August 29, 2011

So what are you doing??

Cassie and I thought that some of you might be wondering what it is that we are exactly going to be doing in Managua!? In many ways Cassie and I may have some of the same questions that you do; however we thought we could fill you in on what we do know. Cassie and I have been hired as Culture of Peace Educators through the Mennonite Central Committee. Cassie will be spending the majority of her time at the Polytechnical University of Nicaragua working in The Institute of Investigation and Humanistic Development. This branch of the university is part of an academic, nonprofit service orientated department focused on "serving the community." Its work focuses on training community leaders in the vision, sensitivity and social commitment toward those who suffer from social and governmental injustices, with an emphasis on the church being a bulwark in this task. I will be spending the majority of my time at the Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary was founded in 1941 as a pastoral training institution with the claim to fame that it is the first evangelical seminary in Nicaragua. The majority of my time with be spent in the classroom working with pastors and leaders of local churches. My duties will include teaching classes related to the topics of conflict transformation, trauma, reconciliation, conflict mediation and pastoral ministries with an emphasis on social involvement. That's about it. We were able to have one translated phone conversation in which many Nicaraguans working with MCC and for these institutions seemed excited for our arrival. We look forward to meeting our future friends, co-workers and teachers and for the adventure that lies ahead.

Our duties:
*Teach classes on the culture of peace and conflict transformation
*Teach classes for students in the bachelor's degree theology program
*Facilitate workshops on trauma and recovery
*Work with students to help them complete their graduate theses
*Participate in committees at the university
*Design a postgraduate program on peace and conflict transformation
*Develop training focused on strengthening skills of pastoral and community-focused ministry

August 27, 2011

College Reunion

We have great friends. A few of my (Cassie's) college roommates met up a couple of weeks ago in Sioux Falls (great destination location!). Our last reunion was two years ago in Tampa and the next will (hopefully) be in Managua. It was a fabulous time of reminiscing about the past, talking about the present and hoping for the future. A highlight of the trip was watching (spying) on one of our friends put out a house fire. She is one of the three women firefighters in Sioux Falls. I am proud of her and each of my friends who are using their unique gifts and talents to make this world more just and peaceful.

August 21, 2011

Things we will miss...

As many of you know, I am a big family girl. I love family get togethers for any occasion! We have been blessed with wonderful immediate and extended families. This is one of the hardest things about leaving, to think of the things that we will miss. It isn’t just the big holidays, birthday celebrations, births or weddings, but it is also the card playing, walking to the local Dairy Queen (or Dairy Dandy if we are in Sheldon, Iowa), baking in the kitchen, boating at the cabin and hanging out with our niece and nephew.

We were blessed to be a part of my brother’s wedding this weekend. Congratulations to the new couple! We love you both!

August 13, 2011

Nicaragua Bound

It is with mixed feelings that we start this blog and write our first post. Kevin and I are heading to Nicaragua! We are excited for the adventure that lies before us, but are also experiencing feelings of grief and sadness as we anticipate the many new changes that come with transition. Since October 11, 2005 (the day that Kevin and I met in the Dordt College parking lot), we talked about our hopes for living and working internationally. There was a lot of excitement around this possibility, but after six years we have more of a realistic picture of what this means for us. We are incredibly enthused about the amazing opportunity that we have through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to serve in Nicaragua for three years. The shared values and ways of approaching development that we have in common with MCC is such a blessing. The position descriptions (our actual work) seem to fit our giftings, talents and passions. This motivates us even further. The opportunity to live internationally and grow and learn from people that live life differently from us also brings a sense of enthusiasm. On one hand we look forward to our new "normal" with the opportunity to grow and develop new relationships, and on the other we are saddened by the fact that we will be separated from friends, family, co-workers and clients who are dear to us! We will miss many things - seeing you grow, the joys of new births, new unions and just doing life together. But we go with God as our guide asking that he gives us the strength and courage to go wholeheartedly, to invest fully without regret!
P.S. Start booking your tickets for Managua!