May 28, 2012

Keeping You Updated

We are excited to share that we have finally found a house to rent. After six months of being in Nicaragua and living in five different homes, we will finally be able to unpack our suitcases. We are looking forward to seeing what we find in the bags we packed so long ago!

Our house is located in Tierra Prometida (the Promised Land) which is on the southwest side of Managua. It is a little far from UPOLI (where we will be teaching), but after looking for so long and really liking this home, we decided to go for it. We hope that we don’t regret this later during our long bus rides! We are happy to be close to the MCC office (for friends and a washing machine), the Baptist Seminary (where Kevin will teach courses on Saturday’s) and Christian Medical Action (where we will both work one day a week).

In looking for a home, we had a few things in mind:

  • 2 bedrooms - for visitors!
  • finished ceilings – helps with the heat
  • workable kitchen - check, although we need to put in some shelves to avoid storing everything on the floor
  • outside area - perfect! we have a mango tree and avocado tree that provide great shade, there is room for hammocks and we also have a broken down basketball hoop which we are excited to share with the neighbor kids

We are planning to paint a little in this next week and move in during the first week of June (that is if some basic things like toilets get fixed). We feel blessed with all of the hand-me-downs that we are getting from previous workers. The only bigger items that we have had to buy is a kitchen table and chairs, which we got used for a super great deal. As many of you know, I love making my home a home. So I will do my best at this on the little budget that we have.

In addition (sorry this post is getting long), we have recently finished up our formal language training. Although we don’t feel ready, it was time to be pushed out of the nest. We just finished up one more homestay in EstelĂ­ and have been volunteering with local NGO’s (assisting them and practicing Spanish) and will continue over the next couple of months until our Spanish is “university ready.”

If you are interested in reading more about the short-term work that we will be doing, check out the organization’s websites below (click on organization name):

  • Whole Child International - works in existing children’s institutions (orphanages) to improve the quality of care and help prevent the bleak outcomes that await most children raised in the world’s orphanages
  • La Casa de Esperanza – provides housing, education and income generation projects to victims of sex trafficking and prostitution
  • Podcasts for Peace - facilitates creative and intellectual expression through digital media to empower youth leaders and promote social justice through collaborative community engagement
  • NATRASa community led organization that is seeking to provide education and job training for youth in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Managua
  • Los Quinchos - works with youth living on the streets of Managua in hopes of helping them secure a better future for themselves through safe housing in a drug free environment where life skills are taught and an education and mentoring is provided

That is all for now.  Thanks for reading and taking an interest in our lives!

May 22, 2012

Welcome To The World…

…our new precious niece Annika Lynne.  She was born this evening at 9:28pm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  She weighed in at 8 pounds and is 20.5 inches long.  We are thrilled to welcome her into our family.  Annika, know that Uncle Kevin and Auntie Cassie already love you to pieces.  We enjoyed “hearing” you on the phone tonight and can’t wait to cuddle you and give you lots of kisses in December!


“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Carl Sandburg

**And just a little shout-out to some of our friends who are having and adopting babies.  We have welcomed Finch, Aleta, Amos, Adria and have two more little ones expected at the end of the month.  This is the toughest part about being away!

May 17, 2012

Reflections from the Bus

**For those of you who receive our quarterly newsletter, this is the same article.  We didn’t want to make you read it twice…

Living here is hard. At times it is difficult to explain this in words, but I will try. Since we arrived in November, I have had to be intentional about looking for the positives and finding God’s beauty because the reality around us often overwhelms our hearts and minds. Every day we see, hear, and smell things that aren’t all that pleasant. At times we find ways to avoid them. We know when to hold our breath so we don’t have to smell the horrendous sewage. We know when to look the other way on the bus because the naked man with mental health issues is sitting at his corner. Daily we pass individuals maimed in war or those who work in factories with extremely poor conditions. But then there are days when we do choose to see, we do choose to hear, and we do look intentionally because after all, that is why we are here – to live in solidarity among these brothers and sisters.

Already, after only being here for six months Kevin and I found it extremely helpful to have my parents and Kevin’s dad come for a visit. We explored the country of Nicaragua, having our parents experience many of our daily realities. Through our experiences and the sharing of our lives, they were able to confirm for us, from an outside perspective, that this is a difficult place. My parents have traveled the world, yet there was something different about Nicaragua. Like my parents, I have seen and lived among poverty in many different contexts, but for me there is something about Nicaragua. Not that it is worse or poorer, and not that there needs to be a competition between the world’s poor and mistreated people – they all need and deserve help and have much to give - but there is just something here that makes your heart break and rejoice at the same time.

This all hit me last week when I was sitting on a bus. A blind, aging man played his harmonica and went from seat to seat asking for money for food. He waited at each row, touching each of our shoulders until we would give. This situation happens several times each day, and I have to continually ask myself and God how to respond. Although sometimes I give money (yes, I really do think that poor people have the right to choose how to spend their own money) and sometimes I give food from my backpack, that day I gave money and tears. I cried under my sunglasses.

May 12, 2012

The Joys of Public Transportation

One often thinks of the many tasks and costs associated with owning a vehicle. For many there are the monthly payments, the necessary insurance and repairs and the constant need for more fuel. In general the process of car ownership has become a perceived necessity, a part of the American dream bequeathed at the tender age of sixteen. Of course some of that has changed with the rising cost of fuel and the slumping economy, requiring families to reduce and prioritize, causing drastic changes in one´s life. 

Cassie and I went "cold turkey" and almost rely entirely on public transportation here in Nicaragua, a fact that is not unusual for our organization, but a reality that also makes the jaws drop of many North Americans that we have met here. When we finish Spanish School each day we set out for the bus stop while many of our fellow students wait for their private, window tinted air conditioned rides. We pack on the bus, hoping for a seat, or at least a place to stand out of the sun.

The more difficult part is the amount of time it takes to reach your destination. It is very common for people in Nicaragua, when asked about a distance from here to there, to provide you with two times, one by bus, the other via one´s own car. On top of that there is no stopping at that cute little flower stand or the man who is always busy selling honey alongside the road.

The transition has definitely not been any easy one as Cassie as we have learned to depend on something outside of our own ability to get us from point A to B. There are times when we think about how great it would be to have our own vehicle to cruise along in the beautiful countryside on a Sunday afternoon or the simplicity car ownership would bring to our lives. But then we just have to look around and remind ourselves that most of the people here in Nicaragua do not have this option, a luxury that we often took for granted. It means something to them when we are sitting on the bus together. And on a positive note, I do not have to change oil, fix a broken down vehicle, change a tire or deal with the many hassles of car ownership, at least for awhile!

And to note, motorcycles do look quite appealing.  Although we are trying to weigh out the pro’s and con’s.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

May 8, 2012

Doors, Colors and Stories

About a month ago when our parents were here, we visited the beautiful colonial city of Granada.

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We all took notice of the different types of doorways and I thought that they were worth capturing on film.

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I am hoping to print up some of these for artwork in our future place.  Cheap decorating is always great!

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I love the uniqueness of each one.  They each have a story to share.  Each has a different family living behind it’s door.

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Do you have a favorite?

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I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of Granada…