I can’t believe it has been 4 months since I last wrote! It doesn’t feel that long, as I had the privilege of catching up with several of you during my recent trip back to the UK, roughly marking my half way point through my time in Bolivia. It was great to have the opportunity to share about Novō’s work among friends, at Yeldall Manor, and my home churches in Reading and Kidderminster. I can’t say I noticed too many changes since I’d been away, except perhaps the increase in the use of ‘contactless’, which is a few steps ahead of Bolivia, where most transactions still happen in cash (even for bigger things like rent payment and utility bills – who’d have thought Direct Debit and Standing Orders would be something I’d miss?!).
I’ll just include one photo from my trip home – a family reunion with some of us modelling our Bolivian jumpers (which, incidentally are not worn by the locals of Santa Cruz, but are worn more in the highlands and by the tourists, but I love them)!
So much has happened since I last wrote, particularly within Novō. Most significantly, the first Novō centre is now fully functioning, which is fantastic! This morning’s key verse in my bible reading (which is also a passage on which we meditated as a team not so long ago) is so fitting for this time:
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. Isaiah 43:19
It’s so exciting to see the new things God is doing here. To give an overview, after a few days of staff training, we received our first 2 residents in mid-December (Novō currently employs 5 Bolivian staff members and we have 2 volunteers who live on site). Since then, we have had some comings and goings, peaking at 6 residents at one time, and we currently have 3. Of course it isn’t about the numbers, but naturally it’s disappointing for the community when residents choose to leave, and you feel it more acutely when numbers are still low. Last month the team also launched a mobile car washing business, which is an integral part of the structured programme, both therapeutically as well as to generate income.
I was involved in the set-up stage, creating staff timetables, setting up the office and assisting staff members with conducting some initial resident interviews, inductions of a new resident and therapy groups. My longer term role is not to be so involved in the day-to-day running of the centre, but rather to continue working more behind the scenes on programme development, monitoring and equipping the local team. I have also enjoyed hosting a few visits at the project – showing my pastor and a couple of others from my church around, and more recently, receiving some visitors from the Birmingham Diocese, who have a link with the Anglican Church in Bolivia.
I’d like to mention one resident, Ulises, who was one of our first residents and is still with us today, 3 months later. He had been an alcoholic and lived on the streets for the last 15 years or so. He was in a pretty bad state when he arrived, vomiting throughout his interview (but being so polite and apologetic about it – he’s such a gentleman!), scarred and with various joints out of place from where he’d been run into by a bus some months previously and left on the side of the road. It was his birthday not long after he arrived on the programme, and on receipt of a birthday cake and a gift of sandals and a watch, he shed a tear as he thanked us for our love and acceptance of him. It was one of those moments that will stick in my memory, where all the hard work and preparations were finally being paid off. He has since been receiving medical help for his shoulder and arm, which are healing well. And he is engaging really well with the programme. He has a great attitude and a real openness to faith and a keenness to get stuck into his Bible and draw closer to God. What a blessing to know this man, and long may he continue in his recovery from addiction.
I have felt so encouraged by the support of so many of my friends and family, both for me personally, and for Novō. I feel touched by those who have taken the time to organise fundraising events for the work of Novō, which we hugely appreciate. Thank you very much on behalf of the team. If you’d still like to make a donation to Novō, you can do so online here or send a cheque (payable to ‘Novō Communities’) to Novō Communities, 11 Emmets nest, Binfield, Berks, RG42 4HH.
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thank God that our first project is now up and running
- Thanks for a dedicated staff team and for our residents
- Pray for Ulises – for success in his recovery, that he would be a great rolemodel to other residents, and that he’d continue to deepen his faith in God
- For me as I continue to establish my role here – that I would be productive, effective and focussed
- For strength for the staff team, especially when faced with the disappointment of residents leaving and relapsing
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20
I’ve added some more photos to the gallery – some of the Novō work and some of a recent wildlife adventure in the rainforest about 3 hours northeast of Santa Cruz.
With love to you all,