Monday, January 31, 2011

Another Step of Faith Forward...Stepping into School

Uniforms are washed, altered, hemmed, and ironed. Lunchboxes are ready to be filled with PB&J sandwiches tomorrow morning. Showers are being taken. Bedtimes just got earlier! It is time for the next step of faith for our family--sending our kids to a local, Christian, Spanish-speaking school. As a mom, this step of faith feels WAY harder than actually moving to a foreign country. However, as I have been reminding the kids--God loves them deeply, He will be with them at school, He knows Spanish, and He has good plans for each of them (I've needed the reminders as much, if not more, than they have!). This step of faith won't be easy for any of us. Yet, for God-bent growth, pain is often required and in that pain comes the shaping of our character. Although, I am not sure who is being shaped more right now...us or them!

Romans 5:3-5
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.


Keep stalking our blog to see photos of the first day of school and hear the "wows" and "woes" of their first week of school in Nicaragua!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Frost Jars Found!

After multiple shopping trips spanning three days, several opportunities to practice humility as well as the Spanish language, and a few tense discussions on the best approach to find the remaining school supplies...we have nearly everything our kids need for school here in Nicaragua! Yesterday, we decided to divide and conquer; which really means that Jeff takes the kids to go share a soda and I wander around the school supply store 75 times until I find the remaining items on the supply list. I now know how to say with confidence "yo tengo una pregunta" which means "I have a question". Upon inquiring, it was discovered that the illusive "frost jars" are in actuality small tubes of glitter. [Congrats to Jeff's Mom for her correct guess of "glitter" and thanks to all of our readers who chimed in with their ideas!] Seriously though, it may have truly scarred Ella NOT to have her own glitter!

So, with "milk erasers, frost jars, liquid silicon, eskimo paddles" and many other supplies, I got in line to pay at the counter. It was then that I realized that I had left my wallet at home (thankfully there was one person in line ahead of me). Praise the Lord for the technology of cell phones! I called Jeff and beckoned him to come rescue me and the mountain of school supplies that took me nearly an hour to collect!

The sight of all the bright colored paper, tape, scissors, glue, glitter, new notebooks, lunchbags, erasers, pencils, markers, pens....is helping the kids feel a little more excited to start classes at a new school with a "new language." It will be a new experience for all of us...but at least we have the frost jars.


"Frost Jars, a.k.a. Glitter"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Back to School

Here in Nicaragua, the academic school year runs February to November. We are gearing up to go "back to school" in January instead of August. We've needed to purchase the traditional school uniforms here (white shirt and blue pants/skirts) and a plethora of school supplies. Instead of hiding the cost of supplies in the tuition, it is our responsibility to purchase all of their books and supplies. We received the "materials list" and worked on translating it so that we would have some idea of what to look for in the stores. Some of the "translations" have been confusing to us. For example, what translated as 100 Eskimo paddles is actually 100 popsicle sticks, that makes sense...the ice cream brand here is "Eskimo"...but 100? 'Chips or Tokens' turned out to be 3X5 index cards. But what about "milk erasers"? They turned out to be white pencil erasers the size of a Hershy's miniature. [I should remember that we have "gum erasers" in the States...not made out of gum.] We still don't know what "frost jars" are; but whatever they are, our poor kids are going to be the only ones without "frost jars" on the first day of school...I am sure that it will scar them forever. I can just imagine, two decades from now, as Ella sits on a soft couch in therapist's office, "...I would have grown up to be a functional adult if only my parents had bought me 'frost jars' for first grade...sob, sob, all I ever wanted was a 'frost jar'...pass the Kleenex please".

By the way, the picture below is not posed. Andrew and I are doing our Spanish homework together, and Noah is enjoying breakfast. There is something to be said for a father and son learning the same thing side by side. It humbles me, while showing him that I still have many things to learn.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rock My World

Moving to Nicaragua has definitely "rocked our world"; but this past week our world was truly rocked as we experienced our first Nicaraguan earthquake. It was reported to be "short but strong" at a 5.1. This was my first earthquake and honestly, it did "rock my world." I had no frame of reference as to why the small pieces of furniture were moving along the floor OR why the windows were rattling OR why the floor was shaking. It wasn't until Jeff informed me that we were experiencing an earthquake that I realized what was happening. It is a bit un-nerving to realize that "solid" is subjective. It was however an excellent reminder of how all-powerful our God is AND that He alone is our rock, our foundation. "Being in control" is merely an allusion and the earthquake reminded me of this reality. My hope, my assurance, my foundation is in Christ. He is the only true "solid".

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

(from the hymn The Solid Rock by Edward Mote)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting Accustomed

I (Jeff) had a couple of experiences this morning that made me think that maybe I am growing accustomed to life here. Don't get me wrong, there is still much to learn, but I felt a little progress today when...

...I took some friends to the airport and didn't want to be a stowaway in their luggage.

...On the drive there, a man sprinted towards me, from my left, through traffic. I didn't screech to a stop because I knew that he would teeter to a halt on the non-existent line in the middle of the road (think - like the game "Frogger"). As expected he went from 60 to 0 in 0.2 seconds, and I kindly put his shirt collar down with my side mirror. He had nice brown eyes, a neatly trimmed mustache, and a scar over his left eye. I think he had coffee with breakfast.

...I didn't look hard to see what was causing the thick plumes of smoke coming from the side of the road. It is a tropical country and there is a lot of foilage that needs to be burned...makes sense.

...I didn't try to pass the car in front of me that was coughing up thick black smoke. I knew that the chances were good that the thick smoke was obscurring another vehicle coughing up the same...it was. No need to pass, just relax. Speaking of relaxing, I know that I will have made more progress when my knuckles are no longer white, and my back finally touches the seat rest (I use the car seat more like a stool and drive like a kid playing a video game, just barely sitting on the edge of the couch).

Wanna go for a ride?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seriously, I am "out of the country"

Up until this past summer, I have never been summoned for jury duty. However, since this summer (while we were living in NC), I have been "summoned" three times. I recently received my third notice and once again informed the court that I am living "outside the country." Apparently, this is the #1 excuse to get out of jury duty. Don't try it, 'cause even when you are telling the truth they don't believe you. Go figure.

(We know we've been slack in updating our blog. Language learning has affected our ability to put one coherent word in front of another...we'll try to be better at opening the window to our world here in Nica!)

posted by bethany

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zoomed Out

Every so often, I am struck by the fact that I actually live in Central America. Odd as it sounds, although most of you know by now that I am a little off-center, I imagine myself in Google Earth. As I 'zoom out'...I think "Wow, I live in another country! I don't live in the United States. That's wild!" just sayin'.


posted by bethany

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our 5x7 Piece of North America

In Nicaragua, the types of flooring that we have seen so far are: tile, concrete or hard-packed earth. Our house has tile flooring. This style of flooring is great for the environment in which we live; however, it makes for dangerous wrestling matches! Playing on the floor isn't much fun either.

The kids have expressed to us numerous times that one of the "things" they miss about America is carpet. So this past weekend, we went out and purchased a 5x7 piece of carpet. Upon rolling it out, they all laid down on the rug and breathed in the "carpet smell"! It is interesting to discover the things that we took for granted in America. In the States, carpet used to be something to walk on and vacuum, it is now a 5x7 piece of comfort and happiness.



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Answer To The Riddle (see post 1/5)

Here is the puzzle: Up and left is always cold at first and then warms up (as expected). Up and right is sometimes cold and stays cold, and at other times is immediately warm and stays warm. Why the difference in the up and right, and is there anything that I can do to predict what I am going to get when I push up and right?
Here is my attempt at an answer:
I did not plumb the house, so I may be wrong (one friend suggested that it may be a faulty cartridge), but here is the best answer that I have come up with. A common yard decoration here in Nica is a reserve water tank for when the city water goes out.




So, when the city water is off and the reserve tank kicks-in the water is hot towards the end of the day from being warmed in the sun all day, but cools off during the night. So, I can expect hot water from the cold spigot later in the day, when the city water is off. If you got the riddle correct (Those of you who said that it was from the sun warming the pipes were close enough) go ahead and buy your ticket...we look forward to housing you. There is a hammock in the yard for you to sleep in, and rice and beans for every meal...oh, and don't forget the warm shower in the afternoon. That is free room and board Nica style :)

Thanks for playing: Nica Life Riddles!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Riddle For You

This isn't one of those silly play - on - words riddles. This is a real life puzzle that took me a little while to figure out. Those that have lived overseas may get it faster. Feel free to email the answer if you think you get it (thebrachtfamily@gmail.com). The prize for answering correctly is a one week vacation to tropical Nicaragua with free room and board. No joke! You just pay the airfare.

OK, so the kitchen faucet here is the typical lever type that I am used to, with the red dot (for dummies) up and to the left, and the blue dot up and to the right.


As expected, if you push the handle up and to the left it is cold initially and then warms up (the house we are in has a hot water heater - this is atypical here, but this house is an old embassy house). Also, as expected, when you push the handle up and to the right, it is cold and stays cold. Here is the riddle: Sometimes when I push the handle up and to the right (cold) the water comes out cold for 5 seconds, the turns warm and stays warm. At first I just thought that the hot and cold lines were switched (wouldn't be the first thing that was switched) and that Bethany had just been ahead of me and had warmed up the line. But then I mentioned this to her one time and she said that she had not used the water before me. OK, for that coveted trip to Nica, here is the puzzle: Up and left is always cold at first and then warms up (as expected). Up and right is sometimes cold and stays cold, and at other times is immediately warm and stays warm. Why the difference in the up and right, and is there anything that I can do to predict what I am going to get when I push up and right?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Refreshment

Why is it that the simple change of one digit (2010 to 2011) makes you feel like you get a fresh start? We don't feel this way when we go from 34 to 35 OR 65 to 66. This "fresh start" phenomenon doesn't occur when the calendar changes from July 31st to August 1st. It seems isolated to the changing of the year. Interesting, isn't it? Perhaps it is because there is something nice about the idea of getting a fresh start.

The thing is...we get to experience this "New Year" refreshment each day according to Scripture. Lamenations 3:23 says that "Great is His Faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh every morning." We get a fresh start each morning when we live life with God. I need to remember this.

posted by Bethany