January 30, 2013

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

By Dr. Seuss


You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So...get on your way!


You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.


So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! Kid, you'll move mountains.


It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air.


Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

January 23, 2013

The Help

When we went home at Christmas time we asked our neighbor friend, Marta (name changed for confidentiality) if she could help us out with watering our plants and sweeping the patio. She gladly agreed and we handed her the key.  She chuckled at the Nacatamal keychain that we had bought at the market and commented that it was perfect, one of her favorite foods! 

When we arrived back after our trip, we thanked her profusely (her work was way better than anything we ever do), gave her a little Christmas gift and paid her our agreed upon amount.


And then she kept coming.

At first it was because we have a hose and are the only ones in the neighborhood who have one.  She wanted to water our dirt road to reduce the amount of dust.  This is another Nicaraguan custom that we haven't quite learned to fit into our daily schedule. That was fine, but then she moved her way back into our home, watering our plants and sweeping the patio.

We debated how to best respond to this situation, knowing that if we continued we were providing her with much needed income but also realizing that we have sort of been sticklers about not wanting to utilize outside help. MCC does not have a policy, but most expats and middle to high income Nicaraguans that we know have hired help in their homes. We don't really have a quandary with this as there are pros and cons to both sides, but we decided that for ourselves we would do our best to live like our neighbors, with no hired help.

But after talking with Marta, she presented a different perspective.  This money that we are giving her is helping her to buy the school uniforms that she needs to purchase for her boys for the upcoming school year (starts in February).  Without these funds, the boys would most likely not have the uniforms that they need.  We are certain that there will be other upcoming needs that this money could contribute towards.

So here we are, trying to find a balance in this world of grey.  We hope to make the best decision, one that considers our original perspective, but also one that takes into account the needs of our neighbors.

January 18, 2013


I do not bring back from the journey quite the same self that I took.

-W. Somerset Maughn

January 15, 2013

Winter Wonderland

We headed home for three weeks over Christmas and New Years.  This was our first time home since we arrived in Nicaragua and it was a wonderful time to reconnect with family and friends.

Upon arriving the most marked differences were the lack of people out and about, different smells, less noise and of course, the weather.  I don’t like to revert to chatting about the weather, but I just could not get over the vast difference between the cities of Managua and Minneapolis.  We literally shifted from 95 degree days to at one point on New Years Eve a –17.  I even got frostbite on my toe to prove it! 

I have always been a tough Minnesota girl who doesn’t let the weather stop me.  I don’t mind driving in the snow and love playing in it.  So while we were home, we made sure to take advantage of all that a snowy winter has to offer.  We enjoyed snowmen, snow angels, late night Christmas lights, wagon walks, broomball, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow igloos, outdoor bonfires and more.  Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy!

Four_Rectangles - Winter 2


Three_Rectangles - Winter


Four_Rectangles - Winter copy

As we transition back to Managua, the heat is a bit intense and we are finally warming up without our wool socks and gas stove.

January 9, 2013


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.

January 7, 2013

Back Home

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Cassie and I wanted to send a quick update after having not posted for quite some time. Over the past three weeks we have been blessed to see many of those that we have missed so much, as we spent time with family and friends in Iowa and Minnesota (and a couple other states along the way). Celebrating Christmas, bringing in the New Year and meeting our new niece were some of the highlights. We will share more photos in a later post!

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