Thursday, October 28, 2010

Snapshots of Our First Week in Nicaragua


Our Arrival
This is all our "stuff". We were quite the sight outside the Managua Airport.


A View from the Yard


Tree Hugger
Andrew is working hard on learning to climb the palm and coconut trees.


Water-Bug
Ella very much enjoys the pool that we are blessed to have for these 6 months of sub-letting. We've seen the kids improve their newly acquired swimming skills, even Noah, which is an answer to prayer! Ella's favorite part of the day is pool time!


Coconut Cutting
Andrew is loving that Mommy is busy doing laundry and doesn't know he has a machette.


"I do it too!"
Yes, that would be our four-year old with a machette. [The red thing around his neck is a Superman cape which he wears morning to night. This took some explaining to the Nicaraguans we interact with.]


A Boy and his Dogs
These are the dogs that belong to the family from whom we are sub-letting the house. Their names are Titan (on the left) and Mambo (on the right). Andrew's chore is to feed them. Ella said she likes them as long as there is a gate between her and the dogs. Noah keeps his distance...but does talk to them through the gate.


What a Sweet Face!
Even with big leafy ears, our girl is beautiful!


My, What Big Ears You Have!
Noah enjoyed playing with the Elephant Ear leaves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Laundry Lessons

Part of the definition of culture shock is that the tasks you were good at in America, and found easy to complete, are now tasks that you feel completely in-ept doing. Laundry, for example, is one of those tasks. I actually delayed doing laundry, despite the growing mountain of dirty clothes, because I wasn't sure how to "do laundry" in Nicaragua. Okay, here is what is pitiful...the house has a washer and dryer. That sounds normal...but it doesn't feel like it. So fine, put detergent in washer, turn on water, add clothes...let the washer do its magic! Clothes are washed. Now they need to dry (since the dryer runs on a gas tank that we would have to replace...we decided to hang the laundry to dry.) Culture Shock. Okay, fine. Hang the laundry. Did you know that humidity effects drying time. Oh, and it rains almost everyday right now. [When I was awakended by the sound of a tropical downpour at 3am the other night, the first thing I thought was, "AHHH, my clean laundry is drying on the clothes wire."] Yes, that's the other thing--the clothes wire. The clothes line is made of wire, parts of which are rusted--that happens in this type of climate. Culture Shock. Okay, think Bethany. I see plastic clothes hangers. Yes, hang the clothes on plastic clothes hangers and then hang them on the wire. Okay, that works. But what about underwear? Is it culturally acceptable to hang your underwear out to dry? I don't know...but I put it out there anyway. Culture Shock. Yup, culture shock...the hurdle that stands in the way of simple tasks like laundry, dish washing, cooking (okay, this one was hard for me in America...but I can blame culture shock now.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nicaragua 101

We've been here for 3 days. We have the privilege of staying at an amazing house (thanks T & S!) for the next several months. There is even warm water in the shower that doesn't involve electrocution. There is a wonderful yard with beautiful flora and fauna (lots of birds, bats and bugs). There are several fruit trees in the yard as well. We are just starting to absorb the details of life here in Nicaragua. Here are a few things we've learned so far...

~We've learned that the sun rises early and sets early.
~We've learned that you can find Doritos, Eggo Waffles and Ragu Spaghetti Sauce in Nicaragua (for a price!).
~We've learned that when you only understand one solitary word out of each sentence spoken to you that misunderstandings are going to occur.
~We've learned that Scooby Doo is just as funny to our children in Spanish as it is in English.
~We've learned that roosters crow well before dawn....like several hours before dawn.
~We've learned that it is easier to open a coconut with a machette than with a hammer.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Hola Nicaragua!

Do you have a minute? This post may be a little longer than ususal.

We arrived safely in Nicaragua yesterday afternoon. Our day started at 2am as we departed Delaware (thank you Bruce, Debbi and Curtis for your help in getting us to BWI!). Despite the Delta Airline Representative telling us we couldn't leave the country because we didn't have a round trip ticket....and after an hour of redtape...we did finally receive our boarding passes! An adrenaline rush at 4:30am wakes one up better than a cup of strong coffee!

The pilot flew extra fast to Atlanta which gave us an extra thirty minutes to make it from Terminal A to Terminal E at the Atlanta airport...our 10 footlockers got to the plane before we did! We boarded the plane headed to Nicaragua. A surreal moment in time. We flew over the blue waters of the Carribean and the mountains in Honduras and saw a few volcanoes as we flew over our new home.

Getting our "el gato" into the country proved more difficult than we thought...mostly because we don't speak Spanish...yet. As we waited with all of our belongings around the baggage carousel...Noah stretched out on his carseat booster on the floor and rested peacefully for a while as travelers and Nicaraguans walked around him. Noah was the only one chillin'....the remaining four Bracht's felt tired, overwhelmed, shocked and weary. After some standing around looking quite confused, we proceeded to the customs area. We do praise God for the customs agent that took a look at our 10 footlockers piled high on a cart, our 10 carry-ons, our three tired kids and waved us through the checkpoint.

Thanks to a friend of a friend who picked us up from the airport...we made it to our "new temporary home". The ride was interesting. While we had traveled some of these roads the last time we were here, it is different knowing that we live here now. It made the reality of life here in Nicaragua seem profound. It's called culture shock for a reason.

The decompression from a day of travel, hot and humid weather and hungry bellies was rough. We were all (except Noah) wondering why we moved here. Tears were shed. Prayers were uttered. Yet, we were engulfed by sleepiness and we all slept soundly.

It is our first morning in Nicaragua as we write this post. The sun rises here at 5am. Combine the sun rise with a time change and it was an early morning for the Bracht family! However, a new day that doesn't involve plane travel feels hopeful! We are thanking God for His Love, His Strength, His Perfect Peace, His Word (we read Isaiah 26 this morning...great encouragement!) and His Provision of a warm shower!

HE does keep in perfect peace those whose hearts and minds are fixed on HIM! (Isaiah 26:3) [Thanks Shawna for the awesome necklace that reminded us of this promise!]

We will continue to write and share this journey with you. Thank you for all the encouragement we've received on email and facebook...it is a gift! We greatly appreciate all the prayers that were lifted up to our Heavenly Father on our behalf yesterday!

Buenos Dias!!!

posted by bethany and jeff

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here We Go!

Well, we are less than 24 hours from our departure to Nicaragua. Crazy. Exciting. Surreal. Amazing!

I think I may have packed my ability to express my thoughts in a footlocker....there just isn't words to describe what is in our hearts and minds right now. For now, thank you for journeying with us on this path the the Lord has marked out for us. Thank you for your encouragment. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Gospel - Can I Super-Size that?

During our time at training, I (Jeff) was confronted with the likely reason for why I tend to be critical and judgmental of: myself, Bethany, my children, and others. I tend to give lip service to the Truth of the Gospel. The Truth is that there is nothing I can do to earn the Gift of God. The Gift of the forgiveness of my sins through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God offers me this gift because he loves me – period – I spell it out to emphasize the little black dot that is about to come – wait for it – here it is. I don't always live like I believe this. I often think and operate out of the belief that I can live in such a way that will cause God love me more, or in reverse, do something to make him love me less.

I tested this theory one night as Andrew (8 years old) and I were having our nightly pillow talk before bed. Realizing that he catches much of his view of God from me, I asked him “What can you do to cause God love you more?” He said “I can obey him.” Ouch! That hurt me to hear. I was too afraid to ask him the question in reverse, so I braced myself and asked him a different question. “What can you do make me, your Papa, love you more?” His answer cut me to the core, and tears of regret come to my eyes as I write this now. He said “I can obey you.”

Without ever telling him directly, I had taught Andrew that there are things he could do (obedience) to earn my love and the love of God. He caught (learned) this from me because I behave this way with God, and expect others to do so as well; as evidenced by my judgmental and critical spirit. Praise God for forgiveness and second chances. Now when I ask Andrew “What can you do, or not do, to cause me or God to love you more or less?” He answers: “Nothing!”

Allow me to propose that it is wrong of me to add to (to super-size) the Gospel. God loves me – period. There is nothing that I can do, or not do, to cause God to love me more or less. When I add to the Gospel, I am saying to God that the death of Jesus was not sufficient. To balance this position, allow me to propose that there are things that I can do, or not do, that cause God to be more or less pleased with me, but there is nothing that I can do to affect his love for me...there is a BIG difference. When I need a reminder of this I just need to tuck Andrew into bed. He now asks me every night...

Andrew to Papa: “What can you do to make God love you more?”
Papa: “Nothing.”
Andrew: “Don't you forget it!”
Papa: “I won't, but keep reminding me.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rainboots Have Arrived

Nicaragua has two seasons from what we hear: wet and dry (both of which are "hot"). To prepare for the rainy season, I ordered the kids some rainboots. There was much excitement on Noah's part for the arrival of the rainboots. Well, today (hear the drumroll)...the rainboots arrived!!! We happened to be standing outside when the UPS man stepped out of that magical brown truck that is packed with surprises. Up he walks with the box of rainboots. Noah could hardly contain his excitement. The box was opened, boots tried on...and Noah has been wearing them now for about 3 hours! I love a child's joy over the simple things in life...like rainboots.

posted by bethany

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surreal

We leave for Nicaragua in less than two weeks. I have to say it over and over..."we are moving OUT OF AMERICA in less than two weeks. It just isn't sinking in. It's not like I can say, "oh yeah, the last time i moved out of the United States....".

We continue to refine the packing process. This involves packing the carryons to see what is "left over" to be placed in the footlockers. Noah comes in and gets all excited, "we going now to Neek-ar-agga!" "Well, not yet Noah, soon." Poor kid, he is so confused...but excited none-the-less. Truth be told, we are all excited.

Continue to stop and by and check the blog as we "wax eloquent" on the journey!

posted by bethany

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

42 Minutes

What is 42 minutes, you ask? That would be the length of our layover in Atlanta as we change planes on our way to Nicaragua. Many have said: "you're not going to make it...and if you do...your luggage won't!" Yes, this is possible (and slightly stressful). However, we know that Luke 1:37 says: "For nothing is impossible with God." For that we are thankful. We also know that God's Will (including His Will for our luggage) is perfect. Our luggage may not make it...it may float around some backroom of the airport forever...but that is okay. At least it would make for a great story in a future newsletter!