News & Prayer Update / 009

For our American friends today is Thanksgiving – a day to give thanks to God for provision, freedom, family and friends. By the time I finish this post and you read this, who knows what day it will be… but let’s run with the theme. 🙂

Thanksgiving (for obvious historical reasons) is not a day we celebrate in the UK but it feels appropriate to be writing this blog on Thanksgiving because we’re doing a lot of thanksgiving at the moment!

These simple and direct words from Psalm 107 express our thankfulness – and our confidence for all those who, hungry and thirsty, look to Him for life!

Praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done… For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. 

Psalm 107:8-9

In terms of Novō we’re excited to be on the cusp of receiving our first residents to join our  first nearly-functioning transformational community at Quinta Totaices.

Hopefully you saw the Novō Update with photos from our launch night on the 4th November. If not you can see it (and sign-up to receive Novō Updates) here: Quinta Totaices Launch Night – Special Update. It was a fantastic night where over 150 people, representing at least 20 different churches and organisation, joined us to give thanks and commission our first project.

Since then our focus has been on completing a long list of final preparations to the programme and the property and on preparing for and delivering two (long!) days of formal staff training. 

These were excellent days during which we explored four areas with our staff:

  • What is Novō? Our vision, our overarching mission, the mission of each community, core values, governance, strategic partners. 
  • The Novō Programme. Our timetable, our phase-stages, therapeutic groups, one-to-ones, the discipline system, supervision of residents.
  • Working with Novō. Working with people in early recovery, healthy attitudes, staff development, staff code of conduct, HR policies and procedures.
  • Addiction & Recovery. Our philosophy of treatment, our understanding of addiction, God’s heart for the addicted.

The next (very big) step is to receive our first residents. Please pray that God would lead the first 6 residents to us by the end of the year – men who are ready for change, wide-open to God’s grace, and willing to make the short-term sacrifices necessary to experience a deep and lasting transformation! 

15129501_1017198955074407_498825514466245073_o

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-14-33-04

As a family we’re also giving thanks!

In part we’re celebrating reaching this point with Novō.

It was great for Mickey and the kids to be a part of the launch night and for the kids to begin to see and feel for themselves what has been accomplished as a result of their willingness to leave family, friends and home to begin a very different life here in Bolivia.

This sense of connection to Novō was reinforced for them yesterday as they came for their first lunch at the Quinta – something they used to love to do at Yeldall Manor!

unknown

We also have much to give thanks for personally.

JJ is doing great and continues to be a bit of an action man, climbing walls and trees at every opportunity, and still loving to ride his bike. He astounded us all a few weeks back by doing a 5K training run with Daniel and I. We kept expecting him to stop or slow down, but he just kept going, even though he was just wearing sandals.

That said, he’s also a very thoughtful, sensitive and caring boy and its been lovely to see this side of him from a different angle through his school reports and when Mickey goes in to read to his class at school.

img_3994

Phoebe is really benefitting from extra tuition with her wonderful teacher from last year, as well as a great class teacher. She has discovered she’s not so keen on football and volleyball. She’s very excited about the idea of playing sports, but the reality of balls flying towards her turned out to not be her cup of tea so she’s sticking to swimming for now – and she’s a great swimmer!

dsc_0861

Jemimah celebrated her 11th birthday at the end of October with ‘Daddy Date’ at a lovely new coffee shop where they serve the most incredible milkshakes and desserts!

She’s been training hard all year at volleyball and earlier this week represented the school in a friendly volleyball game. She was sad to say goodbye to her first teacher this year, but is loving her new teacher, Miss Carrasco. She also has a new art teacher who has started an art club, which she’s really loving.

img_3992

Finally, the firstborn. As I write Daniel is experiencing a ‘proper’ American Thanksgiving having angled for an invitation to his friends’ house. He’s alarmingly close to being stronger and taller than me (and knows it…) but, luckily, I will always have experience on my side and he’s still not quite there yet 🙂

His volleyball season is over so preparations are now underway for ‘track’ (athletics to the rest of us) and basketball after Christmas.

Daniel is not just growing in stature but also in maturity, spiritually and personally. It’s a pleasure to walk with him as he engages with friendships, church, youth group and special school events like Spiritual Emphasis Week and Servant Day.

img_4010

Most of all JJ, Phoebe, Jemimah, Daniel and I want to give thanks today for Mummy/Mum/Michaela/Mickey. She’s our family’s unsung hero – the person whose faithfulness, love, care, strength, and faith brings a deep joy into each of our lives and keeps ‘the show on the road’!

img_0853

As we close a quick word about finances. It’s been suggested that we do an occasional short update and, since we haven’t done one before, this seems like as good a time as any to do one.

The big headline is that God has provided amazingly for us over the last 18 months and we want to say thank you to Him and to each of our supporters. Thank you!

That provision has included:

  • a great place to live rent-free
  • the significant start-up costs involved in setting-up here
  • 85% of our support needs for 2016 (through a mixture of regular support and one-off gifts).

The only negative this year has been the 15% drop in value of the Pound in relation to the Dollar which has meant an equivalent drop in the value of our support here in Bolivia.

Of course, we’d love to see that figure get to 100%, even in the context of the 10-20% decrease in the value of the pound against the dollar which has reduced the value of our support here in Bolivia by the same percentage since the Brexit vote (the currency here is the boliviano but its value is tied to value of the dollar and so we feel the impact directly).

Please pray with us, giving thanks and committing our support for the remainder of this year and 2017 into God’s hands. And, of course, if you feel stirred to respond practically do get in touch or use the giving information is below 🙂

With much love,

Andy, Mickey, Daniel, Jemimah, Phoebe & JJ.

xxxxx


We’re in Bolivia serving with Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship at www.give.net/20171708.                      

If you’d rather not give online just send us an email or a message via Facebook and we can send you a Stewardship Giving Form.


News & Prayer Update / 008

It’s been a good couple of months since we last wrote. We really should have been in touch sooner! Lots of good things have been happening and there’s lots to tell you about – some in this blog post, and some in the next (and soon-to-be written) Novō update.

It’s been a great couple of months for us as a family. After a challenging first year we all feel like we’re in a different season in which we’re experiencing more and more deeply the truth of these words:

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Something has changed at a fundamental level and we are enjoying feeling a greater sense of peace, joy, confidence in God, and sense of accomplishment. This is no doubt aided by the fact that we are now into our second year, particularly in terms of the school year, and are drawing closer to the launch of the first Novō community. In truth, however, it comes down to some fundamental spiritual breakthroughs during late spring/early summer (which I mentioned a couple of blogs ago), breakthroughs which were embedded as we took a couple of weeks to rest and unplug back in June.

One of the highlight of the last couple of months for Daniel was has been discovering a talent for running. Together we trained for and ran in the Santa Cruz 5k, a tougher assignment than it sounds in the tropical heat here. I say we ran the race together. We actually didn’t. From the moment we crossed the start line Daniel was too quick for me and he ended the race nearly 5 minutes ahead of me! I hate losing but it turns out that the only person a man is happy to beaten by in a race is his son.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-15-34-05

You’ll remember that Jemimah struggled quite a bit last year to feel comfortable at school. With some changes in the classroom dynamic this has really improved this year, which is such an answer to prayer! We’re also incredibly thankful that Phoebe (who has some struggles with learning) has another brilliant teacher, as well as some great one-to-one support. JJ is now at school for full days again, which is just what he needed! 

For Jemimah, Phoebe and JJ one of the highlights of the last few months has been their involvement in their school’s celebrations of the Day of Santa Cruz, our city. Actually, that’s not strictly true! Jemimah and Phoebe loved it. JJ, as you may be able to tell from the first photo below, was there under duress!

dsc_0829

dsc_0840 dsc_0834

dsc_0892-1

dsc_0884

Things are really moving forward with Novō.

  • José arrived back in Santa Cruz following his 10-months at Yeldall pretty exhausted but ready to help us launch, and then lead, the first community. His commitment to this work (in spite of, humanly-speaking, a number of more attractive alternatives) is incredibly humbling. Please pray for José that God would be refreshing him physically, emotionally and spiritually, both now and on an ongoing basis, as he takes up this strategic role in Novō. 
  • Since José’s return we have added two key staff members to the team. David Fuertes (first photo), who has been pastoring a church in Tarija, will join us in November as a Recovery Worker (focusing on therapy groups and one-to-ones). Lincoln Terceros (second photo), is studying Electrical Engineering at University, he has spent a lot of time working with addicts on the streets. He has already moved into the Quinta and begun working to help us get the property ready (see below). Once the programme starts he will work in various aspects of the programme including work supervision, mentoring, and evening/weekend shifts. It’s wonderful to see this team form and to see them beginning. We just need to add a chef and, with an Administrator already in place, that’s our start-up team complete! Please pray for David and Lincoln, and for Chavela our Administrator, that God will help us to train them over the coming weeks so that they have the best possible start to their work with us. 

img_3791

img_3840

unknown-5

  • We have set a timetable for the opening of Quinta Totaices (photo below). Over the coming weeks we’ll be having a series of open days for prospective residents to come and see the centre and for us to get a chance to test their motivation. Then on Friday 28th October we’ll be having our Launch Night – a time of worship, prayer and sharing with local friends, supporters, and church leaders. From this point onwards we will be open to receiving residents on a residential basis and we will see how God leads us! Please pray that God will be preparing the right men to join the community at the right time and that God will be powerfully at work on the Launch Night and in the early weeks of the programme. 

img_3954

There’s much more to say in terms of Novō news, not least about some exciting plans we are developing for the income generating business side of the project and an update Launch Appeal, but I’ll save that for the Novō Update (sign-up for that by clicking here if you don’t already receive it via email).

These are exciting times. After all the dreaming, planning and preparing the launch of the first Novō community is in sight.

At each step of the journey so far we see God at work and things happening that have his fingerprints all over them. He’s called people, provided finances, inspired hard work, encouraged us, challenged us, and (most importantly) granted us an awareness that He has been with us every step of the way! Please join us in thanking God and committing the next phase of the journey into His hands. 

With much love,

Andy, Mickey & Co.


We are in Bolivia serving with Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship at www.give.net/20171708.                      

If you’d rather not give online just send us an email or a message via Facebook and we can send you a Stewardship Giving Form.


One Year In

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Bolivia for a year now! The photo on the left below was taken just a few days after we arrived on the 4th July 2015; the one on the right is from this morning.

We took today’s photo on our way up to a high spot on the edge of the city where we spent a few minutes thinking and praying about all that’s happened over the last 12 months. It’s been by no means an easy year for any of us but as we looked out across the countryside below, and looked towards the city in the distance, there was (amidst the spilling of orange juice, the dog barking at a cow, and questions about what we were having for lunch!!) a shared sense of appreciation for all that we have experienced since being here, a sense of anticipation about the future, and a heartwarming sense of appreciation that we get to be family together.

In that context we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been walking with us, wherever, near or far. We couldn’t have made it through the last year without the family and friends who, from a distance, have been supporting us (faithfully and sacrificially) in prayer, encouragement, and finance. Nor would we have made it through without the love, friendship and practical help of our incredible community of friends and colleagues here in Bolivia.

Today’s reflective mood was brought on by attending the 25th anniversary celebrations of Operation Restoration, a ministry of YWAM Bolivia which works with street children, offering a hope and future through street outreach and residential care. It was whilst I was volunteering with Operation Restoration at El Camino, their home for boys, back in 2008/2009 that the seeds of Novō were first planted for us and it was incredible to be led in worship by ‘Grupo Torre Fuerte’, a band made up almost entirely of the lads, now in their early 20s, with whom I worked back then. Although it was a little sobering to reflect on the long, hard journey which Operation Restoration have been on to reach this point it was, above all, inspiring to see the impact that they’ve had on those who come into their homes – to see adults who as kids slept on the streets of Santa Cruz, now with kids of their own, with Degrees and with full-time jobs. God is good and God is great!

IMG_3617

We hope you have seen our Novō Launch Appeal mailing from a couple of weeks back, either in your email inbox or on Facebook. If not, do let us know so we can add you to the mailing list and please click on this link to see what you missed: Novō Launch Appeal.

We are working and praying towards opening the first Novō community in October. Almost everything we need to do that is now in place (people, place, programme), we just need to raise a little more finance before we can ‘commit’ and set a date to open the doors. Our total fundraising target for 2016 and 2017 is £95,000. More immediately, around £30,000 gives us what we need to kick-off. Please pray with us that God will provide this sum over the coming weeks so that we can begin to make firm plans for an October launch!

A couple more things to share before we sign-off.

Firstly, we would particularly value your prayers this week. I fly to Vancouver to take part in some reconnection days with the EFCCM (the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission with whom we and Novō are partnered) and then to join Warren and Myron at the the Evangelical Free Church of Canada national conference where we’ll be showing the Novō film to the complete conference and sharing in more detail during an afternoon workshop. It’s a long way to go for a week but the costs have been specifically covered by a generous supporter and we see a strategic opportunity to promote Novō and strengthen the connection with the EFCCM. Please pray that it will be a successful trip for Novo and that Mickey and the kids will be safe, well and at peace while I’m away.

Finally, we thought you’d enjoy seeing this picture of Daniel who has just returned from 10 days of work experience on a cattle ranch. He’s the guy in the red/pink hoodie, herding cattle with the cowboys!

Version 2

With much love,

Andy, Mickey & Co.


We are in Bolivia pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us as a family financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship at www.give.net/20171708.                      

Alternatively just send us an email or a message via Facebook.


News & Prayer Update / 007

Greetings from a miserably cold/damp Santa Cruz de la Sierra!

Previously here we haven’t had a real sense of ‘winter’ because the colder weather normally comes in short bursts of a few days (a week or two max) before the heat returns. However, it’s been chilly and damp here for well over a month now and it’s been a little bit miserable! In absolute terms the temperatures never get that low (I think 15C is about the lowest it has dropped recently) but without cavity wall & loft insulation, double-glazing, and central heating it feels way colder than it sounds!

The start of the cold weather came at the same time as Daniel, Jemimah and I (Andy) came down with Chikungunya, a nasty mosquito-borne virus, which saps your energy, steals your joy, sends you into a fever, and gives you an itchy rash and intense joint pain! The three of us were laid-up feeling pretty sorry for ourselves for a week or so but are now back on the front foot – though we’re definitely ready for a bit of sunshine!

It’s been a full period for us as a family, with the school year at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center drawing to a close last week. Each of the kids ended the year well – Daniel won ‘Most Improved Player’ for the Junior High Basketball team, Jemimah and Phoebe both had great reports and won awards and JJ (following the tradition here in Bolivia) had a special kindergarten graduation! Please pray for all of the kids that they would have a really good break now and just the right teachers when they return to school in August!

IMG_3118

We’re really starting to chomp at the bit now for the opening of the project but lots has been happening and we’re on target for opening the first Novō community at Quinta Totaices in October. Here are three quick headlines:

  • We have received two positive responses from our applications to grant-making trusts – one for £5,000 and another for £15,000! We are so grateful for these generous responses. Please join us in praying for similarly abundant responses from the 30 or so trusts from whom we’re waiting to hear!
  • Both Warren and Myron are on ‘Home Assignment’ with their families over the next few months and will be travelling across Canada and building a support-base for Novō on that side of the Atlantic.
  • Rachel Burton arrived in Santa Cruz a couple of weeks ago and she and I will be working over the coming couple of months on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the Novō programme. This involves adapting lots of the materials from Yeldall (and adding some new stuff) to create a Group Therapy Workbook, Phase Structure, Discipline System, Staff Operations Manual, and lots of other things. It’s really exciting to be at this stage, though we’re conscious that everything we do at the moment is a ‘draft’, ready to be trialled and reviewed as the project opens and we work, together with José (who returns to Bolivia at the start of August) and his team to build a programme which is effective in this particular cultural and economic context.

An important part of the last few months for Mickey and I has been heading out with a team from a YWAM-linked project called Operation Restoration who minister to street kids. The team goes out to build relationship with the kids with the goal of seeing them leave that lifestyle and take up a place in one of their two residential projects. They go to listen and encourage the kids and to provide food and basic medial care. It was whilst I was volunteering at El Camino, their home for street for boys, back in 2008 that God first stirred-up the vision within me for a transformative community for adults here in Bolivia.

The kids who are on the streets tend to live in small groups or gangs which also include adults. There is a vast network of drainage canals running throughout the city and these groups tend to make their homes under the road bridges over these canals (like the one in our ‘Getting Sticky‘ on the Novō website).

Though emotionally draining, it has been really good to be a part of this team and to be in contact, not just with the kids the Operation Restoration team are focused on, but also the adults for whom Novō would offer a way out of a lifestyle characterised by crime, abuse, poor sanitation and the abuse of alcohol, marijuana, medication, and a cocaine-derived substance called Pitillo.

Rick, from the Operation Restoration team, disinfecting a foot wound

IMG_3072

Ervin, one of the young adults José has been preparing to join the Novō community when it opens

One of the encouraging things about being out on the streets has been meeting some of the people José Ernesto has been working with for years on the streets and seeing his credibility with them. We have also met a number of individuals who José has been preparing to enter the Novō project, even from Yeldall, through his contact with them via Facebook and WhatsApp! Ervin, pictured above, is one such guy. Please pray for Ervin, and others such as a lad called Gabriel, that they will find hope, healing and wholeness in Christ!

As I close-up I want to share with you some words from Isaiah – words which have encouraged and comforted us deeply over recent weeks:

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

Over the last month or so we’ve become keenly aware of just how draining the last year or so has been. We were aware that this foundation-laying phase for us a family and for photo was going to be demanding (and we’re encouraged by where we’re at in both areas) but, still, it’s be hard – much harder than we had expected at a number of levels.

We are in a challenging period in the Novō journey and in our family life but what we can’t afford to do (but, confession, have been doing…) is to think and act like it all depends on us! It really doesn’t.

What’s been so encouraging over the last few weeks is that we’ve been keenly aware of weight lifting and stress fading as we’ve shifted our sense of trust/confidence/hope  away from ourselves and squarely onto God’s shoulders! We have found new strength where we were feeling exhausted, vision and perspective (the kind of birds-eye-view an eagle gets), and energy to run/walk/crack-on with what God has for us to do.

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

As ever, thank you for reading, for praying for your practical support for us. We are incredibly blessed as a family to have you, an amazing group of family and friends, around us!

With much love,

Andy, Mickey & Co.

 


We are in Bolivia pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship. To make a one-off gift or to set-up a regular monthly donation, please go to: www.give.net/20171708 or send me an email.


How are the kids doing?

Hi, it’s Mickey writing this time 🙂

Hopefully since we last wrote you’ve received the first two Novō News Updates. If not, please subscribe for those by clicking on the ‘subscribe’ button in the top left-hand corner of this page: Novō News Updates.

For this blog post we thought we’d give you an answer to the question, ‘How are the kids doing?’ So, from youngest to oldest, here’s a quick update on our four lovely children:

JOSIAH

JJ is full of energy and almost fearless – which makes me slightly fearful! He is definitely ready to go back to doing full days at school next year. I’m not quite so sure I am, I feel like this year with him in Kindergarten doing half days has been a real ‘bonus’ year for both of us – well, most of the time it feels like a bonus to me 😉

His favourite things are riding his bike around our barrio and taking the dog for a walk (on his own) when he gets home from school. In all honesty the walk never last more than 10 minutes, but he feels very grown up!

JJ was very excited yesterday because he got to use his pocket money to buy a watch from the market for 30 Bolivianos (about £3). He wasn’t so thrilled about having to traipse around after me to buy fruit and veg. On reflection we probably did our purchasing in the wrong order…

thumb_IMG_2866_1024

We found this massive frog in Uncle Rudy’s bag of tools!

thumb_IMG_4253_1024

JJ & Barney playing Lego

PHOEBE

Phoebe is our biggest extrovert! She just loves being with people and continues to enjoy school, despite having some learning difficulties to deal with.

A highlight of recent months was seeing her ride a horse on her own for the first time at our friend’s ranch!

Come rain or shine, Phoebe loves swimming! This was quite possibly the cause of an ear infection which caused her to miss a coupe of days school last week and discover that she can visit the Nurse’s office if she gets a bit bored in class!

thumb_IMG_4043_1024

Phoebe with her (brilliant) teacher, Miss Dickman and her friend, Emma

thumb_IMG_4050_1024

This is classic Phoebe! Dressed-up in JJ’s spiderman costume, using a palm branch as some kind of weapon and accessorising with sunglasses & handbag!


JEMIMAH

Things are still pretty tough at school for Jemimah, but I had a really helpful meeting with her teacher the other day and I’m grateful that each of them have had just the right teacher to help them get acclimatised to their new school.

Jemimah had a real boost last week when she was awarded “Student of the Quarter” for her grade!

A few weekends ago she was asked to be the Madrina (the person buying and giving a gift) to a little girl called Rosario who lives at Talita Cumi (a children’s home very close to where we live). Jemimah took the responsibilty very seriously, asking different people what they thought would be good gift ideas and how much money she should spend. It was a real privilege to join-in celebrating of the birthdays of these precious kids!

thumb_IMG_2864_1024

Jemimah helping Aunty Erna put the finishing touches to her delicious dessert!

thumb_IMG_2619_1024

Jemimah, JJ and Phoebe (with their little friend Nora) ready for Superhero day at school!

DANIEL

Daniel is just thriving! Daniel doing so well has been one of the highlights of our time here so far. As you can see he’s shot-up since we got here and isn’t too far away from being taller than his Dad.

He continues to have drum lessons & play in the band at church and is now playing basketball for the school team. He has a really good group of friends who joined him a couple of weeks for his 14th birthday celebrations!

thumb_DSC_0789_1024

Daniel befriending a Toucan.

thumb_DSC_0797_1024

All ready for the Junior/Senior banquet at school.


We’re so proud of Daniel, Jemimah, Phoebe and JJ. Each of them in different ways misses home – especially their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – and has found being here difficult. Nevertheless, each of them has ‘gone for it’, stepping-out of their comfort zones to get used to a new home; new school; new church; and new sights, sounds, smells and tastes.

These months have been challenging for our kids in different ways. But, many of these challenges are not uncommon to childhood (or adulthood!). On days when Jemimah has been really struggling I have written her a little note with a Bible verse that she has kept in her pocket and read during the day. This is one of her verses:

“For I hold you by your right hand, I the Lord your God. And I say to you, “Don’t be afraid, I am here to help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

I love this image of God holding our hand.

It is His desire to help us whatever it is we are facing; whatever it is that is threatening to overwhelm us.

I love it that we have this promise that we don’t face things alone. Our heavenly Father is right there with us, by our side, holding our right hand.

With lots of love,

Mickey & Andy


We are pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship. To make a one-off gift or to set-up a regular monthly donation, please go to: www.give.net/20171708 or send me an email.


2 Quick Things

Two quick things to update you on this weekend.

Number one.

This past week we sent out the first Novō Newsletter/Update. The plan is for these updates to be punchy and engaging communications which will focus on the development of Novō as a charity and the launch of the first Novō community here in Santa Cruz.

If you haven’t already seen it, just click on the image below and you’ll go straight there.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 14.56.26

Also, if you haven’t already received the update in your email inbox that means we don’t have you on the mailing list – and we’d really like you on the mailing list! To fix that all you need to do is click on the link to the update above and then click on the ‘Subscribe’ box in the top left hand corner of the MailChimp page. Alternatively, let me know and I’ll make it happen!

These new Novō updates are being sent to a wider group of friends and supporters (including Warren & Myron’s contacts in Canada and Rachel’s in the UK) many of whom are only just getting to know about Novō. As such, the first update was helping them to ‘catch-up’ on the story so far but won’t have contained much (if any) new or interesting information for you! Moving forward there will be lots of new/interesting news.

Looking ahead we’ll keep writing this blog but it will be more reflective and personal, focusing more on our journey as a family here in Bolivia, and with Novō. They’ll no doubt be a bit of crossover, but the hope is that they won’t repeat one-another and that you won’t feel overwhelmed with Novō news!

Number two.

We’ve set-up a Novō facebook page. You can check it out by clicking on the image below:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 15.04.11

If you ‘like’ us our Novō updates will then appear in your Newsfeed. All the better, if you ‘share’ the page it will help us to build a wider network of support for the work!

Thanks for reading – and don’t forget to check out the Newsletter and Facebook pages if you haven’t already done so!

Have a great weekend and, as always, thanks for your friendship and support!

With much love,

Andy, Mickey & Co.

 


We are pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship. To make a one-off gift or to set-up a regular monthly donation, please go to: www.give.net/20171708 or send me an email.


 

 

 

 

Better Together

Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting on the huge number of people who together form ‘Team Novō’ and on the truth that we’re always ‘better together’ – a truth expressed in these timeless words from Ecclesiastes:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.                                    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

God’s work is rarely (if ever) achieved through individuals. It’s always through teams and networks and partnerships – through a rich tapestry of relationships!

We’ve had a great few weeks and, in all that’s been happening, this truth has been so clearly visible to us and we have been left with a fresh sense of gratitude for so many people – for our wonderful kids, our Novō team-mates, our Novō UK trustees, our church, the growing network of ‘friends of Novō’ here in Bolivia, and for all those who are supporting us in prayer, finance, and friendship.

Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening:

  • We’ve signed a rental contract for Quinta Totaices, the home for the first Novō Community here in Santa Cruz, and have the key (the blue one below)!!

thumb_IMG_2412_1024

  • We ended January with a fab visit from Trevor (UK Chair of Trustees) and Eleanor Childs. Myron, Warren, and I spent a great day with Trevor looking at how we develop our international governance structures and sketching out a plan for the multiplication of Novō communities over the coming years.
  • At the start of this month, Jonathan Horne and Duncan & Sharon Klitgaard (Novō UK Trustees and members of our home church, Kerith Community Church) arrived for a 10-day visit. This was a massive encouragement to us as a family! As a leadership team we spent time with Jonathan (whose media company MediaNerd is continuing to provide media support to us as a gift to Novō) planning our Novō marketing for the year ahead and (with Duncan, Sharon and Jonathan) explored how we can enable teams from the UK to participate in the work here on the ground in Bolivia!

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 21.34.09

  • It was also a real pleasure to be able to show these guys something of the beauty and diversity of Bolivia. Here’s a couple of photos and a quick video of one highlight from their visit [if you are reading this in your email you won’t be able to view the video unless you click on blue title and read it online]:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 15.37.32thumb_DSC02518_1024

  • Rachel Burton arrived safely on Sunday 7th and, despite picking-up a nasty stomach infection on the road trip, is “falling in love with Bolivia”. We’re thrilled to have Rachel with us and are full of anticipation for what she will contribute to the team once she returns from 12-weeks of language school in Cochabamba. If you’re up for it, you can sign-up for her blog here: rachelburtonblog.org

thumb_Jonathan pics (13)_1024

  • The kids are doing really well. Daniel is thriving at school and managing to pack basketball, drums, and youth group into his spare time! Phoebe is as bubbly as ever, enjoys school, and seizes any opportunity she gets to swim! JJ is bright and fearless – jumping off huge rocks into waterfalls and trying to do wheelies on his bike are his latest exploits!

thumb_IMG_2605_1024

  • We are grateful to many of you have been praying for Jemimah, who has found the transition (especially to a new school) the hardest. Over the last few weeks it’s been good to see her growing more comfortable with school and, as a result, more at peace and contented. The picture below is Jemimah with the model baby Tapir she made for a school project (with technical/artistic direction from Duncan Klitgaard!).

thumb_IMG_2575_1024

Well, that’s it for now! Thanks for taking the time to read this and for sharing this journey with us. We really are ‘better together’!

With much love,

Andy & Mickey


We are pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship. To make a one-off gift or to set-up a regular monthly donation, please go to: www.give.net/20171708 or send me an email.


 

Twenty Sixteen

It’s amazing how strongly (at least for us Brits) the passage of time and movement through the calendar year is tied to the changing seasons. It just doesn’t feel like the start of a New Year when its 38C and this is the scene [if you are reading this in your email you won’t be able to view the video below unless you click on blue title and read it online]:

Whatever the weather, it is 2016 – a new year which is set to be a big one for Novō!

During the autumn we plan to open the doors of the first Novō community at Quinta Totaices, here in Santa Cruz. To get there here’s some of what needs to happen:

  • Mickey and I need to upgrade our Spanish. We have begun working with a new teacher, Shirley, to this end. Please pray that we’ll make rapid progress towards a really high level of fluency!
  • José-Ernesto needs to complete his training at Yeldall Manor, absorbing all he can from his experience, and return to Santa Cruz to take up the role of Director of the first Novō community. He is set to get back here at the start of June so that he can be here as we recruit and train staff, prepare the property and the programme, and network locally. José is an incredible asset to the team and we are excited that he has the opportunity to focus on the therapeutic side of life at Yeldall, having improved his English and got to know the broader programme in his role on the estate and supervising residents during evenings/weekends. Please keep José in your prayers as he continues to learn and grow at Yeldall!

Version 2

JOSÉ IS NEXT TO ME, ALONG WITH WARREN, OUR FRIEND & CONSULTANT ALEX KOZEL, AND MYRON

  • Rachel Burton needs to arrive safely, crack Spanish (she already has French and some Spanish), and settle here in Bolivia. She is currently completing her orientation with CMS (Church Mission Society) in Southall. She arrives here in Santa Cruz on 7th February but will spend her first 3 months up in Cochabamba at language school. We are excited by what she will bring to the team, particularly in terms of her administrative gifts and experience of the group therapy aspect of the Yeldall programme. Please pray for Rachel in all of this – that she will know God’s hand with her every step of the way!
  • We need to do some serious fundraising! More details on this to follow. For now, please give thanks with us for God’s incredible provision to this point, for us personally and for Novō!
  • We need to take on our project property, Quinta Totaices. This should happen over the next few weeks. Although we don’t ‘need’ a property just yet Quinta Totaices is so ideal we didn’t want to lose it and are grateful to its owner for being so flexible to work with us on a gradual transition from his use to ours between now and September. In this context our rent begins at just £350/month but reaching £900/month in September. This is an incredible price given the quality of the property! Please pray that everything will go smoothly with Quinta Totaices and for a superb relationship on an ongoing basis between us and its owner

thumb_IMG_1350_1024

THE COURTYARD AT THE HEART OF QUINTA TOTAICES

There’s much more to mention but, for now, let me tell you about some important visits on the calendar.

This coming week Trevor Childs arrives with his wife, Eleanor, for a few days to work with Warren, Myron and I as we put together a strategic plan for the next 5 years, particularly in relation to the development of our governance structures and the launching of more Novō communities. Please pray that God will speak clearly to us during these meetings guiding us into His best plans for Novō!

The week after next two more of our Novō UK Trustees arrive for a visit. Sharon Klitgaard and her husband, Duncan, along with Jonathan Horne, will be here for just over a week to encourage us, help us as we form a communication plan for the year ahead, and to get to know Bolivia better. Please pray for a safe travels and an excellent and fruitful time together!

Finally, looking ahead to April, Dave and Wendy Penner will be here. Dave is the EFCCM Director and Transitional South American Director and it will be great to continue the conversations we began in Vancouver and further build the relationship between Novō and the EFCCM (Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission) leadership.

Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to read our news, for praying with us, and for your support, expressed in a multitude of ways.

With much love,

Andy & Mickey


We are pioneering Novō as self-supported missionaries. If you would like to support us financially you can do so tax-effectively through an organization called Stewardship.   To make a one-off gift or to set-up a regular monthly donation, please go to: www.give.net/20171708 or send me an email.


 

 

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

During the final weeks of last year I read a book by Johann Hari called Chasing the Scream. He’s also given an excellent TED Talk. The book is a fascinating and unsettling book which asks tough questions about the war on drugs (particularly as it is conceived and executed in relation US foreign policy) and urges that the focus shifts to putting an end to the incredible human suffering which accompanies the drugs trade and to providing addicts with ready-access to pathways out of addiction – pathways which address the underlying ’causes’ of addiction and prioritises connection/community, creativity/work, and meaning/purpose.

As the book draws to a close Hari makes a breathtaking statement.

It’s not often that I think someone says something which it’s worth me pushing out on my Facebook, but this I had to share:

“For a hundred years we have been singing war songs about addicts. All along, we should have been singing love songs to them.”

The language of ‘war songs’ and ‘love songs’ blew me away.

And he’s right.

Addicts (just like the rest of us) need love, not judgement, rejection and condemnation.

The truth is whatever ‘war songs’ have been sung about addicts, and however loudly they have been sung, ‘love songs’ have been sung too. They’ve been sung in families, in churches and in places like Yeldall Manor for decades.

Novō is about creating more of these places.

More places where love wins.

More places where mercy triumphs.

Novō is about creating communities in developing nations where addicts can encounter the incredible love of the God who sent his Son to “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3).

OK. Sermon over. Or (as my Daniel is fond of saying, quoting the Sheriff of Nottingham to Friar Tuck in the Disney version of Robin Hood): “Save your sermon, preacher, it ain’t Sunday yet!”

So, what’s been happening here?

Well, it’s been really good to take 10 days off over the Christmas/New Year period and to take what (with the benefit of hindsight) was a much-needed break. 2015 was such an intense year of transition for us all and it was good to take stock, unwind, and see our energy and enthusiasm levels go back up.

It’s the hottest time of year here so no matter what you do with decorations, music, food, etc, you really can’t create that feel which, if you grow-up in a cold climate, you associate with Christmas. We (actually it was all Mickey…) did our best to make it feel special for the kids and the feedback forms all suggest we did a good job!

On Christmas Day we went to Güembe, a place with swimming pools, aviary, butterfly enclosure, and a great buffet, celebrating together with British friends here, and watching The Queen poolside on the phone!
thumb_DSC_0029_1024thumb_IMG_2291_1024

In terms of church celebrations we enjoyed going back to Trinity International Church (where Andy was the Pastor when we last lived in Bolivia) for their Christmas Eve Candle light Carol Service. Then on Sunday 27th we were part of a fun day with everyone from Fuente de Vida Church which gave us a great opportunity to build relationships as we played football, lunched, and swam together.

Finally, just before the New Year weekend we spent a couple of nights in Samaipata, a small hillside town a couple of hours from Santa Cruz, and made the drive out to the La Pajcha waterfalls.

thumb_DSC_0059_1024 thumb_DSC_0070_1024

Before I finish, let me update you on the trip to Canada which Myron, Warren and I took at the start of December.

You’ll remember that the focus was on meeting with the leadership of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission (EFCCM) in Vancouver to further develop our working relationship and to ‘launch’ Novō with some key potential supporting churches and individuals, sharing the vision with them for the first time face to face. 

Overall we flew over 13,000 miles and drove another 2,500, visiting Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Steinbach and a bunch of other places along the way! I had the opportunity to experience the vastness of Canada, the majesty of the Rockies (as we drove Calgary to Vancouver), and the institution which is Tim Horton’s.

Our meetings with Bill Taylor and Dave Penner from the Evangelical Free Church went very well, and we left with a clear sense of mutual trust and shared vision as we move into the next phase of the development of Novō. 

Our meetings with churches and individuals were also really positive, making all those miles of travel worthwhile. Warren and Myron have some absolutely brilliant friends and supporters up in Canada and, as well as being a pleasure to meet them, I was encouraged by their keen interest in Novō, their heart for Bolivia, and their desire to be involved as we move forward.

The icing on the cake came when, just after Christmas, we got word that one of the churches we visited wanted to make a gift of £25,000 towards the start-up costs for the project here in Santa Cruz!

I’ll write again soon to give you a bit of sense of what lies ahead for 2016 and the timeline we are planning around in terms of the opening the doors of the project.

For now, let me close-off by saying: ¡Feliz año nuevo!

News & Prayer Update / 006

It’s Sunday afternoon and it’s been a good weekend.

Yesterday was spent visiting the excellent Santa Cruz Zoo (a £4.50 for all-the-family bargain!), lunch with friends and haircuts for the boys. This morning it was a great church service at Fuente de Vida with a message on developing vulnerability and honest relationships followed by chicken and salad for lunch!

thumb_IMG_2010_1024

It’s also been a good week.

First thing on Monday morning we went to Immigration to see if our visas had arrived back from La Paz and, as you can see below, they did. This means we’re legal for the next two years. After that, because Phoebe and JJ are Bolivian citizens (on account of being born here), we should be able to make applications for permanent residence!

While we were sat in Immigration we received more good news – very good news. The following came through from the Charity Commission:

We are satisfied that NOVO COMMUNITIES is a charity and it has been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1164421.

This is fantastic (and super-significant) news!! Thank you so much for praying.

Charitable status means we can claim Gift Aid (25% extra) on all gifts made to Novō as a charity (as opposed to our personal support via Stewardship) by UK taxpayers who use the Novo UK Giving Form. It also means we can make applications for funding to Grant-Making Trusts whose charitable objectives align with ours, something we will begin doing early in the New Year!

Looking forward we have an important couple of weeks on the horizon.

On Friday 27th Andy, Warren & Myron leave for a two-week trip to Canada with a two-fold purpose.

Firstly, they will be meeting with the senior leadership of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission (EFCCM) in Vancouver to further develop the working relationship between Novō and the EFCCM. The EFCCM is playing a similar role in Canada to that which the Novō Communities Trust is in the UK, enabling us to receive donations tax-effectively, as well as providing pastoral oversight to us. These meetings will help us to work through some of the technical aspects of the relationship between the UK and Canadian sides of Novō, as well as provide us with a great opportunity to plan and prayer together.

The second purpose of the trip is to ‘launch’ Novō with potential supporting churches and individuals, sharing the vision in much the same way as we have already been able to do in the UK. This is an exciting step for all of us, particularly for Warren and Myron whose friends/family/supporters have known that Novō has been coming down the pipe for a while now, and are eager to hear more! We’re looking forward to speaking at two key churches and to a range of groups and individuals in what is going to be a jam-packed schedule. In addition to 24 hours of travel at the start and end of the trip we also need to drive something in the range of 3,000 miles. Please pray for us – for energy, for safety in potentially hazardous conditions, and that many people will catch this vision for the creation of transformative communities where hurting and broken people can find healing, wholeness, and hope!

Mickey and the kids will be staying in Santa Cruz. Please pray especially for them – that they would have a great couple of weeks together and that everyone would stay safe, well and at peace. 

Finally, let me (Andy) share something a bit more personal with you. During our Tuesday morning Team Novō meetings we have been meditating on these words from Luke 4.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

As we prayed for one-another after meditating on this passage my prayer was that God would ‘soften’ my heart towards to those he is calling us to help – the poor, the prisoners, the oppressed.

When, back in 2008, we first felt God prompting us to explore starting a residential project here in Bolivia I’d felt a deep passion for the addicts and alcoholics we see all the time as we drive around here in Santa Cruz, particularly those working the main road junctions washing car windows. This burden stirred me to prayer and it prompted the explorations which kicked-started the journey which took us to Yeldall and, now, back here to Santa Cruz.

I haven’t, however, felt it much recently. The 3+ year long process of laying the foundations for Novō has primarily been a rational process: a good, Spirit-filled, thoughtful process of listening to, and seeking to obey, God’s call; a process of looking at our skills and experience and recognising that we can make an impact deploying them well in this context.

None of that has felt at all wrong. I just felt at the start of the week that I’d like to feel, in a fresh way, something of God’s heart for the hurt, broken, and addicted.

I wasn’t thinking about that prayer at all as Daniel and I arrived at church early this morning for him to be a part of the worship practice, but as we arrived there was a guy waking up from a night sleeping in the entrance way to the church. His name was Cristian and he was evidently an alcoholic. We see street people every day, every time we drive anywhere, but something about seeing Cristian waking up on our church doorstep ‘got me’ at a heart level. We said hello and, with others from the worship team speaking with him, I headed-off to get a coffee.

I was just a few metres from church when I noticed a young boy, asleep in the little cash machine cubicle.

thumb_IMG_2012_1024

I didn’t take his picture at first, wanting to protect his dignity, but as I walked on I knew there was something significant to what God was doing in that moment and I wanted to be able to show Mickey what I had seen. So I went back a few steps and took a photo, encouraged to do so by the fact that his back was turned and his identity hidden.

I think the thing that got me about this particular boy’s situation was something that isn’t immediately obvious. It’s the fact there is a small lock on the inside of the cash machine cubicles. A small lock which, when closed, gives an otherwise utterly vulnerable child just a little bit of security in a deeply hostile environment.

I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like as a 8 or 9 year-old boy to sleep alone in a cash machine cubicle at night. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have only a glass door with a puny lock protecting me from the awful dangers of being a child living on the streets at night. I can’t begin to imagine what effect all of this has on your ability to ‘grow-up’, on your sense of security, significance and self-worth as an adult.

As I felt a deep sense of concern for this lad it hit me that this is exactly the kind of experience which will have defined the ‘childhoods’ of so many of the men and women, like those featured in the two films below, who Novō is here to help. IF YOU ARE READING THIS BLOG IN YOUR EMAIL YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE THE FILMS UNLESS YOU CLICK ON THE BLUE TITLE ABOVE AND VIEW THE BLOG ONLINE.

In response to this, please pray that God will do “more than we could ask or imagine” for those men and women who, even now, desperately need His mercy and compassion! 

Thank you, as ever, for walking with us on this journey – for your love, encouragement and support, expressed in a multitude of ways!