January 31, 2012

My Thanks

It is now the end of January and that means that I have written down 93 things that I am grateful for. Remember this post which included my New Year’s Resolution of documenting the things that I am grateful for? Well it has gone well so far, I have learned much and I intend to continue this practice for the next eleven months.

The majority of days this month were filled with much joy. However, there were a couple days that were a bit more difficult and it helped to reflect and look around at what is actually good.

I thought I would share a few things with you that were on my list this month: comfy bus seats, joy filled babies, hammocks, care packages filled with lovely treats, the progress made in language learning, the ability to exercise, great e-mails, learning patience, that my needs and wants are met, sleeping in, seventy years of beauty, safe ferris wheels, forgiveness, beautiful people, plans that actually work out, playing softball with the boys, seeing four countries in one day, forever families for children, mint/coffee ice-cream, antiretrovirals, restoration on earth, ethnic food, aging folks, a cuddly husband, completing a great book, beautiful ultrasound pictures, a God who cares, kids eager to play, access to water, lifelong friends, Skype calls, kids who love to play, a good walk and patient Spanish teachers.

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January 26, 2012

MCC Friends

In this time of transition we have been blessed by the relationships with our fellow MCCers here in Nicaragua. Their welcoming and hospitable spirits have been such a blessing to us. We have also appreciated their wisdom and advice for living in Nicaragua.

Back in December we headed to Granada (which by the way, in 1,001 Places to Visit Before you Die is listed as #1) with our friends Adam and Marissa. Adam works for the Peace and Justice Commission and Marissa promotes literacy through the development of libraries.  We are grateful for their friendship, their amazing Spanish skills and are already encouraging them to extend their time here!


For New Years, we headed to Teustepe where our friends Liz and Nate work in community agricultural development. It was great to see their home, some of the work that they do and bring in the New Year with a really great couple. They enjoy good coffee and quality cooking, so we always have a great time together in the kitchen!  (Pictured below is Liz buying groceries from the local comedor)


Also pictured above is David.  He is also a member of our team, a native Nicaraguan and has been a wonderful friend to us in our transition here.  He has provided us with a lot of insights about living here and has readily welcomed us into his home on several occasions.

Lastly, this is Goldie. She is a fellow MCCer and has much wisdom and insight into serving abroad as she has done this a few times before. She and I are prayer partners and I am looking forward to meeting with her on a regular basis and hopefully gleaning some of this wisdom from her!  Also pictured with Goldie are a few other gals that we have the opportunity to work with here in Nicaragua.  Finally is a picture of the majority of our team at a farewell party for one of our workers.  We are very grateful for our MCC family!

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January 22, 2012

Language Learning

Yep, we are still working hard on it!  Our language learning is continuing to go well.  There are days when it can be frustrating, when we can’t communicate with those around us like we would like to, but overall we are happy with the progress that we have made.  In the difficult times it is helpful to reflect back to where we were when we arrived and to compare it to where we are now.

Our days of Spanish look somewhat like this: study for an hour in the morning before school (once a week we treat ourselves to an americano and cappuccino), two hours of one on one language school, lunchtime at the office (conversation in Spanish), two hours of tutoring in the afternoon, dinner with our host family (conversation in Spanish) and a couple hours of studying and playing with the kiddos at night (all in Spanish). 

I guess I haven’t had a newborn, but I can say that I have never been more tired!  It seems like I need at least 10 hours of sleep to be ready for a new day of language learning.  We will continue on “this schedule” until March when we will evaluate where we are at in our learning.  We are hoping to start off the school year at UPOLI at this time.

On an encouraging note, we went to church today and were both able to understand the majority of the sermon.  There were a few words here and there that we needed to look up in our dictionary, but overall we were quite pleased. 

Now for the talking part… 

As my mom said tonight on Skype, “our receptive language comes faster than our productive language.”  We are feeling like we are at a point where we can listen and understand quite a bit, but spitting out the words is a whole other matter.

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January 18, 2012

Back from Guatemala

Cassie and I are back home, no we are not in Minnesota. However, after another 22 hours on the bus, traveling a similar distance of that between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Chicago (which only takes 7 hours on the Mega Bus) we are back in Managua. We enjoyed the time that we were able to spend with members of our team from Nicaragua and the larger MezzoAmerica MCC team. Together we spent time getting to know one another, hearing about each others work and also attending workshops which dealt with the current rise of violence in our area of the world and the recognized needs of our partners within this context.

DSCN4709  DSCN4744                                                  Pictured above is a glimpse of the beautiful scenery and nature that we experienced in Guatemala.

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We enjoyed visiting some of the local vendors as well as various cooperatives that are working together to sell products at a fair price.

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We took a few boat rides on Lake Atitlan.  We were fortunate to have a motor on most of them, however a lot of the locals work very hard to paddle across this beautiful lake.  Also pictured above is part of the MCC Nicaragua team relaxing in between our sessions.

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Lastly, Cassie and I visited Antigua for an extra day at the end of the trip.  While there we enjoyed the historical buildings and ethnic food.  Here Cassie is eating Indian for the first time in three months!  It was delicious, or in Nica lingo “muy rico!”

January 8, 2012


We are going to be offline for a little bit due to the fact that we are heading to Guatemala tomorrow for the semi-annual MCC Mezzo-America retreat. We will embark on this journey in the wee hours of the morning, and after finding ourselves on a bus for a little over 18 hours - having passed through El Salvador - we will be in Guatemala City. Once in Guatemala we will travel to Santiago Atitlán, Sololá. There we will be joining fellow MCC workers from Mexico and throughout Central America. We are looking forward to the time away with fellow workers and will share more when we return.

January 5, 2012

Our Year

Blog - Dove

Here's a recap of 2011 in words from this year's blog posts.  Pretty fun, huh?  We like how Nicaragua is central to the dove.  I guess we talked about Christmas a little too much?  The words that stick out to us are relationships, preparing,  peace, bless and giving.  2011 was a year of transition for us and we are hopeful that this next year will be one of learning, adventure, service and growth.