Why Bolivia?

We are now a week out from embarking on one of the most exciting adventures we have ever experienced! Next Monday, we will head to the airport, board a plane, and be on our way for a seven week excursion to Bolivia.

I know that seems a bit random. Bolivia. The poorest country in South America, land-locked, a mix of cultures, a mix of landscapes, a mix of religions. Not on the news a whole lot, or in the forefront of most people’s minds. So, why Bolivia?

I wanted to share with you a little bit of the what and why behind our trip to Bolivia.

Let’s start at the beginning.

11-year-old me is sitting on the floor in my bedroom, in a suburban city outside Los Angeles. I don’t remember what I was doing. Maybe reading a book, maybe coloring, maybe listening to music by my current middle-school obsession band. All of a sudden, I heard a Voice. Not quite an audible voice that I heard with my ears, but a Voice speaking inside me. To my heart. “Em, I’m calling you to be a missionary to Bolivia,” It said. Very clearly.

I stopped what I was doing and asked, “What?”

The Voice repeated, “Yes. I’m calling you to be a missionary to Bolivia.”

I remember I went and grabbed the “A” encyclopedia from the collection my family had sitting in the entry way by the front door. I was going to look up where in Africa Bolivia was. I had never even heard of this country before.

But. Bolivia isn’t in Africa. So it took me a while to find it. But find it I did. I checked out books from the library, bought old books on Bolivia that people or libraries were getting rid of, and read lots of articles and even a couple fictional books set in Bolivia. I clipped out pictures from World Vision magazines from their trips to Bolivia, and taped the pictures to my bedroom wall. And I began to fall in love. With the country. With the culture. And with the people.

So for fourteen years, I’ve been waiting. Waiting to go. Waiting to serve. Waiting to love. Waiting to do what God has called me to do.

It has meant some more direction in my life than a lot of people feel they have. But it has also meant having to figure out what the rest of the puzzle looks like, and saying no to a lot of other dreams that haven’t aligned with what I know I’m supposed to do. And it especially meant waiting for a very specific kind of man to come into my life.

This brings me to Connor’s part of our story.

Not too long after I met my future husband, he went to Nicaragua on a ten-day mission trip. We had been friends for maybe eight or nine months at that point. We were in a church college group together, and had figured out we agreed on a lot of the things that were important to us. We had similar views on family roles, on money, on how we would like to approach parenting, and where we desired to be in our relationship with God. The summer he went to Nicaragua, he had just started falling for me (unbeknownst to me), and I was unknowingly falling for him by then as well.

On my end, the only hesitation was if he was called to do missions or not. I knew what God had asked of me, and I needed to know that Connor was called to that too.

On Connor’s side, he knew I wanted to be a missionary to Bolivia, and was using his trip as a bit of a gauge. He had been to Central America a few times before, he loved the culture, and had felt it put on his heart more than once that doing missions there was a definite possibility. He knew his relationship with me couldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) go any further if I was called to do missions in South America, and he wasn’t. But Connor came back, convinced long-term missions in Central or South America was definitely something he could do and felt God’s blessing upon that. My desire to go specifically to Bolivia was something he was on board with also.

So here we are, four years later, married, with a little boy, and still set on doing missions in South America. We’ve been waiting on God’s timing, for Him to open doors and provide opportunities. We’ve had to do some breaking down of the doors in order to walk through them, but the doors have finally opened, God is paving the way, and we are now getting our first taste of this long-awaited dream-in-the-making.

So there you have it. The story of a middle-school girl who got a calling, a man who waited to see if he could do missions with the girl he had a crush on, and a God Who has been weaving all the beautiful pieces together for them.

This story is just getting started.

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