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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Wyles

Let's get this thing started.

Hello, friends! Welcome to this little blog of mine. Beginnings are always tricky, and writing my first post will be no exception, so bear with me here. I've always really loved sharing my experiences with others online, which is why in 2016 I began a YouTube channel that I've used to talk about my journey with alopecia (curious about that? click here). But this weekend I'll be moving to Bolivia, living and working in a girl's home (orphanage) for the forseeable future. I'm greatly looking forward to the opportunity to care for some of God's beautiful daughters who just happen to be living a continent away, but I don't think I will want a vlog camera out for it. After perusing the numerous journals on my bookshelf that I have filled cover-to-cover over the years, I decided I would give blogging a shot.

To get this thing started, let me first back up in time a bit. When that *icky virus* first hit in the spring of 2020, my close friend and I were studying abroad in Europe. We were on top of the world and came home early feeling quite defeated and honestly-- I didn't want to go back to school. We had a taste of sweet sweet independence outside of academics (read more: travel highs) and we were ready for more. Those desires to get out of school were accelerated by the isolating fate of online classes and limited social interactions on campus and-- long story short-- we both decided to load up our schedules and graduate a year early.

That winter break I spent hours and hours researching different long-term service opportunities, which was something that I've always felt called to pursue. After considering both domestic and international options, I found the Salesian Lay Missioners. My heart practically leapt out of my chest. The Salesians are a Catholic congregation of men and women inspired by the works of this really cool Italian guy (read more: SAINT) named Don Bosco. His whole thing was accompanying the young, particularly those who are orphaned or whose families are in poverty. Not forcing them into anything, but simply being there for them, giving them an education, and giving them a place to call home. A major Salesian goal is to find God in the face of every child and to make sure they feel loved, and that's my goal for this next phase of life. To encounter God in everyone I care for, work with, live with. Not a simple challenge to pursue but I know it's going to be a fulfilling one.

Orientation in New York with fellow SLMs

As I re-read through this, I want to clarify that it would be a hilariously untrue assumption to say that getting to this point was a linear process. I almost joined the Peace Corps at one point, *the icky virus* has thrown a few boulders in my path, and moving to another country isn't exactly comfortable. I was in New York for 2 weeks of orientation and then I had to take a last-second trip to Houston, TX last week because the Bolivian consulate wanted me in person before they could give me my visa. At times it felt like I wasn't even going to get my visa. Leaving family and friends is hard, my Spanish isn't perfect, and I don't really know what I'm doing. But... I leave in like 3 days so I've learned to just go with the flow at this point and to trust that God will be with me every step of the way.

Houston, TX, OVER THE MOON because our visas got approved

I know.. Why are you doing this? How much Spanish do you know? Is Bolivia safe? Who are you working with in the day to day? What exactly will you be doing? How long will you be there? What's the weather like?

I could keep writing for hours (seriously, ask my journals). But as the very wise Mother Theresa once said, "We have only today. Let us begin."

Prayer requests: (1) For a smooth and safe flight to Bolivia and (2) That God comforts all 5 SLMs as we transition to our placements in the coming months

P.S. If you're interested, you should subscribe on the home page so you get an email when I post. And leave a comment! Say hello! Catch ya later <3

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