October 27, 2013

Adoption Update

Thanks for stopping by and showing your support in our adoption journey.  We have been in the process for about a year now, talking about it with friends and family, but have never written about it too much here.  To give you a better idea of why we decided to adopt as well as things you can do to support us in the adoption process, please read: Our Adoption

We recently sent out these darling 5x7 cards to update our friends and family about our adoption process.  The text of the letter is quite similar what you read here.  My amazing friend Mandy designed these gorgeous cards, was able to get donated printing (FREE!!) from this lovely company and she and her new husband John worked hard to mail them all last week.  We are so grateful for their time, energy and love for us!

IMG_0851IMG_0081   IMG_2936 - photoshop

From my professional career in the child welfare and adoption field and from our experience of walking alongside friends, we have seen both the joys and difficulties of the adoption process.  We knew that it would/will be a bumpy path, but in the end it always works out, the right kids come.  This sounds so clichĂ©, but we have seen it over and over again and are at peace with our own story.

Some of our friends and family are very comfortable with adoption, know the politically correct terms to use and believe in the goodness of it.  And others do not have a lot of familiarity or have some reservations.  We know that the decision to adopt brings questions to many peoples minds and we want to be as helpful and open as possible to answer these questions.  If adoption is new to you, we are happy to help you learn more.  If you are seasoned in adoption, we are happy to learn from you.  We are doing the best to educate ourselves, but know that we have a lot more to learn in order to best parent our future kids.

Adoption Announcement 3 copy

I sort of hate this picture, but we needed a picture of us from the distance with trees and this is all I could find on hand.  So please don’t laugh too hard over the awkwardness of this photo.

We look forward to sharing more with you about our adoption process.  Thank-you for your love and support!

October 21, 2013

A Good Result for All

The seminary here in Nicaragua is located in what the people refer to as a “red zone.”  I am unaware as to the historical context of this name, what red exactly refers to is a mystery, though when comparing the place with other areas that are given this name you immediately take in their similarities.  The seminary is located in what was once the heart of the Managua, a bubbling hub of commerce and business with sky scrapers, skywalks and was named the diamond of Central America.


However, the earthquake in ‘72 shattered that diamond with only one building of significant size left to stand in the once bustling downtown of Managua.  That is where the seminary is and has been located since the 1930’s. The rubble and destroyed buildings still remain and thus, the heart of the city is now home to many of those who otherwise would not have a roof over their head.  Thus, Cassie and I find ourselves walking through one of the most dangerous areas of the city as we make our way to work each day.

One morning, I passed by two young men who were visibly affected from their night of drinking, the almost finished bottle still lying between the two of them.  One rose and stated that he was going to rob me.  I stopped, explained who I was, why I was there, where I was going and also showed him the few books and papers in my bag, assuring him that he had little to gain by robbing me.

Exasperated he informed me that he and his brother were drunk and that they were hungry.  I could see that this was obviously true so I invited them to the nearest tortilla stand with me. Once there, we slowly conversed over our breakfast of cheese and tortillas.  We got to know a little about one another.  I learned that Marcos and his brother have been living on the streets together for as long as they can remember.  It seems as though when they were both very young they were abandoned by their mother.  Without a home, without a family, any education or supports in this world they are making their way, doing the best they can, seeking to survive each day. 

This is not the first time that I have seen these two young men. I am pretty sure that they have taken residence in a dilapidated building just two blocks from the seminary.  I am glad that a conversation has begun between us and am open to the possibilities in our future.  Hopefully we will talk again soon, probably over a breakfast and learn more about one another - why we do what we do, why sometimes the street is the most comfortable place to sleep and hopefully have a dialogue that will lead to a more positive prospective for us both.

October 14, 2013



Waspam….the time that I took an old school bus on a gravel road across Nicaragua. 


Many people recommended that I fly, but my desire to see Nicaragua by land, taking the trip like most Nicaraguan’s do, along with my fear of small planes provided me with this amazing opportunity.  The 640 kilometer trek, which google maps estimates to take eight hours, actually takes thirty two.  It was long and painful at times, but such an opportunity to stop and pass through several towns that I had only ever heard of or seen on a map. 

DSCN8627 DSCN8639

I started off early on a Monday morning and was waiting at the bus station for a couple hours when I was told that the 10am bus would not be leaving due to a lack of passengers.  Gratefully, the 6pm bus left which provided me with an all day wait at the market and a super crowded bus that evening.  The first few hours of the ride went pretty smooth, but once we were outside of the city and on gravel road, it became interesting.  Because we are currently in rainy season, there were a lot of impassable parts on the road where the bus ayudantes would collect rocks and boulders to build a more stable ground for the bus to pass.  There were three times where the bus became stuck in the mud and passengers were asked to exit and help push.  At one point, a semi truck hooked itself up to the bus and pulled us out. 

We crossed over several bridges made of a few wooden logs.  We could teeter across, tipping back and forth because of the heavy cargo that was strapped to the top of the bus.  At this times, it mostly helped for me to just close my eyes.  Bathrooms were sparse which meant that we used the wild outdoors.  Men were told to go in front of the bus and women went to the back.  Used toilet paper was deposited on the road and left for the next passerby.  Towards the end of our trip, we crossed a river on a floating dock.  I was told that the town that runs the dock has been offered a bridge by the government, but they have refused it as their economy relies heavily on the money that they can bring in for the ferry crossings.


I must say that despite the above experiences, I wouldn’t have traded this trip for the world.  I was able to visit what one book described as “Latin America’s most rural and untouched land.”  And the people made my trip phenomenal.  I met a couple from EstelĂ­ who chatted with me on both legs of the trip, the bus drivers and ayudantes were super friendly and helpful, I enjoyed the various food stops that we made and took the opportunity to find out why the fellow riders were also making this long and arduous trip.

DSCN8708 DSCN8655  DSCN8688 DSCN8661

Upon my arrival, I spent four days in Waspam giving a workshop on Conflict Transformation.  The workshop was for staff from Accion Medica Cristiana and they were a joy to work with.  They had a lot of energy, which allowed for the workshop to be very engaging and interactive.  I believe that we all grew and learned from our time together.

DSCN8696 DSCN8704 DSCN8709 DSCN8697

On my last day, the group surprised me with a special lunch.  We ate their famous ron-don, which is a soup made with fish, peppers, coconut milk, onions, yucca and quequisque.  It was delicious and I was extra grateful that the used fish instead of the often used turtle.  I also enjoyed trying gaubul, a green banana drink as well as gallo pinto made with coconut milk.  This group of people sure made me feel right at home!


And one more amazing thing about the individuals that live in Waspam and the rest of the coast – the majority are bilingual.  Much of our workshop was done in Miskito and Spanish.  We had translations going back and forth throughout.  I was amazed to see at how fluid everyone was between the two languages.  Trying to learn a second language and still struggling with this on a daily basis, made me realize what a talent this really is.

It looks like I will be able to return in 2014 for a follow-up workshop with the team.  I am looking forward to spending more time with them, learning and strategizing for how to better live out peace in our communities.  I am still up in the air as to whether I will fly or go by road.

October 7, 2013


Maybe you have never heard of them, maybe you have. A shoe company developed in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie with the mission of making good quality, attractive and functional footwear. Their goal is that with every purchase made they will distribute a pair of shoes to someone who is need. For this objective they developed a slogan entitled “one for one,” that represents their dream.

Here in Nicaragua the goal is being realized as many young people have received shoes from this United States based company. Recently, a conversation has been taking place about the ways in which Toms' goal and mission of providing shoes for those who are economically challenged has been called into question. The main issues at hand is whether or not the Toms' model can be effective in alleviating poverty along with other issues concerning production and distribution. Yesterday I experienced some of these complicated issues that go into development work first hand when a neighbor came knocking on our door.

I was presented with a pair of shoes. Our neighbor noted that I often wore shoes that were very similar to the ones she held in her hands. The stitching was the same, the recognizable blue and white tag placed on the exterior was identical. The only real difference was that these shoes soles were imprinted with the words “one for one” and the insoles stated that they were not for resale.

The problem did not lie in the fact that our neighbor boy had received a new pair of shoes. Shoes, especially those of good quality are not only hard to find here in Nicaragua, but they are also very expensive. And our neighbor’s son was in need of a new pair of shoes. But, this twelve year old could not very well wear the size 12 shoes that he had received. In fact, no one in the house, despite there being six older gentlemen were even remotely able to call these shoes their own due to their size.

However, it just so happens that I do wear a size 12 shoe. Thus, our neighbor was wondering if I would like to purchase these shoes in order for her to buy her son a pair of shoes that he could wear. She beckoned for me to sit down, and began to fit the shoe as if she had spent her whole life working as a shoe saleswoman. She felt for my toe on both feet and declared the fit a success.  She asked me for 100 cordobas, which is equivalent to 4 dollars.

I wondered if there was any penalty for buying an item marked not for resale, if in some way I could face some sort of legal battle with a large manufacturer of goods from the U.S. for what I was about to do. But then I realized that by purchasing these shoes, by empowering my neighbor with the purchase power to provide for her son, I was really working as an extension for Toms. I was putting the final piece of the puzzle together and helping them fulfill their own dream.

However, my purchase or the goal of Toms’ “one for one” program does not help to alleviate this family from the place of poverty that they find themselves in. We live and work in a complicated world. A world in which many seek to care for the needs and desires of others. Policies are written and rewritten. Governments, organizations, companies, and people all attempt to do what they can to alleviate or even eradicate poverty from this earth. Others simply believe that those who are economically challenged will always be here, that their existence is a sick necessity for economic function. But there has to be a way, a process that we can enter into alleviate the poverty that so many find themselves in. 


For an interesting commentary on a charity called GiveDirectly, check out the following episode on This American Life.  “Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it.”