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!