So we made it! And so did our cases which, given that we only had a 30 minute layover in Asuncion, was a small miracle. It’s been just over two weeks since we arrived – an intense two weeks spent finding our feet, kitting out our home, buying a vehicle, re-orientating ourselves to Santa Cruz, and catching-up with people. I’ve also managed to squeeze in some priority Novō business… We still have some more practical stuff to do (both to set-up life here in Bolivia and to close things down in the UK) but it feels like we’re turning a corner and by the end of this coming week the initial settling phase will be complete. We’ll see. First impressions? That it’s really strange returning to make home in a place which is definitely not ‘home’ but in which we’ve previously ‘made home’; that Santa Cruz is an intense, growing, gritty city with an extreme wealth/poverty gap (a gap we’re seeing with fresh eyes, not least because of our kids’ questions and observations); that getting out of the city is massively life-giving for us; that it’s a huge advantage coming back to a place we know, to people we know and love, to a language we ‘know’ but that that also means you skip the “wow, isn’t this exciting?!” honeymoon phase! What else? The weather has been rough – mainly wet and/or cold – but that hasn’t stopped the kids asking to go swimming. I got stopped/fined by the cops on Day 4 (poor JJ was sure I was going to get hauled off to prison!). The kids have already made some great friends and we’ve all had such a warm welcome from friends here who’ve stocked our fridge, had us over for meals, and looked after our kids while we’ve shopped. Phoebe has had a terrible stomach bug for a couple of days, but was super-brave about it! It seems the people who lived in the house before us fed the local strays so we’ve been plagued by ferrel cats (a mangy white one is sauntering past the window as I write…) I’m tempted to get into something more reflective on what has been an emotionally/physically/spiritually intense couple of weeks, but I think we’ll save for that for a future post! For now, here are some snapshots we’ve take whilst out and about over the last couple of days. If you’re reading this as an email you will only be able to see the photos if you read this post online (which you can do by clicking on the blue blog title above).
The view towards the city from the only high-spot near to Santa Cruz
On the banks of the River Pirai
Sunday lunch at ‘La Sierra’ where they serve incredible duck… Mickey adds that they also have monkeys and parrots – not to eat though!
Visiting Kairos, a professional class Bolivian church, this morning
Our new home
Scooting on our street
A roadside fruit seller or ‘fast fruit’ as Mickey calls it!
Daniel takes a rest from our furniture shopping!
The road behind our neighbourhood
On the main road into the city
As we begin 2015 let me wish you and yours, on behalf of me and mine, every blessing for the year ahead. Whatever you’re dealing with and whatever lies on the horizon, may you know God’s guidance, peace and strength!
As we move forward with laying the foundations for Novō and look to the opening of the first Novō community in Santa Cruz we are absolutely convinced of the power and importance of prayer! As such, I’m planning to write a ‘News & Prayer Update’ every couple of months which zeros-in on the key issues for your prayers.
My expectation is that, as we look back, these posts will become a faith-inspiring record of the incredible things which God (who “is able to accomplish… infinitely more than we might ask or think”) does as a result of our prayerful conversations with Him.
So, here are the key issues for prayer right now:
- The conversation continues with an American mission who approached us about the possibility of us using one of their properties (2.2 acres with 2 houses). The property would be absolutely spot-on for the first Novō community! The mission has a key meeting at the beginning of February and we are praying it will result in a positive outcome. Please pray that God’s best will result for this conversation – both for Novō and the mission.
- Jony Muñoz arrives on 15th January to do a year’s placement at Yeldall Manor with our therapeutic team. Jony is Chilean/Panamanian but has lived much of his life in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He has worked as a teacher at the Santa Cruz International School for the 7 years but, following at visit to the UK last year, felt prompted to step-out and give a year to serving at Yeldall with a view to seeing if God had plans for him to get involved with Novō longer-term. Please pray for Jony as he gets settled at Yeldall and that God would, in due course, guide his future steps.
- We’ve been humbled and encouraged by the response to our recent email/blog re. our personal support needs as a family. We are now half-way towards our targets for both ongoing monthly support and start-up costs, which is incredible at this stage! Please join us us giving thanks for God’s provision through the incredible generosity of His people and in praying that the remainder of our support needs will come together over the next couple of months.
- We are in the process of applying for charitable status for Novō in the UK but are dealing with some bureaucratic blockage at the moment. Please pray that we will be able to progress this application with real speed over the next few weeks.
- As a family the Christmas/New Year break was a time of real refreshment and taking stock, ahead of such a big year. The kids seem to be in a good place with it all. Mickey and I are increasingly excited, but also conscious that there’s lots we need to do to make the move happen! Please pray for us (especially the kids) that we would know a tremendous sense of God’s peace and joy as the move draws closer.
Thank you so much for your interest, care and support. If, as you pray, you sense God saying something you think we might need to hear, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch by email.