October 26, 2015

Hanging out in the Barrio

All of our days involve time with our neighbors, both the kids or adults.  When living in a barrio, sharing walls along with smells and sounds, a communal life is the norm.  Whether we are purchasing an egg from the local pulperia, chatting with our neighbors about the latest news in the neighborhood or being greeted by a hug from one of the kids upon walking up the road, our neighbors play a big role in our life.  Just last week, I (Cassie) was home with Estela, in bed around 6am.  Suddenly Brisa entered through the window with a dead bird in her mouth.  She dropped it on the floor next to me, proud of her work.  Me, being terrible with these kinds of things, went right to my neighbors.  They came over and cleaned it up for me, while laughing and teasing me for my timidness.  It wasn’t the greatest start to the morning, thanks to Brisa, but it was great for community building.

The kids in our neighborhood are always interested in spending time with us.  They often do not have a lot of structured activity outside of school, which only lasts four hours each day.  So we try to provide some type of activity for them twice a week.  To be honest it has been much less in the last month with the arrival of Estela!  Our time together can involve a craft, reading books, playing a more active game or a movie night with popcorn.  This week we have plans to play their favorite game, BINGO. 

We recently did some crafts that my cousin Kelly generously sent down with us.  We made caterpillars and butterflies and the kids loved it!  Enjoy the photos!

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October 19, 2015

How We Grocery Shop

Sometime ago the Nicaraguan government thought that it would be a good idea to start a national feria (you may want to translate this as fair, but a more fluid translation would suggest farmers market). The government began to provide pro-FSLN farmers known to practice superior farming techniques (we actually know one of these farmers,have seen his land in production and drank milk straight from his cow) and producers with a small stipend to cover their travel costs. They also decided that they would not charge these farmers a fee for the selling of their goods. What this means is that Capitalianians (the people who make up the Managuan population) now have the opportunity to visit their local farmers market each weekend on Saturday and Sunday.


Cassie and I (Kevin) have gotten in the habit of going to the feria following our work at the Seminary on most Saturdays. We have developed relationships with farmers, with cheese makers and plant growers. We know where we can now find fresh salt from the sea, sesame seeds to toast or make into tahini, a woman who extracts stevia and a wonderful and aspiring English speaker who grows the most beautiful vegetation these eyes have ever seen. The market is an event for many as there exist local artistic events for adults, Nicaraguan delicacies and artisan goods for purchase, playgrounds and trampolines (I recently found out these these are just for children ages 3-13, oops).


Through this new option for consumerism Cassie and I have been optimizing a change in our diet. No longer will you find many packages of processed goods in our home, nor will you find many things kept in plastic or cooked in carcinogen producing cook wear (Cassie is maybe finally converting over to the cast-iron - fingers crossed). Instead of doing a lot of our shopping at the local grocer La Colonia, or within the clutches of the global, ever-so-effective, destroyer of all things good, Wal-Mart (ie. Pali and La Union), we are buying people whose names we are getting to know as we see them each and every week.

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Of course, we do find ourselves venturing into the market that is open 7 days a week in-front of our barrio and we are still buying some items and imported produce from the local grocery store, but we are sure finding ourselves there a lot less than in the past. Above all we are just having fun, learning about different food options that we have never seen before and doing things like sampling the thirty-three different varieties of bananas that are grown in Nicaragua. We hope that you all can make a trip to your local market during the harvest and enjoy the bountiful blessings we so richly receive. And if anyone has a way of getting a honey crisp apple down here before it is squishy I would be more than willing to send you a fresh pineapple, papaya or mango from Nica. Happy Picking!

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October 11, 2015

Estela Maryuri

We are thrilled to share that on September 29th our little girl, Estela Maryuri Lane Zonnefeld arrived into our hearts and home.  She is a brave, beautiful and resilient girl. We could not be happier!


October 5, 2015

Visiting Our Students

Many of our weekends are dedicated to the visiting our student's communities of faith. During our time here in Nicaragua we have made this a priority not only because we have enjoyed doing so, but because we have felt that these visits have benefited ourselves and our students mutually. Through these opportunities we have come to better understand the needs of our students and their churches and therefore have been able to focus our classes in-order to address the issues we have seen.

These visits also give us an opportunity to connect with our students in real and meaningful ways outside of the classroom. There is nothing like joining a student in his or her home for the preparation of a meal or the usage of their latrine that helps them understand that we are seeking to understand, that we are attempting to live and work in solidarity with them. No longer are we two "gringos" that give class at the seminary. Instead, we are seen more as two people who are passionate about their lives, the live of their church; two people who know how to cook Nica style and who drink water that comes from the tap.

In the past few months, we visited ten of our students in their church and home.  We have heard some pretty meaningful messages, interacted with congregations and heard stories about our students and histories. We have also had some wonderful meals (which were augmented by some of the best cheeses Nica has to offer as we visited students in the dairy country of Camoapa and Juigalpa. We want to share with you the reader, some photos to better capture and explain where we have been and what we have been up to through the making of these visits.

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David and Noehmi work together pastoring a Baptist congregation outside of the rural town of Camoapa. They have worked together fostering a small community that continues to thrive as it seeks to meet the growing needs of the community springing up around the church. Already they have helped install a water well as they seek to meet the spiritual and physical needs of their community.

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Abel has worked to develop a ministry in the city of Juigalpa. Instead of inviting people to come to a church outside of their own community, he decided to build a church in an area that would be most useful for the community. He now is working in conjunction with some of our other students to minster to some of the people who are most in need in the city of Juigalpa.

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Wil spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S. learning English and developing skills helpful for his ministry. Currently, Wil is working to pastor a rural community located in and around a sugar cane field. The people originally moved here in-order to work during harvest and decided to stay in-order to be hired for the harvest each year. The community lacks services and has many needs; we were saddened by their living conditions, but also excited to better know how to support Wil in his work.

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We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into the lives of our students!