Greetings from a sunny and windy Santa Cruz – a welcome break from our recent cold, drizzly and clammy spell.
EXPLORING SANTA CRUZ
I’ve been in Santa Cruz for 5 weeks, and I’m settling in well. It would be an exaggeration to say I know my way round, as it is such a huge place (apparently one of the fastest growing cities in the world). But I’m comfortable using buses, which feels like an achievement, and I’ve enjoyed exploring some of the markets, which are always an experience – winding alleys of fruit and veg piled high; people pushing carts selling all sorts of snacks and drinks; never-ending rows of stores selling everything from fabric to furniture to chickens (either alive, or else dead with their feet hanging off them – apparently they’re good in soup); people with sewing machines to repair things; shoe-shining stools… I love it!
VISITING OTHER MISSION PROJECTS
During my first week, Andy Partington took me to visit some local projects, including a couple of children’s homes, a student ministry centre, and a support centre for adults who want to come off the streets. It was eye-opening to hear some of the stories of the children. Abuse of various kinds seems to be wide-spread, starting in the family home, and unfortunately continuing in many of the children’s homes too. Another thing I heard is that single mothers sometimes lock the children in the house while she goes out to work all day, as that is deemed the safest option for them. The older siblings have to look after the younger ones. It is interesting to consider where our residents at Novō will fit into these ‘stories’, no doubt fitting somewhere into the generational cycle of abuse.
Warren and Myron (Novō team) are currently on ‘home assignment’ in Canada, and the Partingtons have been away for 3 weeks away too, so Novō things have been somewhat quiet, which has given me the opportunity to focus on getting settled and getting to know people. However, there is lots of work to get everything ready before opening the programme in autumn. My main project over the next few weeks is putting together a residents workbook, containing group materials with illustrations, discussion questions and exercises. The idea is that it will be simple for a group facilitator to follow, with the material all in one place. It is so helpful that Andy and I have both worked at Yeldall Manor, and so have a starting point to work from in terms of ‘creating’ the new programme. It’s exciting to be able to put my stamp on it in these founding stages!
I’ve started volunteering at El Jordan, the centre for people who have lived on the streets. They have a men’s centre with a workshop (potentially some of whom could benefit from a residential setting that Novō will be able to offer) and a women’s centre, with craft workshops, bible studies, childcare facilities and other support. I’ve been helping a small group of women there make bread once a week to sell in the community. At the end of the year, with the profit, El Jordan hopes to be able to help the women buy their own oven and support them in starting a business.
I had the privilege this week of going on a couple of visits to the homes of some of the women at the centre, which was very humbling, and a stark reminder of the poor conditions they live in, albeit a step up from the streets. One of the visits was to a lovely lady with her 4 daughters. I was amazed when I found out they had recently finished building their own house! She was so proud when she was talking about it. It was small and basic (made of wood, with a corrugated roof), and the 5 of them share the double bed. It was a really special time, as they were so happy to welcome us there.
It was nice to meet a few other ex-pats at the International church, where Sean (the vicar from my church in England on sabbatical) preached for a few weeks. But I’m keen to attend a Spanish church in the long run. I’ve found a church I really like called Kairos. The language does make everything a bit more hard work, and I know good friendships will take time to build, but I’ve been enjoying worshipping there, and it is very friendly and sociable.
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks that I’m starting to feel settled in Santa Cruz, and for finding Kairos church
- Pray for deeper friendships here, and that the language wouldn’t be too much of a barrier
- Pray for guidance over accommodation – I’ll have to move out of Warren’s family’s house by mid-August
I’ve added some more photos to the gallery, including sightings of real sloths (finally!), and an overnight trip to a lovely town called Samaipata a couple of hours away, where we saw these amazing birds.
Thank you so much for your support. I’ve been thinking of you in England a lot during this unsettling time, and am praying for you too. I enjoy keeping in touch, so do let me know your news too when you get a mo!
Blessings and love,