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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Wyles

The important things

I cannot believe that it has been about a month since the last time I wrote. Things are always happening at a million miles a minute here in Bolivia and although the days feel very long, the weeks end before I can fully comprehend that they’ve begun. Today I want to take some time to reflect on the ways that my life has changed since moving to Bolivia, but first I want to share with you all an update of everything that has been happening around the hogar :)

Playing in the park before mass :)

At the end of October we celebrated both All Saints Day and Halloween. All Saints Day is on November 1 and is a day to celebrate all of the saints, known and unknown, of the Church! Here in Bolivia, Halloween isn’t seen in the best light, but in an effort to bring one of our American holidays to the hogar, we were able to mix the two holidays and the girls all dressed up as their favorite saints for our mini Trick-or-Treating activity! Lots of adorable photos to be seen from that day…

Dressing up as saints for Halloween & All Saints Day

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, aka my confirmation saint :)

November so far has been a bit chaotic. It’s the last month of school for the girls and they’ll be on summer vacation from early December to early February. We’ve even learned that the majority of girls will be going to visit their family contacts over Christmas. We’re all so excited for the holiday season, but the downside is that the girls are all, frankly, sick of school. I very clearly remember what that feels like, but I’m realizing for the first time how difficult it makes the teachers’ lives when the kids don’t want to work…

The girls getting ready to present on the life of the saint they dressed up as

Halloween fun :)


I pray with all of my being that this is the last school year that the girls have to do online and that they get to go back in-person in February. Since the girls live and eat and sleep and also (for the past 2 years) go to online school in the hogar, they don’t have much of an opportunity to interact with others or explore. I desire for them to be back in a more productive learning environment with their classmates and teachers. In addition, I have struggled a bit with my role as a teacher, as the girls all have very unique backgrounds that make learning difficult for them and at times I struggle with knowing how to help them (I sense a prayer intention if you have a few minutes to spare:).

And my last update is that: man am I missing the midwestern holiday season! The smores over a campfire, the changing leaves, the pumpkin flavored everything, family time, the first snowfall, you get the gist. Recently I have been really craving the chocolate chip cookies that my grandma makes around this time of year so I decided to try my own hand at making them for the girls here today :) It definitely was not the same BUT it made me so so happy, and of course I could not have done it without my little helpers:


Cannot beat my grandmas recipe but... they loved them :)

But now onto the reflective portion of this blog post… I’ve been reflecting a lot on how different my life is here-- yet so similar at the same time. Over the past summer I had an internship and then before that I was a full-time student. I woke up early, went to the gym, cooked myself breakfast while listening to a podcast, did homework for hours, had some prayer time, went to work at my coffee shop, cooked some quick dinner and then spent the evenings studying with friends in someone’s living room and attending to whatever fun college mischievousness came up that day.

I find it so interesting that my life here in Bolivia looks so incredibly different on the outside from my college life in the U.S., but when you take a closer look there are a lot of similarities.

For example, sports and exercising have always been really important to me. I love the mental relief that it provides and also the sense of accomplishment and success when you’re done. Growing up and through high school, this looked like playing soccer every single day after school and all weekend. In college, this transitioned into going to the gym and playing intramural sports. Now, in Bolivia, it looks like running a trillion laps around our outdoor basketball court and doing YouTube video workouts in my room.

more playing in the park!

And then you have school. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve always devoted an immense amount of time to school and studying. I was valedictorian in high school and graduated Summa Cum Laude in college, so needless to say, no longer having homework assignments and tests to study for was a big change. But here I am in Bolivia, teaching and helping on homework assignments for the majority of the day. I also started a weekly Spanish class to help me continue improving my language skills while I’m here.

Coffee culture continues to be a big part of my life, but my daily coffee shop visits in college have transitioned to once a week on my free day (don’t come at me for wasting money!!! I got a ton of free coffee for working at a coffee shop!!! Hehe). I still spend nights laughing with friends, watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and cooking something that reminds me of home every so often. I still have prayer time, but instead of being in my college bedroom or adoration at my local church, I’m in my bedroom in Bolivia or the chapel we have here in the hogar. I still talk to my family members several times a week, but now the phone signal is just a bit weaker. I still talk to my best friend at home, it’s just a tad less often. I still go on adventures, but those adventures are just more local and a lot of times have to do with the crazy daily life at the hogar.

Before I went on mission, I was worried about how I would transition to losing the things that I really loved. Hanging out with friends, being with my family often, being a student, going on random adventures, spending lots of time at coffee shops, going to the gym, etc. But I have found two things to simultaneously be true: (1) Changes do require sacrifices. There are many things I’ve had to give up since coming on mission, which have absolutely provided personal challenges, but (2) the important things don’t disappear, they just change. They grow and transition with you. And honestly, I find that so freaking beautiful.

That’s all for now. This blog post feels a bit more all over the place but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading nonetheless. Thank you for reading-- enjoy all of the photos :)

weekly bread making in our massive oven

Our FAVORITE restaurant in the city: chinesee!

coffee shop trips on our free day :)

Visiting a Bolivian cemetery for Día de los Difuntos (All Souls Day aka Day of the Dead)

Día de los Difuntos... the tradition is that each family brings food to their loved ones grave and offer the food to anyone who prays for their deceased family member!

Picking leaves off of fallen branches to use in tea

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