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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Wyles

The Best Day Ever

I can’t believe that June is coming to an end! I knew that the last month would go by quickly as there was a LOT happening. At the end of May I went on a weekend trip to a city called Sucre. Then about a week and a half later, my parents arrived and spent about 2 crazy weeks with me in Bolivia, which were anything from the normal hogar-schedule. I’ll most likely talk about my parents’ visit in its own blog post, but for now I want to focus on one very special day during this time that I foresee holding close to my heart for a very long time.

When my parents told friends and family about their upcoming trip down south, I had a few family and friends send some donation money with them, amounting to $450! In the weeks leading up to their visit, I had a couple of isolated conversations with some of the older girls expressing to me how they used to go on outings together as an hogar but haven’t in quite a long time since funds have been tighter. So, after some planning with the sisters (nuns) and other volunteers, we decided to use some of that money ($215 to be exact!) to take the girls on a big, full-day outing into the city! I’m going to include costs in this post to show the financials of the day.

This special day took place on June 15, which just so happens to be my birthday. I kept having to emphasize to the girls that this had NOTHING to do with my birthday, but it truly just worked out best on this day of the week. But let me tell you, it was the best birthday that I imagine I will ever have. As my dad said, “You peaked at 22. I hope you’re okay with that!”. Haha! The joy was overflowing and seeing the girls so happy was the best gift I could have asked for.

The craziness started the evening prior when everyone in the hogar was involved in cooking and packing to-go containers for meals the next day as well as cleaning and packing day bags. It felt like Christmas Eve! The next morning, the girls woke up more quickly than I think I’ve ever seen them do… they even sang happy birthday to me during the wake-up call and a couple of the older girls set up some fun decorations for me!

Once we finally got out the door, we managed to pack 46 people into a 21-seater bus. Every adult had a little girl on our laps and although I didn’t think it was possible, Hermana Letty is a professional at making the impossible possible. That private bus, from 9am to 9pm cost 350 bolivianos (including tip), which equals about $50 USD.

Our first stop was a gigantic park that the girls played in. It was a really impressive place and the girls had an absolute ball running around, exploring, and playing for about 3 hours! We also ate our packed lunches here. We only had to pay the entry for those above the age of 10, so that cost us 80 bolivianos, or $12 USD.

Next, we took a short walk down the street to the movie theater! This was the main appeal for the older girls for the day, and it did not disappoint :) We all saw the new Jurassic World movie, and they LOVED it! For many of the girls, it was their first time at the movie theater. And the littles were just as entertained by the movie as they were by the escalators, automatically-flushing toilets and touchless bathroom sink faucets. I swear, I’ve never seen a kid have so much fun in a bathroom. The cost to get everyone in was 851 bolivianos, or $124 USD.

After that, we took the bus up a very long and windy path up to the top of a mountain that overlooks the city and is home to the Cristo de la Concordia statue. Aka, the 2nd biggest statue of Christ in the world (bigger than the Brazilian one!). The views of the city from up here are beautiful and we prayed our daily rosary up here. The girls played some more and even hosted a little surprise birthday party for me. The levels of joy were next level as we sang and ran around and ate cake at sunset right there under a massive statue of Jesus. (& We did not have to pay anything to drive up to the Cristo!)

Our last stop was Parque de la Familia (or “Park of the Family”). This is a park with tons of fountains that light up in different colors and hosts a water/light show at 8pm every night. The girls ran around and played in the water for about an hour leading up to the show and after the show we headed home. We only had to pay for those above the age of 12, so the total was 200 bolivianos, or $29 USD.

Some of my favorite parts about this day include: Seeing them just be themselves in new environments; Listening to everyone singing at the top of their lungs in the bus and watching people from the outside smile at us; Watching them discover and learn about new things; Celebrating my birthday under a statue of Christ with 35 people who love me and whom I love.

These girls have taught me a lot about loving even when it’s hard. They all deserve to be spoiled every once in a while, and being able to do this, thanks to donation money, puts the biggest smile on our faces (and on our hearts).

Over the last week we have had the biggest blessing of ongoing donations from my family and friends back home. If you are one of those people, I just want to send you the biggest thank you in the world. The sisters have expressed to us before that a good portion of the costs needed to keep the hogar running and the girls well taken care of, come from connections that volunteers have established over the years. Please know that your money, whether it’s $5 or $500, is going toward a legit, loving, and supportive home that truly aims to uphold family connections wherever possible and to provide for all 35 girls in ways that their families are not currently able to.

As always, you can donate here through my blog through the “Click here to donate! :)” button or you can venmo me personally to deposit here at @OliviaWyles

With love! xxx

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