Well, we’ve been in Bolivia for just over 6 weeks now and on returning from a trip out of the city over the weekend, we said for the first time, ‘it’s good to be home.’
Despite returning to a country, city and neighbourhood (aptly named Condominio Britannia…) we already know, the process of getting settled has been harder and taken longer than we expected.
It’s hard to say exactly what has made it hard. We’ve felt a number of things: a sense of weariness from having been in packing/unpacking mode since February; the loss of the family, friends and church community we left behind in the UK; and the stress of trying to balance family, work and the practical demands of getting ‘set-up’ here without the kids being in school. I’ve also felt a deep sense of loss as my departure from Yeldall has gone from feeling temporary to permanent and I’ve missed the structure, camaraderie, and ‘intensity’ of the Manor.
More broadly as we have readjusted to life in a developing world context we’ve wrestled with an inner conflictedness (not a word, I know) which comes from feeling both fed-up because we are ‘going without’ certain things and guilty because we have access to so much compared to so many. This is inevitably heightened by the fact that we’ve had to do so much spending to set-up home, buy a vehicle, etc…
One of the benefits of the transition feeling hard has been the extent to which, as we’ve wrestled with some of the costs involved in making this move, it has forced us to press into God for a renewed sense of calling to the vision and mission of Novō and, more broadly, to making our home here in Bolivia. It has also reinforced for us the integral role which sacrifice and obedience plays in the coming of His Kingdom. As we pray, ‘your Kingdom come, your will be done’, we know we sometimes need to pray, with Jesus, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will’. We know God has a plan to see many, many more transformational communities like Yeldall Manor created here in Bolivia (and beyond) and if we need to make some sacrifices to see that happen, then we’re committed to doing so.
All of that said, we’re also counting some wonderful blessings: we have some incredible friends here; we’ve been blessed with a secure and comfortable home in a brilliant location (we even have access to a pool which is perfect for an intensely hot/humid/dusty city); and we’ve also had the opportunity to do some superb trips outside the city.
See what I mean about feeling guilty for feeling like we’re sacrificing?!
So, enough introspection, what’s happening?
After a postponement due to a number of factors the kids’ school year at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC) commences next Wednesday (26th August). We’re looking forward to the structure and stimulation this will bring to all of our lives. Please pray that Daniel, Jemimah, Phoebe and JJ will all make a positive start to the school year and quickly form good and positive friendships.
I’ve been invited to be on the Board of Trustees of the kid’s school (SCCLC). This has already involved a good deal of work and meetings as we are entering a crucial year in the life of the school and are working with an excellent educational consultant to see the school thrive and successfully work through the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) re-accreditation process. Please pray that the ownership and leadership of the school would be effective in making the changes needed over the year ahead and that I’d make a really positive contribution in my role.
One of the highlights of the last 6 weeks has been getting to know and working with José Ernesto, a local Bolivian who we believe has a crucial leadership role to play in the first Novō community here. José Ernesto comes highly recommended and has a massive heart for those on the margins of society. It was José Ernesto who set up some of the filming opportunities we used in the main Novō film and the ‘Getting Sticky’ film (go to http://novocommunities.org/media/ if you haven’t seen them). We’re excited that José will be travelling to Yeldall at the end of September to complete a 6-month training placement to prepare him for this role. Please pray that José will be quickly granted his visa to enter the UK! Also, if you feel prompted to contribute towards the cost of this strategic training placement (£3,850), do let me know as he could certainly use your support.
It has also been good to be working closely on the leadership of Novō with Myron. In particular there are some exciting things on the horizon relating to a property for the first Novō community, a fast-track on creating the first of the Bolivian legal entities we need for Novō, and some excellent office space from which we can work. More on these next time! For now, please pray for us as we develop our working relationship over the coming weeks and months.
Back in the UK the Novō Trustees have been working hard on our application for charitable status with the Charity Commission, which was submitted last week. The submission of this application was severely delayed by the challenges we had applying for a bank account and we now need charitable status in place quickly so that we can press on with our fundraising goals for Novō and be in a position to launch the first project during 2016. Charitable status is crucial because it enables us to claim Gift Aid on donations to Novō as a charity (as opposed to our personal support which is administered separately by Stewardship and for which we are already claiming Gift Aid) and make applications for funding to grant-making Trusts in the UK. Please pray with us that our Charity Commission application will go smoothly and that we’ll have charitable status in place very soon.
Thanks, as always, for your interest, prayers and support. We’re so thankful that we are on this journey with you behind us!
Andy & Mickey
PS: pasted below is a selection of photos from the last couple of weeks!
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.