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!

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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

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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!
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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.

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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!