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!

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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

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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.