Not only has my time here been a Bolivian cultural experience, but also in part, a North American one. Notably, I participated in two Thanksgiving dinners with Canadian and American missionary friends here! I thought the theme of ‘Thanksgiving’ would make a fitting one as I come to reflect on the first year of Novō’s Quinta Totaices being open to residents, and update you on a few recent events.
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2
On Wednesday night, we celebrated our One Year Anniversary at the Quinta. It was wonderful to be able to take a step back and celebrate what God has done over the year – how the staff team and community of residents have grown; various elements of the programme have taken shape; and lives have begun to be transformed. Furthermore, at the end of October, we celebrated our first ‘graduate’ of the programme, Ulises. He continues to live at the Quinta, but with much more independence and with employment in the city. I’ll let these photos from the past year speak for themselves:
We’ve enjoyed a flurry of visitors from the UK in the past month or so, which have all been a blessing in different ways. Firstly, Atarah, a friend and former colleague at Yeldall Manor (also a Novō trustee), came to lead a week of training for the local staff team. Several important themes were covered, including boundaries, conflict, counselling skills, and relapse prevention. And completely last minute and unplanned, I ended up stepping in as her translator for the week! It was exhausting, but I enjoyed the mental challenge. The team warmed up throughout the week, and were keen to participate and learn, which was great.
Our second visitor was Treflyn, CEO of Yeldall Manor and General Secretary of ISAAC (International Substance Abuse and Addiction Coalition), also a former colleague. He has a wealth of experience in the field of addiction treatment, and has visited numerous rehab centres worldwide. He kindly offered to assist Andy and I carry out an extensive review of the project at Quinta Totaices – a tool we plan to implement annually at each current and future Novō project. It was an immensely encouraging time. Of course there are so many things to work on and improve, but Tref said that it is the most developed and established programme, given the one year time frame, he has ever visited! It is easy (especially for me, a ‘details’ person) to get caught up in things that aren’t quite right or as they should be, so this was a refreshing time to look at the bigger picture and be thankful for the progress that has been made in a year. Praise God!
Finally, Simon (the pastor of the Partington’s home church, Kerith), Ian and Jonathan (Novō trustees) have been here this week. It’s great to see how fired up and moved they have felt, having visited guys living on the streets, shared during a time of fellowship at the centre, attended our anniversary celebration etc. If any of you have a sense that you’d like to be more connected to the work here, I’d encourage you to consider a trip – you’d be so welcome!!
With these recent visitors, I’ve had the privilege of visiting a place that has become one of my favourite spots in Bolivia, only 2 hours out of the city. It is called Refugio los Volcanes and is spectacular and teeming with wildlife. I can’t take credit for these photos, but I was there when they were taken (on a much better camera than my own!). As I said at the start of this post, I have so much to be thankful for.
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks to God for a great first year at Novō – for all the lives touched and reached (we’ve had 54 admissions, but only 6 currently on the programme).
- That we and the local team can learn from the recent review process and work on areas highlighted from that (for example, the admission process and retention of residents).
- For a joyful and safe time for all the residents and Ulises over Christmas and New Year, a time with extra temptations around.
I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and joyful Christmas. I’ll be in touch with many of you in the new year to hopefully arrange meeting up when I’m back in the UK, where I’ll be for 12 weeks from the end of January. Very much looking forward to it!
With love, Rachel