Amanda Dorough | She's Paying It Off

The Story of My Journey to Debt Freedom, One Tiny Step at a Time


Come On A Tour With Me

Holy Smokes! It’s almost December, where did time go?  I feel like I arrived in Bolivia just a couple weeks ago, not 8!

So, in honor of my upcoming 2 month anniversary I thought I would take you on a little tour of the building I call home, the HOH Guesthouse!

Admitedly, this building is pretty sweet.  If you were picturing a hut with mosquito nets and the like, well… that was my life in Cambodia on the World Race and while that’s ok for a month, 10 would be hard (although I would do it if God wanted me to).  So, I’m pretty thankful for the housing I’ve been given!

To start it off I’ll show you the view looking at the house.  Aren’t those mountains amazing?  The other day I was walking back from the Hospital, I stopped to look at the mountains and I just thought what an incredible artist God is.  So incredible that even the greatest artists on earth can only mimic his work.  Amazing.

The house is built in an H shape.  The right side is the “girls wing” as well as were the family lives, and then the right side is the “guys wing” and also holds our TV room and kitchen/dining room.

Walking forward, this is our little front porch and garden. Doesn’t it look inviting?  There used to be hammocks when I visited last year, but the hammocks gave way to tables.  Often times I like to just sit on the porch to do work enjoying the fresh air.

Go in the front door, hang a right and then a left and you’ll find my bedroom, which looks a little like this…

I’d been dying to try that heart shaped photo collage since I saw it on Pinterest.  I think it turned out pretty well.  The small ones will be coming down soon, to make way for a new idea I have, which I’m pretty excited about!

Then when you turn around you see this.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have two beds!  And no I don’t sleep in both.  So far, since I’ve been here I’ve had two roommates, although currently I have the room all to myself (yes!).

And no room would be complete without a bathroom, and in this situation the toilet and shower happen to be in separate little rooms, which is actually, really convenient.

Now, we’ll head out into the rest of the house.  If I go a little more down the hall we get to the big girls dorm room.  Right now there’s only on volunteer staying in it, but in the high season it’s packed!

Connecting the two wings of the house is a long hallway.

And right in the middle of the hallway, in the first spot you see when you open the front door, currently sits our Christmas Tree!

Get to the other end and hang a right and the first room you’ll come to is our TV room, which is also home to our wireless internet router, so we hang out in there a lot, as you can see my housemate Mackenzie doing in this picture!

Then , take the next door and you’ve arrived in the dining room!

And all dining rooms lead into kitchens right?  And ours is pretty sweet.  You can cook anything in there!

But the sweetest part about the kitchen aren’t the things we can make in it, it’s what I see when I open the door to the back porch…

Choco and Oscar!  Our guesthouse mascots, who are both technically still puppies so I’m lucky to have grabbed this shot!

So that’s about it for the tour.  There is more to the house, but you can only see so many bedrooms and bathrooms, and who really wants to see our laundry room?

So I’ll sign off from this post with one last picture, the view of the hospital from the guesthouse.  I hope you enjoyed the tour!

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November Newsletter!

This month I’m a little later with my newsletter than I wanted to be, but as I’m quickly seeing it takes a little bit longer to get anything done in Bolivia, a life I guess I’m going to have to get used to 🙂

And I’ve got some good news, I officially have less than $2000 left to raise!  Yay!  But I need to raise it as soon as possible, so, as the end of the year approaches and the chance to get 2012 tax deductions will soon run out, if you or anyone you know would like to get a tax deduction by donating to a good cause check out my link at the top of the page that says “donate” or send me a message and I’ll let you know how!

Now for the newsletter…

Just click on the link below and you’ll find it! (Or at least you should, I’ve having problems getting it to load right now, so if you are too please let me know!)

November Newsletter

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El Dia De Los Muertos

Last Friday was El Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

Chances are you’ve heard of the DOTD before.  Maybe you’ve even gone to a party, because honestly, in North America we simply see the day as another excuse to celebrate.

Here in South America the Day of the Dead is a serious and major holiday stemming back hundreds of years.  It’s a day to both remember your departed ancestors, and to pray for their souls, because, in the minds of South Americans there’s a great chance that their love ones won’t get into heaven if they don’t attempt to intercede on their behalf.

In modern times, on the DOTD most families will set out a table covered in their departed loves ones favorite foods.  If a fly comes and lands on the food the insect is seen as their ancestor coming to enjoy the meal.  In Bolivia there are a lot of flies, so getting one to land on the food isn’t a problem.  Then later that night the family eats the food that has been sitting on the table.

On the DOTD families will also visit the graves of their loved ones in the local cemetery, covering tomb stones with flowers or paying local children to cry and plead and pray for their family member (because children are seen as innocent and pure of heart, the DOTD is actually a pretty lucrative business day for kids).

Many years ago, in the countryside of Bolivia the DOTD had a more morbid tradition.  Late at night family members would go to the local cemetery, dig up the remains of their dearly departed relative and carry it under their poncho to the local cathedral so that it could be blessed.  No joke.  But the government has recently outlawed this practice hoping to stall the spread of disease.  It makes me wonder though, if maybe the tradition lives on in some remote places….?

This year I was able to witness my first Day Of The Dead.  Because it is such a large holiday doctors didn’t hold consolations in the morning which meant the hospital was essentially closed except for emergencies and also meant we got the day off.

The other volunteers and I spent most of the morning and early afternoon with a local youth group at a pool a few blocks from the Hospital. When we were walking back we could hear loud music thumping in the distance, and when we got close to the hospital we could see dozens of cars parked in front of it.  At this point two things went through my mind, either there was a HUGE accident, or there was a party at the Hospital.  But when we reached the hospital the party wasn’t there.

So where was the party?  Well at the cemetery of course.  That’s right, and they only thing that lies between the hospital and the cemetery is a field.

To give you an idea of how loud the music truly was, the house that had the speakers pumping literally took the entire villages power, so we arrived back at the guesthouse without a lick of energy to cook, entertain, nothing.

So what do you do when the powers out and it’s starting to get dark?  Check out the party of course.  Well, really we decided to go check it out because we were curious about what it was like, not because we were in the mood to party.

As we got close to the cemetery we noticed more and more food stalls had been set up.  Drunk men cat called from every direction, yes we felt very out of place.

Walking through the cemetery was an incredibly weird and creepy experience.  People here aren’t buried very well or very deep. In America our cemeteries are neatly laid out on grid system but in Bolivia, at least in the countryside where I live, they just bury people wherever the heck they can find space.  I was more than a little unnerved having to step on so many obvious graves.

In the end am I happy I got a chance to see the celebration?  Yes, it was definitely interesting, but more than that, I am so, so, so happy for the hope I have in Christ.  For the knowledge I have that Christ died for my sins and my families sins so that I don’t have to continually pray for their salvation and admittance into heaven once they’ve passed on.

And now, I’m praying for as many opportunities to share that hope I have with the people I meet here in Bolivia so that maybe come next Dia De Los Muertos they will be praising God for what they’ve been given instead of praying out of desperation.


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2.5 Weeks Down 9.5 Months to Go

Wow, it’s hard to beleive I’ve already been in Bolivia for nearly 3 weeks! Time has been flying to say the least!

I’m settling into life here slowly but surely. When I arrived there was a total of 5 volunteers (including myself), but in my short time here two volunteers have gone home, so now we are down to three, Allison, a pre-med student from Georgia, Katie, a nurse from Illinois/Missouri and myself, as well as our host family. Needless to say, the house is nowhere near as busy as it was last time I was here (with 16 people!).

Every week day morning I go over to the Hospital to work in Cafe Xelda with Elba. After being closed for a couple months it took us a while to get the cafe up and running, but I think we’re finally getting the hang of it, and patients as well as doctors now realize we are open again, so more and more come to ask for coffee everyday.

I’m so excited for the potential the cafe has to serve the community while I’m here. It’s going to take a little while to get to our ideal point, but it’s a good thing I have 10 months!

At my first South America Futball match! Aurora (Cochabamba) vs. Bolivar (La Paz). Final score? 3 to 3, tie!

Most of my afternoons thus far have been spent pursuing my visa extension, which is proving to be a very complicated task, so I haven’t been able to do much ministry, but I have been able to visit a local orphanage called Casa De Amor 1. The orphanage is home to more than a dozen toddlers, who, like most toddlers are full of energy and love to play! We are also currently pursing getting ID’s for Moviemento Sonrisas, which will allow us to visit children in the pediatric ward of Viedma Hospital, which, if you’ve read my past blogs, you know was one of my favorite ministries the last time I was here!

I even got to wave a flag at the game. Go Aurora!

During these first couple weeks I’ve also been privileged to take part in a couple incredible adventures (one which you’ve read about, the other you’ll hear about soon), which I’m so grateful for, but now I’m looking forward to really digging in and getting involved in Cochabamba in every way I possibly can. That being said, if you could keep my visa pursuit in your prayers. It has the potential to be a very long and costly process, so pray for favor with all of the officials (Interpol, Police, Immigration, etc.) and that everything will happen quickly so that I can stop making trips into the city to get my paperwork sorted out and instead use my time in ministry.


***Also, I’m still in need of $2,200 to complete my 10 months of ministry here in Bolivia.  If you or someone you know would like to support me visit my Donate link at the top of the page to learn how. Thanks!***

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Home Sweet Home & The Story of One Nutty Travel Day

I made it!  I’ve officially been in Cochabamba for two days now, and man, it’s hotter than I remembered!

Ove years worth of stuff crammed into 3 bags and a back pack. No bad if I do say so myself.

Getting here was no easy feat.  The travel day was nuts to say the least and I feel like there are so many things I could tell you about it.

Like I could tell you about how we sat on the plane in Seattle for over an hour waiting for the baggage to get loaded since American Airlines only had one baggage crew.

I could tell you about all of the awesome people I got to sit by on the way down, from the two middle aged men I sat between on my way to Dallas, to the Microsoft marketing pro I sat by on the flight to Miami, we had some great conversations.

I could tell you about how both domestic American Airlines planes I flew on were nicer than the one to Bolivia.  That thing was seriously a dinosaur, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the oldest plane in the American fleet.

Last meal in the states. Chicken nuggets and a frosty. Yum!

I could tell you about how we had already taxied onto the runway for my flight from Miami to La Paz when the Captain came on the speakers letting us know that the center fuel pump had stopped registering so we had to return to the gate so that maintenance could look at it, and how an hour and a half later he comes on again to tell us they only had to flip a switch and the problem was fixed (ya right *).

Or how about the fact that I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on that flight that didn’t speak Spanish fluently, even the cabin crew was from Buenos Aires, so I found myself having to answer questions and give my drink/meal orders in Spanish a lot earlier than I expected.

What a beautiful sunrise!

I could tell you about how after about three hours of sleep I woke up to sunrise over Lake Titicaca and snowcapped Andes Mountains.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.  God is an incredible artist!

Or about how on the “full” flight to La Paz the middle seat in my row happened to be open, allowing me to stretch out more (praise Jesus!), and how on the next flight from La Paz to Santa Cruz my whole row was empty so I was able to scoot over to the window seat and stare in awe at La Paz and the high Andes as we flew over them.

La Paz is at the top of the world, literally.

Oh, and then I could tell you about the point, in the Santa Cruz airport when I went to call my contact, Neco, and I noticed a long line at the American Airlines counter, then I heard a woman talking on the phone in english next to me (I wasn’t eavesdropping I promise!  I was just so caught off guard to hear english), she was telling her friend that there was some sort of *maintenance issue with the plane that they couldn’t fix immediately and the flight to Miami had been cancelled.  Ya, that’s the plane I just got off of.  Hallelujah that I made it to Santa Cruz in one piece, and my bags made it too!

Or how about the time I had to wait, with all my bags for 6 hours before I could check in to my flight to Cochabamba, which meant no bathroom for 6 hours, man that sucked.

But when all was said and done I finally made it to my new home in the countryside outside of Cochabamba.  It’s been a quiet weekend.  The first night everyone was gone except for Elma, Necos mother (Neco and his wife Rose are the guesthouse hosts).  She only speaks Spanish so getting settledled in was an experience.  Yesterday Neco, Rose and their two boys came back from visiting family, and sometime today all the volunteers should get back, so things should liven up!

Things are definitely different around here compared to last time, but I’m excited.  This year I’m going to be stretched a lot, but I know God has good things in store!

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1 year.  Those 365 can hold a lot.  Births, deaths, graduations, marriages, round the world adventures….

Early on October 12, 2011 my World Race squad departed our hostel in La Paz, headed to the airport, and boarded a flight that would carry us away from Bolivia and on to another continent and another ministry.

This year, on October 12, 2012 I will be touching down in Bolivia.  A year to the day since I left.

When I first discovered the dates were the same I was floored.  I’m not one to typically search for meaning in numbers or anything but this is a crazy coincidence!  And how cool is it?!

When I left Bolivia last year I desperately wanted to go back but I doubted when or if I would ever get the chance to, now I’m moving there! 366 days later(because 2012 is a leap year) I’ll begin a life in Bolivia that could last for who knows how long.

God is so cool sometimes 🙂


Continuing on….  I leave tomorrow. Yes, TOMORROW!

These last few days have been nuts!  So many things to buy, photoshoots to do, loose ends to tie up and of course, bags to pack!

Yesterday, as I was packing I probably weighed my bags 10 times.  Right now I’m at the limit and I still have more to put inside… this is the point where packing really stinks.  So today will be devoted to inventorying and deciding what I don’t absolutely need and can leave  behind.

Next time I talk to you guys it will be from the other side, from Bolivia! And I have a couple prayer requests for the process, so if you have time and would be willing to pray for me I would greatly appreciate it!

1.  That all five of my flights would go smoothly, that my bags wouldn’t be overweight and that there wold be no lost luggage!

2.  That my transition into Bolivia goes smoothly and that when I go to immigration within the first few days that they would find favor in me and the whole visa extension process would be sped up!

Thank you everyone for all your support in every way.  I appreciate it so much!  And I can’t wait to share with you all the great work that’s happening in Bolivia!

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October Newsletter!

I leave in 3 days, and my to-do list is still a mile long, yikes!  At least I can check Post Newsletter off the list!  Yay!

And just a disclaimer, one story in the newsletter is the same as my September newsletter, BUT this is because I didn’t actually get a chance to send that newsletter out to any supporters.  That’s the only overlap though, I promise!

Check the link below to find my PDF! (Don’t click on the picture, it’s only a screen shot and won’t take you to the newsletter 😉 )

October Newsletter

Oct. Newsletter


P.S. You may notice this months newsletter looks a little different than last months.  My mother generously offered to buy me Pages (the Mac equivalent of Microsoft Publisher) so now I’ll be able to make newsletters each month I’m in Bolivia.  Thanks mom!

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My Big ‘Ole Bolivia Q&A

I officially leave in a week, which means I’m going to get crackin’ on my packing list AND that I felt it was high time to answer all the questions I’ve been asked over and over again, so here you go, I hope this answers yours!

1.  When are you leaving and how long will you be gone?

I leave Seattle at 7:20am on October 11, and after 5 flights I should arrive at Hospitals of Hope some time in the afternoon of the 12.  This will be my first international flight alone in quite awhile so it will be interesting.  And then I’ll officially be returning to the US on August 7, 2013, just under 10 months later.

2.  What’s the name of the city you’ll be living in again?  Chochbonga?

I’ll be living just outside of Cochbamba, Bolivia in the village of Vinto (pronounced Bean-toh).  It’s about a 40 minute Trufi ride (the public transportation) from the city center.


Look out at Cochabamba from the Christo statue at the south end of the valley. If you find the highest point in the mountains and follow it down and to the left to a yellow patch, that’s the area where the hospital is!

3. Where will you be living?

While I’m with Hospitals of Hope I will be living in the hospitals guesthouse, located about 100 feet behind the hospital.  The building used to be an orphanage, so it’s huge, and with the Andes Mountains dramatically rising up behind it, the view isn’t to bad either.

4.  Will you have internet?

Yes, however, like most things in Bolivia it’s unreliable.  When I was in Bolivia last fall our internet at the guesthouse/hospital would work about half the time.  So if we set up a Skype date I’m just warning you, there could be a chance we’ll have to reschedule.  If the wireless goes out enough I will also have the ability to go to a cafe in the city to use their wireless, or to an internet cafe down the street from the hospital, so being offline should never be a huge issue.

5.  What’s the weather like there?

Hot… and cold.  Cochabamba is nicknamed the city of eternal spring because of its mild weather.  Typically it can get into the 80’s during the day year round and then down to the 50’s or 60’s at night except during the winter (June-Aug) when it can get down into the 30’s.  The key to surviving in this weather is definitely going to be layers!

6.  How much money do you still need, and when do you need it by?

Which I don’t have specific deadlines like I did on the world race, the basic answer to this question is that I need the remaining money as soon as possible.  I still have $3200 left to raise and the sooner that money is raised the sooner my focus can be on my ministry alone instead of fundraising, so I’ve set my deadline to have it all as Nov. 1, 2012.  I’ve seen God raise $4000+ for me in 10 days, so I know it’s possible!  The only way I will be able to so ministry in Bolivia for 10 months is if this money is raised so if you or someone you know when like to help further the kingdom and change lives in Bolivia please consider donating.  You can find out more on how to donate by clicking the donate button at the top of the website.

7. Can we send you letters or care packages?

Yes, but not the traditional way.  Bolivia has a notoriously unreliable postal system, so everything sent down to me must come down with volunteers.  So, if you’re thinking of sending something contact Daniel, Hospital of Hopes international missions coordinator at and he will let you know which upcoming volunteer you can send it to!

So, I hope that answers all your questions!  If you have any more let me know and maybe I can do a part 2!

Oh & P.S. I now officially have everything from my needs list, including the 18-55mm lens.  God is so good!

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This Time, It’s Going to Be Different

These last few days I’ve been “cleaning” and organizing my laptop, trying to free up as much space as I can and work out all of the kinks.

While I was sorting through iPhoto I came to my Bolivia folder.  Looking through all of my photo’s from a year ago I couldn’t help but smile and then cry, because I realized this time around, it’s going to be very different.


With 3 of my Team Battlecry girls on the Teleferico to the Christo.

I’m excited about some of the changes.  I’m excited to gain the sense of independence I wasn’t granted on the World Race, and I’m excited to really dig deep and get involved long term.


In the back of the Hospitals Land Cruiser on our way to ministry.

But boy am I going to miss my community.  During our month in Bolivia I was blessed to share the ministry not only with my 4 other teammates but with the 6 incredible women on Team Daniel as well.  I was consistently surround by people who knew me and loved me, and while I know I will build relationships when I get to Cochabamba, I have a feeling the first couple months will be hard, when all my memories and experiences exist only from before, and the people that I share those memories with won’t be there.


Team worship time in our bedroom in the guesthouse.

But with this new opportunity comes a new chance to make memories, and possibly even greater memories.  So I’m not scared or apprehensive. This is going to be great and amazing and I CAN NOT WAIT!

And let me say, if there are any experiences like the one below, I have nothing to worry about!


Lauren and Kim figured out they could “share” a pair of scrubs. We all died laughing.

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It’s Officially Official!

Have you heard?  I have a little thing called a FLIGHT to a little country called BOLIVIA!  That’s right, this trip has suddenly become so real!

On Monday I emailed Daniel, the international volunteer coordinator for Hospitals of Hope and he told me we could book my flight once I’d reached $4000.  By the end of the day I was only $40 away so he said we could go ahead and book it.  So the last couple days were filled with flight research and calls to the Bolivian consulate.

So are you wondering when I’m leaving?  Do you really want to know?  OK…..

I fly out on October 11!  As in 3 weeks from today, not October 11, 2013.  I know it may sound quick, but I’ve been preparing for this moment since May, and you may remember that the original departure date I wanted was September 17… So I’m anxious.  Anxious to get down there and start working, and the benefit of leaving in October is that I will get back home in early August, with enough time to enjoy some summer vacation with my family.

Even though I’m leaving in October I still have $3500 left to raise to reach my $7500 goal.  If  you or someone you know would like to support me with even $5 click the donate link in the menu bar to find out how.

I am also still in need of a point and shoot camera and an 18-55mm Canon DSLR lens.  So if you would like to help me in obtaining one or both of these items, or if you have a point and shoot camera laying around the house that you would like to donate please let me know.  I really want to document and tell stories and throughly as possible during my time in Bolivia.  I consider photography to be a huge part of my ministry, often my photos have gained more attention and made much more of an impact than the words I write and I would really love to continue to impact people back home as I venture to Bolivia!

I can’t wait for the incredible things God is going to do this year!


It’s going to take 5 flights to get to Cochabamba, but I’ll get there eventually!