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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Wyles

Half a year.

According to the stamp on my passport, I’ve officially been in Bolivia for six months. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the things that I’ve learned since I’ve been here. At the very top of that list has been my experience in befriending the concept of time.

That last sentence was a little weird. But I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. What did I do in the time before I came to Bolivia? Well, my first really impactful memories come from playing year-round soccer for 14 years. I went to high school for 4 years and spent a little too much of that time studying. During my 2nd year of high school I was diagnosed (the word “diagnosed” makes it sound more serious than it is) with alopecia and spent a year or two accustoming myself to it. I was on the high school football team my senior year. I went to college for 3 years and spent one semester in another country. I had 3 summer internships that sum up to about 1 year. The only meaningful thing to take away from this paragraph is that every single one of those things have ended.

Where on earth am I going with this? All of those things have concluded and they each feel so distant and out of reach. But at one point they were EVERYTHING. They were real and incredible and present and difficult and fun and stressful and exciting and they formed part of the girl laying on her bed in Bolivia writing this right now. But now they’ve all ended even though they felt like they never would– but that’s not a bad thing. Seasons and times.

I’ve learned so much about time and the necessity to work with it not against it because the truth is that being here in Bolivia hasn’t been easy— and for the first several months it was mostly just really difficult. I found myself thinking so very much about time and praying it would move faster. But lately I’ve been finding myself caring less about the passage of time and just sitting in the time that I have. Time is a gift giver, a teacher, a reality check; it is a coach, and more than anything, its passage is just straight up inevitable.

I’ve been in Bolivia for 6 months! The current consensus in my mind is that that is neither long nor short. It just is what is it. And I’m not sure exactly how long I’ll be here or what I’ll be doing next, but God knows. And His timing has been giving me a lot of peace lately. I may be starting to befriend time, but He is the Creator of time. Whatever time we get here is a gift (& who’s gonna remind me of this on Monday morning?)

Some other things I’ve learned:

(1) students can only learn as much as they have the desire to learn.

(2) there is always a meaningful reason for misbehavior.

(3) showing care and love makes the biggest difference.

(4) alone time & prayer time are very important.

(5) whenever you’re feeling pissed off it’s best to just leave the room.

(6) don’t look a stray dog in the eyes. Oh, & If the gas tank for an oven sounds even slightly stronger than usual, don’t light it you dummy.

(7) you may spend an exorbitant amount of time planning an activity that kids are tired of in 5 minutes. Just laugh and move on.

(8) my new favorite foods include: salteñas, cuñapes, pique, and charque.

(9) every culture is so different. It can be frustrating and beautiful and I hope I never stop desiring to learn about them.

And my personal favorite:

(10) all 32 of these girls are masterpieces. But that doesn’t mean that art isn’t messy.

And I shall conclude with a lil recap of the last week, because it was such a fun one! Last Saturday us volunteers spent our free day road tripping to a city 4 hours away called Oruro to celebrate Carnaval. It was a hefty trip to get there and back in one day, but we had so much fun talking and laughing with other volunteers from the city and experiencing more of Bolivian culture. And the Carnaval celebrations didn’t stop as we celebrated next at the hogar! We cooked some tasty meals, had piñatas, had fights with spray foam, had an ugly-dress-up-contest, had a water balloon fight, and watched movies! It was such a fun and joyful time with the girls. And this Saturday (yesterday) we took one of our oldest out into the city to celebrate her 18th birthday and had so much fun together.

In conclusion, I ask for your prayers for my work in Bolivia. I mean it when I say this hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, so I don’t want anyone closing this page thinking I’m some really cool & wise person who’s got it all together. As a quick pride check: last friday I was literally sitting on the floor with one of my students, BOTH of us crying: her upset that I was making her do school work and me at my wits end with her not wanting to do her work…I'm sure it was quite the sight...

Just me sharing the thoughts currently floating around in my head. And don’t call me out if you hear me complaining about time tomorrow :-)

(I hope you enjoy a big Carnaval photo collection below! The first set of photos are from our trip to Oruro, the second is of our celebration at the hogar, and the third set is from our day out in the city to celebrate one of our girl's birthdays and a quick stop by ANOTHER close-to-home Carnaval celebration)




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