I know this is nothing new, but in reflecting on the past few weeks and considering a loose theme for this blog post, it struck me afresh that God created us to be in family. In community. We thrive when we know we belong. I experience this personally in different contexts, and I believe it is one of the most (if not, the most) important factors in the recovery process of our residents in the Novō community too.
Notably for me in the last month, I experienced the blessing of family when Mum, Dad and Grace came to visit for a little over 2 weeks. We had an unforgettable time!! I loved showing them my life here as well as travelling together to other parts of Bolivia. It is a spectacular country. Well I guess it’s a bit of a mix – we stayed in some rather basic accommodation in some very grey and desolate places. But what stand out in our memories are the beautiful parts and the incredible scenery, flowering trees and birdlife, as well as the extremely warm welcome we received when visiting Novō. I feel touched by their support and efforts to come all this way (first time Mum travelled by air since before I was born!).
Of course I am only too aware that having supportive parents and family is not the case for many of the guys at Novō. To some extent, they will probably have found a sense of belonging and family with others living on the streets and under the bridges (the majority of our residents so far are from that background). There may have been some security and comfort to be found there. But without the consistency of loving parents and a stable environment, especially during childhood, the consequences run deep and the vulnerability to escape through drugs and alcohol (or other things) is vastly heightened. Residents with whom I’ve spoken so far all talk of broken, distant or absent relationships with their parents and families.
This is why the family aspect of a Novō community is so crucial. In part, it teaches healthy values (e.g. team work, discipline and consequences, caring for others). But most importantly, ‘belonging’ builds a sense of emotional security, purpose and self-worth. Shared meals, therapeutic groups, times of worship, trips out and working as a team all contribute to growing the community. I’m pleased to report that the community in Santa Cruz is growing amazingly, and we currently have 11 residents on the programme – the most we’ve had so far. So we’re quite a big family now! As with any family, there are frustrations and fallouts (a number of discipline ‘chits’ were give out today!), but they share the common desire to leave their addiction behind them and start afresh.
Personally, I think I notice my need for connection with people more acutely from here, when I’m geographically removed from my immediate family and friends back in England. For this reason, I am grateful for our weekly team meetings with the Novō International team (4 of us), where we read God’s word and pray together. And also a new small group with 5 other missionary ladies using a format called IF: Table (if you’re interested, google IF: Gathering!) – it basically facilitates intentional conversations about faith, Jesus and getting to know each other more deeply over a meal. Can’t go wrong!
Finally, and continuing with the theme, I wanted to mention what a privilege it is to be part of the wider church and to think about other Christians and missionaries across the world. A few tangible examples of this sense of family recently have been:
- Attending two fundraising events for Bolivian missionaries in Jericho and Nepal;
- Sending out Novō Prayer Partner emails and knowing people are praying for us from across the world (let me know if you’d like to be on the list);
- Dad coming across from the UK and slotting in to the International church in Santa Cruz to preach (not the sole purpose of his visit!);
- Numerous friends joining us in praying for a friend here who was unjustly imprisoned a couple of months ago (she is now back home on house arrest, but with an investigation still hanging over her).
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”. Rom 12:4-5
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks for a wonderful and safe time of travel with my family.
- Thanks for the growing Novō community in Santa Cruz.
- Pray for all residents – that they would know they belong, and that knowledge would facilitate deep transformation in their lives.
- As several missionary friends here prepare to go away for the summer months, please pray I’d remain joyful and settled here, and productive and focussed in my work, particularly in supporting the local staff team.
- For breakthroughs in Novō’s finances – we are running low in the general fund used to pay salaries, rent, bills etc. We’d like to pray particularly for regularly monthly supporters.
Thank you as always for your interest, support and prayers.
Blessings and love,