So sorry to all of you; Mitch and I have not done a good job of keeping you updated in the past year and that's our fault. Between Mitch's job, our girls, and Ezra, we get pretty tired in the evenings and enjoy spending time relaxing together. I will try to do better in these last months of writing each month until we head home to Harrisonburg, VA on December 13th (our three one-way tickets are bought!!) So, let me jump right in and update y'all. (Side note: I feel like I need to start using the phrase "y'all" in preparation for moving back to VA.) I listened to Christmas music in July because this year we'll be HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, and I want to prepare early :) Although, now I'm holding off on the music until October. If I can.
Now that we have less than 3 months left here in Nicaragua, we are trying our HARDEST to be present here but it is awfully difficult! We know we have a beautiful home waiting for us in Harrisonburg that we have been blessed with, and we are already envisioning ways to be intentional with our lives in that home. I find myself day-dreaming daily, and at this point I don't think it's a bad thing. We're also trying to fit in our favorite cities and adventures here in Nicaragua one last time before we fly home! We've loved getting to know Nicaragua these past 3 years!
The latest news that many of you do not know is that the children's home, CINAFE, or Fortress of Hope, closed at the beginning of August. The closure came quickly, and although it took us by surprise, we were kind of anticipating its closing from all of the government changes that have been happening here in Nicaragua. Sadly, the government recently required that all board members of NGO organizations be Nicaraguan, which was impossible for us, being that 4/5 members were US citizens. They also changed the finance law for children's homes, requiring all money to be filtered through the Nicaraguan government, with which the board members could not comply in good faith. There were also other factors that led to the closing of CINAFE, and we could see more barriers down the road if we did not close in August. So, what happened to the staff and kids who were at CINAFE? Well, the staff we had are now looking for, or have found, other work. The children that were at CINAFE were either placed in other centers or sent home. You can be in prayer for the staff and children of CINAFE. It's amazing for us to think about how we moved down here to help at CINAFE and since moving here in 2014, God has placed different things/people in our path that we did not anticipate. Now that CINAFE is no longer operating, we continue to see how God is using us and how He will continue to teach us daily in our time here.
(It is important to note that when CINAFE started 10 years ago, it was 1 of 300 orphanages/children's homes. At its time of closure, it was 1 of 14 homes left in Nicaragua. The government has been in the process of trying to shut down protection centers like CINAFE, and we are thankful that CINAFE was able to help children for 10 years, as one of the last standing centers here!)
So what are we up to now? Well, Mitch has been very busy in his work at NCA Nejapa as the coordinator of the English team, as well as teaching three English classes, so CINAFE's closing didn't affect him too much. However, since I've been home with Ezra this past year, we went to CINAFE 2-3 times a week, and it was a great way to get out of the house and help how we could. I am now finding myself investing in other relationships here in the international community. Ezra and I have a play-date once a week on Thursdays with two other women and their kids. It's been my saving grace. I love that time each week and am thankful that Mitch and I have been reaching out to others in a more intentional way since we've been going to the international church, ICF (International Christian Fellowship). We had been switching each week between this church and a Nicaraguan church, Hosanna, but around April we decided to go consistently to this international church as we felt the need for a closer community and the need to be in more intentional worship. This change has been really great for us in these last few months. We had the thought recently of wondering what God could have taught us in this church had we been there from the beginning, but at the same time we wouldn't change a thing. We feel like we've consistently listened to God's calling and have gone where He wants us and that gives us peace.
I also just started volunteering at NCA Nejapa this week in Kindergarten through 3rd grade on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I LOVE being back in the culture, the classroom, and speaking Spanish again! We found a great Nicaraguan lady to watch Ezra those mornings and although he's not quite sure he wants to be without his mommy for a few hours on those days, I love it! She does a good job with Ezra and he gets to hear Spanish all the while! I'm excited for next week!
So what will happen to Marthita when we leave? We have made arrangements with a Nicaraguan family whose daughter goes to NCA Nejapa and is in the same class as Martha. Martha will move in with them and live with them for the last two years of her high school time. In November, we will meet with the family and a lawyer and transfer the guardians to this family. We will need to raise money in order for her to finish at NCA Nejapa. The total cost will be around $3,500 which isn't much but it's money we don't have. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO HER EDUCATION, WE WOULD LOVE IT! CONTACT US AND WE'LL GO FROM THERE!
So what will happen to Yosidara when we leave? Yosi is going to stay here in Nicaragua for the coming year, 2018. We are going to enroll her in a full-time English program right here in Managua. She will be able to live there on campus Monday-Friday but we are currently looking for a family she can live with on the weekends and during vacations. Yosi does not have any family to live with and options for her are very, very limited. Please be in prayer for us, that we can find a family that is able and willing to take in Yosi for the coming year. We will also need to raise money for Yosi to do this program. The total for the year is $1,500 but we also need to give a stipend to whichever family takes her in, $75.00/month. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO HER EDUCATION AND LIVING COSTS, WE WOULD LOVE IT! CONTACT US AND WE'LL GO FROM THERE!
Well, that's all for now.
Tonight I think Mitch and I, and Ezra of course, are going out on a dinner date! Time together in our family of three is always nice.
Thanks for listening.
Look for another blog post next month, when Ezra is 1 YEAR OLD! (Time flies!!!)
Now for the best part. Enjoy these pictures below! (They're out of order)
|Holding his bottle for the first time in July|
|All of us after peeling coconuts, Ezra wishing he did!|
|Martha's 15th birthday party!|
|Celebrating Mitch's 30th birthday at school|
|Family beach trip! (Along with Mitch's school faculty)|
|Home to PA to see Lauren's family in June/July|
|Extended family meets Ezra!|
|Ezra eating breakfast with his cousin, Josh|
|We went to see the Liberty Bell in Philly|
|Ezra laughing with MomMom|