July 25, 2013


I hope that this finds each and everyone of you doing well today.  I realized that we had a lot of pictures from our last couple of months that we hadn’t shared with you yet, so I thought I would put together a random post with our recent happenings.  If you are interested, I have done a few other posts like this: here and here.  Enjoy!

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Lately, we have been spending a lot of time with our neighborhood kids.  Whether we are reading, playing with the hose, putting together puzzles or playing soccer, it is always an enjoyable and exhausting time.  We wish that we could dedicate more time to our neighborhood.  Some days it is tough to arrive home from work at 5pm and have the energy to play for another couple of hours.  All in all though, we are totally blessed by these kids and are so glad to live next door.

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We have been enjoying lots of dinners with our Nicaraguan family, friends and students.  We enjoy hosting in our home as well as visiting the local fritangas together.

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We continue to teach at the Baptist Seminary and are thoroughly enjoying our current class.  Here are some mural pictures that we took in Estelí to use for the weeks that we were teaching on Human Rights and Gender Equality.

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We attended and celebrated Aleesia’s 2nd birthday.  It was Dora themed and we had a great time celebrating with her.


We have been drinking A LOT of pitaya juice as it is in season and one of our favorites.  Isn’t this fruit absolutely gorgeous?

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We hosted a despedida (goodbye party) for our friends and colleagues, Adam and Marisa.  We are soaking up our last week together and are not looking forward to life in Nicaragua without them.

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We are trying to take advantage of living close to the ocean.  We don’t get there enough, but always enjoy swimming in the waves.

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We have enjoyed going to the new park in town with some of our Nicaraguan friends.  This playground is pretty incredible with many play sets, and fields and courts for almost all sports.  beats many in ‘America.

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We hosted a learning tour from Ohio for a few days in June.  Although we had people sleeping in all corners of the house (including our storage room), we enjoyed having them in our home and experiencing parts of Nicaragua with them.

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We participated in MCC’s Latin America Retreat which we hosted here in Managua.  We assisted with some of the planning, but were really able to enjoy our time interacting and learning from other workers in Latin America.  It is always a treat to learn about what other workers are doing and to share our joys and our difficulties.

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And last, but so special, our friend Chelsea came to visit for two weeks.  We had an incredible time together and it was such a gift to us that she came.

July 17, 2013

El Café



Our world is turning green as the rains have ushered in a time of growth and signs of life here in Nicaragua.  As the season shifted Cassie and I ventured to two local coffee farms in order to learn more about the care and nurture that goes into the creation of the perfect cup of coffee.

Some things that the average connoisseur of coffee may not know is that coffee grows on trees.  Unfortunately these trees require a great amount of care as they are susceptible to many different forms of disease and fungus.  Furthermore, the life of a coffee tree is only about 10 years.  The best coffee is grown at a height of over 3,000 feet and in almost full shade.  Thus, coffee here in Nicaragua is grown in the highlands and the farms are gorgeous.  There are tall shade trees filled with birds and monkeys; and banana and plantain trees towering over the coffee in order to protect the plants from too much sun.  As we walked through the towering hills we had to mind our step as there are several large ditches dug into the hillsides to catch rain water to be used during the dry season. 

We took the opportunity to buy some coffee beans directly from the farmers and I have been roasting them here at our house with my trusty popcorn popper.  It has been interesting to taste the different varieties and note the different floral and flavors found within the coffee of Nicaragua.  I hope to involve myself in the harvesting process that takes place in December in order to even better appreciate the care and tiresome labor that is necessary to fill our cups.




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July 11, 2013



There are some things that we are simply afraid of. Some fear flying, others spiders and snakes, the dark or heights. Many of us consume hours thinking about our fears, why they exist, where they came from, how we might go about overcoming them and the freedom we would experience after and if ever we were able to embark upon this endeavor. Fears also exist in the kitchen. We fear what we do not know, or have never attempted to bake. Living in a Latin culture I now find myself surrounded by tres leches and flan; two desserts that are scrumptious and made with expertise here in Nicaragua - did I mention that I am fearful of making both?

However, we often desire that which is seen as being a delicacy, something foreign within our cultural framework of desserts. For a Nicaraguan flan and tres leches is common place - with cookies, tarts, anything made with chocolate and cheesecake being feared and regarded as the impossible baked good.

Thus, on the day in which mothers are celebrated here in Nicaragua (no it is not the second Sunday in May) coworkers of Cassie came over to learn the art of the cheesecake. Dina and Manuel are completely obsessed with cheesecake. Dina was quick to rattle off the various cafes were cheesecake is sold and how much each cafe charges for a slice of baked decadent cheese, down to the very cent after tax and tip is included in the price.

We baked four cheesecakes that day. I made the first with Dina and Manuel taking notes and observing the process. They then both took a turn at baking their own first cakes with the excitement of being able to now make their own cheesecake at home.

That day I shared the following recipe with Dina and Manuel. I have used this recipe for years (including 40 cakes for Cassie and I’s wedding) and have found it to be quite simple and fail proof.

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A Tried and Found True Cheesecake Recipe


20--26 cream filled cookies crushed (or whatever it is that you would like to make a crust with)--depends on how much you like crust!

3 Tbsp.  butter or margarine, melted--a little more if you added more cookies

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese

1 1/4 cup  sugar

1 T. vanilla

4 eggs


1. Take your cream cheese and eggs out of the fridge. Both need to be at room temperature--it is important that they both be at the same temperature.

2. Heat oven to 300 degrees if using a "dark" non-stick pan. If it is "silver" bake at 325.

3. Mix the cookie crumbs and butter, press onto bottom of 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

4. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with a mixer until everything is mixed really well...you really need to mix it—feel free to use a hand mixer or stand mixer for this process.

5. After you have this mixed put your mixing machine away. It is now time to add the eggs. Do so one at a time and use your arm and a wooden spoon or your favorite spatula...the key is to mix only as much as you need to incorporate the egg--you do not want any unwanted "air" to get into the batter.

6. Bake the cake 80-90 minutes.  When the cake is done it should be set in the middle (stick your hand in the oven and give the pan a gentle shake and see how much the middle of the cake is moving—if it is just shaking a little bit it is time to take it out. At this point remove the cake and take the slenderest knife you have and gently loosen the cake from the side of the pan by running the knife around--do this as quickly as you dare.

7. Let cool on counter for a couple of hours.

8. Move to refrigerator, but do not cover until all the “heat” has escaped from the cake.

9. Let stand at least overnight.

10. You can choose to top your cheesecake with whatever you like (chocolate, strawberries, rhubarb—feel free to think outside of the box and do what you enjoy).

11. EAT!

July 5, 2013

La Cultura de Paz

If the mind of man was able to create a "culture of war," it should be able to create a "culture of peace."    -Albert Einstein

Our most recent class at the seminary has Cassie and I teaching a course entitled "The Culture of Peace."  We were given the title of the course and nothing more to guide us in the development of it.  With this amount of freedom we were able to develop a course that we are both extremely happy with and one we believe is beneficial for our students.  After creating a theological basis for why peace is important we have been addressing various topical issues in order to assess the ways in which our students can work towards peace on various levels in their personal lives, work, communities and congregations. The topics that we are addressing in the class include violence, trauma, religious conflicts, human rights, immigration, gender issues, family violence, creation care, forgiveness and healing.  Thus far the class has been challenging because we are dealing with emotionally charged topics, however we have also seen our students grow and have already experienced the fruit that comes through difficult conversation.


(front gate of the seminary)

Furthermore, we have continued teaching the same students that we had in our last class.  With this continuity we have been able to continue to build upon the relationships that we began during our first course this year.  Many students and their families have visited our home and we have also gotten to know their homes, communities and churches.  Through this process we have built relationships with one another in a way that allows for us to more comfortably and with trust, speak into one another's lives through the topics of conversation introduced throughout the course.

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(two of our students that we are blessed to call friends)

Last Saturday was “Day of the Teacher” here in Nicaragua.  Our students surprised us with a celebratory lunch after class.  They prepared our favorite Nicaraguan food, quesillos which is basically a tortilla with lots of cheese and onions.  They also blessed us with several gifts - what generosity!

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(our special class celebration of Day of the Teacher)

Our teaching experience here in Managua has really provided to us life and encouragement to keep on going.  On the days where we wonder why we are here, so far from our family and friends, we often find ourselves reflecting back to the amazing things that are happening in the classroom and even more importantly outside of the classroom with our students.  We feel very honored to be in the place that we are – sharing, learning and engaging with these amazing individuals.

And a few more photos….we recently had a friend come and visit and she did a great job at taking pictures of the “normal things” that we often don’t take pictures of.


(class preparation at home)


(hanging out in our office)

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(this is the lovely garden view that we enjoy from our office)


(a few of our students)

Si la mente del hombre fue capaz de crear una “cultura de guerra,debería ser capaz de crear una “cultura de paz.”    -Albert Einstein


And a bit off subject, but since this post is getting long I thought I would include an amazing Fourth of July reflection that we came across yesterday, one that really resonated with us.

Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing