney: This one is my fault, but I haven’t gotten rid of it yet. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate form of bottom was in Spanish, so I started saying it in English instead. Now the girls at the orphanage love to call me Aunt Hiney whenever possible. Thankfully, no one else knows what it means, but regardless…
Miss. Graves: I am still getting used to going by my last name at school, but this is what they are supposed to call me.
Miiisss: This is what they actually call me most of the time. We’re working on it.
Miss Grapes: Most of the kids have a hard time saying Graves, so it usually sounds more like Grapes.
Profe: This is short for “profesora” or teacher in Spanish.
Chocita, Preciosa, Amor:  “Blondie, Precious, Love” No one I actually know calls me these things. (Don't get too excited...no boyfriends.) Nor do I actually answer to them – but guys on the street seem to think these are my names.
 Mamita: All older Bolivian women call me this. There isn’t a great translation in English, but it’s also a term of endearment.
Hermana:  At church, people are often called hermano or hermana (brother or sister).

It has been so interesting to adjust not just to these new names, but to the new roles and identities that come along with them. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul says He has become all things to all people, so that they might be saved.  I have certainly not become all things to all people, but my prayer is that by whatever name I am known, that Christ may be known instead. Please pray for wisdom in all of these roles, that God would be working through and despite me!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

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. :))
Palacio de Justicia
(Sorry, there are no actual pictures!)
So Thursday afternoon I picked Maria up in her best clothes to take her to the court building. She was excited to be leaving the house, but immediately had more questions about what exactly we were doing. I did my best to give her honest answers without telling her that her whole life was about to change. At four years old, she is very smart and observant. At the girl’s house she acts like she is about 15 years old, but as soon as we got to the city she immediately returned to a four year old.

When we finally met up with the social worker at the courthouse, Maria had a hundred more questions. She wanted to know where we were, and so I told her we were at the Palace of Justice. Her eyes lit up and she said, “I can’t wait to tell all of the girls we went to the palace!” :) I didn’t bother to explain it was a different type of palace, but I think she figured it out pretty quickly. She became very shy, and hid behind me as we found the courtroom we needed to be in. We waited outside the room for about an hour and a half, and I was very glad I had colors with me to distract her, and myself as well.

 As excited as I am for Maria to have a family of her own, there is another part of me that is nervous for her. I have seen her grow from a toddler to a smart little girl over the last two years. She has so much personality for a four year old, and makes me laugh all the time. Being adopted has always been my prayer for her, but I will definitely miss her when she goes.

After an hour and a half, the judge told us that the court date had been suspended, and that we would have to come back on September 2nd. On the way home, Maria fell asleep on the crowded bus, and a lady asked me if she was my daughter. I smiled and told her she was my niece, which is what the girls call themselves. I couldn’t help but think about the way God has chosen to adopt us as His children.  He cares for us, even when we don’t understand what is happening. Before we knew He existed, He loved us.

Please pray for Maria this week as we go back to court. Please pray that the Lord would give her peace, and help her in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Please pray for wisdom for adults that will be working with Maria to prepare her for this process. Please pray that legal issues would be taken care of quickly, and that this adoption would be a picture of our adoption into God’s family!

Thank you all!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

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 Bolivian tradition and “bite the cake” (push her face in the cake). Tia Anita has worked with Casa de Amor for years, and the girls see her as their mother. I am so thankful for her friendship, and her love for Jesus and the girls of Casa de Amor!

On Saturday, we also were able to celebrate one of our older girls - Jhosi’s birthday. Thanks to the extreme generosity of a local organization, Jhosi had a Frozen themed birthday party, complete with a piñata and semi-creepy clowns. All of the kids wore their best dresses, and I spent the morning playing hair dresser. The excitement of the girls made it seem almost like Christmas. (Several of the girls were also skipping around singing Jingle Bells in Spanish, so that might have had something to do with it. :) )



Immediately after this birthday party, we made our way downtown to Quillacollo to celebrate another volunteer’s birthday! Lindsey is from South Carolina, and came to Bolivia shortly before I left last year. She has stayed in Bolivia this year, spending time with the kids, loving on them, and serving in whatever ways she can. I am so thankful for her friendship also! When we got to Quillacollo, we met up with some of the ladies that work at the orphanage, and their children, and went to eat Chicharron (a type of fried pork) up in the mountains. It is always nice to spend time with the tias outside of the homes, and to see them with their own families without the pressures of watching 8 other children.

After our trip into the mountains for Lindsey’s birthday, I was able to make it for the end of a Bible club our kids go to called Horita Feliz. ( Don’t worry, the name means Happy Hour, but it is not what you’re probably thinking…) Several of the people that help run the Horita Feliz also go to the young people’s group at the church, so I headed back into the city with them. I have loved getting to know more people my age at this group, and it is a great opportunity to practice Spanish as well! All through the meeting I could smell something delicious, and was trying to remember if there was a restaurant nearby that the smell might be coming from.  Then, as the meeting ended a guy got up and announced that they had a special surprise for us….. TACOS!! This was the first time I have EVER been served tacos in Bolivia, and I am still excited about it. If I wasn’t already convinced that I needed to be involved in the young people group at the church, I am now!

Thank you for your prayers and support this week. I am hoping to send out an email with more specific prayer updates this week. Love you all!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

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 of what that meant for me. The email said we would explore other ministry opportunities, and I felt at peace about whatever that might mean.

This last week teacher orientation started at CCS, and I started the week planning on teaching a few Bible classes, and being on call as a substitute, or whatever other need might arise. Throughout the week, we had been praying for God to provide a 1st grade teacher during our devotion time each morning. Several teachers had fallen through, and school starts on Monday. On Wednesday morning, we gathered to pray again for the teacher needs of the school, and as we were praying for a teacher, someone prayed for God to touch the heart of the person that would teach. I started to think about a teaching internship I had done in High School in a 1st grade class, and once again, I felt this peace. And then something close to a panic attic. And then peace again.  After devotion time, I talked with my mentor teacher, and mentioned the internship in 1st grade. Before I knew it, I was standing in the 1st grade classroom looking at rows of empty desks.


It has been a very different week than I planned, but I can see God’s hand in it. All of the staff at the school has been beyond supportive, and as unsure as I am, I know that God is at work, and am excited to see how He will work.

If you all could be praying, I would be so thankful. Please pray for wisdom for me as I plan lessons, and get to know the children in my class. Please pray for relationships with the students and their parents, that God would be working in their minds and hearts. Please pray for the parent meeting on Monday night, that relationships would be formed. Please pray for language learning, as most of the children in the class are Bolivian, and first grade is still technically a bilingual class. Most importantly, please pray that this school year people would come to know God, and that He would be glorified! J



Thank you all! I will keep you updated! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

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 two years is a lot longer than 3 months, and so I was very thankful for the way God allowed the time of goodbyes to be short and sweet.

My Homegroup and church has been so supportive, and they prayed for me, and sent me off with encouragement and lots of sweet notes. I got to meet up and have a LOT of coffee and great meals with friends, and I could not be more thankful. Some friends came and had possibly the weirdest going away event ever, where they celebrated all of the birthday's, Christmas' and even weddings I will miss over the next few years. I got to spend time with my family, and wrote a ton of thank you notes. So many of you called, texted, and emailed me to let me know you were thinking and praying. Each time I teared up a little, so know that you are loved and appreciated.  I know I have said it before, but I am reminded again and again of God’s love and faithfulness through all of you, and I am so thankful.

On Tuesday my family took me to the airport, and several friends came as well. We prayed before I walked through security, and I felt this strange peace all the way to Bolivia. The flights were super smooth, and I didn’t get sick in La Paz!
First Flight from Dallas to Miami
Flying from La Paz to Cochabamba is a short flight, but I have never sat by the window. This time I got to look out at the mountains all the way. There were little villages scattered throughout the mountains, and I began to get so excited for how God might work over the next few years.
Mountains from La Paz to Cochabamba
I spent my first few days going back and forth between the girls house, and the school I will be working at. I was so excited to see the girls, and they were excited to see me….  for about three minutes. And then the wanted to play Temple Run on my phone.  We know where their priorities really are. J  It has been so good to see how they have grown over the last year. Several of the girls  have started to read, and they have all grown in different ways!
Some of the girls at Casa de Amor
I have really enjoyed getting to know people at Carachipampa, the school I will be at, catching up with friends here, and learning what it will look like to live here long term. The first question everyone asks is, “How long are you going to be here?” I have loved being able to tell everyone that, God willing, I will be here for two years. At least. I am excited to see how God will work, and so thankful for your support, both prayer and financially that makes that possible.  
View from my window on the school property

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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, the agent APPLAUDED me on doing things well and quickly. I was shocked.

I got Starbucks one last time, and have been enjoying free wifi and sending as many texts as I want before I leave.

I am so excited to go, and sad to leave. I can’t wait to see how the Lord will work, and feel honored and completely unworthy of going. Please continue to pray for relationships with kids, new friends, old friends, and co-workers. Pray for open doors, and soft hearts!


SO CLOSE!!!!  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

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 God is in control of everything, AND that He is good, there is a peace that goes beyond what I can explain. That doesn’t mean God is a genie and gives me everything I ask for, but it does mean He does what is best – whether I understand or not.



So the other day as I sang “I Surrender All”, I caught myself praying, “I’ve surrendered everything…why are you taking so long to bring this visa in?!” In that moment, I was so convicted of the fact that I obviously have NOT surrendered everything. Although I know God is in charge, I don’t trust Him to be good.  I too often want my timeline to work more than I want God’s will. God is infinitely wiser than I am. He created the world, and knows what is to come. So who am I to demand that God work in the way or time that I think would be best?

I once heard someone say that God answers our prayers the way we would pray them if we knew the big picture. I am confident of the fact that God hears the cries of His children. I also know that like children, sometimes we ask for things that are not really want we need. I am thankful that God in His mercy doesn’t give us what we ask for, but in love, like a good parent, He answers us according to His goodness by giving His presence.

And He is always enough. :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

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.

A going away lunch with other vounteers, and Bolivian friends

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 things like which bus I needed to take to get where. They gave me remedies for my sickness,(which included lots of tea, garlic, and onions) and plenty of advice on how to find a suitable husband (this did not involve garlic and onions). These women taught me about life in Bolivia, and invited me into their lives and families. After the kids were in bed , we studied the bible together, and on less holy days, we just watched movies on my computer. These women showed me by their actions what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Some of the sweet friends in Bolivia!
As I have prepared to return to Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to meet several girls from Bolivia who live close by – more Bolivian friends!!  I always love getting to talk about Bolivia, but when it is someone who can relate its even better! As I have prepare to go to Bolivia, I have done research on the culture, and history, but there are some things you can’t learn in a book, or on a website. As I have gotten to know these girls, Daniela and Camila, they have taught me so much about Bolivia, and reminded me why I feel led to return long term. Bolivia is split into different departments, the way the U.S is split into states. I have only spent time in the department of Cochabamba, but Camila is from Santa Cruz, and Daniela is from La Paz. La Paz and Santa Cruz could not be more different, and so it has been interesting to see other parts of Bolivia from different perspectives.

I am so thankful for the way God has provided friendships in Bolivia, and has used them to teach me more about the culture, and more about who He is. I love seeing the diversity, and knowing that diversity is a reflection of God’s creativity and character.

I am counting down the days until I am back in Bolivia with these dear friends – and am making new friends as well. Please continue to pray that my Bolivian visa would come quickly so that I can buy a plane ticket within the next week. Please pray also for the remaining $345 of monthly support must come in by July 12th. If you are interested in partnering in the work God will do in Bolivia through prayer or financial support, I would love to talk with you!

EMAIL: danyelle.graves@sim.org
To GIVE: https://web.simusa.org/give/index.php?FundID=042110-001&LNme=Graves&Dsg=Support 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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, I woke up around 9:00am in Denton, TX. I took my time getting ready, and then opened my mom and dads card. It didn’t sing this year, but it did have a Starbucks gift card! I got to spend the day with great friends, cooking out, and eating great food.

Over the last year, I have been reminded again and again that God is good, and He is faithful, no matter where I am on the globe. While I can’t wait to be back in the land where singing birthday cards are cool, and entire afternoons can be taken up by fingernail polish, fake tattoos and children talking to me in Spanish, I am so thankful for where God has me.

I am so thankful for your friendships, and encouragement, and love. I am thankful for the ways you have loved me enough to send me off, and to encourage me to follow where God is leading.

I am excited to go, and sad to leave. There are so many quotes that could say that more eloquently than I have, but for those of you who read this, know that I am thankful for you. I am so thankful that no matter what side of the equator I find myself on, God is good. He has put people in my life that reflect His goodness, both here in Texas, and in Bolivia as well. I can’t wait to see what God will do in this next year, and so thankful to be able to do whatever it is with all of you!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

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, my church let me borrow tables, and friends came to shop, donate, and help all weekend in Denton.


Throughout the week, people continued to offer to donate, and we continued to collect things for a garage sale in Rowlett. Once again, I was overwhelmed by furniture, instruments, clothes, and other random odds and ends. My parents helped me set everything up, and spent hours helping sort through and collect donations. Then, a good family friend was downsizing houses, and offered to host a garage sale – with all of their furniture and odds and ends in addition!

Between the locations in Rockwall, Rowlett, and Denton, about $2300 worth of items sold!! So many of you gave generously, and I am so thankful for your time, donations, and willingness to help in whatever way possible! It is so neat to see how the God uses His church to work together, with different resources and abilities!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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.
Not the person that did this sign!
This one is just cheesy.

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 church sign on the side of the road. It was electronic, so it flashed a few words at a time, “ DO NOT FEAR – I AM WITH YOU- DO NOT BE DISMAYED – I AM YOUR GOD- I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU- AND HELP YOU – I WILL UPHOLD YOU- WITH MY RIGHT HAND” and then traffic moved. I thanked God for the reminder, and made a note to look up the verse when I got home.

30 minutes later I was still sitting in traffic, and had started to make a to-do list in my mind. As I made my list in my head, I started to get anxious again. Then I felt my phone buzz. Because I was in traffic that wasn’t moving, I picked it up to see an email from a mentor. She was checking in to see how I was doing, and shared a verse with me. Someone had shared this verse with her 18 years before as she and her family moved to Bolivia. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “  Isaiah 41:10
Well, no need to look it up anymore! What are the chances that in a span of 30 minutes in traffic I would be reminded of the same verse two times! The Lord is so faithful to remind us of His faithfulness and goodness when we forget. How encouraging that God speaks to us…even if He has to shut down the highway and repeat himself for us to listen!
 
**If you are interested in giving to what the Lord is doing in Bolivia through me, I would love to talk with you more! **
To give a monthly or one time gift online, please visit https://web.simusa.org/give/index.php?FundID=042110-001&LNme=Graves&Dsg=Support 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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 have snapped his fingers each day to separate the darkness from the light. He could have just made a rule that at 8:30 PM, the sun and the moon switch places. God has the power to do things quickly and efficiently.

But instead, he choose to make it pretty. He allows the sun to set and rise slowly overtime, and He does the same thing in our lives. He could make things happen with a word, but he doesn't always. He allows things to happen over time, so that we can trust Him. So that we can see the colors that it makes. Just like a sunrise or a sunset, so much beauty would be lost if God allowed things to just happen with a snap of His fingers. 

As I began the support raising process, I had high hopes that God would snap his fingers and provide for every need. But I am so thankful He hasn't! The last month has taught me so much about what it looks like to be completely dependent on God. There have been moments when I cried in frustration with myself, but there have been countless moments where I have been blown away by God’s faithfulness to provide.

It has been so encouraging to me to be reminded in sunsets and sunrises that our God is not about efficiency or speed. He is powerful, but He is also the God that created the world. He really does make beautiful things, and makes all things beautiful in His time, not my own. I pray that you would be encouraged to remember that God is in charge of everything and He is good! :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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 visa for Bolivia can take up to three months to receive. I did some quick math, and realized that meant I needed to apply by April 15. Then I learned that I needed to be at 70% of my monthly budget before applying for the visa. Once again, my math skills told me that was highly unlikely to raise 70% of my budget in the next 4 weeks.

BUT GOD IS ABLE. Over the last few weeks, I have been overwhelmed by so many people that are willing to pray, and give of their resources to invest in what God is doing through me in Bolivia.
Then this morning I got a phone call that reminded me that God does do awesome things that I don’t expect. I had applied this week to receive support from my church in Denton, The Village. I knew it was a long process to get approved, and so I didn’t expect to be able to have it before I could apply for the visa. This morning I found out that I was “accidentally” included on the budget for this year already!!

What a great reminder that God was not surprised by the timeline of the visa or anything else. He has clearly led me to this point, and I am blown away by the ways He has provided through my friends, family, and even strangers. Within 2 weeks He has provided 40% of my monthly budget!! Thank you so much for your prayers, God is at work doing awesome things!

Please pray that God would continue to provide the rest of the support to apply for the visa, and monthly financial supporters as well.

Love you all!

If you are interested in giving monthly, this is a breakdown of what is left!
$100 monthly – 4 People
$50 monthly- 11 People
$25 monthly – 20 People
Mount Tunari, Cochabamba, Bolivia


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Cost

Over the last few weeks, I have been listening to a song called “The Cost” by The Rend Collective Experiment.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2TxahqbSbU

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 delegation and asks for terms of peace.  So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-33

Several weeks ago I heard a sermon about these verses, and the pastor talked about the two different costs that Jesus speaks of in Luke. In the first case, the man does not build a tower until he is sure he can complete it. In the other case, the king at war finds that the cost of going to war is too great, and that he cannot afford to pay it. The pastor reminded us that the cost to follow Jesus is great, and we must be willing to pay it. At the same time, the cost of not following Jesus is TOO great. Whatever the cost might be of following Jesus, the cost of not following Him is higher.

All through training, I have been thinking about these verses. Last night after dinner I sat at a table with other people at training at SIM. We talked for over an hour and I was overwhelmed with story after story of God’s faithfulness. Although we have had lots of trainings over the last few days, one of the most helpful things about training at SIMGo has been listening to the stories of people that have years of combined experience in ministry. Over and over and over, they have told of trials and suffering, and the message is always the same. Whatever the cost, Jesus is worth it!

I am so thankful for this time, and for your prayers. Please pray that the Lord would continue to prepare my heart, and the hearts of the people in Bolivia to know His love more and more, and the things we hold onto in this world less and less.


Friday, March 7, 2014

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 here in January for SIMStart (orientation) will be here again this week, so it will be great to see them again too!

I will do my best to keep you updated (but not TOO updated) throughout the next two weeks! I listed some ways to be praying, if there is anything I can be praying about for you let me know! I would love to be praying for you as well. J

**WAYS TO PRAY**

  • Praise God for this time that He has provided, that He might use it as a time of learning and growth for myself and the other missionaries.
  • That we would continue to be dependent on God through prayer, rather than looking to our own abilities or strength.
  • For creativity and wisdom as we learn about communicating well at home and cross-culturally!         



  • Sunday, January 12, 2014

    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 September I wrote to SIM and several other sending agencies asking for information, and SIM was one of the few I heard back from quickly. I began to pray and ask questions about serving with SIM, and heard only good things from the people I talked with.  (Plus, I would be close to Casa de Amor!)
    In October I sent in my application, lots of references, a complete physical exam, and a psychological evaluation. I waited to hear back, and in November I got an email saying that I was invited to attend SIM Start! This is a long weekend where I meet the staff of SIM, and they can meet me, so we can see if it will be a good fit. At the end of the weekend you have what is called an exit interview, and figure out the next steps.
    For Christmas, I asked for a plane ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina, and this past weekend flew to Charlotte and SIM headquarters for SIM Start. It was a long (but GREAT!) weekend, filled with interviews, a meeting with a psychologist, history of SIM, and an explanation of core values that SIM holds. It was also very exciting to get to talk with the other 30-ish people, both couples and individuals from all ages and walks of life, that are feeling led to ministry of some sort.
    I would love to ask you all (the three of you still reading…J) to pray with me this next week that God would make clear which ministry opportunity is the best fit for the specific gifts and passions He has given me.  The next step will be to choose one, and then apply for that specific position!
    I am so thankful for the community that I am surrounded by, and the love God shows through you all. I would love to talk more with you, if you are interested, about this process, and how God is working in it!

    Hasta pronto!