• Olivia Wyles

Transitions on transitions

After three months in Bolivia as a missionary, the biggest thing I’ve learned and had to acclimate to is the fact that each day is just a single moving part of a constant transition. There is always something that comes up at the last minute that throws the routine for a loop– and I mean always. Schedules are more of a suggestion than an expectation and big events are planned and carried out in a fraction of the time that one from a schedule-crazed country like the U.S. would deem possible. In my first two months here, I struggled quite a bit with this lack of predictability and, honestly, saw it as a major flaw in the system. Although a part of me always has and probably always will crave some routine, and I do think there are some merits in it, the last month I have started to notice myself not being so bothered by the constant changes.

Honestly, I have found myself starting to question why we allow ourselves to get sucked into the allure of complete and total routine. Over the last month I have felt the constant changes rub me less and less and that has made room for me to feel more and more joy and contentment. I have realized that a lot of my annoyances with schedule changes in the past (before coming to Bolivia) have stemmed from the pride of wanting things done my way. But now I’m asking myself, what does it matter if the little (or big) things are done my way? Frankly, my life isn’t even my own, so it literally does not matter at the end of the day if things don’t go my way. Maybe (definitely) that change is exactly where I’m meant to be at that moment.

A couple of weeks ago I was planning on doing some work with my students to practice math and we got the sudden schedule change that we weren’t going to do any more school, but we were going to spend the day in the garden instead. A month ago I may have been bothered at the change, wishing I had more time to practice math with my kiddos. But I said a mental “okay, let’s do it”, and spent the day working and laughing and sweating and dancing under the sun with some of the older girls at the hogar. It was a major bonding opportunity for me with some of the older girls and our relationships have continued to grow since that day. Pulling weeds and hacking a tree down is exactly what I was supposed to be doing that day.

We’re currently going through a major transition as the girls are leaving one by one to spend a few weeks at home with their family contacts for the Christmas season. On the day that I’m writing this I am taking one of the girls I have bonded with most to her home and saying goodbye to her for a month. She also happens to be the girl who has single-handedly pushed my patience to new limits that I didn’t know were even possible– but my heart hurts with how much I love her and how sad I am to say goodbye to her for a month. And we’ll be going through this goodbye-process 35 times!

But the truth is that we all need this transition. The girls need some time away from the hogar, as they’ve been here 24/7 since the pandemic began and were unable to leave even for school. They need this time to learn (or remember) what life is like outside the walls of Hogar María Auxiliadora and they deserve an opportunity to form relationships with their family contacts for a little bit before returning to the hogar and a new school year.

And even with as much as I’m going to miss the girls, the hogar team needs a break too. We’ll still have our hands full with doing home visits to make sure the girls are doing well, but it will nevertheless be a much calmer routine without the girls here. The day after I’m writing this, the other volunteers and I will be leaving for a week-long trip to explore more of Bolivia! We’ll be heading south to the incredible Uyuni Salt Flats to tour the world’s largest salt flat, and then heading east to Santa Cruz to enjoy some city time as well as explore a small section of the Amazon. When we get back we will be celebrating Christmas and the New Year and before you know it we will be back to the “same” crazy schedule.

Oh, changes. As cheesy as it sounds, for the first time in my life I feel like I am actually starting to “let go and let God”... and although it doesn’t always feel good, I know it is His Good.

P.S. THANK YOU to all who donated via my previous blog post. I managed to raise $560 and with it we bought brand-spanking-new shoes for all of our “littles” (about 18 girls) and a ton of chicken. It sounds random but we don’t have meat all that often due to it being a bit pricey-er so to have the money to buy meat for the girls means a lot to them. All of the girls were so happy, and seeing them happy fills me with joy. Below you’ll find a few photos from when they received their shoes :)

Nativity scene drawn for me by one of our older girls! She's a true artist.

a HUGE welcome to our newest volunteer, Hannah!

BIG smiles! To the left is the previously mentioned artist :) :)

Christmas cookie decorating :)

Making all of the cookies for our cookie decorating party

Golden hour and watermelon <3

No shortage of adorable kiddos around here

I started drawing for the girls as rewards for getting work done and now I just do it for them for fun!

More drawings!

The beds we use for the occasional slumber parties. Too cute.

A "Pique Party" (Cochabamba cuisine!) to celebrate the end of Ann's time in Bolivia

An ornament made in the Holy Land that was sent with me by my grandma :)

Translation... We hope that baby Jesus will be born in our hearts and fill us with love, forgiveness, and peace. Merry Christmas.

The beginning phases of sending food home with each of the girls.

Just hangin :)

Filling stockings for the girls as their Christmas gift from us :)

Sister Letty handing out the new shoes that were bought with the $$ donated from my blog post!

Our littlest with her cool new shoes!!

She was one of the most excited!

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