Part of our work here in Bolivia is being responsible for all the seconded international staff (SIS) working with FH. This includes a range of different tasks from identifying possible future positions for SIS, selection, preparation, receiving, orientation of new staff, member care, and debriefing as well as a number of other things.
To ensure that are staff are settling well into the culture and are not having any major issues or problems with work or life in general our aim of this was year was to visit them all every other month, which normally resulted in us alternating our destination every month, so one month we would go to Sucre and the next to Cochabamba. In between visits we meet and chat with those who live and work with us here in La Paz.
When we carry out our visits we travel as a family so that Alana can be a part of this ministry and get to know the other SIS and play with their children. It also means we can get a balance of the ladies having time with Sarah and the guys with Ed, so there is freedom to talk on gender specific topics.
During our visits we normally spend time chatting with each family, taking the time to listen as to how things are going, what’s been good and what has been not so good. We then try and schedule a time where Ed can meet with the guys, and Sarah with the gals, with the aim of creating a space of mutual support and encouragement. We also provide the opportunity for the couples to enjoy a date night away from the kids and enjoy some uninterrupted quality time together. What is nice about Sucre is that we are all in a similar stage of life in terms of ages and family situation and so we have many things in common.
Our trips to Cochabamba are a little different as peoples individual life situations are different however the general idea is the same, for us to be a support and encouragement to the international staff who work for FH.
Another part of our job is to organize an annual retreat for all the international staff as a time to get away from the regular routine of life and to spend time together having fun and learning more about God. This year, having learnt from our mistakes of last year we invited a guest speaker to come and share with us all. We had some very fruitful and challenging morning sessions as we listened and shared together about Intimacy with God, our spouses, our children, our work and our calling.
Sadly only ourselves and our two families from Sucre were able to attend however it did mean that the talks were able to be tailored more towards our stage of life, as we all have small children, which we all greatly appreciated. Whilst our girls were entertained doing their own thing the 6 of us were able to concentrate and be fed ourselves.
The food was wonderful and the setting stunning, as we were housed in a large country home nestled in a tiny remote village tucked between the mountains in a green valley with a river flowing through it. During the saturday afternoon, some of us took off to the river and very much enjoyed splashing about in the cool water and playing in the soft sand, we almost could have been at the seaside.
We all returned to Sucre feeling somewhat refreshed, with full satisfied tummies, and thoughtful about some of the challenges that had be laid before us.