“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
-  John 1:5  -
It’s been a long time since we communicated in this format! Hopefully, posts on Facebook and Instagram have kept you in touch with some of what’s going-on with Novō. If not, please consider liking our Facebook page and/or following us on Instagram.
Here in Santa Cruz, week 12 of a strict quarantine is drawing to a close. It’s not yet clear whether we'll now follow much of the rest of the country in easing restrictions or dig-in for longer. It’s hard to know what’s best. Popular compliance with the quarantine’s provisions continues to weaken, with many people desperately needing to work to put food on the table. And yet, coronavirus cases continue rising and hospitals, already overwhelmed, and in no position to cope with more patients needing critical care. Please pray for wisdom for Bolivia’s national and departmental leaders as they navigate the challenging times ahead.
As for so many around the world, the past 3 months have been a time of restriction, sacrifice, challenge, and uncertainty for both staff and residents. Thankfully, we appear to have only had one case of coronavirus amongst us – a team member who lives off-site and whose infection was effectively contained – but we have all experienced the strain of these times. We have also experienced light shining in the darkness. Many of us have grown closer to God and closer to one another. We’ve found ourselves giving thanks for things we once took for granted. We’ve experienced the generosity of God and have had opportunities to express that generosity ourselves. We’re reassessing priorities and thinking differently about the future. We are resting in God more fully than we were. We have a renewed appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Despite the quarantine, we continue to deliver the core elements of the programme. Essential to our ability to do this has been the commitment of the team, and especially our on-site staff and volunteers – Lincoln, Kevin, Rodrigo, and Enrique. We have had to shut our doors to new admissions, but men are continuing to move through the stages of the programme with two residents – Benigno & Jhon – completing it whilst in quarantine. Recovery groups, church attendance, counselling, discipleship groups, and the fellowship and growth that comes from living in Christian community, have all continued either virtually or in person.
Some things just can’t happen. Family visits and the trips out that residents complete to develop their ability to function well clean/sober in the community, and to build relationships, have had to stop. Our work/skills programme is also on pause - both the operation of the property/garden maintenance business and the voluntary work placements of the re-integration phase. 
All of this means we’re giving lots of thought to how we can best support our recent graduates, and those close to the end of the programme, to be ready for life after Novō. They’ve missed out on important experiences over recent weeks and, whilst they are understandably keen to crack-on, we want to make sure they don’t run before learning to walk - and we keep the rest of the community safe.
Novō Adventures is ‘grounded’ until international travel restrictions lift. Coronavirus came hot on the heels of a national strike – the result of fraudulent presidential elections – which shut down Bolivia to international travellers for the final quarter of 2019. Having ended 2019 this way, we were beginning to see bookings and expected Novō Adventures to cover a significant portion of our operating costs for the year. Then Coronavirus hit. We are currently without any confirmed 4x4 rentals or motorcycle tour bookings for 2020, leaving us with a big hole in our budgeted income.
In the context of all of the above, we completed a comprehensive budget review which resulted in a 30% reduction to our planned spending for the year. It also required us to make the difficult decision to make two members of the team redundant: our wonderful chef, Gaby Aguilar, and David Fuertes, who was returning to Santa Cruz to focus on resident discipleship. We are so grateful for Gaby and David, especially for their impact on the lives of each of those they have ministered to whilst working with us. Please pray for Gaby and David – that God would guide them, provide for them, and continue to use them to build His Kingdom. 
These hard decisions have been made prayerfully and to ensure Novō emerges from the immediate coronavirus crisis, and its aftermath, in a position to continue the work to which we feel called. The local team now has 3+ years of experience and can provide quality care more efficiently than when we began. There are things we will not be able to do but, looking ahead, the economies we are making now will make the work in Santa Cruz more sustainable – and more replicable in other developing world contexts
To close, I want to leave you with the image above. It's an image from these months that’s going to stay with me. Alejandro – a recent graduate who has stayed with us during the quarantine – serving food to a group of homeless addicts. Alejandro began living on the streets when he was 17, having run away from home in Tarija not long before. He’s now 34. A year ago, Alejandro was a part of a group just like those he’s serving food to. Today, he’s got a year clean under his belt, a smile on his face, and a plan for the future. Nothing is guaranteed. The way ahead will be steep and narrow. But what a difference a year – the right sort of year – makes. 
We’re so grateful for the support – prayerful and practical – which makes this work possible. We have been blown away by God’s faithful provision, through your generosity, in recent months. 

Thank you!
If you can give to Novo at this time we can, of course, put your donation to good work! A click on the box below takes you to the donate page of our website where you'll find all the information you need to give tax-effectively in the UK, Canada, and the US. 
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In the UK, Novō Communities is a Registered Charity (1164421). In Canada and USA, we are partnered with the Evangelical Free Church of Canada and America respectively.

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