Olivia is the type of person who lights up a room. I met her in Sorojchi, a rural area of Bolivia. After an early morning journey from the nearest city on bumpy dirt roads, I sat down with the local FH staff for breakfast. Each of us introduced ourselves as we passed around bread, yogurt, amaranth and coffee.
“I’m so happy to be here,” started Olivia. “My husband, Wilfredo, works for FH. A year and a half ago, we moved here to the community with our children.”
When Olivia said that she and her family moved to Sorojchi, I was floored. Olivia’s husband, Wilfredo, is an agricultural engineer. With a solid university education under his belt, most people would expect his family to settle in the city where life is easier. Where roads are paved. Where there are supermarkets, reliable electricity and access to quality health care. Of all places, a successful professional wouldn’t be expected to settle his family in a remote, resource-scarce place like Sorojchi.
“We are so content,” Olivia continued. “We love this community. We love the people and the landscape. The Lord is working here.”
Her face told me that she meant it.
After breakfast, Wilfredo and the other staff showed me around the local area. We looked at a water project that Wilfredo manages. With water now available to irrigate their land, 400 farmers in the region have moved from destitution to abundance. Wilfredo knows these farmers personally. They have become his friends.
A Decision for Community
As we walked from farm to farm, I asked Wilfredo about his family’s choice.
“Why did you and Olivia decide to move here?” I asked.
He smiled. “We wanted to be part of this community,” he said. “We wanted to do this together as a family.”
I thought of my own family and the hardships my kids would face if we made such a move from the city to a rural, developing community.
“What about your kids?” I asked Wilfredo. “How have they adjusted?”
“It was hard at first,” Wilfredo admitted. “Our kids were used to TV and candy.”
That sounds familiar, I thought.
He continued. “They got used to it. Our kids made friends. They love the open space. Now, when we visit the city, they ask me how soon we can go home to Sorojchi.”
A Daily Choice
Olivia is due with their third child this fall. I’ve been thinking about the hardships she’ll face in caring for a baby away from the amenities of the city. She’s making a daily choice to live in community with people in one of the world’s most vulnerable places.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NIV). I get the sense that Olivia and Wilfredo have done just that.
When I said goodbye to Olivia, I told her that she’s a hero to me.
“It is a joy, Wendy,” she replied with eyes full of warmth. “It is a blessing.”
As we parted ways, I thought about what my family could learn from Olivia’s sacrifice. Could we move into a low-income neighborhood, even if it meant that our kids would attend a lower-performing school? Could we adopt more children, even if they had a history of trauma? Could we choose to let go of our own lives, our tightly held comforts, to walk in obedience to Christ?
“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NIV). I want to find what Olivia has found.
How have you been inspired to sacrifice for the sake of following Christ?