January 26, 2015

It Takes a Piñata

After spending just two months States side we sensed that we were missing something, but were unable to name the thing that it was. We celebrated with family. We broke bread with friends. We enjoyed a variety of activities in heated homes and frigid climates. We enjoyed times of joy and also difficult times with those we love.


Yet we were missing something. We sensed that something was not right.


And then we came back to Nicaragua and within two days we were able to put a name to the something that had been resting on the tips of our tongues, la piñata. It had been over two months since we had the experience of old and young coming together in celebration; dancing and swinging violently, eyes covered, hips gyrating to the music with the unifying task of freeing the dulces from their captivity.


In three weeks we have taken part in the dismantling of one star, one Spiderman and one car. I have danced as well as I can to the music, while swinging a stick. I have dove into a pile of sweaty people in order to grasp a candy or two and I may have knocked over a grandma in the process (yes that is very normal). DSC_0044DSC_0128IMG_0280

It was the piñata all along. We are thankful the tradition exists in the northern regions of the world, but we may have to bring the Nicaraguan twist of this wonderful tradition with us upon our return someday.


January 19, 2015

Eight Reasons Why We Are Thrilled to be Back in Managua

8. Brisa - Sorry Brisa, you are number 8.  We know that you like us, even though you don't like to be held.  You were a bit flaquita/skinny upon our arrival, so we will do our best to fatten you up again.


7. Our Faith Community - Last Sunday, we went to La Misa Campesina in Batahola for the first time since we have been back.  We decided to walk to church with a friend, which was a lovely stroll.  When we arrived, it felt so good to be back in this place.  The priest gave a wonderful message, acknowledging and opening a conversation for the congregation about the recent events in France.  We prayed together as a community and it just felt right, how church should be.  A place where people come, share and relate to one another.


6. Hammocks - While I love Minnesota and all that it has to offer, there is nothing like lying in a hammock every night year round.  I have always loved swings, which has led to my obsession with hammocks.  I try to spend some time each night in the hammock.  Whether it is reading, skyping or hanging out with Kevin, it is always a wonderful time.  However, it does not help with getting my daily 10,000 Fitbit steps.  Pictured below are Francela and Alison, nieces of David, who came to spend a night with us last week during their school vacation.


5. Fresh Produce - While we do not have access to produce like kale and apples, we live in a fruit and vegetable paradise.  This will always be a highlight of our life here, fresh pineapple, mangoes and watermelon year-round.  We brought back a dehydrator with us and as I write, I am eating delicious, dried pineapple (pictured below).  Thanks Connie!


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4. Nicaraguan Fiestas - When we were back in the States, we enjoyed the holiday celebrations and a couple of weddings.  They were wonderful and fun in their own way, but there is nothing like a Nicaraguan celebration.  People are happy, there are smiles and laughter everywhere, delicious food and always a piñata which always makes for a great party.  In just two weeks, we have been to a 75th Birthday party, an amazing wedding, a Christmas/End of the Year party, a birthday lunch for our co-worker and two birthday parties for our neighbor kids.




3. Speaking Spanish - While we were able to spend time with old Spanish speaking friends as well as meet new ones, we missed the daily conversations with our neighbors, friends and co-workers.  We are glad to be back using our Spanish, it continues to be both rewarding and challenging.


2. Our Work - We are excited about what this year will bring in our professional work.  We are looking forward to teaching again, interacting with students, giving peace building workshops and whatever else comes our way.


1. Friendships - Everyday when we walk up the street after our day of work, we are greeted with friendly hello's from the adults and hugs from the kids.  Our Nicaraguan "families" have welcomed us back with phone calls, dinners at their homes and weekend invitations to spend time together.


We thought we would follow-up with a list of things that are difficult about returning here.  But we will focus on the positive.  In case you are wondering what we might include, our second night home had us finding our first ever snake in the house.  Ick!  In addition, the dust that covered our home over the past couple of months has been time consuming to clean and a young man attempting to rob Kevin, which resulted in him running several blocks, losing his sandal, but getting away successfully, have all been a bit difficult.

January 11, 2015

Our Home Leave – December Recap

We have arrived safely in Managua, Nicaragua after a full, but meaningful two months in the United States.  It was such a blessing to have time to connect with our family and friends, to listen and share about our joys, hardships and experiences since we last parted ways.  We enjoyed many activities together that are a bit difficult to replicate in Nicaragua, cross-country and downhill skiing, broomball and sledding.  We also took time to hang out with our beloved nieces and nephews, as well as our friends’ new babies who are near and dear to our hearts.  While our time at home was meaningful for connection with others, it was also a much needed time of reflection for ourselves.  We have many hopes and dreams as we enter 2015, possibly our last year in Nicaragua, but if anyone would offer us a job it would be difficult to say no.  We want to be present, to soak in all that it means to be a part of our beautiful community here, we want to explore the beautiful places, laugh and cry with our friends and kick many soccer balls on our dusty street with the children that give us so much joy.

For now, here is a recap of our time in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota during the month of December:

Everywhere we went we introduced relatives and friends to a traditional Nicaraguan meal of gallo pinto, pico de gallo or chismol, platanos and Nica cheese.  Some loved it, others after taking a few bites rose from the table in order to insert a cardboard fashioned like frozen pizza into the oven (no names will be mentioned here). Notably, Grandma Wyllean asked for the recipe and opted to keep the leftovers.
Kevin spent time with friends at Gene’s cabin on Fish Lake near a small town in Minnesota that is quite far away from Lake Wobegon.  Fish were sought, but not caught so instead the boys ate an unhealthy diet of red meat and parasite filled pork.  It was later confirmed for Kevin’s friends that his eating of a steak on 12-14-2014 was indeed the first time that anyone can recall such an act taking place.  He can’t wait to see these guys again!
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On this special evening out with the women on my dad’s side of the family, we ate dinner at Macy’s Grille and enjoyed the Macy’s 8th floor Christmas presentation.  Unfortunately an adult picture was not taken because we were too busy taking pictures of this cutie Ceanna.
I apologize for the poor picture quality, but these evenings were too special to not document.  While we were home, I was able to spend a couple of days with my college roommates who are pictured on the left.  It was wonderful to reconnect, talk about life and laugh together.  Nikki and I took the kiddos for a night out in St. Paul and we enjoyed ice-skating around the rink.  It was a fabulous evening, full of play, good humor and silliness.
We spent part of December in South Dakota and Iowa visiting Kevin's family.  We went on a sleigh ride, baked Christmas cookies, played with the kiddos, did all the normal Christmas traditions and just enjoyed being with one another.
Some of the most memorable events from our time in Sioux Falls revolved around the time that we were able to experience with family.  Carrie and Carl surprised Kevin and I by taking us out for a traditional Ethiopian dinner, we were able to have lunch with Lauren during her school day as well as other enjoyable activities.  But, the real highlight was to see how the three of those little darlings pictured above have changed since we last saw them.  It is bittersweet as we look forward to the ways in which they will all change again during this next year!
Christmas Eve and Morning were spent with the Lane family.  We enjoyed a choir concert and candlelight service, followed by caroling.  The caroling may have been our highlight together as the men really perfected their fa la la la la duet.
We also spent Christmas Day with Ceanna, Fortay and their family.  It was precious to have a small child to hold and laugh with as we reflected on the birth of Christ.
I was able have some wonderful time with childhood friends.  Sarah and I took photos of Mandy’s popping belly.  We also hosted a baby shower for her, which you will see photos of below.
These were the amazing hostesses!  And what I would do right now to get another piece of Vanilla Berry Cream Cake in my mouth.  If it looks tasty to you and you live in the Twin Cities, head over to French Meadow.
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Here are a couple additional shots of the shower.  We had a Trail Mix Bar as our party favor, which seemed to be a big hit.
Kevin was fortunate to attend his first ever NFL came with our friend Chris.  It was an amazing day filled with food, football and friends!
The Lane Siblings were reunited together at our cabin in Alexandria for a few days.  It was a great time to connect, share about our lives, play games, read and relax.  I loved having time with my brother and sister, they mean the world to me!
Here are a couple of shots of a broomball game on Lobster Lake.  
We spent New Years Eve with my dad’s sister and family.  Cousin Jake stole the night as he made some delicious ribs with his smoker for the evening that everyone enjoyed.  We played games of cribbage, took photos, ate more food, talked about relatives who are no longer with us, met the newest-to-be member of the family and laughed with one another.
New Years Day was crazy full, but so much fun.  We were glad that our bags were packed beforehand as there were no spare moments.  Our morning started with a New Years Day Sale at Salvation Army (new Target clothes!) with Mandy and Juan.  We enjoyed an intense game of broomball on the not so solid pond that was filled with other dangers and also quite slippery.  Thankfully there were no teeth knocked free, though there was a close call, and none of the well-aged individuals who participated broke a bone.
A Lane tradition which was actually past down through the Edwall family said is that of making taffy.  For this reason, we moved from the rink to the factory so that the Edwall Taffy Pull could occur.  There were a whole host of people who participated all with clean and buttered hands of course.  If you have not yet tasted this delicious treat feel free to write call Suzy/Mom at 612-741-2790 to set up a taffy pulling outing for your family and special group (sorry mom, this was Kevin’s idea).
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And then we headed back to Managua, both excited and saddened.  It was hard to leave sweet sisters and special baby’s.  But we trust that we are where we are supposed to be.  We trust that we will be able to use our this year in Nicaragua to bring about peace, to instill justice, to humbly learn and to in some small way be able to pass on a part of the vision and work to our local Nicaraguan friends.  We hope that you have a good year as well.  We hope to see you again soon and until then we hope that you will allow yourself the grace, love and hope that we have all been given!