Scroll down and stay a while...

Scroll down and stay a while...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Our Top 10!

4 weeks left, people, but who's counting??

We started this post in October and meant to send it out then! Sorry it didn't happen!

As we getting ready to leave and reflect on our time here, we thought it'd be fun to think about the top 10 things we WILL miss about Nicaragua and the 10 things we WON'T miss at all! We hope you enjoy :)


Things we WILL miss:
1. The people. We've made good relationships here. Above all, we'll miss Yosi and Martha more than anything or anyone. We're so thankful that everything is falling into place for them when we leave and that makes everything a little easier. Enough said.
2. The food. Do you think we'll be able to find plantains, dry cheese, ice cream or soda in a baggie, calala and pitaya fruit drink, gallo pinto by the side of the road, or authentic pico de gallo in the US of A to name a few?? WE HOPE SO!
3. The beautiful landscape. Nicaragua is known as "The Land of Lakes and Volcanos." It's a beautiful country with great places to explore! There's a lot we were able to do in 3 year's time but so much we didn't! It's been a blast to get to know another country so well.
4. The generosity of people's time and things. So many people here don't have much when it comes to objects and possessions. But they're willing to give you the shirt off their back if you need it. Time is something that we, in the States, can never get enough of. "I have this many hours in my day and I need to be efficient!", we think. Here, anyone will drop anything they're doing to help you and spend hours of their time doing just that. I love that.
5. The way everyone wants to give you an answer to something even if they have no idea what they're talking about. This one could go either way, really. I could take it or leave it. It's a cool quality in the people here, but can also be frustrating. You could ask a simple question like, for example, "Where is the grocery store La Colonia?" They will give you an exact answer even if they have no idea where it is! Then you go right to where they said and you'll find a cow in a field.
6. The relaxed feeling of everyone here. At first little things like the way people walk SO SLOW really got to me. Over the past few years I've learned to live with it and even appreciate it and I'm trying to join that mentality, although it's difficult, especially getting stuck behind a slow walker.
7. Recognizing how much we depend on God. Things here have not been easy, and we have clearly seen God's hand working. We will still recognize it once we are back in Virginia, but it has been more obvious here, far away from our comfortable home and loved ones.
8. Time focused on our family. We have spent the last three years heavily focused on our family and what we need in order to have a solid marriage and household. It's easy to get sucked into lots of activities, and this has been a good way to get some space from constantly being busy. Our busy-ness has been in a different arena, and we have grown a lot through it.
9. The perspective. Living here has widened our worldview considerably. We've realized what's really important to us and what we value. Living here has changed us and we're better for it.
10. The heat. I'm kidding. Keep reading.

Things we will NOT miss:
1. You guessed it. THE HEAT! Oh my word. The answer is no, you do not get used to it. You just sweat from the time you get out of the shower in the morning to right before you take your shower at night before bed. Oh, the heat!
2. Crazy drivers! DAH! If you've visited you know exactly what we're talking about here. It's truly a sight to behold. Looking out for cycles, bikers, semis, walkers, horses, cows. That's not even to mention how people have a whole different system for following the rules of the road. It's organized chaos that I will NOT miss.
3. The way NOTHING seems to be easy here. Nothing is done according to our efficient timing. It all takes a billion years. Something that should take only 30 minutes seems to take days here, or even months!
4. The way you lose electricity for hours, and even water, often. This is harder for me, Lauren, than for Mitch. He understands more that these things are privileges while I feel more like I should always have them. It's been a difficult adjustment.
5. The litter. Oh! I remember coming here to visit the spring before we moved here and what stuck out most to me was all of the trash everywhere. People just through their trash out their car windows. The gutters are full of trash and in the rainy season, when the rains come, all of that trash goes directly into Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. It's sad.
6. Lack of attention to detail. Things, whether in physical structure or in things such as lesson plans - discipline and routines - are lacking. That makes it tough to figure out how to fit in and add suggestions here when it doesn't seem too valued by most.
7. Schools. Speaking in terms of a school system, we are so fortunate for what we have learned here at NCA Nejapa and in the public schools. But wow, we am ready to be in the HCPS system again!
8. Lack of seasons, as we know it from back home in MI, PA, and VA. Where's spring? Where's fall? And WHERE'S WINTER???
9. "Hi, are on your way yet?" "Si, estoy en camino." It literally means that you are on your way, but it usually means that, although the person might be thinking about going, they are still sitting at home. That makes it SO hard when you're waiting for someone to come to your house or when you have a meeting. You could be waiting anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours. Being on time isn't really a thing here. It's HARD when it is VERY valued back home in the States.
10. Being far from our family and friends. Oh, this one is the hardest. You know what we mean.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Part 2: September: Ezra's 1st Birthday Party!

We celebrated Ezra with a great Nicaraguan birthday party, including a piñata and a four person Marimba band. We had a great time; even Ezra was loving the piñata and the music!

Here are some of our favorites from his birthday party!
(His lunch before the party with his first taste of cow's milk!!)

Part 1: September: Ezra 1-12 months!

Hello everyone!

In keeping with writing monthly, I thought the end of the month was a great time to post because Ezra just turned ONE yesterday, September 24th! Here are pictures of him from each month as he's grown and changed tremendously.

We can't help but feel so incredibly blessed and thankful that God has given us this little buddy. We love him so much and our hearts are so full because of the wonderfulness of who he is and who God has created him to be. Thanks be to God!

"For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. " Psalms 139:14

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August Update

Hello Everyone! Lauren here. Kids are back at school this week in the States, and I feel like it marks the beginning of fall! It's hard to believe that tomorrow is September already.

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

Family pictures!

Yosi's 18th birthday party!

                                                                   Ezra is 11 months old!