Thursday, 2 February 2017

Moulding Chronicles February 2017

Dear Friends,
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. 
We left Bolivia knowing that we had a car, but nothing else. We felt that God was prompting us to take our first month back as a time to rest and reconnect with family and investing in our children. He blessed us with a month of beautiful weather so that each day we could get out and enjoy the beautiful English Countryside and start to show the children all of the things that they have never seen, but are ‘normal’ to us, like ducks, double decker buses, how roads work, woodlands and autumn trees.

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

Moulding Chronicles August 2016

Dear Friends,
An end of an era! Last Friday I (Ed) finished with FH Bolivia after eight and a half years of service.  Walking out of the office for the last time as an employee evoked many different feelings. Over these years I have worked in two different cities and five different offices, visited many of the communities in rural areas and poor outer-suburbs and enjoyed the amazing views of the Bolivian countryside that lie in stark contrast to the poverty of the people who live there. 

Through the years I have worked in mapping and environmental assessment, I have been assistant to the Country Director and then later the Programs Director, moved into Staff Development and finally into Human Resources. There have been many lessons learned along the way and I’m sure many more that I will only realise in the years to come. 

While my physical work has been generally in the background producing maps, organising events, helping improve processes for training staff, among many other things, my biggest lasting impact has really been in the relationships I have formed.  There have been those which have  impacted me personally and many others, whom through the grace of God  I have been able to have a positive influence and impact.  

As some of the coaching relationships with the leadership team have come to a close, it has been a real encouragement to hear how coaching has helped them.  The biggest help being simply someone who was willing and give them time to think and process and providing a different perspective to be able to think outside of the box. 

Last week I had a session with a leader who had been working through the chapter on allegiance within the Leaders Life Purpose book. As he worked through the questions God deeply spoke to him about how he needed to surrender certain aspects of his life to Him and to stop living for appearances.  I was humbled as I listened to what he shared. Many times we think that once we have made a decision about Lordship, that is it, all of our lives are for God, and yet there are often areas of life that we don’t hand over, such as control, money, recognition, relationship etc. 

As I look back over this last month, I feel content that I have been able to finish well with FH and have provided a good transfer of roles and responsibilities to the new person. Now my focus shifts to preparing for year two of my coaching course and to helping Sarah and the children finish well. We have a pretty full month and a bit ahead with two more trips to Oruro and Cochabamba, meeting with friends, cleaning, ordering and selling things off and the fun of packing our entire life into a few suitcases.  As we wade through this process of transition we hold onto the words of a song we recently came across that reminds us that whatever happens God is still in control: Soverign Over Us (Vineyard Music)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”
Romans 8:28

Thank God for: 
  • A good trip to Sucre visiting favourite places, and sharing memories and saying goodbye to the office there
  • The family moving into our house wanting to buy most of our goods
  • Hearing how God has used us in the lives of others to bless them

Ask God for:
  • Encouraging and safe trips to Oruro and Cochabamba this month
  • Help working through the emotions involved in transition.
  • Direction of provision of what comes next
Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah and Lucas

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Moulding Chronicles June 2016

Fun with some of our Bolivian Family
Dear Friends,
Transitions and change, just the words on their own evoke many different emotions and feelings, but as we look at the implications of those words the feelings become much more intense. Many of you are now aware that this is the path we are now taking as we have decided to end our time here in Bolivia. Its not been an easy decision to make after almost 9 years of relative stability and knowing what comes next. And yet we feel that God is now calling us to something new, to a new season, to new challenges and the strengthening of the lessons in which we have learned over these nine years in Bolivia.

Pigs wandering the streets squabbling with the local dogs
Aerobics out in the street for the "Dia del desafio" (Day of the challenge)
Since having made that decision it has been interesting how we now see things differently here in La Paz.  We find ourselves reminiscing as we walk around different parts of the city, remembering key moments and events, places we have lived, the clinic where Isaiah was born, and favourite places with amazing views of the city and Illimani. There are also feelings of sadness as we think about the things we will miss, the friendships, the familiarity and sounds of the neighbourhood we live in and seeing the odd sights that only happen in the developing world - farm animals and dogs roaming the streets in packs, buses with people hanging out of the door, bikes and taxis loaded up to the hilt, just this week I saw a taxi with two coffins in the back and three tied on the roof and I thought ‘only in Bolivia.’ All these thoughts go intertwined with thoughts of what is coming. Seeing family for the first time in 4 years, opportunities for grandparents and grandchildren to do things together, places, wildlife and foods to share with our children, times of spiritual refreshment, and being at lower altitude and having more energy. And of course there will be the rain of the UK and other challenges.

Perfect view of Illimani from the Monticulo
So this we were we find ourselves as the book ‘Looming Transitions’ by Amy Young says; living in the tension of our current reality and future reality at the same time, trying not to die to soon or too late. Not too soon with shutting down from responsibilities or relationships too early, maintaining our involvement with work, church and friendships. And not dying too late and suddenly disappearing like the rapture. It is a hard tension to live in, but a challenge we want to complete. Finishing well, standing in this tension continuing to serve and encourage, while little by little giving up responsibilities, praying that God will provide new relationships for the friends we have made to help them to keep growing in the Lord.

We do not know what comes next, we have our desires, but the Lord knows best and so we are patiently seeking him and pushing doors where we can. 

Thank God for: 
  • Almost nine years in Bolivia
  • Seeing our family grow
  • Spiritual growth and character development over these last nine years
  • Friendships that have changed lives
  • FH transforming realities of so many lives throughout the world. 

Ask God for:
  • Finishing well with FH and Church.
  • For all of us to be able to work through the emotions and strains of leaving Bolivia and adjusting to life in the UK.
  • Ed starting year two of his coaching course in August
  • Safe travels within Bolivia and returning.
  • The right job, housing and a car

Practical details:
  • Please don’t send any more post as they can take months to arrive, even if the Post Office says otherwise.
  • 29th July - Ed finishes with FH Bolivia
  • 20th September - Leave Bolivia
  • October to  December -  Home leave
  • December / January - Hope to be starting a new job.

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 
Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Moulding Chronicles March 2016

Dear Friends,

Last month Sarah was clearing out the office and found some cassette tapes that we were given years ago when we first moved to Bolivia. We never looked at them before, but one in particular peaked our interest as it was the same author of a book she had just finished reading, 'lifting the level of our prayers' by Charles Stanley.  So we thought we'd finally make the time on Sunday mornings to listen to them. What a blessing they have been for us as we have listened and learned more about prayer through them. 

One of the challenges involved writing out our prayers and being very specific about who and what we pray for so we can see exactly what we pray for as well as having something to return to, to see when our prayers are answered.  Another challenge was to use some of the apostle Paul's prayers as a guide to pray for people and to be very specific focusing our prayers more on the eternal consequences rather than general non specific blessings. As we have done this we have found our prayers are becoming more intentional and specific and as we think about what to pray and reflect on  scripture God draws more prayer out of us.

The Birthday Boy turns 5
Last week I (Ed) was praying for a couple of people and a difficult situation I was in the middle of and I saw that in the Ephesians 1:16 prayer it started with thanksgiving for them and what God is doing in their lives and it stopped me in my tracks. Here I am praying that God would sort this situation out and I am only looking at the problem and have not lifted up my eyes to ask God to show me where His grace is at work so that I can thank Him for that and then ask what He wants me to pray.

In other news, coaching is continuing to go well and I am enjoying learning lots, as well as seeing the power in asking simple questions and watching my clients have ah ha moments as God reveals new things to them. I am also working with another coach in Spain to help launch later this year a Foundational Coaching Skills training FOCOS in Spanish. I am really excited about being part of this as it will enable these simple but effective skills to be used in many more settings. 

At home we made a smooth transition into schooling with two, Isaiah has been very enthusiastic and excited about learning letters and numbers and Alana has enjoyed a little more autonomy in deciding what to work on and when as well as somebody else being around to interact with. She has also ventured out into art classes this year at a local college which she is really enjoying. After a bumpy first few days Lucas settled into kinder, and in the last month all three have been enjoying getting involved in Oansa.

The Easter Bunny
Thank God for: 
  • Lucas settling well into kinder
  • Isaiah adjusting well into homeschool

Ask God for:

  • A break away to rest, reflect and review
  • Continued help in learning and growing in the skills of a Coach

Check out the video from the FH President to see what is happening worldwide with FH  

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah and Lucas

Making good use of his love of Lego

A special surprise for fathers day
Teaching herself to ride a bike

Friday, 29 January 2016

Moulding Chronicles January 2016

Dear Friends,

Over the holidays we were glad of an afternoon to ourselves to reflect on last year finding the threads of God’s hand through the year and looking forward to the year to come. Looking back we saw how at times we took our eyes off the Lord and tried to work things out in our own strength and then got frustrated when things didn’t work out. But even through this we saw how God used our lack of dependence to bring us back into depending on Him and increasing our desire to seek Him more and more. This was brought into focus for us both as we read through Bruce Wilkinson’s book called ‘Secrets of the Vine’ based on John 15 and considered whether God was disciplining us, pruning us or asking us to abide more with Him and bear more fruit. So 2015 has continued to grow and shape our character for which we are very grateful to God. 

In December we finished the book When Sinners say I do by Dave Harvey with the families group. Throughout the study this year we haven’t been sure as to whether it has had much impact or not, however in drawing it to a close there were a number of encouraging comments about what people had taken from it. Such as looking for were God’s grace is at work and praising God for that and not focusing on the negatives, seeing the need to extend mercy and forgiveness in the little things, learning that God really is interested in every area of our lives and how he gave these different areas for our enjoyment, being thankful for the challenge of the book regarding relational struggles.  In February the group will start again and we will see where it goes next. 

Over the last 2 months Ed has begun to coach colleagues and friends and is finding it really enjoyable and something that fits his passions to walk with people and help them discover God more. It has been a joy to see people share their desires and hopes and to watch them work out how to fulfill them. The challenge now is to balance his time well with his current responsibilities which he hopes to gradually phase out of and the requirements needed to do the coaching well.

At home Sarah has just begun a new Homeschool year with Alana and Isaiah. They have had a good start with Isaiah’s energy and enthusiasm to learn encouraging her. This week they started a new morning bible study series on Wisdom, learning about what it means to be wise people.  We are enjoying sowing seeds into their lives and we are excited to see what fruit will come from it in the future. God is faithful. 

Thank God for: 
  • The growth of families within our group
  • A good chilled out Christmas
  • Leading arty activities with other children over the hols
  • A good start to Homeschool and coaching

Ask God for:

  • Lucas returning to Kinder
  • This coming year and the challenges God has planned
  • Where to take the family group now.
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas

Monday, 23 November 2015

ToroToro, one of natures natural beauties.

Now that the children are a little bit older we feel that we are able to explore a little more of the amazing natural beauties that abound within this country. The country is not very well set up for tourism or at least not those who are travelling with children. The majority of places worth visiting involve an hour or more hard walking.

ToroToro is a place that Ed has visited a number of times in recent years as he has been involved in various evaluations of the work that FH is doing in the area.  Having seen the photos and heard a lot about it, it was on our list of places we really wanted to see as a family. When friends of ours were talking about going we jumped at the opportunity of doing a joint family trip which worked out just great, as the extra people helped to keep everybody moving along during the long, long, hikes.

We weren’t disappointed with what we saw.  In recent years there has been a great effort to improve tourism within ToroToro national park and there are now many guides available just waiting to take you around the spectacular wonders of nature, though I don’t think many would have quite so happily taken on our band of 5 small children, however Emilo our guide was fantastic. He was very encouraging and helpful and readily took a slower pace to cater for small legs.

The children were amazing, they did so well walking and climbing and clambering over rocks and into caves stopping at every place where there was sand or water for a play.

During our time we visited 5 major sites, the first was the ‘Ciudad de las Itas’, a city made of huge stones with caves at every turn. A lot of climbing and clambering but well worth the breathtaking views.

Site number two was down into the caves, we weren’t able to do the complete cave route as it was too dangerous to do with the children, however we were able to get a good way down into the caves to 70m below the surface, so everybody got a good taster of what its like to be inside a cave, there were a few occasions when the children were not so sure but with a bit of encouragement, they were happy to press on.

Site number 3 was the Mirador, a metal balcony structure that was built by FH a few years ago that overhangs one of the canyons and provides a beautiful view of all around.

Site number 4, from the mirador we made our way slowly down into the canyon, going down 850 rough stone steps then along the canyon floor to the ‘Virgil’ a beautiful oasis of a waterfall cascading down the mountainside creating a sudden flood of green amongst the barren rocks. There was a smaller pool just to one side which was just perfect for us to while away a couple of hours splashing in the clear water and exploring a small tunnel and cave off to one side. The water was lovely but the climb back up the 850 steps almost finished us off.

Site number 5. As we headed our way back to Cochabamba we stopped at another recommended site 18km out of ToroToro, ‘Las Pozos de las Golandrinas’. As series of cool, fresh water pools that spill down into what is a very hot and dry valley. After an hours walk in teh very hot sun, we were very glad of those pools to cool down in and refresh ourselves, before returning the remaining 4 hours to Cochambamba.

ToroToro is your original Jurassic park, there are dinosaur footprints wherever you go. Every year more are discovered as the process of erosion takes its toll over the land. That in itself was pretty awesome.

So if you have the energy we would highly recommend paying a visit, and we have been able to prove that it is also possible to do it with children. ToroToro also has a very unique petrol station which we made use of.