I’d like to introduce you to a resident of Quinta Totaices. Juan-Carlos is 35 and joined the Novō programme in March, making him our third longest standing member of the community. He had been living on the streets for 12 years due to family fallouts, and using drugs and alcohol to cope with life. As I was looking back through photos of residents on their day of arrival, it struck me how much Juan-Carlos has already changed during his three months on the programme – he hardly recognised himself when I showed him the first photo. His arm tattoo confirmed that it was indeed him! Check out the difference:
It hasn’t been, and still isn’t, an easy journey for Juan-Carlos, but he is making steady progress. He has shown great motivation in learning to read and write, and is receiving help in this – I often hear him reading slowly (but loudly!) to himself in a corner. He is also serious about his Christian faith, and he desires to walk in the path God has prepared for him.
But he struggles often, and when emotions become too uncomfortable to handle, he easily feels tempted to leave the programme and return to the life he knows. Sometimes his behaviour and way of relating pushes his peers on the programme away, leading to him feeling isolated. I was present in a recent group session where he shared some of his struggles openly, which was encouraging. Please join us in praying for him – that he would stay focused and committed to the programme; that he would learn how to relate and communicate more effectively with others; and that God would transform him from the inside out. I’d love to see him do well and be successful in his recovery from addiction.
I’m currently house, dog and cat sitting for the Partington family while they’re in the UK over the summer, which is quite a privilege. I’ve already made use of their lovely guest room, with a couple of missionary visitors from Cochabamba, and I’m loving my daily snuggle time with these two affectionate animals – they are genuinely such wonderful company!
I’m keeping busy with Novō work – splitting my time between the central office and the Quinta, weekly Spanish lessons which I’ve taken up again, training for the Santa Cruz half marathon (keeping the Yeldall tradition going), and occasionally volunteering with a friend’s ministry called Remember Nhu, visiting girls on their programme who are at high risk of entering the sex trade as teenagers, and encouraging them to remain in education.
WHAT NEXT FOR ME?
I’d appreciate your prayers as I begin to consider what next, and whether to extend my time in Bolivia beyond what I initially planned. If I complete my 2 years, this would take me until February 2018. The international Novō team have expressed that there is still a vital and meaningful role for me with Novō (continuing programme development and monitoring, supporting the local staff team, and helping with set-up of potential new project elsewhere in Bolivia), and that they would appreciate me considering extending my time here. With nothing fixed to return to in the UK, and a commitment to and passion for Novō’s ministry, I am open to this, much as I miss my life and family in the UK at times.
There is the possibility of undertaking a 12 week theology and mission training programme with CMS (the mission organisation with whom I am here) early next year, which I’m exploring too. I feel this could be of benefit to me in terms of my own spiritual and personal growth, as well as a change of focus for a period of time, before potentially returning to Bolivia for another year or so. Nothing is decided, but I wanted to share these latest thoughts with you to ask you to join me in praying for God’s wisdom and guidance – and please feel free to share your thoughts with me. Thank you.
Finally, three Bolivian things that made me smile in the last couple of weeks…
- The fact that when the temperature drops below about 20 degrees here (it’s now winter), Bolivian dogs all suddenly appear with coats – or, failing a specially fitted dog jacket, any old human t-shirt will suffice, as modelled here by the Quinta’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, Enzo. Poor guy!
- Traffic light entertainment as a way of earning a bit of money, which seems to be becoming increasingly creative – here, a man dances to music with 2 hand crafted people strapped to him with broom handles, creating the effect of 3 men dancing in perfect synchronisation. Ingenious!
- Employing this shoe-shiner in the city main plaza (a common trade, mostly used by Bolivian business men from what I’ve observed), who spent a good 20 minutes making my scruffy boots shine like new, all for about £1. Amazing!
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks for Juan-Carlos, mentioned above, and for all the other residents currently on the programme – thanks for progress so far, and prayers for continued transformation in each of their lives.
- For wisdom and guidance for me in deciding on what next and how long to stay in Bolivia.
Thank you very much!
Blessings and love to all,