March 29, 2012

Dorothy Day

On February 4th, President Barack Obama named Dorothy Day as a “great reformer in American history.” Day was a social activist who worked with the Catholic worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf.

And here’s a quote from our sister, Dorothy Day: “Our problems arise from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

A few years back I (Cassie) read Day’s diaries which are titled The Duty of Delight. This proved to be a powerful read for me as I encountered the works and thoughts of this incredible woman who has done an enormous service for Christians and for all those who care about social justice, peace and compassion.

Dorothy says it much better than I, so here are a few quotes from her: 

  • “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom 
that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.”
  • “The true atheist is the one who denies God’s image in the ‘least of these’.”
  • “We are not expecting Utopia here on this earth. But God meant things to be much easier than we have made them. A man has a natural right to food, clothing, and shelter… A family needs work as well as bread… We must keep repeating these things… Eternal life begins now.”
  • “I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.”
  • “Spend your life working on something that outlasts it.”

Today and everyday, may we live our lives in service to those around us.

Excerpts of this blog post were taken from Shane Claiborne in his blog post titled “Dorothy Day the Great Reformer?”

March 25, 2012


We have been blessed to have a few friends come down and visit us over the past few months.  There is nothing like seeing a familiar face while sharing conversation and laughter.

Back in December, Will and Erika (and Baby Strickland) were working here in Nicaragua with a YWAM team.  We enjoyed catching up with them during our afternoon together at Laguna de Apoyo.

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Anna and Andrea, friends from Church of All Nations came to Nicaragua and Costa Rica on a three week backpacking trip.  We enjoyed hosting them, showing them around and learning more about their lives.

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Matthew, our good buddy from Dordt and the Humble Bean came down for a few days.  What a joy it was to share a cup of coffee, wonderful conversation and a beautiful sunset on the beach.  We will take him up on his offer to visit us again!

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Joe, our late night neighbor from Bethel also came to visit for a weekend.  Yes, it can be done!  We loved catching up with him, hearing about his life and making up for our time not living next door.  He also filled us in on the GOP Presidential Race, there may have been a few debates along the way.

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And we are very excited for this Friday when our parents arrive here in Nicaragua.  Kevin’s dad will be traveling down (on his second flight ever, first since he was 16!) along with Cassie’s parents.  We are taking our first week of vacation when they come and are looking forward to making up for time apart, while creating wonderful memories together!

March 21, 2012

Mangoes are Here!

We crawled up on our office roof today and fetched 168 mangoes!  We learned how to make a batch of juice this morning and have several other lovely cooking ideas.  These fresh mangoes help to beat the heat.

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March 17, 2012

The Virtue of Flexibility...and more

Last night Kevin and I were chatting about our frustrations with how life goes here in Nicaragua.  To sum it up, things just never go as planned.  We could tell you a book of stories, but the even more frustrating part is that this is the daily life that our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters tread.  More on that in another post.

Life here requires a lot of flexibility!  I feel like I have been doing pretty well with this, especially being the Type A person that I am.  Some of my friends would be proud to hear that I haven't touched a post-it-note since I arrived and that my planner is collecting dust in the desk drawer.  But over the last couple days I have been thinking more about how I have been responding to disappointments.  Usually I acknowledge that I am disappointed, accept that this is just the way life is here and move on.  Yet, I started to question whether or not this was a healthy way to cope.  Coming from a Social Work background, I know how important it is to effectively deal with our feelings and disappointments and what can happen when we don't.

And then we read these lines last night from Henri Nouwen.  I felt like it was specially written for me, although I know I still have a lot of personal work to do in this area:

Trees look strong compared with the wild reeds in the field.  But when the storm comes the trees are uprooted, whereas the wild reeds, while moved back and forth by the wind, remain rooted and stand up again after the storm has calmed down. 

Flexibility is a great virtue.  When we cling to our own positions and are not willing to let our hearts be moved back and forth a little by the ideas or actions of others, we may easily be broken.  Being like wild reeds does not mean being wishy washy.  It means moving a little with the winds of the time while remaining solidly anchored in the ground.  A humorless, intense, opinionated rigidity, about current issues might cause them to break our spirits and make us bitter people.  Let's be flexible while being deeply rooted.

And a few unrelated notes:
*We are in Esteli for a few more days.  We have been learning a lot of Spanish (but there is always so much more), working long days (12 to 14ish hours), enjoying the cooler climates and have been totally spoiled by our sweet Nicaraguan family.
*Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  It is one of Kevin's favorite holidays being the Notre Dame fan that he is.  I have a little surprise of green items that I picked up from the grocery store waiting for him.
*We are super excited for a couple upcoming visits!  We will definitely post pictures.
*We are trying to decide if it is a smart decision to get a cat.  Our neighbors cat just had five babies and they are adorable.  We got to hold them when they were one day old and still had their umbilical cords attached!  They are great for killing spiders and rats, but we aren't sure if we are ready for the commitment.  And our Baby Cacao is back at home with Grandma and Grandpa.  I wonder what he would think?

March 12, 2012


A few months ago I (Kevin) was given the opportunity to attend a workshop on biblical hermeneutics. The conference was attended by sisters and brothers from around the world, discussing how the Bible is read in each of our own contexts. Throughout the week we were able to love, learn and share with one another. As you can imagine there were many differences and surprisingly many similarities. Sitting around the lunch table one day, our group from many different contexts discovered that the work and writings of Henri Nouwen had deeply affected us all. Today, I simply want to leave you with some of his words from Bread for the Journey.

A Nonjudgmental Presence

To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled to God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our minds about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we only create more division. Jesus says is clearly, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge;…do not condemn;…forgive” (Luke 6:36-37). In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.

Being Safe Places for Others

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for all people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realize that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may then find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies. Many times this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.

March 7, 2012

8 month old, Oreo’s and a Move

This is what we woke up to the other morning.  A cute (and messy) start to the day!  We are sad that today is our last day in our home with Aleesia and her family.  We loved living in the neighborhood known as “Tres Ochenta.”  The soccer games, our tortilla stand, yummy enchiladas and our neighbors will be missed.

Tomorrow we are headed out to Esteli (together this time) for two more weeks of language immersion.  After that we may have our own place, we may be living with a new host family or we may be living in the MCC office?  There are many unknowns at this time.  But we have learned that FLEXIBILITY is the key and to take things in stride.  Of course we would like to be more settled, to not still be living out of our suitcases, but we trust that it will all work out in the end. 

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What we do know is that we will be making MANY visits to Tres Ochenta to visit this little one and her family!

March 3, 2012

The Campo

From Kevin:

I spent last week in La Concha with David’s (MCC co-worker) family. My days were filled with the Spanish language as I worked with various farmers harvesting their fruit crop. Next time you eat an orange or tangerine it might just have been picked or caught by yours truly. I also took the opportunity to do a lot of cooking while I was there. David's mother and I spent many nights cooking traditional Nicaragua dishes as well as some pizza's (our new little tradition) and a Columbian soup.

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Life in Nicaragua is often difficult. However, this statement became much more of a reality for me as I lived life out in the campo. At this time of year, water is a very precious resource. On two separate nights the family and I needed to get up at 2 AM (the time of day when water may be available), walk into the woods, crawl into a hole, and see if there is water that can then be connected to a pump that ultimately brings the water into the house. Our first night was unsuccessful, however, on the second there was water and showers for everyone (of course they were a bit cold).

The other reality that I was introduced to was the difficult work required in the harvesting of fruit and chocolate. Our days were filled with labor; men crawling in trees, catching fruit on the ground and peeling the tedious cacao pods in order to make chocolate. After each day my neck hurt, my fingers ached and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed.

The end of the week was wrapped up with a harvest sale at David's church. The fruit we harvested and the chocolate we made were sold in order to support the work of the church. There was also scrumptious Nicaraguan food for all to enjoy. I must admit that I did leave the men in the field for a good part of Saturday to join the women in the kitchen. I now have a few new recipes for Cassie and I to try!

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From Cassie:

My visit to EstelĂ­ started off interesting when I passed the town on a direct bus that wasn't supposed to stop for a couple more hours.  After getting that figured out, the rest of the week was pretty uneventful.  I jumped into the daily grind with the family, this meant waking up at 4:45am.  Our mornings consisted of a run (rare for Nicaraguans, but much appreciated by me), bucket showers, gallo pinto and conversations in Spanish.  Let’s just say that the Spanish didn’t always sound pretty at 4:45am.  On the mornings when I was really tired and didn’t want to get out of bed, I made sure to remind myself that the mom woke up at 3:30 to start the laundry.  The water source is best at this time.

Throughout the week I helped out at the family owned second hand clothing store.  The store was opened three months ago and is providing income to each of the five siblings.  It is quite an incredible operation that they have going and I was blessed that they invited me right on in.  While working at the store, I was able to practice my Spanish with the employees and their customers.  Overall I found the week to be quite helpful in both building my conversational skills and also for making new friends.

While in EstelĂ­, I was overwhelmed with the families generosity.  Continually I see families with little materially giving generously what they have to their guests.  They invited me to come back with Kevin.  And so on Thursday, we will head back out for two more weeks!

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