One way of life ends as a new one begins, everything has changed except our loving heavenly Father who remains faithful and true throughout all the ups and downs.
Bolivia is now a fast fading memory as we establish for ourselves a new normal, yet as we look back there is so much to be thankful for. We finished well with opportunities to make those all important good, goodbyes to both people and places and even managed a long awaited flying visit to the salt flats in Uyuni. It was a memorable trip as we spent half a day clambering over hundreds of old rusting trains and carriages in the train cemetery, followed by a day out of the salt flats which included a visit to fish island where we got to explore and discover some amazing giant cactuses including one over 8 meters high.
Two very special events in our last days will remain in our memories for a long time. The first was a family day spent at one of the parks with staff and their families from FH. During that day various people shared how we had impacted their lives over the years, a very humbling time as we listened to how God had used us to make a difference. In particular was a couple we had never really spent that much time with. They commented on how they had always watched and observed us as a family and as a couple and through doing so were challenged about how they managed their own relationships. It was a powerful reminder about how we are watched by others and that our lives can be either a positive or negative testimony to the one we proclaim as Lord. The second event was with our families group from Church. They planned and organised an amazing traditional meal of pork, banana and potatoes all cooked by fire while buried underground. It was a great time of blessing watching the children play with the friends they had grown up with and talking and sharing stories with some of our closest and dearest friends.
All to quick our last day arrived concluding 8 years and 11 months in Bolivia to the day. Our best friends from Oruro were able to come and spend that day with us together with a few others who came and said their farewells. Three families accompanied us to the airport for the final goodbyes and emotions were running high as we made our way through the airport for the last time.
Our first two months were spent living with family, which though not always the easiest was a very ‘God planned time’ that enabled us to re-establish and strengthen family relationships as well as giving the time and space for the children to get to know their grandparents. God has continued to bless us in so many ways we could never have imagined. In December we moved into a rented house in Gloucester that fulfilled so many of the more ‘specific’ things we had been praying for. This was followed by a flurry of visits to schools in an endeavor to find one that had space for all three children, that would be a good fit for them. By the Christmas holidays they were all signed up and ready to start. In January they started school for the first time ever and they have all been doing amazingly.
School was also a big adjustment to us, particularly Sarah who has always had at least one around all day and every day. However, she is now enjoying that space and filling it with regular visits to our allotment plot which we took on in January, with the hope of learning to grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables, as well as giving the children their own little plot to experiment and grow what they would like to grow. She has also just been asked to join the board of governors at the infant school as a parent governor, so doors are opening to get involved further in the wider community.
Our hope was that by December Ed would be starting a new job or at least have one lined up for the new year. However, Christmas came and went, the new year is well underway and currently still no sign of work. At present he is continuing to work on his coaching course, coaching clients alongside filling in various job applications and waiting to see what happens. This has been a struggle for Ed as things haven’t worked out as hoped, some days it has been a battle to not get dragged down by it but to keep looking up and see where God is working. As we step back to get perspective of what is happening we see that this time of waiting is also part of God’s good plan for us and that he hasn’t abandoned us, but rather continues to provide for us in amazing ways. This time of uncertainty is causing us to grow more in our faith and be challenged to stand strong believing more in who God has made us to be and believing the gifts and talents He has given us.
So we move forward into this new year trusting that He will work all things out for His glory, and being thankful for all the different ways in which he is blessing us and showing his love to us.
Thank God for:
- Good goodbyes
- Good beginnings
- Family and friends
- Good weather
- Beautiful places to visit
- So many fun, new things to experience
- Smooth transitions
- Good schools for the children and a positive start for each of them
- A home and a car
- An allotment
- Fish and chips
Ask God for:
- A good friend for Alana
- The right job for Ed
- Opportunities to serve and connect within our new community
- The right time and space to process our time in Bolivia
Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah and Lucas