Greetings from a hot and sticky Reading, UK… not something I thought I’d hear myself saying!
If you missed the fact that I was due to return to England at this time, please read my previous post, which explains more about my plans for ‘what next’. I found it helpful myself to re-read it just now actually, reminding me that God has led me to this point – something of which I needed a gentle reminder, having been feeling a little anxious over the last few days about how this is all going to pan out.
Though sad to leave my home, friends and work in Bolivia, I feel I ended well and it was the right time to be drawing things to a close in terms of my role with Novō (which focused on starting thing up). It is amazing to take a step back and see what Novō has achieved in such a short space of time – for which we give God the glory entirely! A full Bolivian staff team are running the Novō programme at the Quinta (residential centre) in Santa Cruz; 6 residents have graduated from this programme; a former staff member has branched off to begin a non-residential Novō programme in Tarija, south Bolivia; a motorcycle tour company* has recently been purchased, aiming to massively boost local income generation… it’s an exciting ministry to be part of! I’m expectant of further growth and more transformed lives in the future, and I look forward to remaining connected and supporting however I can from a distance. Praise God!
*give Novō Adventures a like on Facebook!
Working in the field of recovery from addiction always comes with highs and lows. “Successes” (as the world understands success) and disappointments. Sadly, one of our recent graduates still living at the Novō property was found to have used cocaine, and when confronted with this, he chose to leave. Despite being offered a chance to re-start a shortened version of the programme, he felt too ashamed to return and is now living on the streets again. It was a hard lesson for the staff team to learn – to be able to let the resident go when he no longer wanted to engage; to grasp how someone could effectively throw away a year of sobriety in one use of drugs; to hold out hope that others will still be able to achieve long term abstinence.
I don’t think God measures “success” in the same way though. This man was blessed by a loving community and learnt something of his innate worth while he was at the Quinta. The team had a unique opportunity to share God’s love and purpose with him. And he was worth it. We continue to pray that he will manage to find freedom from his addiction in the future.
I am pleased to report that Ernesto, an alcoholic of 20 years, is doing really well post-Novō. I remember him sharing his autobiography to the group nearly a year ago. My own Spanish inadequacy combined with the fact that Spanish isn’t Ernesto’s first language (his is Quechua) and he tended to mumble meant I didn’t understand a whole lot! However, I understood enough to pick up on a deep expression of hurt and disappointment in his life, particularly around having lost contact with his wife and children, due to his drinking. It was amazing to see Ernesto’s self-worth grow during his time at the Quinta, and I was touched by his heartfelt words of appreciation to everyone at the end of his time there. I visited him with a colleague in his home town a couple of hours out of Santa Cruz, and we were encouraged to see him living independently and with such a positive attitude. We continue to pray that he’ll soon be able to have a relationship with his children again.
My last couple of months with Novō involved contributing to regular therapeutic staff team meetings; developing a Safeguarding policy and delivering training on this; developing and writing up various programme and staff training related documents; and receiving a visit from Paul Thaxter, CMS Director of International Mission, and Paul Tester, CMS Mission Development Manager for Latin America. We appreciated their keen interest in and support of the project.
If you would like to stay in touch with Novō’s news, or find out how you can support, please follow the link to the latest newsletter, where you can subscribe to the mailing list as well as find out how to support.
PRAISE AND PRAYER
- Thanks for the life of Ernesto, and others who are at various stages on their recovery journey. Pray for strength and hope when times are tough.
- Pray for the success of Novō Adventures – that the profits will enable Novō to further its vision and its reach across Bolivia and the developing world.
- Pray for me in this transition time – for comfort when I feel lonely, peace instead of anxiety, and continual guidance.
- For God’s provision of a comfortable and suitable place I can call home and the finances I need (I’m still partly reliant on supporters regularly giving).
Finally, I’ll leave you with some photos from some beautiful places I had the privilege of visiting around Bolivia in my final two weeks – a highlight was mountain biking from icy cold La Paz’ snow-capped peaks, through spectacular mountain scenery, down Bolivia’s infamous ‘Death Road’, totalling a descent of 3500m to the hot and humid Amazon Basin below. It was INCREDIBLE!!
Thank you so much for journeying with me. Hope to see many of you who are in the UK in the near future – please get in touch!