July 28, 2015


I (Cassie) have never been that good with transitions.  I find beginnings and endings hard.  I would rather hold on to how things "are."  But life is not like that, we are constantly moving and changing, there are ebbs and flows.  I am doing my best to learn this, to accept that the seasons of life are okay and good and to soak up and live each season the very best that I can.

We began working with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) a little under four years ago and have spent the last forty-five months in Nicaragua working with this wonderful organization.  While there have been challenges during our time here, we are so grateful to have worked for MCC. 

MCC is a unique organization as it focuses on relief, development and peacebuilding, working with local partners to implement this work.  We have seen the success in their work, empowering the local partners and individuals to dream up and carry out the work.  Kevin and I have grown both personally and professionally during our time with MCC and we believe that the work that we have done has also had a positive and sustainable impact on individuals and communities.  But now it is time to move on to another season.  While we will not be working directly with MCC, we look forward to supporting the organization in other ways and hope to stay involved with their work in Nicaragua and around the world.

The new season we are entering into will begin on August 2nd, when Kevin will begin teaching History and Economics at Notre Dame High School in Managua.  He has committed to teaching the 2015-2016 school year.  I will continue teaching courses at the Baptist Seminary and will also contract with Accion Medica Cristiana until the end of this year.  I will also be teaching a course for Dordt College's study abroad program in Leon, Nicaragua.  We are excited about the work that is ahead of us.

At this point we will continue to live in the same rental home in Tierra Prometida.  We look forward to continuing our life here on this dusty road, living among our neighbors.  Kevin and I are now a couple years into the adoption process and are excitedly awaiting a placement of one or two kids.  We are hoping and praying that this will happen in the upcoming year.

So that is an update on our current season.  We have bittersweet feelings about moving on, we are so very grateful for what is behind us and we are looking forward to what is to come.

Thank-you for your support and love!

July 21, 2015

Homemade Brownies with a Hint of Coconut

Since Kevin shared his favorite brownie recipe with you last week, I (Cassie) thought I would also share my current favorite recipe.  For awhile, I was making boxed brownies as I found that it was often more expensive to make them from scratch and I never loved how they turned out.  This all changed a couple of months ago, when I came across this recipe.  Since then, I have been making a few adjustments and perfecting my recipe.  Now we absolutely love these delicious and flavorful brownies.  Enjoy!



1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In your first bowl, mix the following:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

3. In your second bowl, mix the following:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of coconut oil (I purchase my coconut oil in Laguna de Perlas, Nicaragua)
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla

4. Combine the two bowls.  Mix with a fork until blended.  Do not overmix.

5. Grease your 9x13 pan with coconut oil and pour in your batter.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

7. Enjoy!  Share them with your family and neighbors.  Try not to eat the pan at one seating.


July 13, 2015



There is an ample supply of cocoa to be found in the country of Nicaragua. For this reason Cassie and I often bring brownies with us when we are invited to a meal or want to bring a treat to our students. People seem to greatly appreciate the brownies we bring and always ask us if they to can make them in their homes.  Just last week, I taught a brownie lesson to one of our students.  We do this quite often!

Cacao is a common ingredient in the Nicaraguan diet, but instead of eating it in the form of a delicious dessert, cacao is generally ground and mixed with either rice or corn and then made into a milk or water based drink. For this reason, the brownies we bring along with us are much appreciated and are always at the center of conversation.


Since coming to Nicaragua I have wanted to learn more about cocoa and what it is that I exactly can and need to do with it in order to produce an end product that I truly enjoy. I have purchased cocoa still in the pod and attempted to dry, roast, shell and grind the beans into powder as well as every step between that. Some of these attempts have been a success and some utter failures, but my interest continues.

Most recently, I have been buying dried and roasted beans, bringing them home, toasting them, shelling them and then grinding them.  My final product is something like those packets of liquid unsweetened chocolate for baking that you can buy in your local super market. I have taken this product and fiddled with some recipes to come out with what I believe to be a great brownie recipe which you can make with unsweetened baking chocolate in either liquid or bar form. Enjoy and happy baking and if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions please leave a comment.


Kevin’s Brownies


  • 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar 
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour


  • Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  • Gently melt the chocolate and let it cool for about 10 minutes (or squeeze it out of the bags or shell and grand your fresh nibs).
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  • Stir in the vanilla.
  • Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted chocolate. After all the chocolate is in, beat well for a minute or two.
  • Stir in flour and anything else (walnuts, chili, wasabi, ginger sea salt, chunks of caramel)
  • Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center come out clean.
  • Cut into squares while still hot and cool. We usually put them in the fridge, but that is because Managua is just a little cooler than the oven.

July 9, 2015

Life Lately

Photo Jun 06, 6 42 25 PM

At the beginning of June, we celebrated Aleesia’s 4th Birthday.  Her family threw her a great party filled with piƱatas, clowns, great food and games.  This sweet girl was only a couple of months when we arrived here in Nicaragua, she continues to be one of our favorites!

Photo May 29, 9 23 37 AM

Also at the beginning of June, Kevin and I headed to the Southern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua for work.  To get to Laguna de Perlas, our first destination, we took an overnight bus (8 hours), large open “camion” or truck (5 hours), old school bus – pictured above (2 hours) on some of the most interesting roads I have seen.  We then traveled to Bluefields by panga or boat (1.5 hours), to Rama by panga (2 hours) and back to Managua by bus (8 hours).  I love public transportation, but Kevin can not say the same!

Photo May 29, 1 53 34 PM

We visited my AMC co-workers in Laguna de Perlas.  Here we are pictured eating lunch and celebrating together Dia de la Madre.

Photo May 31, 4 39 12 PM

We then spent time in El Rama with one of our students, Escarlet who is a Pastor and School Director.  Pictured above is the church and school that was recently completed.  She is doing amazing work in her community and we were happy to support her.


Previous MCC Nicaragua workers - Marisa, Adam, Nate and Liz – came to Nicaragua to visit for a few weeks.  They spent time in their old work and home communities, and even made time to hang out with us!

Photo Jun 12, 11 42 39 AM

These girls are the best!  It was so wonderful to reconnect with them and learn about their transition back to the United States after being in Nicaragua.  They have been a big part of our Nicaraguan journey and we are grateful for their friendships.


Students from Unity High School in Orange City, Kevin’s alma mater, were here for a visit.  We spent a day with them in our MCC office sharing about the work of MCC, discussing our privilege and packing hygiene kits.  The students then joined us at our home for a meal of Baho cooked by our lovely neighbors.

Photo Jun 03, 4 46 30 PM

This is a picture of the road that we walk up and down several times a day.  I am trying to do a better job at taking pictures of our day to day life here.  I don’t want to forget the streets that we walked on, the sites that we saw, the smells that we smelled…

Photo Jun 10, 12 52 27 PM

As I mentioned above, Kevin has difficulties with public transportation here.  I can’t blame him!  It is always hot, stuffy and crowded and he has long legs, so he is generally uncomfortable.  He always waits until the very last minute to hop on the bus, while I save us our seats.  Here he is waiting outside the bus, eating a quesillo.

Photo Jun 17, 12 00 23 PM

The malinche trees and in full bloom and they are gorgeous!  Thank-you rainy season for bringing us our “fall colored” trees.

Photo Jun 19, 12 05 04 PM

Here I am pictured with Yeni, the Dean of the Baptist Seminary and a great friend of ours.  She has had a very difficult year, due to the tragic loss of her son in December.  Despite this, her faith and hope are so strong, she inspires me each and every day.

Photo Jun 18, 3 48 39 PM

Hans came to visit at the end of June.  He worked for MCC Nicaragua last year.  It was so great to spend time with him again.

Photo Jul 04, 12 30 09 PM

We are about half-way into our Community Research class at the Seminary.  Wilmer, Naomi and David are learning strategies for how to be ethical in their research.  One student wrote to me yesterday stating, “thank-you so much for this class.  It has helped me to become aware that we have a lot of work to do in our communities.  With God’s help I am committed to responding to to the needs of my community.”  Our hope is that our students will leave the class with a “toolbox” of strategies to understand their communities in a more holistic way, better recognize the complex needs and strengths, and be committed to making their communities a better place.


Dominique!  She is a sweet neighbor girl of ours.


This picture was taken outside our front door.  We have a new neighbor baby arriving in a couple of months!

To read other Life Lately posts, check out: May 2015, November 2014, August 2014, June 2014, March 2014, December 2013, July 2013, November 2012, July 2012

Thanks again for reading!