August 29, 2012

School Bells

As the school bells ring back home, they are also ringing here.  Our class “Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation” officially starts this Saturday.  The syllabi, power point and handouts are ready to go!  We keep thinking how easy this would be if we were able to present in English, but unfortunately that is not our reality.

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We have both been reading through “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and have been discussing and contemplating the teaching methodology of Paulo Freire.  This teaching style definitely is more inline with our views on the educational system.  We plan to promote learning by empowering our students through facilitating learning circles, reflective questioning and using other creative teaching techniques.

“People are resources, not recipients.” –Paulo Freire

We are anxious and fearful to begin the class, but excited to take this step.  We would appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers!

And I thought I would throw in a couple of fun pictures from our last couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

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We love our little friends Adria and Alessia.  I can’t get over how big Alessia has gotten.  Remember here and here?  Their new brother will be arriving shortly!

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We had our previous host mom and her family over to our new place.  We enjoyed a night of conversation, food and a birthday celebration with “magic trick” candles!

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Here is Kevin playing some ball with the neighbor kids.  Slam dunks are a bit easier on this hoop!

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Have I told you all how much I love my flowers?  Here are some recent blooms, which reminds me I still need to show you pictures of our new garden.  More of that in a later post.

August 27, 2012

Los Quinchos

I (Kevin) ventured to the small town outside of Nicaragua known as El Barrio del Cruz and met up with a young man named Francisco. A graduate of the Los Quinchos program, Francisco has spent the last nine years of his life giving back to the organization that made such an impact on his life.

Since that first meeting, Francisco and I have spent two days a week working with the youth together, sharing our stories and developing a friendship. The Los Quinchos program begins right here in Managua. Their outreach house, known as The Filter House, situated in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in Managua, invites youth in from the street, offering three meals a day, a comfortable bed and the opportunity to take classes (they would not have the money necessary to pay even the basic school fees). In exchange for this opportunity the staff at the Filter House ask only that the youth hand in the drugs in their possession at the door. The time that I have spent here has been tough. Watching young kids go through withdrawals from drugs is difficult, some leave because it is overwhelming and others stay as they go through the pain.

In El Barrio del Cruz their are two homes, one for boys and the other for girls, places used as another point of transition from one life to the next after a youth is ready and wants to leave The Filter House and begin a new life. These homes allow the youth an opportunity to get out of Managua, attend a private school and the chance to develop friendships with youth who once lived on the street and are trying to make changes in their life. Here Francisco and I teach art classes at the girls home (for those of you who do not know--I am a horrible artist with little to no ability). This means that most of my time is spent building relationships with the girls - asking them about their lives, hearing their stories, their likes and dislikes and talking to them about their hopes and dreams. The Los Quinchos program offers this opportunity to the youth as a point of starting over and developing a new style of living, hoping to provide the youth with something tangible and positive that they can do with their lives.

On my first visit to The Filter House I was hassled for money by a man who appeared to be about sixty. I later learned that this man was actually Francisco's age, only thirty years of age.  The two men had actually entered the Filter House together, Francisco stayed and he did not. As we talked the man stood a little ways away. Affected by his many years of drug use, he looked much older than he was. Soon he was down on all fours playing with the dogs on the street. Francisco wept and said in Spanish, "we all have choices in life, choices we may not understand we even have, we need to help these kids see that there is something more to life than what they now know."

August 20, 2012

Half a Decade

This past weekend Kevin and I celebrated a half a decade of marriage.  It had been five years since I walked down the aisle with my mom & dad at my side and said “I do” to the one that I loved (and still do).  It was a violently rainy day, but lovely, one that was shared with so many that we love.

These last five years have been marked with laughter, joy, frustration and learning.  But I have always had a faithful one by my side.  And now we are here together living out this dream that we discussed in our very first encounter. Here is to another five years and hopefully many more!

Here are some fun reminders of our day…

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August 16, 2012

i vow that

this poem is being posted with permission from Long Miles Coffee Projecton my tougher days, this is a fabulous reminder of why I am here.

Dear woman,

Life is too short not to move to that place,

or make that change,

or learn that scary skill.

Give. Love. Serve. Create. Empower. Learn.

Do what it takes.

Do the hard work to live the life you want.

(par exemple, parler en français)

It’s painful to make changes.

They can bruise you,

but you will  have a full life because you…







Let your life be a testimony to the things you believe in,

not the things you have indulged in..

It’s good to “live a little,”

but don’t ever let it rule you.

Live your life to protect and empower the things that you love.

It’s tough, but it is a life of no regrets.

A life to be proud of.

That’s what you’re pushing so hard for.

A life your children will admire.

Live with a freedom that radiates from within…

and a responsibility that empowers those around you.


you once lived without all this.



and it’s value rescued you.

So shoot some film,

love your God,

kiss that family,

and do the good that you love

in the place that



August 12, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle–Part 2

We have enjoyed a relaxing weekend here in Managua.  Kevin is (hopefully) finishing up a little stint of dengue fever.  Not fun at all!  It is also called break bone fever because of the intense joint and muscle pain.  Poor guy!  We have enjoyed following the Olympics and were proud to have six Nicaraguans representing this incredible country.  As they wrap up tonight it is neat to reflect on what inspiring games they have been.  It is so good to see human beings showing, through sport, the kind of respectful engagement we are capable of, all in pursuit of excellence and peace.

Okay, now onto the second-part of our home series, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Can you hear a little Jack Johnson here?  If you aren’t familiar with the song, check out the Curious George Album.  I am continuing my “Home, Sweet, Home” series by sharing about how we are reducing, reusing and recycling as we transition and live within our new walls.

All of our furniture with the exception of our table and chairs (which we bought for an amazingly low price from a North American who was leaving Nicaragua) are “hand me downs” from other MCC workers.  We did not have to buy a thing and are so grateful that our organization promotes and provides this.  This does come with a couple of down sides, some which we can change (staining and painting furniture pieces) and some that we can not (figuring out how to live with a “kid-size” mini-fridge for the next three years). 

This table is is one of my favorite hand-me-downs. I love the worn look and fun, bright color.

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I have reused and recycled many items in decorating our house.

The majority of our curtains are made out of old bed sheets, as well as extra fabric pieces (possibly table cloths?) that I found at a second hand store.  I also found a good deal on the paisley print below.

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All of the decorative pillows that I sewed are made from leftover sheets and fabric that I used for the curtains.  Using the same fabrics has helped to tie in the colors from the window to the chair and it was at no extra cost.

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I love having simple linens/fabric pieces around the house.  They add a little burst of color to a room.  Several of the fabric pieces that I have around the house were found in a second hand store, they are actually upholstery furniture samples.  I love all of the patterns and colors and I found them for about twenty-five cents a piece.

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Lastly, my favorite DIY/recycled crafts were made by my friend Alyson and I (she did more of the work).  For the earring board, we took a old Hannah Montana poster/wood frame that was left at our house when we moved in, wrapped left-over sheets around it, hooked on chicken fencing and tada, we have this! The second is a necklace board.  We took an old piece of wood, wrapped it with the old sheet and put in the knobs.  I love the functionality of these pieces as well as the cute décor that it adds to our room. The total? Two dollars at the market for the chicken wire. Not bad?!

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And yes, I realize that the blue wall color looks a little awful in these pictures.  I promise that is looks much better in person.

August 8, 2012

Mi Hermana y Hermano

We recently wrapped up an incredible visit from my sister and brother. It meant the world to have them here, to talk face to face about the ups and downs of life here in Nicaragua and for them to experience it with us first hand. Our time was filled with conversation, howler monkeys, beans (too many for my sister), camping, volcanoes, card games (which resulted in bets for back rubs and smoothies), salty food (thanks to our dad's pallet), surfing, climbing the inside of a 10 story tree, time in the hammock, garden building (pictures to come), spanish practice, cloud forests and laughter.

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Together we learned about Nicaragua's history and culture through books, but more so through conversations with warm and generous friends and strangers (taxi drivers really like to talk!).  While my brother was here, he read through Blood of Brothers which I am currently working my way through. If you are interested in learning more about Nicaragua, we would recommend this as it is very thorough, well written and an enjoyable read.

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Kevin and I both feel incredibly blessed to call them our sister and brother. The time was better than we could have hoped for. For now, there is one sad sister in Managua.

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August 5, 2012

Podcasts for Peace

Our Friday’s are spent at a local NGO called Podcasts for Peace.  We have been assisting with the artesania project that they operate every Friday and Saturday.  Kids from La Churecca come to make bracelets, which are then sold and provide spending money to the kids, along with a savings plan.  The kids make a goal for what they want to use their savings towards - recently one child took his family out for dinner and another bought a soccer ball!  Check out the kids hard work below.