As my time in Bolivia comes to an end and I prepare myself to leave, I think back on the experiences I have had over the past 9 months. Sure there were times that were hard…I mean ready to pack my things and come home hard, but the majority of my time here has been truly wonderful. While here in Bolivia I was able to regain something that I had lost several years ago….community. You see the last time I had a truly enriching community was while I was on the World Race in 2012-2013. The World Race was a wonderful experience where I was able to grow in my relationship with God, and discover who I truly was as a person all while being surrounded by people who loved me and enriched my life. The year and a half I was home from the race and before I left for Bolivia I was really bitter. I felt like I had been ripped from this wonderful environment and thrown back into my old life. The problem was that I had changed so much and it seemed like everything at home had just stayed the same. I was an outsider and no matter what I did I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore. Now quick side note to people who don’t believe that because I have a great church, friends, and family, you are right but that doesn’t mean that isn’t how I felt. Sometimes while trying to cheer someone up we just invalidate their feelings. Anyways back on track I had experienced true community living and I loved it, then I had to step away from it all because of my health. I am perfectly fine and healthy now, Thank God!
Alright fast forward to arriving in Bolivia. I was excited for this new chapter in my life but I was also hurt and bitter, so needless to say I needed some work. Most people who know me well know that I am not an extrovert, it takes a while for me to warm up to people. It’s not that I don’t like people, I love them, but I am shy. So coming to a new country by myself and not really knowing anyone was going to be a struggle, which it was for a little bit. Luckily, I lived and worked on Stansberry’s property so I was constantly surrounded by people, and I had some awesome roommates. Over time I started to meet more people and I even found an English speaking church to attend, which made things easier. I started to gain back all the things I had felt I lost when I left the race. The Lord really healed my brokenness through these people and I was able to let go of the hurt and bitterness. Everything was starting to fall into place.
Eventually, I built strong relationships with the people around me, I had become part of a small group, I had a church I loved, and I had even joined a choir. Side note again for those who know me know that I have terrible stage fright and haven’t performed in years, so this was big! I had everything I wanted here in Bolivia and was so happy. Then just like that it was time to leave again….
These past 9 months have flown by and I can’t believe the time has come to leave. Unlike the race where I had to say goodbyes every month and move onto a different country and a different ministry; I had spent the last 9 months living and working with the same set of people. I built deep relationships with them and wasn’t ready to say goodbye, so I knew this time it would be much harder to leave. I have spent a lot of time grieving what I am losing by leaving Bolivia, but I am also choosing to rejoice in what the Lord has done in my life over these past 9 months and what he has before me. I have decided that this time I will not lose that sense of community I so deeply need and cherish.
So tomorrow I leave Bolivia and head back to Ohio. I am returning a changed person. I am more mature and I know what the direction and calling the Lord has for me. I also have a deeper relationship with God and am starting to understand what it means to be a daughter of The Most High. I am choosing to bring that sense of community back with me to Ohio and I am going to find a way to built that community. I’m not sure what that all looks like yet, but what I do know is there may be some tough decisions involved, but I am trusting in the Father to carry me through. Although I will only be home for 12 weeks before I head out to New Zealand I am going to make the most of my time. I want to built up a foundation and community for myself within Ohio. With this community I will be able to continue growing in my faith and I will know for sure that I have something to rely on back home. I will have people praying for me while I am gone, and people to encourage and built me up while I am home…..actually I would like that no matter where I am! I have learned that we all need community, it is essential to our health and I refuse to feel alone again!
I hate to leave my home, friends, and family here in Bolivia but I know this is where the Lord is leading me to. I’m excited for this new chapter in my life! So with all of this said watch out Ohio I’m coming back and I’m bringing changes with me!