On October 11th, 2005 a young girl and young man met and stayed up late talking to one another about their hopes and dreams for the future. She was studying social work and was enthused to change the world (which now makes us smirk) after having recently returned from a year of work in South Africa. He was studying theology and was filled with idyllic hope for a future free of despair and misery without a concrete plan. That night they discovered that both wanted to venture off somewhere, to work abroad, see the world and throw caution to the wind. Soon Cassie and Kevin were married, they worked awhile, bettered themselves through further education and experience in the daily workforce and sought to set off on their little adventure.
In 2010 Cassie and I began to research various organizations that would provide us an opportunity to live and work abroad and also use the talents and gifts we felt called to put into practice. After having called, emailed, researched and networked with some 100 different organizations (this should come to no surprise for those of you who know Cassie well, all the information we had was also neatly placed into an Excel spreadsheet) we decided to contact the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). No we were not Mennonites, and our parents were not Amish, and yes we do wear at least somewhat “normal” clothes, and no we do not use a horse and buggy.
The initial conversations that we had with MCC staff in Pennsylvania feel like they happened a lot longer than 5 years ago. However we continue to be thankful for the ways in which the ladies we spoke to welcomed us into the MCC family and helped prepare us for our work. After having almost decided to leave for Afghanistan on our first assignment, MCC called us and told us that they had a position that fit both of us perfectly in the country of Nicaragua. The challenges were great as there was language to be learned, customs to become adjusted to and a culture to learn about, in the hope of living in solidarity with the people here in Nicaragua.
Not all of our dreams have been met, not all of our goals have been reached. We have failed in various ways, culturally, idiomatically and relationally. However, we are thankful for the opportunity given to us, look forward to partnering with MCC in the future and are hoping to soak up the time that we still have working here in Nicaragua. As we look forward to our time in Nicaragua, we are creating a sort of bucket list, if you will, to focus our time in the things that are most important for us here in Nicaragua. Here are a few of the things that have made it on the list:
- to sit on plastic chairs on Friday and Saturday nights on our dirt road talking with our neighbors.
- to take in various cultural events in Nicaragua; including our involvement in civil and religious holidays, sporting events and the daily life of Nicaragua.
- to assist, work alongside and learn from a wonderful woman, great theologian, excellent teacher, dear boss and seminary dean Yeni Bolufer.
- continue to teach and facilitate important conversations in the various classrooms that we have been given the opportunity to lead.
- to invest even more time and energy into the kids and adults in our community that we already have a relationship with.
- to celebrate as many birthdays as we are invited to and attempt to always be the one who breaks open the piñata (and upon doing so, not having any fear in knocking over in well-aged individuals in the hunt for candy).
- to receive into our home our wonderful children through adoption.
- to eat and enjoy all comida Nicaraguense!
- to fully train and pass on all our materials/resources and supplies to the three Nicaraguans who will continue teaching our courses at the seminary next year.
- to entertain and introduce our lives and experience to anyone else who may want to come down and visit us (clears throat and mumbles - Gordon and Connie).
- to go to the beach at least once a month each month this year (the midwest is oh so far from the beautiful ocean that is currently in our backyard (comparatively speaking of course).